Thursday, April 19, 2018

An Evening With Doug Holder by Brandyn Tse

An Evening with Doug Holder
            The poet delivered one phrase which lingers with me still: “inspiration is not a process, it is something you must prepare yourself for.” He said this all the while, with his right hand cradling a small leather-bound journal; the book trembled in obeisance to the poet’s fevered, interdigitated grip, swaying to the weight of his conviction. It was his unashamed sentiments behind his words which produced an indelible effect upon me. The sheer romanticism of such a comment could not help but rouse my admiration; I could see, at the time, a sort of rebirth of the romantic, Mr. Holder not as a “worshipper of nature,” but as an oracle of the collective unconscious. There was an essence of the people, an economy of spirits, in the writing he unveiled to us that night. He resurrected the corpse of a bar long gone not by reassembling its components, but by means of reassembling its people. The presupposition here is that people are the environment, and the environment the people. In his writing about blondes, Mr. Holder had attempted to extract a core attribute of a wide breadth of people in one group. Did he manage the preservation of the “blonde” soul? Perhaps. But here in this poem another facet of his poetry was produced more palpably: longing.
            In attempting to salvage the dying utterances of places long disappeared, Mr. Holder is attempting to salvage a portion of his being; for these places, and these people contain an irretrievable investment of his own spirit, and have thus been formed by his being. This is the longing Mr. Holder has: to find what he once was in places and people who once were.

**** Brandon Tse is an undergraduate Creative Writing student at Gordon College in Wenham, MA.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Doug Holder Interviews Poet Susan Edwards Richmond

The Rosenbergs: The Opera: A review by Rosie Rosenzweig

The Rosenbergs: The Opera
A review by Rosie Rosenzweig
Resident Scholar, Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center

How does one write a story about a story that everyone knows? Or at least knows its ending?
This was the challenge of Greek Tragedians from the late 6th century BCE whose plays were entered into competitions in Dionysia in Athens, where the audiences already knew all the traditional stories of Greek myths. This was also the challenge presented to American born playwright Rhea Leman living in Denmark when she was asked to write an opera about the Rosenbergs. Although already well-known throughout Denmark and Europe, she had never written an opera before; yet this opera was declared Denmark’s Best Opera in 2015. In a recent talkback after the opera’s Boston premiere, Leman said that, because everyone in Denmark is well educated through its free university system, they already knew about how the Rosenbergs were executed for giving atomic secrets to the Russians during the 1950’s Cold War era.

Leman, in collaboration with Joachim Holbeck, famed Danish composer for over 50 film and theater productions, talked about using 1930s show tunes when Rosenbergs were courting to be married. Leman, who grew up as the NY child of Jewish left wing activists with frequent dinnertime discussions about the Rosenberg case, searched for some reason for the Rosenberg’s life choices, and learned about “their tremendous love and commitment to each other. Their love became the key to my writing.” Ultimately this approach, about two people in love, provided the well-known story with a unique, timeless and relevant approach to an old story. It also elevated it to the “David against Goliath” realm of individual idealism battling the political weltanschauung of the time, namely the paranoia of the McCarthy Era, dubbed a “witch hunt” after Arthur Miller’s Puritan era play The Crucible; here social hysteria used the law to unlawfully convict and execute innocent victims. So now the tale assumes a mythic quality wherein personal love and idealism are pitted against the backdrop of the larger forces of history.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

This is why Boston Playwrights’ Theatre’s “first foray into opera” chose this production: Artistic Director Kate Snodgrass says that “this story couldn’t be more relevant to today’s political climate – we must remember our past in order to preserve our future . . . [The story is] moving and alive without being overly political, and it speaks to Ethel and Julius’s relationship – which gets short-shrift when we think about this period in our nation’s history. . . Whether we think of the Rosenbergs as heroes or traitors, in the end they were people living out a tragic love story.”

