Friday, March 16, 2012

Ibbetson Poet Linda Larson Nominated for St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award

                                                    ( Linda Larson)


For a number of years I have nominated poets and writers for The St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award. This award presented by the St. Botolph Club in the Back Bay of Boston is given to talented, emerging artists, or artists who have not received wide spread acclaim as of yet. This year I have nominated Ibbetson Street Press poet Linda Larson. We have published a fine collection of her poetry, and she has been in the magazine Ibbetson Street a number of times. She has survived many hardships and has become a superb poet...


The Emerging Artists Selection Process

Nominations are solicited in January from recognized professionals in the cultural community and St. Botolph Club Members, as well as from former Emerging Artists recipients in the fields of music, literature, and the visual arts. A letter of recommendation by the nominator is submitted on behalf of the candidate, who provides a writing sample, visual images, or performance recordings, along with a letter of intent and need. These materials are reviewed by three juries comprised of Board and Club members. From about 150 candidates, approximately fifteen are selected annually for individual awards of $2,500. These awards are announced in June


A Thumbnail Biography of Linda Larson

Linda Larson was born and educated in the Midwest and spent childhood vacations and more than a decade of her adult life in Madison County, Mississippi. While in Mississippi, she worked as a feature writer for The Capitol Reporter and The Jackson Advocate. Larson relocated to the Boston/ Cambridge area where she has lived and worked for the past twenty years.
For five years she served as editor of and contributor to Spare Change News, a homeless newspaper based in Cambridge.
Over the years Larson has struggled with mental illness, homelessness and alcohol addiction.
She has been recognized by both houses of the Massachusetts Legislature for her advocacy work on behalf of people with mental illnesses.
As Larson’s life has become more manageable, she has been able to realize her long-term goal in putting together a collection of poetry, Washing the Stones, published by Ibbetson Press, August, 2007. These poems go a long way towards recapturing her promise as a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars in the Seventies and as a teaching fellow in the creative writing doctoral program at the University of Southern Mississippi .

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Phantom Drift, A Journal of New Fabulism


Phantom Drift, A Journal of New Fabulism
Managing Editor:  David Memmott
Phantom Drift Limited
La Grande, Oregon

Reviewed by Dennis Daly

I admit that the first few pieces that I read in this curious journal I did not like very much. The introduction editorial intimated that many of the pieces therein “may well be indescribable,’ and given what I had just read that seemed about right. Then I read Stephen McNally’s poem, Rabbit. The poet relates in glorious detail how he befriended a long-eared fettuccini eating rabbit, who knew secrets about stone lions and spirits, who have lost their way. In fact it turns out that the very existence of the poet is dependent on the rabbit,

So he imagined a train, and a train pulled up before him.
Once inside, he imagined a railroad that shot into the fish eye of time, and
there was a railroad.
He imagined a journey so impossible it would lead him to a land of hard
bricks and gravity, and he found my world.
Then he imagined a man with blue rings of fire in his brain and he
found me.

Predictably enough, the rabbit caused the poet to drink heavily and indulge in sympathetic drugs in an effort to erase the rabbit’s hold on his fragile world.  It didn’t work but something else happened,

Sober, I was about to take up religion
when, one evening, his words (for reasons you wouldn’t understand)
seemed reasonable and clear.
Like a waterfall, it all crashed down on me, but lovingly.
He was my friend…

Okay I get it now. But how could I possibly review this journal, where, in the rabbit’s philosophy,

Art is a game of killers
and life is nothing but swamp gas, a flash in the summer sky.

In desperation and despair I went out for an evening walk.  I turned the corner at Nursery Street and there he stood, looking at me with not a little interest, somewhat larger than a normal rabbit and, yes!, he had long ears. We had a great conversation. I told him how I had stopped writing poetry thirty plus years ago—writers block big time, and how lately things seem to have turned around. He explained McNally’s next poem called Moon to me. The poem begins with a memorable image of a murderer at the door in a snow storm,

The murderer appeared at my doorstep in the night and he was dazzling,
his eyes two vaults guarded by ageless, chanting priests.
As I stared at him the snow hurried closer to touch his coat
and the moon covered us with his red hands.

Soon lighting struck from some past age and the earth glowed because the dead were building fires. It all made absolute sense since

…the snow hanging on his black coat
Formed the star chart for a galaxy beyond our reach.

As everyone should know, multiple universes can do that. Next I read a review of McNally’s Child of Amber, which won a well-deserved prize in 1992, by Matt Schumacher. It turns out that this was McNally’s only collection of poetry and Schumacher was stunned by its quality. The poet had a gentleness with animals that was endearing. His poems are in fact a refuge for animals. Schumacher notes that McNally passed away in 1998. But he lies. McNally still lives. I’ve seen him and talked with him.
About this time I closed the journal for a moment to look again at the cover. The painting by Jessica Plattner is entitled St. Christopher Carrying His Child-Self Across the River. It shows a monkish St. Christopher carrying his miniature across a waist-deep river. Nature appears well kept and stylized. The miniature Christopher has a cloud halo. The Roman Catholic Church now denies that St. Christopher ever existed. They are pulling wool over our eyes. I have his medal in my car and it keeps me safe. Many of the other plates included like number 7, The Encounter, are both creepy and reassuring. I find that strange.
In Joshua McKinney’s short fictional piece, Couch, a man with his beer falls asleep and ends up inside his favorite couch where he suffers indignity after indignity. Two coins fall on his eyes. Is this a good thing? I think so, but death is near as his kids use the couch as a trampoline. Pay no attention to the detective, who shows up to investigate and whispers to the unfortunate man’s wife into the wee hours. I’m sure it must be innocent fun.
Lichfield by Wade German waxes nostalgically about a school bus stop where earthy children get on the bus for a ride down the forever highway. They are described thusly,

They all look like birds in antiquated clothes;
smelled of mold and fresh-turned earth.
They always took the back seats, sat there mute.
We never spoke to them, didn’t like their town…

A bit like The Polar Express, only scarier. Here they are swallowed up by the cloud of our unknowing. And yes they need our prayers, like the fourteenth century mystical poem/prayer that it references.
Anita Sullivan’s poem, When the Solstice Is Late, is a timeless wonderful piece. In the window

An ancient dowager sits up there sipping tea
and peering with rheumy eyes into the mote-less afternoon.

