Monday, January 03, 2022

your fresh-start annogram


Dear annogrammers, Happy New Year! January is a great time to ponder creative projects and listen to what your heart is telling you. Instead of weighty and broken resolutions, how about wishes? More on that below. Use each day wisely and gratefully, and watch your fondest dreams unfold.



Snowflakes in a Blizzard


Thanks to Darrell Laurant for featuring my chapbook, When the Pilotless Plane Arrives (Trainwreck Press) on his blog, Snowflakes in a Blizzard. Purchases continue to increase, according to publisher John C. Goodman. If you’re a poet, Pilotless can help you navigate the twists and turns of the poetry path; or if a sci-fi film aficionado, this book is for you. Order your copy here.



Yorktown Poet Laureate Workshop


Join me on January 26 at 6pm as I guest-host John McMullen’s monthly Zoom poetry workshop sponsored by the John C Hart Memorial Library. Simply click John facilitated a delightful conversation between NEA recipient Kerrin McCadden and me a while back. While she is reading at the HVWC the same evening, stop by our workshop first!



Lost and Found


Congratulations to sculptor Kathe Gregory, poet Pat Whitney, and photographer Bob Nesson on the delightfully collaborative book, Lost and Found (Independently published). Pat, inspired by the compelling originality of Kathe’s work, has given voice to each piece—and Bob’s immaculate photos enable readers to share that awe. Sure, Kathe is my cousin; while biased, I am still discriminating. Great debut!



Five Joys and Three Wants


Margie Herrick (c)
That’s what wish-magnet Margie Herrick suggests—writing them down each Sunday this new year. Margie and co-conspirator Barbara Dickinson tell all in their blog, Margie and Barbara's Wishing Wisdom. For this dynamic duo, it’s not about slaving to soul-grinding “goals” but naming our fondest wishes and watching what happens. Could it be that simple? Try it and find out.



Creative Opportunities


Open Door Magazine poetry on “adoration” by January 15, and “footsteps” by February 15


The Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, by January 15


The Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel, 

by January 31


Ethos Literacy 3rd Annual Short Short Story Contest, by January 31



New and Recent Releases


Susana Case, The Damage Done (Broadstone Books) (pre-order)


David Giannini, The Dawn of Nothing Important (Dos Madres Press)


Keriann Gilson, places I never want to see again (Gnashing Teeth Press) (pre-order)


Michael Gottlieb, Selected Poems of Michael Gottlieb (Chax Press)


Ceridwen Hall, Excursions (Trainwreck Press)


Lis McLoughlin, ed., Writing the Land: Northeast (Human Error Publishing)


Pedestal 89


Christina Rau, What We Do to Make Us Whole (Alien Buddha Press)


Pat Whitney et al, Lost and Found (Independently published)



Creative Workshops


All-Genre Writers Group, 6:30pm, Thursdays


John McMullen Poetry Workshop, 6pm, fourth Wednesdays


Mahopac Poetry Workshop, 6pm, second Wednesdays


ModPo, University of Pennsylvania’s free poetry course and global community


Norwalk Poetry Workshop, first and third Mondays, 6:30pm; email to register


The Poets Salon, led by Ed Ahern and Alison McBain of Fairfield Scribes Press, 10am, every second Saturday


Writers and Artists Lunch Conversation, second Fridays, noon



January Readings and Events – ET


Jan Victors (1619-1676)
"The Banquet of Estherand Ahasuerus," c. 1640

January 10, 10am, Shames JCC, “The Book of Esther in Art: Racism, Religion and Resistance,” art historian Beth Gersh-Nesic; (LIVE), $5, vax certification and mask required; or register here for Zoom


January 12, 5:30pm, Betheny Arts Community, “This Far and No Further,” exhibit and tour with photographer William Abranowicz (LIVE); register by emailing, $300


Christina Rau
January 16, 2pm, Ground Central Coffee Company, What We Do to Make Us Whole by Christina Rau book launch (LIVE)

January 19, 7pm, HVWC, A Reading & Discussion with Sandra M. Gilbert & Susan Gubar—Still Mad: American Women Writers and the Feminist Imagination; register here

January 22, 4pm, The Damage Done by Susana Case book launch via Zoom; to register, email


January 26, 6pm, John C. Hart Memorial Library, Ann guest-hosts Yorktown Poet Laureate Workshop; join here


