Friday, December 18, 2015

your very merry annogram

Ann reads at Cornelia Street Cafe
Kattywompus at Cornelia Street Cafe

What a pleasure to read with Kattywompus poets Susana Case, Cornelius Eady, Robin Messing, and Margo Stever at the Hudson Valley Writers Center last month! We also enjoyed music by Cornelius's band, Rough Magic. We took the show to Cornelia Street Café this week. Hosting was poet and Kattywompus publisher Sammy Greenspan, and poet Leah Umansky, both of whom also shared their gifted work for a spectacular evening (photos courtesy Michael Holstein).

Cornelius Eady
Cornelius Eady and Rough Magic

Commissioned by the Poetry Society of America, Cornelius set poems by Sterling A. Brown (1901-1989) to music—and Rough Magic was born. Fronted by Cornelius and Robin Messing on vocals, the band features Charlie Rauh on guitar, Emma Alabaster on bass, Leo Ferguson on drums, and Lisa Liu on keyboards and electric guitar. 

Charlie Rauh
A mesmerizing mix of lyric and sound, the poems contrast Cornelius's own tributes to Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and John Snowden. Note: Rauh’s own haunting debut EP Innocent Speller also blends ethereal chords with whimsical hints reminiscent of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

The Wanderlust: A South Carolina Folktale

Congratulations to memoirist Sarah Bracey White and illustrator Linda Simone on the debut of The Wanderlust: A South Carolina Folktale. This wonderful, beautifully illustrated tale is great for all ages, so be sure to get your hands on a copy. To order, email the author at Here's a delicious sample:

Walter Morgan had a bad case of the wanderlust. Way befo’ he ever finished grade school, he’d been to visit more parts of the state of South Carolina than the post office had ever heard tell about. Once, when his ma whipped him for wanderin’ off, Walter told her, ‘Sometimes my feels git real itchy and the only way to ease the itch is to walk down the road a piece. After a while, the walkin’ feel so good I just can’t stop.’ After Walter married Mae Witherspoon, the preacher’s daughter, everybody expected him to settle down. And for near ‘bout two years, Walter did. He worked real steady in the saw mill and went no further than the Santee River. But many’s the time I seen him sittin’ on that river bank, pluckin’ on his guitar and starin’ off to’ards where the river flowed.

Santa Clops for Christmas

Scratching your head for perfect gifts for little ones in your life? Look no further than A Visit from Santa Clops or the Fright Before Christmas and The Cave of Santa Clops by Gig Wailgum, available in paperback from Amazon. Visit has received glowing reviews from The Picture Book Review, Dial for Books, and I'd So Rather Be Reading; and Cave from Dial for Books, I'd So Rather Be Reading, and Best Sellers World.

More poetry

Kevin Pilkington's new and selected Where You Want to Be (Black Lawrence, 2015) is back in Amazon stock. Ciara Miller's Silver Bullet (Mindmade Books, 2015) meditates on the film industry's use of entertainment to mask race and racial injustice. In Quit (Burning Deck, 2015), LissaMclaughlin gives voice to a grief worker within the hospice landscape. And consider these fine chapbooks: Gary Glauber's Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Jessica Lynn Dotson's Time Trials (L&S, 2015).

Highland Park Poetry Challenge

Highland Park’s 2016 Poetry Challenge honors the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death by offering poets one of the following prompts: Shakespeare’s life, identity, plays, character; a sonnet, or subject of "night." Poets of all ages may submit. Deadline: Monday, February 29, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. Send poem(s) as text in an e-mail to and write “2016 Poetry Challenge” in subject line. 

Poetry Readings

Sunday, December 20, 1:30 p.m. – Natalie Safir, Geri Rosenzweig, JCC on the Hudson, $5
Sunday, December 20, 6 p. m. – Kevin Pilkington , Le Poisson Rouge, free
Sunday January 10, 4:30 p.m. – Jonathan Galassi, Hudson Valley Writers Center, $10

Wanderlust Sweet Potato Waffles

Let's celebrate the debut of The Wanderlust with yummy southern sweet potato waffles! Gluten-free options below–delicious either way and great for a lazy New Year's day spent in your PJs:
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (instructions below)
juice from an orange or lime
3 eggs, separated
1 cup milk or almond milk
1/4 cup melted butter or sunflower oil
1 1/2 cups flour or gluten-free flour such as Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Cut sweet potato into even chunks, and boil or steam until tender. Remove skin. Put in a bowl with juice from lime or orange, and, if too tart, a drop or two of maple syrup. Beat with hand-held blender. Add to the sweet potatoes: 3 egg yolks, milk and butter or sunflower oil. Stir in flour which has been mixed with baking powder and salt. Beat three egg whites to soft peaks and fold into sweet potato mixture. Cook in an oiled waffle iron until crisp.

