Thursday, December 07, 2017

your holiday annogram

Free Ferry Half-Price

Free Ferry is half-price through December 12. This book-length poem makes a great gift for the scientists and mathematicians in your life, and anyone appreciating a walk back through baby boomerhood or early nuclear history. My publisher has nominated Free Ferry as one of the Best 21 Poetry Books of the 21st Century. You have to admire Ann Starr’s faith in her authors!

Review in the Woven Tale Press

Poet and artist Linda Simone
For insight into Free Ferry, see its latest book review by poet Linda Simone in The Woven Tale Press.  An award-winning poet, Linda vividly describes the dual narratives while expertly drilling down into the poetic craft.  If you enjoy the review, read Linda’s own work—the wonderful Archeology (Flutter Press, 2014), and see her outstanding watercolors December 9 at Art on Broadway in San Antonio.

Fordham Tribute to Dr. Michael Cefola

Michael A. Cefola recalls his dad
Thanks to Fordham Associate Dean Carla Romney for arranging the tribute to Dr. Michael Cefola, professor of radiochemistry, whose groundbreaking microchemical techniques are routinely used today. 

Dr. Carla Romney presents Dr. Cefola's
groundbreaking thesis to Michael and me
Assistant Chemistry Professor Robert Beer and I read from Free Ferry, and my husband, Fordham alum Michael Cefola, shared memories of Fordham and his father. Dean of the Fordham College Maura Mast, science faculty, and former students spoke, including American Chemical Society Fellow Anne O’Brien; and Chemistry Chair Jon Friedrich moderated the lively October 11th celebration with humor and grace.

Convergence of Humanities and Sciences at CCNY

Dean Liss and I read from Free Ferry
City College of New York also honored Dr. Cefola by hosting a roundtable on plutonium’s legacy at the Rifkind Center. Dean of Science Tony Liss and I first read from Free Ferry, before Philosophy Professors Elise Crull and Massimo Pigliucci, History Professor Danian Hu, and Dean Liss recalled plutonium’s origins, unethical uses, safer nuclear sources, and scientific narrative. My gratitude goes to Dean Liss, and to Dean of Humanities and Arts Erec Koch who ably hosted this memorable event.

Walter Lure at Bowery Electric

Lure (left) backs Thunders in London
circa 1978 - photo by Gus Stewart
Walter Lure, sole survivor of Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, performed November 29th with an all-star lineup—Blondie’s drummer Clem Burke, Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and Social Distortion’s guitarist Mike Ness.  

Lure (center) today
photo by Michael Cefola
Walter’s college bandmate, my husband Michael, said it was like “seeing the Beatles at the Cavern Club.” The SRO audience cheered iconic hits such as “Chinese Rocks”, “Born to Lose” and “All By Myself.” The band continued to sold-out performances in LA, San Diego, and San Francisco—part of a nationwide revival of the late 70s punk scene.

Poets in Conversation and at Gordon Fine Arts

Surounded by exceptional art
Norwalk Poet Laureate Laurel Peterson welcomed Robert Masterson and me to her Poets in Conversation Series in early November. Later that month, I had the pleasure of reading with Laurel at the Poets Stage at Gordon Fine Arts at the Stamford Town Center—thanks to Jerry T. Johnson who arranged the event. 

Howard Mandel on the Big Band Sound

Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton,
Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa on drums
Which instrument was the “electric guitar” of the Big Bands? Read my interview with jazz critic Howard Mandel to find out. Mandel explores how war, race, and radio both advanced and held back the Big Band sound. Scroll to the end for Mandel’s delicious deconstruction of Count Basie’s “April in Paris.”  This, most popular of my LinkedIn interviews, has more than 500 views.

Shiva Moon Book Launch

Maxine Silverman introduced Shiva Moon (Ben Yehuda Press) last month at the Sundays with George Poetry Series in Tarrytown. Following the author’s journey mourning her father, Shiva Moon combines compelling imagery from nature and astronomy within the context of ancient Jewish tradition. This shimmering poetry makes a thoughtful gift to anyone recently bereaved.

