Archives for posts with tag: celebrities

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It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
by Kerry E.B. Black

On the North Side of Pittsburgh, an oddly textured bronze statue’s humble smile invites calm. Recorded piano compositions play. This seven-thousand-pound, eleven-foot-tall sculpture gazes across the Allegheny River toward the city.

I’ve watched grown adults climb onto the statue’s pedestal to smile for a photo. Mr. Rogers taught generations of children to love and respect each other and themselves. He did so gently, without shouting or saber-rattling.

When faced with the unfaceable, I remember a quote by the gentle hero represented in this “Tribute to Children” sculpture, Mr. Fred Rogers. He explained that when he was a boy confronting scary things in the news, his mother would say, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” He would recall his mother, Nancy McFeely Rogers’ words especially in times of disaster and was “always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

 PHOTO: “Tribute to the Children,” Mr. Rogers Memorial Statue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. by Bill H, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Tribute to the Children,” informally known as the Mr. Rogers Memorial Statue, was created by artist Robert Berks. Cordelia May — philanthropist and heiress to the Mellon fortune — commissioned a statue of her longtime friend to be built through her Colcom Foundation. Completed in 2009, the bronze statue, which cost $3 million to build, is 10’10” high and weighs 7,000 pounds— sturdy enough to support anyone who wants to sit in Mr. Rogers’ lap. The site plays 29 of Fred Rogers’ musical compositions. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Rogers is best known as the creator of the program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from 1968-2001 on public television stations in the United States. The program was critically acclaimed for focusing on children’s emotional and physical concerns, such as death, sibling rivalry, school enrollment, and divorce. Fred Rogers passed away in 2003 at age 74. (Sources: Wikipedia and

Mr rogers Latrobe
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When we visited “Tribute to the Children,” instead of his piano compositions, the recordings were of Mr. Rogers’ sweet voice. It was lovely to hear! The second photo shows a statue in Fred Rogers’ hometown, Latrobe, Pennsylvania (about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh). He is life-sized and sitting on a bench. When I arrived to take the picture, a group of four teen/early twenty-year-olds were taking turns sitting beside Mr. Rogers. It made me smile.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerry E.B. Black, eclectic writer and lover of humanity, has toured Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood where George A. Romero once worked, visited Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Rogers lived, and rode replicas of his trolleys at St Vincent College and Idlewilde Park. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and

PHOTO: Mr. Rogers’ statue, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, by Kerry E.B. Black.

Very Funny
by Caitlin Stern

People have asked me
if I was related to Howard Stern (as if there
weren’t twenty-five thousand others) several times
throughout my life
I wonder if he gets jokes (too)
about the adjective spelled just the same
but even so
we don’t share much more than our (starry)
He demonstrates a willingness to be
the center of attention that I (am quite happy
to) lack. And though
I joke from time to time
I’d rather the eyes (or ears) of the crowd
were on someone
But there’s one thing we don’t (yet) share
that I aspire to—
a spot on the bestseller list—because
like him (like everyone)
I’d like to be heard and maybe win
a smile or three
If I ever get my name below that famous banner
once (or twice
as Mr. Stern did) maybe someone someday will ask
if he’s related to me!

IMAGE: Cover of Howard Stern’s 1993 autobiography Private Parts.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Though I did a search for my first and last name, I already had a famous person in mind—Howard Stern, who was the source of the second most favored joke people made about my last name when I was growing up. After a little research, I started writing the poem. While polishing the draft, it seemed to need a parenthetical aside, so I rewrote it to add in a few.


Caitlin Stern
grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where she read in trees, “published” her first book in elementary school, and had longhorns across the street from her middle school. Scorching summers and interesting juxtapositions inspired many poems and stories throughout the years. She followed her love of books to Angelo State University, where she worked as a tutor at her school’s Writing Center, and later as a Teaching Assistant while she earned an English MA. Recently, she has edited several novels for self-published authors, and had poems published in Silver Birch Press’ anthologies and online collections.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken in a bookstore, December 2015. Because nothing says holidays like books!

