Here we are...
political and cultural orientations, who have been
meeting at the Voorheesville Public Library since 1991
to read and discuss each other's poems.
We include old fathers and young grandmothers,
artists and musicians, and run-of-the-mill eccentrics.
Writers are welcome to stop in and stay if they like us.
Monday, December 3, 2007
On the way out in Tom's car with Mike Burke, I pointed out local historical spots - a burned out nightspot from my youth(anybody remember The Swiss Inn?), a great diner called Gibby's you should all try - and exclaimed over the missing chicken. Did anyone else notice it was gone?
While Georgia and Judy had their own tete-a-tete, the rest of us gathered to share our favorite poets and talk about why we write. My impression (and strictly my own) is that some people missed the mark on what we planned to talk about and, as no one appeared to be in charge, it dragged. I should have brought the gavel. On the plus side, other people hit the nail and revealed themselves in good ways and I learned things about them.
In the midst of all, Gary and Mark broke the antique sofa.
We all left around 6 p.m. and, to the best of my knowledge, Tim made it safely home without hitting a deer and landing up in a field in a blizzard with no cell phone service.
Please comment on this blog! I would like to know your impressions of our Sunday.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Anyone wanting to car pool or parade to Quaker Street on Sunday should meet in the library parking lot and wait for others at approx. 1:15 p.m. If you need to be picked up at home, let me know. If the weather is totally awful, cancellation is possible and someone will call you. Yes, we are supposed to bring something to eat or drink. I am thinking, snacks, desserts, wine, beer, not dinner food. Art passed out maps at the meeting. It is very easy, altho a bit of a drive. Art, btw, had a successful book signing at the The Book House last weekend.
Entries are still be taken in the Perious Frink contest. Contact Alan. Alan was the recepient of a well-deserved $200 Poetry Prize given at the Colonie Library by the WmRobt Foltin group. He will use his earnings to continue to promote the publication of poetry. Alan truly performed for us last night by singing (!) his poem "The Ballad of Perious Frink and the Barrel Contest" to mixed reviews. I observed that it was hard to listen to the verse because of his singing. The tune sounded vaguely like "Sweet Betsy from Pike".
Okay, briefly now - Philomena got us talking about the old feminist quote about fish and bicycles. If you don't remember it, where were you in the sixties? Good poem about self image inspired by Cosmo.
Paul posted his "irrefutable logic", timely and universal poem about buying holiday gifts. Humbug. Dan, who is leaving for winter in Florida this weekend, shared his Singer's Prayer. It truly reflected his life.
We revisited Cathy's sad romance story about "The Last Good Day". Great atmosphere.
Beverly was also reflective upon finding an old photo of her mother and seeing her in a new light. She remarked that she had been learning from the group, which was nice to hear from a relative newcomer.
Art was particularly moved by Tim's portrait of his Aunt Florence who met an untimely demise at the age of 15. Some didn't quite get the mystery involved, but overall good review. Dennis did a good job of pointing out specific words to edit. Art said it gave him a whole different view of Tim as an artist.
We also effused over Art's "Fuddy Duddy," which I pointed out was in an enhancing type font. Page setup became part of the energy. Dennis called him the Zen Master. And, at last, a Sullivan poem that was enthused at by all, I think. I loved his opening of "the moon, a tiny sliver of a thing, a lemon twist in a ceiling of gin". Nothing better than that.
Obieduid read his homage de t.c. reluctantly because t.c. was not there to hear it. I won't spoil a future presentation except to say that it inspired a lot of comments, a little controversy and was well-liked.
Lots of good stuff tonight, my favorite again being from our Irish Traveler (Mike B.), who absolutely cracked us all up with "Piano Player". Tim was practically convulsive. I needed a good laugh, and it was a good one, before bringing us all down with "My Mother's Grief", extrapolating about my mother's absence of grief over my father's recent death. Mr. Willis cleverly identified the filaments of Alzheimer's gunk attacking her brain.
We had to cut short a promising conversation about the necessity of explaining or letting poems stand on their own. To be continued, I imagine. See you Sunday. Almost forgetting, I announced my impending 7th grandmotherhood. Great joy in Mudville.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Hi everyone, I am now officially a blogger! So what has me blogging on this Sunday night when I should be praying THAT THE GIANTS WILL WIN! well you see I am not a believer in football either, yet I have recently seen the light...Alan, (AKA the Birdman) enlightened me you see. He presented me with a book last meeting (TY Alan) regarding the evolution of poetry. I have only worked my way through piecemeal. Though I am presently delighted: They are all there: Keats, Byron, Maccaulay, Browning,Shakespear, Lampman..."Lampman?" you ask. Yes Archibald Lampman's APRIL IN THE HILLS is the last poem included. He is a Canadian Naturalist Poet, the little known, virtual King of metered verse. The poem included in the book I copied below; The imagery is great!!! ENJOY! (BTW...he also wrote "THE CITY AT THE END OF THINGS" pretty wild imagery as well).
APRIL IN THE HILLS Lampman, Archibald (1861-1899)
To-day the world is wide and fair
With sunny fields of lucid air,
And waters dancing everywhere;
The snow is almost gone;
The noon is builded high with light,
And over heaven's liquid height,
In steady fleets serene and white,
The happy clouds go on.
The channels run, the bare earth steams,
And every hollow rings and gleams
With jetting falls and dashing streams;
The rivers burst and fill;
The fields are full of little lakes,
And when the romping wind awakes
The water ruffles blue and shakes,
And the pines roar on the hill.
The crows go by, a noisy throng;
About the meadows all day long
The shore-lark drops his brittle song;
And up the leafless tree
The nut-hatch runs, and nods, and clings;
The bluebird dips with flashing wings,
The robin flutes, the sparrow sings,
And the swallows float and flee.
I break the spirit's cloudy bands,
A wanderer in enchanted lands,
I feel the sun upon my hands;
And far from care and strife
The broad earth bids me forth.
I riseWith lifted brow and upward eyes.
I bathe my spirit in blue skies,
And taste the springs of life.
I feel the tumult of new birth;
I waken with the wakening earth;
I match the bluebird in her mirth;
And wild with wind and sun,
A treasurer of immortal days,
I roam the glorious world with praise,
The hillsides and the woodland ways,
Till earth and I are one.
Love and Peace...Gary Yeager
Friday, November 9, 2007
I was cruising the shelves and found a stash of brand new poetry and art books. Poems by John Ashberry, Robert Pinsky, Ishmael Reed, Robt Hass, Some IntuiT House Poetry Series selections, National BookCritics Crircle award winner, and one I checked out called The Rhythm Method, Razzmatazz and Memory.
The art books are full color repros of surrealists, Renoir, Degas, Picasso, Vermeer, Frieda Kahlo, pop art, famous artists, famous paintings and more. Our buyer (Suzanne) must have been on a real rampage, all terrific choices.
Art passed out cards announcing a signing at Book House of Heart of the Matter, which he co-wrote with Marcia Greenberg about teaching - November 17 at 2 p.m. Art will send us directions to his house for the Willis Syndrome party on Dec. 2.
We have a new book of Robert Haas poetry in the collection and Mimi showed us Here, Bullet, written by a soldier who is in Iraq. Alan passed out a beautiful broadside with Cathy's fireworks poem. Also worthy of mention, the late Mr. Yeager was early. Dan was back. Joyce was there but is on her way to Europe again. (Do you detect a note of jealousy there?) Mike B. will be back today. It was a full house with 15.
I am offering a strong suggestion that we stop pointing out punctuation mistakes, for a couple of reasons. Punctuation errors are not vitally important unless the poem is being submitted for publication, in which case, the writer should be checking his own work before s/he sends it out. It wastes time during the meeting.