Kerrin McCadden

January 26, 7pm, HVWC, Kerrin McCadden, Angela Narciso Torres, & Jennifer Sperry Steinorth; register here



Monthly Readings – ET


First Sunday, 4pm, Poetic License (Austin)


Every Tuesday, 2pm, Spoken Word World (Paris)


Every Tuesday, 7pm, Curley’s Diner


Third Fridays, 7pm, Hudson Valley Writers Center Open Mic – click third Friday for details


Every Saturday, 5pm, Lit Balm



Turkish Red Lentil Soup


Our annogram resident chef Linda Simone went wild for this recipe, perfect to warm up a damp winter day—go for it and let me know!


3 tablespoons salted butter

1 medium yellow onion, diced ½ inch (1 cup)

1 medium garlic clove, grated

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup red lentils

2 tablespoons long-grain clear rice

5 cups water

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper

fresh mint leaves, chopped

lemon wedges


In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, sauté 5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, paprika, and cumin; sauté 1 minute. Add lentils, rice, water, and 2 teaspoons salt; bring to boil. Simmer, cover, and cook until lentils and rice break down, about 30 minutes. Adjust salt. In small skillet, heat olive oil and coat pan. Add Aleppo pepper and cook until bubbles appear and oil is bright red. Remove from heat. Drizzle each soup serving with Aleppo pepper oil, and serve with mint and lemon wedges.



ʼRound the Net


Regi Claire
Poet and novelist Regi Claire on poetry and fiction in Ambit, Acumen, Under the RadarRialto 97, and the Scottish anthology Thi Wurd


Poet, essayist, and translator Chen Du on her essay, "Walk in the Right Shoes," being longlisted by the CNF Flash Contest of Invisible City


Poet, essayist, and filmmaker Terry Dugan for introducing us to Ossining’s Betheny Arts Community


Poet and collage artist Bob Heman on having three poems in Poetrybay

Sterling K. Brown
Civil rights historian and poet J. Chester Johnson on reporting Sterling K. Brown will play pioneering attorney Scipio Africanus Jones (1863-1943) in the Searchlight film “The Defender”


Poet Jerry T. Johnson on being nominated for a Pushcart Prize


Jerry T. Johnson

Author Leslie McCollom on the renewed popularity of the New Year lemon pig

Yorktown Poet Laureate John McMullen for this insightful review of a Johnny Cash bio

The New York Public Library for its Most Checked-Out Books of 2021

Joan Didion (1934-2021)
Cellist and music archivist Jay Shulman for remembering California essayist Joan Didion (1934-2021)


Poet and performer Patty Smith on receiving the key to New York City



What makes great art?


Artist Helen Honig and I were happily emailing about good vs. bad painting, when she sent me this astonishing observation:


And it’s not the subject of the painting, it’s what you have to say about the subject. It’s like a piece of music. The notes are there, the timing, the playing instructions, slow down here, speed up there, soft here, loud there. How can you bring your own self, and your own sense of beauty and uniqueness to that piece of work? That is more important than getting every note right. Those who judge the big piano competitions, like the Van Cliburn, know that, and judge accordingly. It’s tough to judge those competitions, because everyone is so skilled and so flawless. You need to look for that certain something.


Until next time,






Thursday, December 02, 2021

your merry annogram


Dyker Heights, NY
Dear annogrammers, Merry Happy Joy! This season of lights and feasts is a celebration of family and friends, and the spiritual communities and traditions we enjoy. Wishing you time away from work, deep winter solace, and refreshing times spent with those you love best.



When the Pilotless Plane Arrives


Thanks to so many of you who have ordered When the Pilotless Plane Arrives (Trainwreck Press). Publisher John C. Goodman reports increased sales after last month’s newsletter. Pilotless, which taps into 1950s sci-fi/horror film narratives as metaphors for the perils of writing poetry, makes a great gift for poets or film aficionados. You can order your copy here.



The Christmas Owl


Remember the little owl that workers found tucked inside the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree last year? A new children’s book follows the story of Rocky, the northern saw-whet, one of the smallest owls in the U.S., who unexpectedly traveled downstate in the 75-foot tall tree. This beautifully illustrated story is co-written by Ellen Kalish who rehabilitated and freed Rocky back into the wild. I gifted myself with a copy and can’t wait to read it!



