Saturday, May 22, 2010

Only Wings: 20 poems of devotion by Donald Lev

Only Wings
20 poems of devotion
Donald Lev
Presa :S: Press
2010 $6.00

Review by Irene Koronas

'Only Wings' respectfully looks at what it mans to be part of
ritual, "Standing tall, which row of Monoliths wins your
respect, your fear."

"Jesus fell off the cross just as the bell
announced the store was closing.
Everyone made a bee line for the checkout counters
and forgot all about Jesus
who picked himself up and dragged himself to the bus stop
and somehow made it back home without anyone being the wiser.
This denouement, which I know of, and now you do too, obviously
has made little difference to history, but seems to be mysteriously
reflected in a public radio program I heard this afternoon comparing
lamb recipes for Easter with a recipe for special chicken soup for
Passover using only wings."

I 'just' love this chapbook and so will you. Lev has a sacred sense of humor that has me laughing out laud.

"Categories, folders, lost
the shroud with the image of Jesus
the virgin's tears, echoes of Masada:
the loneliness of anywhere…
Is it said matter may disappear
yet not cease to be?
I have looked everywhere
I can. Now my eyes turn vainly

Irene Koronas
Ibbetson Street Press
Poetry Editor:
Wilderness House Literary Review

Friday, May 21, 2010

Poetry Reading: William Kemmett Piano Factory May 22, 2010 7PM

( Click on pic to enlarge)

My friend the poet and artist James de Crescentis runs the Gallery at the Piano Factory in the South End of Boston. Great Event this Saturday night at 7PM--come one, come all... James and I used to be colleagues at McLean Hospital.....

INCREASE, chapbook, by Susan Edwards Richmond

Review of INCREASE, chapbook, by Susan Edwards Richmond, Foothills Publishing, Kanona, New York, 2010, 34 pages, $10

By Barbara Bialick

Many poets would have loved to take on the challenge of writing INCREASE, a historical yet fanciful playbook of poems. The chapbook is written from the point of view of the Harvard, Massachusetts Shaker Community that numbered 200 people in the 1850s, but finally closed in 1920. With information drawn from members’ journals, and the historical buildings in Harvard Shaker Village, Richmond got some of her information through the Fruitlands Museum where she was poet-in-residence in 2007. The remaining Shakers sold their first office building, built in 1794, to Clara Endicott Sears, who moved that building to Fruitlands.

Richmond did a good job of making the celibate put spirited religious group come to life, especially in the section called “fall”. Herself a wife and mother, Richmond could still breathe life into the Shakers’ story—they believed in celibacy, a woman Shaker messiah, withdrawal from the world, and when worshipping ecstatically, they literally shook, danced and marched; hence the name Shakers.

One of my favorite poems was “Many of the World Attend”—from a time when they invited people from the “world” to worship with them: “Trembling in the still morning, my narrow/bed beside the others, I wake inside/these roots and tendrils growing, my skin/a poor sack to contain them…” The speaker was brought to the Shakers to live by her mother when she was 17, when she would “await the hours of stomping, singing”…when the “spirit” would “seize me in a whirling frenzy…”

In the section called “summer”, Richmond makes a sing song sort of hymn, using words from the Shakers alternating with entries from their seed and herb cabinet now kept in the Fruitlands Museum: “What did they care if the world lacked improvement/cucumber, log cucumber, squash, watermelon/It was business…/”

With the title poem, “Increase”, the authentic journal entry epigraph reads: “…our condition was a barren one, but not entirely hopeless, for we could, if we would, take children and bring them up in the principles of truth and righteousness.” (Olive Chandler Journal, 1868).

I recommend this chapbook to anyone fascinated by the Shakers, or who would like to become interested in them. The author’s previous chapbooks include, Purgatory Chasm, Birding in Winter and Boto. She has published in many journals and anthologies, and has taught writing at the Shirley Medium Correctional Facility on another Shaker site. Richmond is currently on the faculty at Clark University in Massachusetts and works with the journal “Wild Apples: a journal of nature, art, and inquiry.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fourth World by DM Gordon

Fourth World
DM Gordon
Adastra Press
MMX $16.00
ISBN 978-0-9822495-4-3

Running my fingers against the paper, letterpress feels sacred; as I hold, turn, consider the details of each page stitched, bone folded, the presentation sets up the poem titles ranging from 'Raven' to "The last flight':

"First on the road, stripping flesh,
then on my shoulder, squeezing;
it appeared, no larger than my palm and blind,
when I was young, uniformed,
and driven to Saint Sebastian's School.
With me most days, it smells life.
I find small digs in my skin,
and sometimes feathers brush my ear.
Outside chapel black birds laugh
and make war. They find each other in the sky,
form cities, raise generations of shadows
while I squirm on the worn bench.
At night the wind comes through sashes
and makes my dry house sing against its will;
my shutters shake like weak elbows. It's then,
tiny enough to fit in my pill box, the raven sleeps.
I would give this small pinching thing to you,
then smoke salmon caught from the river
as it left the sea. Hang the shining flesh
over green wood, so together, you, and I, and the raven
could eat the body of the old soul that swam so far,
then its roe, its tiny stars, the possibilities."

