Saturday, May 17, 2008



Almost every time I see Gloria Mindock at our Bagel Bards literary group in Davis Square, Somerville, Mass., she lays yet another published collection from her prolific Cervena Barva Press on me. And more often than not the collections are first rate and make for compelling reads. Her latest two releases are by local poet Chad Parenteau and
NYC poet Larissa Shmailo, who also happens to be the public coordinator for the acclaimed poetry journal “Fulcrum,” based in Cambridge, Mass.

Parenteau is the founder of the online journal “Spoonful,” and the host for the venerable “Stone Soup Poets” reading series in Cambridge, Mass. Parenteau has written an engaging and quirky collection “Discarded: Poems For My Apartment.” This book speaks to all of us denizens, past or present, of inner city apartments. Parenteau, a long-time resident of South Boston and now Jamaica Plain, has been there and done that. You will recognize yourself in these ironic and humorous poems. In “Rat Poem,” the poet wonders if an unwanted roommate, a Norway rat, abruptly left his Southie apartment for an abode in the tony Back Bay environs of the city:

“Maybe the rat left before that,
had saved enough for a flower bed
outside the Prudential Center
where, after nights of waiting tables,
I’d see other rats lounge openly,
Stare at them until they stared back
Like I was another tourist.”

Parenteau is the Bard of the cold water flat, the one-room walkup, the gone-to-seed or always seedy neighborhoods in our neck of the ‘hood.

In a “Cure for Suicide” by Larissa Shmailo, Shmailo writes (as the founder of Fulcrum Magazine Philip Nikolayev points out in his introduction) as if she is …” constitutionally predestined to sing out her lines…her eyes filled with life and love, pain and death, freedom and coercion, the real of the mind and the imagined of the heart.” In the poem “Dancing with the Devil,” the poet sings about the need to throw caution to the wind and trip the light fantastic with the Devil:

“They say if you flirt with death,
you’re going to get a date;
But I don’t mind—the music’s fine,
And I love dancing with someone who can really lead.”

Shmailo put herself in the deceptive calmness of the eye of a hurricane, asks us to tell her what makes us tic, and takes us on the Harlem River Line, like the “Duke” took us on the “A” train. In a sea of mimics this poet is an original voice.

To order go to

Or send $7 to Gloria Mindock Cervena Barva Press POBOX 440357 W. Somerville, Ma. 02144

Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update/ May 2008

1 comment:

  1. like the “Duke” took us on the “A” train

    As I pointed out in this poem that you reviewed, "Take the A-Train" was not an Ellington composition but rather a Billy Strayhorn composition arranged and popularized by Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington.