Archives for category: Celebrity Free Verse

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Thank you to the 59 poets from Canada, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and across the United States who contributed their work to the Silver Birch Press Celebrity Free Verse Poetry Series, which ran from September 1-30, 2014.

We extend our gratitude to the following poets:

E. Kristin Anderson / Texas
Tara R. Andrews / California
Sue Hyon Bae / Arizona
Sue Barnard / U.K.
Susan Beem / California
Roxanna Bennett / Canada
Mark Berriman / Minnesota
Steve Bogdaniec / Illinois
Sarah B. Boyle / Pennsylvania
Cathy Bryant / U.K.
Candace Butler / Virginia
Heidi Czerwiec / North Dakota
Andrea Janelle Dickens / Arizona
Erin Dorney / Pennsylvania
Magdalena Edwards / California
Barbara Eknoian / California
Jackie Fox / Nebraska
Gary Glauber / New York
Stephanie Barbé Hammer / Washington
Donna Hilbert / California
Trish Hopkinson / Utah
Debra B. Hori / California
Stephen James / U.K.
Mathias Jansson / Sweden
Sonja Johanson / Massachusetts
Victoria M. Johnson / California
Wm. Todd King / Kentucky
Merie Kirby / North Dakota
Laurie Kolp / Texas
Ira Lightman / U.K.
Lisa Mangini / Connecticut
Karen Massey / Canada
J.R. McConvey / Canada
Daniel McGinn / California
Virginia M. Mohlere / Texas
Katie Darby Mullins / Indiana
Sarah Nichols / Connecticut
Suzanne O’Connell / California
Daniel A. Olivas / California
Brianna Pike / Indiana
Winston Plowes / U.K.
Patrick T. Reardon / Illinois
Sonya Gray Redi / California
Fay Roberts / U.K.
Greg Santos / Canada
Meg Scott / Michigan
Michael Dwayne Smith / California
Marija Smits / U.K.
Massimo Soranzio / Italy
Scott Stoller / Illinois
Claire Trévien / U.K.
Peter B. Valentine / New York
Sylvia Riojas Vaughn / Texas
J.S. Watts / U.K.
A. Garnett Weiss / Canada
Leah Welborn / Colorado
Eileen Wesson / California
Liz Worth / Canada

Leonard Cohen Tour- Melbourne
by Greg Santos

What the hell am I doing?
Sometimes overproduce
Something’s obscure
On the wrong side of accessible

Savage about our vision
You can pretty well tell
It nourishes me
It’s the done-ness of it that I really like

There’s always a group I’m working at
There’s a few I’d like to finish before I die
Always like a bear in a honey tree
In some corner of the heart

It’s a lovely melody
That I can’t find any words for

SOURCE: “Leonard Cohen on Longevity, Money, Poetry and Sandwiches” by Gavin Edwards, Rolling Stone (September 19, 2014).

IMAGE: Leonard Cohen by Graham Denholm, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was created using snippets from an interview with Leonard Cohen from Rolling Stone, prior to the launch of his new album Popular Problems and his 80th birthday. I’d like to think of this poem as an homage to the mastery of Cohen and the mystery of poetry.

Greg Santos 3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Greg Santos is the author of Rabbit Punch! (DC Books, 2014) and The Emperor’s Sofa (DC Books, 2010). He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He is a graphic designer, teaches creative writing to at-risk youth, and is the poetry editor for carte blanche. He lives in Montréal with his wife and two children. Follow him on Twitter at @moondoggyspad.

by Susan Beem

I keep returning
to stoned wishes,
love staggering
among the buried,
tall poplars,
anemones’ dramatic
I’m interested
in turbulence,
paranoia, dissection
of fundamentalists
and wary fish.
Fallen into woe,
I long to loosen
the blue door
to ecstasy.

SOURCE: “Sara Paretsky: By the Book,” New York Times (Sept. 11, 2014).

IMAGE: Erasure poem from page in New York Times (Sept. 11, 2014) featuring interview with mystery author Sara Paretsky.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Beem is a retired family physician who lives in Long Beach, California, and has been writing poetry for about 10 years with the help of local workshops. Her poems have been published by Verdad, Ekphrasis, Turtle Quarterly, Song of the San Joaquin, Bank Heavy Press, Medusa’s Laugh, and included in several themed anthologies.

by Sarah Nichols

I had a series of mini breakdowns:
a brand-new face. Huge, huge empires.
A synthesizer.
All of this stuff.

Just shut down. Be there
but just shut down. Walk past this arena.
Walk past this thing, this music.


SOURCE: Thom Yorke interview by Daniel Craig, Interview magazine (July 2013).

PHOTO: Thom Yorke by Craig McDean, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m an ardent Radiohead fan, and a few years ago, I saw an interview with Thom Yorke on YouTube. He was dismissive of stupid questions, ferociously intelligent, and gave nothing away. Like his music, he made demands. The Interview magazine interview finds him in a more giving vein, and I wanted to see what I could do with it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Nichols is a writer and artist living in Connecticut. Her chapbook, The Country of No, was published in 2012, and her poem “The Mirror” appeared in the Silver Birch Press Noir Erasure Poetry Anthology (December 2013). Her work has also appeared in Found Poetry Review, Right Hand Pointing, and MiPoesias.

by Sue Barnard

In the kind of world I live in
there are no compromises.

I don’t put on a show.
There is no falsity in me.

I don’t go in for half measures.
I love being able to let myself go.

This is what I am.
I’m myself, and I let the wind take me.

