Monday, July 24, 2017

your midsummer annogram

Free Ferry gains momentum

Thanks to everyone who continues to purchase, read, and gift Free Ferry with such enthusiasm. I am excited to be reading at events this fall at CUNY and Fordham celebrating the 75th anniversary of the isolation of plutonium—a largely unknown history and the bottom narrative in Free Ferry

Imagine my shock when I walked into this Vermont scene that matched the cover of the book! 

More good news

Select translations from Hélène Sanguinetti’s Et voici la chanson (Editions de L’Amandier, 2012) and Le Héros (Flammarion, 2008) will appear respectively in Transference and St. Petersburg Review.  I can’t wait to read Hélène’s latest, Domain des englués (Lettre Volee).  In addition, Main Street Rag Press will publish “Trackside Commissary” in its anthology Of Burgers and Barrooms.

Stamford Arts Festival

I will be reading Saturday, July 29, at 2pm at the Stamford Arts Festival. Poets include Edward Ahern, Alison McBain, Lisa Pierce Flores, and Roberta Strom. In the morning, stop by and a poet will write a poem just for you! Or lend your voice in a group reading of well-known poems. Thanks to Jerry T. Johnson for organizing the 10am – 5pm event at Harbor Point, which repeats with more poets Sunday.

Ron Tanner in the Middle of the Pacific

Ron Tanner’s youth in the Marshall Islands led to his wry, politically complex novel, Missile Paradise (Ig Publishing, 2016). In my interview with him, he reveals the surprising advice he gives new writers. The long-time professor and former AWP head also weighs in if his multiple interests limit or advance his creativity.  I’ve learned from this generous writer and so will you!

Touring Vermont backroads

Rustic Vermont farm
My amazing girlfriends surprised me with a backroads adventure! In a comfortable mini-bus, we enjoyed views of Mt. Equinox and one or two of Manchester’s multimillion-dollar homes. Our guide, Sharon, shared demographics on today’s Vermonters—everyone from former CEOs and the Chief of the Abenaki Tribe, to artisans, telecommuters, and farmers.

Communing with alpaca
A downpour prevented a hike into the Merck Forest, so we headed to a gift shop to sample three grades of maple syrup.  At an alpaca farm, the camel-like beasts stared at us with their otherworldly black eyes. Finally, we passed the Cephas Kent house, considered the birthplace of Vermont, 14th state to join the union. 

Such fun—and thanks to Sharon who epitomizes a Yankee welcome.

Linda Simone
Simone and Smith at the Tobin

Watercolorist Linda Simone is excited to be exhibiting artwork at the Tobin Library in San Antonio with her good and talented friend Vera Smith. "If you're in the neighborhood," Linda says, "please stop by and take a look!" The paintings will be up through the first week in September.

NYC Poetry Festival

The free NYC Poetry Festival takes place July 29-30, 11am - 6pm, on Governors Island. Be sure to see annogram friends Christine Beck, Susana H. Case,and Gary Glauber Saturday at 1:30pm, and  Meredith Trede, Mervyn Taylor, and Estha Weiner Sunday at noon—all on the Algonquin Stage.

Mad for ModPo

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
What’s it like to take a comprehensive Ivy League poetry course? Sign up for ModPo. The University of Pennsylvania’s 10-week course in modern and contemporary US poetry, opens September 9—free, online, open to all. New poems and videos will be featured in ModPoPLUS and its Teacher Resource Center will help instructors teach the poetry. Enroll here.

The Perfect Wife and the Other Woman

I always mocked the title of this Manchester, Vermont restaurant until my friends and I dined there after our backroads tour—that is, in the Other Woman Tavern, on a lovely patio overlooking a wildflower garden.  Wow!  Was the meal extraordinary! Chef-owner Amy Chamberlin has a spectacular menu in a picturesque country setting.  To celebrate this find, I offer a recipe from her baker.

Amber’s Strawberry Shortcake

2 ½ cups flour
1/3 cup sugar plus extra for dusting
1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
2 ½ sticks butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 scant cup milk, whisked with
3 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
Two pints strawberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in chilled butter. Mix in eggs and milk (leave lumpy). Pour into greased and floured 10-inch cake pan or 12 muffin tins. Bake 25-30 minutes. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar as they come out of the oven. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out. Serve room temp or slightly warm with fresh, local, lightly sweetened strawberries.

