Friday, March 26, 2010

Phil Hasouris: A Poet whose balm is the written word.

Phil Hasouris: A Poet whose balm is the written word.

Like many people Phil Hasouris was a closet poet. Literally, stacks of his notebooks were packed in closets, draws, in the recesses of his fertile imagination. But Hasouris took it one step beyond. He started reading his poetry in public. And God darn it…people really started to listen! Since then he has been featured at many local and national venues. He was the founder of the performance group’ Spirituous”, which combined poetry, music and movement. He is also the founder of the Brockton Poetry Series, among other accomplishments. In 2007 his wife Linda suffered an anoxic brain injury which lead to his acclaimed book of poetry “Blow Out the Moon.” I talked with Hasoruis on my Somerville Community Access TV show “ Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.”

Doug Holder: Phil it is evident you like to have poetry programs that are more than a poet getting up there and reading from his work.

Phil Hasouris: Poetry is expression. If you look at poets—no matter what language—their body language is very telling. Cambridge Populist Poet Jean-Dany-Joachim’s native language is not English. When he reads in English his body language is still; but when he reads in his native tongue his body rises and there is a smile on his face. Poetry to me is more than standing behind a podium, or just reading poetry.

DH: You are the founder of the Brockton Poetry Series. How did it start?

PH: I had been to many venues. Brockton was getting a pretty bad name. People would ask me: “Anybody killed lately? I would reply: “Not today.” So I wanted Brockton to get some recognition…positive recognition that is. I went to the Director of the Brockton Public Library and told her that I wanted to start a series. I wanted a poetry venue that paid the poets, and would not charge admission. I wanted it to provide refreshments and conversation. This was all done through the library. Eventually the series went into non-profit status—and they do their own thing now. I started it and it was my conception.

DH: Your poetry collection “Blow Out the Moon” deals with your wife’s catastrophic brain injury and subsequent death. Was the book a catharsis for you? Does pain bring out the best poetry?

PH: I don’t know if it is pain but whatever you hold in becomes toxic. One of the statistics I found through the Brain Injury Association—was that 40% of people caring for a loved one become sick themselves. This is through sleep deprivation, not taking care of themselves, etc… To me the book was a way of getting the toxicity out. I could express it through poetry. Right now I am in the process of running some workshops for the Brain Injury Association. What I tell people that attend is that you have to express yourself. Whether through writing or painting…it has to come out some way. I call writing poetry a “gift”

DH: When did you come out of the closet as a poet?

PH: I started reading in the 90’s. I was writing way before that. When I started I mumbled and fumbled—went through that stage. I became a slam poet on the Brockton Slam Team. I went to the nationals in Austin, Texas. My wife became ill, so I dropped out for a while.

DH: What poets are your influences?

PH: Charles Bukowski, Shel Silverstien, and songwriters like: Warren Zevon, Paul Simon. Never studied poetry in school—came to it on my own.

DH: In your poem “ Life Expectancy” you talk with your dead wife—in your mind. Will this be a recurrent theme in your work—of a dialogues with a ghost so to speak.

PH: Absolutely. Right now I am writing a series of poems titled” Poems from the Aftermath.” “Life Expectancy” was written before my wife became ill.

DH: Was your wife a poet?
PH: No but she had an interest in me, and so had an interest in my poetry.

DH: You are running workshops for the Brain Injury Association, right?

PH: Yes. I have nee invited to speak at the Brain Injury Association on the Cape. I have run caretaker workshops, and survivor support groups. I would like to expand on this.

For more info:

Life expectancy

Why did you call.
I needed to hear your sound.

In this moment of my existence
I sought familiarity
in this mind maze
ebb and flow of past, future
I desired your presence.

If you blow into the trunk of an elephant
it will never forget your scent,
in this intimate interaction
karma is forever joined,
and when one passes the other will grieve
trumpeting sorrow.

Life expectancy of an elephant, 70 years.

How long has it been since I’ve told you…
A few weeks, couple of months.

A blank stare, our lives splinter,
melt, spill into cracks
listen to voices inside
discard them at the push, pull of time
we hesitate, our true falling,
our words strain against empty air
and I’ve been meaning to tell you
I remember, our eyes
holding secrets,
we rush off
brush against each other
our lips flat
these predictable kisses
these monotone promises
“I love you”
“Love you too”
now we dance like ghosts,
In our separate ways
we came together
in our time together
we went our separate ways
push against empty air.

Pygmy goby fish are born,
struggle to survive, mature, mate,
lay their eggs defend their young, die,
full life
life fulfilled.

Life expectancy of pygmy goby fish,
a few weeks, couple of months.

What are you thinking.
That’s not true,
why do candy bars always look bigger in vending machines.

