Frank Giampietro moved to Ohio last summer to become the interim director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. He is the author of Begin Anywhere (Alice James Books, 2008) and co-author of Spandrel (Small Craft Advisory Press 2011) with Denise Bookwalter and Book O’ Tondos (The Painters Left, 2010) with Megan Marlatt. In the below video, he reads a new poem, titled “Whitman’s Brain,” at The Big Big Mess Reading Series on 09 November 2012:
Giampietro also read recently for the Poets of Ohio reading series on 21 March 2013. For the series, participating poets were asked to write brief thoughts on the state of Ohio and/or how they conceive of the relationship between poetry and Ohio. As a relative newcomer to the state, Giampietro responded with the following list:
1. Hello, Toledo, Ohio!
2. In Maine they say, “You must be from away.”
In Cleveland they don’t say anything.
3. Like Jesus, Cleveland, in you there is no north or south—just east, west, and Akron.
4. So there’s a bar on every corner in Lakewood? Yes—No. No but yes.
5. How many lonely, dog walking, single people living on one Lake Avenue is too many lonely, dog walking, single people living on one Lake Avenue?
6. If Seattle, Washington is a big city built on tiny bones, then Cleveland is a very, very, sexy Elizabeth Bishop, especially if you consider EB’s relatively small oeuvre as congruous symbol of Cleveland’s population density.
7. Once, he saw a woman walking down Euclid Avenue loudly repeating the following question: “What is wrong with the people in Cleveland?”
8. The worst thing about being destitute in any middle American city is that no one will look you in the eyes. So I’ve heard (while looking away).
9. There were so many dead fish, various sizes of dead fish on the Lake Erie shore on March 23rd, I found some kissing.
10. Hey. Let’s dump our waste into this vast but shallow lake and then get our drinking water from it!
11. If the world comes to an end and humans are to blame, it won’t be Ohio’s fault.
12. Question: What’s America like, Ohio?
Answer: Long, semi-incredulous / slightly bored sigh.
13. Hey, I’m one of the wealthiest people in the whole wide world, but my heart has gone bad (as all hearts do). Can you help me America Can you help me Ohio? Sure. Just come on over to Cleveland.
14. Did you spill coffee on your sweatshirt or is that the outline of Ohio?
15. Burn, burning river.
Die, dead man’s curve.
You’re both actually very cute.
16. Hey, Cleveland Clinic. You getting all this on camera? Where’s your remote controlled medicine cart taking those meds?
17. So where did you eventually end up happily living out the rest of your life, Francois?
18. Dear Hart Crane, Sorry your monument and park is kind of a mess.
The final readers for the Poets of Ohio reading series will be Sarah Gridley (04/18). For more information, please check out the series’ Facebook page.