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,

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Your lone star annogram

What a pleasure to kick off National Poetry Month in Texas! First I had the pleasure of reading to my cousin Katherine's Independent Living Community—next stop, San Antonio to visit dear friends Linda (at right) and Joe Simone. And this week my long-awaited second book, Free Ferry, comes out!  That means you'll get your copy soon if preordered. Buckaroos, it's a good month indeed.

A fun reading in Fort Worth
 Reading in Fort Worth

While visiting my 93-year-old cousin Katherine, I noticed an announcement in the elevator that there would be a "special guest" giving a reading the next day!  My clever cousin determined a practice run would benefit me—and everyone at her residence. I could not have had a more intelligent, attentive audience.  Who would know that Michael Baldwin, president of the historic Fort Worth Poetry Society, was in attendance?  Afterwards, he invited me to return to read in his group's poetry series.  

National Poetry Month San Antonio

Jim, Natalia, Linda, me, and Bryce
Thanks to Linda Simone, I read with Jim LaVilla-HavelinBryce MilliganNatalia Treviño and Linda as part of National Poetry Month San Antonio. We enjoyed an intimate audience at Señor Veggie, a superb vegetarian restaurant reminiscent of places in the Village long ago. Dear writer pals Terry Dugan and Sarah Bracey White, also on hand, took these great shots. I love San Antonio—from its River Walk to its stately homes and lush parks. It invests in poetry, and always has creative events involving poets.

Barney reciting Kipling
Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum

You have not seen San Antonio unless you've visited Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum.  The 95-year-old has collected hundreds of seats decorated with tributes to sororities/fraternities, universities, police/fire departments, military, and every state in the nation. 

Terry Dugan, me, Linda Simone
with the NYS "overflow" seat
Among the more astonishing, one with a piece from the Challenger found floating off Florida, and another, part of the toilet used by Saddam Hussein in hiding. So many New Yorkers have visited we had to sign an "overflow" seat. Barney tops every tour with a magnificent recital of Kipling's "When Earth's Last Picture is Painted," and you can't help, uh...moved.

The Letter by Mary Cassatt
French Moderns at 

Wouldn't you know, I had to travel to Texas to see Monet to Matisse: A Century of French Moderns from the Brooklyn Museum? The exhibit features work by Bonnard, Caillebotte, Cézanne, Chagall, Degas, Léger, Matisse, Monet, Redon, Renoir, Rodin, Tanguy, and Vuillard.  More traditional artists, such as Corot, Courbet, Manet, and Millet, contrast the modernist flow. A beautiful series of Japanese-inspired prints by Mary Cassatt takes up one wall, and there is additional work by Berthe Morisot. A fantastic immersion into French Modernism in one room!

Yay! for poets we know and love

Kevin Pilkington has won an IPPY Award for his book, Where You Want To Be: New and Selected Poems (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), had "Pomegranate" featured on Poem-a-Day (Academy of American Poets), "Long as a Quart of Milk" critiqued on Sarah Morin's Being Critical blog, and this review of his Poetry Out Loud reading. Garrison Keillor read Natalie Safir's poem, "Road Trip West", on the April 21st The Writer's Almanac.  And NEA recipient Pamela Hart has won the inaugural Brian Turner Literary Arts Prize for Poetry. Congratulations to Kevin, Natalie, and Pamela for well-deserved recognition!

Exposure by Wa Liu
Art Above the Sofa

Thanks to the New York Arts Exchange Director Beth Gersh-Nesic for giving art students a chance to shine in an art competition!  On display in Art Above the Sofa: The Exhibition and Conversations, opening April 27, 6-8 pm, and running through April 30, the winning Exposure by Wa Liu, Blossom by Vicci Weixi Zhang, and Complexity II by Priscila Schott. See jurors’ and others' work, and join in important conversations. Beth also recommends the rare Sisley retrospective at the Bruce Museum, through May 21.