Christie Lee Gibson as Ethel in the foreground; Brian Church as Julius in the background.
Ahh, the love story is so well done here with the shy courting of Julius who “sees a stranger across a crowded room” (to borrow the lyrics from the 1941 South Pacific show) and knows it’s his true love. As children of the Haskala, (the Jewish Enlightenment when secular education and political activism trumped the parochial leanings of religion), and immigrant parents, they have so much in common; she thinks he is an angel with wings. When Julius first sees Ethel singing at an event, he is smitten. Afterwards when he asks her to sing, she performs an aria. (This request is repeated when they are in jail, awaiting the verdict.) After they dance together in this scene to “Pennies from heaven,” he says he would love “to be locked up with her.” During the wedding ceremony, the words “until death do us part” hangs as a prediction of the end we all know. Such skillful foreboding to the end we all know.

Brian Church, as Julius, is a singer who can also act through the various vicissitudes of innocent first love, joyful married man with children, optimistic idealist for a cause, and the trembling moments awaiting the final verdict of his fate. Julius here is the tragic hero, whose tragic flaw paves the way for his downfall. And what is his tragic flaw? His idealism is a better future for mankind, a future that lies with his starry-eyed depiction of communism, a belief born in the depression when Russia seemed to have a better system to fight poverty; he wants a world that he says he would strive for and die for. And he did.

Christie Lee Gibson as Ethel has a range from opera to musical theatre; when she assumes the masculine lower register enacting Judge Kaufman, the inquisitor of the trail, she becomes a predator surprisingly multi-dimensional in her scope. She proves to be the stronger of the pair, more determined to prove her husband’s innocence.

The bare bones stage set with a ladder against a cement wall, some black chairs, and the dark floor of porous soil brings to mind the sands of time and the repetitive history that cycles through eternity. Director Dmitry Troyanovsky chose this for its claustrophic ambience, which fostered the paranoia of the era where “two regular people [are] crushed by the juggernaut of history.” He describes the set as a “metaphoric space . . . [which] evokes a burial ground and a chilling institutional purgatory. It is also a place of private and historical memory, framing the operatic ritual that finally releases the ghosts of Ethel and Julius to tell the story in their own words.” These words, by the way, were taken from their love letters in jail.

Troyanovsky’s decision to have the musical trio of piano, cello, and violin onstage playing in the sands of time allowed for the music to become another character in the drama. When we realize the musical cues arrive through eye contact and the repetitive drumming of percussive insistence parallels the intuitive cues of the love story, we can feel in our bones the insistent replaying of history in all its dimensions. Composer Joachim Holbek commented that there was really a “quintet on stage.” A musician in the audience appreciated this professionally and said that he loved the “juxtaposition of jazz, musical theatre, and opera” in what the director called a “chamber opera.”

The story ‘s insistence, that we must know our past to know our future, is born out dramatically in the second act when the repeated declaration of the founding father’s vision gets answered with Julius swearing that he believes in these ideals also. We hope that the telling of this story will bring some peace to the ghosts of Julius and Ethel and their children who keep petitioning for a post-humus pardoning for their mother. While Ethel kept singing that her children will “never get over this,” a recent Brandeis graduate in the audience declared that she may never get over the themes of the play from another point of view. Mea Siegel declared that “their idealism resonates with me because I just came from the March for Science and because my friends and I find them against the world scary in these times, but also so inspiring.”

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Smokey of the Migraines by Michael McInnis

Smokey of the Migraines
by Michael McInnis
Nixes Mate Books
Allston, MA
ISBN  978-0-9993971-2-1
Softbound, 42 pages, $9.95

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Noir poetry, think Whitey Bulger on the loose, or Mickey Spillane turning to verse and you have just the beginning of Michael McInnis’ page turning poetic endeavor Smokey of the Migraines.

