Friday, August 31, 2012

Literary /Musical Reception for Elizabeth Warren-- Sept 13, 2012-- Union Square, Somerville

                                       ELIZABETH WARREN FOR SENATE.

Elizabeth Searle and Steve Almond

 Invite You to a Literary and Musical Reception
In Support Of
Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts Senate
Ganesh Sitaraman
Policy Director for Elizabeth for MA

With readings by local authors
Andre Dubus III, Anita Shreve, Tom Perrotta,
Mameve Medwed, Anita Diamant,
Lise Haines, Suzanne Strempek Shea
and more

And a musical performance by
Amy Correia

Thursday, September 13, 2012

VIP Pre-Reception with Authors: 7:00PM
General Reception: 7:30PM

70 Union Square
Somerville, MA 02143

VIP Pre-Reception: $250 (Give or Raise) Friend: $100
Supporter: $50 General Reception Guest: $25

Please RSVP to Katherine O’Koniewski at  
or by phone at 617-591-2816 or online:

Contributions or gifts to Elizabeth for MA are not tax

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Writer Rachael Popek takes the Write Step with 100,000 Poets for Change

Writer  Popek Rachael takes the Write Step with 100,000 Poets for Change

By Doug Holder
 Rachael Popek is the producer for R Jeffreys’ popular radio show the Write Step and is the Executive Coordinator, (working alongside Program Coordinator and Co-Chair R Jeffreys , and Coordinating Liaison and Co-Chair Kathleen Bitetti) for the 100,000 Poets for Change event at the Boston Public Library, Copley Branch, Sept 29 at 1PM to 3PM. According to Popek’s website the event will be”…the largest, single poetry reading in the history of the world. This event will also be archived, recorded and stored at Stanford University in California, and simulcast throughout the globe that day.”

  Popek is also a Master Pastry Chef working for MultiGrains Bakery as an R&D specialist and Quality Director. I talked with Popek on my Somerville Community Access TV show Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.

Doug Holder: You are intimately involved in the 100,000 Poets for Change event next month at the Boston Public Library in September. You are not a poet…how and why did you get involved?

Rachel Popek: I am not a poet. My good friend R. Jefferys is the poet; I produce his radio show The Write Step on Blogtalk Radio. So when he decided to organize the 100,000 Poets for Change event, I went along with it. And I have become absolutely enamored with it. It is amazing to me that something that is usually considered as benign as poetry can be used in an activist manner. Over the centuries people believed poetry was quiet, benign, artistic and eccentric. I’m learning about literary history. And I have found out to my surprise that poetry has been one of the motivating factors in our history.

DH: Any favorite poets?

RP: When I was a young girl it was Robert Frost. I love Frost, and I loved the stories he told through his poetry. My parents used to read Robert Frost to me. Later poetry had gone by the wayside in my life but now I have come back to it.

DH: Can you tell me about the 100,000 Poets for Change event that you are involved with?

RP: On Sept. 29, 2012 there will be over 600 events and readings across the country that will be broadcast over the internet. The events will be taking place at many times throughout the day. It’s going to be bigger than last year’s event. The reading in Boston will be in the mezzanine of the Boston Public Library from 1PM to 3PM—and will be open to the public.  Featured poets will be R Jeffreys, January O’Neil, Charles Coe, Harris Gardner, Doug Holder, Sam Cornish and Philip Robinson.

DH: You are the producer of the popular Blogtalk radio show the Write Step hosted by R Jeffreys. Tell me about the show and your duties.

RP: The show presents interviews with poets, artists, writers, and musicians. We discuss what it takes to write what they write. We cover their upcoming books, albums, etc… We explore their own personal process through their creative work. We ask questions like:  What does it take for you to create?

DH: How do you find your guests?

RP:  R Jeffreys has an intricate network of friends. Some people come to us. Others we contact when we hear a new book is coming out.

DH: You are a Master Pastry Chef. That is very creative. How did you get involved with this?

RP: It started when someone dared me. Originally I was doing cooking at home. So someone said I should take the course and see if I could promote myself. My father who was a salesman, and traveled the world, told me he had a friend in France who would take me on as an apprentice. My two kids went with me. It was a great experience. I was in Paris every weekend. I was told to stay in France because America was not a good place for a pastry chef, especially for a woman.  I didn’t know how right this was. When I came back I couldn’t get a job because I didn’t have experience—it was a man-driven business.

DH: Can you make parallels between being a chef, and writing?

RP: Both start out with a summation. Writing consists of these questions: what is the story  going to be about?—how am I am I going to break the story down?—what are the main characters, etc.?…  You do the same thing when you build a cake—when you are going to build a reputation. You go from scratch. The story and the cake have a foundation layer—so you are writing a cake in a sense.

DH:  You are working on a memoir Living Beyond Cancer: Not Just Surviving. Tell us about this.

RP: In Feb. 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer. I am a middle-aged, single mom-who without work would not have health insurance, and without insurance there would be no treatment. I wrote this book which is essentially about compartmentalization. I took out the unnecessary from my life so not only could I survive physically and financially, but I could live. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed with debt. I worked throughout my treatment. I never missed a scheduled day of work. I was able to physically and mentally compartmentalize.

