Friday, December 02, 2011

The Measure of Small Gratitudes by Ann Menebroker

The Measure of Small Gratitudes
ann Menebroker
Kamini Press 2011
ISBN 978-91-977437-7-8

"i'm old style, honey
wax paper wrapped sandwiches
and odd smelling lunch boxes
with handles, a thermos
with o.j. and gin, a banged-up
old portable radio once belonging
to an aunt of mine, playing songs
from the thirties and me, lighting
a cigarette from the matchbox
my mom got from "windows on the world"
when she flew to new york, alone
telling her children we didn't spend
much time with her, had dinner
at the world trade center and got
a little drunk at age seventy-nine."

Menebroker takes the small experiences that life offer so freely
and without any cost, she makes a poem that resonates universally:

"illness is such a distraction, so he puts
headphones on and listens to music
which is also a way to get to go other places.
his dentist has offered it as well as his
surgeon. when he takes the one he loves
into his arms there is music, but also
through its osmosis, a giving back
of the delectable and perceived beat
and the measure of small gratitudes."

Kamini Press has given us the reader another small gem, chapbook full of insight and clarity. The book will make a cherished gift for the poet lover.

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

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Presa 14: Tribute to Hugh Fox

Presa 14
Tribute to Hugh Fox
Presa :S: Press
2011 $8.50

Thirty three writers have given their tribute to the poet/writer Huge Fox. The last verse
of John Marvin's poem, sums it up nicely:

"then splashing in a quiet pool
singing soft songs of silence
treading water toward a center
smooth on its surface
then drifting in a current
growing swifter with depth
grasing waist and ankles
so gentle so caressing
so silent and so swelling
so much swifter and so still
then swifter still"

Hugh Fox was the king of small press and he became known to many of us through Doug Holder
who championed Hugh through out many years of correspondance and friendship. Many of
the writer knew Hugh for many years and some came to know him through his writing and
knew him for a short time. All the writers respect him with a genuine understanding:

"can't hear myself think
over the scream
of your cinnamon thighs

as if
a plugged-in appliance were tossed in a bathtub
between us

we teach each other
how to be born
without parents

taught mine
how to rhyme

first night in our house together
no furniture
every night of our lives

when you are away from me
i am

Mike Spikes

In the rememberance, Ellaraine Lockie, relates, "a week with Hugh Fox..I didn't know which gender
would arrive at the train station." This is a must read if you want an insight into the multi-faceted man:

"Foxy said his preoccupation now that he's in his seventies
is "death and how to get the maximum out of the little time we have
above ground." I can attest that he lived this philosophy for the
week we were together. Every following day resembled the first one
in its serendipitous and often outrageous course."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ibbetson St Press Sponsors: Jazz at the JCC: Robert Pinsky, Stan Strickland, John Lockwood, Rakalam Bob Moses...

(Stan Strickland)

(Robert Pinsky)

I have been on the Arts/Idea faculty at the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston for several years-and I was asked to sponsor Jazz and Poetry at the JCC--This is a great event that combines the music of poetry with the music of Jazz...hope you will attend.--Doug Holder/Ibbetson Street Press


NEWTON, MA – Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky combines his interest in jazz and poetry in a music-inflected reading with renowned jazz musicians Stan Strickland (saxophone), John Lockwood (bass) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums) on Saturday, December 10, at 8pm, at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center in Newton.

Pinsky, a professor of creative writing at Boston University and author of 19 books, is known for his ability to bring poetry to life. Strickland, a singer, saxophonist, flutist and actor, has performed throughout the world and has opened for jazz greats Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins. John Lockwood has performed with jazz musicians Pharoah Sanders, Joe Pass, and Gary Burton. Rakalam Bob Moses is an American jazz drummer who has performed with Larry Coryell, Pat Metheny and Jack DeJohnette.

The event is part of the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston Ryna Greenbaum JCC Center for the Arts. Cost is $24. Students and seniors: $20. For tickets, contact 617-965-5226, or visit Co-sponsored by Boston Jewish Music Festival, Ibbetson Street Press of Somerville and QuickMuse.

Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston
333 Nahanton Street · Newton, MA 02459 · 617-558-6522

CONTACT: Larry Keller

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hanging Loose 99 // Editors: Robert Hershon, Dick Lourie, Mark Pawlak

Hanging Loose 99

Editors: Robert Hershon, Dick Lourie, Mark Pawlak,

Hanging Loose Press

ISSN: 0440-2316


Review by Dennis Daly

Cityscapes as soaring, airy and luscious as any watercolor abstracts I’ve ever seen greet you and draw you into the new issue of Hanging Loose. The watercolors are entitled, “Downtown Windows: Ten Watercolors” and include both the front and back covers in their number. The back cover I especially like because the geometry builds a mirror image causing you to bounce off of it and return to the proper, that is, frontal entrance of this literary magazine. Pretty neat.

As if to counteract the lightness of the art work, the written pieces sit like heavy furniture. Sherman Alexie starts things off with a couple of sonnet-like prose poems on addiction, dating between whites and Indians, and mental illness. Both poems are smart and funny. His third poem, The Naming Ceremony recites a litany of fantasized Indian names, which pretty much describes a hurting and damaged psyche. It’s musical and surprising and continues for five full pages like this,

My Indian name is Fish Bone Choke,

So that means my spirit animal is

Dr. Henry Heimlich.

My Indian name is Bear Hug.

My Indian name is Magic Trick.

My Indian name is Navajo Rug,

Though I’m not Navajo.

And like this,

My Indian name is Doesn’t Sing.

My Indian name is Doesn’t Dance.

My Indian name is Pongs But Won’t Ping.

My Indian name is Hate At First Glance,

Which seems like a cynical name,

I know, but damn, I’m an Indian.

William Corbett, a writer based in Boston Massachusetts, writes a series of short poems called,” Elegies for Michael Gizzi.” He lightens things a bit when he describes a memorial reading for Gizzi this way,

One of our tribe

Will read too long

Check the time

And continue on.

If this doesn’t happen

The night will be unmemorable

Like a wedding absent the drunk

Dentist on all fours barking.

I found Glen Freeman’s poem, “The Atheist Goes Into Surgery,” riveting. Little observations in the operating room take the place of a believer’s prayers; or rather they become the prayers,

His gaze fixed above him, circumscribed

By robotic lights, the sterile

White ceilings & whispers

Of which way he will be turned

When asleep, the checks & hushed

Double checks in single syllables…

Joan Larkin’s poem, “Trough” also grips you by the throat with a portrayal of a poet buried with his poems and dearly- bought pencil in a mass grave. The metaphor of the fusion of bodies with poems is both troubling and effective,

Bitter red and copper

Seep into us

And into us the small

Notebook in his coat

This issue includes quite a few prose pieces by Steven Schrader—all well done. My favorite is “Timex,” which deals with a father- son relationship and a cheap watch. The watch, which replaces a much more expensive timepiece, seems to absorb emotion in an almost magical way and hold onto it. The way the author deals with this complicated relationship during the extreme circumstances of his father’s illness and death is both affecting and revealing. He loses himself in a methodical attention to seemingly unimportant facts to submerge his feelings. For instance, the author notes, “He picked up my watch once to check the time.”

Without question the centerpiece of the issue is a short story by Wang Ping entitled, “Kelisu Diner,” which is set in Lhasa, Tibet. The narrator finds this off-the-beaten- path diner, which serves tea and hot buns. This is the type of place travelers to unusual destinations come across frequently. Each time she leaves the diner, she finds herself drawn back. Mega-issues of social and cultural consequence are faced here, issues that do not lead to easily accessible answers. There is also a wonderful scene that takes place inside the Jokhang Monestery with a monk, who acts as the bouncer. It’s classic. The other details of this story are so right on that you can almost taste the yak butter tea.

The emotional high point of this well balanced issue is a poem by Paul Violi, who has since died, called, “Now I’ll Never Be Able To Finish That Poem to Bob.” The poem is first rate and very clever to boot. In it the poet, ending in a serious tone, praises the editor of Hanging Loose, Bob Hershon, as “a wise man.” From what I can see he may have been on to something.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Greg Delanty: THE NEW CITIZEN ARMY (9”x55/8” =230mm x 143mm, 68pp, #249/300,

Combat Paper Press, Burlington VT USA, 2010, USD$18)

It’s not often that a book’s cover is as or even more interesting than its contents.

This small-press chapbook, I tell my longtime friend & publisher Marshall Brooks

in West Dover VT who sent it to me, shows that “The pkg. is the msg,” McLuhanly,

you don’t really even need to read the book to get the msg. because its cover more

than just appears to replicate a partisan manual.

Its thick grey covers, made from cloth ground up & laid as paper, were “produced

by John La Falce, Drew Matott, Pam DeLuco, John Turner, and Jerry Kovis

using military uniforms. These uniforms carry a lineage of over one hundred

military service members serving from WWII to the current and ongoing conflicts.

The binding was hand-sewn with linen thread. The covers were printed letterpress

at the San Francisco Center for the Book. The cover production and binding were

performed at the Green Door Studio in Burlington VT, where Combat Press resides.”

(from the Colophon, p 68 unnumbered)

You need to know this much to know what this small-press is capable of.

The book’s contents are by an Irish poet you may never have heard of

But first, here’s his 19-line sig. poem:

The New Citizen Army

Today, as every day, you rise up, don your suit

denims, dress, whatever fatigues

Society rigs you out in. You’ll be one among

minions under orders.

You’ll not think of it like this, you’ll not

think once. You will breakfast,

hardly aware that long ago you were drafted,

a soldier in the New Citizen Army,

This is as it should be; all regulars must be

mindless in the execution of duty,

you’ll drive to work, the office, the hospital,

the university -- wherever you make your living.

All day you will make your dying, a good taxpayer.

After you arrive home, you settle back

On the couch, surf the news, the bodies laid out in neat rows.

Men, women, children, parents weeping,

The daily massacre. You have obeyed the command.

You think nothing of it. You have played your part.

You are the good citizen. Sit back. Relax.

Audenish, but moreso; TV-era, Bosnian War, current Afghanistan War. THE NEW CITIZEN ARMY also includes some poems set in classical Greece:


The eight winds blow.

an earthquake shakes Mount Olympus: cholera

ravages the states, drought everywhere, the mysterious

death of bees throughout the country,

the flowers and crops die, the daily

slaughtering of innocents,

and all we do is debate,

in the assembly, cast ostraka – shards of democracy –

regarding our ships, the color of their sails.

Now for the author:

[From Wikipedia]: Delanty was born in Cork, Eire, in 1958, and is generally placed in the Irish tradition. He now lives for most of the year in America. He became an American citizen in 1994, retaining his Irish citizenship. Irish novelist Colum McCann, who has also resettled in America, has described Delanty as the poet laureate of the contemporary Irish-in-America: “Delanty has catalogued an entire generation and its relationship to exile. He is the laureate of those who have gone.” (think of the historic shule agrah, the pre-Eire 'wild swans' of yore.)

Nowadays, they’re what Boston MA calls “The New Irish” Their exile is quasi-voluntary. Some apply for and win green cards in the citizenship lottery, so you can safely assume they left in search of work, not liberty (like the 'wild swans' did.) As a writer-in-residence at St . Michael’s College in Winooski VT, Delanty teaches poetry workshops; Irish Literature; poetry; Introduction to Literary Studies: Modern American Poetry. He’s current President of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers.

~ Bill Costley

Valley Village Bldg.4 apt.4-D
390 N. Winchester Blvd.
Santa Clara CA 95050-6541
(408) 247-1943

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Somerville Poet/Philosopher Jody Azzouni: A Poet who works within his limitations.

Somerville Poet/Philosopher Jody Azzouni: A Poet who works within his limitations.

By Doug Holder

Jody Azzouni is a poet who works within his own limitations. This accomplished bard and Philosophy Professor at Tufts University believes we can't see these limits because of our own "blind spots." And like many writers, Azzouni does quite well within the confines of his own limits.

Azzouni has been writing since he was twelve: Poetry, Fiction, Philosophy. He's been a professor in the philosophy department at Tufts University since 1986, and lives in Somerville. His most recent book of poetry is "Hereafter Landscapes," published with the Poet's Press. I talked with him on my Somerville Community Access TV Show: " Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer."

Doug Holder: You describe yourself as a "New Yorker." Define that.

Jody Azzouni: The first thing I would say about it is that involves a lot of caffeine. There is a high speed element to being a New Yorker. You move more quickly--you react quickly--even if you don't show it. So I see that as an essential element of my personality. That's a more positive thing than saying I have a Attention Deficit Disorder.

DH: In your view, according to one of your philosophy books: Talking About Nothing: Numbers, hallucinations and fictions much that we talk about in poetry and fiction as well as mathematics and science doesn't exist in any sense at all. Explain.

JA: The easiest examples are fictional characters. They don't exist. I also make strange claims. As a philosopher I believe there are no mathematical objects. Yet mathematics is indispensable to the sciences. It shows up everywhere. And yet I claim none of those mathematical terms refer to anything. So in many cases we use things that are not real, to get at things that are real in an indirect way. It is hard too do it directly. Either because what we are trying to get to is too complicated or because we don't know enough about it. Like when we talk about dreams--we are not talking about real events; we are actually talking about certain psychological events or neurological events. We are talking about it in a way we have access to it.

DH: You teach Philosophy at Tufts University, and you are a published poet. Does your academic calling weave into your poetry?

JA: Not really. At least not that I am aware of. It is one person, me, who is writing the short stories, another person who is writing the poetry and another the philosophy. There must be some continuity but I am not aware of it. When I sit down to write a poem I am not thinking about philosophy--although philosophical ideas come up.

DH: Is poetry more intuitive than philosophy?

JA: Officially speaking yes. But the way I do it-- no. Instinct shows up in both fields for me. Craft and the same mixture of conscious and unconscious elements appear.

DH: You say you don't incorporate your past in your poetry. How can you avoid this?

JA: In some sense I am incorporating my memories. What I am not doing is something largely autobiographical. I don't tell stories or borrow characters from my past, etc... I make up a lot of stuff. I am more like a dramatic poet who is masquerading as a Confessional poet. A lot of my poems that I write are in the first person. I am a Dramatic Confessional poet I suppose. I act. I like to do this because I really like to get into different sensibilities.

DH: You say we all work within our limitations. What are yours?

JA: I am the wrong person to ask. I work within them so I really can't see them. We all have blind spots. Like in John Cheever's short stories, I noticed that nobody seems to be friends-no discussion of friends. This is a dimension that does not seem to be part of his work. Whether Cheever knew this or not I have no idea. But with most writers--they can't say which element is missing. Sometime this limitation can make the work unusual. I feel Kafka's writing has many limitations--but that is what makes it unusual.


The small dark, cozy
like holding hands
that block the light between them.
Surprisingly, this is a good thing.
We pond together; skinny-dip beneath the sheets.
Only the eyes, their pupils expanding like hopes,
draw light and offer it pooled and sweetened,
the dim dispersed by twinned glows.

--Jody Azzouni