Saturday, June 13, 2020

your juneteenth annogram

We begin this annogram with unspeakable sorrow on the death of George Floyd. If you like, take a moment of silence on his behalf before reading, get to know the history behind the upcoming Juneteenth holiday, and consider what you can do to support our African American brothers and sisters at this historic moment.

Damaged Heritage in Conversation

In 2008, J. Chester Johnson read Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s account of a 1919 massacre of more than 100 African-Americans in Elaine, Arkansas, not far from his hometown. Exploring further, Johnson discovered his family’s role in the massacre and reached out to the victims’ descendants—an incredible journey described in Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and A Story of Reconciliation. On June 14, join Chester in conversation with Catherine Meeks, executive director, the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing; register here to attend.

Southern Writers Sarah Bracey White and 
Nin Andrews

Sarah Bracey White
Sarah Bracey White, author Primary Lessons, the story of one little girl’s triumph over the Jim Crow South, will read with Nin Andrews, in a special zoom event hosted by CavanKerry Press, on June 15, 8pm ET. Afterwards, the authors will take questions from the audience. Their respective books Miss August, Southern Comfort and Primary Lessons will be 25 percent off Monday with the code augustlessons. Reply "going" to and CavanKerry will send you a link to the event.

Spacex Rockets It

Congratulations to Spacex and NASA on the launch of Dragon 9, the first US space launch since 2011. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will spend 119 days aboard the International Space Station. Doug and Bob’s respective sons chose Tremor the stuffed dinosaur as a zero gravity indicator. Soon enough, we saw Tremor floating in the cabin—now that’s one magical apatosaurus!

Tender and Tough

Herb Hadad launched my own and many writing careers, so it’s a pleasure to announce his second book Tender and Tough. This collection covers stories he wrote as a journalist—from 9/11 and Syria’s Bashar Al Assad, to arrival of grandchildren and insights into a happy marriage. “[Hadad] achieves the sweep of history and intimacy of small moments. Whether exploring Aleppo or Boston, he touches both mind and heart,” praises Jason Kelly, Bloomberg News New York Bureau Chief. Congratulations to Herb, our favorite journalist and teacher!

Regi Claire Up for Prize

Regi Claire
Congratulations to poet and novelist Regi Claire on being short-listed for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem! The Guardian shared the good news, and you can read her powerful poem, “(Un)certainties”, as well as the Forward Arts Foundation’s interview with her. Final awards will be announced in October. Fingers crossed, Regi!

Dogs and Others Beloved

Writer Louis Spirito was kind enough to share this gorgeous 
portrait of his dog Hooch, painted by poet and watercolor artist Linda Simone. Lou is the author of the delightful memoir Gimme Shelter (Flowing Water, 2013), the story of one canine who helped Lou be the best possible human. You too can commission a memorable portrait of a loved one—biped and quadroped! Contact Linda by DM through Facebook.

Poetry and Translation

Hélène Sanguinetti
Gratitude to Bethany Rivers for publishing three poems in As Above So Below Issue 5 (pages 7, 23, 35) and to Two Two One NYC for publishing my translation from Hélène Sanguinetti’s And Here’s the Song—looking for a press! An opportunity to publish a book by one of France’s top female poets.

New Releases

Gordon P. Bois and Bob McNeil, eds. Lyrics of Mature Hearts (Independently published)

Chris Campanioni, A and B and Almost Nothing (Otis Books-Seismicity Editions)

Eric Greinke, Break Out (Presa Press)

Laura Morelli, The Giant: A Novel of Michelangelo’s David (Independently published)

Ann Taylor, Sortings (Dos Madres Press)

Creative Opportunities

"Skylight" by Cecily A. Spitzer
Upstream Gallery
Mahopac Poetry Workshop, 6pm, every second Wednesday of the month

New Lightwood Magazine: Life and Arts in the 21st Century welcomes submissions

Norwalk Poetry Workshop, 6:30pm, every third Monday, Zoom ID: 825 0508 8828,
password 189147

Pure Slush anthology call for memoirs in essay, stories, and poetry, by July 31st

Upstream Gallery has reopened and welcomes visitors to its exhibitions

Online Readings and Events

The Books Movie with French poet Jean-Luc Pouliquen

Chax Press Poetry Talks Podcast #1 with Charles Alexander

Through June 14, Dream Loaf free access to lectures and readings from prior Bread Loaf Conferences

June 14, June 16, 7:15pm, Maine Media Workshop Poetry Reading presents Kevin 
Pilkington; register here to attend
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

June 18, 6:30-7:30pm, Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop with Christina Rau, see WaltWhitman Birthplace Association Facebook page for details

June 20, 1:30pm, Hudson Highland Poetry Series presents William Lessard,  Kathleen Williamson and Kathryn Weld; register here to attend

June 27, 11pm-5:30pm, Poets, Writers, and Storytellers Stage at Norwalk Art Festival, register @ for link

Sweet Potato Poon

Sarah Bracey White shares that her mom would make a delicious dessert from sweet potatoes frequently gifted by students at the rural South Carolina school where she taught. “We called them sweet potato poons,” Sarah says, “miniature sweet potato pies without the crust.”

