Friday, June 15, 2007

Players in the Dream, Dreamers in the Play by Marian K. Shapiro

Players in the Dream, Dreamers in the Play ($14.95) (Plain View Press, P.O. 42255, Austin, TX 78704)

By Marian Kaplun Shapiro

Review by Pam Rosenblatt

At the first glance, Marian Kaplun Shapiro’s Players in the Dream, Dreamers in the Play can be viewed as filled with experimental poetry, fun innovative poetry linguistically speaking but not so easy to decode. And the first impression is pretty accurate. The 101 page poetry book contains poems that are visually interesting and aesthetic. Shapiro sculpts each poem as if a block of clay and makes it into a memorable experience. Enjambment, rhythm, lyrics, narratives, and meter are often used to make the reader question what message she is trying to get across and what form of experimental poetry she is using through her gentle flow of words, mixed in with caesuras and ever-changing syntax in her poetry.

Published in 2006, Shapiro’s Players in the Dream, Dreamers in the Play is made up of three parts. In this review, let’s concentrate on the visual poetry.

In Part 1: Hyphen, the book’s first section, Shapiro draws us into her world of experimental poetry with "Introduction" (p. 9), the opening poem consisting of one stanza with five short lines. The poem goes against ordinary train of thought. The poem reads:

string pulled taut, exquisite
hyphen between mute boundaries.

What is Shapiro trying to get across? Immediately she has presented us with an experimental piece that becomes more abstract as the reader progresses. In only five lines, Shapiro has caught our interest but hasn’t made the start of the journey an easy read. It’s difficult to decipher, but not impossible. In the first line, the capitalized "I" is a strong and concrete word. In the second line, the lower case "kite" is a visual concrete item that the reader recalls from memory as getting visually smaller and more vulnerable in the sky. The hyphen between the "earth" and "sky" connects both of these words, creating a tension in the poem in the third line, thus leading into the fourth line which reads "string pulled taut, exquisite". Such must be the appearance of the "kite" with its "taut" thin "string" that the "I", or abstracted speaker, holds. The string acts as "hyphen between mute boundaries", or the silent but concrete "earth" and the quiet but sublime "sky", as cited in the fifth and last line in the poem. Our imagination has been set free to enjoy – and to work at – the Players in the Dream, Dreamers in the Play, created for the reader as well as Shapiro herself.

Throughout Part 1: Hyphen, Shapiro shows her more innovative poems, poems that are visually eye-catching, as seen in "Monkey Mind", which is a work of art.

In "Monkey Mind"(p. 10), she goes against traditional syntax, capitalizing on meter, repetition, and rhythm. And her uses of caesuras are very effective, as seen in the first section of the poem which is copied below:

rising wedding
later rising e-mail
what if falling rain
rising lunch

Through imagination and innovation, Shapiro has experimented with language and captured the readers interest through the poem’s unusual form, use of syllable which, when read, actually gives a sense of "falling" and "rising". The reader can almost visualize the "rain" coming down and moving up. The reader gets a feeling of gaining and losing through the up and down of the syllables in the two words "rising" and "falling". Also, Shapiro has effectively used white space as a background for this open form poem.

Shapiro’s poem, "Pure Love" (p.92) is found in Part 3: and, the last section of the book. Dedicated to her grandfather, Edward (Issak) Kaplun, who lived from April 18, 1880 to May 31, 1955, she once again demonstrates her witty, playful, and imaginative ability to use words and make them into a visual poem that goes against traditional poetic form. Through manipulation of caesuras and active, concrete word imagery and repetition of individual letters like "sssssssssss’s" and "mmmmmmmmm’s and nnnnnnnnnnnnn’s", Shapiro makes the reader smile and appreciate her abstract, creative piece which, at the end of the poem, or "On the other side of the invisible world / where we are both perfect, / where you live/ /and where you love me from" shows that the abstracted speaker is curious but secure in the afterworld where her grandfather and she will again meet.

Repetition plays a major part in "Ellipses" (p. 99), the second to last poem in Part 3: and. This poem is about a break up between two lovers. Here Shapiro seems to try to explain allegorically why she doesn’t follow traditional poetic form in this and other poems, emphasized with the repeated use of ellipses through the fragmented phrases, when she writes,

you know how it is…
because, after all… considering…
well, of course… …in those days
not that he meant anything by it…
better to forgive and forget…

On one hand, the speaker is giving excuses about the dissolved relationship, while, at the same time, on the other hand, Shapiro seems to apologize for her method of dissolving sentences, making open form poetry that is visually sublime. The speaker’s train of thought is almost like she is speaking to the reader, creating a one on one relationship.

