Friday, May 29, 2009

Poetry Party: An Invitation

Poetry Party: An Open Mic

Sunday, May 31

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Huddle Inn Restaurant

Downstairs Cafe

31 Passaic Ave.

Fairfield, NJ



No Cover Charge

Bring a few poems to read

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Top 100 Poetry Blogs

I was notified the other day that Blogalicious has been included in a just-posted list of the Top 100 Poetry Blogs. Yay, for Blogalicious!

The list is prefaced by this note: "No longer relegated to textbooks, libraries, and anthologies, poets now have an array of options for reading poetry, posting, the latest in news, and more, thanks to the internet. Below are 100 blogs and sites for every poet, from a seasoned professional to a child reading their first poem."

The list is then divided into four sections: Collected Works, Original Work, For Children, and Video and Audio Poetry.

Collected Works, the largest of the four sections, includes Blogalicious and Harriet: The Blog, Poets (Academy of American Poetry), The Best American Poetry, The Best Words in Their Best Order (The Farrar Straus and Giroux poetry blog), and 42 others.

Original Work includes blogs whose keepers post their own work along with other items of interest. Such bloggers include Sandra Beasley, Greg Rappleye, and Mark Doty.

For Children includes blogs that are geared towards young poets. I suspect that teachers might find these blogs very useful. Some of those included are Chicken Spaghetti, Jack Prelutsky, and Barking Spiders: Poetry for Children.

Video and Audio includes blogs where you can find poetry read by poets and lovers of poetry. Poets old and new are included.

I'm bookmarking this site and plan to revisit often.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Crown, Albeit a Small One

This past Sunday was the annual Poetry Festival: A Celebration of Literary Journals, an event that I developed six years ago and have run each year since. The festival is always exciting and fun, a day filled with poetry lovers, poets, poems, journals, conversation. This year was extra special for me. Read on and find out why.

This is Mayor Joseph Tempesta, of West Caldwell, NJ, where the festival is held and where I live. He arrived at the beginning of the third reading session and approached the podium. Here he is getting out his glasses so he could read a proclamation appointing me, yes Me!, the Poet Laureate of West Caldwell. (See Anthony Buccino in the first row snapping a photo? He provided photos of the entire day.)

Here we are posing with the proclamation in hand as the Mayor passes it to me.

And a closer shot

Then a beautiful cake helped to celebrate the event. The cake was provided by the Friends of the Library.

Here's the cake after everyone had a piece.

A close-up of the Proclamation

More about the festival coming soon.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 18, 2009

Accuracy in Poetry

At the Poetry Salon I recently attended I read my poem "Invective Against the Bumblebee." The poem begins as follows:

Escapee from a tight cell, yellow-streaked,
sex-deprived sycophant to a queen,
you have dug divots in my yard
and like a squatter trespassed in my garage.

Now when that poem was first published in the journal PMS: PoemMemoirStory, line 4 of the above stanza read "and borne a hole through my garage door." I was satisfied with that line, and I clearly remembered those dreadful bumblebees making their ugly holes in the garage door of our first house. So the image seemed right to me.

However, when I was assembling my second manuscript, I sent the collection to a friend for editing. She told me most emphatically that I was flat-out wrong. Those weren't bumblebees; they were carpenter bees. I wasn't at all happy to hear that. And did it really even matter?

I did some research and discovered that my reader was absolutely right and I was wrong. And I decided that it did matter. The line was presented as factually accurate and so it needed to be right. The poem is a curse poem in which I hurl one accusation after another at the bumblebee. All the other accusations are factually accurate. I went back to the poem and reworked that line. It was frustrating, but as so often happens when we are forced into a late revision, I think I ended up with a better line. It's certainly more musical.

So that's the poem that went into the book. After the reading was over on Sunday and everyone was chatting and devouring goodies, a woman I didn't know informed me that bumblebees are not yellow-streaked. You can imagine that I was not happy to hear that! I was so sure they were. And I was sure that my earlier reader who is very nature-savvy would not have let such an error get by her. But the woman was so insistent that I had to wonder if she might be right.

As soon as I got home, I did a quick Google search. Here's the definition I found for "bumblebees": "common name for any of a group of large, hairy, usually black-and-yellow, social bees." See that yellow part? Victory! And for further proof, here's a picture. See the yellow?

A friend I told about this said it didn't matter anyhow, that the line needn't be literal. I disagree. I think that if the information is presented as factual then it should be accurate. If I'm writing about a dream or a trip to fantasy land, I can play fast and loose with the facts, but not when what I'm presenting is presented as reality. I wanted to suggest that the bumblebee was cowardly in its attack on a child. If I'd stuck with my original line, I would have had that implication but would have lost the accuracy of the image. I wanted both implication and accuracy. Happily, I've ended up with both.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Invitation to a Poetry Festival

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Poetry Festival: A Celebration of New Jersey’s Literary Journals (and Some Neighbors)
12 Journals and Editors: Edison Literary Review, Exit 13, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Lips, The Literary Review, New York Quarterly, Now Culture, Painted Bride Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, River Poets Journal, Tiferet, and US 1 Worksheets

Journals will be available along with subscription and submission information.

Editors will answer questions about publishing.

24 poets will read throughout the afternoon.

Books will be available for sale and signing.

