Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Review by Lo Galluccio http://logalluccio.com
Blood Cocoon, Selected Poems by Connie Fox
Pres :s: Press P.O. Box 792 Rockford, MI 49341
October 1, 2005
It’s August, that month of hazy zenith summer and the ultimately turning, turning into fall. There are already dead leaves on the sidewalks but we’re not supposed to notice them. Fallen leaves belong to autumn, as so many great jazz singers have intoned. My poet of the month is not a neighborhood maverick, but a far-flung genius from Detroit, MI, who writes up past and present in glorious, strange and tantalizing language.
If Walt Whitman had been a woman, all of nature would have been reconfigured to a different time, zone, place. That is what Connie Fox’s poetry makes me believe. And it’s Whitman who this free verse of gorgeous and engorging poetry reminds me of most.
From the title poem: Blood Cocoon, "small epiphanies you take me into your secrets I’ll take you into mine, rigid white sprouts out of rich decay….Inside Fushia, the world streams, monkeys across the stone faces of god."
The landscape (and inscape) is Brazil, in the first set of poems of the collection. And the modality is intense and sensuous femininity, an exploration of the colors, curves, adornments that make sex both sublime and the life force nocturnal:
"blending red into pink until my lips talk to my eyes red rose on a white door eating strawberries strawberried fingernails…"
The transformations abound, from nature to human, from nature to gods. Again primal sexuality dressed up: "I hitch up her skirt over her sacred black-sueded legs spread sacred black flowers…." From The Dream of the Black Topaz Chamber. And in verse 21 she writes: "Through a plane of crystal and the nipples, peace descends, shroud against Magdalena-Kali face, the image of bloody hands in white…" So she makes reference to two goddesses of Christian and Hindu beliefs, both extreme, both contentious – Kali the destroyer and bringer of life, black mane of hair, many arms and a necklace of men’s skulls around her neck. The Magdalene, who has recently been redeemed – first by Christ and then by scholarly and popular writing as the holy goddess whore and possible partner to Christ. This verse crescendos with: "belief futuring into infinite orgasms of coronary expansion."
And later in this long poem the declaration that: " I believe in legs and disbelieve in wheels, that the elimination of death invites the all-Death to suck the All-Juice out of our world." …"that my glands secret the gods and my closed-eyed inner ecstasy is the why of creation." The poem comes from a sojourn on the Island of Santa Catarina, Brazil.
My favorite poem centers the collection before a devolution into a section on family and scientific cosmic decay. Connie is haunted it seems forever and shaken out of the caresses of ancient earth into the modern realities of time and death…."I pretend to forget for hours, years, but the hum is always there like cosmic microwave background radiation, the deep base HUM…."
Nachtymnen: 1.Night we evolve back into ourselves in veloured liquid sleep, the enemy eyes of the day people attack our DECLARATION OF ANTI-CONSCIOUSNESS…" And more, "I am wrongless, stainless, a shining obelisk of blackvirgindeath tourmaline."
In an end note Connie writes: " So the poetry itself is a kind of Jungian-Freudian Id-history of my entire life, from grandmother to mother to my own adulthood, my own relations with the world around me, more and more inselving until finally, at age 73, I reach a kind of sometimes, not-often ecstatic stasis."
I love this book.
This review was written for The Cambridge Alewife and the Ibbetson Press Review.
LYRICAL SOMERILLE: JENNIFER MATTHEWS
The Somerville News
"Somerville's Most Widely Read Newspaper!"
July 27, 2005
With the frantic pace of contemporary life it is increasingly rare that we have the time to sit back and reflect, and just let things happen to us. In "Silver Waves of Mercury," poet Jennifer Matthews creates a space, sets an atmosphere and lets the reader enjoy the solitude and silent beauty of a Japanese garden. To find out more about Jennifer go to: http://www.jennifermatthews.com/. To have your work considered for the Lyrical send it to: (Doug Holder 25 School St. Somerville, Mass. 02143) firstname.lastname@example.org
Silver Waves of Mercury
Palace of Zen
Mother of Lotus
And blossoming wind...
She passes no judgment
But glides easy like spirit
Over each silken plume...
In this place of solitude
Where contemplation is at it's best...
Answers come inevitably like morning and sun...