3 large sweet potatoes
¼ cup cream or milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup raisins
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil sweet potatoes until tender. Remove skin and mash. Add cream or milk, butter, egg, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, raisins, and chopped nuts. Mix well. Onto a well-oiled pan, spoon two tablespoons of mixture into individual mounds. Bake for 30 minutes or until surface crisps.

ʼRound the Net

Mt. Hope Cemetery,
by Michael Holstein
The sponsors of the Bethpage Air Show for creating an exciting virtual version this year

Memoirist Sarah Bracey White for this video featuring author Kimberly Jones who puts the current unrest into historical perspective

Poet and filmmaker Terry Dugan for reminding us how dogs help us stay normal

Art Historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for this online exhibition of paintings of African Americans martyred to violence

Poet Cindy Hochman for her poem, “Root,” in Redheaded Stepchild

Photographer Michael Holstein on winning Photo of the Year from the Color Camera Club of Westchester

Yorktown Poet Laureate John McMullen for recommending the free Authors Publish newsletter

Author Natasha Nesic on having her book, The Miracle on 98th Street, featured in Snowflakes in a Blizzard

The New York Public Library for its Black Liberation Reading List

Poet Christina Rau on being named Walt Whitman Birthplace Association Poet of the Year

Blues bassist Larry Schwartzman for Muddy Water’s “Rollin’ Stone” (1950)

Filmmaker Frank Vitale on winning fifth place out of 100 at the Saratoga Film Festival for “The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable,” which also was featured at the Brooklyn Film Festival

This has been a wild few months, and I thank our annogram community for keeping in touch, and encouraging one another. I want to end with this poem by Danez Smith which first appeared in Poetry (March 2014).

Until next time,

alternate names for black boys 

1.     smoke above the burning bush
2.     archnemesis of summer night
3.     first son of soil
4.     coal awaiting spark & wind
5.     guilty until proven dead
6.     oil heavy starlight
7.     monster until proven ghost
8.     gone
9.     phoenix who forgets to un-ash
10.   going, going, gone
11.    gods of shovels & black veils
12.   what once passed for kindling
13.   fireworks at dawn
14.   brilliant, shadow hued coral
15.   (I thought to leave this blank
         but who am I to name us nothing?)
16.   prayer who learned to bite & sprint
17.   a mother’s joy & clutched breath

Friday, May 15, 2020

your may annogram

A Virtual Embrace

Hi everyone, thanks for your kind emails and news. Connecting and celebrating our talents is more important than ever, and you, yes you, are vital to this annogram community. Read on to see how we are creating and bringing forth our best selves. Avoiding stores, I produced my own “card” for a family member—something I really loved doing.

Free Ferry e-book and more

Excited to announce Free Ferry (Upper Hand Press) will soon be available as an e-book—thanks to publisher Ann Starr for her master plan to expand readership! I am equally grateful for acceptances in As Above So Below (UK) and Truth Serum Press Verdant anthology (Australia). 

Snowflakes in a Blizzard

Thanks to Darrell Laurant for featuring my first book, Face Painting in the Dark, this week. Darrell’s concept for his blog came when he considered the challenge writers face in promoting their work—like singling out a snowflake in a blizzard. It’s my good luck that he has also singled out Free Ferry and The Hero.  

Fonoteca Española de Poesía

My gratitude to María Luisa López for selecting my translation of Hélène Sanguinetti’s “The Battle” from The Hero (Chax Press) for her Books Movie. Follow the text while hearing Hélène’s compelling voice as well as my translation. This unique video subscription brings the best in Spanish and international poetry to your inbox—sign up here.

Linda Simone’s Watercolors

Teabag watercolor (right)
by Linda Simone
In Linda’s inventive watercolor series, “Painting in the Time of Corona,” she selects a photo posted each Wednesday in her Facebook feed, then creates and gifts the painting to the photo’s owner. “People love it when their photo is chosen,” Linda says. See the gorgeous teabag watercolor paintings she’s created, and maybe submit a photo of your own!

Di Meola and the Beatles

Jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola’s new album, Across the Universe, celebrates the Beatles’ songbook with heart-grabbing melodies. Di Meola says that, while much of jazz has left melody behind, he discovers it afresh by going deeper into songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Thanks to my favorite guitarist, Michael Cefola, for sharing this amazing tune with us.

