Sunday, February 04, 2018

your antikythera annogram

Antikythera mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism, the world’s first computer built around 80 BCE, could track planetary and star movements, as well as predict astronomical events and dates for Olympic Games. Recovered in 1900 off Greek Isle Antikythera, its full potential remained unclear for centuries. Recent tomographic imaging allowed scientists to decode the device’s sophisticated design. Thanks to David Mestre, director of the Discovery Museum Planetarium, for presenting this intriguing tale at the January Westchester Amateur Astronomers meeting.

 More good news

The Andromeda Galaxy
My poem “Dogspel” will appear in Zoomorphic and “Andromeda at Midlife” in Celestial Musings: Poems Inspired by the Night Sky this spring. Proceeds from Celestial will benefit the Charles W. Brown Planetarium. As a Westchester Amateur Astronomer, that makes me happy!

American Writers Museum

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
In case you didn’t know, the American Writers Museum opened last May in Chicago. As the only museum devoted to American writers and their works, AWM connects visitors with favorite authors and writings from more than five centuries, while inspiring discovery of new works – poetry, lyrics, speeches, drama, fiction, nonfiction, journalism, and more. Sounds good! Let me know if you visit….

Kids Short Story Connection

Wren Awry
Know kids who want to write? Sign ‘em up for the Kids Short Story Connection! For 25 years, Greenburgh Director of Arts and Culture Sarah Bracey White, a writer herself, has run the program for writers ages 9 – 18. Graduates include filmmaker Zach Wigon, whose “The Heart Machine” premiered at Tribeca Film Festival; off-Broadway playwright Jan Rosenberg, and University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Wren Awry KSSC workshops recommence March 10; for info, email

Remembering Thomas Lux

Thomas Lux (1947-2017)
To honor poet Thomas Lux’s passing a year ago, CUNY Elebash Recital Hall will hold a tribute February 13, at 7pm, with Billy Collins, Terrance Hayes, Edward Hirsch, Marie Howe, Mary Karr, Jeffrey McDaniel, Patrick Rosal, Amber Tamblyn, and Vijay Seshadri. It still seems impossible that Tom – passionate poet, poetry advocate, kind teacher – is no longer on the planet. We miss you, Tom!

Kathe Gregory at Bromfield Gallery

Kathe Gregory
Kathe Gregory will have an exhibit of her PhotoDrawings at Bromfield Gallery in SoWa (South of Washington Street), Boston’s Arts and Design District, February 28 – April 1; reception, March 2, 6:30pm. Congratulations also to Kathe, my incredibly talented cousin, on winning Third Prize in photography at the Duxbury Art Association’s 2018 Winter Juried Show.

Between I and Thou Exhibit and Reading

On February 18, the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art will also pay homage to Thomas Lux in the exhibition, Between I and Thou; at 1:15pm, curator Livia Straus will lead a walk through; 2pm, Cal Lane, Leslie Pelino, Asya Reznikov and Antonio Santin will discuss their work; 4-5pm, poets for Writing the Walls: Between I and Thou will read their poems and a reception will follow 5-6pm. 

New releases

Jonathan Bracken, Concerning Poetry (Upper Hand Press, 2018)

Jerry T. Johnson, Morning to Morning (Kindle, 2018)

CM Mayo, trans. Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution (Dancing Chiva, 2017)

Susan Miller, The Communion of Saints (Paraclete Press, 2017)

Jennifer Wallace, Almost Entirely (Paraclete Press, 2017)

Carrot Ginger Soup

An easy and flavorful soup to brighten a chilly winter day. It’s from Allison Fishman’s You Can Trust a Skinny Cook (Wiley, 2011), healthy yet indulgent recipes.  Great with grilled cheese sandwiches….

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 large onion, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves or ¼ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp kosher salt
3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives or parsley, for garnish

Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, ginger, thyme, salt, and cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add broth to vegetables, raise heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and puree the soup with a stick blender.