Everything went fairly smoothly as far as the critiques and conversation went. We seemed to be trying harder to offer positive reinforcement, which is good. It helped that we had a raft of good writing last night. I was not clock-watching and will continue to allow the talk to flow to a natural conclusion if possible, which should be better if everyone polices themselves. Not everyone has to speak after every poem.
Cathy, who happily made it through the whole meeting and looked lovely in a mauve-y sweater and beads, had a terrific poem about the man who mows her field. Joyce had a "four-star" work about Pavarotti. Philomena - good imagery, great line about "what is lost and found at the surface of flesh".
Beverly brought a moving work about tears which I didn't get a chance to comment on, but it spoke to me sharply - "peeling the layers of the onion of grief" (I think that was Dennis). The consenus was that Mimi's "lever" poem needed some trimming, but we (I personally) loved the content. BTW, she also brought an announcement of Pavoldi reading at the Schenectady Library on November 18 along with Miki Conn and David Kaczynski who I also recommend.
We had some masterpieces from the guys, too. I was practically jumping out of my seat because I loved Alan's Birdland Revisited - a "triumph" about Charlie Parker, the other Birdman. Alan commented that Dennis' Winter Wind was "rare", nothing but perfect meter, and it was a great favorite with all of us. We did note the similarity between his "tat-tat" and Obie's "knick-knack".
Our former stoner, Tim also got kudos for his economical language, (Tom, "excellent"; Art, "pure Kerouac"). Dennis made an interesting remark about novice poets offering multiple choices, i.e. many adjectives, more than one verb. I liked that. Art rather baffled a lot of us with a melifluous (did I spell that right?) offering about Why We Die.
Our American Keats Dan Lawlor did a great job with the content of A Young Boy's Literary Friends, citing many major works in kid lit. It was suggested he work on his meter. Our other rhymer, Mr. Y. contributed an excellent sonnet which included my favorite line "for she lies sleeping in my scribbled verse". Cathy compared him to Byron.
Paul's Footnotes of War inspired conversation about the subject matter (good). Suggested stanza breaks because of its density. Tom, whose toys were beckoning among the wine gnats, had a mood piece and the mood was sensuous according to Art, with sustained ambience. Mark did a good job with controlled rhyme in his poem, and had another line I loved "then stepped out of the gifting wrap you oftimes called your skin."
Mark (and I) also confessed to being Stephen King readers.
Spirited, spirited conversation flowed at Smitty's, along with supreme nachos, deluxe chicken wings, zesty fries, an extraordinary chef's salad and enough root beer, real beer and bloody Mary's to make us difficult to control. Kathy was rolling her eyes again.
We will be meeting on the 29th to make up for Thanksgiving. If I have forgotten anything, post a comment.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The Willis Farm
Poets of the EOTNP group bring work to the Thursday workshops for a variety of reasons and
at a variety of finished stages, some done with care, some done hurriedly—as is quite evident sometimes and as some poets indicate.
For these and other reasons, I think it is difficult to get a true assessment of who some poets
are, with respect to their work I mean, the genres she or he prefers for example. A person might call herself a “straight” poet but that does not say what the poet’s preferred genre of poetry is as, for example, elegy, ode, sonnet, couplet, free verse, the narrative poem, etc.
Moreover I can read an Allen Ginsberg poem or a Denise Levertov poem or even one by Sylia
Plath and say this is who this person is, this is what this person is about, this poem reflects that poet’s poetics of life. I don’t think too many of us could say that about too many others in our Thursday night group, or maybe we could?!?!
So I, and others I have spoken with, have asked the question periodically: what is this poet up
to? What is she trying to accomplish?
The Poetics Seminar, if I might call it that, is a Show and Tell of sorts, suggested as a way for
each poet to tell us who she or he is. And this can be done, this time anyway, by each poet bringing a poem to read which the poet says: I believe this poem reflects who I am as a poet. This is my quintessence.
And since none of us has arisen sua sponte, we all have a family tree, a poetical family tree. I
think it behooves each poet to know who the members of that tree are, to be able to say so-and-so is my grandfather, these are my sisters and brothers, these my children, if anyone can go that far—poetically speaking.
So the second part of our little seminar will involve each poet reading a relatively short piece
of work of his parent or a member of her or his genealogical tree that reflects that V’ville poet’s DNA. A poet might say: I would like to read this poem of my grandfather. It might be Whitman, it might be Wallace Stevens, it might be Marianne Moore as one’s great aunt, whoever. Before reading the poem, the poet will be asked to say a word of two of why she or he believes the “guest” poet reflects who they are.
After this reading, the group assembled is encouraged to ask the poet a few questions about
her or his interest in poetry and goals, and aims to which a poet might respond: I want to win a Pulitzer Prize! I want to get published in Poetry Don’t Pump Gas II. I want to get out of here!
I am imagining the Q and A period to be supportive of the poet, not an inquisition, a forum
to help each poet open up more like a spring flower. At this time as well the gathered poets might point to a line of a poem or to an entire poem of the poet (on stage) which they found interesting at one time, or that influenced him or her in some way.
Hopefully we can walk away from the Willis farm knowing each other’s work better, each
other’s person better, and be prepared for and interested in helping each poet grow, mature, develop better as a poet the next time we see her or him at our Thursday night sessions.
Monday, October 29, 2007
When the house finch
does its red, silly mating dance,
with the brown female’s rapt attention,
right out side my window
When this morning the sun shines
in its sacred, diffuse way
through a tumble of cloud
When hundreds work their 9-5 magic
making these bus doors
that open just now for me
When the earth pivots
just the right distance from the sun
the air like a cradle the trees provide
How can you say the world is not for me?
When your eyes look at me crystal blue
and the drops from your rain-caught lashes
Friday, October 26, 2007
Dennis expounded on his discussion ideas for the afternoon. Here is my interpretation: bring one of your own poems which typifies who you are; bring a poem by another poet which helps to define you. Be ready with answers to the questions, what do I want from poetry and what does it mean to me? If Dennis would like to elaborate further, I will be happy to post. In any case, it sounds like a great time, alas that which we lack so much of.
Sometime we need to be able to address other lengthy issues which we are forced to avoid on meeting nights, which brings me to last night, when Philomena opened up a controversy over our protocol. She felt that her last poem had been "trashed" in an un-constructive manner and that we were awash in negativity.
The protocol on the blog and the newer version that Tom worked on (and I have not yet been able to post) both acknowledge that our guidelines are tough and you need to be tough to participate. Critism is just that, and negative is in the eye of the beholder. After the first couple of meetings, nobody who attends and wants feedback is going to be babied. I have brought some real clunkers and some half-clunkers that I thought were wonderful and no one else did, but in every case I listen and try to learn from you. Or I just smile and think what do those idiots know, and do it my own way. If you don't want any critique, all you have to do is say so. If you only want soft and gentle, go elsewhere.
I readily acknowledge that there are writers within the group whose poems I consistently prefer for one reason or another - style or content or the font they type in, etc. To me, that is human nature. My hope is that none of us are offering unwarranted or thoughtless criticism, and that it is not taken personally.
Only one reflection on last nights poems: Tom's left me with a bittersweet vision of rolling naked on the floor in front of the refrigerator in a welter of cherries and honey. Thank you.
Last notes: Tim at Cafe Lena on November 7. 15 writers here, Cathy left the meeting early with a coughing fit, nice to see Joyce and Gary, although we didn't get to their poems. Philomena is going to email me a poem for the blog, setting a precedent for future weeks when those who wish will have an opportunity to do so. Burke has bailed to Ireland for a couple of weeks. Jazz concert (free) at VPL this Sunday at 2 p.m. Next meeting: November 8
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Photos to follow shortly.
Monday, October 15, 2007
The business of the night included a plan to meet for discussion and libation at Mr. Willis' house in the next few weeks. Art will bring us a selection of Sunday afternoon dates that are agreeable with the mistress of his home and hearth.
