Moon Cleavage Celebrates Mansfield’s Female Artists

You know that one lifelong friend who encourages you to stay in touch with your primal, wild self? The one who’s uninhibited and rebellious and reminds you not to take yourself too seriously?

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For me, that friend is JP. She lives in the woods near Zanesville and mows her lawn topless. She rides motorcycles, eats organic and thumbs her nose at society’s rules.

Sometimes at random, JP will text me and say, “Let’s go outside tonight and scream as loud as we can at the moon.”

We text back and forth about Mother Moona. We send photos of moonlit shadows and wild notions. And all the ills we want to fling side-armed into the night.

So when Aurelio Diaz asked if I wanted to be involved in his inaugural Moon Cleavage event to showcase local female artists, of course I thought of those texts with JP.

I gathered my Mother Moona strength, picked a few provocative poems and agreed to participate.

Moon Cleavage I Screams at the Moon

What did I expect of Moon Cleavage? I knew I’d recognize a few familiar faces. I figured I’d be heard by a respectful crowd. And I looked forward to being inspired by other local artists.

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Jai Merina at Moon Cleavage. Photo by Tracey Graziani.

But what I found was a radical, talented lineup of artists and supporters embracing each other’s raw brilliance, reveling in each other’s openness and welcoming each other as long lost friends.

Five musical acts, five spoken word acts and five photographers gathered at La Luna for that first Moon Cleavage, plus the beautiful crowd of friendly faces, and it felt like we were all there somehow as a group to “scream as loud as we can at the moon.”

A few of the Moon Cleavage acts had never performed live in front of a crowd before. Others only had once or twice. Most of us were nervous, but we each rode the force of the performer before us and we each left the stage to warm embraces, requests to hear more and genuine questions about specific aspects of our art.

From Cindy Fowler’s favorite folk artists and Kathy Goodwin’s rhythmic recollections to Jai Merina’s forceful voice and Jillian Caudill’s heartbreaking lyrics, I felt a lunar connection to everyone who came and went from the stage. The night started with Ireland’s original music and ended with Mansfield’s new female funk band The Rust Pelts. Llalan Fowler and Rico Ché rounded out the lineup.

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Photos by Tracey Graziani from Moon Cleavage I are displayed for Moon Cleavage II.

Moon Cleavage II Says Hello to Heaven

Where Moon Cleavage felt radical and empowering, Moon Cleavage II felt radiant and familial. Five of the acts from the first show returned and the same supportive lunar vibe permeated the night.

Moon Cleavage II took place the Friday before mother’s day and included an essay by Cindy Fowler about motherhood and a list of advice to young women everywhere from Llalan Fowler. This excerpt from Llalan’s reading is a fitting summary of the Moon Cleavage vibe:

When you’ve been with your love for a long time, do not bemoan the routine, the normalcy, the familiarity. Instead revel in this. Revel in being the one person who knows them that well. The only person that loves them that hard. Revel in your partnership and the way you take on the world as a team, and the new reality you’ve created together.

When you’ve been single a long time, revel in that, too. Your individuality. The concentrated, pure, singular version of you. Be the you you’ve always wanted to be.

Eat as much as you want to.

Know that when something bad happens, it’s okay to go a little wild.

Maintain your friendships as carefully as your romantic relationships. You form an invisible web around each other so when any one friend slips there is always something to catch them. And they will help you go a little wild, if you need it.

Jennifer Hurst opened Moon Cleavage II with writings about radical bravery, and the artists who followed demonstrated it. Jillian Caudill sang about heartache and longing. Joan the Wad echoed originality and Kathy Goodwin reminded us all how lucky we are. Maggie Allred, Sairah Fields and Little Goat completed the lineup with almost every artist thanking Aurelio and commenting on the support and intimacy of the event.

Photographs by Shay Harris and Tracey Graziani from Moon Cleavage I were displayed throughout the room to tie the two events together.

To conclude the evening, Jai Merina proved why she was born to sing with a cover of Chris Cornell’s “Say Hello to Heaven.” And Moon Cleavage II felt again like a small slice of Mother Moona’s heaven.

How to Celebrate Female Artists

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Kate Westfall of the Rust Pelts at Moon Cleavage. Photo by Tracey Graziani.

I started this post with the thought that I might write a list of steps for creating an event that honors and embraces local female artists. It’s likely Aurelio could come up with that complete list, but after jotting down my thoughts on the two events, all I can think of is this:

Step 1 for celebrating female artists:
Invite a talented group of female singers, writers and photographers, and give them a stage.

That’s it. They will rock the rest.

And they did.

Naturally.

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Walt, Gus, & the Shimmering Black Elephant

 

          An essay by Mark Sebastian Jordan.

 

Fuck me.

Not in a bad way. In a just-got-laid-out-flat by the energy of the universe way.

Every once in a great, rare while, you hear exactly the right piece of music in exactly the right performance at exactly the right time in your life. And it will shake you.

For me, it happened tonight, October 5, 2017, in Severance Hall, when I heard the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor Franz Welser-Möst own Mahler’s Sixth. It immediately lept to my short list of greatest concert experiences, ever.

