Thursday, April 20, 2006

Endicott Review. Spring 2006. (Endicott College Beverly, Mass.) No. Price.

Having been a visiting poet in Nov. 2005 at Endicott College I can attest to the fact that the college has an active poetry community, as evidenced by their literary mag: “The Endicott Review.” Don Sklar, poet and head of the Creative Writing Department acts as a faculty advisor, along with Ruth Henderson. There is a lot of good stuff by students and people some way connected to the college on these pages. “At Sixty-Five,” (a poem by John M. Freiermuth), is a lyrical guide to the “stages of man.”

“At forty-five, I admonished my parents, “Don’t ever get old!”
But like the kids they had become,
they didn’t listen to the parent in me. Now I can hear
the faint whirring of Grimm’s scythe…”

In “Leaving Lansing, 1945,” Jack Murray brings us back to our seminal foray into the world-at-large. In this poem he uses detailed, evocative writing to capture an eighteen year old would-be artists’ first trip to Chicago:

a big dirty city
windy cold place,
hot like a steam-bath
in July…gangsters and thugs too
neighbors warn me.

yet I pack
my favorite things,

“new suitcase
with straps and brass buckles
rests on the rack above me
…a graduation gift.
light in the cars
is semi-darkness
occasional shuffling and snores.
I hear the porter call
Valparaiso, South Bend and Gary.
in blackness the train speeds
towards dawn and Chicago.”

There is also fine work by Sean Teaford, Betsy Retallack, and others. Included are photos and artwork. I would have included a bio section…but you can’t have everything. This digest-sized journal joins the ranks of student magazines like “Watermark” (U/Mass Boston), “Dudley Review,” (Harvard University), and “Clarion,” (Boston University), and does itself proud. Dan Sklar tells me Endicott is starting an MFA program so stay tuned for other developments!

Doug Holder/Ibbetson Update

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Day Mark: Poems by Lee Briccetti: ( Four Way Books POB 535, Village Station N.Y. 10014) $15.

During poetry month in April 2006, I went down to New York City to attend the “Poets House Showcase,” and reception for poetry publications for the year 2005. Housed in the SOHO section of the city, “Poets House,” a venerable resource for poetry and poets for decades, is going to move to the Battery Park section on the lower tip of Manhattan. At the reception I had the pleasure to meet Lee Briccetti, the executive director of “ Poet’s House.” Later I received a copy of her first poetry collection: “Day Mark.” Being somewhat of a poetry activist myself, it is always heartening to see a fellow activist come out with a book of his or her own work. So often we promote other “stuff” and let our own work hang in the wind. Briccetti’s “Day Mark,” definitely will leave its mark. The poetry is vivid, ethereal, and has a deep emotional investment.

Personally I love poems about collections of any sort. Poems that are lists, artfully done can illuminate the textures of our lives. In “Apartment Archive,” Briccetti, who oversees a large archive of books at “Poet’s House, uses an archive of concrete images with evocative affect:

“ Moving to the 36th floor, facing south, I had the illusion of living in open
sky, in two rooms of things around me. And because I had packed
my dead father’s house,

I imagined my posthumous life refracted in the implicit intimacies of my
collected thing…

--blue airmail letters, buried bones I alternately dig up or bark at;

--and the rabbit fur hat my best friend gave me in third grade, glamorous
awaitedness of womanhood;…

--Modest and lucky, it’s the view of the river I still love, blue-gray abundance

spread out like the ancient silvery times I live by

And in the title poem: “Day Mark” we have an enigmatic and moody piece concerning the post 9/11 aftershock:

“… There is a blister on my mind.
I agree to that.

Moment as the plane, four blocks away,
Turned, angling in—and I knew

They would be dead but I would live.

And so it is.

Time, a membrane
We both slipped through, into the next
Moment when I could scream.

Personality swallowed itself to a nerve:


I live
Above the pit, river
A gorgeous frame

For abundant new morning light.

This is an accomplished first collection by Lee Briccetti.

Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update/ April 2006/Somerville,Mass.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Interview with Poet Sarah Getty: A Poet who mixes the concrete, with metaphors and emotions….