….. For the 100,000 Poets For Change event go to:

Leo Racicot Remembers Julia Child


                              A FRIEND INDEED!!

                                        by Leo Racicot

    I had become good friends with the well-loved American
writer, M.F.K. Fisher (Mary Frances) when, on one of my
many, cherished visits to her bungalow home in Glen Ellen,
her friend, Julia Child, phoned her for a chat.  After she hung
up, I saw a bulb light up above Mary Frances' pretty head.
She said, "Julia lives in Cambridge. You live in Lowell. I'd
love for the two of you to meet. You'll get along swimmingly!"

    I jumped at the chance to meet the famous French Chef.
MF made all the arrangements and in March of that year,
after Julia gave a talk at the Boston Public Library followed
by a book-signing at nearby Newbury Street's Harvard Bookstore
Cafe (now gone), I stepped meekly forward, calling out my name
to "Mrs Child".  "Oh!", she burbled to the long line of admirers
waiting for her autograph, "Leee-ohh's here!!  Leee-ohh  Rass-
ee-coe is a friend of M.F.K. Fishah!!"  Everyone clapped as I
ascended into Seventh Heaven.

    Every Saturday afternoon, when I was a boy, lying belly-
down on my living room couch, watching Julia Child, "The
French Chef", chop, dice, bake, parboil and joke her way
into everyone's heart, including mine, never in my wildest
dreams did I imagine I would one day be standing in front
of her (or rather, I should say, cowering under her for at
an imposing 6' 2" tall, she towered over my quivering smallness
like Juno halloo-ing down from Mount Olympus. To say I was a
tad nervous is to say that flames are hot).

    But she put me at ease immediately in that goose-y, Warner
Bros. cartoon of a voice, "Call me Jooo-leeah!!".  I had wondered
to myself whether some of her t.v. personality might be a put-on
for entertainment's sake. I was wrong; Julia was as
engaging, eccentric, generous, smart and daffy as she was
when she cast her magic spell every week over PBS viewers
here in Boston and all over the world.

    With a wave of her hand, Julia shooed her entourage away
proclaiming, "Leo and I shall be dining alone".  We were ushered
to a corner table by the head chef himself, a dark, jolly Buddha
from Tunisia called Moncef. We ate and drank lustily, and
spoke about many subjects (at least Julia did; I was happy
just listening to her hold forth on a constellation of topics
the scope and breadth of which was infinite, for Julia, I
would come to learn in the years ahead, did not care to talk
shop. Local politics, world affairs, space exploration, the
literary and arts scene, libraries, her days as a spy for the
O.S.S., the Cambridge community and neighborhood she
lived in -- these were the subjects she was more apt to
pile onto her conversational plate. She was one of the
most intelligent people I have ever met, as well as one of
the funniest; her comedic skills and timing could, at times,
rival Lucille Ball's; And she was possessed
of an Olympic energy. "I never tire!" was her motto, and I
saw her outlast, outdo, outshine people 20, 30, 40 years
her junior, including me.

    Our evening was a total delight.

    So it was with some regret when it ended that I hailed
her a cab and watched it whisk her away into the night.
My time with her was so once-in-a-lifetime and surreal,
it was as if it had taken place in a dream.  "Well, I probably
won't be doing that again anytime soon, if ever", I thought
as I made my happy/sad way home...

                            *    *    *    *

    Years later, I took a job as caregiver to the son of
former members of The Roosevelt Administration, Hilda
and Francis Shea. My responsibilities were solely to instill
living and language skills in their son, Richard. I was told
to report to an address on Francis Avenue. And though
I knew the street was only a stone's throw away from
Harvard Yard (having trained at Harvard Divinity School
years before), I had no real idea where Francis Avenue
was in relation to its neighboring streets.

    Imagine my surprise, then, when, about a month after
taking up my duties there, the house manager, Bob Stone,
took me over to the kitchen window, pointed to a grey house
in the near distance and said, "I bet you don't know who lives
there".  I said I did not and Bob exclaimed, "Julia Child!!"
I was so beside myself, I made the mistake of telling Bob I
had actually had dinner with Julia and the story of our evening
together, and about M.F.K. Fisher. I say "mistake" because the
very next day, Ms. Shea, my employer, came down to the kitchen
asking if I knew how to make a sauce soubise. I said I did not
and told her the on-going joke among my friends that "Leo could
burn boiling water if you give him the chance".  "Oh, come, come
now", tittered Ms. Shea, "I know you're friends with M.F.K. Fisher
and Julia Child. You're being much too modest."  No amount of
protest could convince Ms. Shea that knowing M.F.K. Fisher
and having dinner with Julia Child once did not mean I could
cook.  She led me over to a wall spilling over with cookbooks
galore and declared, "You are my son's companion and now
you will be my chef as well."  I swallowed hard. Was I ever in
the stew. Because Hilda Drosnicop Shea never took "no"
for an answer. From anyone. Ever. She handed me a cook's
apron, showed me where all the pots and pans were kept
and said, "Let's see what you can whip up for this evening's

                              *    *    *    *

    Only God knows what came out of the oven those first,
few months because I certainly didn't. Somehow, my concoc-
tions didn't look a thing like the pictures in the cookbooks.
Let's just say it was not uncommon for staff to call out for
pizza delivery as soon as they saw what I had plunked down
for them on the table.