Poetry / literary readings

Sarah Bracey White
JCC of Mid-Westchester, February 6, 10:30am, Sarah Bracey White on memoir

Kelly Writers House, February 8, 5pm, Rob Sheffield, author of Dreaming the Beatles

Kelly Writers House, February 13, 6pm, Emily Wilson, translator of The Odyssey

CUNY Elebash Recital Hall, February 13, 7pm, Tribute to Thomas Lux; Billy Collins, Terrance Hayes, Edward Hirsch, Marie Howe, Mary Karr, Jeffrey McDaniel, Patrick Rosal, Amber Tamblyn, Vijay Seshadri

Paul Auster
Kelly Writers House, February 14, 6:30pm, Paul Auster, rsvp

Harrison Public Library, February 17, 2pm, Sarah Bracey White on memoir

HVCCA, February 18, 4pm, Writing the Walls: Between I and Thou, poets read exhibit-inspired work

Freight House Cafe, February 21, 7pm, John McMullen and open mic

Creative opportunities

How to Write a Family History Book Workshop with Donna Zucker, February 10, 10-3,
Christina Rau

Yoga and writing workshop with Christina Rau, February 11, 2-4pm, $25

Spring courses at the Hudson Valley Writers Center

Weekly Poetry Workshops in Upper Westchester County

Round the Net

Regi Claire
Essayist Jim Barry for pointing out the first OED edition appeared this month in 1884

Short story writer Regi Claire for “We All Know About Desire” in For Books’ Sake Weekend Read

Art historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for her superb article on Modigliani in Bonjour Paris

Poet Gary Glauber for work in Verse Virtual and Verse Daily

Artist Melanie Janisse-Barlow for her portraits of poets

Art historian Laura Morelli for a few of her favorite things in her Amazon Store

Donald Sosin
Pianist Donald Sosin for accompanying silents like the 1929 Russian film “Fragment of an Empire” 

Publisher Ann Starr for nominating Free Ferry for the 21st Century’s Best Books

This seems a good way to close out your annogram. Read this poem, memorize it, live it.

Until next time,

An Horatian Notion
Thomas Lux

The thing gets made, gets built, and you’re the slave
who rolls the log beneath the block, then another,
then pushes the block, then pulls a log
from the rear back to the front
again and then again it goes beneath the block,
and so on. It’s how a thing gets made – not
because you’re sensitive, or you get genetic-lucky,
or God says: Here’s a nice family,
seven children, let’s see: this one in charge
of the village dunghill, these two die of buboes, this one
Kierkegaard, this one a drooling
nincompoop, this one clerk, this one cooper.
You need to love the thing you do – birdhouse building,
painting tulips exclusively, whatever – and then
you do it
so consciously driven
by your unconscious
that the thing becomes a wedge
that splits a stone and between the halves
the wedge then grows, i.e., the thing
is solid but with a soul,
a life of its own. Inspiration, the donnée,
the gift, the bolt of fire
down the arm that makes the art?
Grow up! Give me, please, a break!
You make the thing because you love the thing
and you love the thing because someone else loved it
enough to make you love it.
And with that your heart like a tent peg pounded
toward the earth’s core.
And with that your heart on a beam burns
through the ionosphere.
And with that you go to work.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

your new year's annogram

Happy new year, happy news

So much to share! For starters, my poem “Trackside Commissary” appears in the new anthology, Of Burgers and Barrooms (Main Street Rag Press). Then, Wendy Galgan, editor of Assisi, wrote a lovely review of Free Ferry—alongside reviews of two other books I want to read and you may too. Many thanks to Wendy and M. Scott Douglass, publisher of Main Street Rag.

Chax Press to publish The Hero

Hélène Sanguinetti
I’m thrilled to announce that this year Chax Press will publish The Hero, my translation of Hélène Sanguinetti’s Le Héros (Flammarion, 2008). Publisher Charles Alexander, a dedicated poet, translator, and book artist, admires the work’s “spareness” and “what happens across gaps—a kind of fireworks between thoughts.” Yes, it’s all that and more. Stay tuned!

Presence at St. Mary’s

Equally glad to have my translation of Sanguinetti’s “From Treatise of the Robin (Reverie)” appears in the upcoming Presence. The journal will host a reading January 20 at 6pm at St. Mary’s Church featuring readers from last and this year’s issues. Editor Mary Ann Miller publishes high quality poets and I encourage you to attend. Come for Mass first at 5pm if you like!

Modernism, Media and the Middle Class

John Lennon (1940-1980)
Thanks to Dr. Beth Gersh-Nesic for inviting me to read Free Ferry last semester at her Purchase College seminar, Modernism, Media and the Middle Class. Following a poetry exercise, students finger-snapped approval after hearing one another’s work. The element of surprise in each poem amazed me. “Did you expect John Lennon to show up?” I asked one student, and his answer was no. Delightful. Keep writing!