There are a few things you need to know about McInnis’ 43 page-long book. First, it is a single poem.  Second, it is written as if incorporated into the movie Black Mass based on the book of the same name by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill-- a pair of Boston reporters who followed in the footsteps of two other legendary Boston newspaper men, Harold Banks and Ed Corsetti.  Later,they would write true crime stories for various national magazines. Third, McInnis’ style in this book is fast-paced, almost as if someone added a bump stock to his keyboard. Fourth, there is a clichĂ© that goes “It was so good I couldn’t put it down.”  Well it certainly applies to Smokey of the Migraines.

This poem-story minces no words, be it McInnis’ extensive vocabulary, or the profanity which is liberally spread through the book.  But the best part of the book is the rat-a-tat-tat staccato of the writing:

The migraine takes
Smokey outside
his body
where he exists
far from
the reach
of life,
of love,
beyond the polished
black metal of the
Glock 9 he shoves
in Sully’s mouth,
chipping a tooth

The rest gets more interesting as Smokey’s thoughts are expanded upon and the migraines become as important and crucial as Smokey himself. 

Now throw in some time traveling science fiction:

Smokey don’t notice
he’s lost in the migraine,
time traveling,
to Dealey Plaza
where the sun never sets
for the kind, returned,
for the king
for the king
his boots,
the Book Depository
a new capitol,
and the hundred years
between two
kings and the letters
of their names,
the mountain ranges,
latitudes and
Sic semper tyrannis!
There are visits to Marat’s bath, Trotsky’s home, to Constantinople,  Ojinaga, Shiloh and encounters with Pancho Villa, Mary Shelley, Leif Erickson and many more.   This  isreminiscent of Evan Connell’s Notes From A Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel in which history and location become intertwined.
Then again like Dashiell Hammett 

The migraine
is a 9 mm
under Smokey’s

The migraine
is the guts
of a burner
phone on the floor.

The migraine
is a whiskey bottle
on the nightstand.

The migraine
is a dream,
a nightmare
This book, this poem, unlike a good Thanksgiving dinner that is slow to savor, proves to be a fast meal, one you want to take in quickly and enjoy all the way down.  

If you enjoy the noir, the criminal element, street language and a great story, this is the book for you. You won’t even realize you are reading poetry.

Author, The Lynching of Leo Frank, Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Monte Carlo Days and Nights By Susan Tepper

Monte Carlo Days and Nights
By Susan Tepper
Rain Mountain Press, 74 pages
ISBN 978-0-9981872-2-8

Review by Steve Glines

In the 1970’s love was easy. That’s a misnomer, sex was easy. It was a period of free love, the pill, and freedom from worry about venereal diseases that weren’t cured by a small handful of pills.
I hitchhiked to a beach on the northern shore of Prince Edwards Island, Canada. An impromptu camp had developed among the two dozen nomads that had assembled. I pitched my tent next to a pretty French Canadian girl, and we sat next to each other around a campfire someone had built in the middle of our encampment. Our talk was light and inconsequential. She invited me into her tent for the night. For the next week we camped, hitchhiked and had sex as often as we could. At the end of the week she had to go home and go back to work. We hitched rides back to her home in Quebec, kissed each other on the cheek, and I hitched a ride home. I never saw her again. That was the 1970’s.
Susan Tepper also grew up in the 1970’s, but instead of being an itinerant writer/artist she was a stewardess on an international airline. Today, we call them by the sexless term, flight attendants, but back then they were stewardesses, and all stewardess were hot, sexy and ready, willing and able to take advantage of the first rich man to look their way. Monte Carlo Days and Nights is the story of a delightful romp through a week-long affair that takes her protagonist to Monte Carlo and back to New York.
Objectively, this short novella is nothing more than sex, sex and more sex punctuated by the typical angst that all couples go through when they think about what the other person is thinking. We see this from the perspective of a young stewardess who trades one lover for a rich hunk who’s wealth is derived from the music industry. He is wealthy, arrogant, and used to having a pretty young woman on his arm. We get the impression, from our stewardesses perspective, that he is shallow, and happy only as long as he can impress the other shallow but wealthy men of Monte, as Monte Carlo is called by those in the know. In the end, the story holds up as we see the week-long relationship devolve from the sexual frenzy of a new infatuation to one of self-doubt and diverging interests. He wants to be seen by the hotel pool, and she wants to dip her feet in the Mediterranean. He wants her dressed to the nines, and she wants to be comfortable. We don’t see a breakup, but we see it coming. In the end, he says, “If I were to get married, you’d be the one.” He is not the one. 