Round the Net

Thanks and/or congratulations to the following:

Editor Joel Allegretti on recent launch of Rabbit Ears (NYQ Press, 2015), Boston Globe review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazettte review, and book marketer blog interview

Poet Terry Dugan on high praise for her work in Bellevue Literary Review's Embattled Issue, and for sharing this great interview with poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Food Democracy Now! for promoting a new thriller on GMOs called "Consumed"

Poet Gary Glauber on his first chapbook and being nominated for a Pushcart Prize

Translator Daniel Hahn for his new Asymptote Fortnightly Airmail column, "Ask a Translator"
Poet Ruth Handel on having her work in the Hudson Valley Center of Contemporary Art's "Writing the Walls" Exhibit this month

Editor Cindy Hochman on the latest issue of First Literary Review East

Poet J. Chester Johnson for this video of his highly successful play on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, For Conduct and Innocents

Editor Karin Miller on this moving short film based on a poem from The Cancer Poetry Project 2

Poets House on PBS featuring Bill Murray explaining why he recites poetry

Poet Linda Simone on having her poem, "Teahouse of the Texas Moon," accepted in the new Dos Gatos Press anthology of Southwestern Persona Poems; and for sharing yoga for writers

Music archivist Jay Shulman for alerting us to Rubber Soul's 50th anniversary this month, and remembering Cynthia Robinson of Sly and the Family Stone

Poet Elaine Whitman on winning the first prize in the 40th annual Yuki Teikei Haiku Society Haiku Contest

Wishing you peace and joy in this season of lights, and a very Merry Christmas to all!

Until next time,

Thursday, November 19, 2015

your thanksgiving annogram

Photo found by Linda Simone
A lot happening: Linda Simone's fantastic review of Face Painting in the Dark (Dos Madres Press, 2014) appears in First Literary Review East. If concerned about race relations, you will also want to read my interview with memoirist Sarah Bracey White in the Southern Literary Review. Three of my poems are also in Cicada, a hip teen journal full of intelligent cartoons. Thanks to editors of AMP, Hofstra University's new digital magazine, for accepting my poem, "Signs and Wonders," for their 2016 inaugural issue.

Kattywompus Poets read

I'll be reading with Susana Case, Robin Messing, and Margo Taft Stever this Friday, November 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow. We'll be joined by fellow Kattywompus poet Cornelius Eady and his band, Rough Magic. Come for a fun evening of poetry and music (admission $10). You can catch this same lineup, with Leah Umansky and Kattywompus Press publisher Sammy Greenspan, at the Cornelia Street Cafe on Monday, December 14, at 6:30 p.m.

Rabbit Ears launch

Debuts December 1
Congratulations to editor Joel Allegretti on the upcoming publication of Rabbit Ears:TV Poems (NYQ Books, 2015),a tribute to the medium that has influenced America's tastes, politics, language, and lifestyles. I'm pleased it includes my “Velocity" alongside work from Billy Collins, Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, Timothy Liu, and Tony Hoagland. The poems are funny, poignant, witty, mysterious, and educational, much like TV itself. You can hear mine in this short YouTube film.

One Hundred Years of Marriage

Louise Farmer Smith’s One Hundred Years of Marriage (Upper Hand Press, 2014) is an extraordinary novel, and as poet Terry Dugan says, “It’s the perfect book club book”; also for academic courses on American women or our literature. While noting great books, be sure to get Kevin Pilkington’s latest Where You Want to Be (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), and a charming collaboration between poets Eric Greinke and Glenna Luschei, Zen Duende (Presa Press, 2015). Happy holiday gifting and reading!
Peanuts are back!

Congratulations to Anthony Nisi, Blue Sky Studio production manager, on the new Peanuts Movie. It has an important message about values and highlights all the great characters and lines we've always loved—"Good grief!", "Curse you, Red Baron!" and "You blockhead!" My favorite: seeing all those Peanut dance moves again, which I could probably perform from memory. The Peanuts Movie also utilizes innovative 3D animation. Be sure to take the little Peanuts in your lives to this fun family movie!

