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The Bard Newsletter #2

Life brings us changes. Change is the spice of life. Sadly we have lost one of our own, but Writing Knights will continue on and continue making a name for Cleveland poetry. The number of events we have scheduled is dazzling. Other than February, we have two events per month in 2013. We intend to release at least one book per month and in the mean time we have FourPlays, E-Books, editions of The Squire and who knows what else to share. When there is nowhere else to turn to, only poetry can save you now.


Vladimir Swirynsky will be headlining for Writing Knights on February 2nd at the Literary Café (1031 Literary Rd, Cleveland, OH). We will be releasing the latest of his poetry books, “Cleveland Hostel Poems” and I’m sure if you ask nicely he will sign it for you. Performing with Vlad will be Alexis Rueal, Joshua Stephens and a Mystery Performer. Soon after (if not the same night), we will have the best of Cleveland poetry with Writing Knights Press 2012 Anthology consisting of new or existing poems from our 2012 chapbook releases. I will be hosting the show and there will, of course, be a Full Bar and Free Admission.

Future poetry events include a March 2nd show also at the Literary Café with our headliner Carla Thompson. Currently supporting her will be Zach Schraufl (one of the Writing Knights Originals) and Jeffrey Kosiba. Currently we have Ken Gradomski booked for March 29th, Shelley Chernin booked in May, and we are in talks with a ton of people from the Cleveland poetry scene and beyond for future events. As always Writing Knights is looking for a wide variety of poetic, musical and otherwise performance expression artists for features. If you know someone we NEED to hear, send them our way. Or send us THEIR way.

Speaking of future events, the greatest event in Cleveland poetry history, the Grand Tournament will be opening submissions officially February 3rd (ending June 2nd). The contest will be similar to last year. The difference this year is the five judges who oversee the written entries will also be judging the performance aspect of the entries at the Grand Tournament event in July. Not all of the bugs have been worked out, but the contest will be a similar format to last year. Poets/Writers must impress the judges both on page and on stage. Last year’s winner, Skylark Bruce, will be one of the judges, but we are seeking four more. Do you want to publish a book? Fight for it!

The Writing Knights website(s) will be undergoing some radical changes. The official WritingKnights.com landing page will soon be featuring (in reverse chronological order) purchase links to every item we have available for purchase (Chapbooks, E-Books, FourPlays, The Squire Anthologies, and non-book Merchandise). This will make it easier for fans of Cleveland poetry to find their favorite Writing Knights titles. The top of the page will have the direct link to the WKRoundtable.blogspot.com site and the WritingKnightsPress.blogspot.com site will still be updated for people who like to explore before they purchase.

We hope you enjoy the coming changes to Writing Knights. We can’t wait to see you at our next show February 2nd!

P.S. – Writing Knights is accepting singular Submissions of poetry between 10-30 lines to showcase at the end of each newsletter. All poetry will be considered, multiple shorter poems may be submitted to crest the 10 line minimum. These poems should be sent in the body of an email to writingknightspress(at)gmail.com with the subject line “The Bard Submission – (Poem Name) – (Author Name)”. Please send only one submission at a time, and please do not submit another piece until your previous submission is accepted (and published) or rejected.

The Bard Newsletter #1



I began Writing Knights because I saw something wrong with the way Cleveland poetry was presented. There was too much emphasis on styles and far too much in the way of favoritism to the establishment i.e. poets were published because they were already well known, not necessarily because they were good. Certainly some poets are well known because they are good, but some are well known just because. I am, of course, limited to my own view of the world and the poets whom I might not necessarily enjoy might be the best thing since sliced bread to everyone else in the world, but we are all entitled to our own wrong opinions.


I began Writing Knights to expose my artistic values to the Cleveland poetry scene. I wanted to produce poetry books and host poetry events with a certain underlying theme that was recognizable to poets, musicians, or any kind of artist. I don’t approve of styles in general. I have been writing and living as Bruce Lee so eloquently put it, “using no style as style, having no way as way.” I want for Writing Knights to be a nebula growing and changing every day absorbing brand new styles of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, music, photography… really any expression that holds merit. I want the audiences who come to our shows to feel the creative juices spurting from our performers. I want the people who buy our books to feel the blood rushing through their veins as they close the book on the final poem.

I’m not saying Cleveland poetry lacks good artistry, good poets, good writers… I’m saying I started Writing Knights to cultivate a new Venn Diagram of how these artists were presented to the poetry community and eventually to the general public. It has gotten so far as when I walk through Cleveland and I hear a street musician I like, I want to rush up to them and ask them if they want to play a gig for WK in the near future. Poetry events should be as alive as the people who are performing. Every show should have a new crowd mixed with long time fans and newcomers to the scene. No one should feel like they have to avoid a show. No one should feel like their artistic expression is invalid. That’s what I’m trying to convey with Writing Knights.

As for the production of poetry books, the Cleveland poetry scene has a multitude of amazing writers with fresh new ideas ready to burst forth and be seen by the world. But there are also many artists all around the world who are just as talented. Some are SLAM poets, some are academic poets, some are Neo-Beat poets, some are considered “underground” poets, but everyone has a voice. This is why the first rule I made for myself when it came to producing poetry books was no one will be accepted or denied on basis of their style, renown, or through nepotism. I’ve joked that there are exceptions, but I doubt Lil Wayne will ever email us with a manuscript proposal.

When I enlisted Marissa’s help, I didn’t want someone who completely shared my idea of how things should be in the Cleveland poetry scene. Certainly, I wanted someone who wanted similar ends, but my partner had to be someone with their own view on how to reach those ends. She has brought Writing Knights much needed support this past year and her contributions are greatly appreciated as our shows keep getting better and better. This is why I am taking a back seat to her and turning over the task of hosting the majority of our shows in 2013. I’ll still be at every show snapping pictures and reading benedictory pieces, but the audience will see her shiny happy face hawking chapbooks and promoting our next great adventures.

To give you all a more quantitative look at what Writing Knights will be bringing to Cleveland poetry in 2013, here is a list subject to change:
January 5 – Stroud headlines at the Literary Café, features include Cory Mikesell, Morgan Ellington and Tazer Scheaffer, we release a book by Phillip Larrea;
January 18 – Playwriting Knights II: Break a Leg will be presented at the Breakneck Gallery. Afterward will be a birthday party for yours truly;
February 2 – Vlad Swirynski headlines at the Literary Café, features include The Man Called Plush and others, Vlad will also be releasing a chapbook with us that night;
Writing Knights will also be starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for press necessities with more details to follow;
Entries will open soon for our Full Length book contest and super show “The Grand Tournament II” in July;
We are always accepting submissions for The Squire: Serial Anthology, our current prompts (with deadlines) are Warriors (January 15), Pirates (February 15), Karma (March 15) and Renewal (April 15);
As always we are accepting Chapbook and FourPlay submissions.

I will also be entrusting the task of writing most of the newsletters to Marissa in the future. If you would like to be added to the mailing list to receive updates when new newsletters are posted, please send an email to writingknightspress(at)gmail.com.

Thank you and remember… only poetry can save you now,
Azriel Johnson


P.S. – Writing Knights is accepting singular Submissions of poetry between 10-30 lines to showcase at the end of each newsletter. All poetry will be considered, multiple shorter poems may be submitted to crest the 10 line minimum. These poems should be sent in the body of an email to writingknightspress(at)gmail.com with the subject line “The Bard Submission – (Poem Name) – (Author Name)”. Please send only one submission at a time, and please do not submit another piece until your previous submission is accepted (and published) or rejected.