Creative opportunities

Action Theater Improv August workshops in Brooklyn, $15 each

Hélène Sanguinetti

New releases

How a Poem Can Happen (Red Spruce Press)

Domain des englues (Lettre Volee) by Hélène Sanguinetti

Readings / events
Ruth Irupé Sanabria

HVWC, August 6, 4:30pm, poets Theresa Senato Edwards, Howie Faerstein, Paul Richmond, Cheryl Rice, Neil Silberblatt, $10

HVWC, August 16, Liz Burk, Carla Carlson, Gillian Cummings, Anne Graue, Ruth Handel, Caroline Holme, Melissa Ragsly, $10
Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

Poets House, Kray Hall, August 3, 7pm, Aziza Barnes, Ching-In, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, DéLana R. A. Dameron

Prismatic Park at Madison Square Park, Joshua Bennett in The Envy of the World, August 15-20, 12-5pm

Bryant Park, August 29, 7pm, Cave Canem poets Teri Cross Davis, Cynthia Manick, Ladan Osman, Iain Haley Pollock

ʾRound the Net

More alpaca
Backroad Discovery Tours for its fantastic sampler tour through southern Vermont

Curator and art historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for this definitive list of must-see summer art shows

Poet Gary Glauber on having two poems in Pamplemousse

Poet Cindy Hochman for her poem in Unbroken Journal

Novelist Petra Lewis for her speech at A Better Chance on artists prospering in the digital age

Lines + Stars Journal for its half-dozen Best of the Net nominees
Tracy K. Smith

The New York Public Library for its summer reading recommendations

Poet Linda Simone for discovering the high art of the Lamp Shade Lady

Poet Tracy K. Smith on being named our new US Poet Laureate

Novelist Ron Tanner for addressing practical questions writers have on his website

Ah, midsummer! May you relax into its deep greens and oncoming August golds. As I close this annogram, I am grateful for your embrace of Free Ferry. So many say it uncannily reflects our world. If you’ve read Free Ferry, please go to Amazon and Goodreads to review it. Thanks, and wishing you your own summer adventures!

Until next time,

Friday, June 30, 2017

your early summer annogram

Free Ferry launch at Fordham

Fordham University hosted a fantastic book launch for Free Ferry!  We had more than 40 attendees at the Westchester campus, a beautiful building tucked in the woods off Westchester Avenue.  

Dr. Larry Faltz and I read Free Ferry
For the reading, our good friend Dr. Larry Faltz agreed to read the bottom, more scientific, narrative while I covered the top more domestic poems—and our audience loved the blend of our two distinct voices. 

Afterwards, our reception featured music from Getz/Gilberto as well as a buffet from Patisserie Salzburg. Alas, I never made it to the exquisite butter cookies because I was signing books—Face Painting in the Dark and Free Ferry

Elyse Faltz, Helen Honig, yours truly,
Michael Cefola and Ruth Handel
A problem every author should have, and I am grateful to everyone who purchased my work.  Thanks to Deborah Coulter, Michael Holstein, and Sarah Bracey White for taking great photos, and please keep those comments coming on Amazon and Goodreads.

Suzanne Cleary on Risk-Taking in Poetry

Suzanne Cleary
I have long admired Suzanne’s poetry, and was thrilled when she wrote a blurb for Free Ferry.  Now I turn the tables to discover how she gets away with rule-breaking in “Elm Street,” which appeared this year in Poetry Daily

The interview, which includes the poem, features quotes such as “I feel no need to demystify poetry. A good poem is mysterious, most especially to poets. Being mystified by a poem is a great first step in reading it, but since our society values mastery, not mystery, what is a teacher to do?” Read our conversation to find out!

More good news

Deepest thanks to poet Mary McCray for the outstanding review of Free Ferry on Big Bang Poetry.  In addition, my poem, “Trackside Commissary,” had been selected for the Main Street Rag Press anthology, Of Burgers & Barrooms; and my translation of chapter 9 from Hélène Sanguinetti’s Le Héros (Flammarion, 2008) will debut shortly in St. Petersburg Review.

Sounds of Summer at Jacob Burns

Patsy Cline (1932-1963)
Jacob Burns Film Center has assembled top music documentaries for its Sounds of Summer festival through August 17. Classics like Stop Making Sense and newer releases such as Two Trains Runnin’ showcase performances by Patsy Cline, The Band, Otis Redding, Talking Heads, The Beatles, Eagles of Death Metal, and more!  Groove to the trailer here.

