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

Monday, January 28, 2008

Excuses, excuses

I know, I know, I have been remiss in my blogging recently. I have acquired some new responsibilities here and am trying to keep on top of everything, so EOTNP is suffering.

We were chock full again last Thursday, even with Beach Boy Burke away. We welcomed Stacy (which brings to two, the Quakers in our ranks - is that unusual?).

Women were swooning over a Ron Pavoldi sighting: he appeared in his Mafioso outfit, looking debonair. His poem was was a Fairy Tale, a bit of a departure in that we are accustomed to Ron being somewhat of a storyteller and this was a darker, more obscure effort.

Alan passed out some new versions of the last EOTNP chapbook with additional poems (blue cover). Perious Frink is being read at the Perfect Blend (sorry, I first said Java Jazz) on Sunday and Alan brought his What I Learned from Perious Frink poem. I didn't go to the reading, but understand that a hot time was had by attendees at Smit's afterwards.

I enjoyed Joyce (yes, Joyce is back!) "I want to throw a pot like a poem". Good tactile sensations. Suggestions were made for tightening it up.
Alan remarked that Tom's Too Late to Go Over Your Words was "tucking in", "folding around itself". We liked the grandmother's house where"you tried to skim all the books in your grandfather's library".
I cracked up over Markle's idea of sleeping with all the people in your poems.
No one but Edie could have managed to get the words bifurcated and shebang in the same poem.
Ally broke hearts with her description of a struggling bird.

Art broke hearts with my favorite of the evening, accompanied by a haunting photo:
In the Silence, In the Silence, Does thee stand, Witness, witness,
The grace of land, The face of Silence.
Thanks, Art.

Art made some interesting observations as he was commenting on Dennis' poem. He felt it was a heartsong, beyond the limitations of meditation: the heart speaks, not reflecting the brain. We all seemed to enjoy this one.
Paul's wood splitting work was reflective and dense, told a good story. Alan called it "heroic". Tom pointed out that pruning needed to be done.
Mimi asked for help with verb tense problems. What If had a utopian feel to it, with beautiful language. (But the leather mask made me think of Hannibal Lector.)
"Cedarwood" by Bev had a lovely conversational tone.
Tim was there with no poem.
I wrote about the young man who disappeared from Albany the day before Christmas from his father's point of view.

Paul suggested that we meet on the 5th Thursday, which is next week (31st), and I have put it on the lib calendar for 6:30.

Thanks to Alan and Jennifer for a wonderful evening on the 19th of food and drink and drumming (I loved the drum). Charlie was a great host, dessert was awesome, the bird was tasty (I don't mean Alan) and the beer emporium full. It was nice to see spouses. We missed Mike and Tim. I got some good photos which I will post asap.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Knickers in a Twist

GOLLL - EE, I made one fairly innocuous little remark about the size of the group and ignited a firestorm! I am at once laughing, wincing, shaking my head in disbelief at the ferocity of the responses. Tom and Tim are calling me up, Cathy is threatening to quit, every one has a different interpretation of the situation...when all I meant to do was call attention to the fact that we have to regulate ourselves with regard to rambling on, being concise and not wasting time, sticking to the topic at hand - which is, of course, improving the poems which are submitted for consideration. Rest assured, the group is not going to become "invitation only" or be split up. I am including the text of Tom's message about Eamon Grennan's group. We can discuss the pros and cons of trying out this approach when we meet at Alan's on Saturday. In the meantime - let's relax, folks. bv

from Tom:


Relative to the growth spurt our group seems to be undergoing, I’ve been thinking about the way Eamon Grennan structured the critiquing portion of his master class at SUNYA that Mimi & I participated in a few years ago.

It went FAST. It went around the table ONCE. If you had something to say about a poem, you said it. If you had nothing to say, you passed. No quibbling. No arguing. Each person was given a max of maybe 10 to 15 seconds. (We could bump it up to 30 or 45 seconds each, begin the critiquing with the person to the left of the poet, i.e., the reader, & proceed clockwise.)

We could try this on for size.