The Red Menace is reading at the Social Justice Center on Thursday. Anyone who wishes can join the crowd at Ichiban at 5:30 for dinner before the performance. Mimi will be signing books at the Book House the same night.
Tim is featured at Cafe Lena in November, tba.
Alan is soliciting subscribers to Rootdrinker.
Cathy was home sick.
Joyce the traitor Schreiber is taking Thursday night fiddle lessons.
I am enjoying the furor that has been generated by the Ben Stein article. Who knew?
Okay, on to the poems.
Weighing heavily on my mind: Tom rudely pointed out that my poem about Dewar's, ice, water back, was full of cliches. Oh, the pain of it. He, on the other hand presented a Bukowski-like piece with shades of Anthony Bourdain which I liked and someone compared to a jazz piece.
Willow brought a ghazal, which I had no clue about and Mimi disagreed with and the scholars (Tom and Dennis) tried to enlighten us about the next day. Do your own research.
Dan Lawlor was back from his travels with a "First Date" poem, no rhymes, no cliches, just a few too many words that could have been edited out. Lots of "and"s.
Dennis, who called an intervention on himself, passed out a packet of poems (gosh, I wish I could be home writing all day). The Calling was about kids trying on identities, which we enjoyed, but concluded it needed some air.
I liked Tim being bullied on his way home from school, his line "sometimes my fear is praise enough" was totally awesome. Paul had a great line as well - "Mother Nature was about to slam down the window on the slipping fingers of the growing season" in First Hard Frost. Obie was "in the gloamin of the mornin" with the suicide squirrels and got no criticism. Art included a woodchuck/marmot in what was actually a to-war-or-not-to-war meditation.
Philomena tried a sonnet, with an evil topic, related to her work with sex abuse victims.
Mimi's Farewell asked a rhetorical question about keeping our boys boys.
Ben Bird wrote a WCW elegy for DH Lawrence in four parts that Tom wanted to chop up.
Edie amused us with a day in her life with Saul.
Beverly Osborne, who was not frightened away, and, indeed, seems to like us, had a personal reflection work titled Glass which had good pacing, good space. Suggested to leave off final line.
Food followed, with most of us at Smit's. Wish I could figure out how to be at both ends of the conversational table at once. I am always missing something.
This coming weekend (20th) is the library book sale. Thousands of donated books, good ones for cheap prices. On the 21st they are practically given away ($1 for a whole bag). Bake sale, too, on Saturday, begins at 10 a.m.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Sans Barbara, Sans Gavel, Sans Women ... Almost!!!
Without Beverly, it would have been Guys Night Out! No telling where it would have ended. Certainly not Smitty’s! The bowels of Watervliet? Who knows! So where were the women? And who’s Beverly? The women didn’t show! Mayhaps because Barb, out on big time bronchitis-leave (Be well, Barb!), had warned them that Der Fuehrer (moi) would be in change. And Beverly? None other than our newest member; hailing from Albany by way of Tribes Hill. She’d browsed this blog, and, voila, appeared! Introductions, a quick look at the RULES, and we were off and reading! Beverly’s Right of Passage, which some felt was actually two poems, spoke of her chubby five-year-old self and her brother and sister. Oddly enough, no one asked Beverly why Right was right, and not Rite. Dennis, however, did have a problem with underwear, not his, or Beverly’s, but Gram’s and Grampa’s, insisting that old people’s undergarments are best disclosed as drawers. Welcome, Beverly! Alan presented an alangory titled The Three Sisters, a riff on three sisters, three golden apples, the threes of life. Short lines, innovative rhyme schemes. Bravo! Obeedude took issue with issue, departing from his colloquial tongue of late, and laying out a tender snapshot of baptizing his baby girl! Presumptive perhaps - a la Dennis - but very well done! Tim, champing at the bit to head off to P-town for an extended weekend, did justice to a War Rant, and the cruel, despicable irony of war, however cloaked. There’s always been war. Top-notch performance peace! Dan conjured the mood of Edgar Poe’s Lenore (at least for me) with his well-wrought Romeo at Juliet’s Tomb. Captivating musicality. He really nailed it! Steeplechase Park, Coney Island, Paul’s contribution, replayed a newsreel of a faded, peeling park, and a memory of a steeplechase ride which kept its strength hidden / until it knew it was all / that was left. Superb! Paul also stepped in to rescue my Flash Fiction, a brief journey into one my sanctums, from the land of bicycles by transforming pedals into petals! Thanks, Paul! Readers shouldn’t be given multiple choices was a point well-paraphrased by Dennis-the-Red-Menace’s invocation of Shelly’s 1819 Defense of Poetry, before launching into his Fifteen Rules For Living Sanely, a reworking of a piece he had open-mic’d in July at Albany’s Social Justice Center. A cool, erudite, edgy, entertaining list of rules written for (I believe) a 13-year-old friend of his, it displayed his usual panorama of juxtaposing images and education, reminding me, at least, of the list, which, mis-attributed to the late, great Kurt Vonnegut, toured the commencement address circuit a few years ago. All good stuff! And with time to spare before the library’s 9 PM closing! Then it was off to Smit’s where, amid Bloody Mary’s avec sidecars, Black and Tans, some weird concoction that Alan found a recipe for in an old copy of Pilgrim’s Progress, tried and true chilled mugs of Bud Lite, medium wings, burgers, Deutchedogs, Kraut, and American wannabes, the discussion got sidetracked - thanks to Kathy-of-wait-staff-fame - into ghosts and witches and Dennis who goes bump in the night. The tab for $100 muted the raucousness. We became the Society of Dead Poets! We reached into our threadbare pockets. Obeedude jumped up on a chair; Dennis upped his pontifications; Beverly sat wide-eyed (She won’t be back!); Alan ended up putting in $35 (Hey, we’re poets not mathematicians!); I grabbed a Metroland, and ran to Pheasant Run, just as the Sheriff of Nottingham arrived on the scene! Yes, it was poetic!
Addendum from the Blog Goddess:
Good work, Commandant. I am glad to hear that Beverly showed up (she emailed me several weeks ago) and I hope you rowdy boys didn't frighten her. I am feeling better. I have one of those breath-y machines which seems to working on my cough and I will be back at work on Monday. I am sorry to have missed the festivities.
Aside to tHom - I couldn't open the attachment because I can't access anything in MS Word, but was able to copy and paste. Thanks for taking over. Did you have to gavel anyone, or did everything just go to pieces?
Friday, September 14, 2007
I move from the lakeside rocks
warmed by the afternoon sun
to the picnic table beneath the large oak
Susie my summertime dog
moves with me to stay at my side
I love to watch the rain drop on the lake
make endless repeating ripples
crash and join into each other
hear it drop on the leaves above
while I stay dry.
Watching the dark clouds
move toward me as the fog rolls in
I think of girls I have known
who were once in my life
but never wanted to come back
after they left.
I sometimes wish Susie was a hot babe
spilling out of her halter top
short-shorts legs crossed all thigh
arms around me snuggling
laughing at my jokes.
But now it's just me
and my summertime dog
we'll stay here
under the oak
till I get wet
or run out of beer.
NEWS: I am the feature poet at Tess' Lark Tavern on
September 24. Don't ask me why I said yes, as I am not much into these readings anymore. I guess it was because I like Mary Panza, who was the one who asked me. Signup starts at 7, readings at 7:30 or so. Some of us will probably meet earlier for food and libations. They serve good burgers. Anyone who wants to come, let me know if you want to carpool. Dennis is the feature there in October. Always the last Monday of the month, I guess. Tim will be at Cafe Lena in November. Mary P. and other familiar faces will on stage at the Larkfest tomorrow. I think I might go.