You Say You Want a Revolution
The New York Public Library opens its exhibit of influential cultural elements from 1960–74, You Say You Want a Revolution, on January 19. A counterculture-themed Library After Hours takes place that evening. Additionally, the Schomburg Center's Power in Print showcases Black Power art, with key collection items on display at the Library for the Performing Arts starting January 19.

Leonard Bernstein at 100

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Leonard Bernstein at 100 celebrates the centennial of America’s greatest classical composer and conductor. Drawing from more than 150 photographs, personal items, papers, scores, letters, costumes, furniture, and films, Leonard Bernstein at 100 and associated celebratory events are at the Library for the Performing Arts through March 23.

Sarah Bracey White
Sarah Bracey White on Writing Memoir

In celebration of African American History Month, Sarah Bracey White will be giving a talk, “Memoir: Where Past and Present Collide” at the JCC of Mid-Westchester on February 6 at 10:30am, and the Harrison Public Library on February 17 at 2pm. Sarah is the author of the wildly popular memoir Primary Lessons (Cavan Kerry Press, 2013), now in its fourth printing.

More accomplished than you imagine…

If you reached yearend and felt you did not accomplish as much as you wanted, listen up. My friend and colleague Barbara Dickinson is hosting a 90-minute free webinar which will explore last year’s accomplishments as the stage for realizing your 2018 dreams. Choose between January 19, 6pm (register here) or January 20, 2pm (register here). You’ll receive more info after registering.

Easy Pear Cobbler

When my wonderful cousin Katherine in Texas sent us a box of pears, this recipe helped us eat them as dessert and often breakfast. We also enjoyed them raw over the sink—as they are aptly called “kitchen sink pears” for their juiciness!  

2   cups sliced fresh pears
½ cup sugar
4  Tablespoons butter
34  cup flour
2  teaspoons baking powder
1   teaspoon cinnamon
14  teaspoon salt
34  cup milk
1   egg

Preheat oven to 325°F. Slice pears. Put butter in 2-quart casserole and place in oven until melted. Combine dry ingredients. Mix well. Beat egg and add to milk. Slowly combine with dry ingredients. Pour over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon pears on top. Do not stir. Bake for 1 hour. Serve hot or cold.

Creative opportunities

Donna Zucker
One-on-One Poetry Workshop with Arthur Vogelsang, apply by January 23

Weekly Poetry Workshops in Upper Westchester County

Poetry Workshop, John C Hart Library, January 24/every fourth Wednesday, 6pm; limit 12; email

How to Write a Family History Book Workshop with Donna Zucker, February 10, 10-3pm, $200

Spring courses at the Hudson Valley Writers Center

Poetry / literary readings

Zinc Bar, January 18, 6pm, James Sherry

Emily Wilson
92nd Street Y, January 18, 7:30pm, Derek Walcott tribute

HVWC, January 19, 7pm, open mic night, $5

St. Mary’s Church, January 20, 6pm, Presence 2017 and 2018 poets

Valley Cottage Library, January 28, 2pm, Maxine Silverman, Alison Stone

Upper Westchester County poetry readings and venues

HVWC, February 2, 7:30pm, Emily Wilson, translator of The Odyssey, $10

ʼRound the Net

Buddy Guy
Publisher John Amen on the 17th anniversary issue of the Pedestal Magazine

Poets Jacqueline Lapidus and Meredith Trede on poems in Persimmon Tree

Poet David Orr in the New York Times picks the best poetry books of 2017

Poet Gary Glauber on his Pushcart nomination and work in Stoneboat Literary Journal and Zeros

New York Public Library for its staff picks

Poet and artist Linda Simone for this list of websites and blogs for writers

Bassist Larry Schwartzman for this clip of Buddy Guy at the 1994 Newport Jazz Festival

So many of you are looking for a good book in this igloo-cold weather. Thanks to my friend Elyse Faltz, I got my hands on The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press, 2016), winner of the 2016 Pulitzer in Fiction. What a complex, layered, and disturbing masterpiece!  It’s nearly impossible to keep the quality consistent across a long novel but the author achieves this feat effortlessly. If you know a knock-your-socks-off book, e-mail me and maybe I’ll make a list here. In the meantime, stay warm, read a lot, and be sure to persevere in your craft or art.

Until next time,