Sunday, December 30, 2012

your count-down annogram

As we count down to 2013, it’s with less joy and exuberance.  We in the Northeast have been decimated first by Sandy and then by the tragedy in Newtown.  It’s a time of reflection that instinctively asks us all to consider who we are as individuals and a nation.  I find myself with too many words rushing in or a paucity of effective ones—so we will turn to Adrienne Rich to close this annogram.


I give humble thanks to editors who have selected my work:  Cindy Hochman for First Literary Review East, Shafiq Naz for the Alhambra Poetry Calendar 2013 and Alhambra Poetry Calendar for Young Readers 2013, Mark Smith-Soto for taking translated work for The International Poetry Review, Wendy Galgan for Assisi, and Julie Platt for Technoculture Journal.

Life on Mars

Congratulations to Mary Ladd McCray on the debut of Why Photographers Commit Suicide (Trementina Books, 2012).   This startling poetry collection explores intricacies of space voyage with a mid-western voice that breaks my heart.  The appealing Mars-red cover art is followed by whimsical illustrations inside.  If you love sci-fi, add to your collection by ordering this engaging work and make sure you visit Mary’s Big Bang Poetry website too.  And, to prep you, enjoy this NASA Gangnam Style parody shared by Douglas Baum of Night Vision Astronomy.

Neutral Hero a Top Ten

Congratulations also to Philip Moore, my talented coworker who stars in Richard Maxwell’s play, “Neutral Hero.”  Maxwell took this play around the globe before debuting it here in New York in early November to rave reviews.  And now Ben Brantley of The New York Times has listed it as #4 in the Top Ten Plays of 2012.   Fingers crossed that Maxwell launches another production of the play in 2013!

Untranslatable words

Ollie Brock, Translator-in-Residence at FreeWord in London, asks us to email him ( what you consider to be untranslatable words and their definitions by January 20.   If he selects yours, he may mention them at a poetry reading featuring Ghanaian Nii Parkes, Polish-born Maria Jastrzebska and Peruvian Sofia Buchuck on January 23 at 6:30 p.m. at FreeWord in London.

Summer with Jack

Jack Gilbert, a poet’s poet, who evaded the lime light yet generated extraordinary poetry for five decades, died in November.  I spent the summer reading Gilbert, mesmerized by the compression of his poems and the far distances they traveled in limited space.  He also got away with words like “love,” “moon” and “heart”—over and over.   Here’s the poem, “Searching for Pittsburgh,” that got me hooked. 

‘Round the Net

A bumper crop of intriguing links.  Thanks to:

·   American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) for 75 notable translations today and this provocative article on Ricky Ricardo in the classroom

·   Translators Bernard Cohen and Carolyn Wright respectively for this French literary/translation website and creative literary translation website

·   Dance innovator Rachel Cohen for this clip from her new I would performance

·   Poet Terry Dugan for news of golden retrievers sent to Newtown to comfort mourners

·   Poet Julie Enszer for her new book Homesteading and Sinister Wisdom’s tribute to Adrienne Rich

·   Poet Cindy Hochman for her review of John Amen’s The New Arcana

·   Novelist Petra Lewis for the press release on her debut novel The Sons and Daughters of Ham (right)

·   Poet Mary Ladd McCray for this YouTube video about musical instruments made from landfill

·   Writer Elaine Nole for this timely website offering a new American dream.

·   Poets and Writers for this clip of Rod Serling discussing where ideas come from

·   High School teacher Neil Ginsberg for this article identifying domestic violence in Jovan Belcher deaths

·   Eliot Katz for this petition to help Muhammad al-Ajami, imprisoned for life for reciting a poem

·   Poet Alison Stone for her interview on the Joe Milford Show

·   Filmmaker/writer Frank Vitale for his Metropolitan Organism making Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012

And here is Adrienne Rich:

