July 2022 Literary Artist of the Month – Bill Newby
Bill Newby was born and raised in Cleveland Heights, a teacher and administrator at Shaker Heights High School, and an academic advisor and lecturer at Cleveland State University. He wrote his first short story, “Private Eyeballs – the Detective,” in Mrs. Hahn’s 4 th grade class at Noble Elementary.
Though he continues to write an occasional story, he mostly uses poetry to record and explore moments of celebration, complaint, concern, and comedy, and has published two poetry collections: Sea Chests or a Carry-On (2018) and Passing Through (2020).
His work has appeared in Whiskey Island, Ohio Teachers Write, The Breeze, Time & Tide, Sixfold, Blue Mountain Review, Local Life, Panoplyzine, The Blue Windmill, Penumbra, and other places. He was a 2018 Pushcart Poetry Prize nominee, one of Carolina Poets online poets, and recently featured on Ohio Poetry Association’s Poetry Spotlight podcast.
Reviewing Passing Through, Phil Terman, former director of the Chautauqua Writers Festival, wrote that Bill’s poetry “delights, surprises, teaches, and sings poems with knowledge and wisdom.”
Stolen pens write best,
like those lifted from a maid’s cart
or not returned to a desk clerk.
They feel alive, ready for risk,
unafraid to shit on the page.
They travel in my passenger seat,
refuse to wear seat belts,
dare me to ignore stop signs
encourage racing from impulse to ink,
no thought for crossing traffic
or innocents in church or school zones.
My mother used to preach,
“Bad tasting medicines are better,”
as if disgust has the power
to unclog the arteries of a full life.
I’m doing my part.
If needed, please send bail.
(Bill Newby © June 8, 2016)
Freshly washed jeans hug my legs
and girdle my waist.
The buttonhole and stud
behave like feuding neighbors
and need a tug across my belly’s street
before they’re forced to shake hands.
And each pocket is similarly unaccommodating.
My handkerchief has a reservation in the left rear,
but the door is tightly closed
and I need to force it in to get it seated.
On mornings like this
I check the mirror or step on the scale
to see if I’m getting fat.
But I’m just myself garbed in American Casual,
the un-pleated bridge between rich and poor.
And as the hours pass the weave relaxes,
as if attending fabric yoga
where space is breathed into each pocket
and comfort is restored.
(Bill Newby © November 11, 2017)