Friday, May 13, 2011

The Write Stuff: English Students Contributing to Local Small Press and Poetry Blog

***** This appeared in the Endicott College Blog

The Write Stuff: English Students Contributing to Local Small Press and Poetry Blog

The EC blog recently sat down with Doug Holder, an adjunct writing professor at Endicott and founder of the local Boston literary blog Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene. Doug helps us introduce his first student contributor to the blog, Jason Roberts:

I have taught ENG 101 and Creative Writing 108 for a couple of years now at Endicott College. I also have set up an office for the Ibbetson Street Press, a literary journal, and small publishing house at the college. In that capacity I am always looking to involve Creative Writing students and others in the larger literary community. The literary blog Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene, which I founded 7 years ago, is widely read by the Boston area literary community and beyond. It consists of interviews with writers, book reviews, and more. Our first reviewer in a new student series is Creative Writing major Jason Roberts, who was in my Eng 101 class this semester (Spring 2011). Jason told me he never has written a book review. I showed him sample book reviews on the site, and when he was ready we gave him a poetry journal to read. We worked on several drafts before it was posted; Jason now knows the basics of writing reviews and probably has his first publishing credit. I plan to work with students next semester and enlist them in the role of book reviewers, which will help make writing vital and exciting. I hope when people search online they will come across a collegiate cadre of Endicott writers.

We’d like to congratulate Jason on being the first student in this series! Click here for Jason’s full review of “Popt Art Portraits. Popt Art Vol 1 Spring 2011,” on the Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene.

Jason Roberts, Creative Writing major

In similar news, we would also like to congratulate Creative Writing student Katie Clarke, who interviewed Pulitzer Prize winning Poet Maxine Kumin and whose essay will be featured in the next issue of the literary journal Ibbetson Street.

Tags: creative writing, poetry, review, student work

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jennifer Jean: A Poet with ‘Oceanic’ tastes

Poet Jennifer Jean: A Poet with ‘Oceanic’ tastes

Interview by Doug Holder

Poet Jennifer Jean was born near the water in Venice Beach, California. Her mother often took her out on the water, and the water has been a player on her life stage. She now lives in Salem, Mass., a historic seaport with her husband and kids. So I guess you could say she has never been a fish out of water.

Jean who teaches writing at Salem State College, is an accomplished poet with work in Caketrain, California Review, North Dakota Quarterly and others. She is the author of two collections of poetry “In the War,” and “Fishwife Tales.” This enterprising bard is an instrumental player behind the Mass. Poetry Festival to be held May 13th and 14th in Salem, Mass. I spoke to her on my Somerville Community Access TV show “Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer”

Doug Holder: Your new collection “Fishwife Tales” uses marine creatures as a focal point. What was behind your choice to use these denizens of the deep?

Jennifer Jean: When I began the project I was in graduate school and I just got married. I felt I was going from my female world to unknown seas. I had a group of friends who stayed together like a group of fish. When I separated from the school—and I became married—which I am very happy with—at first my husband felt like an alien creature. The women’s community that I was from had a history—so much of my life was a female only life. I had so many people who were closer to me than my husband. But of course now we have a wealth of experience. But before I was living in my own mythos. I wanted to make that something that I could write about.

I identify with the water. I was born in Venice, California. My mom would take us out on the ocean all the time. So I have an affinity for water. The Fishwife is sort of born out of water. So when the character of the Fishwife comes out of the water for the Fisherman (Her husband) they obviously have a commonality.

DH: You have founded something called the Fishwife Music Project. Can you tell us about this?

JJ: Somehow the Fishwife poems lend themselves to music. I collaborated with a student from the Berkeley College of Music in Boston. She was inspired by the poems and wanted to put them to music.

DH: In the poem “Fishwife Advent” the fish or fish/woman seems to be sympathetic to the boat in the midst of a storm?

JJ: The Fishwife is in a woman’s form. She knows her husband is out in the storm. She changes into a half marine creature and half woman—and guides his boat to safety. She allows herself to be both fish and woman.

DH: You are a columnist for an art magazine “Art Throb” on the North Shore. Does your role of a poet play a role in your journalism?

JJ: To some extent, like poetry, every word counts in journalism. I am spitting bullets when I have to write prose on a deadline—and I teach Comp! I love the end result, but it is hard. I love “Art Throb’-it’s run by two young ladies—they are very tolerant of me!

DH: You teach Creative Writing at Salem State in Salem, Mass. What does the new breed of students bring to the plate?

JJ: The kids are more into form or meter in poetry. Hip Hop may have been a big influence. They are into internal rhyme. However they sometimes cannot reach the same depth with rhyme.

DH: Tell me about your involvement with the Mass. Poetry Festival?

JJ: I originally got involved through Stone Soup Poets. We brought the Festival from Lowell to Salem. Well, I live in Salem and so I am involved. I work closely with founder Mike Ansara and his assistant January O’Neil.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wrestling Angels: Poetic Monologues By Freddy Frankel.

*****A Review in by Hugh Fox. Fox is a founding editor of the Pushcart Prize.

Wrestling Angels: Poetic Monologues By Freddy Frankel. 2011. 57pp, Ibbetson Street Press 25 School St. Somerville, Ma. 02143 $14.00

A fascinating series of poetic monologues here beginning with characters out of the Torah/Old Testament like Adam and Eve, Rebekkah, Jacob, Rachel, Moses, then moving on to Jesus, Paul, Constantine, Mohammed, Abu Bakr, Erasmus, Luther, Hitler, God. And a lot more. A kind of history of world theology from the beginnings to last week. And every monologue here really gets to the slashing heart-of-the-matter point. Take Luther, for example, a Luther you never heard of/heard from before, but still historically authentic: “ I’m the flash-point in the Catholic Church,/the edge wedged tight in wood, rotted by men/who gather gold dispensing pardons…//hate those stiff-necked Jews, they refuse/to back my faith in God. In my book/ “The Jews and Their Lies,” I put the world/on notice: burn their books, their synagogues; / fire and brimstone on their heads.” (Martin Luther, p.44) He really gets inside-inside the essences of biblical characters like Solomon, Elijah and in just one page captures what most of the rest of the world would take chapters to capture: “I am my mother’s metaphor for failure—not/ the icon of success I appear, She, /Bathsheba, fought to put me on the throne…//The more she carps the more I decorate my palace and the temple/ with royal wives who bring more gold.” B (“Solomon,” p 21.) As deep as you can get. Like five hundred pages of revelatory power in a mere 57 pages. No one has ever gotten more to the heart of the matter than super-perspective Frankel. But not to be read at bedtime.