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.

by Virginia M Mohlere

If you’re looking for a key –
          the slow burn,
          the long view,
          the endlessly reliable generators
                    of Nature and friendship;
          the image of planetary kin,
          the company of fellow travelers.
Companionship and wonder in the face
          of bitterness and disillusionment:
both are bigger than us,
two influences that never fail
          to buoy and nourish me.

We set out to hope.
We set out to make something.
Our dreams are the place where we can
          that which we never realized we knew.
They support and carry us.
We can fly at the back
          of the formation they form.
That would take some acting out:
          I want you to pull
          those bad thoughts out of your ears –
                    companionship and wonder might win –
          and never listen to No.

SOURCE: “Tilda Swinton Is Not Quite of This World” by Carl Swanson, (April 2014).

PHOTO: Actress Tilda Swinton by Norman Jean Roy, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been a fan of Tilda Swinton’s work since Orlando – she seems like a delightful mix of Alabaster Space Queen and warm/friendly. I admire her fashion adventures and her willingness to transform her looks drastically for a role (watch Snowpiercer, people, she’s tremendous in it [so is the rest of the cast]). This interview made me stomp around in circles for a bit and make a screechy blog post. Her commentary about being a “cheerleader of artists” didn’t make it into the poem, but it echoes my belief that we should build each other up, never tear one another down. Making art is difficult enough without planting obstacles for ourselves and others. Art lifts up art; love lifts up love.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Virginia M Mohlere writes from Houston, where it is generally 4 inches from the sun. Her poetry has been seen in places like MungBeing, Strange Horizons, Ideomancer, and Mythic Delirium. She blogs extremely sporadically at

In Which I Contemplate Men And Vegetables
by Andrea Janelle Dickens

The only vegetable men really like
is peas. There’s no turning back:
you will carry around Brussels
sprouts for people who don’t like
Christmas pudding. Most of the other
women in my position distilled something
simple. Something completely different.

My mother was a believer in
the strawberry cheesecake; at the end
of the day the women want to rebel,
be taken into care like cranberries.
They spat it out sort of viciously, sort of
graphically but with more broccoli
and the metallic taste of spinach.

I’m sort of trapped. As long as you
don’t think they’re going to help you,
(as if you wanted the child labor),
the flames get us to stir things, the luck
of being very cosmopolitan, very very
tired. And the only vegetable
men really like looks the same.

SOURCE: Nigella Lawson interview by Becky Anderson, CNN (April 19, 2010).

IMAGE: Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrea Janelle Dickens recently moved to the Sonoran Desert, where she lives among the sunshine and saguaro cacti. Her work has appeared in Star 82, cakestreet, Ruminate, Caesura, and The Wayfarer, among others. She teaches at Arizona State University, and when she’s not teaching, she’s backpacking in foreign cities, making pottery in her ceramics studio, or tending hives of bees.

SOURCE: “Keeping Up With Kimye,” by Hamish Bowles, Vogue Magazine (April 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a found poem, using Kim Kardashian‘s quote alongside the photograph on page 220 (Vogue, April 2014).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Massey writes in Ottawa, Canada. She has an MA, has published one chapbook, and her work has won local and regional prizes and appeared in a range of literary journals and anthologies. Recent online publication includes, and one of her poems was featured on the Chaudiere Press blog during National Poetry Month 2014.

Autographs and Receipts
by Wm. Todd King

Sorry eyes close
on a dark afraid
you wish gone.
Every nightclub
another minutes fifteen
tan spray night
that rejuvenates few.

