Friday, February 02, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Jennifer Matthews

Poet Jennifer Matthews

Jennifer Matthews poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry "Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors." Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.

Before my Birth and Beyond my Death
by: Jennifer Matthews

I am a flowing flower.
I see magic,
my inquisitive fingers reach toward it.
It is colorful, it feels like fascination.
It dances in my mind like a peacock,
like a gypsy moth ignited by moon.
Soft, like water, I yield to its wonder.
It consumes me. As I enter its current,
I am no longer bones and desiring flesh...
I am part of everything illuminated,
before my birth
and beyond my death.

ALONG FOR THE RIDE POETRY READING Feb 14, 2018 7PM Holder, Gager, and Meek


W e d n e s d a y,  F e b r u a r y  14th

7pm, at First Church Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, near Harvard Square


I rode with magic ease
At a quick, unstumbling trot
Through shattering vacancies
On into what was not…                      
Richard Wilbur, from“The Ride”


Doug Holderfounder of the Ibbetson Street Press, arts editor for The Somerville Times, and curator of the Newton Free Library Poetry Series. His poetry and prose have appeared in Rattle, Constellations, The Boston Globe Magazine, Cafe Review, Toronto Quarterly, Home Planet News, and many others. Doug's latest book of poetry is Last Night at the Wursthaus ( Grey Sparrow Press). He teaches writing at Bunker Hill Community College and Endicott College. Holder is a graduate of Harvard University with an MLA in English and American Literature and Language. He has run poetry workshops for psychiatric .patients at McLean Hospital for over 30 years.

Timothy Gager, author of thirteen books of short fiction and poetry. Chief Jay Strongbow is Real (Big Table Publishing) is his first book of poetry in four years. He's hosted the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts since 2001. Timothy is the Fiction Editor of The Wilderness House Literary Review and the founding co-editor of The Heat City Literary Review. His work has been read on National Public Radio.

Ed Meek, author of Spy Pond and What We Love. A collection of his short stories, Luck, came out last May. He has had poems in The Sun, The Paris Review, and WBUR’sCognoscenti. He writes book reviews for The Arts Fuse. Follow him on twitter @emeek.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Pantoums by Dennis Daly

by Dennis Daly
2018 Dennis Daly
Dos Madres Press
Somerville MA
ISBN  978-1-030029-85-3
Softbound, 67 pages (including notes)
No price given

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

One Poet whose work I always enjoy is Dennis Daly.  Whether he’s writing about experiences in Afghanistan, or in his habitat of Salem or translating Ajax from the Greek, it is always interesting and most certainly educational.

In his latest book he turns his focus to pantoums, not my favorite form of poetry, but under his skillful writing they become both fascinating and enjoyable.

As he notes in his introduction, “Originating in Malay, prior to the fifteenth century, the pantoum probably developed from an oral tradition of rhythmic and repetitive rowing songs.”

Daly, in educating the uninitiated to this form of poetry goes on to say, “Pantoum are made up of quatrains. The modern form requires no set number of stanzas. The second and fourth line of each quatrain repeats as the first and third line of the next quatrain.” Of course there’s more to his explanation.

Finally Daly states, “American practitioners of this form have included John Ashbery, Donald Justice, and Marilyn Hacker.  In his book Pantoums Daly is very much a match for any of those written by those celebrated poets.

In his first pantoum Daly lays out the form’s history:


For all men do there is an end,
They row and row to make pantoums.
Muscles ache, minds transcend
In happy moments one presumes.

They row and row to make pantoums,
Harmonies keep on coming,
In happy moments one presumes
All’s right that coaxes humming.

Harmonies keep on coming,
Insects skim the river.
All’s right that coaxes humming
Through mortality’s quaint shiver

Insects skim the river.
Muscles ache, minds transcend
Through mortality’s quaint shiver.
For all men do there is an end.

Now let’s look at his last pantoum in this most interesting volume. It is rooted in his many travels and reveals life in a different civilization:


One trusts most those things unseen,
Unconquered battlement just out of reach,
Solidity projects a smokescreen,
A figure of fundamental speech.

Unconquered battlement just out of reach,
Where traitors conspire their plots,
A figure of fundamental speech,
Impaled by the writer-robots.

Where traitors conspire their plots,
Solidity projects a smokescreen.
Impaled by the writer-robots,
One trusts most those things unseen.

So these are the first and last poems in Daly’s book, and there are so many more good ones in between. Footnotes answer questions about some of the words, locations and historical context in the book.

Overall this is scintillating poetry by a fascinating poet who has seen and experienced much more than the average person.  The many poetic forms he uses in different collections he published conveys his breadth of knowledge.   This is a book well worth owning and reading

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

Monday, January 29, 2018

Tim Devin: Curator of the New Small Press Collection at the Somerville Public Library

Tim Devin: Curator of the New Small Press Collection at the Somerville Public Library
By Doug Holder

I met Tim Devin at my usual corner of the Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square. We were there to talk about his new project, namely a small press collection at the main branch of the Somerville Library—where Devin also works. Since I have been involved in small press publishing for decades, and a proud member of this group of ink-stained wretches, Devin's project was of utmost interest.

Devin is a man somewhere in middle age, of average height and build, who speaks in a calm and collected professional manner, but occasionally this composure cracks with a small press geek's enthusiasm—especially when he talks about a new find for the collection.

Devin has lived in Somerville since the 90s. He has been involved with a number of literary/art projects, and was on the board for the Somerville Arts Council. Devin told me, “ I love the sense of community in Somerville. It seems that people care about each other in this city.”

The definition of “small press" varies. Devin defines it as booklets, zines, magazines, that have a small press run, and are local in nature. The scope of the collection will include Somerville, Boston, Cambridge and other places in the immediate vicinity.

Devin told me that the small press collection idea was jump-started by New York Times columnist and noted writer Pagan Kennedy. Kennedy, a longtime Somerville resident, was a key figure in the zine scene in Allston and Somerville in the 80s and 90s. She has a collection of zines that has been collecting dust in her home, and she wanted to donate it to the Somerville Libray, rather than some academic library.

I asked Devin why the library would promote such an arcane collection of little magazines, etc... He reflected, “ I think the library's mission is to provide information. Here they provide an archive of local talent. They provide a sense of literary history in the city.”

Devin gingerly handled a bunch of his treasures in plastic sleeves. He talked enthusiastically about a zine named “Zunti”--a wildly colorful production that illustrates an author's florid dream. He showed me a comic book by the Somerville Media Center's Programming Director , Dave Ortega titled “Abuela.” This little book deals with Ortega's Mexican background, as well as Mexico's political and cultural landscape. There is also work by Somerville's Gilmore Tamny who has been producing artful poetry chapbooks for over twenty years.  The collection includes many other booklets, etc...that deal with pop culture, music, a plethora of genres.

The collection is just getting started, and for now it is not collecting standard perfect-bound books from the small press. Devin said he loves donations and now is a bit short on poetry. So if you have
a trove of small press publications, think about contacting Tim Devin at the library, and find a home for your favorite zines.

 Statement from the Library:

Patrons are free to check out items out of the library (although the older items in the collection are reserved for in-library use only). This collection is located near the graphic novels on the second floor of the Main Library at 79 Highland Ave.

We’re also actively building this collection! Are you a zinemaker? Did you recently come out with a booklet or small magazine or small art book? If so, get in touch with Tim at or 617-623-5000 x2963.