Thursday, March 23, 2017

“Elemental: A Dissection of Parts” by Ivy Page Review by Timothy Gager

“Elemental: A Dissection of Parts” by Ivy Page
Review by Timothy Gager
Paperback: 68 pages
Publisher: Salmon Poetry
ISBN-10: 1910669261
ISBN-13: 978-1910669266

While reading through “Elemental: A Dissection of Parts” by Ivy Page, I was struck not only by the metaphor of the building blocks of the human psyche, but the ability of the poet to place me on the outside looking in, and on the inside looking out. The book is divided into four sections: F i r e, Air Child, Dark Water and Earth Eater, all classical elements in popular culture. Within the basic building blocks of these, Page explores growing from child to adult, finding love, having a child but also our fragile existence—our own building blocks of life, growth, losses and death. All of these existing simultaneously at all times for us, leaving it up to the individual to pick through these elements.
Ivy Page defines her poems within our senses, both from the again from the inside and the outside of the narrator. It’s personal, private but also can be distant---as if to say, don’t get too close, be amazing but still stay detached when necessary. We, as humans, have the ability to protect ourselves, process our instincts and create what we can be safe with in our world. Page does this admirably, drawing us in, and pushing us away, when required. We become intimate with the poet, the subject, the time and place---but we are reminded that we also fear this exposure.
In the poem, Just in Case, Page summarizes
I didn’t tell you, when I woke-up this morning
that your wordless face left me wanting more
song in the world, and that the way
you had discarded the sheets and exposed your
bare body made me linger as I put on my clothes.

Even the day to day rat race can be solved by words, within art. This is brought out in, On A Dusty Shelf in the Corner

The working mothers are tired,
and the working fathers are looking
for their epic to be written on Wall Street,
not between the pages of this book

Come in and hide with me.

Then on the very next page, in Spine, Page writes personally, to ease oneself open, “above two half-length pieces”—written about both opening a book, but indeed opening oneself up emotionally and also leaving oneself open by exposing one’s words to the world. Quite complex, this trifecta, if the reader, as a reader should, decides to go all the way in. Page does it with words of lips, tongues, taste, touch---all exposed within the pages of “Elemental: A Dissection of Parts”.

In the section Air Child, Page again explores the fragility of being, and how much we need words in times like these:

Nothing seems right
My fingers feel fat
my hair greasy.

I long to find a way to the place
where creativity can let the sun set
in the upper left hand corner of the page
and magic will happen.

The fourth section, Dark Water, is the most playful of the four. Again, the reader is dared to go deeper than meets the eye. The musical poem Coal Train, engages the reader with terms from music, but alas, John Coltrain—is the homonym. In Ode to a Vein, Page opens with, “Like a trampoline I bounce fingers across skin to find your rivers laid deep, down below.” Here I found, a play on, love in vane (vein), but was there intent? I would like to think so, because what we uncover within ourselves, within this poem, is sheer brilliance. Again, it’s the outside looking into the inside looking out.

In ‘Ol Woman, Page gives us play with in dialect. In A Ride with Milton and Jonson, you are a passenger being driven by references to and by the playwrights and poets, John and Ben. The section finishes with Call ---  I Will Answer,  allowing the books familiar themes to explode once more.

it will get better
         how you used to think I was amazing
just hand in there,
         I pretend to be a little case on the outside,

The book ends with the section, Earth Eater, which doesn’t summarize the book but rather takes us to additional places. The poem “Broken” stands out to me, as an affair has occurred, and though it was described as just something which happened with a friend, the broken is not the relationship, but rather the now broken inner safety of the narrator, as the poem concludes:

Echo of who I used to be resonated
like an empty drum against your ears---
I let myself slip
into loving you and
hating myself.

Thus,“Elemental: A Dissection of Parts,” by Ivy Page leaves me blessed with the largeness and the smallness of the world, with all the pieces and the individuality of each and every piece. It is the way life is observed by the observer and by all of us—pulled in and pushed back.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

“Questions for a Poet” Interview with Kevin Gallagher author of LOOM."

Kevin Gallagher


“Questions for a Poet” Interview with Kevin Gallagher author of LOOM.
Interview conducted by Mikayla Brasefield