SOURCE: Kardashian Konfidential, page 136  (St. Martin’s Press, 2010).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wm. Todd King is a poet and Regulatory Compliance Supervisor living in Kentucky. He is the recent finalist in the Found Poetry Review’s Dog Ear Poetry Contest, and a participant in 2013’s Pulitzer Remix project. His works have appeared in STILL, the Silver Birch Press NOIR Erasure Poetry Anthology, Life’s Vivid Creations, and Found Poetry Review.

by Winston Plowes

I’m addicted to me –

Sugar this woman open
like a hip shifting
and explain to millions why.


SOURCE: “Kim Kardashian: In Search of the K Factor” by  Alyssa Giacobbe, DuJour Magazine (Spring 2013).

PHOTO: Kim Kardashian by Bruce Weber, DuJuour Magazine (Spring 2013).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this erasure I have tried to distil the found words of Kim Kardashian into something hopefully poetic.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teacher, compere, performer and poet, Winston Plowes spends his days fine-tuning background noise and rescuing discarded words. These are re-sculpted over a glass of wine into poetry birds he releases by night to fly to new homes in poetry journals and online destinations worldwide. He lives in a floating home in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, UK, where he tries to persuade his two black cats that it’s a good idea for them to do the same. Visit him at

by Sue Barnard

I go with my gut instinct.
I don’t have competition.
I’ll admit it: I’m a control freak.
I customized my school uniforms.
I had Post-Its on all the breakfast cereal.
(Every time I haven’t, it’s been a mistake.)
I can live with my own mistakes.
But I’ve finally made the transition.
This line has been a lifetime in the making:
I’m a gay man in a woman’s body.

SOURCE: Victoria Beckham interview in Marie Claire (October 2010).

IMAGE: Singer/fashion designer Victoria Beckham.

Sue Barnard author pic

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.

Martin Amis on Martin Amis
in the words of Martin Amis (for a change)
by Stephen James

Lack of fame is almost seen as a violation of your civil rights
It’ll look like a parting V sign to England
They wish that you were so influenced by them
It must be to do with my father
reduced to writing about writers.
you have unpleasant women in your novels so you’re a misogynist
extra-literary, not literary at all
how long are you going to last?

Not all of me will die
the old will outnumber the young by two-to-one
The old will flood the cities like a tsunami of hideous refugees, stinking up all the restaurants and using up all the hospital space
the egotism of the human race

we are not naturally an altruistic animal
I defend my right to say that kind of thing
No-one has the right not to be offended
You shouldn’t be singled out

The qualities we enjoy in a fictional character have nothing to do with what we value in life
It’s the hardest thing in fiction to write enjoyably about goodness and happiness
Fiction is freedom.

erect these no-entry signs
no serious person ever thinks about anything else
a mirror that will show you not what you look like, but who you really are
Are you a Sadist? Do you have courage?
the constantly cherished sense of your own innocence
the feeling of mortality

SOURCE: Martin Amis interview on ABC-TV in Australia (2/26/14).

IMAGE: Author Martin Amis (BBC photo).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I tried to pick out lines that not only sounded poetic and had some atmosphere to them but also related to things that I, and I’m sure sure quite a lot of other people, associate with our Martin. Things like the strange kind of fame that can only be achieved by a cult author, his father, narcissism, wanting to “beat” mortality, sexism, whether or not people have the right to complain or be offended by literature or art (even if it’s misogynistic) and fiction vs. reality as an entire concept. I have added nothing to these lines, I have not even changed the order. This is all Martin, baby.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Twenty-three years old and hailing from Manchester, UK, Stephen James has been writing for a long time and has a blog but is relatively new to doing so publicly and performing his work. Over the last six months or so, however, he has jumped right in there. He has self-published a book of poems and several pamphlets containing short fiction(ish) and has guested at several events and made himself a regular at numerous open mic nights. He even ranked last in a poetry slam. He also hosts his own Spoken Word Showcase, which is definitely not a competition. He is a strong believer in poetry as self-expression, and self-expression is something that you cannot do wrong or better or worse than somebody else. He urges everybody to put pen to paper. It is immensely satisfying.