Friday, May 29, 2009
PROS and CONS by Paul De Fazio, Michael DeFazio. (High-Pitched Hum Publishing 321 15th St. North Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250)
* trade or soft cover book is available at www.faze2publishing.com or ordered through local book store for $17.95 (hard cover is sold out).
The suspense novel Pros and Cons by Paul DeFazio and Michael DeFazio has all the earmarks of an action/thriller movie. There is ample sex, and violence, enough to keep a rating board fully occupied and preoccupied. It concerns a Boston police detective Joe Milano and his cousin Frank, a Boston corrections officer, and their lethal clash with Dominican drug dealers. Paul DeFazio has extensive backgrounds in law enforcement, and this evidenced in the use all the criminal justice jargon, and the very off-the-cuff, and tough dialogue. In this novel you get in a lot of places you have no business being in: in the nefarious head of a drug dealer and enforcer, a Dominican brothel, the dank despair of a Boston prison. Don’t look for profound insights into the human condition, literary allusions, and language flush with metaphor.
This novel makes no pretense towards being a high literary work. This is a straight-no-chaser example of genre writing. It is formulaic, cinematic, and in your face. In this book you might find out more than you want to know about sex hobbyists, but then again …you seem to linger on that page, now don’t you, pal? And Boston-area residents will like all the local references: Roxbury, Mass. General Hospital, the dirty water of the Charles River, and other settings in the land of the Bean and the Cod, the Cabot, and the Lodge. This book is a quick summer read, and it goes down as smoothly as that umbrella drink you will be sipping on, on some sun-drenched beach.
Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Five Time Tony Award Nominated Playwright Elizabeth Swados to be on Poet to Poet/Writer to Writer July 21, 2009
Celebrated Playwright and Composer Elizabeth Swados will travel from New York City to talk about her new book of poetry on Poet to Poet/Writer to Writer hosted by Doug Holder on Somerville Community Access TV Channel 3 5PM.
Liz Swados newest ( and first) book of poetry, "The One and Only Human Galaxy," has been released by the Hanging Loose Press http://hangingloosepress.com
Elizabeth Swados is the author of three novels, two non-fiction books, a book of poetry, and nine children's books. A renowned musician, director, and composer, she has received five Tony-award nominations and three Obie awards for her theatrical productions both on and off Broadway. She lives in New York City. Welcome to Liz's official web site!
Perhaps best known for her Broadway and international smash hit Runaways, Elizabeth Swados has composed, written, and directed for over 30 years. Some of her works include the Obie Award winning Trilogy at La Mama, Alice at the Palace with Meryl Streep at the New York Shakespeare Theater Festival, Groundhog, which was optioned by Milos Forman for a film, and a wide variety of Biblical musical adaptations. Her work has been performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, at La Mama, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, and locations all over the world. She has also composed highly acclaimed dance scores for well-known choreographers in the US, Europe and South America.
Ms. Swados has been creating issue-oriented theater with young people for her entire career. This work has culminated in a theatrical extravaganza for New York University, The Reality Show, about the trials and tribulations of college in New York City. The piece uses rock and roll, dance and edgy humor and was performed last summer by NYU students at Madison Square Garden.
Recent productions include Atonement, a theatrical oratorio presented by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, an adaptation of S. Ansky’s The Dybbuk at NYU/Tisch, Spider Operas at PS122 (with Mabou Mines), Political Subversities, a political revue that has been presented in two Culture Project festivals as well as at Joe's Pub, and a workshop of Dance of Desire, a translation of Lorca’s Yerma by Caridad Svich. Her opera KASPAR HAUSER: a foundling’s opera enjoyed a seven week run at The Flea theater in TriBeCa. She recently wrapped a new children's CD, Everyone is Different, in conjunction with Forward Face. The CD is circulating in schools around the country.
Ms. Swados has published novels, non-fiction books, children's books and poetry to great acclaim, and received the Ken Award for her book My Depression. Her theater textbook, At Play: Teaching Teenagers Theater, was published by Faber & Faber in June 2006. A new book of poetry, The One and Only Human Galaxy, will be published by Hanging Loose Press in Spring 2009. Awards: Five Tony nominations, three Obie Awards, Guggenheim Fellowship, Ford Grant, Helen Hayes Award, Lila Acheson Wallace Grant, PEN Citation, and others. Most recently Ms. Swados received a special grant to record musical selections from her years of work.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
AN INVENTORY OF LOST THINGS
By: Karla Huston
32 Pages / 23 Poems
P.O. Box 170322
Milwaukee, WI 53217
Review/Interview By: Charles P. Ries
Women have a distinct view of the erotic and love’s secrets. In reading Karla Huston’s new book of poetry, An Inventory of Lost Things, I enter into the ebb and flow of feminine romantic imagination. While not all of twenty-three poems of this collection focus on the heart’s yearning, a good number do and comprise the central theme of this eloquently written book of poetry.
