Saturday, July 07, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Jessica Harman

Jessica Harman

 Jessica Harman earned her B.A. in Creative Writing from Concordia University in 1999. She earned her M.A. in Health Communication from Emerson College in 2003. Her collection of stories, "Wild Stabs at Love, or Something Like It," was published as a free ebook by Philistine Press. "Dream Catcher," a full-length poetry collection, was published by Aldrich Press in 2013. "The Landscape Revolving around Us," a full-length poetry collection, will be published by Aldrich Press in 2019. She has numerous chapbooks of poetry available from Alternating Current. Her poems and translations (from the Latin) have appeared in "Arion," "Bellevue Literary Review," "Orbis," "Tears in Fence," and "White Whale Review." Her first chapbook, "My Journey as an Unharmonious Being," was published by Flarestack Publishing, and is now a collector's item. She lives in Maryland.

A Cold Morning

I’ve faded, now. I’ve become round, heavy, sad, even.
Here I am, a photograph in your wallet,
Still looking like a cheerleader. Years ago,
I posed with a violin, letting silence fill the light,

And my expression for your camera
Gave the illusion of a sonata played wonderfully.
Now, I’m miles and stories away from then.

I’ve dreamed, and nearly died awakening.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Poets sprouting at the Somerville Community Growing Center

Monica Hileman

Poets sprouting at the Somerville Community Growing Center

By Doug Holder

Monica Hileman joined me at my table at Remnant Brewing in the new Bow St. Market in Union Square, Somerville.  The large wooden table, the view of the courtyard, the tasty brews—made a perfect spot for conversation. Like many artists that I have spoken to Hileman had to move from our city because of the rapid gentrification we experience here. She now lives in Medford— in  a section that borders on Somerville.  Hileman reflected, “ Somerville is a lot like Williamsburg, Brooklyn now—many people are being forced out because of the high rents. Still it has a lot of things going for it, and I still want to be part of it.”

Hileman has a long history in Somerville. She had worked years ago as an aide to the now State Senator Pat Jehlen, as well as working for the  Community Action Agency of Somerville in the 80s.

Hiileman, who has an MFA in Creative Writing, is primarily a fiction writer. And her stories have been in a host of topnotch literary magazines. She told me she completed a new novel that takes place in 1921 in Spain and Paris, after World War I.  She said, “It basically deals with the aftermath of war, and how people try to make sense of a world gone crazy.”

For a number of years Hileman has been a member of the Somerville Community Growing Center. According to the website of the organization they are "…much more than a green space, it is where community grows. Situated on a quarter of an acre of gently sloped hillside near Union Square…it hosts rich programming including environmental education, cultural performances, and offers unique volunteer opportunities.” Hileman’s brainchild was to host a “Poetry in the Garden”  reading series on these verdant grounds. I was interested why she chose poetry if she is  a dyed-in- the- wool fiction writer. She replied, “I find people have a taste for shorter pieces; and I love poetry-so…why not.”

I inquired about Hileman’s own taste in poetry. Her eyes lit up and she told me she is a big fan of Elizabeth Bishop. She reflected “She was a very visual poet, and I am a very visual writer. I loved her poem, 'Crusoe in England,'—it is heart- wrenching and beautiful.”

Hileman filled me in about the poetry series. She told me so far such accomplished poets like Jennifer Barber( founder of Salamander magazine), Scott Ruescher, Jacob Strautmann and others have read in the previous months.   During the summer of 2018 she will have such poets as Wyn Cooper, Ed Meek, Anna Warrock, Ralph Pennel, and others read from their work.

I encourage you all to attend the series. Experience the flora and fauna, not to mention the bards. For more information about the reading series go to:

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

I Wish Francisco Franco Would Love Me by Gloria Mindock

I Wish Francisco Franco Would Love Me
by Gloria Mindock
Copyright © 2018 Gloria Mindock
Nixes Mate Books
Allston, MA
ISBN 978-0-9993971-9-0
Softbound, 48 pages, $9.95

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

In her latest book of poetry Gloria Mindock resurrects Francisco Franco, the one-time brutal dictator of Spain. In previous works Mindock has provided descriptions of how dictatorships swim in the blood of victims. In I Wish Francisco Franco Would Love Me, Mindock uses Franco’s obsessiveness with a voice that shouts for an end to the cruelty of dictatorships everywhere.

Here is “Dictator” in which she tells readers about Franco and his ongoing need to destroy people:

A dictator is not a spectator.
A spectator is not a dictator.
Why do you make everyone in Spain listen?

Some will betray you, rise-up.
You do not love!
You do not love!
Brutal Franco!
Brutal Franco!
You slob!
Messy in the heart. Kicking it out of your chest.

Even your heart knows you have secrets
cascading down into your pants.

Throats are slit today, bullets are fired, bombs dropped.
Plaza’s preserved as killing fields.

Big man Franco leaves terror.
Too many Fathers are dead.
Never to hold their children again.
Killing in Bejar today …
Randomly killing what suits you.

Mindock is a particularly fine poet whose many dark works awaken people to the evil conduct of dictators-- which is often minimized in history and in the media, until the brave come forth to reveal the excesses of violence:

*In Les Milles a young girl raped at the age of ten somehow survives and is rescued so
“One less surrounded by dark colored roses,/a chill in the air and scars left on the face”

*”Big Killer Franco – Men want to shoot you in the back.? Turn your head towards them Franco./ Look them in the eye as they fire./But they don’t fire./You say, execute them and walk away./A grin on your face…/Customary.”

*”Franco murdered memories./The dead converse with their screams”

*”A hat falls on the ground boldly/hugging the blood”

And in the poem Orbit Mindock describes the aftermath of a bomb perfectly placed:

One bomb lunges
Chars the sunrise
Whispering graves now a museum
Scars left
Bones face the other planets
A planet showing what exile is

Mindock’s poetry is never to be taken lightly. It thrives on blood, torture and evil individuals while always letting the reader know that she is on the side of the oppressed wherever they live. In Blood Soaked Dresses and The Whiteness Of Bone she addressed the horrors of Central American dictatorships. And in this latest endeavor she reminds anyone who may want to remember Francisco Franco in some favorable fashion--that he was nothing more than a brutal dictator.

Zvi A. Sesling, author of The Lynching of Leo Frank
and the forthcoming War Zones (Nixes Mate Books)
Publisher & Editor of Muddy River Poetry Review
and Editor of Bagel Bard Anthologies 7,8 & 12
Poet Laureate, Brookline, MA.