Behind the glass we anticipate
eyes magnified
we pursue, stop at each slotted prize
consider, yank on lever
wait for tumble
wrap hands around.

j.g.h. moore wrote “Our walls were up and we knew it”
David R Surette wrote “Never miss anything, ever”
so where are we in between these lines
these walls and never miss
these pencil scratches that score our human frailty,
life expectancy of human frailty

Are you there.
Yes, I was just thinking.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Zvi A. Sesling’s Poems King of the Jungle (Ibbetson Street Press)

Zvi A. Sesling’s Poems King of the Jungle
Published by Ibbetson St. Press

Brookline, MA poet Zvi A. Sesling’s debut book King of the Jungle has been released by Ibbetson St. Press. Doug Holder, publisher of Ibbetson St. said, “We are excited about this volume of poetry because it reveals the breadth of Sesling’s poetic abilities.”

Sesling, who has been published in more than 100 poetry journals, was cited as a “button down Bukowski” by Boston’s first Poet Laureate Sam Cornish in his introduction to the book. Cornish also notes, “As the title suggest, the writing is ironic and opinionated; therefore fresh and unpredictable.”

As the titles to the sections of the book hint, the variety of the poetry ranges from humorous to serious to macabre. He reflects on subjects such as what Louis XVI was thinking before his beheading, what people see in a mirror, a thought about composer Erik Satie’s sheets, to a poem based on a fortune in a Chinese fortune cookie.

He also remembers first kisses, first girlfriends and sex, as well as the agony of relationships gone awry. Sesling’s humor and seriousness are found throughout the books 64 poems, as are his thoughts on the war, the Holocaust and Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

His poems reflect his keen observations of people and relationships, as well as the joys and fears of life.

Sesling was awarded First Prize in the Reuben Rose International Poetry Competition and Third Place in 2004. In 2008 Sam Cornish selected him as New England/Pen’s “Discovery” reader. His chapbook, Across Stones of Bad Dreams will be published in 2010 by Cervena Barva Press.

Sesling resides in Brookline, MA where he lives with his wife Susan J. Dechter, Sesling holds a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University and a J.D. from Suffolk University. He has taught at Suffolk University, Emerson College and Boston University.

To order King of the Jungle go to:

Or Contact:

Ibbetson Street Press
25 School St.
Somerville, Ma.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ploughshares Spring 2010 Reading Series (April 15).

Ploughshares and Emerson College welcome you to the Spring 2010 Reading Series (April 15, 2010)featuring Elizabeth Strout, guest editor of the Spring 2010 issue. There will be an open Q+A at 4pm, followed by an exclusive RSVP-only reading at 6pm.

Elizabeth Strout’s most recent work, Olive Kitteridge, won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. She is the author of two previous novels, Abide With Me, and Amy and Isabelle, both New York Times bestsellers. She has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Orange Prize, and National Book Critics Circle Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Redbook, and various other publications. Born and raised in New England, Strout now teaches in a low-residency writing program at Queens University, Charlotte, N.C.

We're excited to hold this event in the newly remodeled Paramount Theatre, located at 559 Washington St. The nearest T stops are Downtown Crossing (Red and Orange Lines) and Boylston (Green Line). Parking is available at the Boston Common Garage on Charles Street between Boylston and Beacon Streets.

We hope to see you there!

The Ploughshares Staff

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Cambridge Populist Poetry Festival Sunday April 18th , 2010 12PM to 5:30PM

(Cambridge Populist Poet--Jean-Dany Joachim)

Poetry Festival

Sunday, April 18, 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Jill Brown-Rhone Park (formerly Lafayette Plaza)
across from Luna Café (403 Mass. Ave.) in Central Square

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Poet Populist Jean-Dany Joachim curates the 2010 Cambridge Poetry Festival. This FREE community event brings together professional and novice poets, writers, performers, and singer/songwriter musicians to share their work via an open-mic format. The festival offers to all attendees professional development "mini-workshops" on editing and presenting as well as an opportunity to connect with local bookstores, publishing companies and poetry groups. To learn more or to participate, e-mail or call the Cambridge Arts Council at 617-349-4380.

1 12 - 1:00

Fred Marchant
Hannah Baker-Siroty
Luke Salisbury
Chris Brandt
Philip Burnham
Isabella Ruggerio Dumond
Gayle Roby

2 1:00 - 2:00

Mary Bodwell
Clara Guila Kessous
Peter Payack
Thomas Spear
Marilene Phipps-Kettlewell
Tehila Lieberman
Molly Lynn Watt

3 2:00 - 3:00

Doug Holder
Charles Coe
Lo Gallucio
Alan Soto Smith
Marcia Ross
Charlot Lucien
Danielle Georges

4 3:00 - 4:00

Phillips Hassouris
Patrick Sylvain
Enzo Surin
Toni Bee
Liam Bodwell

5 4:00 - 5:300

Juan Cassillas
Giancarlo Buscaglia
Kristophe Diaz
Amy Grunder
Larry Stich
René Rodriguez Soriano
Leonardo Lin
Fred Brown
Dominique Batraville
Duckens Charitable

Life is Good!