Lost Stories of Looted Art


Thanks to Beth Gersh-Nesic for recommending Edmund De Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes (Picador, 2011), the story of art collector Charles Ephrussi (1849-1905), said to have inspired Proust’s character, Charles Swann; and Letters to Camondo (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021) on collector Moïses de Camondo (1860-1935). “Both explore the rise of two Jewish families in the 20th century art world,” says Beth. The Jewish Museum’s exhibit, “After Lives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art,” and “The Hare with the Amber Eyes,” featuring Ephrussi’s former netsuke collection, bring these intriguing tales to life.


Soul Train World Record


Photo Credit: CBS2
Last month 526 dancers, in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, created the largest Soul Train line—breaking the Guinness World Record. Each pair of participants had to boogie down a 40-foot path. With the last-minute help of local passers-by, police, and children, the BET Network claimed victory. Little Steven, in a recent podcast, also evoked the musically-rich Soul Train era by featuring iconic soundtracks from Black action films.


Creative Opportunities


The Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel, by January 31


The Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, by January 15


Ethos Literacy 3rd Annual Short Short Story Contest, by January 31


Guggenheim Poet-in-Residence, deadline December 5


MindFULL Magazine, call for poetry on mental health


The National Park Arts Foundation, writer residencies

The Poet, call for “Cultural Identity” theme, translated works in original language and English


Pure Slush accepting submissions for its Work Lifespan Vol. 5, deadline December 31


Upstream Gallery call for small works, deadline December 3



New and Recent Releases

The Disasters of War (Moonstone Press)

First Literary Review-East

Norman Finkelstein, Thirty-Six / Two Lives (Dos Madres)

Paul Dickenson Russell, The Will of the Magi (Lulu)

Creative Workshops


Workshop for Writers of Nonfiction with Lia Purpura, December 11, 11am-4pm (LIVE),
Reisterstown, MD


All-Genre Writers Group, 6:30pm, Thursdays


John McMullen Poetry Workshop, 6pm, fourth Wednesdays


Mahopac Poetry Workshop, 6pm, second Wednesdays


ModPo, University of Pennsylvania’s free poetry course and global community


Norwalk Poetry Workshop, first and third Mondays, 6:30pm; email to register

The Poets Salon, led by Ed Ahern and Alison McBain of Fairfield Scribes Press, 10am, every second Saturday


Writers and Artists Lunch Conversation, second Fridays, noon



December Readings and Events – ET


Original teabag art by
Linda Simone
December, all month, San Antonio’s Kapej Gallery, new watercolors and teabag cards by Linda Simone with artwork by Vera Smith and Laura Gomez, @teabagartsa @kapej.satx

December through January 16, Lathrop Community Gallery, Meg Lindsay oils and acrylics from juried shows and museum exhibits

December 4, 11am, Fat Moose Comics (New Jersey), The Will of the Magi book launch with Paul Dickinson Russell

December 4, 4pm, Desmond-Fish Library, “Eco-Poetry in the Afternoon” with A. Anupama, Laurel Anderson, Rebecca A. Durham, Stephanie Heit, Petra Kuppers, Karen Neuberg, Mary Newell, and Jennifer Spector; register here

December 11, 7pm, Pieces Club, “12 Drags of Christmas,” an Imperial Court of New York charity show, featuring Fran Sisco singing her parody, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Mrs. Claus”

December 16, 7pm, “Holiday Celebrations in Art” with Beth Gersh-Nesic, PhD; the Byram Shubert Library; register here

Chax Poetry Series with Michael Gottlieb, Rachel Blau Duplessis, Tom Mandel (YouTube)



Monthly Readings – ET


First Sunday, 4pm, Poetic License (Austin)


Every Tuesday, 2pm, Spoken Word World (Paris)


Every Tuesday, 7pm, Curley’s Diner


Third Fridays, 7pm, Hudson Valley Writers Center Open Mic – click third Friday for details


Every Saturday, 5pm, Lit Balm



Veggie Onion Gravy


At last, a gravy recipe for vegetarians and vegans alike! This one is a keeper.