SOURCE:  Freddie Mercury interview, The Guardian (Nov. 22, 2011).The piece first appeared in Melody Maker (December 1974).

IMAGE: Freddie Mercury of Queen in 1974. Photograph by Michael Putland, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always been a huge admirer of the late, great Freddie Mercury. In this poem, I’ve allowed his own words to encapsulate my perception of him – a wonderful performer and a truly great free spirit.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sue Barnard is a novelist, an award-winning poet, and a member of the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing. She has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz – an attribute which once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” She lives in Cheshire, UK, with her husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.To learn more, visit her blog.

If you squint really hard, you might still see the dollar sign
by Meg Scott

Fighting like hell,
My whole irreverent essence.
Raw, visceral,
Wasn’t the animal I wanted to be.

Unloving territory–
My worst fear.
Breakthrough, breakdown,
Hindsight saved my life.

I think I just outgrew the dollar sign.

SOURCE: “Animal Instinct,” interview with Kesha by Andrew Bevan, Teen Vogue (June 2014).

IMAGE: Singer/rapper Kesha, Teen Vogue (June 2014).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Meg Scott is a Midwestern academic librarian and neologician.

by Marija Smits

Yep, I’m playing yet another brainy guy.

But it’s great, and I’m learning so much.

Will there be romance?

What, now I’m a movie star?

I think that would be incredible…

That is what should happen.

SOURCE: Benedict Cumberbatch interview, “I went to public school, but I’m not a public school boy,” The Big Issue (Jan 14, 2014).

IMAGE: Actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Like most middle-aged women, I have a thing for Benedict Cumberbatch. I pretend that I’m interested in his films and his acting, but really, there is only one thing worth knowing: Will there be romance?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marija Smits is a mother-of-two, a writer and poetess whose work has featured in a variety of publications. When she’s not busy with her children, or writing, she likes to draw and paint. Very late at night, when everyone else is asleep, she runs the small press Mother’s Milk Books. Her work is rather eclectic and she loves semicolons, as well as plenty of cream in her coffee. She lives in the middle of England but would like to be a bit closer to the sea. To see more of her writing and art, please visit

by Erin Dorney

I am not permanent—
I was folded.
I was made to hold things
and on the way home he cut me.
Now I am ruined,
sitting here
in this dumpster.

SOURCE: Interview with Shia LaBeouf, NPR (February 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  This source text is an interview with the paper bag that Shia LaBeouf wore on his head at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival.

IMAGE: Actor Shia LaBeouf at 2014 Berlin Film Festival (Feb. 9, 2014) by Keystone Press.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erin Dorney is a founding editor of The Triangle. Her work has been published in The Newer York, The Fox Chase Review, and Potluck Mag. She can be found on Twitter.

Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Middle-Aged Man
by Massimo Soranzio

The pity is,
the public will demand
and find
a moral—
or worse.

On the honour of a gentleman,
I will not serve that
which I no longer believe:
not one single
serious line.

I have recorded,
what a man says, sees, thinks—
studied through a microscope in the morning,
repeated through a telescope in the evening.

I will express myself
as wholly as I can,
using for my defense
silence, exile
and cunning.

Neither more,
nor less alone,
not only separate from all
others, but to have
not even one friend.

No drama
behind the historical raving:
they are all there,
all the great talkers,
for the first hunt of the season.

and all the things they forgot,
bringing on the rain—
and we
wanting to go for a stroll.

SOURCE: “James Joyce — A Portrait of the Man Who is, at Present, One of the More Significant Figures in Literature” by Djuna Barnes, Vanity Fair (April 1922).

IMAGE: Novelist James Joyce (1882-1941), drawing by Djuna Barnes, Vanity Fair (April 1922).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I found this interview to a celebrity from the past, James Joyce, by mere chance. Though not one of my favourite authors, Joyce has played an important role in my life, accompanying and inspiring me on several occasions. His answers in this interview, published around the publication, on his 40th birthday, of his masterpiece Ulysses, were poetic per se, so I just selected and reordered his words to produce this sketchy self-portrait of the writer.

Massimo Soranzio1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He posts some of his found and constraint-based poetry on his blog,

by Steve Bogdaniec

I don’t know, Gustavo
I start with blank paper
I’ve tried
to fit a thesis or a plan

why in hell do you want to know
what should be true
they say that when you’re in your forties
you ought to know enough and have enough

do you suppose
what knowledge you have
to have or have not
whether you get it or I get it
is a hell of a lot of difference

Sorry, Gustavo
has to ask these questions
it’s his job
and I’m supposed to answer them

start work
break the back of the job
put the words in
like laying bricks
at it solid
if you speed too much you don’t know
some days a lot, some days a little
getting it all down and then going over it
to straighten things out, to get information

the fight
will have to be fought again
don’t worry
we’ll still have a wonderful time tomorrow

SOURCE: “Ernest Hemingway Talks of Word and War” by Robert Van Gelder, New York Times (August 11, 1940).

NOTE FROM INTERVIEWER: The talk was a mixture of Spanish, French, and English. Each comment that Hemingway made on his writing he prefaced with an explanatory speech to Gustavo Duran, the former pianist and composer, who had developed as one of the most brilliant of the army corps commanders on the Loyalist side of the civil war in Spain.

IMAGE: Ernest Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold for the first edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, late 1939.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Bogdaniec is a Chicago-based writer and teacher, currently teaching at Wright College in Chicago. Steve will write just about anything: he has had poetry and short fiction published in numerous journals, and recently wrote a monthly movie feature covering movie sequels. Follow him on Twitter! Just kidding—he never posts anything there anyway.