Friday, June 19, 2009

Ibbetson Street Press Poetry Award 2009

Ibbetson Street Press Poetry Award


The Ibbetson Street Press Poetry Award is presented at the annual Somerville News Writers Festival ( ) held this year at the Armory Arts Center in Somerville, Mass.. The festival will be held November 14th (2009) this year. In past years poets and writers such as Pulitzer Prize winner Franz Wright, Junot Diaz, Robert Olen Butler, Oscar-nominated novelist Tom Perotta, Iowa Writer’s Workshop head Lan Samantha Chang, Sue Miller ( author of “The Good Mother”) , Steve Almond, Boston Globe Columnist Alex Beam, poet Nick Flynn, and many others have read in this event. This year Frank Bidart will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement award.

Ibbetson Street Press is also pleased to announce the 3rd annual Ibbetson Street Poetry Contest.

The winner of the Ibbetson Street Press Poetry Contest award (must be a Massachusetts resident) will receive a $100 cash award, a framed certificate, publication in the literary journal “Ibbetson Street” and a poetry feature in the “Lyrical Somerville,” in The Somerville News.

To enter send 3 to 5 poems, any genre, length, to Doug Holder 25 School St. Somerville, Mass. 02143. Entry fee is $10. Cash or check only. Make payable to “Ibbetson Street Press” or “Doug Holder." Deadline: Sept 15, 2009

The contest will be judged by Richard Wilhelm poet and arts/editor of the Ibbetson Street Press.

The winner will be announced at the festival, and will receive his or her award. A runner up will be announced as well

Somerville News Writers Festival Lineup Nov 14, 2009

(Tom Perrotta reading in the fifth Somerville News Writers Festival)

Somerville, Mass.

Timothy Gager and Doug Holder founders of the 7 year old Somerville News Writers Festival, announced the lineup for the fiction and poetry features today. The Festival will take place at the Armory Arts Center in Somerville Nov 14, 2009.


Rick Moody

Steve Almond

Margot Livesey

John Buffalo Mailer

Lise Haines

Timothy Gager


Frank Bidart ( Winner of Ibbetson St. Press Lifetime Achievement Award)

Sam Cornish

Tino Villanueva

Richard Hoffman

Tam Lin Neville

Doug Holder

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Postmark Atlantis by Paul Kareem Tayyar

Paul Kareem Tayyar, a Southern California poet and the author
Of “Scenes From a Good Life” and “Everyday Magic”, is a two-time
Pushcart Prize nominee.

Paul has given us a collection of poems stunningly simple and yet filled
with a depth of wisdom and experience, each page transporting us
into a world filled with magic and the mystical energy of hope.

From the ghostly and moving “Survivors”,
Our bodies tethered to a darkness that holds the voices
Of the painted like a
Thousand silent hostages,
Eyes closed to face a God
They are not certain
Anymore exists.

We travel with the author through orchards and into kitchens,
accompanied by dancers and gypsies…

In “The First of May”

You see the horizon like a gypsy
Would: an easy mark, with pockets
Deep enough to pick without him
Having noticed.

You do not stop to eat until you
Are well into another landscape,
A clearing where the white river
That you forded sleeps like a
Child among the banks.

The reader becomes the child among the banks listening and opening
to the soft and subtle verse, imagining that we can hear…

curious bees,
Producing lime-colored honey
That would slide down your throat
Like a river under the influence of heavy narcotics.

From “Last Night on the Telephone”

The need to tell a secret is so stark and crisp in “The Magician”,
that we are holding our breath, waiting to hear what will be revealed.

You want so badly to tell how it’s done
That you tell it to yourself each night before sleep,
Narrating a film that no one will see,
The sound of the rain like the beating of wings,
The applause you receive for keeping the secret.

In Paul’s writing a prince declares war on the winds and the girl
with white eyelashes stalks the snows with her silence.

As the reader moves from “Night Swimmer” to “Sunday Morning Laughter”
and into “The Mapmaker”, the visuals are so stunning that we along with
the author are skating on the lake of swans….

