Leaving CLE is made from the detritus of reverse migration. Its poems move from Cleveland to New York City to Tuscaloosa’s “schoolhouse door” and back again. They travel and party with a musical Cleveland from Art Tatum’s 1920’s to Albert Ayler and from Ohio Funk to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. They collage a shifting sense of home and negotiate the gift horse of flashbulb memory. Remembering is a character. Houses speak.
Reviews & Such
- Leaving CLE is a beautiful document of eccentric return. A collection of unforecast surprise, it keeps giving home away, disbursing and dispersing hard, pleasurable weather like a new kind of lake effect. Cleveland is Brooklyn is Chicago and elsewhere, everywhere in a set of absolute specificities, up South, back east, out and out. There’s a black cosmology of “difference without separation” of which Denise Ferreira da Silva, sociologist, speaks. Janice A. Lowe, poet, sings it so hard, makes her air such an irreducible element of the general air, that you couldn’t get away from it if you tried, which is fine, because that’s the last thing you’ll want. Her sound, her time, is everything you do.
- The magic trick is that Lowe makes you feel through all the flux there is something unshakable at center. Words untangle and recombine, then land with stunning clarity. A stealth memoir emerges as Lowe turns an ode to family and city into music.
- In Leaving CLE, Janice Lowe’s debut collection, she imagines poems as scores for socially-charged lyric and performative possibility. These poems explore the psychic and material spaces and traces of Cleveland and other cities through forms that leap off the page. Lowe transforms life’s arcs into song: ‘Sing back to me bright as Sunday’—and she does.
About the Author
Cleveland native Janice A. Lowe is a composer, poet, and performer. She is the author of the chapbook SWAM. Her poems have appeared in Callaloo, American Poetry Review, The Hat, In the Tradition, The Poetry Project Online and are featured on a digital album with Drew Gardner’s Poetics Orchestra. She composed the musicals Lil Budda (text by Stephanie L. Jones), Sit-In at the Five & Dime (words by Marjorie Duffield), and Somewhere in Texas (book and lyrics by Charles E. Drew, Jr.). She has composed for the plays 12th and Clairmont by Jenni Lamb, The Super Starlet Shero Show by The Jones Twins, and Door of No Return by Nehassaiu deGannes. She is a co-founder of the Dark Room Collective and has performed with the experimental bands w/o a net, HAGL and Digital Diaspora. She is currently setting the text of Leaving CLE to music and has an album in the works. She has taught poetry and performance at Purchase College and Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program.