Alan, who was a little clumsy with his lemonade, brought a broadside and accepted compliments on his Normanskill book last night. He is expending a lot of time as Benevolent Bird and doing a great job with publications. He is currently at work on a little book for me.
Lifelines is starting up again on September 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the director's office. I am planning to be there, at least for the first one. Also having the Elizabeth Brundage writing workshop here on October 6, signup required. I will be here.
READ THIS AND ACT: The library is conducting an online survey as part of our expansion planning. It is accessed through our website and asks questions regarding how and why you use VPL and what you think our future holds. Please take the time to take the survey and register your opinions, as you are regular and influential users of this library.
POEMS: Alan's poem was a tribute to Dan Lawlor (who missed it as he is in Denver), described his start as a singer, the triumph of being a tenor. Dan's influence showed up in a couple of poems as Cathy rhymed about Summer's End. We particularly liked the line that read "cones march up the arms of the pine". Distracted Mark, who just came by to pick up the cell phone he left here last night, expanded on his "this is not what I signed on for" rhyme, which is terrific and makes me laugh.
Seasonal poems abounded. I railed about the idiots who proclaim to love autumn, when to me it is a sad season, a precursor to death and dying. Okay, I may have been reacting to a serious downturn in my father's health. Paul was into trees with a description of an Old Maple and its changing fortunes. Philomena encountered an English bulldog on a walk (not a drive!) to a lake and a dangling caterpillar in a tree. Mike sat under a tree in a Summer Shower with his "summertime dog". We all loved it, I think.
Dennis, of course, was more erudite, but accessible, with an expression of the thin line between hope and despair. poor passing facts. How true. Tom had a good one, too, with what may become an annual tradition of end-of-the-track-season horse poems appropriately titled Thoroughbreds. I loved the Spanish leather line, as it reminds me of a favorite Joan Baez song. As usual, very little criticism of either work.
On to the controversy of the night - Tim's very excellent, scathing portrayal of two particular individuals in a restaurant. Descriptions were right on target, but general consensus was that it was could have been done with fewer words. A couple of people mentioned that he was being unduly mean-spirited in his description. Tim felt that the group was missing the point in the poem. I think we all understood the message - which was a good one, btw - but I feel that the effectiveness was obscured rather than highlighted by the repetitiveness.
Gary, if you could find me a sonnet-writing poet (still breathing) I am available for marriage or the remainder of my life. Arthur Davidson Ficke: good stuff.
MISC: I needed my gavel several times during the course of the evening, but had left it in my office and resorted to pounding the table. We did however manage to get everyone to read before closing. Tim and Cathy got lost somewhere between VPL and Smitty's. The rest of us ate a pile of wings and nachos with a variety of drinks. I am waiting for Mike's analysis of GW's speech. Alright, I will now post Mike's poem and wait for responses from you all. Can anyone think of a new poll? Don't forget the V'ville Peace Rally on Tuesday nights. Good turnout of writers. We are big advocates for peace.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Also, a NEW feature enables us to have fun and games like the poll now appearing. This one is rather simpleminded as I was in a hurry to practice the polling gizmo, but it also serves as a promotion for Alan's newest publication of Normanskill. It is a really nice work. He is a talented guy.
Speaking of talent, did you all get Tom's mail about his latest work on display at the Upstate Artists Guild? The opening reception is tonight. He is getting well-deserved acclaim for his "orbs" and "orbits" which I love (altho I am still distraught that he destroyed a green and purple one that was my favorite).
Dan Lawlor will be in Denver for the next meeting and Mimi will also be away, but I think Burke is Back and am expecting to see some faces who have been missing over the summer. I saw Cathy and Dennis and Joyce at the peace rally in the village on Tuesday. We were taking off our clothes and throwing ourselves under the wheels of motorcycles to protest the war.
BTW, Lifelines will begin meeting again on September 20 also with some new faces to give the group a little of infusion of life (sorry, couldn't help it). I am going to try again to attend, as I have been writing prose on my blog at home. I find it very difficult to get back to the library at night however after having been here all day. I love the library, but I don't want it to consume my life.
Take the poll so I see how it works.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Paul presented another glimpse into his mischievous young life with a circus story that was very funny and deserved a five-star rating. Obeedude did a funny with What maks tha Happie Maun happie? Rather oddly, it referenced serotonin. Perhaps a more colloquial spelling. Saeretunen?
Dennis started out to Perth Amboy with a bang - hauling a truckload of chickens with his grandfather. I thought I was gonna love it, but he lost me in stanza two and the discussion between us degenerated into a minor tift over Priam, of all things. I no longer have a mind for complexities. Oh, well. Joyce (welcome back, Schreiber!) was also into mythological references. Her Medea was very emotional, in spite of the spaghetti straps.
We discussed the shape and size of Asparagus, which was Tom's title. Not many comments, as Tom's style is all his own. Alan, on the other hand, fielded a lot of suggestions about his Campfire on the Land, a sweet/sad memory of father-son camping trips. (from me: read the poem on his second page called Poem as Confessional. Great one.)
I did not have a poem, blaming it on my computer which has vomited up my Microsoft Word and rendered me helpless.
I was wrong about segue. No one got gaveled.
No Ally, no Art, no Edie, Mike or Dan or Catherine. Tim is off to Rockport, MA, today and I am off to Maine next week. Tom is doing the old college trip with his daughter this weekend. Good luck to him. Maybe we will be back to full strength on September 13.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Mimi brought her annual Elvis poem (yes, the King is dead!) which everyone liked. It is hard for me to imagine our sensible Mimi as "boy crazy", but that is what she admits to. Philomena, with a last minute entry, asked the pitiful question who am i.
Art's poem was visually pleasing to me, with a recurring line of "sometimes I ask too much of chance." It also struck a chord (sorry) with a reference to Sibelius' 7th, rising and hanging in the air. Dan, our opera singer, particularly liked that, too.
The stout-hearted Scottish wanderer continues his journey. Mark responded to our questions for further explanation about ULLANS, the language he has been sleeping with. He is able to access the words through glossaries and other writings to establish their meaning and usage, which I didn't understand. I thought he was just making it up as needed.
I was happy to see Paul at the Ernie Williams concert Wednesday night. It was a great evening. I love Ernie. Was wishing Tom was there to hear the sax player who was phenomenal. Paul's poem was very strong, about an old man dying to sounds of a baseball game outside his window. We all offered a little trimming advice and I suggested a title change to "Crossing the Plate".
Napoleon at Elba was well served by Dan's verse. In fact, we all wanted him to continue it beyond the four stanzas he had started with. A Napoleonic epic.
I got a little carried away with rearranging Cathy's effort at comparing pelican flight to the Blue Angels, although she took it graciously. My excuse was that I liked the concept so much it needed to be made stronger. Cathy won a nice cash prize in the Greenville All Arts Matter contest for her poem about driving with her oxygen. Good woman.
BTW, Cathy will be deciding soon whether or not to continue with Lifelines this fall. Anyone who wants it to keep meeting should be ready to make a real commitment to the group. Think about others you might recruit and contact Cathy at 861-8067. Any of you who are also prose writers might want to sign up for a writing workshop I have scheduled here in October with local author Elizabeth Brundage. Details will be coming out in the next Bookworm at the end of August.
Mimi was featured at Cafe Lena this month. I am going to be at the Lark Tavern in September. Mike Burke appeared on Mimi's program on Bethlehem TV last Thursday. I missed it.
Someone made a suggestion (after I ripped up Cathy's pelicans) that we pick a short poem and all write our own versions of it. Something simple, for example, the WCW poem about the plums whose title I can't come up with. We also mentioned another group topic night, which I always find interesting. Anyone got a topic?
Love and kisses, Marilyn
Monday, August 6, 2007
Sullivan, Philomena Moriarty, Catherine Norr and Mimi Moriarty
attended a special service, "Poetic Perspectives on Spirituality," at
the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany. Philomena, along
with church member Julie Lomoe, hosted, greeted and opened the
service with their remarks and their poetry. Dennis, Joyce and Mimi
read three poems each, all on the subject of spirituality. As you
can imagine, each had a very different slant. Catherine played
guitar and sang two very haunting, beautiful songs. There were two
other poets, Carol Graser and Pam Clements, who also participated.
The EOTN poets were warmly received. Philomena was an especially
gracious host. Afterwards the poets, with guests, brunched at
Bountiful Bread in Stuyvesant Plaza. The conversation was lively.
Dennis entertained the table with a bit of Latin, Mimi, Catherine and
Joyce reminisced about their week at Pyramid Lake, and witnesses say
the place was much quieter when they all left for home.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Please see the new link on our link list. You can follow it to a new reference database the library has subscribed to (Thompson Gale), choose "literature" link and you will arrive at the Contemporary Poets site. You can look up hundreds of poets for bio information, reviews, etc. It is pretty interesting.
Congrats to Tom on another gallery acceptance. Those orbs are really in orbit, aren't they.
Have a happy weekend.
Remember "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." (Bertrand Russell)
Monday, July 30, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Okay, tt seemed to work having the person to the left of the writer automatically be the person to do the second reading. Let's keep doing that.
Paul proposed that instead of taking the three-week hiatus when it occurs, we use that 5th Thursday for an extra meeting. This would, incidentally, take care of our holiday conflicts when we miss meetings on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is up for a vote - opinions, anyone?
I am updating the "class list" - I have Dan's information and a couple of email changes. Anyone else have anything?
I have not yet talked to Mimi as I believe she is still at Pyramid Lake. There are a couple of people absent for the next meeting (The Red Menace is one), so I will ask her about another date to go her house. Nobody wanted to miss it.
Philomena was back after an absence and Ally can't seem to stay away even though she keeps threatening to do so. (She and Edie were both lovely in pink.) Philomena got in a nice dig at you-know-who (the "leaderofthe freeworld") with Pigeon Droppings. Ally presented her hero husband as a 19-year-old WWII pilot in the Pacific. We agreed that "kill" is a good word. I brought a show'n'tell photo of a child I met over the weekend and a commentary on seeing beneath the skin. Dennis had the best title of the night with When You Bow Your Head To Die. I want to write one with the same title.
Oh, gosh, Dennis, I just stopped to look at your other poems from last night and found the best one you have EVER WRITTEN! I command everyone to read The Presence of God (on his third page). We must workshop this. Dennis, why didn't you choose it for last night? Was this a test to see if we really read what you bring?
Tom and Obee and Paul got gaveled for chatting when someone else was commenting. I thought it was just Paul and Obee, but they insisted it was Tom's fault. Paul received a few suggestions for increasing the impact of his Highway Incident - a dramatic occurance that might have been made more so with a few changes. Mark had an unusual format to his ...Lament of a Simple Minded Christian and it was amusing and sad and autobiographical. I liked it a lot. It is curious that Dan has inspired some rhyming verse from the rest of us.
Bad Boy Tom (or should I say Deaf Boy Tom) wrote On His Partial Deafness (my favorite of the evening). He read it last week at Social Justice, so some of us had a preview. It is a performance piece and he performs it perfectly. Also a good second read by Mark.
Tim did a hilarious update of his mother rampaging through the house and neighborhood. Tom suggested trying it as a prose poem, no paragraphs. I was busy paring it down. Great material either way.
Alan offered A Design on Your Attention, a reflection on linoleum slicing. Make your own metaphor. Alan, I liked it and the poem which begins on your opposite page, too. Lastly, Mr. Lawlor, who says his life is music, had a perfect verse to start off What is Music? "...the melody of dreams that lovers keep..." Sweet and well written.
Lively conversation followed at Smitty's, all ten of us engaged with our seating companions. General question posed by Dennis regarding my experience with Moses about my white Bible. I think I "won" in the opinion poll. Lots of wings consumed.
Monday, July 23, 2007
A brief report on our night last Thursday at the Social Justice Center with Tim as the feature - he did a great job. His poems sound wonderful in a performance setting. Dan Wilcox is the host and holds everyone to the one-poem rule. Tom and Dennis and Obee and Mimi were all there and read. Prior, we had dinner together at Carmine's, where the food was outstanding.
There was a respectable crowd - more than 20. I read my getting married in Vegas poem and had a slight altercation with someone over the content. Weird. I am back from an excellent weekend in the Bronx and will see you all this Thursday.
Monday, July 16, 2007
She spoke fondly of EOTNP and asked to be remembered to you. She needs more time before we plan a visit.
Father told me
be a civil servant
New York City cop
or fireman, sanitation
has the benefits
glasses and teeth
out in twenty
upstate at forty
a chicken farm
a horse or two to ride on.
His counsel I followed, save
a servant of servility I became
a cop of words and sentiments
a fireman of unconsciousness
a garbage man of despair
strewing poems everywhere
a proud civil seer, poet,
serving with flair the city
of kindness and peace
astride beauty’s elegant mane
no glasses no teeth
just gratitude, what Blake says
is grace, before which death daily
bows in ignominy.
Friday, July 13, 2007
The Professor had invited one of his former poetry students to visit us. Tom Vecchio used to be a Voorheesville kid who is en route to Oregon. He is still writing poetry and brought a good one about NYC life - coffee, the F-train, newspapers caught in an iron fence. Dr. Willis himself was a little more obscure and several of us admitted we didn't know what he was talking about. His explanation was that it was a blast against "dualism", which I am still going to have to look up. Sorry, Art.
Dr. Sullivan was a hit with all of us. Short and simple about his work as a "civil seer", "strewing poems everywhere". Obeedude had us all laughing - at the content of his poem and the fact that we could practically understand it. To clue you in, he got a Lolli if he were "guid" getting his "hairscoot" and "ona Connan cood play".
Alan served us up a fish platter, Grandfather Carp's tale to be exact. It was a great description of a river journey, leaping through white foam, tumbling rapids, shadows and shallows. Final section introduced a dragon element which I wanted to see earlier. Paul, who, I was interested to note, had left a comment on our blog last week, offered up a piece on landfills and politicians which the guys seemed to like but I was unmoved by.
I did a breakout poem about taking a cheap flight to Vegas and getting married in the Elvis Chapel which everyone laughed at, perhaps not realizing that I was deadly serious. If I post it, the women may understand.
News and Gossip:
- Timmy is featured at the Gay and Lesbian Center next Thursday. Please go.
- Mary Panza, the Albany Poetry Goddess, is urging us to submit poems to Chronograph, a pretty sharp looking local magazine of which she is the poetry editor. I can get you info if you want it.
- I tentatively told her I would featured at the Lark Tavern in September. They have good burgers.
- Alan brought the info for poetry reading at the Altamont Fair this year. For those of you who didn't know me then, I was discreetly discouraged from attending again after my first performance there years ago. For some inexplicable reason, the little ladies with the apple baskets didn't like me. I will probably spare their sensibilities and not go back. Bob Foltine is making the arrangements for August 15 at 10:30 a.m. in the Old School House. Call Bob at 785-1252 to sign up.
- We agreed that some of us would like to visit Mildred and I am charged with inquiring about doing a poetry reading at Beverwyck in the fall.
- I am going away next weekend. My Josh and Amy are finally having their wedding celebration and I get to meet the new in-laws. I guess that means more good behavior from me. Amy's father is a minister.
- Cathy's family (son and wife, two kids 4 and 7) is here to stay with her so she has been too busy to answer her email.
- Tom was not at the meeting but I will see him tomorrow at pottery class.
