David Lucas promotes alcohol and texting, sort of, at Market Garden: My Cleveland

David Lucas combines writers and beers on West 25th Street

David Lucas is a poet, teacher, and MC of Brews + Prose – a series of lectures and author readings, typically in the basement of the Market Garden.

Why does an Ohio City impresario live on a ranch in Lyndhurst?

It was that of my grandparents. It was built in 1962. When we moved in we had a Mad Men party here. The decor was perfect.

So how did Brews + Prose get started?

It all started with an idea from a friend named Matt Stipe, who helped Sam McNulty open a number of places including Market Garden. They seek not only to earn money, but also to create spaces that are communities. They have a Science Café in the Garden, where the professors talk about research and try to make it accessible. They thought, “Why not do a literary version?

Apart from beer, what is it for?

We introduce authors to new audiences in a supportive and enthusiastic environment. We want to remember that literature is above all a source of pleasure, rather than an enigma to be deciphered.

There are a number of vibrant literary communities in Cleveland. We wanted to cut a few. We want to present a greater diversity of authors.

Examples, please.

Our first reading in July 2012 was
[memoirist] Lounge Ung and [poet] Phil meters.
[Columnist and novelist] Connie Schultz and [food writer] Michael Ruhlman drew our biggest crowd in July, around 230 people.

We mostly did local writers. But we have $ 5,000 in donors for next year that could help attract emerging writers from out of town. We want them to remember Cleveland when they are cheered.

Speaking of emerging writers, you won the Ohioana Book Prize last year for a collection of poetry called “Weather.” How could a local imagine this title?

I like our climate. There is always a time in winter when I get tired of it and a time earlier in summer. But I love the steel sky look in winter. This makes our few crystal blue days in the spring and fall even more interesting.

I use the word weather as a verb. This city resists the storm. The city was brought down, but many Cleveland residents are proud of it. As the coffee mugs say, “Cleveland: You must be tough.”

Or, as you wrote, “The river burned and was not consumed”. So are you a native?

I grew up in Mentor. I have lived most of my life here, with the exception of my graduate studies in Charlottesville and Ann Ar …

Excuse me, but we don’t mention That Place Up North in this column. So where did you teach?

Gilmour, John Carroll, Oberlin.

Family?

My wife, Amy Keating, is a lawyer for Zashin & Rich Downtown. We met in an illuminated Victorian classroom at John Carroll. The priest who married us was also in this class. We have Winston, an old mutt.

Where do you and Amy fill doggie bags?

One of my favorite things in life here is going to new places or old favorites. Ginko in Tremont is quickly becoming a favorite; the mackerel is out of this world. The 306 Lounge at Mentor is that little place with some of the best burgers.

I have probably eaten more at Geraci’s than at any other restaurant. I love their pizza, but I almost always get the French veal.

Other meeting places?

I love driving here. I love driving Chagrin River Road or Shoreway, seeing the whole city lit up.

We are kayaking. Last time we kayaked in the upper Cuyahoga near Hiram. You get to see the landscape in a different way than from a road or a trail.

Two of my favorite places are the monuments of Hart Crane in Case and Hoople’s in the Flats. Crane is probably our greatest Cleveland writer. If only he had written on one of our bridges instead of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Have we had our share of good writers?

We have a great history of writers. {Novelist]Charles Chesnutt was from Cleveland. Langston Hughes with its connection to Cleveland was part of the Harlem Renaissance instead of the Cleveland Renaissance. I don’t know why there aren’t statues all over northeast Ohio for Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison.

Rita Dove from Akron taught me at the University of Virginia. There is a touch of Cleveland in his poems: this sense of alteration, of survival.

Cleveland is a great city for writers. The Clevelanders want other Clevelanders to be successful. There is solidarity.

But there is a tendency for Cleveland boosters like me to romanticize. Our problems are legion and serious. We must remember the good that is here and the good that remains to be done.


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Terri S. Tomasini