I find a seat in the mossy moonlight
Where heaven reflects stillness
On soft water pond
Monday, July 25, 2005
*This article originally appeared in http://www.someothermagazine.com
Off the Shelf with Doug Holder/ The Somerville News/ Interview With Spare Change News
One of the many newspapers hawked on the streets of Somerville and the surrounding area is Spare Change News. What’s unique about Spare Change News is that it is sold by a unique population: the homeless. Founded in 1992 as one of the nations’ first street newspapers to benefit the homeless, Spare Change News’ headquarters is located in the basement of the Old Baptist Church just outside Harvard Square and publishes a twice-a-month paper with a circulation of 8,000. Spare Change’s mission is to provide income and skill development to people who are either homeless themselves or are on the brink of homelessness. Through the writing, production and sale of the paper, participants in this enterprise will hopefully be able to acquire the skills to realize an independent life in the community. Spare Change News provides an avenue for expression and a forum for advocacy for the homeless population. So often the homeless are viewed as unmotivated misfits. Working for Spare Change News can only help change this image of this population. I spoke with Samuel J. Scott , the editor, and Kate E. Bush, the poetry editor, about their experiences with the paper on my Somerville Community Access TV show “Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.”
One of the many newspapers hawked on the streets of Somerville and the surrounding area is Spare Change News. What’s unique about Spare Change News is that it is sold by a unique population: the homeless. Founded in 1992 as one of the nations’ first street newspapers to benefit the homeless, Spare Change News’ headquarters is located in the basement of the Old Baptist Church just outside Harvard Square and publishes a twice-a-month paper with a circulation of 8,000.
Spare Change’s mission is to provide income and skill development to people who are either homeless themselves or are on the brink of homelessness. Through the writing, production and sale of the paper, participants in this enterprise will hopefully be able to acquire the skills to realize an independent life in the community.
Spare Change News provides an avenue for expression and a forum for advocacy for the homeless population. So often the homeless are viewed as unmotivated misfits. Working for Spare Change News can only help change this image of this population.
I spoke with Samuel J. Scott , the editor, and Kate E. Bush, the poetry editor, about their experiences with the paper on my Somerville Community Access TV show “Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.”
Doug Holder: Samuel, we discussed the mission of the Spare Change News (SCN). What is your mission as an editor? What’s your vision for the future of the paper?
Samuel J. Scott: One of our purposes is to report on homelessness and poverty in the area, nationally and worldwide. How do I do this? Our offices get press releases, we get tips from sources and we talk to people about what’s going on. We write about about how the governor’s budget might affect homelessness, will Bush cut the HUD budget, things like that. We use our news sources to get a picture of what’s going on. Then I send our reporters out to investigate story.
DH: What’s your vision for SCN?
SC: I have been editor for about a year now. When I came on board I revamped it. I wanted to make it more professional. I wanted it to jump out at you. When you walk down the street I want you to want to buy it. What I want SPN to be is the paper people read when they want to read news about homelessness and poverty. If you read the Herald you are not getting anything. The Globe covers it to an extent. But we have a niche market here. We just cover a certain set of issues. I would like to think we do it better than any newspaper in the area.
DH: Kate, you are the poetry editor who succeeded Don DiVecchio. Do you look for any particular, style or theme in the poetry you review?
Kate E. Bush: Poetry is the ultimate subjective art. My job is difficult because I have to judge something that doesn’t lend itself to judgment. I tend to look at things that deal with homelessness, poverty, and economic injustice. I tend to prefer these themes on a certain level, but I prize quality, and craft over the subject matter.
DH: Are you a poet? What do you write about?
KB: I write about everything. I’ve actually gotten the opportunity to read a lot of different poets. I have found some wonderful poets locally and around the country that I would like to consider my peers in the community.
DH: Sam, do you have homeless writers on staff?
SC: It depends what you mean by writer. I have different sections in the newspaper. Different people write for different sections. The news sections are written by freelance writers or volunteers. We have a section titled: “Voices from the Street,” that is by people who are homeless. This section is full of essays, and stories from people who are currently homeless. These submissions are selected from the mail. I publish a selection from the batch each issue.
DH: If I was looking for work as a reporter with SCN; how would I go about it?
SC: Just give me a call at the office. We are always looking for new reporters. If you are an intern at the Herald or the Globe you are basically going to be answering the phone. When you come to SPN you are going out there reporting on events, interviewing--you are going to be a reporter!
One of our writers went to graduate school for journalism at Columbia University. She sent us a card and wrote that SCN was her inspiration to pursue journalism.
DH: Is SCN strictly a Boston/Cambridge/Somerville newspaper?
