Thursday, April 26, 2007

No One Dies At The Au Bon Pain

Reviews and press:
Doug Holder was born in Manhattan on July 5, 1955. A small press activist, he founded the Ibbetson Street Press (Somerville, Massachusetts) in 1998. Holder is a co-founder of The Somerville News Writers Festival and is the curator of the Newton Free Library Poetry Series, both in Massachusetts. His work has appeared in such magazines as Rattle, Doubletake, The Boston Globe Magazine, Poesy, Small Press Review, Artword Quarterly, Manifold (UK), The Café Review, the new renaissance, and many others. He holds an MA in Literature from Harvard University.

“This book is a gift, the silhouette of restlessness as Holder studies the way things end and sees that there is no real ending. He celebrates ‘a standing chant, a prayer for the common man.’ Holder understands compassion as generosity in tender poems carved from the quickened wood of the moment.” —Afaa Michael Weaver, Simmons College

“The images and angles of thought and language are at once familiar and plain and odd. They are flashes of insight and snapshots of time and place and humanity.” —Dan Sklar, Endicott College

“With confidence and occasional flashes of humor, these are poems (lamentations/meditations) on what was, is, and ultimately will be. They are strong and unapologetic in both their rage and acceptance, offering up a clear view of the truth—that no one gets out of here alive.”
—Gloria Mindock, Červená Barva Press

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Of All The Meals I Had Before

"Of All The Meals I Had Before:Poems About Food and Eating"by Doug Holder

...He fills our plate with “unapologetically greasy Egg Foo Young,” “tamed tenderloin,” “a chorus line” of “rotisserie chickens,” and “some fraction of gelatinous liver quivering.”

Mary Buchinger Bodwell, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of EnglishMassachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

These food poems are served up spicy like Italian cousine. Read them before dinner or after dessert, either way like Chinese food, you'll return hungry for more. A.D. Winans

A delightful and delicious collection of poems, whetting the appetite for more. These are the kinds of witty, Jewishy poems I envision Woody Allen would write, should he ever take to writing poetry.Helen Bar-Lev, Artist, PoetEditor-in-Chief Voices Israel Anthology

...A lot of the poetry has a certain edginess mixed with wit and humor that equally provokes to thought while it entertains. Everyone should indulge themselves in this gourmet buffet. This collection, as well as Holder's other published works, belong in every serious collectors library.

Harris GardnerExecutive Director, Tapestry of Voices
Of All The Meals I Had Before: Poems About Food and Eating

Send check or money order payable to: Cervena Barva PressP.O. Box 440357,W. Somerville, MA 02144-3222
Send me______copies of "Of All The Meals I Had Before: Poems About Food and Eating" Total enclosed: $______

Where Images Become Imbued With Time by Jared Smith

Where Images Become Imbued with Time: New Poems by Jared Smith. (The Puddin’head Press 2007) $15.

This new collection of poetry by Jared Smith is infused with images of light and mortality. Smith, a veteran of the small press scene is erudite, urbane, yet as down-to-earth as the late Conceptualist poet Charles Reznikoff. His work showcases his wide and eclectic reading, but he never seems to be doing it for show, but rather to tip his Stetson hat to the many great artists who preceded him. I particularly enjoyed Smith’s poem “Father,” in which he captures the enigma that all fathers are in one way or another to their sons, and how after awhile we all see the old patriarchs staring back at us in our shaving mirrors.

“The aurora borealis blows through the cells of my bone,
igniting them so that they are torn apart and scattered in the solar wind.
What was it that you wanted to achieve? Why
did we wear our tight shirt collars to expensive hotels
or spend long years sweating our fears into foreign sheets?
I am older now then you were on that day
when you lay down in a blueberry patch and died
on vacation beneath a Minnesota sky.”

Like Auden, Smith realizes that death comes in the most banal of ways, and places. To quote the old master, death is not always appointed to some dramatic backdrop:

“Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse,
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.”

In Smith’s poem “Stroke” a piece of well-done pot roast could bring the poet’s demise:

“ A piece of fat in the artery
ends it.
The complexity of patterns
recognition of symmetries
echoing of histories;
a pot roast
becomes a blinding light.”

Certainly food for thought.

Highly Recommended.

Ibbetson Update/ Doug Holder/ Somerville, Mass./ April 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Fathers We Find by Charles Ries. Reviewed by Pablo Teasedale

The Fathers We Find by Charles P. Ries. Available from: Charles P. Ries, 5821 W. Trenton Place, Milwaukee, WI 53213. $13.00 includes postage.

Reviewed by Pablo Teasedale

Pablo Teasdale’s first interview was with Raquel Welch when he was a sailor and she was a new star. Since then, he has interviewed many artists formally and informally. . . both well-know and unknown. Among the notables: Anais Nin, Bob Hope, Lyn Lifshin, James Leo Herlihy and Brian Morissey. His drawings have been published in the U. S. A. and Germany. His synthesizer compositions are used by poets and dancers in live and broadcast productions internationally. Teasdale has been the subject of four documentaries and lives in Santa Cruz, California. He is currently writing a memoir titled, "Let Me Tell You About My Redundancy Again."

It is 3:30 a.m. and I am sitting in my apartment overlooking an empty Pacific Avenue. The St. George is quiet tonight and so is the city of Santa Cruz. I have just finished The Fathers We Find and want to make a few comments about this 118-page novel.

First, it was given to me by poet Nancy Gauquier who had read it and liked it. Second, I met Charles not long ago here in town when he was the featured reader at The Wired Wash Cafe which is an important part of Santa Cruz’s (and California’s) poetry life. It is a noisy laundromat with espresso machines and a dangerous restroom. “What,” I asked myself, “is Charles P. Ries doing here?” At a party later, I learned he had been imported by Christopher Robin (Zen Baby) and Brian Morrisey (Poesy). I barely got to talk with Charles, but I was very interested in his poetry and his thought. Now having read this novel, I understand why he seemed so interesting. He is.