Huston approaches her topic from a number of angles. In final stanza of her poem “The One on The Left” she says, “But you can’t take your mind off the boy, / barely twenty, going on the rest of his life – / going off for an afternoon at the shore. God knows / what they’ll do on the blanket / when it’s floated behind the vine-covered fence.” And again these lines taken from the closing of her poem, “Your Marie”: “You should know her hair was chestnut, / a flag of copper stars glittering / against the curve of her neck / and the strand that kissed her cheek / I knew you’d kissed when she left you / for the last time while her hips rolled / when she walked away / and her breast swayed in dreams / even now the ones you prayed into.”
Her book of poetry would easily fall into the category of great chic lit. Huston poems are thoughtfully narrative and carefully designed. There is no spare air in these poems. Each is complete from beginning to end.
I am reminded, as I read this collection, of the seminal book on women’s sexual fantasies, My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday. Our two genders reflect so differently on the erotic and on romance. Huston is masterful at understanding the sensual wonder world of the woman. As in this section from her poem “Rewind” demonstrates, “If she could, she’d take the first / bus out of happyland, find her own / little place and read sweaty novels / for the rest of her life. He’s weary / of the honey-I’m-homes / and the honey-dos and the honeyed / hams.” And again from this section of her poem, “The Plastic Surgeon’s Wife”: “When they make love, she fears / how he’d like to improve her – / a little lift there, a little tighter there, / fill her breasts with vanilla, / admire the suction in her soul -- / his reservoir, never full.”
This is a wonderful exploration of the feminine mind, by a writer uniquely suited to explore this undulating landscape of passion, yearning, and lost things.
Charles P. Ries lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His narrative poems, short stories, interviews and poetry reviews have appeared in over two hundred print and electronic publications. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing. He is the author of THE FATHERS WE FIND, a novel based on memory and five books of poetry. He is the poetry editor for Word Riot (www.wordriot.org), Pass Port Journal (www.passportjournal.org) and ESC! (www.escmagazine.com). He is on the board of the Woodland Pattern Bookstore (www.woodlandpattern.org). He is a founding member of the Lake Shore Surf Club, the oldest fresh water surfing club on the Great Lakes (http://www.visitsheboygan.com/dairyland/). You may find additional samples of his work by going to: http://www.literati.net/Ries/
Monday, May 25, 2009
Poet Jeffrey Thomson: Multi-Layered Poems from the Multi-Layered Rainforest
Jeffrey Thomson lives and works in Maine, but he has a great interest in the very Southern climes of the tropical rainforest. His latest collection of poetry is “Birdwatching in Wartime,” that deals with his trips to the tropics.
Jeffrey Thomson’s third book of poems, Renovation, was part of the Carnegie Mellon University Press (CMU) poetry series in 2005. His second collection of poems, The Country of Lost Sons, inaugurated a new poetry series from Parlor Press at Purdue University in February 2004, and his first book, The Halo Brace, was brought out in a limited edition letterpress version from Birch Brook Press in 1998. Winner of recent fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, he is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Maine, Farmington. He was an editor for From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great 2009 from Persea Books, 2009), along with Camille T. Dungy and Matt O'Donnell. I spoke with him on my TV show “Poet to Poet Writer to Writer” on Somerville Community Access TV.
Doug Holder: First off you quote the poet Elizabeth Bishop more than once. Is she a major influence?
Jeffrey Thomson: Absolutely. I was writing this book about the tropics, South America, and Central America. You can’t skip Elizabeth Bishop if you are doing that. But she has always been a focus of mine. I love her poems, the textural detail in her work, the way she builds the poem slowly with the accumulation of detail; the precision of language. There are two poems in here that have epigraphs from Bishop. One concerns her time in Brazil, in a sort of exile with her lover.
DH: Obviously your travels to the rainforest have informed many of the poems in your collection. Tell us about your experience there.
