Monday, December 12, 2005
Somerville Poetry Series @ Toast 12/11/05: Featuring its Founder …
With all the snow to start off the weekend, it was nice to convene at 3pm for the Somerville Poetry Series at Toast Lounge, 70 Union Square this Sunday. Featured this month was Doug Holder ("Ibbetson Street Press" founder http://ibbetsonpress.com), author of "Wrestling With My Father," (Yellow Pepper Press) -chapbook described as "push[ing] all the real-world buttons ..." and Timothy Gager
(From left to right: Doug Holder/Tim Gager Photo: Dianne Robitaille)
("Heat City Review" co-founder http://heatcityreview.com), "We Need A Night Out" (Cyberwit).
Holder is also the founder of the Toast Series in 2004. Since he invited me to play some of my lyrical music as part of these events, I have been privileged to hear many themes and thoughts in this venue and also have had illuminating discussions with Holder about writing and the bardic tradition. Holder has covered this event many times for the News, graciously promoting others over himself. Thus, I feel honored to be able to write about Holder and his readings from his newly published material.
I warmed up the setting with a few tunes, and Gager introduced Holder. According to Gager, Holder’s Ibbettson Press published Gager’s "first poem ever" –a piece called "Insect." In a moving manner, Gager, described how he had stopped writing poetry for 20 years due to some callous comments of a college professor. Holder brought him back. Since then, Holder and Gager have both continued their writing and ended up co-founding the Somerville Writers’ Festival, which took place last month.
Holder describes his feelings on completing his newest chapbook as--"closure," "something for the family" and with "universal themes." In the book, he describes what he calls the "yin and yang" of his relationship with his father –"flavored with idioms," "the knowledge that we are flawed…" Holder says he counts himself "lucky" be able to know his father and have "lots to write about" and hone on the many facets of this complicated subject.
The original title of Holder’s book was "Wrestling with my father in the nude." The origin was a dream Holder had. The nudeness of the dream, as described by Holder, was supposed to refer to openness of expression—free emotion showing—not anything of a homoerotic nature. However, the publisher thought that the title might cast aspersion on the work –that the title could be twisted …Holder says that a main part of what he wrote was connected with the lack of affect that was believed appropriate by some conventions, to be shown by men and to their sons, and the journey towards bridging that gap caused by a lack of practice in showing emotion, to make a connection.
The poems in "Wrestling With My Father" span 10 years –"Wallace Ave., Bronx, 1965" is the oldest piece and "Father Knows Best, Mother Does the Rest," the newest (the latter written about a year ago). Holder has published 4 other chapbooks: "Poems of Boston and Beyond" (1998); "Dreams at the Au Bon Pain" (2001); "Waking in a Cold Sweat" (1999) and "On Either Side of the Charles" (2003).
Throughout the afternoon, Holder and Gager passed the mic off to each other while sitting cozily in their high-backed chairs. According to Gager, his latest is an "anthology that spans two years." He said he "picked 90 poems out of 500." In his book, they are divided into sections, including, "…and the living is easy," "Barstools," and "Loss". Gager relates that he does not "like to get pigeonholed...
Chiemi will be taking over the series starting in Feb. 2006. There will be a music segment as well as a poetry segment. http://www.chiemimusic.com