Friday, January 11, 2008

the Bronx is up and the Battery's down

This line from Tom's poem has been running through my head all night - he looked it up for me. It came from the musical (Broadway and MGM film in the 40s) On the Town. Uncle Miltie, now there was a comedian, comic, comedian, comic! Great lines throughout, beginning with the title: Trying to Find My Own Easter Eggs.

Dennis visited his parents' graves, picked out a final spot for himself and realized the value of not being nameless. One of my favorites from the evening.

Tim's poem split the group into those who liked and didn't like the last half, each side equally vehement. I was with the second group, loved the description of the sea, sandpipers, the playing with thoughts of death, but not the little kid out swimming After Midnight.

No criticism for Philomena, with her St. Anthony theory (he was the patron saint of lost things).

I had radical suggestions for Beverly about rearranging her stanzas and tightening up her fear-of -driving-in-winter work. Lots of good material there, but a little prose-y, I thought.

Paul, Paul, we all loved Paul, revving his motorcycle through the halls of his high school. No one believes it was some other guy.

Alan produced another sea winner, Morning on York Harbor Shore (including photos). There was some debate about the inclusion of other writer's quotes within the body of your own work.
Appropos of what I can't remember, but Alan spilled out a quotable line: "The mark of a true civilization is to have a few bad habits and to cultivate them. " I hope I got that right.

I must confess, Mr. Willis' poem totally baffled me because I had no clue who Giambattista Vico was. Art informed me that "all of social science was founded by" this Italian Rennaissance guy. I know nothing.

Personally, I am worried about Mr. Burke who seems to be overly absorbed with the techniques of pouring Guiness Draft, altho the resultant work was pretty funny.

Mark called his work a transcription of the Galway Kinnell's video Tom had sent us all and had some fun with language. "Those who want to read, read" and "Those who want to write, write". Hit home here. I am reading.

We welcomed back Catherine Norr who has been on hiatus from us and came in with a poem that was clear, concise and well liked. BTW, we may have a couple of new people at the next meeting (I received emails from interested people) so we might have to rethink our time considerations again. Of course, if I don't write anymore, that saves us a little time.

A couple of people had singing lines in their poems. Perhaps we should work on a musical.
See you all at Alan's on the 19th. I will try to post some photos later today.

I am closing with Edie's poem from last night.

David, on Micki's Death

God expelled some arctic air
and extinguished a sparkle

Steeled in his cadet-gray
he stood rigid as a general
only his earmuffs betrayed him

Faltering, she strew some soil
on her daughter's coffin
muffled sobs sprinkled the crowd

David braced her feeble arm
withdrew to his rooted spot
arms strained by his side

Funny, at that moment I noticed
how handsome David is.

Edie Abrams
December 19, 2007

Friday, January 4, 2008

From Tim

THE FOLLOWING IS A GUEST POST from Tim which he left in the comments box and I thought should be posted instead: (I don't agree with the first one, but hey...)

I love this book I’m reading about writing. I’m quoting some statements from Pat Walsh that I think would be helpful to all writers.
“You Don’t Trust Your Audience – If you write something you would not need to be told yourself or have explained to you, take it out.”
“You Do Not Know Your Audience – Gertrude Stein got it right, when she said she wrote for herself and strangers…Never have your friends and family in mind or you will be hobbled by worry about what they think…It is difficult to maintain a high degree of honesty if you are concerned about misperceptions from loved ones.” This one was great for me.
“The spoken word and the written word are cousins, not identical twins, Each has its place and needs to be respected, but a writer’s focus should be on the page and he should not let a vocal bias mask his weaknesses.”
This part was awesome for me writing too much gay stuff:“You Do Not Realize that Nobody Cares – Somewhere along the line. however, many writers lose the ability to discern between what is interesting to a reader and what is interesting to them….Use your inside knowledge to add authenticity and intricacy, but do not cut yourself a slice of life that makes other people want to end theirs…. When something is very important to you, it may be hard to see that it is very unimportant to everybody else. If you feel a personal catharsis when writing or reading…that might be a bad sign…. Readers are not going to care about you simply because you care about you…”
“You Preach – do not blatantly tell readers what is right and what is wrong…People can barely take it when they think it is coming from a priest, a prophet, or even God, why would they take it from you?”
“You think Too Highly of Yourself – I have met several writers over the years who are very intelligent, so much so that they are hamstrung by intellect…My book isn’t bad, you are just too stupid to understand it…”