SC: It’s a Boston-area newspaper. We don’t tell our vendors where to sell it. If they take a train out to Newton and sell it there; it’s their choice.
DH: What’s your relationship with the other homeless newspaper Whats Up?
SC: Some people think we are in competition. It’s like we are the Globe and they are the Herald. It’s really not true. We have the same mission. We are both working towards the same end; advocating for the homeless. I think we are more news focused, and they focus more on arts, entertainment and culture. We have the same purposes with different means.
DH: You work in an office in the basement of the Old Baptist Church, just outside Harvard Square. It’s quite a narrow winding warren of agencies, offices, etc... down there. You have to contend with the pounding feet of a ballet company above you, and the constant din from this vibrant subculture that thrives below the streets of Cambridge. How do you manage this?
KB: (laughs) We are across the hall from the “Gay and Lesbian Taskforce,” and the “Ethiopian Women’s” Alliance,” to name a few organizations.
SC: It’s never quiet. But that’s good because in the “News” business you want energy. You want things going on around you.
DH: Kate you are leaving to go to graduate school. What do you feel is your legacy?
KB: I tried really hard not to have a block of poems that was just not one poet. I tried my best to find poems that fit a certain theme. It’s a very difficult artistic process to put a group of poems together. I try to find poems that cohere.
DH: Any memorable poets you want to mention?
KB: A Dorchester poet by the name of Mike Igoe. He is very intense and unusual. His poems are quite out of the ordinary.
Go to http://www.homelessempowerment.org/ for more info.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
----- 10:14 AM
Subject: Ibbetson Update/Ibbetson Poet Rufus Goodwin Passes at age 70.
Rufus Goodwin walked into my apartment on Ibbetson Street some years ago, and asked me, my wife Dianne and my friend Richard Wilhelm ( the staff at Ibbetson St. at the time) if we would like to publish a book of his "Poems from 42nd Street." It was a beautifully illustrated edition that in the words of John Lentilhorn celebrates the memory of the poet as a vagrant, the homeless one who rides the subway into the sunset, who snatches a song from the curb… " Goodwin wanted to turn away from the avant-garde and academic literary magazines and celebrate the simple things: a sandwich, a well-made bed, an ashcan, a street. He was upset with the trend in poetry that he felt was loud, profane and in your face. Goodwin felt by celebrating the simple things larger truths naturally evolve.
Goodwin, was from a patrician background but had a fascination with the everyday workingman. He was a regular contributor to "Spare Change News," and found out about the press through an article the late Cindy Baron wrote about the Ibbetson Street. He offered to help Ibbetson Street, because he felt it would be the next "City Lights."
Over the years he has helped the Press enormously. He was responsible for getting a feature article about us in The Boston Globe Arts/Leisure section in Feb. 2000. He bought a whole slew of ISBN's for our seminal press, and gave me an introduction to the world of small press publishing.
. One year Goodwin invited myself and Dianne to a gala opening event at Lincoln Center for the American Ballet. The tickets must of easily cost a grand or more. After the performance we were having dinner with him and others under a tent outside of the theatre. All kinds of celebs were in attendance…the whole big deal. One of the guys sitting at the table told me that he too was a guest of Goodwin. I asked him if he worked for Rufus. He said "Yes." I asked him what he did. He replied "I am his doorman." So I don't know if I was part of Rufus' experiment to bring culture to the workingman or what, but they sure broke the mold when they made him!
Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Street Press.
Born in New York City, Rufus Goodwin graduated from Yale University and received an advanced degree in Linguistics from Georgetown University. He was a veteran of the Korean War and served as a foreign correspondent with United Press International in the 1960s. He was assigned to the Vatican while working for UPI and covered Pope Paul VI's first papal trip to the Holy Land in 1964. Later he was a freelance writer in Switzerland and England before returning to the U.S. in the 1980s. He published poetry (praised by James Tate, John Updike, and Mark Strand), novels, nonfiction, opera, and plays—more than forty titles in all. His work in religion led to the books The Story of Prayer and Who Killed the Holy Ghost? Other works include, Mr. President, a prestige bestseller in Germany, and Valentine for a Waitress, which appeared on stage in England. He collaborated with composer and performer Stephen Scotti for Blue Vagabond, Poets Opera, and other works that were performed in New York, Boston, and Martha's Vineyard. He died July 10, 2005 at the age of seventy.
Doug Holder http://www.authorsden.com/douglasholder