Sarah Getty is a poet who believes that concrete imagery, as well as being in touch with one’s emotions, are necessary to write poetry. And indeed, Getty’s poetry is full of both, and her work has a descriptive and evocative abundance. Getty is an award-winning poet and fiction writer living near Boston. Her most recent collection of poems is: “Bring Me Her Heart,” (Higganum Hill Books, 2006) Getty is the recipient of a “Cambridge Poetry Prize,” and won the “Barbara Bradley Prize,” from the New England Poetry Club. Her wok has been in such journals as: “The Paris Review,” “The Massachusetts Review,’ ‘The Larcom Review,” and many others. I talked with Getty on my Somerville Community Access TV Show: “Poet to Poet/Writer to Writer.”

Doug Holder: In a review of your new poetry collection “Bring Me Her Heart,” the reviewer writes that your work indicates to the reader and other writers that they ought to learn more. Why do you think your work is so informed?

Sarah Getty: I have a PhD in English so I have a rather broad range of knowledge.

Doug Holder: Is it arcane knowledge?

Sarah Getty: No. I wouldn’t say it’s arcane. I use some of the best known Greek myths in my work. I have always been a big reader and I have a good memory.

Doug Holder: But don’t you think most poets have a broad range of knowledge?

Sarah Getty: Well… It’s partly because of my age of course…. I mean I have a lot more time as a writer. When I was in school there was probably more attention paid to traditional literature. I think this is now lacking in public education. Education today seems more concerned with boosting the student’s self-esteem.

Doug Holder: You have a new book out: “Bring Her My Heart,” by Higganum Hill Press. Richard Debold, the publisher told me his editorial board shies away from work that is “self-referential.” How would you define your work?

Sarah Getty: Some of it is self-reerential. I think he means “just,” writing about yourself. My poetry deals with issues like death, by putting it in the context of Greek myth, etc…My editor wants work that refers to more than the poet himself.

Doug Holder: But isn’t the poet’s experience part of the common bond of humanity.

Sarah Getty: Indeed this is true. You can write things that are universal without referring to Greek myth. The more specific you can be, the more universal you will be.

Doug Holder: In your poem: “Leonardo’s The Coition of a Hemisected Man and Woman,” you brilliantly dissect a DaVinci sketch of the anatomies of a man and woman. You write that DaVinci started the search for the “essence,’ of man…” but we hapless humans still…hop about hapless and hopeful/ as the half Chick, creating fictitious forms, to fulfill speculative functions. Explain.

Sarah Getty: (Laughs) That was quoted from a scholar’s writing about DaVinci. Although we credit DaVinci with being one of the first people to dissect cadavers, he made a lot of mistakes. He created fictitious forms of speculative function. I meant we blunder around in our lives just as people did 500 years ago. In matters of the heart we are still speculative,

Doug Holder: In the poem “Late Day,” in your new collection, you recreate a scene that uses a rural pond as a backdrop for a reflection on death, or perhaps our ultimate divorce from nature. You write:

“When three Mallards glide by, green heads
gleaming. When sound sleeps. When,

for an hour, there is nothing to wish for.
When the air cools and the water

darkens. When gray geese raise a ruckus,
saying you cannot stay.”

Do you think we are drawn to images like the sea, the sunset, because they are in effect dramas about the cycle of life and death?

Sarah Getty: They are natural symbols. Yes. You sit in lake, during a golden afternoon…everything is beautiful…everything is perfect. But these geese are making a noise that implies: “you cannot stay.” On the first level it means: “I have to go home and make dinner.” But on the other it signals mortality. There is a lot of thought about our mortality in the book.

Doug Holder: You run workshops for poets. How do you approach the novice?

Sarah Getty: I basically have a two-sided approach. One is to concentrate on concrete images in the poem. Concrete images are important. I also encourage them to expand their vocabulary. I have them use the dictionary, and use words that they don’t know.

Doug Holder: Why is it important to expand their vocabulary?

Sarah Getty: It’s like you have a small wardrobe and you want to expand. The other approach I use in my workshops is for the poets to get in touch with their emotions. I make them imagine something they encounter, the ghost of their mother, etc… Something evocative.

Doug Holder: You are a singer. How does that fit with your life as a poet?

Sarah Getty: I am a member of the “Master Singers,” that perform in Lexington, Mass. for the past 30 years. I do think there is a connection between poetry and song. Poetry is about sound and rhythm.

Doug Holder: How hard is it to get a poetry book published?

Sarah Getty: It is very hard. It helps to be in the area for a long time. I have and I built up a large personal network. Both of my books were published by people I know. You have to get a practical approach or you are going to put your poems in a drawer like Emily Dickinson.

--Doug Holder. For more info. On Sarah Getty go to