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, October 31, 2008


The lean months of November and December loom before us, offering only one meeting each this year, but other fun is afoot as the calorie-packed, well-toasted holiday season approaches. Beyond the festivities, the possibility floats unseen through the air that the season may yield a few poems as well to see us through the cold of winter.
As for October, seven diehard poets availed themselves of it's last EOTNP meeting. With plenty of time and the collection of prime poems read, the amateur behind the gavel had an easy time of it.
Leading off was Alan, whose "Around A Public House Table" captured the warmth of friends gathered in a tavern for conversation and a raised glass. The poem deals with the gathering of friends without specific reference to a given group, but most of us associated it with our post-meeting gatherings at Smitty's anyway.
Cathy's "New Girl" effectively addressed the silent unhappiness of the schoolyard outcast, for whom friends are fewer and more valuable than for other students. Childhood is a gold mine of poetic material, but the material is wrapped in such ordinary days that it is often surprisingly hard to dig out a nugget, as Cathy has done.
My offering, "Capitalist Running Dogs," was a venture into a past more recent than I usually deal with, but who am I to question what the muses bring. The muse that brought this one started with the end of the Cold War, moved on to the recent chaos in the financial markets, then ended with a commentary on greed. I'm thinking of having hundreds of thousands of copies printed and distributed, but first I have to find out what companies manufacture toilet paper.
No question about it, Mimi's poem "Axe Murderer" was an instant hit, a gem of facetious humor about family members who could do more to make Mom happy. The fabulous ending brings to mind the endings Mike Burke is known for, and on reading the poem over, it also brongs to mind the poems of Billy Collins. When I read things like this I think of the pompous professors in English departments of universities who publish each others' inscrutable poetry in literary journals and say to myself: "Who needs you?!"
Tom gave us "Ars Poetica," a highly entertaining internal monologue that I thought turned into a highly entertaining dialog somewhere in the middle. I console myself with the fact that anything that is "an attempt to explain poetry by writing poetry" is going to lose a few of the slower types as it goes along.
At this point Barbara voiced the idea that maybe "we should not criticize each others' poetry." The thought occurred to me that if we adopted that philosophy, our poetry group would turn into a series of open mic events with the same readers and audience. The group would lose its cutting edge, the edge that provides the food for thought that poets use to improve their work. On the upside, it sounded like a facetious suggestion when she made it.
As for Barbara's untitled poem, it needs nothing more than a title if it's going any further than the framed piece of art it lives in now. I suggest "Peanut Butter," since that's what it's about. I also suggest exact copies be made of its current layout, complete with skillfully-done pictures of a Skippy jar on one side and a Smuckers jar on the other. It's art and a poem in one work; surely there are customers for that.
Tim's descriptive poem "Louise" brings many images to mind, at the same time accommodates his inclination to put in a few lines that can have more than one meaning. More clarification would help the reader in one or two places, a good thing, as the reader ends the poem wanting to know more about Louise. Everyone spotted the poem's most fascinating lines, which read, for all of you who should have been there to hear them in person: "Once a man chased her over the rainbow." Makes you want to see the whole poem, doesn't it.
The one and only November meeting is on the 13th. Opportunity knocks.

Waiting for Paul

Paul was guest host last night for a fifth Thursday meeting, so I am waiting for him to send me his synopsis and I will post him.

I did drag myself here and brought a "show and tell" of my peanut butter poem and picture. There were eight of us, Mimi was sniffling and we had another guest. Welcome Kathy with a K.

My vote (and everyone's, I think) goes to Tom, although Mimi ran a close second.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Looking at calendar and remembering that our fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving. Same is true for Christmas. Be thinking about what alternative plans, if any, we want to make.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two new guys and one old one

Well, old in the sense that we had not seen much of him all summer. Beach Boy Burke made an appearance, as well as two visitors. Michael Whelan, a loooongtime friend of Dennis', was here from D.C. and had a great poem about the collapse of the Towers, a subject he had personal acquaintance with. Terrific title: Before the Fire Fell

The other guest was Jerry Seminary, who may turn out to be a regular. He is a Viet Nam veteran who pulled off a good rhyming poem heavy with meaning. Fort Hood, Texas: why was the Army band playing a jaunty "Georgie Girl" as it sent the young recruits off to be killed? Obieduid pointed out the emptiness in the lyrics of that particular song.