You watched your figure eights
Become more varied cartography
And followed your map into the country
You always hoped existed

Paul gives us the deeper language of patience and uncertainty and moves
us gracefully through a landscape of myth and folktale.

The poetry of Paul Kareem Tayyar is a kaleidoscope of transcendence
and dream and the secrets of the soul. “Postmark Atlantis” is a book of dazzling tenderness to be savored.

***Louisa Clerici is the host of Sunday Afternoon Words and Music at Café Olio
in Plymouth, Ma. Her poetry and short stories have been published in numerous anthologies including Shore Voices, Tidepool Poets and Carolina Woman Magazine.
She is the co-author of a book on dreams, Sparks from the Fire of Time. Louisa
can be reached at

Wellspring House Springs A New Poetry Collection

A fellow Bagel Bard, the poet Lawrence Kessenich recommended that I go for a stay at Wellspring House, a retreat for writers in Ashfield, Mass. I sent out my writing resume and I was on the road to my first writer's retreat. I noticed in the guest book a lot of talented folks stayed at this retreat over the years. Anyway I got to speaking to the founder of Wellspring House Preston Browning. Browning has a distinguished career as a writer and an academic himself. His wife Ann Hutt Browning (who cofounded the retreat) had a manuscript of poetry she was shopping around, and Browning asked me if I wanted to take a look. I gave it to my two trusty editors to look at it: Dianne Robitaille ( My wife) and Richard Wilhelm. The result: we are going to be publishing Ann Hutt Browning’s collection “Deep Landscape Turning.”

Ann Hutt Browning has two master’s degrees, one in psychology and one in architecture, four grown children, three grandchildren, and one husband of 50 years. Born in England, raised in southern California, she attended Radcliffe College, and has lived in Missouri, Kentucky, France, Macedonia, Chicago, Virginia and now Massachusetts. Some of her poetry has appeared in the Carolina Quarterly, Salamander, Peregrine, the Southern Humanities Review and the Dalhousie Review.

AN ORDINARY LIFE (From the manuscript)

When she awoke in the morning
She threw back her all cotton sheet,
Cotton woven in a far off country
By a dark skinned girl chained to her large loom.
When she went into her kitchen
She ground beans to brew her coffee,
Beans grown, roasted in a far off country
Where the tall trees were cleared off the land
For the coffee bushes to be planted
And tended by boys not in school and men
Old before their time and where all the waste
From treating the beans is flushed and dumped
In the river, adding that detritus
To the human waste and chemical run
Off already there in the gray water
And where downstream others used the water,
That dark water, for cooking and bathing.

After her children boarded the school bus,
Wearing clothing made in the Philippines,
Mauritania, Taiwan, a hodge-podge
Of imports from other worlds, far off countries,
Where sweat shops flourished,
Filled with child workers,
She went shopping:
Guatemalan cantaloupes, Mexican tomatoes,
Chilean oranges, California lettuce,
Carolina rice, Michigan peaches,
Blueberries from Maine, all bought because
In her garden she grew hybrid tea roses,
Siberian iris, cross-bred daylilies in six colors,
Held down by pine bark, chipped in Oregon.

Then she roamed the market aisle marked
"Special," and bought a basket, its colors
Imitative of Mexican folk art, made in China,
The price suggesting child or prison labor
Dyed the fronds of grass, wove the basket
And attached the label.

She ate a quick lunch of a hamburger,
The ground beef from a far off country
Where the virgin forest was burned off
So cattle could graze on tropical grass,
The bun made from Canadian wheat
And the ketchup, again those Mexican tomatoes.
She drove home to prop up her feet
On the foam cushioned sofa, turn on the TV,
Assembled in Nicaragua,
In a maquiladora by a woman
Who rose at five a.m. to walk three kilometers
To the bus, who then rode twenty-five miles
To the factory in the tax free zone,
Who worked from eight to five
With a quarter of an hour to eat
Or use the toilet,
Who got home at eight o’clock
To bathe and feed her three children,
With eighteen cents an hour in her pocket
On good days.