The Sunday Poet: Maryann Corbett

Poet Maryann Corbett

Maryann Corbett lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is the author of four books of poems, most recently Street View from Able Muse Press. Her poems appear widely and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, American Life in Poetry, The Writer's Almanac, and the Poetry Foundation website. She is a past winner of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Richard Wilbur Award. One of her poems will appear in The Best American Poetry 2018.

As Little Children

When the toddler-in-arms behind me
shouts “Cake!” at the elevation,
that’s sliced it: my concentration
is toast, Abba. And all
I’m seeing now is party.
Jingling above the prayers,
an ice-cream peddler’s bell.
Communion as musical chairs.
Candles as candles. Songs.
Even a birthday crown:
Saint Margaret, Princess of Hungary,
her glazed smile sunbeaming down.
Not quite the party I wanted,
but it serves. I’ve come to feel
how all my feasts are haunted—
some holy, wounded memory
hanging above the meal.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Sunday Poet: MARK HALLIDAY

Noted American Poet Mark Halliday has a new collection out  Losers Dream On.  Here is a poem from the collection.


The time was almost dusk – the sky white silver
over the Walmart parking lot, not only
the lot right in front of Walmart but the larger parking lot
beyond the first lot, all level, almost empty,
there were eight or nine scattered cars
far from where I stood. I stood
out there. I was standing. Under tremendous
white silver sky. Almost dusk.
Far off near Walmart a few old persons moved
very slowly toward bargain prices. There was no story
with a hero. History
and my life and the universe all came to
nothing but this –

even if now, having survived, I am
comfortably seated in the Office for Existential Protest.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Murder Death Resurrection A Poetry Generator by Eileen R. Tabios

Murder Death Resurrection
A Poetry Generator
by Eileen R. Tabios
Copyright 2018 by Eileen R. Tabios
Dos Madres Press
Loveland, OH
ISBN 978-1-939929-99-0    
Softbound, 157 pages including notes & acknowledgements, no price given

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

If someone could wave a magic wand and give you the ability to write poems endlessly would you accept the offer?  

Nationally known poet Eileen R. Tabios has created the nearest thing to the magic wand, in her book Murder Death Resurrection or MDR.

This book belongs to everyone, every poet in particular because Ms. Tabios has given poets a base of 1,167 lines any combination of which may comprise a poem. Take for example lines 367, 521 and 1078:

I forgot the Bengal Tiger mimicking a helicopter’s dance                            (367)
I forgot fallen olives discarded from those awaiting virgin pressings    (521)
I forgot the difficulty of ethics: how to rationalize when
what is good does not give an advantage in a world you define
as alley? (“Can you stop running if the monster does not stop
chasing?”)                                                                                                  (1,078)

Perhaps another poet would prefer to delete the first two words, “I forgot” as if it were just a two line poem.  I personally do not believe one line can make a poem and by that I do not mean a 5, 8 or 10 line sentence is one line.  I simply mean one line.

But I digress. One can take the three lines change their positions, remove “I Forgot” and each will produce a three line poem.

The genius of Ms. Tabios is that she shows that this can be done with any – or as many – of the lines as one wishes.  Even a 1,167 line poem is as possible as a 20 or 40 line poem or a five or ten line poem.

Ms. Tabios states it thusly, “The MDR Poetry generator’s conceit is that any combination of its 1,167 lines succeeding creating a poem.  Thus one can create – generate – news poems unthinkingly from its database.”