The group would have consisted of ten men and me if Edie had not shown up with Life, a poem which brought out some strong differences in opinion; some of the guys considered it victorian, archaic and stilted, too flowery. Mr. Willis thought it witty, sensual and feminine.

We all agreed that Art had one especially great verse about an old woman being "knocked down among the rocks on Mount Battie by a stout eighth grade girl..."

Markle was fresh off the ship from the Old Sod and immersed in the Ulster Scots dialect, which none of us understand well. He did print on lovely sea paper and it could have been song lyrics.

Paul took a political slant with Election, consisting of "pranksters, promises... rich with tricks, treats...words on the wind". Good stuff.

Alan's Hidden Valley was an experiment in combining Native American and Asian culture with another tale of Grandfather Carp that we agree could have been tightened up.

I noted strong similarities between portions of Dennis' Morning Prayer and scriptural verses. "Thus the very sins I condemn, I bury in my self...". It was certainly not a serene poem, but one of self examination.

Mike B. observed passing a church when a funeral was being held, with his New York Times and his sausage and egg on a hardroll, everyone going on with their everyday lives.

Tom's long work reflected a lot of Provincetown and was compared to a John Updike novel. Why did I write down Mary Poppins and was Art sleeping?

Tim "Showed and Telled" with a photo of his studly body xeroxed next to his poem The Stud, which brought up questions of audience and who we are all addressing our work to. (I write for myself most of the time.) The Stud contained what might be interpreted as insider information for a gay audience.

It was a bit of a rush to get all in before 9 p.m. Whole crew went to Smit's.

Oh, I almost forgot me. I wrote about my catalpa tree and memories of my father as the first anniversary of his death approaches. It seemed to strike a chord with several people. Tom made an interesting suggestion for rearranging lines.

Sorry to have missed Larry and Tom on Sunday, but I was chaperoning the Skip Parsons concert here at the library. It was a great concert and had a big audience so I didn't get out until almost five o'clock.

Yes, we can have a Fifth Thursday meeting on Oct. 30. I booked the room for us. Happy Halloween if I don't see you. I am wearing my spider hair ornament today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cathy wasn't there

Just a note on another enjoyable little crossover I had last night when I "guest-hosted" for Cathy at Lifelines. I hadn't attended in a long time, so I dragged out a virgin piece I had written about a year ago, polished it up and brought it along so I wouldn't look delinquent.

Robert and Amelia Anderson were there, an older couple that I am familiar with from the Bethlehem Art Association. They are both avid photographers. I discovered that Bob is a WWII vet who brought what he had written about his ship almost sinking in the Persian Gulf (back in 1945!). Amelia wrote about cake decorating and brought some photos of her cakes. It was good to get to know them better and get a sense of how creative they are.

Steve Stein is a 30-ish writer who has been around for several years. He and I must have the same strange sense of humor because I was practically rolling on the floor from his account of getting a tetanus shot. He is a good writer.

Tim joined us with a "Fire Island" kind of piece he had been trying out on some friends. I told him that it struck me that he used to bring prose to the poetry group and now he brings poetry to the prose group. I think we have turned him into a poet.

Murray Block and Ellen Zunon had both mailed me that wouldn't be there. No word from Fan who is a regular and also a philosopher.

Anyway, I had a good time, wishing that I had more time to write and more energy to attend the group regularly.

See you all next Thursday.

Friday, October 10, 2008

When Worlds Collide

Okay, I may be a little dramatic, but an enjoyable crossover happened this week, as philosophers met poets, with both meetings on the same night. I sat in on the last five minutes of the philosophy and found it pretty heated. Good going. I wish I had the energy to attend more often.

