Thursday, January 19, 2017

Newton Free Library Poetry Series Starts Feb. 14 7PM

(Click on picture to enlarge)  For more information go to: 
The series has been directed by Doug Holder since 2002. It was founded by Robert K. Johnson

The Sunday Poet: Christopher Reilley

Christopher Reilley

Christopher Reilley is the current poet laureate for Dedham, MA. He is also a Pushcart nominee, contributing editor for Acoustic Ink, and a board member of the Newton Writing & Publishing Center. He is the author of Grief Tattoos and Breathing for Clouds, both with Big Table Publishing. His poems have appeared in mumerous collections, journals, and anthologies, including Word Salad, Boston Literary Magazine, and Compass of Conception.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Roberto Carlos Garcia Interview by Susan Tepper

Roberto Carlos Garcia’s new full length poetry book, Melancolia, has been published by Cervena Barva Press. His chapbook amores gitanos (‘gypsy love’) was published by the same press a few years ago. Poems and prose by Garcia appear or will soon appear in The New Engagement, Public Pool, Stillwater Review, Gawker, Barrelhouse, Tuesday; An Art Project, The Acentos Review, Lunch Ticket and more. He is the founding editor of GET FRESH BOOKS, LLC, a cooperative publishing press. A native New Yorker, Garcia holds an MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation from Drew University, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Roberto Carlos Garcia Interview by Susan Tepper

Susan Tepper: You’re a painter as well as a poet, and your new collection titled Melancolía wears a cover of your own design.  Was this book cover painted for these poems, specifically, or did the image come before the manuscript?

Roberto Carlos Garcia: I went to the canvas and to my paints with the explicit intention of painting the cover. For a long time I couldn’t decide how to express the melancolía of the poems for the cover. I was afraid I would end up with a cover I hated. I had asked some artist friends to help me out but nothing really came of that, so I decided the cover would come from my hands.

ST: Excellent. Because the vision of the work came out of you. I think it’s really great when a press allows the author to participate in the choice of cover.

RCG: At first I envisioned a man running through the rain into a disappearing vantage point. Then I thought it would be cool if, instead of rain, roses were falling from the sky. By the time I painted the sky I knew there would be no man running in the painting. I was surprised by how “moody” or somber the image of roses falling from the sky was. I took that a step further with the puddles on the ground, “the mélange of colors,” as one observer wrote. Many of the poems include bright colors, roses, and rain, so I feel like that is represented well in the cover art.

ST: It’s a fantastic cover for these poems and the puddles first struck me as blood searing the earth. What makes you bleed as a poet?

RCG: Raw emotion. So often, or for me at least, being an artist is like living as an open wound or gateway. The intensity of emotion ultimately finds release as art because you have to share it, you have to, good or bad. The blood coming out of the wound, the emotions rushing through the gate, once you give this thing some thought, real contemplation, it becomes a poem, an essay, a short story, a painting, photos, whatever it is. The deep contemplation of each raw emotion, the thought, the worry, also makes me bleed as a poet. It’s like that quote by Amiri Baraka: “Thought is more important than art. To revere art and have no understanding of the process that forces it into existence, is finally not even to understand what art is.”

The triggers are everywhere and I believe this book, Melancolía, explores them. From the smallest of concerns, watching the moon or the seasons change through a window, to state sanctioned violence against black and brown bodies, and women. Maybe it’s akin to Wordsworth’s cheesy line “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of feelings.” And it’s also Amiri Baraka’s critically important idea that “The artist's role is to raise the consciousness of the people. To make them understand life, the world and themselves more completely. That's how I see it. Otherwise, I don't know why you do it.

ST: I couldn’t agree more. Art is so hard. Especially here in America where it is often disdained and pushed aside for the most mindless forms of entertainment. What makes you bleed as a man?