Why the piece matters and why this concert matters goes back a ways. It’s not performed all that often, glittering black beast that it is. Not only is this symphony fiendishly difficult, it’s also long—about 80 minutes—and ends darkly after tumultuous struggle. Not exactly a crowd-pleaser, it would seem, yet the piece is beloved by many, because it is a powerful emotional statement.

About what?

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Jerry Lang reading at Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge

Voices from the Borderland is kicking off our Featured Artist Friday series with Jerry Lang reading at the Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge. This reading took place a few years ago, but has never been made public. We hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned for more featured artists.

We Stand With Standing Rock

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In late July, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating their concern that a pipeline slated to be built encroached upon ancestral lands.


It’s a five dollar donation to get in the doors of the Standing Rock Solidarity Benefit show, to be enveloped in the warmth, the glow, the murmur of conversations cut frequently by loud laughter. It looks like someone’s family reunion with folding chairs and cheap plastic table cloths, a buffet set-up with six donated Two Cousin’s Gut Buster pizzas and cheap booze. As the place slowly fills with people, the room becomes a beacon in the cold night, a bright light in a row of dim buildings, a convention of friends new and old, setting the stage for solidarity.


September 4th, Dakota Access begins clearing ground for the pipeline, bulldozing over sacred sites and burials. Protesters are attacked by dogs and pepper sprayed.


It took just under two weeks for Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz, Mark Sebastian Jordan, Kathy Fetzer-Goodwin to bring this event into the public eye, being touted in the local papers and drawing over a hundred contributors and participants. It even received threats, though none came to fruition. The K.E. McCarthy building was donated as a space for the show and by door time, all money spent on food, drink, and entrance would be sent to the Oceti Sakowin Camp.

Mark Jordan opens the show as MC and performer and along with Jason Kauffman, Lucas Hargis, and Nate Weiland presents a spoken word piece (Pronouncement: An Invocation for the Standing Rock Benefit Concert). He repeats the question: “who speaks?” over the murmur of the settling audience and we listen, and finally erupt into applause on his final call-to-arms, that “We speak!”

This becomes the theme of the show, the different voices no longer silenced, but calling for an end to injustice. This is a shout for self-expression and for claiming a space in the land.

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Nick Gardner & Susan A. Sheppard reading at Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge

November 19th marked the final Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge reading of 2016. Featured were Mansfield native Nick Gardner and West Virginian poet Susan A. Sheppard.

Nick Gardner took us on a wild ride through his struggles with drug abuse. It’d be easy to overdose on the dark themes in these poems, but for the Narcan of his startling images and subtle lyricism. This set of poems proves the redemptive power of giving oneself over to the creative impulse.

 

Susan A. Sheppard is a self described Appalachian poet. Her poems gaze toward her youth and are full of recollections of Indians, bootleggers, and banshees. Where the words of other Appalachian writers unfold like copses choked with bramble and draped with Old Man’s Beard, Sheppard’s work is delicate, tightly worked, and shimmering.

Borderlands: poetry on the edge takes place every 3rd Saturday, 2-4pm at Main Street Books. Each month Mark Sebastian Jordan invites two of the best poets from Ohio and the surrounding States to be featured. The reading is followed by a short open-mic.

Dennis Loranger reading at Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge

Dennis Loranger teaches music and literature at Wright State University, and writes poetry when he gets a chance. He has published in Rubbertop Review, Abyss&Apex, and elsewhere.

Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge is a monthly poetry reading hosted by Main Street Books in Mansfield, Ohio. The reading is curated by Mark Sebastian Jordan. Each month he invites two poets from across Ohio and the surrounding states to give extended readings followed by a short open mic.

Michael Veloff reads “Jesus on Front Street”

Michael Veloff reads “Jesus on Front Street,” a poem about addiction, at March’s Book Loft, Lit. poetry and prose reading. Visit Main Street Books every First-Friday at 8pm to read or listen to great poetry and prose.

Jesus on Front Street

Jesus and me on Front Street

I picked up Jesus on the Corner
of Xrosswood Drive and Main
he had no dime to take of His own Sacrament
to rejoin the Flocking
spent on broken glass and stockings
stuffed with yestern pain

coasting to the Depot
He showed me His wounds once again
pictures of his Children in another State
with Nothing on their P(i)lates

wheels and wheels of fortune mists
and portends, omens, twists and opportunities missed
a Mystery to be wearing Flesh
the way of Gentle Fists

“Mother is worried about me.”
He confided as I parallel parked on Front Street
“I’ll only be a Minute, you can’t come in.”

with Great difficulty, hobbled by
the weight of Worlds’ Forgotten
Hero hobbling to a side door Sacrament
on Front Street

I think of leaving
Him, fleeing at the site
a fleeting Glimpse of where I’ve been
and seem to Moth around

Days of yours and mine,
“Here…take this…”
“Are you sure you want two?”

wheels and wheels of wasted twists
Realities cast aside for Aethers’ Fists,
the Gentle Fists
the numbing wrists and opportunities’ mists

and Jesus wept
as we broke an Orange Pill in half in Sacrament
of helpless Bliss

© Michael Veloff, 2014