It is not conceit but genius to have created the generator.  It is not an unthinking effort.   Reading and selecting the lines to be used is truly a thinking process which makes the MDR even more fascinating and worthwhile.
Joseph Conrad did not learn English until the age of 29 and yet wrote some of the best novels in the language. Ms. Tabios, a Filipina, has in turn manipulated English to suit her needs resulting in a poet who is one of America’s leading experimental/abstract poets as evinced by her many books – more than 50 that encompass poetry, fiction, essays and experimental biographies. 

Here is a poem I created from chained (successive) lines from the MDR, deleting the opening “I Forgot” and using lines 231-234 the following emerged:

I defined empathy through a bent spine craving
for an ellipsis bulging to imply arrival, not departure or division.

The salty pleasure of sister elongating pink necks
to snag spotlights beamed from men experienced in the utter
aliveness of dying

Painting a floor red with my hair. I forgot back-
ing myself into a corner: when you appeared to grasp my
throat, your greedy footprints completed my painting.

Whispering “Stop heavy. No such thing as a sonofabitch in turning art into flesh”

Often creating a poem will express opposites or twins, depending on how the words are used, but they will always create poems.

Finally, at the back of the book is a useful “Teaching Guide & A Workshop Suggestion” which includes study questions for those who teach or would like to teach poetry using Ms. Tabios’ system.

Writer’s block is a malady many writers encounter, and this book will assure poets in particular as well as writers of short stories and novels that they will be able to continue unblocked.

Zvi A. Sesling
Author: The Lynching of Leo Frank, Love Poems From Hell, Fire Tongue, Across Stones of Bad Dreams, King of the Jungle.
Editor of Muddy River Poetry Review, Bagel Bards Anthologies Nos. 7, 8 and #12.
Publisher, Muddy River Books

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Mark Stevick

Poet Mark Stevick



Mark Stevick is a professor of Creative Writing at Gordon College in Wenham, MA.


There are flowers   looking something like

red   it is dusk   trunks of pine like

black rivulets down a faint pane   one

planet   these flowers   petunias?

leaning over rails   begonias?   what

has happened?   who has been taken?

they are looking   looking   like cartoon

crowds   are they dahlias?   still the pines

blacken   there is nothing they can do

they are keeping it up   look they are

wringing their hands   they are impatiens.

                 This Birch

Civility rises as this birch

lifts its face, and stretches.

There is remembrance in these limbs,

of wind, and rain, and mute kisses.

All the gestures of the branches say

the gifts I bring must be refused.

Let this tree be dressed as light allows;

let it be white amid dark boughs.

Friday, March 30, 2018


 My old pal Jack Holland ---the founder of the Somerville - based band Dutch Tulips is performing with other groups at the Once Lounge in Somerville--April 12. This is a benefit for gun safety put on by the organization  FOR EVERYTOWN--

 State Rep. Mike Connolly, who serves parts of Somerville and Cambridge in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, will provide a brief update on local efforts to make our state's gun laws even stronger, including last year's adoption of legislation to ban bump stocks, and this year's push to adopt legislation that would allow for Extreme Risk Protective Orders, which would allow family members and law enforcement to petition to temporarily remove guns from a dangerous individual.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Interview with writer, poet Richard Cambridge by Lo Galluccio

Richard Cambridge

Interview with writer Richard Cambridge by Lo Galluccio

Richard Cambridge was born in Suffern, NY, and grew up in Rivervale, New Jersey. He attended Northeastern University in 1967 and dropped out during the National Student Strike of May, 1970. He attended the Stonecoast creative writing program at the University of Southern Maine, in 2009, and graduated in 2011 with an MFA in Fiction. Pulsa, his poetry collection, was published in 2004 by Hanover Press. He’s been living in Cambridge since 1973. In 1992 Richard was one of four spoken word artists on the Boston team to win the National Slam tournament. I had the chance to interview Richard prior to his featuring as one of the Stonecoast alumni reading at the Lilypad in Cambridge on Saturday, April 7th at 7:30 pm.

Q: You’re someone who writes both from personal experience and through the funnel of the imagination. Can you talk about your early work in poetry and how it relates to the personal or to the imaginative? Speak specifically about your book, Pulsa.

