Friday, November 02, 2018

The Sunday Poet: El Ayala

El Ayala

El Ayala is a freshman at Endicott College majoring in Liberal Studies. She is originally from Norwalk, Connecticut and has been crafting stories and poems since before she could write.

If I Was a Spy…

If I was a spy,
that’d be a delight.
With girls and villains
and slow-motion fights.
I’ll arrive to the party,
pull up in a Rolls Royce.
As the girls all fawn,
they’ll all be my choice.
No one will know
exactly who I am.
Just that I’m important-
yes ma’am, no ma’am.
I’ll be an international spy, from a special agency, yes!
I’ll have shootouts in Paris,
crack a code in Hong Kong.
Sometimes when I’m leaving
I’d hum my theme song.
I’d be renowned, oh baby!
You’d all hear the story
of a lass, in gray converse,
making bad guys sorry.
A famous spy, the best kind.
I’d hide in the crowd.
They’d come for me, angry,
and see me standing all proud.
I’d be the best spy,
a spy like no other,
but I’ll never be a spy.
Instead, I’m a mother.
I’m not out defusing bombs,
I’m defusing tantrums.
I’m not finding empty vaults,
I’m filling empty tums.
I’m not breaking villain’s knuckles,
I’m holding a small hand.
I’m not fighting terrorists,
I’m negotiating demands.
Instead of my Rolls Royce,
I have a Chevy Traverse.
I’m not the best spy in the world,
I’m the best mom in the universe.

Women Musicians Network 22nd annual concert, Thursday, Nov. 8th.

Women Musicians Network 
22nd annual concert, Thursday, Nov. 8th. 

By Kirk Etherton

This may be the most amazingly diverse--plus high-quality--concert you've ever seen. (If you've been to a previous WMN concert, you know what I mean.)

As usual, it's at the Berklee Performance Center, from 8:00 - 9:30 pm., with a focus on Berklee women and their bands from around the world--plus special guests. But every year is different.

This year, you'll see 10 original acts: Rock, Balkan folk, Latin Jazz, Neo-classical, favorite act this year (I'm "connected," so I see some acts in advance) is probably "Orange Delivery," because it is so simple and charming. Wait: maybe it's "Crossing Reality," which is high-energy big band jazz. Then again, the Taiko drumming act is fantastic. But of course there's....

Well, you get the idea. No wonder this annual show has gotten special commendations from the Cambridge Mayor's Office and the Mass. House of Representatives, and been featured on WGBH's "Eric in the Evening."

NOTE: Check out the fine WMN website, recently created by Claire Mulvaney, the group's student leader. Go to:

For years, a popular headline for this concert has been, "Once a year, there's a once-in-a-lifetime show." In other words, don't miss it!

And if you really can't attend, do the next best thing: watch via Concert Window, as it's live-streamed around the world from the B.P.C. (which has a fantastic sound system, so be there if you can!).

Women Musicians Network

22nd annual concert

Berklee Performance Center

8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Tickets: only $10 in advance / $15 day of show


Directed by Lucy Holstedt & Christiane Karam

Supported by Berklee's Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & the Percussion Department, plus Boston Union Realty

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Evolution by Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles

Evolution by Eileen Myles, Grove Press, New York, 222 pages, $23.00.


Eileen Myles is the rarest of birds: a celebrity poet. She is well-known, partly by her associations. She hung out with Ginsberg and Berrigan back in the sixties, and in the recent past, she was girlfriends with Jill Soloway, the writer and producer of Transparent (a character on the show was modeled on Myles). A couple of her poems were quoted on the show. Myles wrote an essay about getting paid to write poetry in which she talks about having to ask for money for the poetry used on the show. She also talks about selling a poem in exchange for a room at an inn in North Carolina. Good deal.

