If you have ever longed for a community that holds wide its arms for poetry you need look no further than Buffalo. On any given night you can find a place in town to hear someone read from his/her work, pick up the latest book by an area poet or find a journal put out by a local publisher. One of which is steel bellow.
An outgrowth of a collective known as The Notorious Pronouns, steel bellow was started in September of 2012 by Vincent Cervone, Paige Melin and John Lamprecht. To set it apart from the publications put out by the Pronouns, they decided on a format featuring three poets per issue, with each poet having several poems showcased.
As for the name steel bellow, Lamprecht says, "We brainstormed the name for quite a few days as I recall, and steel bellow stuck namely as a reflection of what we saw around us in the (what appeared to be dying) city, and how just underneath that exterior there actually existed a vibrant and wonderful community. We also enjoyed the idea that a bellows was to stoke the fire. For us, poetry is that fire and each publication we brought into the world was but one more pump of the bellows."
Recently Lamprecht has stepped back as one of the editors and is currently living in Aiken, SC. He continues to write and moderate the Facebook group Living Poets Society. Melin, who is busy as the Editorial Assistant for the National Poetry Foundation and Paideuma (a scholarly mag on Ezra Pound and modernist poets) and Co-Poetry Editor for Stolen Island, the graduate literary review out of UMaine, continues to edit steel bellow with Cervone. A teacher in Western New York, Cervone is also co-founder of the movie review website www.cinemaobserver.com. He is currently working on his first chapbook, Of Weather.
The latest issue of steel bellow features Richard Olson, Theresa Wyatt and Frank J. Dunbar.
Richard Olson, a native of Buffalo's Old First Ward, has an easy, familiar way with words. His poems settle on you like stories an old friend may tell on a summer evening, having just stopped by to see how you're doing.
Recalling tales of the old neighborhood, life or work, like this from his poem Dancing After School,
From his The Lives We Need to Live,
Theresa Wyatt is well known in Western New York poetry circles. She has been published in many journals and can be heard reading her work fairly regularly around the Buffalo area. Much of her work touches on nature and art, as can be seen in her poem I Live Near the Water,
Or this from her About Carl Sandburg,
Frank Dunbar also hailed from Buffalo's Old First Ward, and until his death in April of 2015, was known as the poet of Hamburg Street. He brings the people and places of his old neighborhood to life through his poems, such as in The Death of the Sidway Street Playground,
This is from his A Summer Night in the Old First Ward,
As Cervone puts it, “The best part about editing steel bellow is reading all of the great submissions that we receive. We've been able to publish some wonderful poets—who are also wonderful people in general—and network with some great people. We have received tons of support and encouragement from Buffalo poets. We are extremely happy to be a part of it.”
So I suggest you look for a copy of steel bellow at one of the great independent Buffalo bookstores or follow Living Poets Society on Facebook for information on upcoming issues and events. You won’t be disappointed.
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