At everyone's suggestion, I will attempt to create a calendar here on the blog with poetry events you submit to me. As there are various other calendars available, I will only use listings which involve EOTNP members in some fashion.

As you all have probably heard, Obeedude arrived in Ireland (thankfully with no stroke, heart attack or other stress-induced ailment). Now for the meeting...

I'll start at the end as Dennis wow-ed us with the last poem of the evening, perhaps his most accessible to the rest of us ever. It was "A Godly Plan" with a strong flow, some unusual-for-Dennis repetition, not a single unfamiliar word. A bit of confusion over the word "liver" - as in one who lives, not the slimy organ. Most popular line: an orphaned bundle on the porch. Dennis was present in the poem as "yes, me, who walks likes Moses parting seas" - how Dennis-y.

Tom's poem prompted a spate of conversation, as his poems never do. This one seemed to strike a chord. I liked the title and am thinking of writing about it: The World According to (Your Name Here). Tom spoke of Ezra Pound as his inspiration and I am also going to look at Pound further as it sounds like he was a terrific character and I don't know a lot about him. Art, Dennis and Alan all referred to the poem as reminiscent of the beats, "beyond existential", flavored with Gregory Corso, Kerouac, etc. To me, it was merely another of Tom's mysteriously challenging events and, altho I asked, I am still not sure what made this one different.

Okay, I'd better write faster.

Mimi: North Carolina Morning, I liked the title. Great bird characterization - "blusterer" was a wonderful description, altho difficult to speak. Mimi shared the underlying meaning of the poem which wasn't, and didn't need to be, apparent. Btw, in my world bird have knees.

Letting Go from Philomena was a series of short verses all referring back to the title, not connected to each other which (duh) I didn't get until it was explained to me. Alan suggested asterisks between stanzas to make it clear. Philomena used Obie's word "cocoon", which seemed unfair seeing that he was not here to listen to it.

Opining from my own experience, Stacie was right on the money again with her library story of quibbling over new chairs, and took very little criticism. We also could find no fault with Art, altho My Sweet Crab began with a very colorful reference to castration found in Deuteronomy. Did anyone else see the PBS special on the Aztecs and the Spaniards this week?

Dennis remarked favorably on Dan's growth as a poet, whose I'm Out of Touch poem needed some tightening up, but was full of good imagery. Dennis also repeated his enthusiasm for Paul compiling a chapbook; someone suggesting the title of 25 Pictures of Days Gone By. Alan said it would appear as an autobiography of Paul as a juvenile delinquent. We talked about the efficacy of using first or third person.

Last up (actually, first up) was Alan who set up an interesting battle between the ancient carved warriors of Japan and the cheap plastic toys belonging to father and son respectively. Good mix of dialogue and narration, and a leap in form and subject for Alan. There was some debate about cutting and rearranging.

I am now going to work on our new calendar, and will also post your events on the VPL online calendar for the public.

Oh, I almost forgot - I will be guest-hosting Lifelines for Cathy on October 16 and would love to have some of you join me with a short prose piece. How about it? 6:30 p.m.

And - Larry is the featured reader at Sunday Four on the 26th. It is the same day as the VPL Fall Concert so I have to be here, but you should all go! If you prefer Dixieland Jazz, come VPL to hear Skip Parsons.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just felt like saying hello.

I saw Catherine Norr on Monday night(after a long absence from EOTNP). She was at the Obama fundraiser at the Schreibers' house and tells me she is planning on seeing us soon. Mimi and Dennis and spouses were all there as well as Catherine Anderson and me and about 25 others. Good food, good conversation.
Obie must be winging his way over the ocean by now. Thank goodness. I was anticipating him having an excitment breakdown before takeoff.
See you all this Thursday. BTW, Larry Rapant and the philosophers will be meeting in another room at the same time. I would like us all to greet - perhaps some of you would be persuaded to join the other group, too. I have attended a couple of times and found that they have good discussions.
Oh, there is a new Billy Collins book out called Ballistics. I read a good review. He is one of my favorites.