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

Until next time,


Monday, November 12, 2012

your hurricane annogram

Hurricane Sandy Devastates New York

I have to start this newsletter with an appeal to help New Yorkers devastated by Hurricane Sandy.  The sad truth is that the government has done little to nothing to help people without water, food, electricity or heat.  Elderly sit trapped in darkened hi-rise buildings and families with young children shiver in damaged homes.  We have a Katrina on our hands.  Here’s how you can help:

·   Architecture for Humanity – will be helping to rebuild whole neighborhoods

·   City Harvest and the FoodBank of New York – are doing their best to provide water and food

·   Doctors without Borders – is going door to door to provide medical assistance

The American Red Cross has been noticeably absent in some of the most affected areas.  Thank you for whatever you can donate.   If you live in the tristate area, I hope you and yours are safe!

Update on anthologies

Joel Allegretti, editor of the upcoming anthology of TV poems, reports the title—suggested by Billy Collins—will be Rabbit Ears.  I am thrilled to be in this Poets Wear Prada anthology alongside poets such as Collins, Tony Hoagland, Dorianne Laux, Ron Padgett, and Diane Wakoski.  In addition, Kent State University Press will publish The Widow’s Handbook, which will also include my work.

Malcolm MacDougall III at 287 Spring

What a pleasure to attend the opening of Malcolm D. MacDougall  III’s exhibit, Parallel Worlds, last week at the new 287 Spring Gallery!   This gem of an exhibit, curated by Beth Gersh-Nesic, is worth a trip to Soho.  The 22-year-old MacDougall, who already has a sculpture on display in Union Square, shares eight gravity-defying pieces that resonate with early Cubist energy.  Another surprise was meeting fellow Santa Fe Art Institute resident, painter Robert Dandarov, at the opening.   An artist/curator conversation will take place Saturday, November 17, at 2 p.m.

Max Jacob: Mysticism and Radical Poetry

Rosanna Warren will speak on the important and eccentric French modernist poet, painter and critic Max Jacob on November 14, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 9100 at the CUNY Center for the Humanities, 365 Fifth Avenue.  Warren, who has translated Max Jacob's poems and is currently at work on his biography, will discuss the connection between Jacob's mystical experiences and new poetic forms he invented.

John Amen and The New Arcana

Congratulations to poets John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris on the debut of their collaborative work, The New Arcana (NYQ Books, 2012).  The New Arcana is a multi-genre extravaganza featuring verse, fiction, mock journalism, academic writing, drama, and art.  Hear John perform a selection or read the book’s first review. 

Toadlily Embarks

Join Toadlily Press at Poets House for the launch of its seventh book, Embark.  A reading, book-signing and reception will take place Saturday, November 17, at 5 p.m.  Toadlily has expanded opportunities for poets by creating a yearly quartet of four chapbooks—bringing more poets’ voices to public awareness.  Congratulations to cofounders Myrna Goodman and Meredith Trede!

EstroGenius 2012

Just a reminder to catch Rachel Cohen and RacocoRx in "I Would"—A Story of Self, Determination, and Self-Determination As Told through Dance and Woodworking, at TBG Theatre, 312 West 36 Street, 3rd Floor, Saturday, November 17, at 6:00 p.m.  Click here for tickets ($18).

Jazz + Poetry Choir Collective at The Stone

Hear poets E.J. Antonio (right), Golda Solomon, Phylisha Villanueva and musicians Sarah Bernstein, Rosie Hertlein, Larry Roland, Michael T.A. Thompson , and guest JD Parran at The Stone, West Corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street, Saturday, November 17, at 10 p.m. ($10 at the door).

River Trio at North Castle Public Library
The River Trio has become one of this library’s most popular annual Sunday afternoon music sessions. Performing classical, baroque and modern chamber music will be violinist Linda Finegan Lott, cellist Jay Shulman and flutist Pamela Sklar. Hear them at the library, 19 Whippoorwill Road East in Armonk, Sunday, November 18, at 3:00 p.m.