New releases

AMP Issue 2 edited by Janet Kaplan

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

Opossum 17 edited by J. Edgar and Jon Ross

Momentary Stays (Dos Madres Press) by Ruth D. Handel

Presencea Journal of Catholic Poetry edited by Mary Ann Miller

Take to the Highway (West End Press) by Bryce Milligan

The Will of the Magi (AOIS21 Publishing) by Paul Dickinson Russell

Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press) by Gary Glauber

Creative opportunities

Jimmy Santiago Baca
Arthur Vogelsang One-on-One Poetry Workshop, May 15-July 7.  Apply by April 26.

Jimmy Santiago Baca Live Webinar Series, four sessions in May.

Donna Zucker Family History 101HVWC, Sunday, June 11, 12:30-4:30pm

Poetry / literary events

Jean-Christophe Rufin
Université de Toulon, Medicine and Writing, April 25, 10am-6pm; April 26, 9am-3pm; keynote Dr. Jean-Christophe Rufin, hosted by Christophe Lamiot Enos

Bright Hill Press, April 27, 7pm, Janet Kaplan and Elizabeth Cohen

ZieherSmith Gallery, NYC Independent Publishers Book Party, April 28, 6-8pm

Cincinnati Public Main Library, April 29, 3pm, Robert Murphy, Richard Hague, Pauletta Hansel, Karen George

Harvey School Walker Center for the Arts, May 13, 4pm; Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Marie Howe, Vijay Seshadri, $40

BonBonerie, Dos Madres Spring Dinner Fundraiser, May 19, 7pm, tickets $60 individual, $100 couple

Creamy Tortilla Soup

This recipe celebrates extraordinary Tex-Mex cuisine enjoyed earlier this month. Sighing just thinking of it....
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp each salt, chili powder, oregano
dash of cayenne
1/2 cup organic strained tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
4 corn tortillas torn into small pieces
1/2 cup goat or whatever milk you like
2 avocados, diced
shredded cheese, to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add diced onion and red pepper, and cook until soft, about five minutes. Add garlic cloves and spices (cumin, salt, chili powder, oregano, cayenne) and sauté another few minutes. Add tomatoes, broth and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add tortilla pieces. Let soup cook and reduce for an hour, stirring occasionally. Add milk if desired and adjust seasonings. Ladle into bowls and top with half an avocado and shredded cheese.

ʼRound the Net

Kathe Gregory and her amazing art
Essayist Jeanette Briggs for discovering the Grammar Vigilante

Poet and filmmaker Terry Dugan for alerting us that we can rent the bedroom where Emily Dickinson wrote her oeuvre

Artist Kathe Gregory on participating in the May 6-7 Somerville Open Studiosand on her new website featuring her work

Playwright Herb Hadad for rave reviews on "Exile: Kisses on Both Cheeks" in the Jewish Journal and J News

Poet Ruth Handel on the book launch of Momentary Stays (Dos Madres Press) this month at Scarsdale Public Library

Poet Janet Kaplan on having "Night" appear in the Tupelo Quarterly

Guitarist John Moses for this defense of Dylan's Nobel

Producer/Actor Celia Pilkington for making tickets available to Bigger Than You, Bigger Than Mee May 10-13

Poet Linda Simone for good news of Kevin Young becoming the New Yorker poetry editor

The New York Times for matching readers with books in this column

The UJA Federation NY for teaming Holocaust survivors and students to tell their stories in Witness Theater this month

Entrepreneurs Claire Wasserman and Eric Holstein on being featured in the Minimums

Sarah Bracey White, Linda Simone,
Terry Dugan, and yours truly 
My trip to Texas reminded me there’s nothing like spending time with friends and family in person—over a leisurely cup of tea or exploring a new adventure like San Antonio. I am grateful to connect with you, dear friends in the annogram community, amidst our busy and contented lives. Be well, be adventuresome, and above all, create!

Until next time,