RCG: The world’s lack of empathy. Everything that is wrong in the world could be changed if everyone wanted to change it. It’s that simple and it’s that complicated. Not only does this make me bleed, it depresses me, makes me despair, and I have to fight really hard to stay engaged with everyone and everything that I love. I know so many people, the majority of them writers, struggling with the same thing.
And yet, even showing love can bleed you dry. Sometimes you feel like you have enough empathy and love for the whole world and you hemorrhage, and you hurt yourself, your spirit. I believe that surviving as an Afro-Latino in America, one that is preoccupied with social justice for all, makes me bleed heavy.

ST: How personal are these poems to your own life?

RCG: The majority of these poems were written during a tough period in my life that I don’t want to get into here. I was looking for the joy and digging through the fat for something to sustain me emotionally. The bones of the book were made during a 30/30 writing challenge. I poured all of my searching, thinking, feeling, interrogating, and seeing into these poems. They are very personal, but also accessible because these are mostly universal concerns. Now more than ever the human being needs to understand that our concerns are universal.

ST: Some of these poems are after the works of poets Lorca, Milosz, Percy Bysshe Shelley and writers such as James Baldwin. Were they a direct influence on the particular poem? In other words, what is the tie-in?

RCG: These are just a few of my favorite writers. Many times I’ll be contemplating some line, quote, poem, or image from / or either of these artists and it will find its way into a poem. Mostly, I’m trying to have a conversation with these folks. Aren’t writers great conversationalists?

ST: I think they are. Sometimes a little too much!

RCG: I believe subconsciously I’m trying to get that writer in a room with a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee, to try solving the world’s problems.

ST: I would give anything to sit down and have a conversation with Baldwin. So what can we expect from you in your future writings? Any new books on the horizon?

RCG: I’m working on a novel, a collection of essays, a collection of short stories, and the next poetry collection. Hopefully, you’ll hear some news soon!

ST: That’s a lot of writing! I’m sure they will be equally dramatic and compelling as this stunning book. 

Susan Tepper
 Susan Tepper, an award-winning writer, has been at it for twenty years. Six books of her fiction and poetry have been published, with a seventh book, a novella, forthcoming in the fall of 2017. FIZZ her reading series at KGB Bar, NYC, is sporadically ongoing these past nine years.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Sunday Poet: Llyn Clague

Llyn Clague is a poet based in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.  His poems have been published widely, including in Ibbetson Street, Atlanta Review, Wisconsin Review, California Quarterly, Main Street Rag, New York Quarterly, and other magazines.  His seventh book, Hard-Edged and Childlike, was published by Main Street Rag in September, 2014.  Visit

Hunger In A New Yorker Poem

Visual, sensual, genteel,
the poem “Quahogs” in this upscale
mag jogs forward in a tide-steady
rhythm, measured, controlled,
describing clamming by the sea.

Auditory, olfactory, tactile,
in verbal as well as physical
markers, the verse progresses
from tidal flats to rake tines
to the character and color
of the shells: “Opal or pearl …,
their whorls and purple stains.”

Compact, concrete, picturesque:
it’s a best-of-friends evening
scene, with the “sky blazing,
its sinking orange fire.”
With even “the air in savor,”
delightful “precious butter”
drips on “the succulent
of the freezing dark sea.”

Sandily gritty, precisely
specific, grandiosely
the poem raises its sights
from one night’s appetite
for clams and friends by the sea
to the notion of a durable,
universal human hunger,
a “domain immeasurable.”

Delicately, tastily, prettily
worded, its private hankerings
lead to yearning for meaning,
universal, noble, eternal.
To the hunger, very measurable,
of people not clamming by the sea,
this verse avoids allusion,
artfully, assuredly, gently.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Poet Laureate of Somerville Gloria Mindock in The Somerville Times

The new Poet Laureate of Somerville, Gloria Mindock writes, " I will serve the Somerville community with regular office hours, hosting a poetry round table open to all writers, workshops and readings for the elderly, poetry with puppets for children, readings and an informative talk about El Salvador’s civil war and the Salvadoran writing today in our community, and the giving away of free books throughout Somerville as part of Read America Read. I look forward to representing the city of Somerville for the next two years.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

The Sunday Poet: Zachary Bos

Poet Zachary Bos
"Zachary Bos studied poetry in the graduate creative writing program at Boston University. He is editor of 'Conscious Explanations' by Mark Schorr was the first book published by his Pen & Anvil Press."

