25th Annual Poetry in the Garden Series to Honor Robert Hudzik

Written by Adam Vorobok, Reference Librarian, Downtown Main Library 

The first event of CHPL's 25th annual Poetry in the Garden series is kicking off Tuesday, April 11 from 6-8 p.m. at the Clifton Branch Library. Held in celebration of National Poetry Month, this event will feature the Library’s very own Writer-in-Residence, Manuel Iris, and four poets from the Greater Cincinnati Writers League. Learn more about the event.

Remembering Robert Hudzik

The seeds of Poetry in the Garden were planted by the former manager of the Library’s Films and Recordings department, Robert Hudzik. He was notable for expanding the library’s movie collection especially its independent and foreign films, his love of movies he credited to his wife, Cynthia. Besides bringing notable poets such as Louise Glück and Billy Collins to the library, Robert himself was a master wordsmith. He received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grant in poetry in 1983. He published in various journals including Poetry, Cincinnati Review, and Poetry Northwest. He also wrote two chapbooks: “From the Tree published by Alms House Press in 1995 and “The Luck of Creatures published posthumously by In-House Books in 2011. Sadly, Robert passed away in 2009.

Very early into my library career, I assisted with the Poetry in the Garden series by creating a display of local and notable poetry collections. The night of the first reading, something irrevocable happened. I witnessed the power of the library to act as a hub of not just information, but as a space for the performing arts as well as the coming together of a community. From all different neighborhoods throughout the city, the downtown library was swarmed by old and young poets, experienced and amateur, published and those still seeking that first acceptance letter.

Since then, I have been watering the seeds of Poetry in the Garden throughout the years except for 2020 due to the unexpected outbreak of COVID-19. This year, we have four poets from the Greater Cincinnati Writers League who will read selections of their own work and honor Robert Hudzik by reading one of his poems. We will also have a few three-minute slots for open mic poetry, so be sure to arrive a little bit early to sign up. The event will be hosted by the library’s very own writer-in-residence, Dr. Manuel Iris. The Clifton Library with its beautiful view of Burnet Woods is the location of the event held on Tuesday, April 11 from 6-8 p.m.

Come discover what Robert Hudzik planted and what our local poets have sprouted. 

Get to Know Our Poets 

Joanne Greenway is a longtime member and current president of the Greater Cincinnati Writers League, a poetry organization which has been meeting continuously for more than 90 years. Her chapbooks, “Limited Engagement” and “True Confessions” were published by Finishing Line Press. Her third chapbook, “Low-hanging Fruit,” is due out in August, 2023, and she is currently at work on a fourth. Working title: “Thinner Thighs in 90 Days,” poems focusing on the dietary industrial complex. She has lived in Cincinnati for the past 50 years, sharing her home with the succession of dogs and cats, many of whom have found their way into her poetry. 

Limited Engagement

John Michael lives in Clifton with his wife, Connie, a Eurythmist, her vegetable garden and a sunrise every morning. His poems look at nature and spiritual dimensions. He studied at the University of Cincinnati with Denise Levertov and Wendell Berry. A collection is to be published late 2023. 

Eileen Trauth is a poet, playwright, author and inclusion advocate. She was a college professor for many years and published several nonfiction books and an award-winning play. Her poems have appeared in venues such as Braided Way, Common Threads, Loch Raven Review, The Orchards Poetry Journal, PoetryXHunger, Sheila-Na-Gig, and in several anthologies including “For A Better World,” “Inside Out: An Affirming Epiphany,” and “Within Us.” Her debut chapbook, “Ordinary Time,” will be published by Kelsay Books in fall 2023. Eileen is a member of the Greater Cincinnati Writers League, the Ohio Poetry Association, and Fourth Friday International Poetry Group. She lives with her spouse, Kathy, in Cincinnati, Ohio. www.eileentrauth.com. 

Anne Greenfeld is a retired high school French teacher and former university professor.  She received her Ph. D. in French literature from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, but has been writing poetry since childhood.  Her ekphrastic poem “Rosy Clown Blues” recently appeared in “Inside Out: An Affirming Epiphany,” a collection of self-portraits by transgender artists and responsive poems by Greater Cincinnati poets. 

What is it about poetry that you like best? 

Joanne: The fact that almost anything can be "poetized," i.e. become the subject of a poem. My dear friend and fellow poet, Susan Glassmeyer once wrote a great poem about cerumen--ear wax! Also, poetry can tell a great story in fewer words than, say, a short story. 

John: There is a need in everyone to express themselves but also to find expression in art whatever form it takes. I literally found myself in a creative writing class in High School many decades ago. This time was a saving grace for an adolescent confused by a stifling environment academically, philosophically and spiritually. Poetry can heal soul wounds and remind us of what we have forgotten because we were told to forget. 

Eileen: I enjoy storytelling through poetry. I enjoy the challenge of writing poems in various forms. I like poetry as a vehicle to express powerful emotions. 

What was the subject of your very first poem? 

Joanne: Good grief, I have no idea now. I'm afraid that's lost in the mists of time. I am an old person, you know...  The first one that garnered me recognition was a poem titled “Smoking,” about how my mother used to practice her glamour-girl smoking technique in front of a mirror. It "won" the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library's poetry contest in 2014. (Although no places or prizes were awarded at the time.) 

John: My first poem was supposed to be about Nature but became the insanity of war. 

Eileen: I was a freshman in high school and wrote a poem about Christmas for a class assignment. It was titled “Santa Claus is Dead.” 

Name one poem you think everyone should read right now. 

Joanne: This is such a cruel question! There are an infinite number of brilliant poets, living and dead, who have written astoundingly beautiful poems. I am a polyglot and a student of French Literature, and I think the French poet, Paul Valéry's “Steps” (Les Pas) is an utterly enchanting, perfectly crafted love poem, with just the right touch of ambiguity. Valéry was the last of the great French symbolists.  If I had to pick an English language poet, I was recently very moved by Robert Hayden's,Those Winter Sundays,” a poem of great poignancy and simplicity. But the important thing, good people, is to read poetry. Of course, you may not love it all, but there are probably many poets whose work will move you. Just read it! (You can thank me later.) 

John: “Set No Standard for the Rest” by Christian Morgenstern. 

Eileen: “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye. 

Where are your favorite Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky spots that give you inspiration? 

Joanne: I live on the sixteenth floor of a high rise, way above the city, and have a great view of an active train yard and the Ohio River. Throughout the day, I can see trains pull in and out of the yard, whistles hooting long and low, and watch mighty little tugboats push barges up and down the river. It is mesmerizing. And, in the morning, the sunrises over the river are blindingly beautiful! 

John: Favorite spots in the Tri-state for inspiration? My backyard in Clifton or any greenspace where I can be left alone with Nature and the Elementals. 

Eileen: Some of my ancestors lived in Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton, where I live now. I enjoy walking in their footsteps. Some other ancestors lived in Northern Kentucky towns along the Ohio River. I enjoy walking and driving around the places where they lived. I also enjoy walking in Eden and Smale Parks to view the Ohio River, which links the various branches of my family. 

Attend the first event of CHPL's 25th annual Poetry in the Garden series on April 11 from 6-8 p.m. at the Clifton Branch Library.