Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Ari Alkalay Appel

Poet Ari Appel

Ari Alkalay Appel is a poet and essayist who lives and works in Roxbury. He enjoys cycling and woodworking during his free time. He grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, where he graduated from Newton North High School. He studied at Whitman College in Eastern Washington, where he obtained a degree in Rhetoric Studies. He also studied at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Manic Mechanic

My brain is flooding with information;
Information circulates through my neuro-circuitry
Like an electrical current.
I am dizzy, my vision is distorted, and
My head pounds at three second intervals.
The world is spinning.
My hands are engaged with tools.
I am twisting a wrench at every moment,
But I do not know what I am fixing.
The bikes pass through my workstand somehow
But my I am focused on the abyss,
The winding gaps in the scrap butyl tubes in a pile
Under my stand, coated with an indescribable white chemical powder
Leftover from their manufacture.
I can't stare at the pile enough;
It seems to provide the only symmetry to my mind's condition
That's where I've gone,
That's what I'll tell my friends and family:
I'm stuck staring endlessly into a pile of scrap butyl.
You may see me look elsewhere, but
You know where I really am.

Somehow, I still get the job done.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Rodger LeGrand and Doug Holder at Poets/Pints/ Aeronaut Brewery June 13, 2018

Join Porter Square Books at Aeronaut brewery for a celebration of local poetry.

The greater Somerville and Cambridge area is lucky to have such a vibrant poetry community. So, once a month we will gather at the community space at Aeronaut on the Duck Village stage, to celebrate that community with readings by three local poets.

The event will feature a social hour from 6-7 in which you can grab a beer and converse with the poets, hosts, and other poetry fans. The formal reading will be from 7-8 and will feature three local poets reading from their latest works.

The poets reading on June 13 are 

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. He teaches writing at Endicott College and Bunker Hill Community College. He is the arts/editor for The Somerville Times and director of the Newton Free Library Poetry Series. His poetry and prose have appeared in Rattle, The Boston Globe,  Cafe Review, Constellations, Word Riot, Small Press Review, Harvard Mosiac, and others. His latest collections of poetry are Last Night at the Wursthaus and Portrait of an Artist as a Young Poseur.

Rodger LeGrand studied writing at Sarah Lawrence College and the State University of New York at Oswego. He is a lecturer in Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has several collections of poetry in print—Two Thirds Water (forthcoming), Seeds, Millions of Ravenous Creatures, Hope and Compulsion, Waking Up On a Sinking Boat, and Various Ways of Thinking About the Universe. You can reach him at

Event date: 
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

14 Tyler ST   Somerville, MA.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Zach Baum and others bring a vibrant public market to Union Square, Somerville

article by Doug Holder

Nestled behind the P.A's .Lounge off of Somerville Ave., 1 Bow Market Way, to be exact—is a new public market--the Bow Market-- brought to you by Zach Baum and his other co-conspirators. Baum-- a graduate of Tufts University-- who has a background in high tech and real estate development, told me he was influenced by the Agora-style markets in ancient Greece-- public open spaces used for assemblies and markets. Baum-- a man with curly mop of red-brownish hair and an affable manner told me, “We really wanted to create a vibrant place—with affordable spaces for artists, food markets, and a host of small vendors who might have been forced out of the market because of high rents. Here they would all share the same facilities, like the courtyard, bathrooms, etc... and many of the places are a 1,000 month to rent or less.”

I sat outside with Baum in the courtyard in front of the Remnant Brewery—an inviting space—with a gleaming metal brewery-and undoubtedly producing tasty craft beer. I saw a space for a macaroon shop, and Baum told me there is going to be (or currently there is) a fishmonger, spaces for immigrant food shops, caterers, art galleries, a chocolatier  and yes--The Comedy Studio. This was the very venue for upcoming comedians and their loyal audiences that was priced out of the Hong Kong Restaurant in Harvard Square. Baum also told me there will be spaces for vintage clothes, stationary shops, shoe retailers, and more.

Interestingly enough, according to Baum—60% of the vendors will be women and over 45% will be people of color. He feels the low rents will provide opportunities for this population.

Baum told me at the end of the summer there will be a grand opening. I plan to be there-- hoisting a craft beer and basking under the late summer sun.

For more information go to: http://www.bowmarketsomerville. com

El espacio improbable de un haikú ( “The Unlikely Space of a Haiku”) By Sergio Inestrosa Translated by Margaret Young


Author: Sergio Inestrosa
Translator: Margaret Young
Introduction: Ramón Alberto Meléndez Quinteros
Publisher: Almava Editores
Review by: Ari Samuel Alkalay Appel

El espacio improbable de un haikú (“The Unlikely Space of a Haiku”) written by Sergio Inestrosa and translated by Margaret Young is a collection of short poems that explores the themes of language, beauty, love, loss, homecoming, and the pursuit of self-realization, all in the forms of the haiku and the senryu. Small Japanese drawings accompany the poems on some of the pages. With just over one-hundred poems, the work makes a good introduction to the forms for those new to them, and for experienced readers, it challenges possibilities. The title influenced my reading of the collection, begging me to think about the haiku as a space rather than a form, a space in which we can rest, meet each other, or encounter forces greater than ourselves. The idea that this space is “unlikely” implies that the architecture of the haiku may contain hidden corridors to places we would not usually go. The time spent in a haiku is brief, less than one breath. Just as the heartbeat is the meter of the body, so breath is the meter of the mind, an indivisible unit of life. Inestrosa explores the poetic possibilities of a breath as a venue for thought. 