She is waiting for the impossible: a horse sent to fetch the sun. The horse is not up to it and it ends badly.
The character Blau can’t win for nothing in the frustrating short story called The Jar by Brian Evenson. The prisoner does not have any hands and cannot retrieve his hands without his correct number. The guard is a son- of-a-bitch and there lies the problem. The guard at least has the decency to take him to the room where the pairs of hands are kept. This is a sad story so I will end the review.  There is no point in perpetuating unhappiness.
As you may have guessed, the original reviewer, Dennis, is no longer here. I don’t need him anymore. As of now, he never existed.  I am Bernard and I am a rabbit with long ears.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Somerville Singer/Songwriter Lisa Doyle Puts on a ‘Lion Face’ for children.

Somerville Singer/Songwriter Lisa Doyle Puts on a ‘Lion Face’ for children.
By Doug Holder

  One Saturday morning in March Lisa Doyle negotiated the riotous terrain of the Bagel Bards meeting at the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square to meet with me for an interview. Doyle, a longtime Somerville resident, has created along with her sister Lisa and her brother Mark a sophisticated collection of songs for children titled “Lion Face Song.”

  Doyle, lives in the Beacon St., Shaw’s Market section of our city, and counts the CafĂ© Rustica as one of her favorite haunts. Like many a Somerville artist she loves the city’s energy, and all it has to offer.

  Doyle told me that her sister Amy Doyle is a writer, former teacher and mother of three, and her brother Mark Doyle is a renowned producer and arranger who has over 65 albums to his credit and has worked with the likes of Hall and Oates, Leo Sayer, Judy Collins, and Meat Loaf, to name a few. Although Mark Doyle lives in Syracuse, New York he is in close contact with the sisters. This brother and sister trio formed the studio group 3D that performed and wrote the songs in this collection.

  According to their website the “…lively multi-cultural music in this collection invites listeners to participate and move to a variety of rhythms, including: reggae, salsa and merengue.” Doyle told me: “These songs are perfect for early childhood music and movement activities.”

   Doyle said that the cd includes lesson plans for kids and uses adaptive yoga techniques to spike the kids’ imagination, and keep them centered. The music and songs teaches kids about ways to release tension. One song “Shake” introduces children to the ancient Chinese Qigong method of relieving tension and stress. The cd also teaches respect for the environment, one’s elders and other cultures.

  And although this might sound corny in these cynical times, Doyle said that the cd teaches kindness, rather than focusing on negative activities like bullying, Well—a little kindness goes a long way as I hope “Lion Face” does!

*** For more information contact Lisa Doyle  http:///

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Broken Borders Poems by John L. Holgerson

Broken Borders Poems

John L. Holgerson

Wasteland Press


Review by Rene Schwiesow

“Broken Borders Poems” is internationally inspired. The poems included were written in the United States, London, Athens, and on the Greek Islands of Hydra and Rhodes. Some of them, Holgerson says, were “born in one country, grew up in a second and found maturity in a third.”

In the opening poem Holgerson tells his reader

. . .you will dance.

Across the room, in the streets,

you glide. An escaped kite

rising on crescendo currents,

tugging, slave to string of song.

Poetry does allow us to soar like a kite, on the air flow on the words and images that carry us high above the landscape. We rise on that crescendo with the beauty, dip with the melancholy and find freedom in the expansion of metaphor. We are, however, always tethered to the reality that sometimes poetry is just not so pretty. Holgerson gives fair warning to the unwary pedestrian who may be observed without their knowledge:

Do not go so unarmed

among the smiling hunters

Do not listen

to the clever lures

whispered from behind. . .

Do not trust us

to repair your heart

We will shackle it

with chains of verse

Holgerson writes about relationship, with women, with his children, and with a young man on death row in “To a Dying Man on his Birthday,” where he questions the death penalty.

A hell of a system, isn’t it?

You kill. We kill.

And the only one

who really benefits

is the undertaker.

Talk about grounding us in reality. Holgerson swings from the electric chair to the glories of war. Yes you should be reading glories as sarcasm. How glorious is war?



blood-smeared windows

that have looked out upon

every kind of cruelty and death





hunched over

bodies of

American men and boys

Poetry will bring you to contemplation; John Holgerson’s words certainly offer us much to consider, often through shudders. He ends the book with the title poem, “Broken Borders,” which is a villanelle. It is not often that we are treated to form poetry in a chapbook. I will leave you with the final couplet:

I’ve broken all the borders hindering my advance

Listening to the music, relearning how to dance.


Rene Schwiesow is co-host of the wildly popular South Shore Venue, Poetry: The Art of Words. She writes a monthly arts column for The Old Colony Memorial in Plymouth, MA and earns her living working with autistic children and running a private hypnosis/wellness practice