Saturday, August 18, 2018

Spare Change News Poems: An Anthology of Homeless People and those Touched by Homelessness--Edited by Marc Goldfinger and Lee Varon

Spare Change News Poems: An Anthology of Homeless People and those Touched by Homelessness
Editors: Lee Varon and Mark Goldfinger
Ibbetson Street Press ( 2018)

Review by Doug Holder

In the introduction to the new anthology Spare Change News Poems... editors Lee Varon and Marc Golfinger write:

" The Spare Change News newspaper was founded in 1992 by a group of homeless individuals and a housed advocate. Since its inception, Spare Change News has worked to elevate the voices of the homeless and economically disadvantaged people in the Boston Area.

In these pages you will find the poetry of many people who are who are homeless, or who have been touched by homelessness in some way. You will find the poetry of veterans, of those with mental health issues, or those struggling with substance abuse disorder. You will find poems written by incarcerated or formerly incarcerated  people."

Personally-- I have a real connection to the paper not only for its laudable mission of giving the homeless a voice (and in some cases a chance to make a living by selling the paper),  but years ago I was an arts reporter under the managing editor at the time Linda Larson--and assisted the poetry editor Don DiVecchio. I worked closely with late assistant editor Cynthia Baron, and former editor Marc Goldinger, as well. I learned a lot during my tenure with all these people.  That being said, the poetry you will find in this anthology is not New Yorker-style work. It can be raw as the streets, visceral,  heartbreaking and even heartwarming.

There are many fine poets, with fine poems in this collection like: Martin Espada, Marge Piercy,  Alexis Ivy, the late Sarah Hannah and many more. In a poem by the editor Lee Varon  titled "Colleen,"  the poet uses colors to vividly portray a young woman doomed by her torrid love affair with heroin:

Heroin is white
      but your lips are blue
and blue is seeping into the room
where you passed out last week,
the room
where your head hit the floor,
blue dust is wafting from the ceiling,
oozing froom the floorboards...

In Martin Espada's poem " How We Could Haved Lived and Died This Way," Espada quotes Whitman,

Not songs of loyalty alone are these,
but songs of insurrection also,
For I am the sworn poet of every dauntless rebel the world

Here in hardscrabble detail Espada, like Whitman, takes it all in-and sings a song for the marginal rebels who survive or don't survive the vagaries of the street:

I see the dark -skinned bodies falling in the street as their ancestors fell
before the whip and steel, the last blood pooling, the last breath spitting.
I see the immigrant street vendor flashing his wallet to the cops,
shot so many times there are bullet holes in the side of his feet....
I see the man hawking
a fistful of cigarettes, the cop's chokehold that makes his wheezing
lungs stop wheezing forever. I am in the crowd, at the window,
kneeling beside the body left on the asphalt for hours, covered in a sheet.

From reading this poetry it is evident that there is tragedy, and beauty on these mean streets  and perhaps. ..salvation.

There will be a reading at Porter Square Books in Cambridge  7PM  Aug 22

To order the book go to:



Friday, August 17, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Meg Smith

Poet Meg Smith

Meg Smith is a poet, journalist, dancer and events producer living in Lowell, Mass.

Her poems have appeared in The Cafe Review, Poetry Bay, Astropoetica, Illumen, Dreams & Nightmares, the Dwarf Stars anthology of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association and many more.

As a journalist, her coverage has been in honored by the New England Newspaper And Press Association, including first place awards for coverage of racial and ethnic issues, and coverage of religion.

She is a past board member of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! and produces the Edgar Allan Poe Show, honoring Poe's presence in Lowell, Mass. She recently published a second book of poetry, Dear Deepest Ghost, available on Amazon.

The Amulet

For keeping,
on a Cairo balcony
gardens of satellite dishes
rooftop flowers
and rose-colored dusk
calling, chanting.
I know
every life here.
I hold this, close,
wearing, to signify,
everything copper,
everything in a diminishing sun.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Hastings Room Reading Series Presents: Seamus Heaney Memorial Reading: August 29th 7PM Tobin, Buchinger, Vincenz

Seamus Heaney Memorial Reading

The Hastings Room Reading Series presents   August 29th  7PM

Polished linoleum shone there. Brass taps shone.
The china cups were very white and big—
An unchipped set with sugar bowl and jug…
“Clearances” from The Haw Lantern

W i t h g u e s t r e a d e r s—

Daniel Tobin is the author of eight books of poems, most recently of The Stone in the Air, his suite
of versions from the German of Paul Celan (Salmon Poetry, 2018). The translation is called “lucid and lyrical” by Stephan Schneider. Tobin’s many honors include the Julia Ward Howe Award, The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry, "The Discovery/​The Nation Award,"the Robert Frost Fellowship, and creative writing fellowships in poetry from the National Endowmentfor the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Mary Buchinger is the author of three books of poetry, most recently e i n f ΓΌ h l u n g/in feeling (Main Street Rag, 2018) and Aerialist (2015, Gold Wake). Her poetry was chosen for the Raining Poetry Project on Boston sidewalks and will be permanently installed in the city of Cambridge, where she has served as a Cambridge Poetry Ambassador. She’s been a featured reader at the Library of Congress and is President of the New England Poetry Club (founded by Robert Frost, Amy Lowell, Conrad Aiken).

Marc Vincenz has published twelve books of poetry, including, most recently, Becoming the Sound of Bees (Ampersand Press, 2016), Leaning into the Infinite (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and The Syndicate of Water & Light (Station Hill, 2018). He is also a prolific translator and has translated from the German, Romanian and French. His work has received fellowships and grants from the Swiss Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. 

 7pm at Christ Church ,O Garden Street--just outside of Harvard Square..