Lascaux Massachusetts

                i.m. Mark Schorr

Now look with me away from this screen where
I have just read my friend this morning died.
Let us look through this window, through the air
that carries the scent of marsh mud and salt
as it combs across the marsh at low tide.
We are high here, and on an upper floor,
and down away from us the rows of hills
melt into the distance, becoming more

soft and gray the farther away they are.
Fog softens them too, removes their features.
The winter rain rubs them smooth. All nature
winds itself down as it moves. Years of rain
wash the gilding from the grooves of the names
carved into the stone of our monuments.
What we leave out gets lost, erodes away
and decays. What does remains are stories.

Their gold is renewed with each retelling.
They are kept safe in the confines of all
we sing or say with sincere meaning. They
are beyond the reach of rust, just as safe
as the dancing aurochsen breathed upon
the caverock walls by those ancient painters
who knew we must keep inside what we want
to save from weather and oblivion.

                                                [ January 3, 2017 ]

Saturday, January 07, 2017

An Emigrant’s Winter By Pui Ying Wong

An Emigrant’s Winter
By Pui Ying Wong
Glass Lyre Press
Glenview, IL
ISBN: 978-1-941783-23-8
90 Pages

Review by Dennis Daly

Small moments in the starkness of infinite space create their own palace of eloquent imagery in Pui Ying Wong’s An Emigrant’s Winter. Stringing a plethora of similes together, Wong constructs her architecture of muscular arches, lyrical spires, and exquisitely positioned lattices within her picture-perfect stanzas and flowing icicle-laden lines. Indeed, each multi-sided poem seems to defy gravity by rising above us into the frigid atmosphere of faceted and timeless exhilaration.

Something about the color pink on walls forewarns of troubled distractedness. Wong’s collection opens with The Pink Apartment, a piece set in Sai Kung, a Hong Kong township. The author’s persona considers with telling clarity her geographical relationship with her native environs. Here she confronts the ambiguity of origination,

I was a stranger at home.
I walked among
the neighbors, quiet
as an unstrung guitar.

I waited for the bus, greeted
by commuters wary like moles
caught in the sun, nothing
could assuage them:
not morning’s pure light,
not their own dreams.  

Mnemonic wanderings in the dreams of emigrants both unsettle and reassure their hosts. In the title poem, An Emigrant’s Winter, Wong visits the phantoms of her past in a land frozen in dream-time. At the heart of the piece the poet observes from an intellectually connected, but emotionally isolated angle,

Icicles teethed along the power line,
I opened my mouth and my speech stuttered.

The entire city lived in a snow globe,
even big men trod timidly in the wind, hiding their faces
like shamed felons caught by the TV camera.

The market sold out of everything,
a young boy the last pack of meat.

Sleet fell all night, tapping
on the windows the way the dead might.

In my dreams I went back to the house
that had forgotten about me,
no one there asked how I’d been.

But I sat with them just the same

Wong’s poem Elegy For The Snow Country alludes to the power of literature on a young, uncluttered mind. The poet recalls images of pure desperation from Yasunari Kawabata classic Japanese novel Snow Country that she had once read. Snow falling endlessly, she drifts into thoughts of her own and her son’s first snow experience in a new country and then follows her own musing into an earlier, albeit internal, setting. Interestingly, she describes herself as “like a pilgrim” on a road of pure language. Wong concludes her piece this way,

What other road if not language
that can take us back to these moments,
to childhood, that first country,
surrounded by savage blue and steep inclines?
What burns cannot be touched but remembered.
What burns in this enigmatic life speeds before you
like a train trundling out of the tunnel
into a valley cold with stars.