New Releases

Susana H. Case, Dead Shark on the N Train (Broadstone Books)

Cathryn Essinger, The Apricot and the Moon (Dos Madres Press)

Heller Levinson, Seep (Black Widow Press)

Mary Newell, Sarah Nolan, and Bernard Quetchenbach, editors, Poetics for the More-Than-Human World (Dispatches from the Poetry Wars)

Steven Salmoni, A Day of Glass (Chax Press)

Estha Weiner, Poetry Podcast (Soundcloud)

Creative Opportunities

Kevin Pilkington
Bordighera Press Lauria/Frasca Poetry Prize – submit by June 30

Bronx River Books will deliver books to your door if you are in their locale

David Crews offers online community poetry workshops

Hole in the Head Review call for submissions by June 19

The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts is open for submissions.
The Writer's Harbor Poetry Week: June 15-19 with awesome teacher / poet Kevin Pilkington

Linguine with Lentil and Wine Sauce

We still have chilly nights that call for a warm nourishing meal. This one, based on one from The Festive Vegetarian (Pantheon Books, 1983), fits the bill—a vegetarian Bolognaise.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon basil, fresh chopped or dry
1 14.5-ounce can tomato sauce
½ cup dried lentils
1 tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup
1 ¼ cup red wine
1 ¼ cup vegetable stock or water
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 8-ounce box of linguine – try DeBoles
grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in medium-size saucepan and sauté onion 10 minutes until soft and slightly brown. Add garlic, basil, tomato sauce, lentils, tomato paste, wine, and stock. Bring to boil, then cover saucepan, turn down heat, and simmer 45 minutes, stirring from time to time, until lentils are tender and mixture is a thick purée. Season with salt and pepper. Cook linguine, drain, and put in a pan with butter, stir, and pour onto a platter. Top with lentil sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Online Poetry + Art Events (EST)

Patricia Carragon
May 17, 3pm, Tompkins Corner Cultural Center

May 21, 4-6pm, "As We Keep Our Distance,” poets Madeline Artenberg, Patricia Carragon, Susana H. Case, hosted by Jerry T. Johnson; register for admission

May 21, 7-8pm, Beth Gersh-Nešić  on “Mothers in Art History,” Byram Shubert Library

June 7, 4pm, poets Peggy Ellsberg, Jennifer Franklin, Margo Taft Stever

Ongoing Poetry Events

Ralph Nazareth, host of
Curley's Diner Poem Alley series
Mondays, 2pm (8pm Paris time) Spoken Word

Third Mondays, 6:30pm, Norwalk Poetry Workshop

Tuesdays, 7pm, Curley's Diner, Stamford,
Poem Alley/Feedback Group

Wednesday Poetry Night

Third Wednesdays, 6pm, Business of Writing and Publishing Workshop

Thursdays, 6:30pm, Mahopac Writers Group

Bill Buschel, host of
HVWC Open Mic
Fourth Wednesdays, 6pm, Yorktown Poetry Workshop

Third Fridays, 7pm, HVWC Open Mic led by Bill Buschel

Every other Friday, noon, Talking with Our Mouths Full, translation conversations

Indoor Treats

Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright
Visit iconic architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright

Travel the universe via the Keck Observatory Cosmic Videos

Singalong at Marie’s Crisis Café, Facebook group, 4-7pm and 7-9pm

Access exhibits at the National Baseball Hall of Fame

ʼRound the Net

Grover Washington Jr.
The Booker Prize for its shortlist

Writer Jeanette Briggs for sharing one of her favorite songs on International Jazz Day

Poet and writer Bill Buschel for recommending John Krasinski’s Some Good News (SGN) program

John Krasinski
Author Philip Caputo on his tribute to writer Karen Marcus Wessel, friend we lost to Covid

Writer Barbara Dickinson on her launch of scholar Igor Sibaldi’s website, Sibaldi’s Code

Poet and writer Terry Dugan for sharing this campaign to help local bookshops

Art Historian Beth Gersh-Nešić for “The Marvelous Madame Marval: A Woman Artist Among the Fauves

Poet and author Marilyn Johnson on having three poems in Hole in the Head Review
Work Life Fitness Expert Natasha Nešić on offering weekly 20-minute Zoom exercise sessions

The New York Arts Exchange for online exhibit Fereshteh Priou: Poetry in Line and Form

The New York Public Library for celebrating its lions, Patience and Fortitude

Writer Elizabeth Primamore for stories in The Opiate Magazine and The Hawaii Pacific Review

Poet Ed Roberson on winning the 2020 Jackson Prize

The Sad and Useless Humor Site for challenging people to recreate great artworks

Poet and artist Linda Simone for her poem, “Incontrovertible,” in Tejascovido
Novelist Louise Farmer Smith on the e-book edition of her novel One Hundred Years of Marriage
Translator Jill Timbers for sharing this important piece, “The Erosion of Deep Literacy

Surviving the Unexpected

New Zealand's Jack Buchanan
gets his family in the groove
Our dramatic societal change makes me appreciate, for the first time, the fears my grandparents surely experienced during the Depression. I have to ask myself if there is enough milk, and if yes, do I want to use it in one meal? I intuit how mind-blown my parents must have been when the US entered World War II. Facing our own global crisis, we’re seeing creativity transform from a “nice to have” to a means of survival—from rapid-fire biomed discoveries to inspirational videos of families quarantining in “Family Lockdown Boogie” and “One Day More.” So, please—now more than ever—do what your heart calls you to do, and make the world more whole by expressing your whole self.

Be safe, be creative!

Until next time,