New Poet Laureate to Be Chosen

Term for Cleveland Heights poet laureate Gail Bellamy ends

Cavana Faithwalker is expected to be appointed the city’s fifth poet laureate in April during National Poetry Month. 

Faithwalker, 54, has worked with the  and , an open mic poetry night. He also runs his own consulting business, Left Thumbprint Solutions. 

"He has a long history of public poetry,” said Peggy Spaeth, executive director of , the nonprofit that started the poet laureate project in 2005. 

Now he will be tasked with “connecting the community with poetry,” Spaeth said. 

A Heights Arts committee, Heights Writes, recommends a poet laureate to Cleveland Heights City Council. Council appoints the poet laureate to a two-year term.

Each poet laureate has a “different vision,” Spaeth said.

Faithwalker, who has a bachelor's degree from Cleveland State University, plans to attend the April 20 City Council meeting, moved from April 18 because of Passover, and read a poem, Spaeth said.

He has a lot to look forward to during his term, said Gail Bellamy, the city’s current poet laureate. Bellamy called the job a “pure pleasure” during a phone interview from her office at downtown’s Penton Media, where she is executive food editor of Restaurant Hospitality magazine. 

“I’ve found it really invigorating,” Bellamy said. “It has been wonderful to bring poetry out into the community.” 

As part of the poet laureate project, the poet laureate reads at schools and churches. 

Bellamy wrote poems such as The Meat in a History Sandwich about her arrival in Cleveland Heights on a rainy night. 

Driving with a realtor, she got “tangled in the twists of Overlook and Derbyshire, as we meander through the architecture of the past. When we stop, I feel like the meat in a history sandwich.”

Bellamy, 61, also created and organized the Poetography project. The project teamed 10 poets with 10 photographers to create work about Coventry. The photographs were on display at  last year, and the project was turned into a book, Poetography. 

A 20-year Heights resident with a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, Bellamy said she has been writing poems since first grade about everything from history to food. 

In her poem Really Cooking Now from her 2000 anthology Victual Reality, a job at a burger joint gives a woman the confidence to finally leave her husband.

“Her hair stinks like burger grease and she's starting calling everyone 'Hon,' but there's a hot-grill sizzle to her walk now,” Bellamy wrote.

Bellamy, also author of the book Cleveland Food Memories, plans to continue to speak in the community and work with Heights Arts.

“I’ve made a lot of new friends and met a lot of new people,” Bellamy said of her work as poet laureate. “I will continue to be involved.”   


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