Players in the Dream, Dreamers in the Play isn’t simply visual experimental poetry. It has socio-political poetry in it too, as seen in Part 2: Holding Truth Still, as in "September 11, 2001" (p. 48) and "Strange Meeting" (p.47). Some of the connotations of the words in the poems are so powerful and vivid that it’s difficult to read without feeling the speaker’s pain, as viewed in "September 11, 2001" when the speaker says,

…. Here
on earth we
need air. Peace
shatters in rainbow
storms of bloody
glass bullets
and severed hands. We
need water….

In this poem, through enjambment and concrete imagery, Shapiro has captured the cruelty of what happened on 9/11.

And in "Strange Meeting II", Shapiro writes, "Words,/ping off my shoulders / insist / around my head / set off short-circuits, storming every orifice. / Neurons fire, landmines in the blood. / This is a war, and I am afraid / You, true friend, become my enemy." In this contemporary poem, Shapiro shows a radical and visual poetic style through concrete imagery and sentence fragmentation, though in various degrees.

All in all, Marian Kaplun Shapiro’s Players in the Dream, Dreamers in the Play has proved herself to truly be a poet who is highly skilled in different forms of experimental poetry media. She is not afraid to experiment with language (especially words, meter, and rhythm) and form. And she has done so in a clever and effective manner.

Pam Rosenblatt/ Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene

Bibliography -- Online:

Barr, John. "American Poetry in the New Century". Poetry Magazine. June 9, 2007. pp. 1 - 7. .
"Experimental Poetry". Experimental poetry today. June 9, 2007. pp. 1 – 9.
"Experimental Poetry in Spain". Corner Magazine: Number Five / Fall 2001 – Spring 2002. June 10, 2007. pp. 1 - 26. .
"modernism". June 12, 2007. pp. 1 -12.
"Object Permanence magazine, 1994 -1997". Object Permanence, 1994-1997. pp. 1 – 4.
Munjal, Savi. "Method in Madness: A study if the Ex-centric Cubist Aesthetics of Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein". June 12, 2007. pp. 1 -17.
"Poetry". Poetry – MSN Encarta. June 11, 2007. pp. 1 -4. .
Retallack, Joan. "What is Experimental Poetry & Why Do We Need It?" Jacket 32. June 9, 2007. pp. 1 -13.

Bibliography -- Books

Kinzie, Mary. A Poet's Guide to Poetry. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999. pp. 47, 90 -92, 382, 459, 468.
Raffel, Burton. How to Read A Poem. New York: Penguin Books, 1983. pp. 236.
Timpane, John, PhD. With Maureen Watts. Poetry FOR DUMMIES. New York: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2001. pp. 10, 30, 58 – 59, 160, 245.
Labels: Rosenblatt on Shapiro

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"The Hunter's Trance: Nature,Spirit & Ecology." by Carl Von Essen

The Hunter’s Trance: Nature, Spirit, & Ecology Carl Von Essen. ( ( Lindisfarne Books. 610 Main St. Great Barrington, Mass. 02130 $25.

Carl Von Essen writes in his book “The Hunter’s Trance: Nature, Spirit &Ecology” (Lindisfarne Books 2007) that since he was a child he was beguiled by the sight and sounds of nature. He realized the import of the natural world; the primal, spiritual and physical experience it brings to a life. Von Essen realized that he was not alone. Many people had ecstatic experiences in the wild, be they scientists, fishermen, or mountaineers. With an eye on the negative impact civilization has had on the environment Von Essen writes:

“A vision evolved that a spiritual bond with the natural world can be a potent path toward environmental healing. That vision, undoubtedly shared by many, has taken shape in this book.”

Von Essen, a retired oncologist wants to explore, “… the roads and byways of mystical experiences as they relate to our evolutionary, biological and psychological connection with nature.”

And indeed Von Essen does this and does this well. He uses liberal doses of poetry from Emerson, Longfellow, Whitman, and other poets, as well as the philosophical musings of William James, personal anecdotes about ecstatic experiences in the wild; not to mention hard research data from respected scientists, to illuminate his point.

Von Essen, ideally wants the reader to approach nature in a “Hunter’s Trance.” He writes:

“The hunter’s trance is a total mental and physical concentration whereby extraneous signals internal or external are quenched or diverted, enabling the psyche of the hunter to perceive his quarry and its world with a supernatural alertness. The merging of the world into the mind allows the subject to experience a comprehension that extends beyond the everyday dimensions of perception.’”

This is prudent advice considering all the “white” noise in this febrile world that keeps us from a true meditative sensibility.