A: Pulsa came out of a real series of events in May of 1970 and they were so profound I couldn’t even express what had happened. Finally, 23 years later I found the vehicle of what had happened to me using the story of the boy who God asked to give up his talent. I typed it out in the basement of the Harvard Science Center one day, February 24th.  I’ve always tried to live out my imagination and to make it real. I spend most of the time in my imagination and then express it through art, writing, poetry.

Q: How did you get into doing a theatre piece like The Cigarette Papers? What prompted you to want to stage that story of getting off nicotine?

A:  It was a constellation of getting to the point of understanding I would not be 
able to give it up, and being part of the Omega Theatre Arts, a nine month  intensive program that asked you to take your deepest fear and make art out of it.  For me that was giving up cigarettes, my friend.  In a very real way I wrote my way out of that addiction.  It really quickly became theatre, doing parts of the work in open mics.  In the beginning I was keeping a journal and then a friend said, “You’ve got something there…” The characters in the piece came from moments of going through withdrawal, when I would write down what was going on within me, and they came out as these demonic forces, like the Marlboro Man, the Dullards, and the Cookie Monster.

The Cigarette Papers and Pulsa were happening at the same time. When I went on tour I was doing the Book of Psalms from Pulsa and excerpts from The Cigarette Papers. I had a feature at The Green Door in Asheville, and Thomas Crowe, the publisher of New Native Press came out to see it. He saw a connection between the story of the boy being asked to give up his talent, and the addiction, and offered to produce The Cigarette Papers on his spoken word label, Fern Hill Records. His partner, the composer Nan Watkins, scored it. We’ve been close friends ever since.

Q:  You’ve written at least one novel, Ride, and are working on another one.  When you decided to go to Stonecoast were you sure you wanted to concentrate on fiction rather than poetry?  How did that experience shape Ride? And please tell us a bit about what that book’s about.

A:  It was clearly the main reason I went to Stonecoast – to gain access to the tools novelists use.  I’d known I’d written it with the talents of a poet.  I’d written a main draft and revised it once and my main reason for going to Stonecoast was to revise it again. It began as a memoir, as an actual experience, but pretty early on I started to re-invent it and change scenes and events and it was clearly more fun to do that.

Ride is about a journey from Cambridge to Asheville, NC for a poetry gig. My car had broken down and I felt that I could stick out my thumb (hitchhike) to get there. The structure is the rides who picked me up and the tension was about whether I was going to get there in time for the reading . It started on May 4th, 1994 when my poet-friend Danny Solis, dropped me off at the Mass Pike exit at Newbury Street . It was 1000 miles to Ashville . I had to get there by Friday night, two days away . Practically no one was picking up hitchhikers in the 90s and I kept getting rides going in the wrong direction, that took me further west than south . What happened at Stonecoast was I Iearned how to stitch in my life as an activist with my wife Sally who died in the late 90s. Part of the artifice was putting in her death as if it had just happened . Richard Hoffman, my first mentor at Stonecoast, suggested that I had to either leave her out of the manuscript or really write about her and the relationship, embrace it . Studying with friends and mentors challenged me so much to do these things. My dissertation was the revision of the novel, which is bound in the Stonecoast archives.

Q:  Can you speak a little more about your Stonecoast experience?  How did it challenge you and encourage you in your craft?  Would you recommend that writers get an MFA?

A:  I would definitely recommend it . It certainly helped me to produce a polished novel . From Richard Hoffman I learned how to revise my memoir into a novel . From Michael Kimball I learned to write “close to the spine,” and from Scott Wolven, how to polish every page. Scott would examine a page and there would be all these circles and he would say “There are 18 ‘the’s’ and you’ve got to get rid of 12 of them.”  I had not thought that deeply about it. So it went to a whole other level of craft that I’d not even imagined.

Q:  You’ve hosted The Poets’ Theatre for many years. What is that series about for you?  What has that experience been like?  What are some of the highlights?