Hilarity at Smitty's included lots of good Scots jokes, as well as other ethnic and cultural indiscretions, such as offering Edie pizza with pepperoni. Tom Vecchio joined us, which led to a discussion of communes on which, to no one's surprise, a couple of us have lived.
Omigosh, i almost forgot to mention Timmy's poem, as I was saving it for last. It was a spot-on description of a faceoff between two macho hunks at a gay swimming hole. It was a little sad, very touching, and pretty darn funny. Great job.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Mildred was married for over 60 years to her childhood sweetheart, Donald, who died this May, and I wondered how Mildred would survive without him. Well, I received mail from her this morning, thanking me (us) for the card I sent and including a couple of poems. What amazed me was a notation in the program from Donald's service that she had crafted a sand/cement sculpture which she donated to her church in memory of her husband. She is quite a character. She tells me that, God willing, she will be 90 in October.
I wish you all could have known her.
Friday, June 29, 2007
News first. Ally appeared to say goodbye for the summer as she has chosen to do water aerobics on Thursday nights instead of poetry (!). I concede it is better for her health, but we will miss her. Joyce tells me she is also taking a writing break. Burke has deserted us for the lake house. No Mimi for a couple of sessions. She will be in VA and at Pyramid Lake. Paul was missing last night and I missed the explanation if there was one. Also no Philomena. Still, a dozen of us there and some good, good poems.
Dan had questions about poems that rhyme v. those that don't and expressed his inability to write the others. We might want to spend some time talking about that subject and the subject of gerunds, which also came up. Dennis has suggested that we do an evening outside the library which is devoted to discussions of that nature. Our time is usually so short at meetings that we cannot get into other subjects of interest. We will be planning something.
Okay, the poems. Edie's Sanctum Sanctorum was unmistakeably hers and one of her best. Markle's new language was almost decipherable and very clever. He is making progress. Ally did a DRY LAND SAIL which was not only a great title, but a great poem about an encounter with a bicyclist with "lime green billowing".
Tom had a new technique called "leave extra words in the poem and let the audience choose". It worked admirably and we all had an opinion. It was fun. A small debate ensued about #4 pencils. Willow also prompted quite a discussion with her surprise ending on an "alien" poem which turned out to be litter of puppies. We opined that it needed a new title.
I missed the reading of Art's Targum but picked up on positive remarks about the cadence and the content. Dennis divided us all between those who had heard of Phillip Berrigan (the 60's peace priest) and those who hadn't. Our peace and justice master impressed us (me, anyway) with his personal acquaintance with the man who was an object of my admiration.
I got a little dramatic with Timmy by tearing his poem apart (literally) and did apologize after, but he didn't seem to mind. I found the first two pages confusing so I ripped them off. The final page I loved.
Dennis inspired me to write about my grandmother, who was his neighbor years ago. I was kind of rough on her. I have strong memories of our visits to her in Tennessee and think it was a strong poem.
Alan wrote about Adirondack clouds, ending with the terrific phrase "this weather is too small to hang your hat on". I loved that. He also published a broadside of my poem from last time about my family around the fire. It is adorned with a beautiful woodcut (?) of leaves. I love it and appreciate his effort with it. Thank you, Alan.
And - thank you all for your presence at my birthday and for the very thoughtful gifts and speeches. You are all very special to me.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Paul also gave us a good solid poem about tintypes which prompted a lot of conversation. I guess most of us have some and we all have the same thoughts about the people pictured - their lives, their fate, etc. In reference to the poem itself, Dennis made a valuable comment about being able to take out word connectors without damaging the essence of the work. I feel the same about adjectives, as Mimi does about adverbs, and Willow about exclamation points! I just purposely omitted the unneccessary descriptor "old" from in front of tintypes, as of course the nature of the tintype means that it is old.
The Red Menace also prompted discussion about how some of us feel inadequate when faced with a poem that includes literary references that are unfamiliar. His poem contains some magical lines for me about angels ("with a leg, a wing in every world" "to grow wings, will that make us angels"), but I am trying to disgest "angellein" and "pre-valence", words I was not familiar with. Willow suggested stanza breaks to make each idea stand apart.
Willow gave her audience a little rap on the knuckles with a witty presentation about the angel Gabriel trying to locate a virgin mother for Christ. Yeah, right. Dan Lawlor made a good rhyming poem about movie-watching on the couch. Alan was still in his Christman reverie and wrote a poem in half-Christman, half-Casline style which I can't quite describe. It was a lovely nature portrait but I found the structure and rhyme scheme of the poem disconcerting.
Obeedude was totally incomprehensible and if you missed it you will have to have him explain it to you. Something about making up the language. Check out his blog today, he does have a wonderful growler thing-y on it. Which reminds me, Alan's new broadside has Mark's growler poem on it.
Philomena had a popular offering about the erosion of relationships: "...I remember that perfect sunset and you the kind of car you drove..."
Personal pick of the week was a close call between Tim and Mimi, both of whom I thought were top notch. Tim continues to grow by giant steps and Mimi keeps fine tuning her already sensitive and funny voice. Tim was doing things his own way in a gay nightclub. Mimi wrote a stinging commentary on the "Pope Discredits the Theology of Limbo". Both winners.
It was a learning meeting for me as I picked up a few pointers. Oh, yeah, I had a quiet and simpleminded little poem about two Bambis beside the road. Made me feel like I didn't belong in the company of great thinkers either.
I am going home to write thank you notes in the rain.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Monday, June 4, 2007
What a wonderful time Georgia, our peerless leader Benevolent Bird, our esteemed and
Arthur, and Artisto Marco O’Briano—he said he likes O’s—and I had reading poems by Will
Christman, Hewitt [i
think was O’B’s poet], and ourselves on a variety of nature and non-nature subjects.
We drank small flutes of Mead sitting by the edge of a precipice overlooking the falls at the
certainly felt as if we were some resurrected dead poets society from a mighty prep school in
Massachusetts. Or maybe we were sprites at home for ever.
Thanks to Alan for organizing the event; he has added so much to our group by his interest
memorized poems contests, readings along the Bozenkill, broadsides, and little books of
would say libelli—whose spines are hand-stitched for security and art’s sake.
In between our readings we spoke about—some of us eloquently—that was a joke son!!—the
nature of religion,
the daimon, the spirit of the woods, the world, life, and how structured religions as practiced
somewhere failed to invigorate, give the life they promised to those who need to live.
Mark and Art waxed eloquently on these subjects to such an extent that I rode over to SUNY
to ask for three
credits toward a docorate—which was antithetical to the purpose of the discussion which was
that there was no
external institution or being which/who could certify our experiences and give them greater
or even any
validity. If it were the Sixties I’d’a said: Heavy dude.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
(by special correspondence to the Sunday Mercury from the battlefield.)
While the Artillery seemed
to be assembling for conference
amid the sun-dried bowlders,
fishwives scolded and nagged
railing excitedly into
an unspeakable jumble
a rising of din over battle.
An Officer waved his
gauntleted hand sweeping
wildly at the air
of unwilling curses
despite being dragged at heals
by a besplashed charger
the western sky along.
Partly smothered in red
as a blue haze of evening
settled upon the field
he was loosed to the ground
rising to the level of his feet
twisting with the movement
plunged he deep into earth.
Pressing his hands
through the wound
a single afflicted groan
wrenched from him
causing him to expire
his face, then painted
stupefied with a smile.