In a small corner of the writing world, poetry exists as the beating heart of literature. It has existed for many centuries in numerous parts of the world - from the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh to the Japanese “haiku”. Poetry has inspired many, and has been inspired by the events of the world and their effects on humanity. On blustery March 2nd, a poet by the name of Kevin Gallagher visited Endicott College to speak to the young poetry community about his recent poetry book entitled Loom. It holds the truths about the connections between Northern capitalists and Southern slavers during the days of civil injustice and prejudice against the blacks. Brilliantly written in such a way as to merely hint at the novel behind his words, Gallagher sheds new light on a part of American history that most of America had previously tried to remain ignorant of. But what makes the poet, the poet you might ask? In this short, yet enlightening interview, I was able to discover a bit more about the “man behind the curtain” as it were.
1. Your passion for Loom's overarching theme is apparent in your poems. What was your drive going into such a controversial topic?
Well, the race relations in the US have become quite heated.  I was living in Washington DC for a year and two things happened. First, my son was in school and getting a very different picture of the Civil War.  Second, the Freddy Gray murder happened in Baltimore.  Rather than going at it face first, I took the path of Seamus Heaney, Charles Olson, Muriel Rukeyser and others—and dealt with the present as an artist by confronting our past.
2. In an article from you talk a little bit about how lyric poetry hits you and in the next moment, disappears. Do you carry a poetry journal with you to write down fragments of poems as they come?
Sometimes.  Or, backs of envelopes and so forth.  I live a hectic life now with kids and a demanding job.  More often than not the lyric poems disappear before any of it gets on paper.  That is why the narrative project has become good for me at this point in my life.  When I have time I can sit down and 'pick up the story.'
3. Various articles have mentioned a few of your favorite poets as Walt Whitman, Fanny Howe, and Kenneth Rexroth - whom your dog is named after I noticed. What did you find about their works that drew you in so much?
Purity.  Empathy.  The struggle to make sense of the US and be an American at the same time.  Rexroth to me is the best—so many wide ranging poems.  And, whenever I feel really harried, I go to his nature poems and to the Sierras.
4. Do you ever have writer's block? (If so, do you ever give yourself little poetry prompts? If you do, what are some of them you find useful?)
I'm older now and realize that if you are truly a poet you are always one.  So, sometimes poems fly out of you on a daily basis, sometimes nothing happens for months.  After seeing that happen for the past thirty years I never let a dry spell get to me.  If I ever feel like it is too distant I find a new poet to read or go back to my favorites.
5. You are a professor, dad, husband, and poet. How do you manage balance?
I have a full life, and it makes for good poetry.
6. What advice would you give to young, aspiring poets?
            Read and memorize lots of poetry.  Live a full life.  At some point full poems come.

If you’d like to learn more about the amazing “artist of words”, hear more from his works, or find out about his newest poetry book “Loom”, you can find him on the following interweb sources:

 Mikayla Rose Brasefield (19) is a sophomore Nursing major from Vernon, CT, with a previous history in Creative Writing. She was featured in her high school’s student-written and published magazine, titled War & Pieces (2015), was awarded an honorable mention in the Nancy Thorpe Poetry Contest (2014), and has won several silver medals and a gold medal for some of her poetry/writings in the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Contest.


Mr. Hip

                     Boston National Poetry Month Festival, 2017
                          ~Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square,
                          ~Community Church of Boston, 565 Boylston Street,
                          ~Fisher College, 116 Beacon Street, Boston

          April 5th-9th; FREE ADMISSION to all events.
             High School Poetry Slam Competition. Dozens of Established Poets. Publishing Panel.
             An Evening of Poetry, Music & Dance.  Emerging Poets and two Open Mic's.

        Many thanks to our official broadcast media sponsor, WBUR
                                    We are pleased to present our 3rd Annual High School Poetry Slam Competition.
        From 7:00-9:30pm, teams from local high schools will compete at Alumni Hall on the
        Fisher College campus, 116 Beacon Street. With MC "Mr. Hip."

                               The Festival continues at Boston Public Library with 13 Keynote Poets.  They include 
        winners of the Massachusetts Book Award, the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
        The Commonwealth Salon, 700 Boylston Street, 1st floor.

                              7:30-9:15 pm at The Community Church of Boston, 565 Boylston Street, 2nd Floor,                 Presenting  our 4th annual evening of Poetry Music & Dance. Produced by Lucy Holstedt,                             professor at Berklee College of Music, this concert features writers and performers in an eclectic
        mix of genres, with artisits from Berklee and the greater Boston area. With financial support of the                 Middle East & ZuZu Restaurants and Music clubs, and in partnership with the Community Church.
                    &                At Boston Public Library, you can enjoy over 50 established and emerging poets,             including Boston's Poet Laureate, Danielle Legros Georges, other former and current poets                           laureate, and professors at area colleges. Open Mic both days (see schedule for sign-up).
        Saturday also features a panel on Craft and Publishing
                               Related poetry month events, April 5th-12th, at Berklee and Boston conservatory:
        the 3rd Annual Words and Music [and Movement] Festival, include BNPMF poets and musicians,                 faculty and students from Berklee/BOCO, and other hightly-acclaimed artists.

Boston National Poetry Month Festival is co-sponsored by Tapestry of Voices & Kaji Aso Studio
 in collaboration with Boston Public Library.      
FOR INFORMATION: Tapestry of Voices: 617-306-9484. Library: 617-536-5400.