Small Moments, Wong’s lovely poem of emblematic images, details in miniature what the rest of her collection does painted large. Her clarity of language and polished similes are particularly striking. Her pieces, like a charm bracelet, seem to be independent from one another except for a framing image of a girl learning to ride a bicycle, which she divides into two separated stanzas. The tone and the outcomes that Wong delivers remind me of the imagist poets Hilda Doolittle, Amy Lowell, and even a bit of Ezra Pound. Consider these sections,

At dawn, the train collects
the commuters like debt,
returning them in the evening
gleaming of sweat.

Noon, young mothers
sip coffee in outdoor cafes,
united by their fidgeting babies,
lack of sleep and
a distraction that has no name.

On the ground of the VA hospital
the gardener with a hose
harbors a spray of rainbow
as if it were a love letter
from the front.

My favorite poem in this collection Wong entitles The Search. The piece daubs one with a strange duality of tone. The narrative background appears claustrophobic and bolted in place, yet the lyrical overlay soars with magic. This tonal counterpoint works really well, even as the poem ends darkly. The middle stanza conveys a mix of faith and abnegation,

Moonlight falls like a bolt
of silk. On the moon’s face
the blotches are the ones
we see all our lives.
No longer do we believe
in the moon goddess
who night after night 
mixes potions to make us
well. What good is her benevolence
if it won’t return the ones we lost?

Wong’s master poem, In the Shadow of Pagodas, astonishes with its narrative pull and lyrical lift. The poet tells the story of the first emperor of China, Qin Shihuangdi, and his doomed court with versified aplomb. Man’s divine pretenses in the form of art rise off these pages and flit before us in a wild pre-blizzard warning. Illusion breeds dream breeds illusion. Replicas become more real, more permanent than their creators. Wong describes the emperor’s terra cotta army that accompanied him into the presumed afterlife this way,

Without armies there would be no empire—
generals, warriors, archers,
bowmen, infantrymen,
even if they were made of clay.
Figures varied in size, poise,
painted in resin, lacquer,
their color bright,
their faces individual
as if each were bestowed a spirit,
each could breathe, could kill.   

Not only does the poet deliver philosophical depth and original images in this collection, but she also gives us an emigrant’s perspective on traveling to and from her new homeland. Wong’s poetic journeys shake us from sleep with their wintry briskness. Truly, it’s eye-opening to travel with her.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Poet Gloria Mindock--New Poet Laureate of Somerville

New Poet Laureate of Somerville--Gloria Mindock

 I am pleased to announce that Gloria Mindock, will succeed Nicole Terez Dutton as Poet Laureate of  Somerville as of Jan. 2017. The Laureate Panel, that consisted of Harris Gardner, Doug Holder, Kathleen Seward, and Glenn Ferdman, had a hard choice to make, but we are confident that longtime Somerville resident/poet/publisher/activist Gloria Mindock is the best choice. The notable runner ups were Kirk Etherton and Ralph Pennel. Mindock has a long history as a significant literary figure in Somerville, and has provided venues for readings for many years.  In terms of outreach, publishing, and promoting, she has few equals in Somerville.  I would like to thank Greg Jenkins of the Somerville Arts Council for making this happen.

Gloria Mindock is the founding editor of Cervena Barva Press and one of the USA editors for Levure Litteraire (France). She is the author of Whiteness of Bone, La Portile Raiului, translated into the Romanian by Flavia Cosma, Nothing Divine Here, and Blood Soaked Dresses. Widely published in the USA and abroad, her poetry has been translated and published into the Romanian, Serbian, Spanish, Estonian, and French. In 2014, Gloria was awarded the Ibbetson Street Press Lifetime Achievement Award and in May 2016, Gloria was the recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Award for community service by the Newton Writing and Publishing Center. Gloria recently was published in Akadeemia (Estonia),, Gargoyle, and her work is forthcoming in the We are You Project Anthology. Mindock runs the Cervena Barva Bookstore in the Somerville Arts Armory, as well as running, and co-running two reading series in the same facility.

 Laureate Panel, back/ left to right--Harris Gardner, Glenn Ferdman, Doug Holder,  front left to right-- Kathleen Seward, Linda Conte.