Von Essen is a world class traveler and explorer with many exotic locales on his long resume. Provincial in my own travels, be it to a lack of funds, time or ambition; I couldn’t help but wonder if it was possible to experience some of what Von Essen experienced on a verdant part of Highland Ave. rather than the Himalayas.

Still the book is written in a very accessible manner, with very telling selections of poetry, philosophy, etc… In a way Von Essen mourns how far we have moved from our primitive selves, when we were not as divorced from nature as we find ourselves today. He quotes Wordsworth:

“For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh or grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt a presence…

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and living air,
And the blue sky, and the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of thought.
And rolls all things…

The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.”

Von Essen wants society to reconnect with the wonders of the natural world. He hopes when we realize what we have missed and what we will miss, then perhaps this will jumpstart us to stop the rapid destruction of our environment.

Doug Holder

self portrait drawn from many


New Poetry Collection From Irene Koronas

This is a new Ibbetson Press release from "Wilderness House Literary Review" poetry editor Irene Koronas :

self portrait
drawn from many
65 poems for 65 years

Irene Koronas

Irene receives the smallest whispers - a scrap of paper,
a single word, a passing impression and shows
us reflections of the infinite, the holy, the human.
Her writing evokes ancient dream-time meditations
only to return to the mundane details (polish
my toe nails) that bring us back to the particular,
the present. Her poems are peopled by all sorts
of characters; scholars, theologians, children, philosophers,
musicians, painters, gamblers, activists,
artists, monks, saints, lovers, fathers, mothers, and
on. Irene invites us, with this collection of poems,
to think about who we are in relation to others - to
see ourselves in many different shoes.
Ultimately it is an act of great empathy and great
imagination. These poems are never didactic, often
prophetic, always provocative.

- Jennifer Peace, Ph.D. / A founding board member of the United Religions Initiative.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Boston Legend Jack Powers 70th Birthday
For Immediate Release: Legendary Boston Jack Powers Poet Celebrates 70th.

(Allston, Mass.) On Sept 15, 2007 at 5P.M at the International Community Church in Allston (30 Gordon St.) celebrated poet Jack Powers will celebrate his 70th birthday with a potluck dinner and reading.

Jack Powers is the founder of Boston’s legendary “Stone Soup Poets.” Founded in 1971 at the Charles Meeting House on Beacon Hill in Boston, Powers has lead this venue of readings, activism and publishing for well over thirty years. Powers was also influential in establishing the Beacon Hill Free School in the 1970’s, which encouraged people to teach and participate in educational courses for no charge.

Stone Soup Poets is almost as well known for its publishing history. Powers has published over 80 titles , including Powers’ personal favorite “Jack of Hearts,” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Powers has also published such poets under the Stone Soup imprint as the award-winning Franny Lindsay, and the late Black Mountain School poet John Wieners.

Powers has jumpstarted the careers of many well-known poets including the small press doyenne Lyn Lifshin. Folks like Beat bad boy Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and Robert Bly have passed through Stone Soup’s poetic portal.

Stone Soup Poets has been housed for the last several years at the Out of the Blue Art Gallery in Cambridge, Mass. It meets every Monday at 8PM, and carries on the proud tradition with the help of poet Chad Parenteau.

The well-known Boston street artist and activist Sidewalk Sam, as well as Doug Holder of the Ibbetson Street Press, Rev. Lorraine Cleaves Anderson of the International Community Church, and Margaret Nairn president of Collaborative Artworks Inc, are organizing the celebration.
The reading and potluck dinner will have music provided by Boston -area poet and singer/songwriter Jennifer Matthews, as well as Powers’ sons.

All friends and acquaintances, and anyone who has been touched by Jack in his long literary outreach are invited to come. Bring a poem, a dish for the potluck, and a friend!

* For more information contact: Doug Holder 617-628-2313

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ibbetson 21 Release Reading and Reception

The Ibbetson 21 reading at McIntyre and Moore Books in Somerville was a success. Here are some pictures of the reading and at the Burren Pub after the reading. Photos courtesy of Gloria Mindock.