New releases

Jim Daniels, Street Calligraphy (Steel Toe Books)

Elke Erb, The Up and Down of Feet: Poems 1994-2010 (Burning Deck), trans. Rosmarie Waldrop

Paol Keineg, Triste Tristan and Other Poems (Burning Deck), trans. Laura Marris and Rosmarie Waldrop

Jonathan Lewis, Babel On 
(L+S Press)

Laurel Peterson, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer? (FutureCycle Press)

Ivy Pochoda, Wonder Valley (Ecco)

Hélène Sanguinetti, Domaine des Englués (La Lettre Volée)

Maxine Silverman, Shiva Moon (Ben Yehuda Press)

Moosewood No-Fault Pumpkin Pies

You’ve seen this before —  but this year I discovered canned organic pumpkin, and gone are my pioneer-woman days of gutting and baking a whole pumpkin! My gratitude to Mollie Katzen of Moosewood fame for this truly no-fault pie. Get your Vitamin A on with this delicious seasonal recipe — makes two pies.

3 cups canned organic pumpkin puree
3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
2 frozen organic pie shells

Mix in order given. Pour into pie shell and bake 10 minutes at 450°F, then 40 minutes at 350°F, or till set. For a delicious pumpkin pudding, omit pie shell. Bake filling in buttered baking dish and serve with vanilla ice cream or heavy cream.

Poetry readings

Norwalk Public Library, December 7, 7pm, Duane Esposito and Ralph Nazareth

HVWC, December 8, 7:30pm, Melissa Febos and Nick Flynn, $10

Poet Patricia Smith
PoetsHouse, December 8, Celebrating Patricia Smith, Mahogany Browne, Cornelius Eady, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Ellen Hagan, Terrance Hayes, Randall Horton, Tyehimba Jess, Rachel McKibbens, Nicole Sealey, Leslie Shipman, Parneshia Jones, $10

92nd Street Y, December 13, 7:30pm, Memorial for John Ashbery, Elizabeth Hazan, Ann Lauterbach, Dara Wier, Trevor Winkfield

Metropolitan Pavilion, January 13, 7pm, Edward Hirsch, James Davis May

ʼRound the net

Translator Martha Collins on her article on many translations of one poem in Literary Hub

Artist Kathy Gregory
Poet Gary Glauber for his poems in In Between Hangovers and The Paragon Journal

Artist Kathe Gregory for participating in last month’s Joy Street Open Studios

J Journal for its new website

Poet J. Chester Johnson for this wonderful video précis of his new book on translating the psalms

Hip Hop artist Nas
NYPL President Tony Marx for sharing renovations plans to the iconic midtown library

Poet John McMullen on becoming the Poet Laureate of Yorktown Heights and for reading at the Veterans Gala of Putnam County last month

Outdoor Retailer Orvis for this much-needed Moment of Chill during the holidays

Poets and Writers for posting this interview of Hip Hop Artist Nas by Harvard Poetry Prof Elisa New

Poet Christina M. Rau on poems in Queen Mob’s TeaHouse

The Scottish Book Trust for making an audiobook of selected stories available to readers who are blind

Derek Jeter
Poet Linda Simone for letting us know about a Texas town called Poetry and on having her poem, “Things Closer Than They Appear,” read on It Matters Radio

Photographer Joe Vericker for sharing this great shot of young Derek Jeter

Photographer Elaine Whitman on her work in the Italian journal Immagine + Poesia

Poet Neal Whitman on poems in First Literary Review-East, Red Lights, and Immagine + Poesia, and on winning the Ina Coolbrith Circle Contest  3rd Prize and Tokutomi Haiku Contest 2nd Prize

At year-end, I want to thank you for your incredible support of Free Ferry – five-star Amazon ratings, expert book reviews; everyone who came to the June launch, purchased or gifted Free Ferry; and all the scientists who dared read the bottom narrative with me in public – I am deeply moved by your generosity. May you find the courage and confidence to fulfill your own creative destiny — and to take time to celebrate loved ones and traditions in the holidays fast approaching.

