Friday, September 04, 2009

Transcending the Dilemma, Blowing out the Moon, the poetry of Philip Hasouris

Transcending the Dilemma, Blowing out the Moon, the poetry of Philip Hasouris

article by Michael T. Steffen

There is something to be said, in this age of great technical production, of an art that sinks through the concern for its production to attain the primary language of human thought in crisis, the self-doubt and humility exemplified in the poems of Philip Hasouris in his new book Blow out the Moon.

Fred Marchant has called Hasouris “unflinching, devoted and determined,” and indeed Hasouris’s approach is that of a documentary film maker, close inside, though not literary like James Joyce and T.S. Eliot, reminiscent of those masters of Modernism in his side-stepping of conventional written language to trace the stream of his thoughts as they come in their anti-heroic uncertainty, contradiction and even exacerbation at the limits of comprehending experience.

In the middle of the night
I felt you leave,
the pillow empty,
hollow sound of the clock echoed time.

It was just me crying.
It was just you closing the door.

The morning wept on the outside world
no rainbows,
empty sound of nothing
edged through my body.

It was just me walking into walls,
trying to find my way
stumbling graceless into the unknown,
demanding to make sense.

Again and again thrown into similar dilemmas of the spirit [of a particular context clarified by commentary from other scholars and writers throughout the book] Hasouris copes and abides with admirable dedication to his difficult inspiration, by putting words to his pain and wonder, regardless of expectations or satisfaction.

Readers find fruit in breaking down predeterminations on any author they read and live with for a time. The survival of a love documented by Blow out the Moon ultimately attests to how Hasouris’s special moments with poetry, that mirror he sits at, is near and intimate and binding to us all, transcending the permutations of our lives to the ground fact and mystery of our being.

Philip Hasouris “has been featured at many local and national venues. He was founder of the performance group, Spiritous, which combined poetry, music, and movement. He has performed with a variety of musicians in improvisational jazz/poetry, collaborated in the making of the CD, Dreams and Schemes, and a second CD with music by Adam Mujica, Cross the Double Line, and published a chapbook, Swimming Alone.

“With fellow poet, James G.H. Moore, Philip coproduced the poetry video series P.L.A.C.E.S. (Poetic Language Artful Communication Elemental Speech), filming poets in their homes, creative space and natural surroundings, giving the audience a virtual tour of the inner workings of poetry.

“Philip is the Co-host of the Brockton Library Poetry Series,”

Blowing out the Moon by Philip Hasouris is available for $15 from
Beachcomber Press
27 Strawberry Lane
Scituate, MA 02066

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors

A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors
Adams Media, Avon, MA and

Review by Rene Schwiesow

It is a yearly inconvenience, the mammogram. First one, then the other breast clamped in between cold plates, flattened, not into a pancake, but a crepe. Yet it is this yearly inconvenience that offers the authors of “A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors,” the opportunity to share their stories. As the subtitle says, the book is full of inspiring words that celebrate the courage and triumph of woman, man, family and friends over breast cancer. Here, the saying it takes a village to raise a child expands itself into it takes a village to birth a new life, to grow in ways previously unimagined as these woman have.

My initial reaction to the first few stories was fearful and sad and sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for a routine check-up, I wondered if bringing the book to read had been a grave mistake. I mean who wants to read about long-term illness, about loss of hair, about painful recovery when waiting to see a doctor? Indeed, who wants to read such material anytime? Yet, though tears leaked their way out and rolled down my cheeks despite my attempts at swiping them away, it only took those first few tales to uncover the real story and the depth of honesty brought realization. The depth of honesty made it very clear that the common bond those diagnosed with breast cancer have is one that will never be severed. These are soul sisters who can and do show us how to live.

A few years ago, I was excited to have two out-of-state girlfriends visit me. We spent a couple of relatively sleepless days in laughter, playing tourist, rehashing old parties, sharing stories about our children in preschool, then elementary school and beyond. On the last of our evenings together while we sat on my screen porch, each wrapped in a blanket on a crisp October evening, two of us received the news that the third had breast cancer. She was clear and articulate in her goal of overcoming the dreaded diagnosis. Her breast cancer had been detected in the very early stages and treatment allowed us to be together again, just two years ago. This book is a legacy for the millions of women who share her story.

Maria Judge, who was born in Germany and raised in Ireland, Chili and India, is a Boston area writer and survivor of breast cancer. In her story, between the covers of this Cup of Comfort book, Maria writes with conviction and courage. She tells the tale experienced by many who sit in the chemo chair, while red poison flows into them, killing deadly cancer cells but leaving them weak and without hair. Maria speaks candidly but with humor about confronting her hair loss, preparing herself to let go of her tresses bit by bit, about the process of acceptance and the vulnerability and insecurity one goes through to get there. She not only writes it, but also lived it admirably. With love, support, Dove bars and Dolly Parton wigs, Maria survived her deepest fears and while she may sport a few physical scars, she spins any psychological trauma into reminders that she has endured, and that not even the tears, could scar her survivor spirit.

But before you write this off as a chick-book, the men that have put pen to the page in this book will set you off on another swell of emotion. These men are the wind beneath the wings of their cancer diagnosed wives, mothers or girlfriends. And they are a reminder to all of us that breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease. It is a disease that affects all members of a person’s family as well as their co-workers and friends. It does, indeed, take a village and what an inspiration these stories are for us to embrace those who are part of our lives. What an inspiration for all of us to live now, in the moment, when it counts.

Rene Schwiesow, co-owns an online poetry forum ( and is a co-host for The Art of Words: Mike Amado Memorial Poetry Series in Plymouth, MA. Rene can be reached at

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What Americans can learn from Gypsy culture: A talk by Sonia Meyer

What Americans can learn from Gypsy culture

Littleton Massachusetts – September 1 2009 –Wilderness House Literary Review is pleased to announce a one hour lecture by noted Gypsy (Roma) scholar Sonia Meyer at 7:00 P. M. on October 14 2009 at the Out of the Blue Gallery in Cambridge Massachusetts. Tickets are $5.00 at the door.

Sonia Meyer will speak about the Roma (Gypsy) culture and what we can learn from them in this high tech, money-worshipping society. She hopes the audience look inside the Gypsies self-exiled world, and come to realize that their freedom is available to all of us.

Sonia Meyer was born in Cologne, Germany in 1938 and spent her formative years living in the woods among partisan and Gypsy fighters during WWII. She has been fascinated by Gypsies, or the Roma people ever since becoming a self-educated scholar of Roma (Gypsy) culture.

Meyer, who may indeed be part Gypsy herself has been intrigued by the freedom, the art, and the celebration of magic and mysticism of the Roma people. She encountered them throughout her travels in Europe, and struck up fascinating conversations with these enigmatic vagabonds. She lived much of her life like a Gypsy, moving from city to city across Europe, and eventually landing in the states. In Geneva she worked with Jewish refugees, she spent time with the Bedouins in the Negev desert, eventually moving to the States.

In the narrow and winding stacks of the Widener Library at Harvard she discovered a translation by Matteo Maximoff, Russian Gypsy, which concerned Russian nomadic Gypsies. She visited him, and traveled to Macedonia to visit the so-called “Queen of the Gypsies,” and lived with a family in the Gypsy section of Skopje where the Gypsies were well off.