"Yellow Lit" by Diane Green
Diane Green at Madelyn Jordan

You are invited to a champagne brunch at the Madelyn Jordan Gallery this Sunday, November 22, 12 noon – 2 p.m.  Art Historian Beth Gersh-Nesic will host a Q&A with artist Diane Green on her work in the exhibition The Space Between.  RSVP

Poetry readings / conversation / music

Kevin Young
Thursday, November 19, 7 p.m. - Nick Flynn and Gregory Pardlo, Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus, 113 West 60th Street, 12th Floor
Thursday, November 19, 7 p.m. - Kevin Young and Gabrielle Hamilton, New York Public Library at 42nd and Fifth, register
Rosamond King
Friday, November 20, 7:30 p.m. - Susana Case, Ann Cefola, Robin Messing, Margo Taft Stever, and Cornelius Eady and Rough Magic,Hudson Valley Writers Center
Sunday, November 22, 1:30 p.m - Susana Case, Sally Blumis-Dunn, Jennifer Franklin, and Margo Taft Stever, JCC on the Hudson
Friday, December 4, 6:30 p.m. - Rosamond King, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gallery 681
Sunday, December 6, 4:30 p.m. - Nick Flynn and Kathleen Ossip, Hudson Valley Writers Center
Tuesday, December 8, 7 p.m. – Helen Vendler, New York Public Library, tickets $20-45, register
Golda Solomon
Friday, December 11, 7 p.m. - Sharon Olds and Cynthia Nixon, New York Public Library at 42nd and Fifth, register
Friday, December 11, 7:30 p.m. - Three local MFA poets, Hudson Valley Writers Center
Sunday, December 13, 4:30 p.m. - Golda Solomon, Hudson Valley Writers Center
Monday, December 14, 6 p.m. - Susana Case, Ann Cefola, Robin Messing, Margo Taft Stever, and Cornelius Eady and Rough Magic,Cornelia Street Cafe
Saturday, November 28, 8 p.m. - Jay Shulman, cellist with Windham Festival Chamber Orchestra, Doctorow Center, Hunter, NY; tickets
Sunday, November 29, 6:30 p.m. - Jaime Lee Lewis, Bowery Poetry Club

Moosewood Pumpkin Pie

In time for Thanksgiving!  From Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2014), this recipes depends upon fresh pumpkin for its wildly satisfying flavor. Remove seeds and stem from a sugar pumpkin, then cut into chunks. Boil or steam until a knife glides easily through pumpkin. Drain, remove and discard skin from each chunk, and puree with handheld blender. Makes two and sometimes three pies, depending on size of pumpkin.

3 cups pumpkin puree
¾ cup honey
2 Tbsp molasses
¼ tsp ground cloves
3 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 12-oz can evaporated milk (or 1 cup scalded fresh milk, or nut milk for a dairy free option)
frozen or homemade pastry pie shell

Combine ingredients in order given in a very large bowl.  Pour into two pie shells and bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then 40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until center ceases to wobble when gently shaken. Or omit pie shell for a delicious pumpkin pudding. Bake filling in buttered baking dish and serve with vanilla ice cream or heavy cream.

’Round the Net

Congratulations and/or thanks to the following for news and links:

Actors Jane Bradley and Chris Coffey
read Terry Dugan's poetry
Singer/songwriter Eric Andersen on writing fourteen new songs based on Byron's poetry

Memoirist Sarah Bracey White on receiving recognition as one of the YWCA's "Mover and Shaker" this year

Guitarist Michael Cefola on great musical discoveries, Vintage Trouble and guitarist Neil Zaza

Poet Terry Dugan on having her work read by actors Jane Bradley and Chris Coffey at Bellevue Literary Review's poetry event last month

Self Portrait, Paula Moderson-Becker
Art Historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for this exhibit of work by Paula Moderson-Becker (1876-1907) and for Beth’s wonderful PostModern Mom blog

Poet Gary Glauber for his poem in Bookends Review and Calliope Magazine

Writer Carolyn Gregoire on this new look at the creative brain

Poet Cindy Hochman on having five poems appear in the fall Muddy River Review

Novelist Laura Morelli on the publication of her short story, "The Tapestry," now available

Gail and Frank Zappa
Translator Cindy Schuster on recommending this Paris Review interview with poet/translator Peter Cole