Note: This poem is an impression and a fiction of my imagination. It is based on the letters I have read ,as well as the recent novels that I have consumed such as the Red Badge of Courage. I tookArt's suggestion and added what seemed like period language that I created. It is dated after the actual battle, as if it were a letter written from Washington, when the New York State Militia would have been straggling back to their camps, and writing home to describe what had transpired in thisdisastrous battle and its aftermath. The actual event described here-in may well have taken place at any battle during the civil war. I chose Bull Run (or Bulls Run as many of the participants called it)because it was a battle of confusion and tragic blunders on both sides. The Confederates won but muchto their surprise, the Union lost miserably and to their surprise were so devastated that many injuries and losses took place in the stampede from the battlefield. As I said, there were Débutantes and Senators out for a picnic to watch on a lark. Before they knew it, they went from picnic to panic.
Friday, May 25, 2007
I was limiting everyone to ten minutes instead of the usual 15, but still was not enough. I need to remind you that we cannot digress into personal viewpoints on the issues presented in the poems whether it is religious, political or other. We simply 1) do not have the time and 2) are there to critique the structure and efficacy of the poems not debate the contents.
The meeting was very rowdy . We have a lot to talk about and enjoy each other's company, but unless we want to consider splitting up into smaller groups (which no one does), we have to concentrate on the matters at hand. The discussion group, as such, convenes at Smitty's after the meeting and everyone is welcome. Those who came last night were very hungry and we all consumed cheeseburgers and fries and other goodies with our beer and iced tea.
Art's poem, btw, was the shortest and sweetest. Two good performance pieces by Willow and Tim.
God, I hate sounding like God.
Cathy fell asleep and was too groggy to make the meeting.
Tim is going to Montreal for a wild weekend.
Mike is heading off to the lake for the summer and leaving us.
There was a lot of conversation that I missed.
My real birthday was last Sunday. The party is no longer a surprise, as I caught on. Remember to RSVP to my daughter.
Thank you, Larry, for the present.
I will be back at work next Tuesday and will post the comments that are waiting and Mark's poem from the last meeting.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The cows have a tree and they all want it. I want the sun and the wind and to go so fast I leave my life behind. I can almost hear the cows politely asking one another to move over a little. No one says anything to me.
How long do they let cows live before they eat them?
Not longer than 60 years I'm thinking.
My birthday 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
Okay, only ten in attendance last night with the name O'Sullivan on the sign in sheet with no accompanying personnel and a very poor showing from the females.
Art's Blanche was a portrait of his maiden "white" aunt who died young during the war (the BIG ONE) , played the piano and smelled of forest mold. Paul followed up with another boyhood tale about catching a gallon that fell off the ice cream truck It reminded me of my trips to see Mr. Mudge at our ice cream store when I was a tot. Mike was counting urination among his the things his day had taught him. Alan also mention fathers in recounting a Key Bank anecdote. My poem sucked (thanks again for that, Tim) about the fire gods and snakes coming out the flames. Tom and I both mentioned hemlock boughs, he more successfully than I, and he managed to work in gargoyles and flowered codpieces besides. Ally made a good point about the media pursuing the Anna Nicole and Imus stories instead of the coffins. Tim did a nice job telling his trip to Montreal and Mark brought us to the finish with a good Bull Run. (I will post). Gary was there for the first time in a while, but passed on reciting.
I did not join the troops at Smit's, so i don't know how the recitation contest went, but hope to hear about it. I went home to pay bills and pack the dog stuff, etc. before leaving. Managed to fall on my butt (don't ask) and twisted a knee, neither of which are very good to begin with, so I will be limping to the beach. By hook or by crook, I WILL be at the beach, however.
Morgan, thanks for stopping to say goodbye.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
I have posted Art's wonderful poem about his father which I like even better after another reading. Thanks, Art.
Several people have expressed their frustration about not being able to post comments so I am adding an instruction element on the righthand side of the page. I love to read comments and want you all to do it, so pay attention!
For those of you who remember him, I have gotten a "Hey there" from Charlie Rossiter in Chicago. Charlie is a good friend and a member of the Three Guys from Albany, along with Dan Wilcox who you met at the brunch, and the late Tom Nattell. In fact, I think the last time I spoke to Charlie was at Tom's memorial last year. Charlie and I worked on a poetry grant program together many years ago and he is a happening kind of guy, currently learning to sing the blues (I already know how). There is a link to one of his pages already on this blog. He was asking about you, Tom, in particular.
So, everybody read the directions and send me a comment.
What I cannot grasp
is why you held your thumbs
in your hands toward the end. . .
You who fought as a golden gloves boxer
and wore a 38 at the hip
as a surveyor for the Rock Island Line,
Who commandered jail cells
during the Great Depression
so that families might eat squares a day,
Who took 12 boats into Normandy and lost 8 off shore
including the one your were on
and survived a heart attack as well:
Why would you hold your thumbs
in your hands toward the end?
You who had the collaborators at Salzburg
shot for assassinating G.I.'s
during the early occupation,
Who supervised the resettlement of survivors
from Dachau and the transcendent
evil of the holocaust,
Who flew a C-47 to Kiev in a blizzard
when the main door blew off -
to see if Freemasons met at the Lavra in 1947:
Why would you hold your thumbs
in your hands toward the end?
You who faced off against Clare Booth Luce,
Bedell Smith and George Kennan
in a losing case for exchange,
Who quoted from memory much of Shakespeare
throughout a sample week
as you paced like Banquo's ghost,
Who was adored by your graduate students
as you put before them the presumptions of the day:
Why would you hold your thumbs
in your hands toward the end?
Was it the cold?
Art Willis 3/14/07
Friday, April 27, 2007
Tim mentioned that Dan Wilcox had his own report on the brunch posted on his blog. Look it up. By the way, Mark's blog is looking great so visit there, too - there is a link on our site - and Mark read a wonderful poem last night.
Art Willis is back and made an intriguing comment about Turner sneaking into galleries to repaint his masterpieces after they had been sold and were hanging. I intend to look up a bio of Turner now. The discussion began when I asked Paul for permission to post one of his poems (he had another winner about his "dear love') and he refused me, saying his copyright would be comprised, as well as his freedom to revise the poem at a future time. That led to Art's remarks about re-painting, etc. Rarely satisfied, I have been revising my old poems for forty years whenever the spirit moves me, and I guess I am not as concerned about the legalities of it as I could be.
Dennis and Art and I all wrote about our mothers and fathers. I really liked both of theirs, mine not as much. Art's was a particularly strong portrayal of the man his father was, with a haunting question left unanswered. Good stuff. Mike gave us something to argue about with his use of a word I can't put on the website (it begins with p). It was again a poem with a kicker at the end, and some felt that the repetition of the p word detracted from the force of the kick. If that makes any sense.
Alan had the best title of the night with When Mayberry Swallowed Pottersville and I was very fond of Tim's opening three lines about leaving the cinema. Mimi was just about word perfect with The River Stout (wide oak boards and bards, sweet nutmeg embrace) and Ally painted pictures with the taste and sight of brilliant red cherry preserves (orgasmic). Edie made a point about roadside trash "flowers". BTW, Timmy was a little confused tonight. We had to help him out.
We kind of popped out of Gail's office like corn in the microwave and I skipped Grey's Anatomy in favor of a cheeseburger at Smitty's with the guys. Additional conversation there included Dennis' report on the Lark Tavern open mike and my tale of chasing my empty Cruiser as it motored out of the driveway without me.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Steve, Amy and Tim from Comhaltus, made the day very special. I loved the good music, Tim's fascinating instrument, Amy's red hair and Steve's commentary. Thanks totally to all of them.
Thinking about good friends, I am glad that Dan was with us on Saturday and that Carol Graser came for the first time to check us out- Carol's image of the stripes peeling from the flag is still with me - and the writers from the Bethlehem group. Dan always wins my heart with his politically oriented slant on things; this one was particularly good. I missed Larry and Susan Riback and Ryu and Mildred, but was happy to have relative newbies like Alan and Catherine and Tim with us. I saw Ron Pavoldi slip in at the near the end of things but didn't get to chat with him.