Stuck in driveway listening to the car radio

Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) and
Brian May
Waiting for Brian May’s guitar to erupt in Queen’s “We will rock you.” After Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) repeats the chorus three times, May rips into a lush electric solo, ably dismantling the stark if hypnotic beat. The Mirror (UK) crowned May guitarist in a fantasy super group survey with Paul McCartney (bass), Phil Collins (drums), and Adele (vocalist).  Hmm. Now how about that US super group?

Creative opportunities

Barrow Street Book Prize – submit by June 30

MassMOCA one-to-eight week residencies – apply by July 6

New releases

The Pedestal – June issue edited by John Amen

AMP – Issue 2 edited by Janet Kaplan

Herald by Roberta P. Feins (Autumn House Press)

The Sports Bucket List by Rob Fleder, Steve Hoffman (Harper Collins)

The Bottle Diggers by Andrea Fry (Turning Point)

The Third Voice: Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration by Eric Greinke (Presa Press)

Big Bang Poetry Summer Newsletter edited by Mary McCray

Thank You for Listening by Sean Pessin (Mindmade Books)

Poetry / literary events

Idra Novey
Canaan Meetinghouse, 7:30pm, July 6, Cynthia Huntington, Rick Moody; July 13, James Wright, Megan Abbott; July 20, April Ossmann, Victoria Redel; July 27: Major Jackson,  Alexander Chee

Bowery Poetry Club, July 3, 6pm, Taran Singh, free

Dixon Place, July 3, 7:30pm, variety show featuring Rachel Cohen, $10 donation

Bowery Poetry Club, July 9, 3:30pm, Thylia Moss

Bryant Park Reading Room, July 11, 7pm, Cheryl Boyce Taylor, Reggie Cabico, Elana Bell, Duy Doan; July 18, Dan Magers, Monica McClure, Niina Polari, Sampson Starweather; July 25, John Andrews, Kazim Ali, Kaveh Akbar, Kazumi Chin, Michelle Lin

HVWC, July 12, 7:30pm, Idra Novey, Alex Mar, $10

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Here's what's in my lunch box—fresh, simple, delicious!

8 oz organic baby spinach leaves, stems removed
8 organic strawberries, sliced
handful of walnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp sunflower oil

Layer spinach, walnuts and strawberries.  Add vinegar and oil, and toss salad.  You can also switch out the strawberries for a tart apple like Pink Lady, and the walnuts for pistachios.

ʼRound the Net

Bowery Poetry Club for alerting us to Taran’s Free Jazz Hour, radio program out of France

Readers from Whitman, Alabama
Deaf Community activist Florence Camace for sharing Minnie and Mickey’s use of sign language with a child

Filmmaker Jennifer Crandall for recording Alabamians reading Whitman—a new video each week

Poet Terry Dugan for this piece featuring three translators responding to the film “Arrival”

Poet Eric Greinke on debut of The Third Voice: Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration (Presa Press)

Former NYS poet laureate Marie Howe for pairing poets with commuters to write their stories

Freddie King (1934-1976)
Art Historian Laura Morelli for revealing the history of maiolica from Umbria

Bassist and blues expert Larry Schwartzman for this amazing Freddie King clip

Program host Toni Quest for doing a great interview with curator and art historian Beth Gersh-Nesic

Closing June with gratitude for the annogram community and your overwhelming support for Free Ferry.  Many are gifting it to the scientists, mathematicians, and astrophysicists in their lives! I am honored and encourage you to purchase the book directly from Upper Hand Press to support its first foray into poetry.

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

your last-day-of-may annogram

Free Ferry arrives

Free Ferry, my latest book, debuted last month, and I thank everyone who bought it and shared reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook. Many of you say that you could not put it down, reading it two and three times. I invite you to write reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook. Congratulations to my publisher, Ann Starr, on the first book in her Booktree Poetry Series! 

Howard Mandel on Astrud Gilberto and the Bossa Nova

To celebrate Free Ferry’s debut, I am interviewing artists who
Astrud Gilberto
contributed to it. First was with cover designer extraordinaire Dave Provolo, and second, a fantastic interview with jazz critic Howard Mandel on Gilberto and the Bossa Nova. I learned much from Howard, and you will too—looking back to a time in US history not unlike our own. Rio resident George Kraus informs us that “The Girl From Ipanema” was written by poet Vinicius de Moraes, and recommends the cool bossa nova sounds of João Bosco

Eddie Van Halen
Driving around listening to the radio

Amazing things happen when I’m driving in my car—from comprehending the blues for the first time, to hearing author Brad Watson on The Write Stuff last month. Watson read from Miss Jane (WW Norton, 2016), so compelling a book that I immediately got it from the library. Miss Jane is one of the most beautiful and tender books I’ve read in a long time. And to counter that, I went wild over the Van Halen solo that leads up to “You Really Got Me,” which unleashed my best Beavis and Butt-head imitation at a stoplight.

Brooklyn Performance Combine

This Saturday, June 3, at 7pm, you can see Rachel Cohen, director of the Racoco Productions, perform in Norte Maar's spectacular Brooklyn Performance Combine. The unlikely production unites all art forms in a cohesive 120-minute event featuring a dozen painters and performers with poets Bob Holman and Dara Mandel with special guest, meteorologist Amy Freeze. Click here to purchase tickets ($15, $20, $40) and for directions to the venue.

New releases

Avowed by Julie R. Enszer (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Barren Island by Carol Zoref (New Issues Poetry + Prose)

lllusion of an Overwhelm by John Amen (New York Quarterly Books)

Shiva Moon by Maxine Silverman (Ben Yehuda Press)

Creative opportunities

Donna Zucker

Family History 101 with Donna Zucker, June 11, 12:30-4:30pm, $124

One-Day Literary Translation Institute, June 16, 10-4:30pm, free; by June 9,
email sample translated poem or prose to

Poetry / literary events

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
Poets House, June 1, 7pm, Cheryl Clark on Gwendolyn Brooks

HVWC, June 2, 7:30pm, Alex Dimitrov, Alan Felsenthal

Poets House, June 7, 7pm, emerging poets

HVWC, June 9, 7:30pm, Mervyn Taylor, Maeve Kinkead

HVWC, June 21, Rebecca Shiff, Rumaan Alam

Poets House, June 22, 6pm reception, 7pm reading, annual book showcase

Vermont-inspired Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Just back from Vermont where, among other delights, I enjoyed a jewel-like slice of strawberry rhubarb pie. In honor of that state’s lilac-filled spring air, and the visual profusion of green, I offer this delicious-looking recipe from Simply Recipes:

3 1/2 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar (sweeten to taste)
4 tablespoons quick cooking ("minute") tapioca
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
(If 10-inch pie, use 4 cups rhubarb, 2 1/2 cups strawberries, 1 1/4 cup of sugar)

*In large bowl whisk 2 cups flour, teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar. Add 2 sticks butter cut into cubes. Use hands to mush until it forms a coarse meal. With fork, add 1/2 cup sour cream; form large ball, and cut into two pieces. Form each into a disk, wrap with plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat 400°F oven. In large bowl, gently combine rhubarb and strawberries with sugar, tapioca, salt, and orange zest. Let sit 10 minutes. Roll pastry dough and line pie dish. Trim 1/2 inch from edge. Place filling in pastry lined dish. Roll second dough and place over pie. Trim edges an inch from edge. Tuck and crimp top crust over bottom. Cut slits in top, place pie on oven middle rack, with baking sheet on lower rack to catch juice. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 350°F, bake 40-50 minutes longer (50-60 minutes if 10-inch). When browned and filling bubbles, remove from oven and let cool on rack.

ʼRound the Net

Margaret Fuller, second from left,
accepts La Plume d'Ore
Poets and Writers for the "Books are Magic" video

Writer Jim Barry for this hilarious SNL skit about Alexa for seniors

Memoirist Sarah Bracey White for this new podcast about her popular book, Primary Lessons

French teacher Margaret Fuller on winning La Plume d'Or from the French government

C. M. Mayo
Editor Louis Hoffman PhD, for accepting my poem, “Trying to Be Alcoholic,” for Silent Screams: Poetic Journeys Through Addiction and Recovery (University Professors Press)

Lakota Children's Enrichment for announcing the young poets and writers who won its annual writing challenge

Poet/novelist/translator C. M. Mayo on being selected artist-in-residence at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Ted Hughes (1930-1998) and
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
Art historian Laura Morelli on the history of the Venetian carnival mask

Poet/artist Linda Simone for this great opening paragraph and article and discovery of new Plath poems

The Telegraph's list of best poetry books of all time

Summer’s right around the corner!  Wishing you delights of the season and creative productivity as profuse as the green all around us.

Until next time,