5 tablespoons butter (can sub Earth Balance)

1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce (optional)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add onion and pinch of salt. Sweat the onions, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8-10 minutes. If they start to turn brown, turn down heat -- you're looking for translucent and tender, not golden. Increase heat to medium. Stir in flour and cook, stirring frequently, for three minutes. Gradually stir in vegetable broth and continue stirring, over medium heat, until thickened to a gravy consistency, 3 - 4 minutes. Stir in Tamari or soy sauce. Add salt and pepper and serve.



ʼRound the Net


The Book Movie’s María Luisa López for producing “The Beauty of Confrontation,” by Chinese poet Yan An, translated by Chen Du and Xisheng Chen, and read by yours truly


Greenburgh Arts and Culture Council Executive Director Sarah Bracey White on receiving a $1,000 ArtsWestchester grant for "Let the Poets Speak," a "Restart the Arts" spring 2022 live event

Poet, essayist and filmmaker Terry Dugan for alerting us to the new bookstore, Hudson Valley Books for Humanity, opened last week in Ossining’s historic Opera House

Jeff Kwitny
Bibliophile Elyse Faltz for sharing The Kwitny Report, a delightful literary newsletter


Translator and art historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for this panel discussion on Jewish art dealers and the European art market


Poet Cindy Hochman on being both nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a featured reader at this great weather for MEDIA event


Big Blue / Still Life
by Meg Lindsay
Poet and artist Meg Lindsay on showing 16 paintings in the gallery at the Lathrop Community in Northampton, MA where she and her husband moved a year ago; and on her recent book, Notes from a Caregiver (Poetry Box); see her website for more info

Yorktown Poet Laureate John McMullen for being featured at Spoken Word World last month, and for this wonderful article on William Shatner’s experience in space, and what we can learn from it


The New York Public Library for its list of Best Books of 2021


Poet Christina Rau on What We Do to Make Us Whole, her second poetry collection forthcoming from Alien Buddha Press

William Blake (1757-1827)
Endangered Cottage
Cellist and music archivist Jay Shulman for this article on the endangered cottage where Blake wrote “Jerusalem”


Playwright and poet Joseph Simone on having his poem, “The Elysian Fields,” appear in The Disasters of War (Moonstone Press)


Kapej, San Antonio

Poet and artist Linda Simone on having watercolors on exhibit at the Kapej Gallery in San Antonio

Performer Fran Sisco on singing for Mike Marino’s podcast, Live from My Mother’s Basement; acting at the historic WOW Café; performing comedy in the "First Annual Anthony J. Ribustello Memorial Night of Entertainment" fundraiser at Marina del Rey; reciting original poems at the Transgender Memorial and Celebration at St. Paul’s Church; and reading a selection from Quentin Crisp at the Gene Frankel Theatre



Herb Hadad, a Writer’s Writer


Herb Hadad (1936-2021)
To know Herb Hadad, who was both Jewish and Arab, was to know someone with a heart for the world. He would often joke that we met in a closet of the Episcopal Church in Briarcliff Manor. True! In a windowless supply closet, he headed a table with eight students for his essay class. An award-wining journalist born in the grit of a Boston Globe newsroom, he could have easily been wearing a turn-of-the-century visor and armband, saying “Take out the third sentence and it’s gold. Good job, kid. Now get back to work.” In that room, laughter ruled as much as his gently suggested revisions.


Not long after that, he put in a good word when I wanted to write for a Fortune 10 where I was a proofreader and he a staff writer. We participated on the National Writers Union’s local board with my soon-to-be indispensable writing pals, Sarah Bracey White, Linda Simone, and Terry Dugan. We immediately adopted him as our unofficial coach and mentor.


And when my first book was published, he came to celebrate. I said, “Herb, I can’t believe I’m doing this launch. My mother died two weeks ago.” Without missing a beat, he replied, “This is good, to keep your mind occupied.” That fatherly encouragement was just what I needed to hear.

For nearly two decades, Herb thrived in his role as press officer at the Department of Justice in New York. After retiring, he would email some of the Arabic he was learning. In a daring move that rattled the State Department, he took his entire family to Syria a year or two before that country imploded. It was vital to him that his adult children connect with the culture of his forebears. Tapping into his nomadic roots, he would often end emails with a playful “I am returning to my tent.” On a more reflective note, he once confided he knelt in prayer toward the east each morning.


Now the sun has set in the west, and you have returned to the tent of your Syrian ancestors. Shukran, Herb Hadad.


Until next time,