See you, dear annogrammers, in the new year!

Until next time,


Monday, October 09, 2017

your radioactive annogram

See Instagram time line
What’s all this about plutonium? The development of the first man-made element seventy-five years ago was no less than “the dream of medieval alchemists: transmuting lead into gold,” reflects the New York Times. Its little-known history forms the bottom narrative of Free Ferry, and a time line I created on Instagram which shares cringe-worthy moments—such as the unexpected spill of the world’s only plutonium.

Free Ferry Reading at Fordham – Rose Hill

I will read from Free Ferry Wednesday, October 11, as part of a celebration honoring a scientist who synthesized the first man-made element, plutonium. A professor of chemistry at Fordham, he will be remembered with tributes from family members, former students, and science professors. The event, which will be live-streamed, will take place 2:30-5:30pm in Flom Auditorium in the Walsh Library on the Rose Hill Campus, and a reception will follow.

Convergence of the Humanities and Sciences at CCNY

On Wednesday, October 18 at 4pm, I will be reading from Free Ferry at a Roundtable Discussion Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Plutonium at CCNY.  Hosted by Dean of Science Tony Liss, the event will feature Philosophy Professors Elise Crull and Massimo Pigliucci, History Professor Danian Hu, and CCNY Dean of Humanities and Sciences Erec Koch.  The conversation, which will take place in The Rifkind Room, NAC 6/316, at 160 Convent Avenue in Manhattan, will be followed by a reception.

Alison McBain Interview

Alison McBain
Thanks to Alison McBain who interviewed me on her blog.  Alison is a widely published writer, poet, and book reviewer for Bewildering Stories, where she will review Free Ferry next month. It was a pleasure to read with Alison at the Stamford Arts Festival this past summer. You can hear Alison read flash fiction this Friday, October 13, at 7pm at the Best Video Film and Culture Center in Hamden, CT. 

The Anglican Auden

Think you know Auden, eh? If you don’t know his passion for preserving his Anglican roots, then you are missing the whole picture. Poet J. Chester Johnson has filled in the gaps in Auden, the Psalms and Me (Church Publishing, 2017).

WH Auden  (1907-1973) at Oxford
The Episcopal Church, updating its Book of Common Prayer in the late 60s, invited Auden to help retranslate the Psalms. When Auden had to give up this role upon his return to England, he wrote Johnson, his replacement, a memorable few letters. That’s the leaping-off point of this book which also gives a refreshing explanation of biblical poetic devices.

Johnson will discuss Auden, the Psalms and Me on Thursday, October 19, 6:30pm, at the Church of Heavenly Rest; Sunday, October 29, 2pm, at Poets House, with commentary by Cornelius Eady; and Tuesday, November 28, 6:30pm, at the Culture Center, with an introduction by Phillis Levin.

Laurel Peterson
Poets in Conversation

Join me at the Norwalk Library on November 2 at 7pm for the Poets in Conversation Series hosted by Norwalk Poet Laureate Laurel Petersen.  Poet Robert Masterson and I will read, discuss the writing life, and take audience questions. Thanks to Laurel for this great opportunity!

Sunday with George at the J

Come hear me read at the Sunday with George Poetry Series at the JCC on the Hudson October 29 at 1:30pm. I am honored to join superb local poets Michael Carman, Susana Case, Ruth Handel, Ann Lauinger, Loretta Oleck, Natalie Safir, Michelle Seaman, Meredith Trede, and Estha Weiner. Our last reading together was extraordinary—so our host, poet and translator George Kraus, is putting the band back together again!

Creative opportunities

Miller Oberman
LINES + STARS call for work on the theme “Inheritance”


The Ocotillo Review seeks / pays for short fiction, poetry, flash fiction and narrative nonfiction


Jessica Hendry Nelson on Essay Associated: The Modern Lyric, October 11, 6pm, Slonim House, Sarah Lawrence

The Art of the Line with Carla Carlson, Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute, Tuesdays Oct. 14-Nov. 14, $450

Enjoying Poetry with Ruth Handel, Scarsdale Adult School, Tuesdays, Oct. 24-Dec.5, $180

Miller Oberman on Writing in the Ruins: The Poet as Translator, October 19, 2pm, Slonim House, Sarah Lawrence


HVWC, Submission Sundays, open to HVWC members; contact HVWC for info

New releases

Auden, the Psalms and Me (Church Publishing) by J. Chester Johnson

Palindrome (Dos Madres Press) by Pauletta Hansel

Studied Days (Dos Madres Press) by Richard Hague

Lynne's Spiced Pumpkin Soup

You may have seen this here before but this time of year demands a reprint! This delicious recipe is from The New Laurel's Kitchen, sort of a Joy of Cooking for vegetarians.

1 small pumpkin (about 10 cups diced)
3 carrots
3/4 tsp. black mustard seed
1/4 to 1/2 c. veggie broth
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. each turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, ginger
3/4 c. powdered or regular skim milk
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. salt

Peel and chop pumpkin and carrots, and simmer in water to cover until tender. Toward end of cooking, heat nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mustard seeds. Cover pan and keep over medium-high heat until popping of seeds begins to die down, then immediately add 1/4 c. broth or more as needed, and onion; reduce heat. Cook and stir until onion is translucent. Measure spices while onion cooks; stir into the mixture and cook on low heat for a minute until fragrant. Turn into pumpkin pot, using a cup of cooking water to rinse spice pan into soup pot. Use hand-blender to puree seasoned pumpkin and carrots in their cooking liquid, adding milk, honey and salt to taste. Makes 10 cups. 

Poetry readings / literary or artistic events

Pete’s, October 13, 7pm, Ben Gantcher, Karen Hildebrand, Susan Miller

Henri deToulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
Byram Shubert Library, October 14, 3pm, "Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Context," Beth Gersh-Nesic, register here

The Room, October 14, 7pm, Rachel Coonce, Dustin Renwick, Evyan Roberts, Michael Salcman

The Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, October 16, 3pm, Jana Prikryl

Scarsdale Library, October 19, 7pm, Estha Weiner and other Westchester Review poets

HVWC, Open Mic, October 20, 7:30pm, Michael Collins

Joseph-Beth Booksellers, October 24, 7pm, Robert Collins, Richard Hague

National Arts Club, October 24, Billy Collins, Aracelis Girmay, Major Jackson, Ada Limón, Jim Moore, Marilyn Nelson, Katha Pollitt, Poetry in Motion benefit, $260  

Graduate Center at CUNY, the Skylight Room, October 31, 6:30pm, Victor Hernández Cruz

Katonah Village Library, November 5, 4pm, Carla Funk, $10

'Round the Net

Memoirist Sarah Bracey White on the big welcome she received on her hometown book tour

Art Historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for curating the Bosom Bodies Exhibit, benefiting SISTAAH

Bosom Bodies artist Clarity Haynes with curator Beth Gersh-Nesic

Poet Gary Glauber for work in The Bees Are Dead and Sheila-Na-Gig

Artist Kathe Gregory on her first open studio, October 14 and 15, noon-6pm, at Midway Studios

Main Street Rag Press for offering an advanced sale price for Of Burgers and Barrooms

The New York Public Library for its staff picks for October

The Pedestal Magazine for its war issue

Poet and artist Linda Simone for sharing San Antonio’s “Human Library” concept

University Professors Press for my poem, “Trackside Commissary,” in the anthology Silent Screams

So excited to read Free Ferry at Fordham and City College in a few days! I am grateful to see the story work on and draw in new readers.  Many of you have emailed me specific praise, and if you could share your feedback on Amazon, that would be a welcome gift in this my birthday month.

Happy autumn, everyone—leaves are just turning here in New York and we hope crisper temperatures follow.

Until next time,