Pamela Laskin at Cornelia Street Café

Poet Pamela Laskin will be reading at Cornelia Street Café on November 24 with Laurel Kallen and Salita Bryant.  Congratulations also to Pam, director of the CUNY Poetry Outreach Center, on the publication of Daring Daughters/Defiant Dreams (A Gathering of the Tribes, 2012), based loosely on Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party.” You may order the book from Pam at 414 5th St., Brooklyn, New York 11215, for $17.00. 

'Round the Net

Thanks to the following for sending, or allowing me to discover, these great links:

·   Translator Steven Bradbury for this review by Lydia Davis of John Ashbery’s translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations (Norton, 2012).

·   Translator Ellen Elias-Bursac for this early Egyptian image of a man translating.

·   Translator and poet Mark Weiss for recommending the novel My Two Worlds (Open Letter, 2012) by Sergio Chejfec, translated by Margaret Carson.

·   Deep South Magazine for a new recording of Flannery O’Connor.

·   Creative executive Ari Emmanuel for six lessons to live by.

·   The New York Times for this review of William Blake artwork at the Morgan Library.

·   Curator and art historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for this online exhibit of Ruth Abrams’s Microcosms.

·   Poet Sharon Olds on why she wrote about her divorce.

·   Poet Linda Simone for news of an app that enables poets to hear their poems read by William Shatner; news of poetry museums in the UK; Jane Hirshfield discussing the art of the metaphor; blog “The Poetweet as Form” and Atlantic article on the power of poetry.

·   Sarah Bracey White for this journalistic tribute to Brenda Connor-Bey.
Until next time,




Sunday, October 07, 2012

your october annogram

This fall brings a harvest of acceptances.  Thanks to Codhill Press editors Larry Carr and Jan Schmidt for selecting “Andromeda at Midlife” for their anthology of women poets from the Hudson Valley.  My gratitude also goes to Joel Allegretti of Poets Wear Prada, which will publish “Velocity” in a collection of poems on TV.  “Velocity” reflects on a recently discovered film of the Kennedy motorcade.  In response, Allegretti writes:

The poem deals with a threshold moment. Viewers at home a few seconds later saw something that would permanently change the optimistic United States. Their TV set suddenly became something they never imagined it would be.

More thanks to First Literary Review-East Editor Cindy Hochman for taking "Forensics" which will appear in November, "The Grief Counselors" in January, and "Bumblebee" In March.   Alhambra Publishing will also print "Saffron" in its 2013 Poetry Calendar, and the Young Readers’ version will feature "Aurora" and "Amphibious.”  Whew!

Toulouse Lautrec and Fin-de-Siècle Paris

Thanks to Larissa Bailiff, art historian and MoMA lecturer, for giving this lunchtime talk. Toulouse Lautrec, despite his brief lifespan (1864-1901), produced more than 300 drawings and paintings.  He was good friends with Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) when the latter was in Paris for two years.  I’d never seen his pastel portrait of Van Gogh. His posters of Montmartre dance hall stars, such as Jane Avril (1868-1943) and Louise Weber (1866-1929)—aka “La Goulue,” took design cues from shadow theatre presentations popular at the time.  Who knew?  Fascinating!

Red Glass Books One-Year Celebration

Join poet Janet Kaplan to celebrate the first year of her dynamic new press, Red Glass Books, on October 24, 6-8 p.m. at the Cornelia Street Café.  Red Glass poets Patricia Spears Jones, Margaret Diehl, Edwin Torres, Brian Clements, and EJ Antonio will read.  I loved Edwin Torres’s One Night: Poems for the Sleepy and can’t wait to read more titles such as [The ship] by Jean Valentine.  Congratulations to Janet and all the fine Red Glass poets!  Drink up, indeed!

 “Neutral Hero” at the Kitchen

Obie award-winning playwright Richard Maxwell presents “Neutral Hero,” a musical about a young man searching for his father in the American landscape. I’m thrilled that one of the 12 actors is my multitalented coworker Philip Moore.  You can see this critically acclaimed play, just back from world tour, at The Kitchen October 18-November 3. Performances Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets here.