With some exceptions, the first three-quarters of the book are love poems, and the final quarter are existential poems. Some of the love poems manage to depict a tragedy in few words, such as “my life depends upon / the ration of time / you spend on me.” Some convey longing and impatience: “what good are dreams, / if you will never / appear in them.” Others convey physical desire: “my fingers grazing / the skin of your hips; / sets the room on fire.” 

The existential poems are my favorite, including: “low tide / broken shells, trash / on every beach,” which elucidates a 21st century conundrum, “lips are silent / through tears / the eyes speak,” which packs an impressive level of metaphorical significance into a small space, and my personal favorite, “where have I gone? / I can’t find myself anymore / in this mirror.” This last poem is haunting: if the first-person narrator can’t find herself in her reflection, where could she have gone? The paradox is that if one is lost, a mirror only reflects a lost person. One cannot find herself there. The mirror reflects the visual but not the metaphysical. Famously afraid of mirrors, Jorge Luis Borges might have been fond of this poem.

Each poem is printed first in Spanish, then in English. I enjoyed both versions together, sometimes the Spanish more and sometimes the English as standalone poems, but always their unity above all. One poem in which the translation really shines is “arde espuma / en la cresta de una ola / juegan delfines” (“froth blazes / on the wave’s crest / dolphins play”). The verb “blazes” utilizes the semantic repertoire of the English language to enhance the Spanish version. 

In my favorite poem about mirrors, I would change the translation. The Spanish is as follows: “¿dónde me he ido? / que ya no me encuentro; / en este espejo.” The English is printed above. In the Spanish, the second line is connected to the first syntactically with the word “que,” which is lost in the English. The “que ya” cannot be translated directly, but “now that” at the beginning of the second line in place of “any more” at the end would have at least maintained the syntactic connection between the first two lines. Despite this, many of the poems are clarified and enhanced by their translations. The book is simply not the same as a monolingual text. Reading it bilingually gives the poems more texture and resolution. An inhale prepares the reader for the page, an exhale reads the Spanish, an inhale processes what was read, an exhale reads the English, and finally, an inhale comprehends the poem as one: Spanish and English.

Taken together, El espacio improbable de un haikú (“The Unlikely Space of a Haiku”) by Sergio Inestrosa translated by Margaret Young is a beautiful and insightful volume of poems. It is nice as a book to peruse or to place on a coffee table and open to any page.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Endicott Review Volume 35, Issue 1 Review by Zvi A. Sesling ( Brookline Poet Laureate)

The Endicott Review
Volume 35, Issue 1
Spring 2018
Copyright © 2018 by The Endicott Review
Softbound, 68 pages, no price provided

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

One often hears of the talented writers and artists in the Ivy League and other large colleges. However, at Endicott College there is enough talent to satisfy most aficionados.
Their 2018 Spring Issue is loaded with fine poetry, wonderful art and photography.

Take Dani Comorre’s I am… in which the author tells you their persona – or does not tell you:

I am…
a scientist forced to write poetry that might actually make sense
the brim of a hat that can be manipulated
bent or straightened forward or backward
the sugar at the bottom of your coffee
too sweet you can’t drink the last sip
as stable as a three-legged chair
a bicycle with square wheels
the rainbow coming from the pot of gold
the college student too old to be young but too young to be old
the one that’s too much, but is never enough

You can see the potential in this poet and it will be interesting to see how the poet will write this again and again in 10, 20 or30 years.

Rebecca Kenneally, a faculty member, observes nature. Here is her short poem Celebration which celebrates what many people would abhor.

The spiders came out in the night
and left streamers of silver
draped delicately over leaf and stem,
over goldenrod and birch.
I know the party wasn’t for me,
but I was honored all the same.

There are some other poems, for example, Sunflowers by Olivia Perez-O’Dess in which love and hate merge into love. There is also Symphony of Nature in which Dan Calnan ( The Ibbetson Street Press/Endicott College Young Poet for 2018), questions-- then reaches a conclusion for readers to contemplate. While both of these poems are too long to reproduce here, getting the publication will give readers the chance to read these and other poems see wonderful visual arts, among which are photos by Sydney Kimball and Mackenzie Corey, Jeff Thor, Jenna Valentine and an eerie one by Laura Cunningham. Some of the art works are excellent examples of photo-realism in which art can be easily compared to photographs. These include works such as Abbey Laurin’s humorous presentation of a woman tying a knot in a headband, Abigail Suchocki’s suggestive girl eating what appears to be a carrot and Ben Dages portrait of a male.

There are many other writings worth reading and art and photographs worth viewing. Hopefully the college will put them on exhibit for the public to enjoy.

Zvi A. Sesling
Reviewer for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene
Author, The Lynching of Leo Frank