JT: In 2001 I took students down on a trip to Costa Rica. I was teaching at a private women’s college in Pennsylvania at that point. I took the students on a January trip when I didn’t know much about the country. I had been there only once. So when I took them there I hooked up with this guide, and I was just blown away. It is an amazing country in terms of what you can see. It is a country the size of West Virginia, and 25% of its land is in private reserve. This experience gave me the incentive to write these poems. One of the things about going into the rainforest is the multi- layered quality—it is so rich, there are so many plants, there are so many species, that there is always something behind what you are seeing. I have gone back six or seven times and continue to learn things.
DH: In the poem “Underwhelmed” you write of a presence, perhaps divine: “ under the splay- handed palms, under drinks glowering dark in/globes of glass, under the tender/humidity, the phosphorescent surf…” You seem to imply that the presence of God is under the trappings of the material world. If you closely observe nature, if you live close to it, is it not impossible to feel his or her presence?
Are you a religious person?
JT: I was raised in a very religious household, but I am not a believer anymore. I am an atheist. No, I don’t go out in the world and feel God’s presence. I feel the presence of the natural world. The natural world is so complex it is not understandable. There is always another layer…there is always something behind it.
DH: There are a lot of birds in this book. Do they give to, pardon the pun, “the flight of the imagination?”
JT: Birds are really interesting. I am a bird watcher. I especially like to watch them in the tropics.
DH: Woody Allen said that nature to him was “ birds eating worms, worms eating worms, it’s like a big restaurant. Do you feel that nature is a battlefield, like it is implied in the title poem: “Birdwatching in Wartime?"
JT: There is a level where nature is a battlefield. I didn’t want these poems to be the standard: I’m out in the world; I’m out in the wilderness, and then the epiphany. I’m not interested in that soft and cuddly type of nature. I don’t think nature is that way, particularly in the tropics. Everything seems poisonous, the trees have thorns, the insects have poison so the birds can’t eat them. There is this level where everything is at war with everything else. There is another level of war in “Birdwatching…” I was in Costa Rica in 2003, right before we were going to go to war in Iraq. I played up this tension of being out in the woods with birds, while very serious matters of life and death were going to happen out in the greater world. There is a level where the language of nature becomes corrupted by the language of war.
DH: Can you talk about the anthology “From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great” that you co-edited?
JT: There is this website http://fishousepoems.org that was started by my friend Matt O’Donnell. He wanted to feature emerging poets, and poets whose work sounded good when read out loud. There are a lot of young poets working in this genre. Since O’Donnell started this website there are almost 2,000 poems up. We define emerging poets as having a 2nd book or less before submission. Some of our poets have moved on and have made names for themselves like Tracy Smith and Major Jackson. For the print anthology we took the best from the website. The poems are not organized by poets, but by their sonic qualities.
Under the catastrophic dark,
the comet splintering the sky
with its ancient grief,
under the splay-handed palms,
under drinks glowering dark in
globes of glass, under the tender
humidity, the phosphorescent surf,
under the calls of night jars
chuckling up from the ground,
under the ticking aloe under the moon’s
absence, under, under, under.
Under the blinking stripes jets
write across the sky, under
stillness, the cabin pressure holding
steady, under the coned light
blanking out pages of gloss, under
the plunge of my love’s hair, under
her sadness and her eyes
startling as stars, under our lives,
the miscarried child left in the bowl,
underground, underwater, understory,
under the bougainvillea’s whorish musk,
under the coral’s forest of horn, under
God, undertow, underdog, under
everything there is a season,
under the absence of twilight,
under the beach’s grittle and bone,
under the words, startle, startle,
under the luxury of the table
so whitely laid, under
the candle’s light shaped
like a hanging blade, we tear
apart the body of the fish and leave
glistening ladders of bone.
Review, Finding Beauty, Selected Poems by Marine Robert Warden (Bellowing Ark Press, Seattle, Washington, 2009)
Review by Barbara Bialick
In Finding Beauty, you win the benefits of a life-experienced retired doctor in Riverside, California, who was born in 1927 and is a multi-published poet. His imagery is deep and mystical, and its lack of punctuation reflects his voice, which speaks with a certainty and also an irony. What he conveys is that we really can’t figure out the meaning of the present without a simultaneous awe of events from the movement of history. But nature’s beauty remains omnipresent.
The beginning of the book highlights close relatives. In “Mother”, he says,
“there was music inside you/that wanted to come out/so your hands played/with needles and leaves/substitute for black and white keys/…”
Unfortunately, back then, when he was six, he
“didn’t stop/to wonder what dreams you had”.
Then in “So”, he speaks about age:
“you are at the age now/where long-time friends disappear/and a big, black crow struts/on the back yard grass/arrogantly unaware…”
At all the various ages he covers in this collection, nature is noticeably on its own time and path. But nature is also a herald. In “For the Dead in Iraq” he needs look no farther than his back yard:
“there was a hoarse cry above our backyard/a hawk perhaps and all the gold finches/…sensed a dark shadow overhead/and fled leaving behind no songs/a single white feather fluttered to the grass”.
In one rare “doctor poem”, Warden thinks back to Chicago in 1954 where in the Black ghetto,
“I couldn’t forget the children/we delivered them by flashlights/in cold little basement flats/deep in the slums at Christmas time/…shivering ourselves/in our thin white student coats…”
Later in the book, the poetry is in tribute to his wife Lois. In “The Great Ground Swell”, “even this vast land…the ground swell rises higher and then/in all its magnificence the land/will genesis from the biblical void/the sea our Great Mother/gives birth to the land for us…/all part of a great ground swell/out of which you appeared”.
The last poems in the 71-page book, reach to comprehend
“the search for unobtainable beauty…”. “just as we grow older and change, the cord that holds us remains…”. And to this he concludes,
“from the unexpected/beautiful art is found…”.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Tim Gager, the cofounder of the Somerville News Writers Festival announced today that Rick Moody will be the featured fiction writer at the 7 year old festival. Several months ago Doug Holder, cofounder of the festival, said that poet Frank Bidart, Sam Cornish, Richard Hoffman, Tino Villanueva, and Tam Lin Neville will be the featured poets. Bidart will be awarded the Ibbetson Street Lifetime achievement award at the festival. Other fiction readers to be announced.
Life and work of Rick Moody:
Moody was born in New York City and grew up in several of the Connecticut suburbs, including Darien and New Canaan, where he later set stories and novels. He graduated from St. Paul's School in New Hampshire and Brown University.
He received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University in 1986; nearly two decades later he would criticize the program in an essay in The Atlantic Monthly. Soon after finishing his thesis, he checked himself into a mental hospital for alcoholism. Once sober and while working for Farrar, Straus and Giroux, he wrote his first novel, Garden State, about young people growing up in the industrial wasteland of northern New Jersey, where he was living at the time. In his introduction to a reprint of the novel, he called it the most "naked" thing he has written. Garden State won the Pushcart Editor's Choice Award.
In 2006, Arizona State Senator Thayer Verschoor cited complaints he had received about The Ice Storm as part of the reason he supported a measure allowing students to refuse assignments they find "personally offensive." Verschoor said that "There’s no defense of this book. I can’t believe that anyone would come up here and try to defend that kind of material," although eventually numerous professors did just that.
His memoir The Black Veil (2002) won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. He has also received the Addison Metcalf Award, the Paris Review Aga Khan Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Conjunctions, Harper's, Details, The New York Times, and Grand Street.
Moody's most recent novel is The Diviners, released in 2005. Little, Brown and Company, the publisher of The Diviners, changed the cover after the galleys came out because women reacted negatively to it. The original cover showed a Conan the Barbarian-type image in technicolor orange; the new cover uses that same image, but frames it as a scene on a movie screen. The Diviners was followed in 2007 by Right Livelihoods, a collection of three novellas published in Britain and Ireland as The Omega Force.
In addition to his fiction, Moody is a musician and composer. He belongs to a group called the Wingdale Community Singers, which he describes as performing "woebegone and slightly modernist folk music, of the very antique variety." Moody composed the song "Free What's-his-name", performed by Fly Ashtray on their 1997 EP Flummoxed, collaborated with One Ring Zero on the EP Rick Moody and One Ring Zero in 2004, and also contributed lyrics to One Ring Zero's albums As Smart As We Are and Memorandum. In 2006, an essay by Moody was included in Sufjan Stevens's box-set Songs for Christmas.
When asked by the New York Times Book Review what he thought was the best book of American fiction from 1975 to 2000, Moody chose Grace Paley's The Collected Stories.
Moody has taught at the State University of New York at Purchase and Bennington College. He lives in Brooklyn and Fishers Island.