The woman on the sofa
Watched two soap operas
As usual on a week day,
And ate ice cream,
American ice cream.
She liked American ice cream.
She lived an ordinary life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Evening Watch by Cameron Mount

Evening Watch
Cameron Mount
Ibbetson Street Press
2009 $10.00

To order:

“By day I repel all boarders.
My front door peephole is
now a full-fledged porthole.

Staring out into the past
of everyday actions and reflecting
six years of service back.”

Usually I read from the beginning to the end of a book, but, for this book of poems I read the first poem and then the last poem, “dry dock sailor,” before I attempt all the rest of the writing. It’s important for me to understand, or to try to relate to the ship, in this case the poems as they move straight through whatever obstacle the ship stirs its way through, in this case the poems stir up all the experiences one has when on duty. The ebb and flow, the relationship of words crashing onto my mind, my feet are swept up and I fall, swimming to shore with the surety of a life jacket. Cameron Mount is a poet who will take any subject and refine it, direct the verse until it shines, “From the darkened bruise of the star-strewn moon-lit pitch to the eclipsed light of dawn.”

If you haven’t bought this book of poems, I suggest you run and catch a copy.

“Navy Wife

He came home broken.
He avoids me at night
leaves me alone on the couch
loses himself in empty drivel
turns on, tunes in, drops out.
He thinks I don’t notice
when he surfs for porn-
his compulsions get him over,
off, as if I have no ears,
but it saves me his advances
later when he comes to bed
after midnight, spent.
He spends all day in that chair
when he can, when he shouldn’t.”

Irene Koronas
poetry editor
Ibbetson Street Press

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shadows and Light by Catherine Wang Hsu

Shadows and Light (2007, by Catherine Wang Hsu

Review by Barbara Bialick

“Shadows and Light”, by Catherine Wang Hsu, a chapbook published by, flows well in a philosophical yin/yang, dark/light voice that suits her background as a Boston-area business woman, Chinese immigrant, “daughter, wife, and mother” and “liberated woman.”

The main theme is that the pain of grief and change can be transformed into freedom. This path led her into poetry, meditation, yoga, and kabbala, although these topics as well as who she is specifically grieving for, are addressed indirectly or not at all.

I assume she’s speaking of her late husband in “Labor of Love”: “It took all his love/…to say good-bye to himself/…to embrace God in His delight.” But then she asks “Is there a God?” She writes “I can’t understand God, through Jesus I can.” And to “Please shut-up!: If (the Lord) is so glorious, why am I so furious?”In “My Independence Day”, Hsu concludes: “I cannot rely on my family anymore/Therefore I learn to rely on myself…I am talking to the moon and stars…”

Then she makes a big step, “The Leap of a Lifetime,” when she learns to use a “trapeze at age 65”… With “dead parents and spouse/gone are my children, my house…” she could now “shake off misery in a magnificent swing.”

Consequently in “Liberated Woman”, she declares “I do not wear my mandarin collar…I would rather wear pants and free my legs!” She further explains her growing philosophy of “Change and Transformation…which might not always happen./It is our innermost work.”

But in “Thanksgiving,” she concludes “Everything leads us to the right passage/The wrong one/brings us to a good ending/the right one/brings us to good work./I cannot wait to continue my journey/while life is such a discovery.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009




I have known Anne Elizabeth Tom, the director of the Cape Cod Writers Center for a number of years now, and find her an untiring advocate of writers, a whirlwind of creative energy, not to mention a warm and generous person. Tom is now putting on the finishing touches for the 47th Cape Cod Writers Center Conference starting Aug 15. There will be two separate conferences: one section Aug 16-18, the other Aug19 –21. The Craigville Conference Center is located on a bluff overlooking Nantucket Sound and Craigville Beach on Cape Cod. I talked with Tom about the Cape Cod Writers Center and Conference on my Somerville Community Access TV show “ Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.”

Doug Holder: Can you tell us about the history of the Cape Cod Writers Center and Conference?

