Wednesday, February 01, 2017

your valentine's annogram

Free Ferry half-price!

Upper Hand Press has a sweetheart of a deal for you: Free Ferry is half price now through February 14. Order now and you'll receive it in April, which is right around the corner. Thanks to cultural pundit Natasha Nesic for the first online review of Free Ferry, and to everyone who has preordered my book to date. I can’t wait to sign it for you.

Matters of the Heart

Thanks again to Dr. George Kraus for convening an extraordinary poets last month for Sundays at the J with George and Friends at the JCC on the Hudson. In addition to Michael Carman, Susanna Case, Ruth Handel, Ann Lauinger, Natalie Safir, and Meredith Trede, I loved the science-inspired poetry of Loretta Oleck, co-owner of the Muddy Waters Cafe; and lyrical work of Michelle Seaman, whose husband Benjamin Dauer provided tasty bass rendering as part of their musical duo, the Dwindlers.

Sarah Bracey White
February is African American History Month

Annogram celebrates great African American poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Countee Cullen, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Langston Hughes, Phillis Wheatley, and two fabulous writers I am privileged to know—Sarah Bracey White and Petra E. Lewis. Sarah, recently interviewed in the Journal News, is author of the award-winning folk tale The Wanderlust; and Petra wrote a scarily prescient novel on gun violence, The Sons and Daughters of Ham: Book I: A Requiem. While exploring, be sure to see Blavity's young black poets you should know.

Feeling Blue and Lonesome

If you've been following annogram, you know the blues hit me like lightning last year. About the same time, the Rolling Stones, feeling stuck in a recording session, decided to "cleanse the palate" by returning to their musical roots.

Little Walter Jacobs
The result is Blue and Lonesome, an album whose soulful purity honors originators of the American blues canon, such as Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf and Lightnin’ Slim. In the classic shuffle, "Just Your Fool," Jagger skillfully executes traditional blues harmonica, once performed in a simpler fashion by Brian Jones in the band's early days. Jagger’s harmonica can only be matched by his vocals, which excel in this leaner blues forum—especially in the Chicago-oriented "I Gotta Go."

Willie Dixon
The band also pays homage to Delta blues, with "Hate to See You Go," "Little Rain" and the Willie Dixon standard, "I Can't Quit You Baby," widely performed by everyone from Jeff Beck to Zeppelin. Recording next door, Eric Clapton was invited in and performs slide on "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing" and guitar on “I Can’t Quit You Baby.” If you love authentic blues, this album is a keeper.

Thanks to my favorite blues rock guitarist Michael Cefola for his input on this review.

Herbert Hadad: Jewish and Arabic

Writers Terry Dugan, Herb Hadad and
Ann celebrate Herb's theater debut
The Jewish Women's Theatre in Los Angeles, which "celebrates truths that connect all people," plans to dramatize a piece Herbert Hadad wrote for the New York Times. The original op-ed, "Both Jewish and Arabic," concerns Herb's efforts to keep Arabic heritage alive for his three children in a Christian-Judeo household. A freelance writer, Herb authored Finding Immortality: The Making of One American Family and teaches at the Hudson Valley Writers Center. The play will debut in March.

Ruby Sketchley as
Mary E. Gregory of
Old Sacramento
My Great-Great Grandmother on Facebook

Imagine my shock to find my great-great grandmother on Facebook! There she is, talking about life in Sacramento during the Gold Rush. Mary E. Gregory is none other than Ruby Sketchley of the Old Sacramento Underground Tours. Ruby, an accomplished actor, filmmaker and director, is a tour guide for the Sacramento History Museum

Mary emigrated from England and loves the international flavor provided by her diverse neighbors. Later she would become a real estate magnate, successful business woman and close associate of Leland StanfordHer son would become mayor of Sacramento, and grandson a master architect. I would tell her that immigrants still make America great!

Brunch at Fork Food Labs

Outdoor community event at Fork
Wish I was in Maine for the Fork Food Labs brunch February 25! I know how good their food is—as a Kickstarter donor, I received melt-in-your mouth toffee from Rosanna's Ice Cream, Whoopie Pies from Cape Whoopies, and a Brown Butter Brownie from Fat Pants Bakery. Congratulations to Eric Holstein and Neil Spillane for creating commercial kitchens where entrepreneurs can fulfill their gourmet dreams. If in Portland, you can sample their fine culinary products in the Fork Food Labs Tasting Room.