Publisher James Sherry on Roof Books' new Parsival by Steve McCaffery and we plié by Patrick R. Phillips

Music archivist Jay Shulman for this tribute to Ringo and remembering Gail Zappa
Poet Laureate Juan Felipe
Herrera and  Linda Simone

Poet Linda Simone on meeting US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, and for this article on grammar distorting history

Actor Dagmar Stansova for sharing this rare film clip of her in an early acting class with Angelina Jolie

Publisher Ann Starr for this great review of Cuban-born Dominican artist Quisqueya Henriquez

Photographer Joe Vericker on covering Pope Francis's visit to New York in September

We close with love and prayers for dear friends in France, especially poet Hélène Sanguinetti and our mutual friend Claire Barre. There’s no explaining such tragedy, but this father made a good attempt helping his son understand. Wishing us all candles and flowers, and deep gratitude this Thanksgiving for those we love and the life we cherish.

Until next time,

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

your random acts of annogram

Random Acts of Poetry Day

So happy today, October 7, is Random Acts of Poetry Day.  According to Jennifer at Highland Park Poetry, we should be pinning poems on grocery bulletin boards and scrawling verse in chalk in the street.  Sounds good!  My random acts have included three poems recently accepted by Zoomorphic, and one by Main Street Rag Publishing for its ghosts anthology.

Photo by Jeff Pang
Women Poets of the Hudson River

Ruth Handel, Natalie Safir, Meredith Trede, and I will read at the Warner Library in Tarrytown on October 24 at 2 pm.  Ruth’s most recent book is No Border is Perennial (Dos Madres, 2015), Natalie’s Love Like Snow (2011), Meredith’s Field Theory (SFA Press, 2011) and mine, Face Painting in the Dark (Dos Madres, 2014).  Hope to see you there!

Writing & War

Bellevue Literary Review presents Embattled, a performance of poetry and prose on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, at 6 pm. Two actors will read select poems by BLR poets, featuring work by my dear friend Terry Dugan.  Free and open to the public at NYU Langone Medical Center, 550 First Avenue (30th-33rd Streets), Schwartz Hall E.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Commemorating Bonhoeffer

“For Conduct and Innocents,” a multimedia drama in verse written by J. Chester Johnson, will take place Sunday, October 18 at 2 pm at Trinity Church (Wall Street).  Directed by Alan Baxter, the performance portrays significant moments leading to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s death, with choreography by the Trinity Movement Choir, and Paul Knopf’s original score for an upcoming film on Bonhoeffer (1906-1945). 

Collaborations in Dance

This Brooklyn festival, on Sunday, October 18, at 8 pm, celebrates movement-based performance developed in collaboration with artists in film, sound, costuming, visual art, and more. Racoco, featuring Rachel Cohen, Remi Harris, Masumi Kishimoto, and Meghan Schardt, with live music by Lynn Wright and guests, rejoins visual artist Stephanie Beck on a shared program. At TRISKELION ARTS, tickets $16.
October Poetry Readings

Thursday, October 7, 7 pm: Matthew Zapruder, NYU Lillian Vernon Creative Writing House
Friday, October 9, 6 pm: Michael Klein, Andrea Cohen, Poets House
Saturday, October 10, 4:30 pm: Katie Degentesh, Katy Bohinc, Zinc Bar
Monday, October 12, 7 pm: Jane Hirshfeld, Poets House
Tuesday, October 13, 7 pm: Robyn Creswell, Dunya Mikhail, Nat’l Sept. 11 Museum; register
Tuesday, October 13, 7 pm: Cate Marvin, Robin Beth Schaer, McNally Jackson Books
Thursday, October 15, 7 pm: Rachel McKibbens, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Casey Lynn Rocheteau, BookCourt
Wednesday, October 14, 6:30 pm: Lynn Emmanuel, Sarah Lawrence Slonim House
Saturday, October 17, 4:30 pm: Ben Tripp, Boni Joi, Zinc Bar
Sunday, October 18, 3:30 pm: The Widows Handbook, All Saints Catholic Church Library
Edwin Torres
Sunday, October 18, 4:30 pm: Edward Hirsch, Hudson Valley Writers Center, $10
Monday, October 19, 7 pm: Ai Tribute, Proshansky Auditorium /CUNY Grad Center
Thursday, October 22, 7 pm: John Wieners Celebration, Poets House
Saturday, October 24, 2 pm: Ann Cefola, Ruth Handel, Meredith Trede, Warner Library
Saturday, October 24, 4:30 pm: Rodney Koeneke, Edwin Torres, Zinc Bar
Thursday, October 29, 7 pm: Liwaa Yazji, Poets House
Friday, October 30, 6:30 pm: Randall Horton, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Center for Book Arts

Chocolate Walnut Scones

Thanks to my dear friend and translator, Ligia Yamazaki, I learned about eating “Clean” and later discovered this delicious recipe.