    One particular fright that was supposed to be Hungarian
goulash but looked like a volcano had erupted in the Dutch
oven and tasted even worse, became the final straw. It was
time to call in the cavalry (a.k.a. Julia Child, or as we all in
the house came to intone whenever something inexplicable
sat bubbling on top of the frightened stove, "What Would
Julia Do??")

      It is little known about Julia, I think, that she was one
of the most accommodating celebrities on the planet. Her
home phone number was listed in the book; not only did
she not mind people calling her for culinary rescue; she
also welcomed them, for she loved all things food-related
and saw herself as a teacher and felt it her duty to school
her students or at least listen when they needed kitchen
assistance. Perhaps because fame had come to her later
in life, she had not let it go to her head. Down-to-earth,
practical, and having herself made many mistakes on her
way to "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", she more
than understood (the reader will please forgive my use of
the obvious idiom here) that "You have to break a lot of eggs
before you can make an omelette".

    And so, Julia and I became better friends this second time
around. We went to the movies together, took fine walks
around The Writers' Block, shopped at Farmer's Markets
and local grocerias, went for rides to see the New England

    Mostly, we spent happy hours in her kitchen, her patience
and good nature explaining why my souffle had taken a nose
dive, why eating my Apple Brown Betty was like sticking your
tongue into a giant sugar bowl or why the catfish casserole
"should never have been put into a recipe book in the first
place; some recipes simply don't work!!"  She helped me
become, over time, if not her or M.F.K. Fisher, then certainly
a reasonable facsimile thereof.  I can whip up a mean jam-
balaya, can tease the most succulent juices from the driest
meats, and my Beef Bourgignon has been known to draw
near-orgasmic sounds from those lucky enough to find it
on their plates. Ahem.

    For this is the basis of what Julia Child did. Her gift
to America. That she was able, through talent, but also
through hard work and perserverance, belief in herself
and a soupcon of "funny" thrown in for taste, to turn a
country of unculinary dolts like me into cooks who won't
flinch when handed a pot, a pan or a brand new recipe
to grapple with.  Julia Child changed the way we think
about food, about eating, about ourselves in our kitchens.
She liberated the American palate, mired for generations
in a diet of meat, potatoes and gravy. She introduced new
foods to the American table, opening our minds to ex-
perimentation and international cuisines. We eat better
because she explored better foods for us to eat. Julia
was a true pioneer and like all pioneers, found the courage
to step out onto an unknown road and bid us follow...

    I miss her. I imagine we all do. With a spirit as
brave and nonesuch as hers, how can we not?

**********   Leo Racicot's work has been featured in "Co-Evolution Quarterly","Utne Reader", "Spiritual Life", "Gay Sunshine Journal", "First Hand","The Poet", "Ibbetson Street Press", "Poetry", "Shakespeare's Monkey"and "Yankee". Two of his award-winning essay-memoirs appear in "Best of..."anthologies, and he is the recipient of the Antonio Machado PoetryForum Award (1992). His holiday story, "The Little Man" is beingpublished by Snug Harbor and will be available in audio and animatedform on fablevision.comHe has been a schoolteacher/librarian/cook/counselor/poet/actor/clown

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review of BURDEN OF SOLACE, Poems by Teneice Durrant Delgado

Review of BURDEN OF SOLACE, Poems by Teneice Durrant Delgado, chapbook, Cervena Barva Press, PO Box 440357, W. Somerville, MA 02144,, 2012, $7.

Review by Barbara Bialick, author of TIME LEAVES

Like Cervena Barva Press is often known for, Teneice Durrant Delgado’s new chapbook, BURDEN OF SOLACE, is a disturbing eye-opener at yet another human miscarriage of justice—the slavery trade in young Irish women, on the same boat with the black slave trade, all used to harvest sugar and breed mulatto slaves in Barbados, in the Caribbean.  She quotes a statement paper from London in 1742 which called it, “…a great benefit to the West India sugar planters, who desired men and boys for their bondsmen and women and Irish girls…to solace them…”

In the compressed space of 10 poems, Delgado gives us an ugly picture of “forced emigration to hell or Barbados…” (“Mary Margaret”)  In the poem about “Anne Glover”, the girl is told “…If you stop bleeding, she said, in Irish, forbidden, don’t ever let yourself love that child./Don’t/you ever think that child yours…”  In the turmoil, “her work-bent fingers worry over imaginary rosaries for three/long days…”

Teniece Durant Delgado, of Dayton, Ohio has published in literary magazines and has published two other chapbooks:   FLAME ABOVE FLAME and THE GOLDILOCKS COMPLEX.  She is pursuing a degree in Community Counseling at the University of Dayton. She is also co-founder and poetry editor for BLOOD LOTUS: AN ONLINE LITERARY JOURNAL and publisher and managing editor for Winged City Press Chapbooks and is on the editorial board for New Sins Press. She has an MFA from Spalding University’s Low Residency program.