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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

with permission from Mr. W


Ted leapt from the end of his bed
Trimmed down the stairs
And ran full-bore
In an endless lope
Toward an horizon only he could see.
His right foot caught a noteworthy rock
And forward he went as his chin
Cut a narrow furrow in the grass.
Chest, arms, waist and knees
Bounced along in a rude clap of earth and bone.
The three-year-old opened his mouth
In rehearsal of an outraged howl
As he came face to face with a dandelion
In full yellow-butter bloom
Blasting light and green:
A dandelion monument shined out
In the magnificent rise of glowing eyes
And a smile of utter, final surprise.
He made a sound somewhere between
O and Ow and Wow.

A.Willis, Jan. 21, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Not Barb

Okay, I don't usually make a big deal out of this, but as more and more of you are becoming guilty of this crime against person (me), the time has come to announce: DON'T BARB ME. A barb is a fishhook, a sharp curving metal object that is used to injure and capture slimy and disgusting fish. It is not my name. Although I will answer to almost anything else, I am no longer responding to "Barb".

Incidentally, at Smitty's yesterday after Sunday Four, me an' the guys talked about that sing-songy voice that is used by many performers reciting their poetry. I guess it is a style that is falling out of fashion. At least, I hope it is. I hate it.

Our poetry brunch is on the board for April 11. If anyone has any great ideas to improve the day, let me know soon. Just don't call me Barb.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I have a lot to say...

I had what I considered to be a brilliant idea before I fell asleep last night. I have those frequently, but they don't always hold up in the light of day. This one is still okay. In keeping with Alan's efforts to promote poetry to the unwashed masses, I am thinking of compiling an email list of my friends and acquaintances who do not read poetry or who never hear my poems. I would ask if they would mind if I sent them occasional poems that I have written (not anyone else's!).

If I got asked to be on such a list, I would think: well, I don't care much about poetry, but I like this person and don't want to hurt her feelings by saying no. And it's better than ordinary Spam, so sure.

You may steal this idea if you like it. You would have to be prepared for rejection with no hard feelings, and the poems would have to be only your best and only occasionally. If the poems are well received, I plan to give others permission to "re-gift" them to their own friends and - my poems might be set loose to travel the world! (And no, it is not important to me to protect my "rights" to my work.) Enough on that.

I have booked us for June for an art show so you can start thinking about your project. We can use the hall and the community room walls if necessary. If you want to do an assemblage or other three dimensional piece or sculpture, we'll have to talk about how and where it will be placed, so give me some advance notice. Don't give me the excuse that you are not an artist. It is a given that all writers are not visual artists and nobody expects show quality pieces. We are first word artists, which means we are clever. It is your imagination and creativity that will be on display here and our two previous shows have been much fun.

Last night I learned (or re-learned) that the little reference a writer might place under the title of a work is called an epigraph. Tom had one on Is That You? that talked about the use of the second person offering the reader a feeling of being connected to the poem and the poet. O'Bee equated Tom's poem to "an abstract painting with words". It began:
The funhouse has been rehabbed by an avatar
who was fingered by the mob
for selling love seats door-to-door.

R. A. Pavoldi has pretty much cleared his Thursday nights to include us in his groove again. He was inside tonight and not standing outside in the snow (old joke) looking in the window. (He did that once and we didn't find out he had been there until much later.) His poem was a little mysterious, not as grounded in Italian moms and uncles and friends as we are accustomed to from him. Mapping the Gnome Gene Human was pretty clever - he started with the title and built the poem around it. Not everybody got it on the first or second read, which I guess it what made it clever.

Stacie's poem called new republic was word perfect, very spare, with some words she picked for no significant reason. Good explanation. It was a view of the inaugural that combined some midwifery.

Kathy M., who btw will be in Florida for our next two meetings and assures me she is not deserting us because of our shenanigans, graciously considered our suggestions about chopping extraneous words and phrases. Her poem about a broken relationship with a friend prompted me to remember wanting to write about a similar situation. Tim and I were talking this week about being inspired by other poets and this was a perfect example. We agreed that when inspiration hits, you must go home and write immediately or you will lose your impetus. Happens to me all the time.

I am in love with Alan this week - you know what I mean - with his style, which is so different in The Quality of Light than the style I harshly criticized the last time. I commented that he must have two little guys in his head warring over who gets to express himself. This poem was thoughtful, sensitive, human, and was a pleasure( for me) to read. Mimi said that any woman would appreciate receiving this poem and I certainly am on board with that. Bravo. "His story became the story of the train." Love it. (Note to Alan: don't forget to send me a revised copy to save, please.)

