Saturday, November 05, 2011



“Ibbetson Street” 2011

(Nominators: Kim Triedman, Robert K. Johnson and Harris Gardner)

“Town Park, Late Autumn”- Author: Ted Kooser
“Creation” - Author: Bonny Barry Sanders

"Amish Country" - Author: Joyce Wilson
"New Hire Orientation" – Author: Patricia L. Hamilton

"From Stars" – Author:- Donna Johnson
"The Impressionists Indoors”-Author: Jennifer Barber

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Gifts of Nature, Gifts of Grace. . . Linda Thayer

Gifts of Nature, Gifts of Grace. . .
Linda Thayer
Cat’s Paw Press

Review by Rene Schwiesow

If you lived anywhere near Boston during 2004 you could not miss the fairy tale season of the Red Sox. Thayer’s section of “Gifts of Nature, Gifts of Grace. . .” entitled “real faith,” is dedicated to the Red Sox and their miraculous season. A season that ended with their winning the World Series, their first World Series Title in 86 years.

last night i laughed
today i cried
a gray bearded man
held a young boy’s hand
their bright red B’s
on caps of blue
a pledge, a promise
now and forever
that sometimes dreams come true
last night i laughed
today i cried

Thayer then swings into a rendition of “psalm 2004”

Schilling is my pitcher
I shall not want
he leads us into deep innings
in pennant races
for his team’s sake

she ends with a chant, that despite the Sox record this year, lives in the heart of every die-hard Red Sox fan:

i will dwell in Red Sox Nation forever

Of course the “real faith” works comprise only a small portion of the book, but I could not help but to allow readers the opportunity to relive that glorious 2004 season!

The section that precedes Thayer’s vocalization of “real faith” Red Sox allegiance is entitled simply “faith.” As a fan of coffee, I enjoyed the title poem of the section:

I’ve tasted my share
of this bitter old coffee
right from the bottom of the pot

but I’ve always believed
there’s sugar somewhere. . .

Me too!

Other notable works include a poem entitled “the conversation” that takes place between two people on a Sunday morning where “church” was found in the strangest place and a moving piece about a man and his dog in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, entitled “Lou’siana man, on not leaving his dog behind.”

From questioning the right of weeds, to nurturing relationship, to waving Red Sox banners, Thayer’s book offers us food for thought on finding those gifts of grace in the most unlikely places. Linda Thayer can be reached at

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Review of UNEXPECTED SHINY THINGS, poems by Bruce Dethlefsen

UNEXPECTED SHINY THINGS, poems by Bruce Dethlefsen, Cowfeather Press, PO Box 620216, Middleton, WI 53562,, , 103 pages, $16, 2011

Review by Barbara Bialick, author of TIME LEAVES

A new book by the Poet Laureate of Wisconsin for 2011/2012 speaks with shininess of the plain-spoken yet profound things in life.

You can sense the influence of midwestern scenery in such poems as “Cross My Heart”: “I hope to die by water/not actually at the hands of water/but next to water…/ferns dripping with golden coffee sunlight/that would be fine/really that would be just fine”.

Or in the rhythmic poem “Hummingbirds”: “Hummingbirds know that we are dead/we mostly think the trees are dead/the trees think the water’s dead/…/the rocks think the mountains and the world are dead/the world thinks the universe is dead/the universe thinks god is dead/and god who knows what god thinks…”

The images of family in his work show up in such poems as “Superglue”: “Sometimes I superglue my catcher’s mitt/to my left hand two hours before sunset/and superglue my dad across the street/who smells like oiled leather and cigars/under a superglued sun in the kansas city sky…”

But family can also have tragedy. One of his sons died in 2010 in a moped accident. That feeling is reflected in “A Cell Phone Rings during Matthew Dickman’s Reading”:
“please answer that/no I’m serious/it may be the call/you’ve always waited for/the one that will/change your life forever…”

Bruce Dethlefsen was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1948 and moved to Wisconsin in 1966. He has written two previous chapbooks, A DECENT REED and SOMETHING NEAR THE DANCE FLOOR. His first full-length book was BREATHER (Fireweed Press 2009). It received an Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Some of his poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s THE WRITER’S ALMANAC and YOUR DAILY POEM. A retired educator and public library director, he also performs with Bill Orth as OBVIOUS DOG on Cathryn Cofell’s CD LIP. Dethlefsen lives with his partner of twenty years, Sue Rose Allen in Westfield, Wisconsin

Madness at the Grolier: In spite of Trials and Travails Poetry Prevails.

Madness at the Grolier
Bloc 11
11 Bow St. Union Square, Somerville.
Nov. 6, 2011

Madness at the Grolier: In spite of Trials and Travails Poetry Prevails.

By Doug Holder

Ifeanyi Menkiti, Lo Galluccio, Paul Steven Stone, Alice Weiss and I have organized the literary event “Madness at the Grolier” for a number of reasons. We want to inaugurate a new Grolier Poetry Book Shop poetry room in Somerville, Mass.; we want to celebrate poets Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and John Berryman, who were all affected by mental illness, and in spite of this terrible affliction created groundbreaking art. We also want to raise funds for an endangered species, this all- poetry bookstore located in Harvard Square.

During the program we will have dramatic presentations, film clips, sound recordings of Sexton singing with her folk/rock band, as well as Allen Ginsberg reading “ Howl”, confidantes of Sexton, Plath and Lowell talking about their experience with these poets, poetry put to original music, as well as readings from other well-know local poets and writers.

I have worked at McLean Hospital for close to 30 years, and for much of that time I have run poetry workshops in one form or the other. Many of the poets presented during the program were once hospitalized at McLean—so I am well-aware of the legacy. I am also well- aware of the tragedy of mental illness, and the great creativity that can be associated with it.

Readers and Performers:

Kathleen Spivack-- Condfidane to Lowell

Lo Galluccio- Poet, Vocalist, Performer

Lois Ames-- Wrote introduction to " Bell Jar."

Bob Clawson- Band manager of Sexton's " Anne Sexton and her Kind."

Paul Steven Stone- Novelist, co-founder of Madness at the Grolier.

Michael Mack-Performance Artist

Doug Holder-- Author of "From the Back Bay to the Back Ward" and poetry workshop leader at McLean Hospital.

Alice Weiss- Poet, Civil Rights Activist.

A Chinaman's Chance: New and Selected Poems 1960-2010 by Alex Kuo

A Chinaman's Chance
New and Selected Poems 1960-2010
Alex Kuo
Wordcraft of Oregon Publisher
ISBN 978-1-877655-71-5
$15.00 2011

"It was another Asian body
Its brains blown out by necessity
Splattered on TV's evening news
Almost twenty years ago

We wondered then if color returned
To his face under the moon
And if his firebombed village
Had a prayer to move next to

Never again such nights
We said that night

We were determined
To make the line shorter
But colonel after colonel
Thirteen knots around our neck
Reach out to Central America now

Again brown bodies tagged and tallied by history
While we think "Never again!"
In the neighboring sunlight startled..."

A Chinaman's chance, is a timely look back and forward at human
nature and the nature of mass fear, fear as applied to 'others.' Kuo
shows the greed that hides in men's heads, somewhere it grasps and
causes expected destructions, again. Sherman Alexie says, "His (Kuo)
vision is sure and uncompromising." This collection starts with
a poem named, "gathering children" and the book ends with "in the
vicinity of spring" and all the actions taken or not taken, are in the

"It begins
with parchment of aspen
and it is grief
drifting in early arrival.

It is more than think:
a deer skull a rabbit's
winter coat the thicket
of spruce cones a boar's
tooth the lynx's skulking
and the suffering quail
the sun's escarpment
and the mind's winter coping
the summer tick.

Do not believe it is Less
than late.

And it ends
with the idea of pain
slicing up the deep cold
without eyes.

Look at it
look at it falling
from the alphabet."

Alex Kuo has given us, the reader, a book we can
be with for many years, and that is the kind of
book that feeds my mind and touches my spiritual life.
this book deserves a Pulitzer Prize:

"I do not remember its name
But when I think of what little
It takes to remember that old lie

Because of the way it bent
Its shadows deeper over dust
The perpetual scaffolding of wishes..."

irene koronas
poetry editor:
Wilderness House Literary Review
Ibbetson Street Press

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Poems for Somerville: Akshay Ahuja brings poetry to the people.

By Doug Holder

It was an odd day at the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square. An October snowstorm was at the cusp of the Boston Area, and for several days before the weather was decidedly winter-like, even before the ghouls of Halloween pounded the mean streets. On this morning I met Somerville writer Akshay Ahuja, to talk about a new literary project he is engaged in.

Ahuja is a new arrival to our burg, and he and his wife put down roots in the Powder House Square section of our city. Ahuja has a varied background. He has an MFA from Emerson College in Boston; he used to work at the prestigious publishing house Houghton Mifflin, and he is currently the production manager for the much lauded literary magazine PLOUGHSHARES based at Emerson College and founded by DeWitt Henry, who I interviewed recently.

Ahuja says he loves Somerville—its diverse community, its writers, the community gardens, and the writing group he is part of.

Ahuja landed an artist fellowship from the Somerville Arts Council for a project he is about to birth in the Paris of New England. It is a chapbook of poetry titled POEMS FOR SOMERVILLE. He conceived it as a free anthology of poetry to read, contribute to and pass on. It includes poems from the public domain as to avoid permission issues, etc…. The list of poets is impressive, including: Sara Teasdale, John Keats, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and A.E. Houseman— to name a few. Included in this booklet are empty pages in which a reader could fill in with their own favorite words, or another writer’s.

Ahuja plans to distribute the free books throughout the city, and hopes they will form a literary virus of sorts—spreading from one reader to another.

Ahuja, early on, was not a lover of poetry. He said, “In school we were taught meter, rhyme—all the mechanical aspects. There was no real discussion of imagery and symbolism.” As he got older Ahuja started reading poetry on his own, and started enjoying it. He made friends little collections of poetry that he copied into school boy composition books.

Ahuja has a populist bent. When he lived in the Washington, D.C. area he noticed the Washington Post had a poetry corner—much like, well… the LYRICAL SOMERVILLE. They used to feature work by the then current Poet Laureate and other folks. He took from this the need to bring poetry to the people.

Ahuja is a man who likes to get the word out—so what followed was this innovative project. His press run is small, but he hopes the message about poetry and the power of the written word will be a large one indeed.

To contact: