Wednesday, December 04, 2013

your holiday annogram

Come hear Ann read Sunday

I’ll be reading at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Tarrytown with memoirist Sarah Bracey White this Sunday, December 8, at 4:30 p.m.   I’ll have new work to share and Sarah will read from her wildly popular Primary Lessons (CavanKerry, 2013), now in its second printing.  Take a break from the whirlwind holidays to relax in the Writers Center with its striking river views.

Drawn to Marvel

I’m thrilled that my poem, “How My Father Looked Like Superman,” will be part of Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books (Minor Arcana Press).  Recently I found out that my grandmother, Lovrien Price Gregory (1888-1972), was one of the first U.S. female cartoonists in the early 20th century.  A classically trained artist, she was awarded a scholarship from the French government to the Ecole des Beaux Arts at Fontainebleau among other achievements.  I was surprised to discover her humble if very hip beginnings.

Santa Clops is coming to town!

Twas the fright before Christmas
and all through the home,
Not a critter was creeping,
not even a gnome.

The stockings were hung
by the chimney with fear,
In the hopes that Santa Clops
would not come near.

And thus begins this monstrous take on “The Night Before Christmas” by New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker illustrator Kevin “Gig” Wailgum.  Wailgum will read from his delightful children’s book, A Visit From Santa Clops or The Fright Before Christmas, at Breakfast with Santa at the Greenwich (CT) Boys and; Girls Club at 9 a.m. on Saturday, December 14, and at the Christmas Village event at Second Congregational Church in Greenwich between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 15.  Or purchase your own copy of this soon-to-become-classic here or learn more at

Winter Warmers

Now’s the time for a hot cocoa and a gooey s’more.  You can get both at Winter Warmers, recommended by TimeOut New York, New York Magazine and ThrillList.  Winter Warmers has two locations now, in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and on the Lower East Side.  

Round the Net

·   ALTA list-serve for best translated fiction works of 2013 and this excellent interview with the late Andre Schiffrin on the state of publishing.
·   Writer Jeanette Briggs for alerting us to one expensive holy book.
·   Art historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for letting us know that Paul Werner will give a free talk on his book about the Metropolitan Museum of Art at Fridman Gallery on Saturday, December 7 at 4 p.m.  Reception to follow.

·   Poet Cindy Hochman (right) for letting us know that six of her poems appear in Levure Litteraire.

·   Editor Lisa Menn for letting us know that The Widows Handbook (Kent State University Press) will be available in February.

·   Publisher James Sherry for letting us know that Roof Books are now available as e-books.
·   Artist Angela Virsinger for this video trickery on a bass player.

·   Photographer Elaine Whitman for this astonishing image of a whale breaching in Alaska.

Wishing everyone a blessed and holy holiday season, and a new year full of creative productivity.

See you in the new year!


Monday, November 18, 2013

your thanksgiving annogram

New YouTube poem

Given that Friday, November 22, is the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, I am honored to debut my poem “Velocity” in its video version.  “Velocity” considers the recently uncovered George Jeffries film of the Dallas parade route.   The poem, first printed in J Journal, will be part of Joel Allegretti’s Rabbit Ears: TV Poems (Poets Wear Prada) anthology.   For more on the poem, scroll down the Rabbit Ears blog to “Ann Cefola on ‘Velocity.’”
Le Héros in three journals

Asymptote has published my translation of this beautiful fable from “The Canal” in Hélène Sanguinetti’s Le Héros (Flammarion, 2008) and a bonus recording of Hélène reading the original French.   Also from Le Héros, “Victory” appears on page 12 in (em) A Review of Text and Image Issue 2, and “The Town” in Princeton University’s Inventory No. 4.  Inventory translators are invited to a champagne reception in the Red Room at the Princeton University Art Museum, Thursday, November 21, 4:30-5:30 p.m.  Salut!
Early Thanksgiving

I’m thankful to these editors for also accepting my work:  Kristy Bowen at Wicked Alice; Tanya Chernov for The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss; and Susan May James at Chuffed Buff Books in London for Poetry and the City. 

Pet Sounds at the Garden
 Beach Boy genius composer Brian Wilson and guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck created a once-in-a-lifetime concert last month at New York’s Beacon Theatre.  Wilson’s 13-piece band featured original Beach Boy Alan Jardine and Surf’s Up soloist Blondie Chaplin.  I couldn’t believe it when Wilson announced they were going to play “the entire Pet Sounds album,” my all-time favorite.

Pet Sounds, the first rock album to include full orchestration, inspired the BeatlesSt. Pepper and Who’s Tommy albums.  Keith Moon, gaga over the harmonies, begged the Who to include more on their work.  Wilson played every song as promised, vocalizing with a timeless earnestness that broke hearts 50 years ago.   Before they played “God Only Knows,” Wilson’s acknowledged masterpiece, Jardine (right) genuflected before its composer.

Beck delivered exquisite songs, including the haunting “Where were you?” from his Grammy-winning Guitar Shop CD; Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” Beatles’ “A Day in the Life,” and an awesome version of Mary Ford and Les Paul’s “How High the Moon.”  For Beck, this was “merely warm-up” for playing with Wilson on “Surfin’ USA” and “Barbara Ann.”  As I looked at this graying audience, I couldn’t help but envision us all as teens ripping the cellophane off our latest Beach Boy albums (sigh).

John Ashbery Collects
Tucked away on a Chelsea warehouse upper floor, the Loretta Howard Gallery hosted an intimate exhibit of belongings and art from John Ashbery’s Hudson Valley home.  Considered by many to be the greatest living poet of our time, Ashbery has enjoyed prolific careers as art critic, translator, and college professor.  This exhibit, entitled John Ashbery Collects: poet among things, brought together personal belongings, selections of his poetry on the gallery walls, and artwork of his New York School peers.

First, a muted pastel portrait of a young Ashbery by Fairfield Porter, which I was glad to see it as I had shared an art studio with Anina Porter Fuller, the artist’s niece, years ago.  The rest of the art represented impressive Ashbery favorites such as Joseph Cornell, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Edwin Dickinson, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, Joan Mitchell, and Larry Rivers.  Equally wonderful were Ashbery’s own postcard collages--such as Icarus falling into Yellowstone National Park; the poet's fascination with Daffy Duck collectables, and his desk, typewriter and lamp—which seemed like holy relics.  While this charming exhibit is closed, you can still see it online or purchase its catalog.
Small Print Magazine

Congratulations to Steve Brannon on Small Print Magazine’s Fall Issue, which features interviews with Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo founder (right), and mine with Scottish novelist Regi Claire.  This elegant resource and showcase for writers includes creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, craft articles, reviews, and more.  Better yet—SPM is accepting submissions for its Winter Issue.
No Mo ModPo

Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) has ended.  The course, ranked No. 2 in online classes, attracted 34,000 participants worldwide.  Professor Al Filreis, assistant Julia Bloch and their TAs miraculously achieved a small-class atmosphere through engaging webcasts, videos and discussion forums.  Here’s my contribution to our study of the Beats:
Poets have always been lumped with prophets, priests and shamans.  The Beats are closer to this role than other schools of poetry:  Howl's description of a shamanistic journey to the underworld to find the Lost America--and the unique language that goes with such a journey, the babble-flow.  Picture priests reciting Latin and going to get the host and wine in a traditional liturgical mass--they are going to meet God, often behind a screen or grill, and bring God out to deliver in the Eucharist to believers.  The Beats drive across America, ingest substances, have visions, and return to write about their journey in a new language that baffles, entrances, and alarms readers. 

‘Round the Net

·   Translator Anne Milano Appel for the article, “What do you look for in modern translation?”

·   Mindful Skills’ George Chen for this impressive video of slam poet Lily Myers (right)

·   Poet Terry Dugan for this article on Rudyard Kipling’s home in Vermont

·   Art Historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for news of this upcoming exhibit, The World and Its Things in the Middle of Their Intimacy, at Fridman Gallery

·   Poet Gary Glauber for a bumper crop of poems published in Bay Laurel, Diverse Voices Quarterly,  Extract(s) Magazine, Gravel Journal, and Northwind Magazine Fall 2013

·   Poet and photographer Peggy Harrington for “We Shall Not See His Like Again,” a tribute to Seamus Heaney
Photo by Michael Holstein
·   Poet and photographer Michael Holstein for his gorgeous photos, especially the Cuba series

·   Katonah Poetry Series for alert of poet Bob Hicok reading Sunday, November 24, at 4:00 p.m. at the Katonah Village Library (NY)

·   David Kroenlein for this article on the late Lou Reed
·   Poet Pamela Laskin for news of her chapbook, Exiting the Glass Coffin (Green Fuse Literary Arts, 2013), and reading at Washington Heights’ Word-up Bookstore last month

·   Ruth Medanich for this video of her talented son, singer/guitarist Shane Medanich

·   Editor Eric Melbye for soliciting work for Segue, the online literary journal, by December 1, 2013

·   Cellist Jay Shulman for teaching his “Creativity & Madness” workshop at American University last week

·   Poet Linda Simone for this article about Lou Reed and Frank O’Hara, this video of Billy Collins and Stephen Colbert reading a poem together, and this hilarious test of global presumptions

Reading next month

Mark your calendar:  I’ll be reading at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Tarrytown with memoirist Sarah Bracey White on Sunday, December 8, at 4:30 p.m.   I’ll have new work to share and Sarah will read from her wildly popular Primary Lessons (CavanKerry, 2013) now in its second printing.  Hope to see you there!
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving,

Friday, October 04, 2013

your october annogram

Go Cat Go Poetry Reading

Ann with Kevin Pilkington
What a pleasure last month to read at Gracie’s Corner Diner on Manhattan’s Upper Eastside!  Special thanks to National Poetry Award-winning poet Kevin Pilkington and his wife Celia for attending, as well Meredith and John Moses, family friend Larry Schwartzman, and of course my biggest fan, Michael Cefola.  Deepest appreciation to our enthusiastic host, poet Peter Chelnik: Go cat go!

ModPo Madness

Emily Dickinson
More than 34,000 people worldwide are taking the University of Pennsylvania online course, “Modern and Contemporary American Poetry,” aka “ModPo.”  As one, I highly recommend this rigorous and rewarding class.  Professor Al Filreis is a wonderful and insightful guru to the often perplexing world of modern poetry.   See what happened when Teaching Assistant Julia Bloch selected my comment on an Emily Dickinson poem in this clip from the first webcast.


Assisi:  For the Feast of St. Francis

I am thrilled that my poem, "Venerablis," appears on page 123 of the new issue of Assisi. The Feast of St. Francis is this Sunday (October 6), a day when many churches open their doors to pets and animals to be blessed.  My poem is about one of the first dogs I ever owned.  Thanks to Wendy Galgan for publishing it!

Sanguinetti on Asymptote

A translated fable from Hélène Sanguinetti’s Le Héros (Flammarion, 2008) goes live on Asymptote October 15.  I adore this poetic tale of two animals who find solace and joy in their journey together.  The author, from Provence, has a gift for fable and I encourage you to discover her striking language.  Thanks to Aditi Machado for selecting this piece!

Scottish novelist Regi Claire

I had the good fortune to interview Regi Claire, an award-winning novelist in Scotland, for Small Print Magazine about her latest book, The Waiting (Word Power Books, 2012).  Scottish literary critics rave about the Swiss-born Claire, whose writing has been called “beautifully precise,” and “heartbreakingly real.”  I hope you read the journal to learn about Claire’s creative process.

Linda Simone, Terry Dugan and Ann
flank Sarah on her big night
Primary Lessons Book Launch

Congratulations to Sarah Bracey White on the full house for her book launch, September 24 at the Greenburgh Public Library.  Sarah read from her memoir, Primary Lessons (CavanKerry Press, 2013), which has already gone into second printing.  Photographer Margaret Fox snapped these great shots.  From the long lines at the author's  table, you can be sure a third printing is around the corner.

Postcard from Alaska
Mendenhall Glacier

Photographer Elaine Whitman took this beautiful photo of the Mendenhall Glacier on a 30th anniversary trip with her poet-husband Neal recently.  Thanks, Elaine, and may you and Neal enjoy many more years of travel, poetry, art and joy!

Vijay Seshadri on Frost, Williams and Auden

Poet Vijay Seshadri gave a lecture, “The poem beneath the poem (beneath the poem),” in New York last month as part of the Sarah Lawrence Faculty on the Road Series.  Seshadri, a brilliant literary analyst, unpacked poetic meaning in Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” Williams’s “This is Just to Say,” and Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts.”  In Auden’s poem, I had never realized that the voice is written to sound like a docent.  Seshadri’s latest book is 3 Sections: Poems, (Graywolf, 2013).

Rosalind Solomon at Fridman Gallery

Rosalnd Solomon gave a rare talk at Fridman Gallery in Soho last month.  The acclaimed photographer shared how her extrovert parents often exhorted their book-lover daughter to “cheer up.”  This childhood wound blossomed into an ability to take eerie and stark photos of broken dolls, people with chronic illness, and Central American villagers.  See this extraordinary exhibit at the gallery.

