Dayton poet finds publishing success with debut collection


I need to start this column with a caveat: I’m not at all surprised that T.J. McGuire, whose debut poetry collection “Mid-Life Chrysler” just recently released, has achieved publishing success.

T.J. has served as a volunteer for the summer program of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop (www.antiochwritersworkshop.com), for which I work as director, and I can attest to his strong work ethic, willingness to learn, and sheer awe of poets and writers who are willing to share their insight and expertise.

Not only that, but T.J., a Dayton-area native and resident, won poetry scholarships to the workshop in 2014 and 2015; won the Paul Laurence Dunbar Memorial Poetry Prize in 2005; and was a finalist in the 2016 Slipper Elm Prize awarded by the University of Findlay. His poems have been published in Flights (the literary journal of Sinclair Community College), Mock Turtle Zine (the locally published literary ‘zine), and Slippery Elm literary journal.

But T.J. says his roots in writing poetry go back all the way to his rock band days in the late 1990s.

“I was in a band, Fair and Bazaar, with my younger brother and a few others,” T.J. explains. “We were a mix of folk and psychedelic rock. I was the singer-songwriter. What I quickly discovered, though, was that I loved writing more than the late nights singing in bars.”

He also traces his roots in poetry writing to his wife, who was also his high school sweetheart.

“I wrote my first poem for Jennifer,” T.J. says, “and even took it to her at work. It was … a horrible poem! But she said she loved it.”

His wife, T.J. says, is still his first reader.

T.J. worked for several years in the Dayton Metro Library system, but after he and his wife had children, they quickly realized that one of them needed to be a stay-at-home parent. His wife continued in her job, and T.J. is a stay-at-home dad in addition to being a writer.

“It’s funny … I thought I’d have an abundance of time. It turns out that being the full-time at-home parent and caretaker of the home takes a great deal of time. Not that I’m complaining. I love it,” T.J. says. “But I quickly realized I’d need to set specific times to write as well, or I’d never get anything done.”

For a time, T.J. turned to writing fiction, a genre which still interests him.

“My father-in-law, though, always loved my poetry. He made me feel brilliant when he’d talk about my poetry, and always told me, ‘Don’t forget poetry!’” T.J. says. “When he passed away, I wrote his eulogy. I started thinking about poetry again, and submitted a poem to Mock Turtle, which was published in 2013.”

Since then, T.J. says, he’s been on a roll with publishing.

T.J. says he admires many poets, including locally Herbert Woodward Martin, David Lee Garrison, Matthew Birdsall (all of whom provided outstanding blurbs for T.J.’s collection, and Fred Kirchner, who organized the Gem City Poetry Stage series of readings.

He also credits his mother as an inspiration for his writing. “She was the reader of the house when I was growing up,” T.J. says. “I found my love of books through her.”

T.J.’s collection is available via Amazon.com or through his publisher’s website. His publisher is Alabaster Leaves Publishing, an imprint of Kelsay Books (www.kelsaybooks.com).

UPCOMING LITERARY EVENTS

• Friday, Feb. 3, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Wright Memorial Public Library, 1776 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood — Writers’ Café, a casual hang out for writers ages 18 and up and of all experience levels, meets the first Friday and third Sunday (at 2:30) of each.

“Word’s Worth Writing Center (www.wordsworthdayton.com) events, held in the community room of the Oakwood Starbucks, 2424 Far Hills Ave., Dayton:

  • Breaking Bad Writing with ‘Breaking Bad,’” Word’s Worth Writing Center, Thursdays February 2-March 2, 6:30-8:30 p.m.—Author and creative writing teacher Katrina Kittle (www.katrinakittle.com) will lead this unique writing class inspired by the popular, award-winning television show “Breaking Bad.” Students are not required to have watched the series. Learn more and register at the center’s website.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m., “First Tuesday Writing Workout,” Word’s Worth Writing Center — each month, Word’s Worth holds an “informal tune-up” for writers to recharge their creative batteries with writing prompts, mini-craft lessons, and more. Learn more and register at the center’s website.

Antioch Writers’ Workshop, LitSalon Fundraiser with Author Tim Wagonner, Feb. 12, 4-7 p.m. — The workshop (www.antiochwritersworkshop.com) has opened registration to its next LitSalon Fundraiser, featuring award-winning and prolific horror, fantasy and science fiction author Tim Wagonner. (www.timwaggoner.com). The event will be held at the home of the workshop’s board acting president, Kate Geiselman. All proceeds from LitSalon fundraisers help support the workshop’s summer program scholarships and Young Writers program. Learn more and register via the workshop’s website.

• Thursday, Feb. 16, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Dayton Metro Library, Community Room of Kettering Moraine branch (3496 Far Hills Ave., Kettering) — “You’re a Real Character: Defining Self in Creative Nonfiction.” Learn tips and techniques for writing personal essays. Led by author Erin Flanagan (www.erinflanagan.net). Free and open to the public.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

8 vehicles, 1 injury in 2 crashes on I-75 South in Dayton during rush hour
8 vehicles, 1 injury in 2 crashes on I-75 South in Dayton during rush hour

Two separate vehicle accidents on I-75 South in Dayton during rush hour Friday evening sent one person to a hospital, left eight vehicles heavily damaged and clogged traffic.  The accidents were reported between 5:45 p.m. and 6 p.m., according to Montgomery County Regional Dispatch.  The first accident, near the Stanley Avenue exit, involved...
Number of sexual assaults reported at Wright Patt increases
Number of sexual assaults reported at Wright Patt increases

The number of sexual assaults reported at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has increased the past four years, with 83 reported since 2013, the Department of Defense said Friday. The Pentagon released the data for military installations around the world, including Wright-Patterson which is the largest single site-employer in Ohio with a workforce of...
Leonid meteor shower 2017: Here's how to see this weekend's celestial spectacle
Leonid meteor shower 2017: Here's how to see this weekend's celestial spectacle

If you're looking for a shooting star so you can make your wish come true, this weekend may just be your lucky opportunity. The Leonid meteor shower will peak this weekend, providing ideal viewing conditions for millions across the United States. With clear skies predicted by meteorologists in many parts of the country, even amateur stargazers should...
Get in the holiday spirit: 4 things to do this weekend in Springfield
Get in the holiday spirit: 4 things to do this weekend in Springfield

Looking for some things to do in your down time while you’re preparing for Thanksgiving next week? Here are four events in the greater Springfield area that might fit the bill. » READ MORE: Downtown Springfield’s Holiday in the City: 4 things to know 1. The Freedom Fund Banquet The Springfield chapter of the NAACP will host its third...
Why you shouldn’t ignore hand and wrist arthritis
Why you shouldn’t ignore hand and wrist arthritis

What starts out as a dull, deep aching pain in the hand may eventually lead to a less impressive golf swing or the inability to open a jar lid. ››RELATED: Older people should screen for Hepatitis C The progressive pain is known as arthritis in the hand and wrist, and if not caught and treated early could mean permanent loss...
More Stories