1/2 cup coconut oil + 1 teaspoon for greasing baking sheet
1/4 cup water
1/4 to 1/2 cup pitted and mashed-up dates (soak until soft)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour (Bob’s Red Mills) +1 tablespoon gluten free flour
Pinch sea salt
2 oz organic dark chocolate (preferably sugar/dairy free, like Gnosis or Green & Black), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raw, organic walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl.  In separate bowl, mash dates until you have a thick paste and set aside. Warm coconut oil until it's liquid and add to date paste with vanilla and water.  Add wet to dry. Then add chocolate and walnut pieces and mix until just combined. Dough should hold together; adjust water and flour if too dry or sticky.  Form dough into a round and place on lightly floured (leftover gluten-free flour) surface and cut in half.  Roll each half into another round.  Cut one round in half and then cut each half into thirds and repeat so you have 12 wedges.  Lightly grease baking or cookie sheet with coconut oil and place wedges in oven for 16 minutes (rotating pan after 8 minutes).

Round the Net

Thanks and/or congratulations to the following people:

Writer Cindy Beer-Fouhy on her Life Stories class at the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute

J. Chester Johnson
Publisher Guy Bennett on debut of Piotr Macierzyński’s If father dies first (Mindmade Books, 2015) translated from Polish by Aleksandra Małecka and Piotr Marecki

Essayist Jeanette Briggs on “City Stories” appearing in Diverse Voices Quarterly

Poet Terry Dugan on having her poetry selected for Writing & War (see above)

Poet Ruth Handel on her upcoming book No Border is Perennial (Dos Madres, 2015) and 10th year teaching Enjoying Poetry at Scarsdale Adult School

Poet Cindy Hochman for this article on the publishing industry’s thoughts on editing

Poet J. Chester Johnson on his upcoming drama in verse on Bonhoeffer (see above)

Poet Amy King for nominations to the volume Bettering American Poetry

Novelist Petra E. Lewis on appearing in the Daily News, speaking at the National Action Network, and hosting an anti-violence panel at the New School

Poet Sherry Loeffler on the best rejection she ever received—part 1 and part 2

Robert Murphy
Translator James Manteith for pointing out the new Iris DeMent album is based on Babette Deutsch and Lyn Coffin translations of Akhmatova

Poet Don McIver and the 2015 ABQ Slam Team for appearing in a TED talk

Art expert Laura Morelli on her latest book on vacation treasure-shopping, Naples & the Almafi Coast

Poet Robert Murphy on his recent NYC reading at the Swift Hibernian Lounge

PBS for Jim Henson documentary sharing his early coffee ads (PS: If asked if you want Wilkins Coffee, the answer is yes)

Sports broadcaster Steve Overmyer for highlighting the New York Sharks—a women’s professional football team

Poet Kevin Pilkington on his master poetry class, starting October 20, at the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute

Poet Claudia Rankine on winning the Forward Poetry Prize

Music archivist Jay Shulman for this book review of Chrissie Hynde’s memoir
Sarah Bracey White and winning plant

Poet Linda Simone on having “Rara Avis” accepted in Grabbing the Apple: An Anthology of New York Women Poets

Memoirist Sarah Bracey White on winning the First and Growers' Choice Awards at the Parkway Gardens/Parkway Homes Fall Flower Show

Poet Neal Whitman on having “When Dusk Falls” appear in this Italian journal and for recommending this video of poet Alice Oswald

Before we leave off, I want to remember Ann McGovern, author of the children’s classic, Stone Soup.  When I was little, that story often inspired me to pretend my lunchtime soup was the savory one described in her tale. Later, when pursuing my dream of being a writer, I heard her speak at a writers’ conference. She was warm-hearted and approachable, and led an amazing life.  Here’s to making delicious soup out of stones!

Until next time,