Collingwood Arts Center to host Aug. 6 poetry eventWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Poets from across the nation are gathering in Toledo for a festival hosted by a pair of literary magazines. Zygote in My Coffee and Red Fez are teaming to host “Zygote in My Fez” at the Collingwood Arts Center on Aug. 6. The event is co-sponsored by Toledo Free Press Star.
“It will be one of the bigger things that has come to Toledo, especially in terms of underground poetry,” said John Dorsey, program director for the Collingwood Arts Center. “I’m expecting about 200 people here, maybe more. They’ll be coming from all over the country. Most of the audience we get will be people who are really hardcore about it, but I’m hoping we get some new people that have never seen something like this.”
Red Fez is an online publication featuring poetry, fiction, nonfiction, illustrations and other works. Leopold McGinnis, who founded Red Fez Publications in 2002, will be traveling from Canada to attend the festival. Editor in Chief Michele McDannold lives in Chicago and runs the day-to-day operations for the monthly online magazine, and Toledo resident Michael Grover is the head poetry editor.
Zygote in My Coffee was founded in December 2003 by Brian Fugett while he was a photographer in San Jose, Calif. It started out focused on poetry and has grown to include fiction, comic strips and anything underground. It used to follow a weekly format but it is now published twice a year online.
“The idea for the event started back on Feb. 5,” Fugett said. “I was at a big poetry reading. I started having IM conversations with Michele McDannold. Just kind of joking, we said we should start our own poetry reading, like an annual event, later in the summer. We decided to call it ‘Zygote in My Fez.’ It started off as a fun little idea like that, and it blossomed into this big thing in Toledo now. We didn’t think it was going to happen.”
Part of getting the festival off the ground was finding a location. Fugett didn’t know where to host the event until Dorsey offered his venue for the festival.
“We were originally going to have it in Dayton, but there isn’t a good venue for it,” Fugett said. “John Dorsey offered the Toledo area and we went for it. I’d prefer to have it in Northern Ohio anyway. The Toledo and Cleveland areas are prime for poetry and the arts. The ball has been rolling ever since we picked the venue up there.”
Dorsey, a Toledo Free Press Star contributor. thinks the theater in the Collingwood Arts Center is the perfect venue for the festival.
“The acoustics are great,” Dorsey said. “It’s large, but it’s still intimate at the same time. It isn’t too big. You aren’t playing to a baseball stadium. I’ve been in theaters that size before. Some of these people haven’t read publicly before, even though they’ve been published in the magazines. It’s kind of good to have a smaller space because you don’t want it to be too intimidating for them.”
Dorsey is performing at the event alongside several local poets, but he is excited to see performances from poets across the country.
“What Toledo doesn’t have is poets coming in from all over the place,” he said. “Typically that doesn’t happen here. You can’t make that much money doing it. If you come in, you’re going to end up losing money paying for travel. Michael Grover and I have been doing a reading series here for a couple of years. On a monthly basis, we bring in people from all over the place. It’s nothing new to us for this to happen, but this is the largest scale we’ve done here.”
One poet Dorsey is particularly looking forward to seeing is Dan Smith from Cleveland.
“He will have a band with him called the Cleveland Trio, although it might be a quartet now since they added a saxophone,” Dorsey said. “He’s great. His topics are about being a working-class guy in Cleveland and the history of poetry there. The history of poetry in Cleveland is wild. There are venues where a band can’t get two people but a poet can get hundreds, and a band will get booed off the stage. That would never happen here, but it would be nice. He is part of the Rust Belt. He’s definitely an Ohio guy.”
Dorsey and other fans looking forward to Smith won’t have to worry about anything keeping him from his time slot.
“Once he was supposed to read somewhere, but he had a massive heart attack the day before,” Dorsey said. “He stil showed up the next day. They let him out of the hospital and he went straight over there. The guy is hardcore.”
The event will feature readings by 25 poets from across the country and Canada, ranging from Paul Corman-Roberts in Oakland, Calif., to Lester Allen in Ithaca, N.Y.
Corman-Roberts is looking forward to meeting many of his co-workers face-to-face for the first time.
“The Internet is an amazing thing,” he said. “You get to know people you don’t have regular contact with. Some of these folks I’ve been working with for years and have never met them in person. I’m incredibly excited.”
“It’s a great idea, not just for Toledo but for poetry in the surrounding areas in general,” Toledo poet Craig Firsdon said. “Having great poets from across the United States come here is something you don’t see too much. I’m looking forward to it. It’s great for the art community. I don’t know of any other place that has done anything like this in recent memory.”
Fugett will emcee the festival and doesn’t plan to perform, but he said you never know what to expect at events like this.
“If worse comes to worst and I get tipsy enough, I might read something,” he said. “Maybe I’ll read my own poetry in the voice of John Dorsey or Michael Grover. I’d definitely have to be inebriated for that.”
If that happens, it will fall right in line with Grover’s expectations for the event.
“Somebody is going to do something really crazy,” Grover said. “I guarantee it.”
Dorsey said he agrees with Grover. He warned anyone attending to “expect a circus.” He believes most of the audience will be hardcore poets, but he encourages newcomers to check out the festival, even if only briefly.
“If you want to come in for 20 minutes or come in for the whole thing, that’s fine by us,” he said. “We’d rather someone come in for a brief period than not at all.”
The festival will run from 4 to 10 p.m. with four poets performing every hour. Red Fez will sell copies of its first ever print edition, Red Reader No. 1, at the festival. Fugett will be at the festival handing out copies of the latest edition of Zygote in My Fez.
Following the festival is a public afterparty hosted by Toledo Free Press Star at the Blarney Bullpen featuring an open mic. The afterparty runs from 10 p.m. to close.
“We’re going to have an open mic for anybody who wanted to be a part of this but couldn’t get on the main list,” Dorsey said. “We had so many people that wanted to be a part of this. There were people that got angry because they couldn’t do it. This list filled up within a week of posting we were doing it.”
The Collingwood Arts Center is located at 2413 Collingwood Blvd. Blarney Bullpen is located at 601 Monroe St.
Visit www.RedFez.net/ZyFez for a full list of poets performing. The festival is free and open to the public.
Tags: Blarney Bullpen, Brian Fugett, Collingwood Arts Center, Craig Firsdon, Dan Smith, John Dorsey, Leopold McGiniins, Lester Allen, Michael Grover, Michele McDannold, Paul Corman-Roberts, Red Fez, Toledo Free Press Star, Zygote in My Coffee, Zygote in My Fez