Although Myles was born in Cambridge and went to Catholic school in Arlington, she is a New Yorker by temperament and she has that openness in her writing that you will experience if you happen to engage a New Yorker in conversation. A recent piece in the New York Times by Irish transplant Maeve Higgins lamented that in America, there’s no small talk. What she meant was in New York. New Yorkers will jump right in and tell you anything. Myles’ writing is like that. In some cases, this is good because the writer appears both vulnerable and likeable. In other case it can get self-indulgent and narcissistic.

I became an Eileen Myles fan when I read her poem “An American Poem” in which she responds to people in New York, who, upon learning she is from Boston, want to know if she is related to the Kennedys. In the poem, Myles writes as if she is indeed, a reluctant member of the Kennedy clan:

I was born in Boston in
1949. I never wanted
this fact to be known, in
fact I’ve spent the better
half of my adult life
trying to sweep my early
years under the carpet
and have a life that
was clearly just mine
and independent of
the historic fate of
my family.

She goes on from there and ends the poem like this:

It is not normal for
me to be a Kennedy.
But I am no longer
ashamed, no longer
alone. I am not
alone tonight because
we are all Kennedys.
And I am your President.

So it is witty and very informal but fresh and inventive. If you haven’t read the rest of the poem, it is available for free online at the Poetry Foundation site.

Chelsea Girls, a fiction/memoir by Myles is also worth reading, particularly if you are from the Boston area. She starts it with this story about her friend being arrested at a party. Myles chases the arresting officer out of the house and jumps on his back. When she is handcuffed, she tells the police, you can’t arrest me, I’m a poet.

I have a copy of Myles’ new book, Evolution, two hundred pages of mostly poems and a couple of essays. One of the fears of poets and I imagine, all writers, is that you’ll reach a certain age and you’ll run out of gas; like an athlete, you just won’t have it anymore. Stephen King once said that the problem with being famous is that you’ll drink your own Kool-Aid and believe everything you write is good because you wrote it. In Evolution, Myles suffers from both of these problems. Here’s the beginning of the first poem in the book:

so I buy
a diet coke &
a newspaper
a version of “me”
about me on the
earth & its sneakers
& feeling like
the earth’s furniture

Is this poetry or a journal entry? Is it interesting? She is writing about being famous I guess. Five pages later the poem ends:

new starts
up in
my building
a different

Myles is using the line breaks with one, or two word lines to create surprise but really there just isn’t much going on here. I was looking forward to reading Evolution but I could have made better use of my time by say, cleaning my room or taking a nap. You just never know what you’ll run into today when it comes to poetry. There is no reliable magazine or journal or website that you can go to and find good writing. I suppose it is like this in any given age. It is only after we’re dead and our descendants have sifted through the rubble that they will figure out who the Emily D and Walt W of our age was.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Art Farm in Somerville

A note from Greg Jenkins--Director of The Somerville Arts Council:

Hello.  I’m writing to request your help and support for our ArtFarm capital project.   As many of you know, or have participated in community meetings (thank you again), ArtFarm is a capital project for the City of Somerville to convert the former 2.1 acre waste transfer site into a “creative commons”   

We conducted over 7 public meetings and have determined to focus on area that would transform the site and serve the broader community.  The site’s utility will provide:

·        2.1 acres of open space/passive recreation that will include;
·        5,500 sq. ft. ArtBarn to provide indoor space for performances, meetings, gallery space, a future/potential cafĂ© space;
·        Community gardens for the general public
·        Large outdoor civic space for events and passive recreation
·        Urban agricultural initiatives with our current partners of Groundwork, Green City Growers, and the City’s own Shape up Somerville.  (these partnerships and activities are currently operational.)

Just recently we submitted a grant proposal for the third time (we withdrew the application the previous submittals due to construction timelines, etc.) to the Community Preservation Committee to support ArtFarm as we move forward in finalizing design development, construction documents in hopes of starting construction---to complete the ArtBarn and all the landscaping on half of site, next spring. 

I ask for your support and three minutes of time.

Please send a short support email to CPC administrator,  Kristen Stelljes: