Poetry Books by Ray McNiece

Poet, Performer, Educator...




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Ray McNiece, poet, performer, educator - poems, poetry education, performer, and more...(photo)

Ray McNiece

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Love Song for Cleveland








Available for purchase direct from the author on this website.

$15.00, shipping & handling.






















Available for purchase direct from the author
 on this website. $15.00, shipping & handling.

Reviews & Commentary
Ray McNiece

What Breath Burns Away
Haiku and other short forms

Poetrybay:  click below



In Breath Burns Away, haiku master Raymond McNiece transfigures the daily ordinary into snippets of astonishment, gratitude, passion, political disenchantment, and razor-sharp humor.

 thank you mosquito / for reminding me I?m in skin / still alive

sadhu walking beach / plastic bag of chai in one hand / cell phone in the other

?re both old farts / but at least you are / four farts older

between bright star / and atom inside, I spin ? / breath burns away

Beautifully illustrated by Timothy Lachina?s black-and-white photos, and filled with word-snapshots of his global travel and his love for Cleveland, McNiece?s Breath Burns Away will gift you with new eyes for a fascinating world. 
- - Dianne Borsenik, author of Raga for What Comes Next, publisher of NightBallet

Ray McNiece uses the Jack Kerouac method of haiku writing to transport us in time and place. Remaining in the moment he challenges us to revision the world. Particularly strong is the Basho sequence and his fine essay  "Plop! The Haiku Moment." This book is a Zen blessing.
- -  Larry Smith, author of Tu Fu Comes to America

 Ray McNiece's crystalline haiku, like snowflakes, land on the ear and the tongue and melt into meaning.
- - George Bilgere, author of Blood Pages
















Ray is a three-time winner of the
Haiku Death Match

pdfs_texts/Haiku death match program intro.pdf


      Many of the poems in this collection are not haiku in the strictest  sense. Yes, they are composed of three short lines in the present tense releasing a moment of revelation ? outsight insight ? in short, a verbal rendering of the ?aha? moment of zen awareness. And they often depict that intersection between human and nature. But they do not employ a 5-7-5 syllable format which is, anecdotally anyway, the first response for a layman?s definition of the form. Nor do they have a?kigo?, or season word ? in traditional Haiku one word from a set list to denote the time of year in which the poem occurs, for instance ?frog? for spring. Neither do they use the ?cutting? word, a verbal particle to accentuate the juxtaposition of images which usually occurs at the end of the second line; although they do occasionally use a dash to that effect. Many of the poems here could be called senryu, comic haiku that describe incidents of human nature.
       I feel compelled to mention this to warn off purists? criticisms. These are American English haiku/senryu. I make no claim otherwise. Those seeking traditional Haiku should learn Japanese and peruse the copious lists of ?kigo? that a highly formal and ritualized literary tradition (based on Chinese models) created over centuries. But bear in mind that Basho, the poet most identified with haiku, upended that very tradition in many of his latter haiku ? the famous frog pond haiku being an example of that.
        These are haiku and senryu in an American style, more akin to Kerouac?s beat ?pops?, Richard Wright?s efforts, and Robert Hass? translations of the big three ? Basho, Buson and Issa. Some haiku herein hew to the aforementioned formats, while others are aphorisms, imagist collages, short short narratives, and even jokes with a set-up set-up/ punchline structure. They are influenced by my zen studies and my own idiosyncratic interpretation of the form. They are a direct response to a moment, be that moment in nature, from reading the news, or a passing thought, with the technique of ?notice what you notice? and get the ego out of the way as much as possible. They are not about capturing that moment, but realizing it and releasing it on breath ?breath which is nothing but the basis of the universe.

Our Way of Life  Our Way of Life, by Ray McNiece   

    "...a born poet and a born performer..."
- - Yevgeny Yevtushenko, legendary Russian poet

    "Make no mistake, Ray McNiece is a patriot in the truest sense of the word. He has America coursing through his veins, and his poems are an open highway with a cool Midwestern wind blowing through them. 'Our Way of Life' is a cathartic journey, taking you from meditations on the atrocious war in Iraq to homages to the nation's great living poets, and ending in the nooks and crannies of a country that, despite the heartache found permeating everything, is still alive, vital and staggeringly beautiful in ways that are breathtaking to behold."
-- Victor D. Infante, Editor in Chief, "The November 3rd Club"

     ?Where would we be without the voice of Ray McNiece? Who else would sing of the migrations from Appalachia to Ohio, dance the Slovenian Polka, wail the blues for broken New Orleans, mourn the destruction of our last pristine land, rail against the corruption of corporate government, ache for the victims of torture and war, then croon love songs to Cleveland? Who else would connect us with what makes us human? Ray McNiece is our Whitman, our bard, our bodhisattva, our conscience.?
- - Robert Miltner, Kent State University, Author of Rock the Boat and
Fellow Traveler.

      "It's not enough for an artist to be angry. He also has to be good. And Ray McNiece is good and angry in these poems (Our Way of Life) that burn as hot and bright as the extinct blast furnaces of Ohio once did. Whitman, whose ghost is everywhere in these lines, called America "the greatest poem." And I am happy that Ray McNiece's passionate, relentless voice will not stop until he has made us understand how much we have lost."
- - George Bilgere, John Carroll University, author of The Good Kiss

    It is a poet?s job to tell the truth. McNiece strips away the multiple coats of yellowing varnish in Our Way of Life laying bare a distressed yet solidly built realism. Rather than the usual pop cynicism - these poems embrace an idealism of what should and could be while invoking the language of a poet?s poet. Like a canary in a coal mine he beckons us to come above ground and breathe deep ? before it is too late.
- - Michael Salinger, Cleveland Poetics, author of Neon. 