Gluten-free Amaretti di Roma

A long time ago, as newlyweds, Michael and I enjoyed a meal al fresco in Rome. The waiter, enchanted by young love, kept bringing little cookies and plenty of Frangelico on the house. He got a big tip, and we returned to our pensione to sleep for hours until the sound of revelers at the Piazza Navona woke us up. And this recipe, like Proust's madeleine, reminds me of that magical night.

3 cups of finely ground blanched slivered almonds
1 1/4 cup of sugar, finely ground in a blender or food processor
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using blender, food processor or handheld beater, mix almond grounds and sugar. Add extracts and egg whites, and mix until smooth. Place teaspoons of dough on papered baking trays and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 24-30 minutes or golden grown.

Calls for work / creative opportunities

J. L. Witterick, keynote,
Unicorn Writers Conference
First Literary Review – East welcomes poetry submissions year-round

Sign up for the March 25th Unicorn Writers Conference 

Lines + Stars requests your poetry of resistance and dissent

Lines + Stars seeks chapbook manuscripts

Readings at AWP

AWP Offsite Readings, February 7-11

Diana Bolton
Busboys and Poets, February 9, 10pm, Cindy Hochman, Alexandra van de Kamp, Lissa Kiernan, Kim Peter Kovac

Poets House at AWP, February 9, 4:30pm, J. Mae Barizo, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Monica Youn, Kevin Young

Bossa Bistro, February 10, 6pm, Lines + Stars’ Diana Bolton, Megan Atwood, Beth Konkoski-Bates

Dos Madres Press, February 11, 12pm, Owen Lewis, Nancy Kassell, Geoffrey Woolf, Daniel Shapiro, Anne Whitehouse

Maryam Mortaz

HVWC, February 3, 7:30pm, Mike Lala, Cynthia Manick ($10)

KGB BarFebruary 7, 7pm, David Katz, Nemo Hill, Rick Mullin

Poets House, February 18, 3pm, Brad Gooch, Maryam Mortaz on Rumi ($10)

The New School, Wednesday, February 22, 7pm, C.K. Williams Tribute, Jonathan Galassi, Edward Hirsch, Yusef Komunyakaa, Paul Muldoon, James Richardson, Alan Shapiro, Chase Twichell, Susan Wheeler, Adam Zagajewski 

Mónica de la Torre
Cornelia Street Café, February 23, 6pm, and HVWC, February 24, 7:30pm, Spree MacDonald ($10)

Poets House, February 25, 3pm, Timothy Donnelly, Margo Jefferson, Mónica de la Torre on legacy of African American poetry ($10)

Zinc Bar, Saturdays at 4:30pm – Feb. 4, Cecilia Corrigan, Wendy Trevino; Feb. 11, Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, Jennifer Scappettone; Feb 18, Ryan Dobran, Wendy Lotterman; Feb. 25, Christian Hawkey, Himanshu Suri ($5)

’Round the Net

Thanks and/or congratulations to the following:

William Shakespeare
Poets and Writers for “Muslim Americans Take the Mic

Poets and Writers Daily News for new information on Shakespeare, that social climber!

Faculty advisor Hugh Behm-Steinberg on issue #23 of eleven-eleven, his final as advisor

Writer and arts educator Sarah Bracey White on her innovative writing workshops for kids

Suzanne Cleary
Poet Suzanne Cleary on her Fierce Friday interview and poem featured in Poetry Daily

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

Lines + Stars on its newest issue, Low Tide, High Tide

Poet Linda Simone on her poem "The Transformation" and interview in The Phoenix Soul

The annogram blog has surpassed 30,000 views! Shouldn’t I win an Amana freezer? Thank you for being part of a vibrant global artistic community. People are now sending me blurbs, which I appreciate. Alert me if you have an upcoming book, reading or performance. If you know anyone who would enjoy annograms, send me that person’s email address.

Until next time,