Tony Lo Bianco in “The Little Flower”

Tony Lo Bianco reprises his one-man show, "The Little Flower," October 23 - November 2 at the Dicapo Theater on East 76th Street between Third and Lex.  The performance explores the life of the colorful if bombastic Fiorello H. La Guardia, Former Mayor of New York City.  Lo Bianco says, “Fiorello will give you insight, laughter and understanding of what a public servant should be doing for you.” Go to SmartTix now for tickets: October 24 and November 2 are already sold out.

Field Dance Fund awardee Rachel Cohen and RacocoRx present "I Would"--A Story of Self, Determination, and Self-Determination told through dance and woodworking with music by Lynn Wright.  Cohen joins Laurie Berg and Bessie McDonough-Thayer for EstroGenius 2012 presented by Women in Motion at TBG, 312 West 36th Street, 3rd Floor, on November 14 at 8 p.m. and November 17 at 6 p.m.  Click here to purchase tickets.

 ‘Round the Net

Thanks to the following people for great updates and/or links:

·   Poet/essayist Cindy Beer-Fouhy for her Life Stories Writing Workshop at Westchester Community College, September 24 – October 29, Mondays 1:30 – 3 p.m.; call 914 606 6793 or e-mail

·   Lakota Kids founder Maggie Dunne (above) for the Lakota Kids Fall Drive, a fantastic and much needed charity.

·   Romance novelist Diane Gaston for a sneak peek at her next book, Born to Scandal.

·   Novelist Petra Lewis, for her RocketHub campaign to support her book manuscript, The Sons and Daughters of Ham.

·   LinkedIn colleague Ethan McCarty for why free times frees creativity.

·   Cousin Katherine McCollom for her grand-daughter Leslie McColom’s vimeo on her book, Preschool Gems (Perigee Trade, 2012)

·   Poet/Novelist Kevin Pilkington for this interview about his writing on Inside Scoop Live.

·   Cellist Jay Shulman for his Artspire campaign to reissue a CD of a historic 1947 Stuyvesant String Quartet performance.

·   Poet Linda Simone for this recently discovered new photo of Emily Dickinson (seated left) and tribute to Dominic Hibberd, biographer of WWI poet Wilfred Owen.

And thanks to the New York Times:

·   Farewell to poet and translator Louis Simpson, whom I met more than 10 years ago at the West Chester University Poetry Conference.

·   Step aside, Harold Bloom!  The Times says Stephen Burt is the Harvard critic launching poets these days; and Steve Roggenbuck is the online face of poetry.

·   Imagine the head of your nation calling to apologize if your literary work meant job loss—read “Please hold for Mr. Putin

·   In its Poetry Pairings blog, the Times and Poetry Foundation join forces to pair a news item with a poem each week.

Single File – For Brenda

If you have read annograms over the years, you’ve heard of Brenda Connor-Bey, first poet laureate of Greenburgh (NY), and inspiration for and beloved teacher of writing workshops there. We lost Brenda in August, although she was writing and attending conferences right to the end.  Elegant and beautiful, Brenda emanated a natural aureate light--an American royal if ever I met one. 
I was privileged to help her edit her long poem, “In the Mists of Remembering,” a raw and mesmerizing incantation to her African-American ancestors, which could use a publisher—e-mail me if you can offer one.  A commemoration will take place at the Westchester Arts Council on Saturday, October 13, at 2 p.m.  Her dear friend Mervyn Taylor, the Caribbean-American poet, summed up our loss in this perfect poem read at her family’s memorial service.

Single File            for Brenda

Last night the stars came out
as never before, in clusters,
one in particular flaunting
its brilliance, its size. And we

interpreted this as a sign, as
powerless people tend to do, of 
heaven’s willingness to let us
have a few more minutes, to say

what we have to say, to locate
an address that we once knew
by heart.  And this is how we
come to her door, single file,

no one anxious to go in front
of the other, as in all her beauty
she slips out a window, shinnies
down the drainpipe, gone. Who,

for all our calling, won’t come back,
will have us look up, on nights
like this, gazing at stars, believing
we know which one she is.

                      - Mervyn Taylor, 8/19/12

Until next time,