Here we are...

...a group of Baby Boomers of sundry religious,
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.

Some of Us

Some of Us
Dennis Sullivan, Beverly Osborne, Tom Corrado, Edie Abrams, Art Willis, Alan Casline (all seated); Paul Amidon, Mike Burke, Tim Verhaegen, Mark O'Brien, Barbara Vink, Philomena Moriarty

Friday, November 30, 2007

"Poets are terrible thieves"

(offhand remark from Mr. Willis)

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

Gary sent this...

and I am posting it for the traditionalists out there. bv

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

Post Script for Art & Poetry Lovers

Okay, 2nd post of today.

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.

Good Night

First, thanks to Obie for linking the blog to the video Georgia took at the Social Justice Center.
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


December 2, 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.

Dennis Sullivan