The images provoke questions and in some of the poems the questions are answered, "Can we turn off the lights?" "Have you heard the microbes sing?" DM Gordon's poems are concerned with existence, finding a place to live, "he might start again in Brazil, where the scent of blue has changed, but is still other." His verses sing out and I recommend;

"When I walked down the path at dusk
from the home I built on the edge of the cliff,
I took care not to step on the snails.
They littered the way and clung
to the burnt red walls, absorbed
with each other - what do I know
of the spent hours of snails?
I picked my way through them
to where my friends danced
in their tin-roofed cabin under the cliff,
the music thinned by the roar of the river…"

Irene Koronas
Ibbetson Street Press
Poetry Editor:
Wilderness House Literary Review

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bagel Bards Reading at Newton Open Studios May 16, 2010

(click on picture to enlarge)

--Photo by Jack Scully

“Falling Off The Bicycle Forever” by Michael Rattee

Falling Off The Bicycle Forever”
poems by Michael Rattee
Adastra Press

Review by Tomas O'Leary

Having read these poems cover to cover several times, just to be sure I
was interpreting my own response without bias or alien input, I’m relieved to have arrived at this moment of pronouncement with clear head and easy heart.

The poems are in speech that is plain, but composed by an eloquent
mind. Each plays out in casual narrative, seeming to chance upon its gem of mystery or revelation as it rolls along. The entire book is innocent of punctuation; and while I personally am committed even to the semicolon, I gotta confess that these poems work fine without it.

Since each of these poems is the whole poem, not lending itself to
lifted lines for the sake of a statement about it, I offer the following run of first lines only to demonstrate my sense of spontaneous genesis throughout the volume: Somewhere there’s a dog; He imagines a world without excuses; It isn’t the day she wanted; He needed to get away; The man running behind the bus; His passion for the future; Some of us live our lives. . . .

The poems assert themselves without fanfare, but usually towards a
dead-on finale that alerts us to remember to remember. Here’s the title poem, on whose note the book closes:

Father was drunk and showing how
closely he could lead Lady
his hunting dog he jumped
off the porch falling to his knees
the shotgun waving wildly
with the second shot he winged
the dog and as she fell
head over heels he grabbed
a bicycle and headed headlong
down the dirt road yelling
he was a boy again by god
halfway down the hill gravel
caught the front wheel wrenching
it sideways and throwing him
over the handlebars in midair
he turned back to us yelling
and whooping flailing his arms
falling off the bicycle forever

Everything really quite simply is just about memory. Here’s a coda for
the hell of it: I’d just started writing this thing when my brother Jerry called from a hospital in Baltimore. He was in a rush, stepped off a curb, his ankle at a quirkish angle, lost his balance, flung himself forward to protect his head, and broke his hip. Damned if it didn’t feel like the casual calamity in a poem by Michael Rattee. I’ll send my brother this book; I bet we’ll both remember having read it.

--Tomas O’Leary

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ibbetson Street Press: Publishing * Writing* Series to be launched This July (2010)

Ibbetson Street Press: Publishing * Writing* Series to be launched This July (2010)

(Newton Mass)

Doug Holder, founder of the Ibbetson Street Press and Arts Editor for the Somerville News, announced that an ongoing literary series titled the "Ibbetson Street Press Publishing* Writing* Reading* Series" will be launched at the Newton Campus of the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston. Holder had a number of discussions with Silka Rothschild, the Arts Education Director of the JCC and others in the organization. Holder said: " Because of the reputation of the press and the poets involved with it, the JCC decided to include the Series as part of their program." During the month of July there will be a number of events including a workshop with novelist Luke Salisbury, and a poetry workshop with poets Harris Gardner, of Tapestry of Voices and Holder himself.

In the fall the plan is to have a self-publishing panel, a reading and discussion with notable Jewish poets, a morning with the grassroots poetry group the "Bagel Bards," and other events. Holder said: " It is very flattering to be approached by the JCC. It is a great feeling to be recognized by a great organization for the work Ibbetson Street has been doing in the community since 1998. I think the arts communities of Newton, Somerville and Boston need to come together and this is a great way to do it."

(Reading series at the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston*** Leventhal-Sidman JCC/Newton)

Gosman Jewish Community Campus
333 Nahanton Street, Newton Center, MA 02459
Telephone: (617) 558-6522

The Leventhal-Sidman JCC is a branch of the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston. JCCGB is an agency of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies.


The Art of the Novel with Luke Salisbury/ Thursday July 8, 2010/ 7 to 9PM

This course introduces students to the novel as a literary genre. Luke Salisbury, author of “Hollywood and Sunset,” and other works will help students acquire an understanding of ways of approaching, appreciating, and analyzing the novel. Salisbury is an award winning novelist, and is a Professor of Literature at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. “Hollywood and Sunset” will be the suggested text for the course. Thursday, July 8, 2010 7 to 9 p.m.

Ibbetson Street Press/ Tapestry of Voices Reading Series/ July 22, 2010/7to 9PM

Poets Harris Gardner, Zvi Sesling, Bert Stern, Ruth Baden and Fred Frankel will read poetry of Jewish themes, and of life, love, death, and eternity. These accomplished and much published poets will read from their recent collections. An Open Mike will follow so the audience can share their work. There will be a book table and light refreshments.

Poetry in the Write Mind. Poetry Workshop with Harris Gardner and Doug Holder. Thursday July 29, 2010 7 to 9PM.

Bring your poems and be in your "write" mind. Doug Holder, founder of the literary press "Ibbetson Street," and Director of the Newton Free Library Poetry Series and Harris Gardner, founder of the poetry outreach organization "Tapestry of Voices," and Director of the Boston National Poetry Festival at the Boston Public Library,
will lead a poetry workshop. Bring in three poems to be worked on, and make 10 copies of each