Thanks, Tom, for remembering the Tall Poet. We miss you, John Rankin. Mike B. read two award-winning poems, one of his own and one that his granddaughter Morgan wrote about the beach. I really liked Alan's selection of poems and tribute to Kurt Vonnegut. I loved Mark's hat and Ally's costume. Her headpiece was gorgeous, and her rendition of Billy Collins' candle hat appropriate and funny. Timmy wore his anthology shirt. I was wearing my pajamas, by the way - black satin with red hearts. I guess my Prelude to Love (spinach and croutons) piece was a laugh and my ruminations on death and war pretty depressing in an otherwise happy day. I found my old copper-turn-your-arm-green POW/MIA bracelet from forty years ago and I have been wearing it and contemplating young men dying. (Don't go pc on me. I have two sons and five grandsons, so I am always thinking young men.)
The ten-year-old grandson was there early with his mother helping with the kitchen coordinating and setup. Thank you to both of them and to Mike Burke who lugged chairs and microphone, etc., to all who helped with clean up, and the significant others who made supportive appearances. To judge by the consumption, the food was fantastic - I think we need to incorporate eating into more of our interactions. It certainly drew a crowd. Maybe obeedude's chocolate chip pancakes.
Some of us finished up the day at Smitty's. I missed Ally, who was too tired to join us. I managed to pack away a root beer, then went home to take a nap myself.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Most of the ladies trailed in late. Ally Cat wrote a charming blast on pagan rituals as opposed to Easter and did it in BIG print which was very helpful. Does anybody know the plural of crocus? Catherine dreamed about Louis Armstrong. Mimi had some really great lines about a cadaver. BTW, Mimi will be reading at the Social Justice Center next Thursday. If anyone wants to go, contact her for details.
Next weekend is the Lark Tavern poetry blowout which quite a few of us signed up for.
Our next meeting here is April 26 and there is a conflict with the community room that night, so if you can't find the group, look around for us.
We went over the final details for Saturday. Will someone please bring a camera besides me? Mike said he will come early to help me with setting up the room. Mark is making pancakes!
I might wear my pajamas.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Because of the five-week month, there is only one meeting before the brunch on April 14. Bring food. Suggestions for the food impaired: Dunkin Donuts, fresh fruit, juice. I will bring a large skillet to brown sausage - someone else should bring some, too, please. There is a small oven here to keep egg dishes, casseroles, quiche warm. VPL will supply coffee, plates, etc. Steve Schreiber and two friends are joining us with some music. (We can dance.)
I passed out PD flyers. Tim took some to distribute at open mics. I have more if anyone wants them. Tom and Dennis and Tim and I went to the Night Sky Cafe this week to hear Don Levy and Mary Panza and announced the brunch there. There seemed to be some interest. Thom Francis assured me he was linking our blog to the Albany Poets site (which is a good site to visit if you haven't already.) Bring as many poems on the 14th as you want. Reading time will depend on how many people we have. If it is just us we will drone on to each other until we are dazed and stupified.
Some of us signed up to read at the Wordfest at the Lark Tavern on April 20. It is an annual Albany event and if anyone else wants to go, we can carpool. It is a Big Deal; you should sign up now at albanypoets.com.
Okay, on to our anthology - it was unanimous that we should use the money we have to produce a new edition rather than reprint the old. It will, obviously, not be ready for the poetry day. You may all start emailing me poems - send five or six, not all of which will live to be in print. Send only your very best. I am raising the bar and will be ruthless in my editing. I spoke with Tom this morning about the title. If you have brilliant suggestions, you may submit those, too, or we may just go with more Poetry Don't Pump Gas.
BTW, the blog now has a sitemeter which counts the number of "hits" we get (people who visit the blog), so visit often and run that meter up!
Joyce and Dennis both brought the Poetry publication of translations. Joyce has more copies if anyone didn't get and wants one.
Mimi has brochures for Pyramid Lake women's writers week.
Last night's poems:
Paul scored another hit - with a childhood remembrance of eluding the "cops".
Tim is attracted to Italian men; Tim's poems get better and better.
Mimi presented a numbered stanza poem on Hillside Themes, beginning and ending with a Sound of Music reference.
Ally was at the Ocean in Winter, burying her feet in the warm sand and making me jealous.
Mexico Mike was alone at the airport, with his trademark twist at the end.
The Rock Lady Joyce had a second installment about waiting for spring to work on her wall, which initiated an argument about the spelling of arugula - one "r" is correct according to Merriam online.
Edie was looking through a super-microscope, hearing the trees scream at being made into paper. Sorry, I thought it was squashed bugs screaming, which is another idea altogether.
Dennis made us laugh with an irreverent Tale of Urgent Love, along with another small packet of read-later poems.
Jamey Stevenson was back with a poem that inspired a lot of conversation. It was a work in progress and, hopefully, we gave him constructive criticism. The bones of the poem were strong, particularly the first verse, which I really liked a lot.
The "talking heads were trampolining on the spongy bed of my brain with their tiny Addidas". I may bring this again because I do have a question I didn't ask.
The late Mr. O'Brien quickly read us a Glebe Homie poem which we will talk about next time.
It was good to have Jamey back and good to see Ally taking a short break from her oxygen. Catherine came with a boyfriend, but no poem. Missing: Art did not have his wife to help him get ready, there was silence from Ryu and Alan, Tom was doing his Hana thing and we watched for Ron outside the window to no avail.
I know this is a long one - I just get chattier and chattier.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
by Dennis Sullivan
when i wrote a book
with my friend larry
a socialist anarchist thing,
publishers said nice
but no can do,
can you work a little state
and oppression in?
but we said no can do
and they said there, over there
there’s the door, get out.
not ones to cave
we headed next door and knocked,
told the publisher we had a book
on people’s everyday life struggle
to make it in the world
as cooperative beings
but the chief guy there said
cooperation’s out, passé—
though it never was in—
and life went on like this
for more than you can imagine
until we thought, hey
love compassion understanding
do not sell
which still holds true
love compassion understanding
do not sell
that’s why people keep buying
those halloween masks.
oh yes there was one publisher
who said he’d buy the book
if we included masks to wear
halloween or otherwise
he thought there’d be a market
he said he’d pay us
to wear masks for the book tour
the love compassion understanding
failure book tour,
the brought down by masks worn
masks paid to be worn book tour,
promising us in no time
we’d no longer know
when we wore the mask
and when we took it off.
he said it’d be like driving into town
and seeing a big painted sign saying
Welcome to America!
It's all about Dennis today. He is looking for recruits to attend the poetry day at the Lark Tavern on April 21. Several of us have expressed an interest... me, Tom, Timmy...if you want details, visit the link to Albany Poets. Dennis has also graciously succumbed to my pleadings to post THE BOOK TOUR on the blog and I am doing so. Poet O'Sullivan is one of the supporters of the appearance at VPL of Batt Burns, an Irish musician and storyteller who will be here on March 28. The performance is free and open to the public. If you have any interest, please come. Traveler O'Sullivan has also arranged a display of pictures and cards from his Irish experience in the library display case for the month of March.
I saw an announcement that Jamey Stevenson, who visited us about a month ago, is appearing at the Social Justice Center. It included a poem that I liked, so I emailed him and received a reply telling me that he had enjoyed the meeting he attended (with us old farts) and found us to be "supportive and challenging". Maybe we will see him again.
Mimi and Joyce and I are in the Peace Walk downtown on Sunday. We will be carrying signs with the name of a war casualty. My soldier is Lori Ann Piestewa, who was the first woman killed in the war in the skirmish which involved Jessica Lynch. Lori Ann was a 23-year-old Hopi mother of two very young children. The organizers are aiming for 3000+ walkers to represent all of the war dead. There is still time for you to join us.