She is the author of a novel to be published in the Summer of 2010. “Dosha” is about a Gypsy girl. The novel spans her childhood spent with Russian partisans in Polish forests to her defection during Khrushchev’s visit to Helsinki on June 6, 1957 “Dosha” will be published by Wilderness House Press ( and will be excerpted in the spring issue of Wilderness House Literary Review ( ). For further information see

For further information contact Steve Glines ( ) 978-800-1625 – Industrial Myth & Magic ( ) is a public relations firm specializing in literary persona and events.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Soil of Industry by Ezra Ben-Meir

The Soil of Industry
by: Ezra Ben-Meir
Reviewed by: E. Hanson

Ezra Ben-Meir is, I am ashamed to admit the first Israeli poet I have read. His book, The Soil of Industry, is of interest on many levels. First, it is about a finite space of time (1978-1991); this said, these thirteen years of themed poetry deal with his great love of his work and with his day-to-day living.
I would like to compare a visual artist to a word artist because of their very different approaches to their art. Henri Rousseau who was a provincial man, (termed 'a primitive' by most), was a great visual artist; who worked as a postal worker in Paris. His day-to-day existance was, one can only imagine, to be repetitive and deadening. Rousseau used escapism as a theme for his art. ie. The Dream (the lady and the tiger painting at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City)
Unlike Rousseau, Mr. Ben-Meir hunkers down and in this book of verse doesn't try to escape, but he does quite the reverse, he pays homage to his life as a metal worker.
Walt Whitman has written volumes on this theme of the common man. So I would say that this loyalty and his struggle to accurately convey in poetry these thirteen years is admirable, this is what I like about him.
He is a traditionalist in his approach, trying out many different forms as a vehicle for this homage. He writes about what he knows on an intense and intimate level.
I enjoyed the last poem in this collection, "The Hardness Tester", because, like E.E. Cummings, Mr. Ben-Meir uses the visual form of concrete poetry to reinforce his poem. He has woven technical information with the lyric. ie. And I quote:

"...A world never to
glisten lustre on human hands
ordered and reordered
properties, seg-
regated and
by the
Standard Hardness

In conclusion, this reviewer would like to state that Mr. Ben-Meir juxtaposes human vulnerability with the power of metal and I will be very interested to read more than this "five percent" of his poetry. I had an e-mail correspondence between myself and Ezra Ben-Meir in which Mr. Ben-Meir states that he is "contemporary". However I will still stick to my original statement that I feel Mr Ben-Meir is a traditionalist. ie. On his web site one can find some haiku such as (281) haiku, "The Earth Cried", because not only in form, but also in content and in the heart of the matter, Ezra is a traditionalist in the finest form.

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Hanson

Monday, August 31, 2009

Poetry That Is Pure Fluff...

Poetry That Is Pure Fluff...

On an oppressively hot morning in August I met with Mimi Graney at one of my haunts in Union Square, Somerville: Bloc 11, a quite cafe (in the morning at least), and an ideal refuge from the heat. Graney is the executive director of "Union Square Main Streets," an organization whose mission statement is to (according to their website): " Increase the vibrancy of Union Square's business district and surrounding neighborhoods through active community collaboration."

Graney dropped by to tell me about the 4th Annual Fluff Festival (Sept. 26 --4 to 7 PM) to be held in Union Square Somerville. This iconoclastic celebration honors the late Somervillian Archibald Query, who invented Marshmallow Fluff, a sticky remnant of our gourmand childhood years ago. What interested the poet in me is that Graney and her band have the idea to have a Limerick and Poetry contest to be judged by the audience during the festival.

A number of respected local poets will select the poems to be voted on. Graney said tongue in cheek (Or perhaps not) that the entries for the contest should deal with the "Fluffernutter" (The sandwich composed of the said Fluff) and the dramatic tension between Sweet Fluff, salty peanut butter, wondrous bread, and jealous jelly! Well, I must admit I almost choked on my bagel hearing that one.

Graney has been a Somerville resident for 20 years, is a graduate of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and formerly headed Somerville Community Access TV. She said her community outreach is natural extension for her divinity studies. She is a lover of our city and all that it has to offer.

Graney said the winning poets will read from their work at the festival, the winning poems will be printed in The Somerville News' "Lyrical Somerville" column, and the poets will get a "silly" trophy--perhaps with a Fluff jar attached.

Go to: for more information.