Gigi and the Lend-Me-A-Hand Band, which includes my favorite lead guitarist Michael Cefola, are performing at the Bronx Zoo every Saturday and Sunday this month at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Gigi leads the daily Halloween parade into the Grizzly Goodies Picnic Area. Discover children’s music with a grown-up rock edge and why WNBC-TV calls the band a “Best Bet” in family entertainment.

Toadlilly debuts new collection

Congratulations to Toadlily Press on its new book, Mend & Hone, featuring poets Elizabeth Howort, Dawn Gorman, Leslie LaChance, Janlori Goldman.   Poets House will host a book launch party on October 6 at 2 pm.  Come help Toadlily, which has promoted emerging poets for years, celebrate its new authors!

Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon

On Wednesday, October 16, at 7 pm, Janie Cohen, director of the Fleming Museum of Art at the University of Vermont in Burlington, will share her revelatory new work on Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) at the Fridman Gallery in Soho.  Learn about one of the most pivotal paintings from the early 20th century.  This talk is free and open to the public.

Rodin in Bronxville

Come see an exhibition of Auguste Rodin portrait sculptures at OSilas Gallery at Concordia College through November 27, 2013. This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition—The Bronze Age: Rodin& amp; the Methods of a Master features Rodin bronze portrait sculptures on loan from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, and cast models for the sculpture Sorrow–on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Winter Warmers in Brooklyn

If you live in or visit Brooklyn, treat yourself to a s’more and hot cocoa at Winter Warmers.  This new shop features yummy comfort food designed to drive away the autumn chill.  With all kinds of s’mores, your selection can be adventuresome or traditional.  Congratulations to proprietor Eric Holstein on this welcome addition to metro area dining!
Seamus Heaney
In August the literary world reeled at the loss of the Irish-born Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.  The prolific poet also translated Beowulf (Norton, 2001) and Sophocles.  When I saw Mr. Heaney read at NYU, his brogue-tinged speech was so lyrical that it was hard to tell if he was simply speaking or reading a poem.  Here is an obituary, words from Mr. Heaney himself, reading Beowulf and identifying places he loved.

‘Round the Net

Thanks to the following people who sent me these great announcements and/or links:

·   Writer Christopher Brisson for Banned Books Week and this article on creativity

·   Artist Deborah Coulter for letting us know her work was selected for the Larchmont Arts Festival

·   Poet Terry Dugan for her quote in this article on the Manhattanville MFA Program

·   Poet Gary Glauber for work in Thirteen Myna Birds and in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine

·   Writer Claudia Hammon for this New York Times article about a $10K contest for a poem

·   Poet Vicki Hudson for interviewing poet Linda Simone

·   Poet Janet Kaplan for her work in Gwarlingo 

·   Poet Robert McDowell for Kickstarter Project to document poet George Hitchcock in film

·   Poet Kevin Pilkington for his upcoming reading Tuesday, October 8, at 7:00pm at Brookdale Community College as part of the Fall 2013 Visiting Writers Series

Novelist Maureen Pilkington for her new website and Facebook page

·   Poet Linda Simone for her poems in Radical Dislocations: Best New Underground Poets (CreateSpace, 2013) and The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (Wind Publications, 2013) by Diane Lockward

·   Cellist Jay Shulman for his upcoming River Trio performance at the North Castle Public Library, November 3 at 3pm

·   Translator Jill Timbers for Publishers Weekly on the lack of book editors today

·   CAEPV Executive Director Kim Wells for these fantastic PSAs against DV and sexual assault

We also lost John Hollander (1929-2013) in August, and in his remembrance, I include this poem.

Until next time,

Some Playthings

A trembling brown bird

standing in the high grass turns

out to be a blown

oakleaf after all.

Was the leaf playing bird, or

was it "just" the wind


playing with the leaf?

Was my very noticing

itself at play with

an irregular

frail patch of brown in the cold

April afternoon?

These questions that hang

motionless in the now-stilled

air: what of their

frailty, in the light
of even the most fragile

of problematic


substances like all

these momentary playthings

of recognition?

Questions that are asked

of questions: no less weighty

and lingeringly


dark than the riddles

posed by any apparent

bird or leaf or breath


of wind, instruments

probing what we feel we know

for some kind of truth.
Excerpt from A DRAFT OF LIGHT. Copyright © 2008 by John Hollander.