Bree Bodnar, founder and proprietor of Green Panda Press, has been writing and performing her work around Northeast Ohio for years. But her most visible project has been promoting other poets via festivals and her Green Panda Press, which cranks out a steady stream of poetry, bound by hand using whatever recycled materials are on hand — be it rivets, cotter pins or dental floss.
After years of putting out other people's work, somebody's giving hers a place on the shelf or in that magazine rack next to the toilet. This month, Charles Potts' Temple press releases was chicken trax amid sparrows tread: poems and one long movement. You can hear the simple joy of rubbing words together even in the title.
The centerpiece of was chicken tracks is a long piece of prose about a cancer scare that turns out to be hemorrhoids, the visible symptom being blood on toilet paper. The language spills out like gossip over a bar, which is how Bodnar says she conceived the voice. But the movement isn't just about using words like "wipe" and "blood." It's about the realization of mortality, the lunacy of the way we run health care and even the thoroughness of doctors. In brief, after physicians recommended a colonoscopy to check for polyps, and Bodnar found a new job with benefits to prepare for the bill, a new doctor told her the blood was probably just hemorrhoids. He checked and that was the case — no major problem, no expensive or traumatic colonoscopy.
Bodnar's second book is also due out any day. As it happens, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth collects books by small independent presses, starting with the mimeograph revolution of the '60s. Bodnar began corresponding with him after she excerpted his "Small Flowers Crack Concrete," a song about Cleveland poet d.a. levy, in The Long March of Cleveland (Green Panda Press Anthology #1), which was dedicated to levy. She "figured Thurston was punk rock and wouldn't mind."
These things get passed around. Bodnar says Cleveland poet Matt Wascovich knows Moore and sent him a copy. "He was thrilled," she says, and he reviewed the book in his column "Bull Tongue" in Arthur magazine. Moore will publish Bodnar's second book — a collection of poems called Laying Pans — on his Ecstatic Peace imprint. It's about making prepared food for an organic grocery-store chain, which happens to be Bodnar's day job.