Available for purchase direct from the author on this website.

$15.00, shipping & handling. 

The Road That Carried Me Here

Ray McNiece, photo of "The Road That Carried Me Here", poetry. The book...and there is a CD. Hear "The Road..."
Sample Sound, 60 seconds, audio sample, Ray's CDs

The CD

Now in its 4th printing, it was published in its first edition as part of the Working Lives Series by Bottom Dog Press, Huron, Ohio, Ray McNiece, Copyright, 1998. 109 pages. ISBN 0-933087-51-9
Short, sample poem below.

Reviews and Comments...

    In this new collection Ray McNiece takes us with him on his road journey through the broken heart of America. These are poems of great joy and deep sorrow expressed with honest voice and sure, clear craft. This new book makes it clear why poetry matters to McNiece and to us all. 

    "Ray McNiece's Road that Carried Me Here is really almost a picaresque novel of an Appalachian anit-hero (himself) on the road that lead Kerouac nowhere except into himself. But McNiece has farther to go..."
- - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

   "Part of McNiece's charm is his mission to demystify poetry, having come from a hard-working blue collar family with roots in the heart-scrabble Celtic Appalachia and Slovenian Cleveland. Like James Wright's work, these poems show a narrative style, acute attention to Nature and an emotional affinity with those whose luck has run out." 
- - Amy Sparks, Free Times

    "Ray McNiece is a rare poet who fully understands the honest heart & soul of contemporary American poetry. In one poem, Ray can have his readers laughing so hard that they'll swear they just heard the best bar joke in an after work saloon in Youngstown, and in the next poem he leaves his readers pondering the past deeply while listening to their heartbeats echo through the side streets of ethnic Cleveland. Ray's the real deal." 
- - M.L. Liebler    

Sample (one of the shortest poems in the book):

Staring at a Heron

August. Hazy. Midday. 
I stand in the heron's stare, 
the heron stands in this stare.
Neither of us will move. 
Lulled to the same leisure
by the weather we share, 
here we are each other. 

The Road... available for purchase direct from the author on this website.
$9.95, shipping & handling. 

America Zen

America Zen descriptionthe poets

$15.00, shipping & handling. 



Song that Fathoms Home

Book Talk


Book, Song That Fathoms Home









$12.00, shipping & handling. 




The Bone-Orchard Conga

Bone Orchard coverLibrary of Congress
 Catalog Number 94-65383

Fourth Edition now in print. Poem below with brief sound sample from the CD

 mouth music

Copyright, 1997, Third Edition, published by Poetry Alive! Publications, Asheville, NC. 96 pages. $9.95, shipping & handling. Purchases direct from the author. See details below. 

Illustrations by Michael Shores and Angela Mark. 

Sample poem below, and with sound sample below if you have very fast connections

Reviews and Comments...

    "Ray McNiece is an adept reader of his own moving, clearly inmaged poems, a skilled performer who does the English language justice. " 
- - X.J. Kennedy, Lamont Poetry Prize Winning Poet. 

    "McNiece smoothly blends fine writing with an angry political conscience. His folksy but honed poems are drawn from the heart of the working class."
-- Amy Sparks, Free Times

 "A warm, wise, gracious guide through an infirm world he teaches his leader how to love." 
-- David Evett, Cleveland State University Poetry Center

Adjust your volume controls. Note:  Best on DSL or ASDL. for slow modems, great patience...may not work on all browsers.

Click [Sample] to hear a short sample (not complete) from
The Inevitable Movement of Love - text below
go to
CDs for the CD

Mouth Music

The Inevitable Movement of Love

by ray mcniece, copyright 1997

Mothers warned their daughters of sailors
but who warned the sailors of you
and all your candles. As you touch your fire
to the last wicks that forest and cathedral the dark
you tell me what the Swedish wives' tale tells - -
"everytime you light a candle, you kill a sailor."

Many sailors have died in this bedroom
where you lead me to dance unsteady
on my sea-legs of champagne, giddy
with your praise of how I always move
towards what I love as I move now
towards your flushed and flickering body.  
Our coming together is the inevitable movement of love, 
two lives fastening before groaningly letting go,
invoking god to come, come and show us your face,
our eyes rolling back into our skulls,
obliterating mathematics with the equation
one plus one equals one, intimate wisdom
that widens out into the phosphorescence of stars 
where we sink and sleep like luminous fish. 

$ 9.95, shipping & handling. 


Us? Talking Across America

Us? Talking Across America

Published by Fractal Edge Press, Copyright 2004 by Ray McNiece, First Edition

ISBN:  1-933126-10-8
Price:  $12.00
Book & Cover Design:  Wayne Allen Jones
Cover Graphic:  Kristen Stuart,  Lodestar Visions

     New program on US? - Go to What's new, Ray? for a description not only of the program, but the book.CLICK ON THE FLAG THERE FOR A PDF: FULLER DESCRIPTION

   "McNiece smoothly blends fine writing with an angry political conscience. His folksy but honed poems are drawn from the heart of the working class."
-- Amy Sparks, Free Times  

$12.00, shipping & handling. 



DIS:  Voices from a Shelter

Published by Burning River, 
Copyright, 1989. DIS

Collector's Editions ONLY
Original printing, 1989 edition. Available from the author on this website only. Very few copies remain. $ 25.00 plus shipping and handling. $ 25.00, shipping & handling. 

DIS:  Voices From A Shelter  fractal edge press




 wet sand,
     raven tracks

wet sand, raven tracks

Reviews and Comments...

Back cover

deep cleveland press

$12.95, shipping & handling. 

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