Publisher: Doug Holder

Barbara Bialick, Dianne Robitaille, Irene Koronas

Left to Right: Molly Lynn Watt, Marc Goldfinger

Dianne Robitaille/ Doug Holder

Deb Priestly, Doug Holder, Jim Resnick

Tam Lin Neville, Bert Stern

Review of Mad Hatter's Review by Daniel Y. Harris

Mad Hatters' Review: A Review of Issue #7
Review by Daniel Y. Harris

Lewis Carroll, patron saint of the unsaintly and unpatronized, in bestowing such idiosyncratic mirth to the Hatter's position at the tea party, sets the parameters for Mad Hatters' Review and its Internet and Outernet world. Adorned with Carroll's 19th century vision of the demented hatter as "victim of mercury poisoning" (the poor, working-class hatter "worked with hot solutions of mercuric nitrate, in poorly ventilated rooms"), the Review makes contemporary and metaphorical the plight of the hatters, who suffered "neurological damage, resulting in such symptoms as tremors, slurred speech, irritability, and depression." This enfolding of legacy bestows Mad Hatters' Review with a new canon particularly interested, as publisher Carol Novack says,

"in edgy, experimental, gutsy, thematically broad (i.e., saying something about the world and its creatures), psychologically and philosophically sophisticated writings."

Issue #7 continues to endow this canon. Poets Joe Amato, Gunnar Benediktsson, Bob Marcacci, Sally Molini and Michael Neff are genes spliced from E.E. Cummings and some of his inventive and eloquent ancestors and progeny. Each contributor is granted a vibrant trove of visual and musical accompaniment, if s/he so chooses. Custom-made artworks are provided by staff and guest artists and composers, including (classical) Sandra Scheetz Wise, Quartetto Constanze & Jon Leifs, Suchoon Mo, (jazz) Benjamin Rush Miller, the versatile, melodic Guthrie Lowe, Steve Kane, Paul Toth, and fusion ace Benjamin Tyree. Stay for the mad multimedia spree, a unique experience in the expanding field of cyberitic publishing.
Gryphon, dormouse and dodo metaphorically abound in Mad Hatters' Fiction, Non-Fiction, Whatnots, Dramas and Audio Text Collages. Notables, among the fine work of Claire, Millas, Ratner, Wilson and Wuori, is Brandon Hobson, who retells Hellenistic Alexandria, illuminated by the epochocal art of Peter Schwartz. A King of Hearts (writer Kevin P. Keating) appears to wrestle with Kubricks's demons.
In case you've been beaten by love or have reified sex, pedagogic lessons to redeem erotic neurotics surface in Lynda Schor's "Sex for Beginners 2." Be not dismayed; the end is not near. Check out the Columns, Comics (including "The Perils of Patriotic Polly"), Contests, Galleries, Interviews, Site and Book Reviews, Video clips, and text and visual collages. Pay your nickel and the brilliant Don Bergland's "Mental Theater" comes with 1954 American cheese. You'll stay parked, neck, and miss the movie.
Before sleep, as the rabbit hastens to his black hole, Mad Hatters' Review probes Scottish talent in "Viva Caledonia." Featured artist Calum Colvin was born in Glasgow. It is well-worth perusing Colvin's phantasmagoric visual wit, as you extend your stay with fiction, poetry, and a play by the famous Alastair Gray, selected by associate editor Peter Robertson. Each issue includes a special section devoted to creations from a different part of the world.
Frontispiece "Lamb," by artist Camille Martin, exemplifies the Hatters' daemonic ethos, carried from the inaugural issue. The sublime and the agitated meld in these seven issues. Of note in prior issues: #6, the poems of acclaimed poets Meltzer and Rothenberg, the art of Lynn Schirmer, Art Director Tantra Bensko, associate art editors Peter Schwartz, X-8, and D.K. Macdonald, and the expressionistic art animations of Jean Detheux, who moves colors and primordial forms to music.
The Review's resolute spirit and determination to artfully exploit the expansive possibilities of Internet publishing and offer quality, inventive creations, is manifest in every issue of the journal.


Daniel Y. Harris, M.Div, is Adjunct Faculty of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Sonoma State University. His poetry chapbook, Unio Mystica (2007), will be published by Cross-Cultural Communications. His recent publication credits include: Zeek, The Pedestal Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, In Posse Review, Mad Hatters’ Review, Sein und Werden, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry, Convergence, The Other Voices International Project, and The Denver Quarterly,. The Jewish Community Library of San Francisco, Market Street Gallery, The Euphrat Museum, The Center for Visual Arts and Dolly Fiterman Fine Arts are among his art exhibition credits. His website is

Sunday, June 10, 2007

"We'll Buy A Purple House and Scream At The Trees"

“We’ll Buy A Purple House And Scream At The Trees.”

* for Dianne

At last
We will do it.
Create a garish home
In the middle
Of a block
Of studied sanity.
Seriously deform
The pro forma.
Smack on our
Lascivious saliva
One pointed finger
In each of our noses
The rest
A wave to
The prudent standards
Of decency.
We will buy
A purple house
Scream to the open
Arms of the
Wind-swept trees…

And for once,
Do exactly--
What we