Anne Elizabeth Tom: It was established by Marion R. Vuilleumier in 1962. She was definitely a woman ahead of her time. She was a writer, and she wanted to get a writing group together. She did form one and eventually they decided to have a couple of creative writing teachers come down to the Cape for a week in the summer. This grew with more and more teachers. So now we have fiction writers, nonfiction writers, creative nonfiction writers, etc. This summer we have folks teaching like poet Richard Wollman, who runs the Zora Neale Hurston Center at Simmons College with the founder Afaa Michael Weaver. We also have screenwriting and poetry courses. All of this has evolved over the years, and the annual Conference is the Center’s major program. But we support writers all year long. We have an author interview TV show and recently we have had poets CD Collins, Lisa Beatman, and Tracey Fern, (a children’s book author) on the show.

DH: I recently read an article in the New Yorker that discussed the question: “Can writing be taught?” Well, can it?

AT: I think like anything there needs to be a certain amount of native ability there. But most definitely people can be guided to write well. Just being exposed to other writers at conferences and workshops as well as reading a lot helps. I think the momentum of getting together with other writers makes a difference. A lot of it has to do with the fact that you become exposed. It supports you. It’s lonely being a writer. And there is a lot of networking at our Conference for instance.

DH: I know you are going to have some literary agents this year.

AT: Yes-we have. Jason Ashlock, an Agent and Contracts Manager at Moveable Type Literary Group, and Molly Lyons of Joelle Delbourgo Associates.

DH: Do you have any anecdotes about writers making connections at the Conference?

AT: We actually do. Last year we had a mock editorial panel with the publisher David Godine and some other publishers and agents. It really was a lot of fun. We had asked faculty to pick some manuscripts they thought might be worth running past the editorial panel. There was someone who had a really interesting book on gardening. His book considered the impact of English gardening on American gardening. Another book that was considered was a romance. Both were reviewed by the panel.

DH: Can you name some of the teachers this year?

AT: Well, Richard Hoffman the author of the memoir “Half the House: a Memoir” will be teaching a memoir and an advanced memoir course. Suzette Standring, a syndicated columnist, will be teaching a column writing course, Tom Daley will be hosting our Box Lunch briefings (These are 45 minute discussions on writing and publishing.) There is just a small part of our offerings.

I would advise people to sign up for classes as soon as possible. We are already 30% full, and our catalogue has only been out for a few weeks. Registration closes July 15. Go to our website for a registration form and other information.

DH: Can you talk about your background and how you became involved with the center?

AT: We used to spend summers on the Cape when I was a kid. There are so many people I know who have experienced the haunting beauty of the Cape like I did. I had wanted to return here to do some writing. I had been a museum director, and I did a lot of corporate writing to earn a living, but I hadn’t done enough creative writing. When I came back I enrolled at the Cape Cod Writers Center. Afaa Michael Weaver was a poet teaching there that summer, as well as Fred Marchant, Wes McNair and others. The experience jumpstarted my own poetry. Later, it turned out the Director of the Center was leaving after eight years. I applied for the job and got it.

DH: Can you talk about the accommodations during the workshop?

AT: It is possible to stay at the Craigsville Center where the conference takes place. It is rustic. The rooms are $122/ a night but that includes all meals. The meals are family style. You don’t have to stay for the full week. You can just stay as few as a couple of nights. And there are hotels on the beach that you can stay at as well that are not expensive. There are all varieties of options.

You can also come down for the short courses like “Books & Blogs.” This course concerns the use of the Blog to publicize your work. This course is taught by Lisa Warren of Da Capo Press. There is also a course concerning publishing your first book.

DH: Many people fear poetry workshops because they hear stories that members, teachers, etc…literally tear their work apart. Is this true at the Conference?

AT: We have a very friendly Conference. It’s folksy with sophisticated people. This is the culture of the Conference. People have told me the environment is conducive to a positive experience.

DH: What else goes on at the Conference?

AT: Every night we have speakers. Our first night Aug 15 we will have an open mic where people can read from their work. Our keynote speakers are Roger Sutton, Editor-In-Chief of “The Horn Book,” and Martin Sandler who wrote: “The Story of American Photography.” He is well known for his young adult history books.

DH: Why do you think folks should attend the Conference?

AT: It is really about the contacts you make and the friendships you develop.