West Caldwell Public Library
30 Clinton Rd.
West Caldwell, NJ
1-5 PM Free
Contact library: 973-226-5441

Click here for full schedule and directions

Visitors browsing the tables at the 2008 Festival

Poet Hal Sirowitz reading for Tiferet at 2008 Festival

Poets and Editors chatting with visitors at the 2008 Festival

Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 8, 2009

On Becoming Famous

A local magazine, Suburban Essex Magazine, which is distributed to 100,000 homes in my area, has published a lovely article about me and the poetry festival I'm running on Sunday, May 17. Okay, so I'm not quite famous, but still it's really nice to have such a generous piece about me circulating.

The article is about how I got into writing poetry and publishing my work. There's an excerpt from a poem, and there's information about the upcoming festival. As a result of the article, I've been receiving a bunch of emails. A few poets who wanted to know how to get into the festival—too late for this year. A few who wanted more details on how I began getting my work published. And of course, a few who wanted to send me some poems for critiquing—sorry, no can do.

If interested in reading the article, click on the link above. Then click on the Launch link for the May issue. Then once the magazine loads, use the arrow at the top of the page to scroll forward to page 11.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Poetry Salon for CavanKerry Press

This past Sunday I went to a Poetry Salon at Sondra Gash's house. Sondra holds a few of these readings each year to help support her publisher, CavanKerry Press, and the press's other poets.

Sondra has the perfect house for such events, out in the country, on an isolated road, house built right into the environment, tons of greenery around. The house has lots of windows so outside and inside seem to merge. This reading gathered about 25 people to listen to some poetry and engage in some poetry conversation.

Sondra introduces the two featured poets, Joan Cusack Handler and Teresa Carson. She gives exquisite intros.

Joan Cusack Handler about to read from her new book, The Red Canoe: Love in Its Making. The poems are about the unraveling of a marriage and its resuscitation. Running parallel to the falling apart of the marriage is the falling apart of the speaker's body. The poems are laid out all over the page in what initially seems a chaotic format but which nicely reflects the motions of a long marriage.

Teresa Carson reading from her first collection, Elegy for the Floater. These poems are reflections upon the disorder in the speaker's childhood and family. The youngest of 10 children, the speaker is at the mercy of a mother who suffers from mental illness. There's a lot of chaos here, too, but again a lot of healing.

Then Sondra invited three of us who are fans of the press to each read one poem. I went first and read "Invective Against the Bumblebee."

Susanna Rich reading from her chapbook, Television Daddy

Gail Gerwin reading new work

Joan and Teresa then went into another room where their books were available for sale and signing. As if we hadn't feasted enough, we all enjoyed some delicious baked goods. I love these intimate poetry gatherings and the opportunity to talk about poetry with people who care about poetry. I also like the idea of the salon as a way of widening the circle for poetry.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 1, 2009

Unexpected Poetry Festival

It's true: sometimes good things happen when we least expect them. After completing a 5-day residency last week with third graders, I thought my school work for this year was done. And I was glad. Let the summer begin. But then on Wednesday, just as I was about to make an emergency run to the mall, the phone rang. It was poet Ed Romond. He was scheduled to do a festival the next day at West Morris Central High School in Chester, NJ. The other poet had unexpectedly become ill and had just canceled. Since the teacher running the festival was tied up in classes, Ed had offered to try to find a substitute poet.

I'm so grateful that I was still home to receive that call. I was free the next day and Chester is within reasonable driving distance, so I quickly said yes. That meant a busy day as I had to quickly put together my materials. It was well worth the effort as the day turned out to be just fantastic!

English teacher David Crews put together a wonderful festival. A genuine gift to his school. I met David a few years ago when he was in a workshop I gave. I remembered the poem he wrote that day as it was very promising. I also knew that he'd posted several of my poems at his contemporary poetry website. But I never expected to be on his campus. And I had no idea that he and some other teachers were actually teaching my poems! What a kick that was. As a result I was sort of "famous" and was greeted with what seemed like excitement. So off to a very good start.

It just got better. Instead of doing the workshops that I usually do when at a high school festival, Ed and I first did a 50-minute Q&A. The questions had been prepared by members of the literary magazine and were thoughtful and interesting. We were asked about how we deal with difficult subjects in poetry, how important revision is, if we write with an audience in mind, the correspondence between head and heart, and so on. For our second session, also 50 minutes, we each read our own poems. For the third and final session, we read favorite poems by other poets and talked a bit about why we were drawn to those poems.

For each of the three sessions, we had a new audience of between 100-150 kids. I thought that would seem like a lot and might create management problems. I need not have worried. There was not one sign of restlessness, no one was doing homework, and no one was chatting it up with neighbors. It was pretty amazing. And I feel sure the level of attention we received was the result of the love of poetry that infuses the English department. The teachers I met genuinely love poetry, attend poetry events, and even write poetry.

While Ed's and my role in the festival was just 3 hours, a lot had gone on before our arrival. A series of poetry workshops and seminars had been conducted throughout the morning by different English teachers. Some of the topics: Poetry for Men, Strip Poetry (With Your Clothes On), Sensing the Image, and What We Love about Like: A Workshop on Similes.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were more schools like this, more English departments like this, more days like this?

The day ended with David's gift to each of us of a cherry tree sapling. Mine is now dreaming of one day going outside and being a big tree among the others.

Bookmark and Share
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...