Mimi was a poem of the night candidate with Mummers Parade - January 1, 2009. It was a terrific marriage of abstract and concrete concepts about dealing with death and the ensuing grief. " I am flying with my father. Together we keep the beat with knees high, jacket flapping the breeze." To me, who lost my father a year ago, it kinda "crack(ed) my chest apart."

I know this is going on forever, but gosh, we had some good stuff.

Tim painted "an impressionist portrait" of an old life in East Hampton which was not as literal as he usually is. Ron and Alan both mentioned it as a "tight" and "finished" poem. Everyone praised the final stanza which was a fine character description.

I'm sorry, I forgot who mentioned that they appreciated Edie's introduction of the "Jewish cultural voice" into her work, but it is accurate. The poem began with her colorful description of three cats which led to quite some debate over the old question of is this one poem or two, but no conclusion. The title was "the rest is silence", which were Hamlet's last words and it was followed by the musings of what comes after death. My favorite line: "The heart is like a hotel, Margo's mother said. "

In keeping with my resolution, it was Mark's turn to bear the brunt of my brutal tongue. His poem incorporated a multitude of words such as distress with the "dis" omitted. Art compared it to the playfulness of Finnegan's Wake and Edie mentioned Jabberwocky (which I love and we can all quote). Others agreed with me that it more of a writing exercise than a poem.

Tom made an interesting comment about Paul's Grandfather. He said that when he reads work that is extremely good (and this was), he gets "fidgety" waiting for the writer to screw it up before the end. Veddy interrresting.

Art left us all laughing with a truly joyous poem about his grandson Ted taking a header on the lawn full of Dandelions. It was delightful and for me, Art's most memorable. It also prompted a discussion of the use of a or an in front of "h" words.

In conclusion, it pleases me to report, because I admire Art greatly, that he said my poem about a murder was "masterfully crafted". It was a poem I had been carrying in my head for months and was finally able to write in a way that I was satisfied with. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

For your consideration...

another poets' art show this summer. Mimi and Art have both answered yes. I would like this time to link your work to one of your poems or vice versa, have the poem framed and hung with the art.

Think about it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Queen Mildred

Few of you remember, I know, but for those of you who do, I rec'd holiday greetings in the form of poems, pictures and a drawing from Mildred Kerr. She is obviously missing Donald, her life partner since they were 5 years old together. Mildred is 91 and still writing and sketching. Charlie Rossiter also sent new year's greeting from Chicago.

Italy ruled last night. I proclaimed my impatience with all things Irish and fortunately Mr. Pavoldi arrived with the Poem of the Evening to trump those silly green sheep and shamrocks. Ron was true to (his much-missed at EOTNP) form, echoing his mother's voice and wisdom during a recession. Comments on cast iron and canaries particularly capturing.

Joyce was back (after a trip to Ireland) and with memories of her grandmother. There was a little quibbling over the use of the word magic. Everyone like her grandfather in his rocking chair. Suggested a title changed.

On Being Irish - that Irish Philomena took us deep into the countryside with every Irish image one could conjure up. They were all quite lovely. Some suggestions were made regarding rearranging lines. Green, green, green. Thanks goodness, Mark was here, but had no Irish poem. I was also poem-less, btw.

Kathy McCabe took our previous comments to heart and came in with a very spare and successful offering called "Aging Faces" about sisters. Suggestions: break into stanzas and drop the last line. Tim's pick of the evening.

Edie, Edie, Edie surprised us all with a serious poem called "The Laying of Hands". We discussed the word "blowzed" and agreed it was one of her best. Dennis was rather subdued, but brought a good poem about the new year which brought us some questioned for which he didn't offer much explanation. Paul took us on a first trip to Vegas with a young gambler who seemed pretty sophisticated to me. How do you spell bettors?

I must tell you now that my new year's resolution was to be a nastier person and I admit I tried my new attitude out on Alan, who took my criticism very graciously and didn't un-invite me to his party, as I feared he might. I said his poem read like a science/weather report rather than a poem. He had one wonderful section about his friend Steve plunging over a hill and hitting the snow like "a third grader on a lunch tray". That was a great section. BTW, it looks like I will not be at the party because Josh and Amy are coming for the weekend and we are celebrating my mother's 89th birthday on Saturday.

I am nominating for my second favorite of the night Tim's "Marijuana Cookie", which was spot on with cadence and humor. His feverish desire for the cookie was wonderfully expressed.

Larry and the philosophers met in the other room. They seem to be going strong and are very enthusiastic. I think he's got a good group going. They are having an extra meeting next Thursday.

Hope you all have a great party at Alan's. It was lovely to see Ron. We meet again on the 22nd.

PS-Dennis just stopped in and in the course of our talk, suggested we have a "5 O'clock Poem" night, where everyone churns out a poem at that time and rushes with it to the group. Could be fun. Also heard that I missed a chatty time at Smitty's after the meeting.