Thursday, July 19, 2012



Oel Press
88 Dagmar Av.
Toronto, Ont. M4M 1W1 Canada

Review by: Samille Taylor

Showcasing a variety of poets such as Neil Wilgus, David Huebert, Blair Ewing, Chantelle Rideout and a few others, Jones Av. is a journal of poetry that takes simple concepts and allows readers to think more deeply about them. Being a first-time reader of Jones Av. I was disappointed that this would be the last issue created. As stated before, each poet has found his or her own way to crack the hard exterior and find the inner core.

The collection starts with a very simple poem, two stanzas consisting of only sixteen lines total, by Neil Wilgus.


A billion light-years


a poet writes

what I just wrote

and what I just wrote

may see print

in the nanosecond

of my life

and be forgot.

Whereas that alien poet

may be forgot

for nanocenturies,

then be rediscovered

and live forever

in the minds of those whom

we’ll never never know.

The concept of no thought being original was the first thing that came to mind while reading Wilgus’ words. This idea, represented in the first four lines of the poem, is one constantly touched upon in my literary studies at Endicott College. Therefore, the fact that Wilgus has found a creative way to reiterate this concept leaves me smiling. Wilgus’ word choice is original and caught my attention.The “alien poet” (line 10)  could be interpreted in various ways. It could represent the poets that disregarded the social norms and refused to conform to what was seen as popular for his or her time, and or it could symbolize the poets that some readers are unfamiliar with simply because of where the readers are coming from.- -be it locale, state of mind, or period of time. Neil Wilgus’ poem “Classics” has a very fitting title that brought writers such as Thoreau, Poe, Dickenson and Kafka to mind; alien poets who constantly thought outside of the box and refused to conform to societal norms.

As an English Literature major, when reading Blair Ewing’s poem “One Way” I was itching to deconstruct it. Here we have yet another poem that takes something so ordinary and allows it to sink in and consume one’s thought process.

One Way

Voices burning low like embers

below the dawn line, dream residue

ebbs & gives way to a fevered sea.

Buildings emerge from the mist

like concrete spears.

Still need wood

to shape those towers.

Still need money to name a crime.

Still need poets

to write the verses.

As we will

till the end of time.

Ewing uses powerful metaphors such as, “Voices burning low like embers” (line 1). Also: “Buildings emerge from the mist / like concrete spears” (lines 4-5). When really examining Ewing’s word choice the vocabulary packs a mean punch that leads readers to reevaluate their view on the way everyday society functions. By comparing the voices to embers Ewing gave the impression that the voices, that were strong at one time, are now weak and dying down. Also, by combining the words “concrete” and “spear,” two very dominant words, concrete being almost indestructible and spears being a form of weapon, Ewing creates an image of indestructibly dangerous buildings that could represent anything from industrialization, consumerism, the high dependency on technological advancement etc... Yet, no matter how fast paced and ever changing the commercial world may be, some things will always be the same, like the need of for a poet to write what the masses feel but can't express. This makes the last stanza extremely valid. This poem, like Neil Wilgus’, is short yet full of wisdom. Through Ewing’s work readers can understand that the world will continue to spin and nothing really changes, especially because no one is speaking up to make these changes.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Jones Av. XVI/4. As a young poet I was able to view different poetic styles and appreciate the poets  and how they crafted their work.. This chapbook is a quick and satisfying read that will keep you re-reading and finding new meanings with every turn of the page.

.....Samille Taylor is 21 years old. She is a budding literary scholar, and a senior at Endicott College.  She is also a poet, and of course, an English major. Her work both poetry and prose have appeared in the Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene, Lyrical Somerville, Endicott Review, and other publications, both online and print.

100,000 Poets For Change

                                                          ( Click on pic  to enlarge)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Somerville Writer Maria Judge Tells The Story of her Uncle: Legendary Jazz Drummer Jake Hanna


Somerville Writer Maria Judge Tells The Story of her Uncle:  Legendary Jazz Drummer Jake Hanna

By Doug Holder

  It was not an ordinary Saturday morning at the Bagel Bards meeting at the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square. A disgruntled artist sat down with us. The very one who is pursuing a lawsuit against one of our members who just happened to be present at the time. You could cut your bagel and the tension with a knife. So I was glad to go to a separate table with Maria Judge to discuss her new book.

  Judge is a member of Somerville’s Bagel Bards, lives in the Ball Square vicinity,  has worked as an administrator at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a few non-profits groups for decades. She is also a member of the Somerville Community Chorus. Judge said of Somerville: “ I love the diversity of Somerville—there are so many different types of people from all parts of the world here.”

  Judge has also written for The Somerville News, The Irish Reporter, MIT Tech Talk, and other publications. Judge told me that most of her writing is memoir, personal history and personal essay.

  In her new book: Jake Hanna: The Rhythm and Wit of a Swing Jazz Drummer she tells the story of her late uncle’s sixty year career as a  jazz drummer. Hanna’s story is told through 189 friends and fellow musicians, including Charlie Watts, Warren Vache, Marion McPartland, and others. Hanna was a drummer for the big bands of Harry James and Woody Herman. He also had a ten year gig with the Merv Griffin Show. When he went out on his own he worked with Bing Crosby, Oscar Peterson, and many other notables.

Hanna passed away in 2010. Judge recalled: “ I didn’t see him often over the years. I sort of reconnected the last 10 years of his life. Judge continued: “ It was the opening night of the Olympics when I got the word that he died. So I experienced the Olympics through a veil of tears. At his wake musicians got up and told wonderful stories about him. Guys like saxophonist Harry Allen, and trumpeter Randy Reinhart. They all fondly recalled things he said and did.

  Judge felt if she didn’t save these stories they would disappear. She decided to get them down on paper. What started out as a booklet became  a book. And she found a publisher: Meredith Music Productions.

 Judge told me that after working on the Merv Griffin show he free-lanced. He worked with Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, and others of this ilk…and toured the world.

 Evidently, according to Judge, Hanna was quite the wit. When Carl Reiner appeared on the Griffin show and his cohort Mel Brooks showed up late, Reiner told Brooks that he had a lot of nerve.  Brooks countered that he was at his doctor’s. “I got arrhythmia!,” he said. Hanna chimed in “Who could ask for anything more?,” quoting from the Gershwin tune titled:  I Got Rhythm.

Judge has a few book launches planned for the near future. One is at the Berklee College of Music, and the other is at Porter Square Books. She plans to promote the book and is not afraid to press the flesh.

Judge recalled that she wrote part of the book in the Diesel Café in Davis Square, and at True Grounds in Ball Square.  She usually went with a friend and like yours truly can create and be productive with all the white noise of a busy café.

 As Charlie Watts, the famous Rolling Stones drummer told Judge when she was researching the book: “ I loved Hanna since the first time I met him." I ask you “ Who could ask for anything more…”

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