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Saturday, January 19 at 4 p.m.
at the aerie of Bird Casline and Lady Bird Pearce
119 Dumbarton Drive, Delmar

appetizer, main course or dessert (or all three)
spouse, sig other, best bud (or no one)
Poems? Libations? Musical instruments?

The Bird is roasting a bird. (Sounds a little weird to me.)

Respond via email or call 475-7781

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


It has been awhile since I blogged. I go into semi-hibernation at this time of year, so I am not feeling very communicative. Our first December meeting got snowed out so I had little but gossip to report. Snow seems to have effectively deterred us from Dan's New Year party in spite of our intentions. Don't know anyone who went. Tim aborted and went to the bookstore to run up his credit card instead.

I did forget one announcement on the 27th. For those of you who remember her, Mildred, the Queen Mother of EOTNP, sent a Christmas card - one of her pencil sketches drawn of the scene outside the window of her apartment in Beverwyck - with a poem:

OVER THE YEARS by Mildred Baur Kerr
Box up memories...the good ones.
Pack close
precious time and
tender feelings.
Squeeze in
thoughts of
many dear friends.
Tuck corners with
beauty of places visited.
Stuff vacant spots
with recollections of
laughing grandchildren.
Tie tight each knot.
Let nothing be lost
before marking fragile.

Mildred is very close to ninety, if she is not already, and this is her first Christmas without Donald.

At the meeting, Philomena announced the start-up of a poetry-coffeehouse at the Unitarian Church in Albany next May.

Alan passed out the Annals of Perious Frink and announced a book warming at Perfect Blend Coffee House in Delmar on Sunday, January 27, from 3 - 5 p.m. He also made a beautiful broadside of Mike's Tattoo poem. You can support Alan's publishing with a membership in Rootdrinker Institute.

Alan offered us a choice of three versions of the same basic poem - one-word difference in each. It was a terrific poem with a great title - Sea Bird, Another - and the spacing on the page contributed greatly to the effect. Having to choose between love and wind, I choose wind. Dog lover that I am, I also enjoyed Feeding Charlie Cheerios in the "freebies" Alan passed out.

Dennis, who was coming off his annual stint as the jolly red Christmas guy, also brought his usual packet of produce. His first offering was written for Noam Chomsky and and led to some discussion of a "box of moonlight". Great line: "the fulgent star-light white of a glass of milk."

I wish I was as prolific as Santa, arriving with no poem, but discovering one in my folder which I had not presented before. It was written just days before my father died and pointed to his economies with toothpaste and the subsequent loss of his teeth. Suggestion: change the order of the verses.

Ally-Cathy talked about tears, the lack of them and the comfort of them. Suggestion: change Mark to a generic person.

Philomena wrote a theological update on the childhood Act of Contrition. It was personal, yet it remained very universal. Suggestion: that the repetition be eliminated.

Paul walked with the Druids in the twilight woods. Strong voice, good atmosphere.

Mimi's Quilting talked about a friend's effort to control the uncontrollable world through fabric.

Mike's Xmas poem left me a little confused about why the guy went up the stairs. Included a great description of a lonely man's house. I still say the wife died, not divorced him.

A couple of us thought Tom's Our Voyages Endlessly Maiden (good title) should have been two poems, as it broke into something else in the middle - life out of balance. Tom stuck up for his deliberate cliches.

Tim introduced a good light-hearted moment with his Advice Godiss (reminiscent of Metroland): a series of three-line letters to a columnist who tries to solve people's problems. No answers were forthcoming, but we enjoyed the questions.

I haven't been writing lately. Whether it is because of Kenya or Pakistan or the Sudan or just Mike Huckabee, I am not very into the beginning of another year. Keep the Exedrin coming.
See you on the 10th.