A:  I’ve hosted the Poets’ Theatre since 1995. Tim Mason, who was booking Club Passim, offered me a monthly series which ran until 2010. Since then, it’s been in the CafĂ© at Somerville’s Arts at the Armory, the third Friday of every month. Poets’ Theatre evolved out of the open mic scene in the early 90s, which included not just poets, but musicians, storytellers, stand-up comics, dancers—many artistic disciplines. As I began to grow as a poet I realized I needed more than my own talent to flesh out a story I wanted to tell. Being friends with many people on the scene I knew just who I wanted to ask to participate. One production, inspired by Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, examined the Columbus Quincentenial through an Indigenous perspective. It was called Where the Red Road Runs. Another show, Embargo!, called into question the decades-long U.S. blockade of Cuba. Presente!, brought to light imprisoned activists from the liberation struggles in the Sixties and Seventies.

Being a member of the Boston Championship Slam team was an amazing experience. I’d like to give a shout-out to my poetry-mates Ray McNiece, Danny Solis, and Benson Wheeler.

I read the first draft of my novel, Ride, from July 5th 2006 to November 5th 2008 in four-minute segments at the Cantab Lounge open mic . It was like a weekly serial and it had kind of following. I tried to keep about 30 pages ahead of the game and it reached the point where not doing it would have been catastrophic to my ego. I couldn’t show up and say that’s all I wrote, and leave the ride hanging somewhere in the Poconos. In some ways, it was the impetus to finish the story. The final night was a 30-minute feature — finally arriving in Asheville.  And that was a big highlight. Another highlight was our troupe, Singing with the Enemy, being invited by Cuban diplomats to perform Embargo! at the first U.S. — Cuba Friendship Conference in Havana in 1998.

 Q:  Talk a little about your new novel, the one you’ll be reading from on April 7th at the Lilypad. What’s the source for the work? How is it different from your other works? Is it a political novel? 

A:  It centers around the year 1970 and the tumultuous events that happened around the National Student Strike and the Black Panther’s Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. It was another time in U.S. history when things could have gone one way or another. None of us were aware at the time that there was a secret program in the F.B.I. — Cointelpro — to neutralize leaders of radical movements like the Black Panthers, AIM (American Indian Movement), and the Young Lords Party. There were so many events — a national postal strike, labor uprisings, antiwar protests, it was hard to believe a revolution didn’t happen.

The novel is an imaginative re-telling of that year, as if the events, the movements had been allowed to take their natural course, instead of how they were repressed by the secret programs targeting them.

The F.B.I. was afraid the Panthers free breakfast program was raising a new generation of revolutionaries….a generation of Martin Luther Kings. If you look at the Panthers’ Ten-Point Program for the community and allow those things to come to pass and flourish, where you’d wind up is a country like Wakanda in the Black Panther film, where people were allowed to develop their talents and prosper. They were creating a future that was cut off. The novel is an attempt to create a space where that alternate future came to pass. It’s called 1970. I’m about a third of the way into it. 

Q:  What’s the best thing about being a writer? I know you also play the harp and do other things (graffiti), but what is it about writing that holds your attention, that makes you want to continue to develop?

A:  It’s like being a creator with a little “c.” Someone once asked Dorothy Parker if she believed in God and she said “Yes, when I’m writing.” It’s one of the most beautiful experiences I can imagine….something higher than just language…story…not just poetry and essays. It’s almost as if you’re writing your way into your experience and living your existence that way.  I’ve been a writer since I was fourteen or fifteen with teachers that sparked that love for poetry. I was bitten by it. It was such an amazing feeling — reading and writing poetry — I couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything else. I owe everything in my life to my teachers. They’re the stepping stones that allowed me to cross that wild river of creativity.

Lo Galluccio will be hosting a reading with Richard Cambridge along with two other Stonecoast Alumni writers, Michelle Soucy Martel and Tom MacDonald, on April 7th at the Lilypad in Cambridge at 7:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public.