While I was reading I had an awareness occur twice that surprised me: I forgot I was reading. The writing was so clear that it just seemed to be going into my consciousness with no effort on my part. I decided that either Charles Ries is an excellent writer or he had found a hole in my head just the right size to insert a nozzle to pour the information into my brain. I guess it must be that he is an excellent writer.

The novel deals with the difficult subject of fathers. Since I was both born and adopted, I had two fathers, and I am a father now, so I know how confusing and profound both having fathers and being a father can be. (Is!) But here in this memoir we see an iconic father…a successful mink farming pillar of the Catholic Church…a quiet and disturbingly bound up man with very high standards…Charles’s father.

That this highly intelligent, sensitive, and aware poet I met, and this almost scary (yet strangely beautiful) father of his, had at one time almost come to blows did not surprise me. And it really makes me wonder at how we are shaped by strong forces in our childhoods, and at how hard it can be to discover that there is a much different entity coming into being which somehow has to break free of the shapers and shape itself.

This is an age-old story but it is told with such clarity that it is one of the best tellings. I laughed, I cried. I am grateful. Another thing that happened to me (that I also liked) as I read, was that I saw or felt or somehow knew and understood that the word “mink” and the term “blackberry brandy” could be used in one sentence to recreate an exquisite juxtaposition…one I can feel, smell, taste, see and…almost…hear. (There is mud in this story too.)

This is a very, very good novel. A memoir. A difficult love story with many layers. Read it, then give it to a friend. Learn about mink and blackberry brandy… and love.

Ibbetson Update/ April 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

Molly Lynn Watt: A poet who sheds light on "Shadow People"

Molly Lynn Watt: A poet who sheds light on “Shadow People”

Molly Lynn Watt, the gregarious host of the popular “Fireside Reading Series” in Cambridge, Mass. has recently released a collection of her own poetry “Shadow People” published by the Ibbetson Street Press of Somerville, Mass. Poets such as Fred Marchant (Director of the Poetry Center of Suffolk University—Boston), and Eva Bourke, the author of “The Latitude of Naples,” and an elected member of the Aosdana in Ireland, have praised her new collection. Watt has been a long-time educator of kids of all ages, she has been involved with educational publishing, and she writes personal essays and articles for a number of magazines. Watt with her husband Dan Watt and Tony Seletan produced a CD: “Songs and Letters of the Spanish Civil War.”

Doug Holder: You have been a writer in one form or the other for most of your life. You came to poetry late however. What took you so long?

Molly Lynn Watt: I am a very late comer to poetry. I accidentally came to it. I signed up for a career in memoir writing, but I didn’t get in. My back up course was poetry. It was at Harvard Extension. So I went to a poetry course, and I haven’t stopped since. This was about five years ago.

I did write poetry in college. We had a literary magazine and I had poems in it. But then… you know… I got pregnant, had to work, I was a single mother, etc... didn’t have the time.

DH: Can you talk about the CD you completed that consists of recitations and songs from your husband’s parents love letters during the time of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s?

MLW: It turns out there is such a thing as “reading theatre,” but I didn’t know there was such a
thing. My husband’s father was in the Spanish Civil War. This was before Hitler, and World War ll.
The idea of fighting a fascist like Franco was a strong one. George Watt, my father-in-law, went over to Spain like a lot of young men. He was a political commissar in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. He was a Communist when many people were. His wife Ruth was a pacifist and activist. They had quite a marvelous correspondence. We found the letters just recently. We had both sides of the exchange. Ruth was a wonderful writer. My husband didn’t know anything about his mother because she died when he was born. We sat down and read all these letters and wrote up an exchange. We had a friend who researched all the songs of the period, and we have been putting on a show with the songs, and produced a CD.

DH: How did you come up with the title: “Shadow People” for you new poetry collection?

MLW: I had to have a title. So while I was sifting through my manuscript I was looking for a good line… a good title. When I thought of the poems in the collection I thought of the “Shadow People” who are psychological tied to us. There are a lot of Shadow People in my head … some are ghosts. People who are on the fringe, like the man I wrote about sitting in the Cambridge Common.

DH: Can you talk about your long involvement with the “Civil Rights Movement”?

MLW: Someone asked me once, “When did you first get involved in civil rights”?
That took me back. But I remembered in the second grade during World War ll my parents had me walk a little Japanese girl to school and back. They didn’t make a big deal about it, but I realized that was a strong thing I did. I protected her from the taunts of kids. I remember too that I was chauffeur-driven to school with the only Black family in town. I realize now my father was taking a stand. He was a minister. In fact Andrew Young was one of my father’s students. My father worked with many Black ministers from the South.

I was sent to boarding school and I had a Black roommate and I didn’t think a thing about it. But she was turned down as a roommate by everyone else.

I worked in 1963 at the “Highlander Educational and Research Center,” which provided Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King with citizenship training. It was located in Knoxville, Kentucky, and designed for adult education. I was directing a work camp for voter registration workers. Both Blacks and Whites were housed there. As a result we were all arrested and the place was burned down.

DH: Do you think poetry can transform or be redemptive?

MLW: I think poetry allows you to get in touch with things that are buried. It is helpful to look back at our experiences and reframe them in ways that are helpful for us and others. The poet Fred Marchant told me that I needed to mention the incest in my family if I was to become a true poet. So I wrote a poem dealing with that subject. Now I am able to mention incest without a great deal of trepidation in my work.

DH: What is the poetic life for you?

MWL: I guess it is when you are actively writing poems. Everything that happens seems to be a possibility for a poem.

Doug Holder