Thursday, December 02, 2021

your merry annogram


Dyker Heights, NY
Dear annogrammers, Merry Happy Joy! This season of lights and feasts is a celebration of family and friends, and the spiritual communities and traditions we enjoy. Wishing you time away from work, deep winter solace, and refreshing times spent with those you love best.



When the Pilotless Plane Arrives


Thanks to so many of you who have ordered When the Pilotless Plane Arrives (Trainwreck Press). Publisher John C. Goodman reports increased sales after last month’s newsletter. Pilotless, which taps into 1950s sci-fi/horror film narratives as metaphors for the perils of writing poetry, makes a great gift for poets or film aficionados. You can order your copy here.



The Christmas Owl


Remember the little owl that workers found tucked inside the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree last year? A new children’s book follows the story of Rocky, the northern saw-whet, one of the smallest owls in the U.S., who unexpectedly traveled downstate in the 75-foot tall tree. This beautifully illustrated story is co-written by Ellen Kalish who rehabilitated and freed Rocky back into the wild. I gifted myself with a copy and can’t wait to read it!



Lost Stories of Looted Art


Thanks to Beth Gersh-Nesic for recommending Edmund De Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes (Picador, 2011), the story of art collector Charles Ephrussi (1849-1905), said to have inspired Proust’s character, Charles Swann; and Letters to Camondo (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021) on collector Moïses de Camondo (1860-1935). “Both explore the rise of two Jewish families in the 20th century art world,” says Beth. The Jewish Museum’s exhibit, “After Lives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art,” and “The Hare with the Amber Eyes,” featuring Ephrussi’s former netsuke collection, bring these intriguing tales to life.


Soul Train World Record


Photo Credit: CBS2
Last month 526 dancers, in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, created the largest Soul Train line—breaking the Guinness World Record. Each pair of participants had to boogie down a 40-foot path. With the last-minute help of local passers-by, police, and children, the BET Network claimed victory. Little Steven, in a recent podcast, also evoked the musically-rich Soul Train era by featuring iconic soundtracks from Black action films.


Creative Opportunities


The Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel, by January 31


The Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, by January 15


Ethos Literacy 3rd Annual Short Short Story Contest, by January 31


Guggenheim Poet-in-Residence, deadline December 5


MindFULL Magazine, call for poetry on mental health


The National Park Arts Foundation, writer residencies

The Poet, call for “Cultural Identity” theme, translated works in original language and English


Pure Slush accepting submissions for its Work Lifespan Vol. 5, deadline December 31


Upstream Gallery call for small works, deadline December 3



New and Recent Releases

The Disasters of War (Moonstone Press)

First Literary Review-East

Norman Finkelstein, Thirty-Six / Two Lives (Dos Madres)

Paul Dickenson Russell, The Will of the Magi (Lulu)

Creative Workshops


Workshop for Writers of Nonfiction with Lia Purpura, December 11, 11am-4pm (LIVE),
Reisterstown, MD


All-Genre Writers Group, 6:30pm, Thursdays


John McMullen Poetry Workshop, 6pm, fourth Wednesdays


Mahopac Poetry Workshop, 6pm, second Wednesdays


ModPo, University of Pennsylvania’s free poetry course and global community


Norwalk Poetry Workshop, first and third Mondays, 6:30pm; email to register

The Poets Salon, led by Ed Ahern and Alison McBain of Fairfield Scribes Press, 10am, every second Saturday


Writers and Artists Lunch Conversation, second Fridays, noon



December Readings and Events – ET


Original teabag art by
Linda Simone
December, all month, San Antonio’s Kapej Gallery, new watercolors and teabag cards by Linda Simone with artwork by Vera Smith and Laura Gomez, @teabagartsa @kapej.satx

December through January 16, Lathrop Community Gallery, Meg Lindsay oils and acrylics from juried shows and museum exhibits

December 4, 11am, Fat Moose Comics (New Jersey), The Will of the Magi book launch with Paul Dickinson Russell

December 4, 4pm, Desmond-Fish Library, “Eco-Poetry in the Afternoon” with A. Anupama, Laurel Anderson, Rebecca A. Durham, Stephanie Heit, Petra Kuppers, Karen Neuberg, Mary Newell, and Jennifer Spector; register here

December 11, 7pm, Pieces Club, “12 Drags of Christmas,” an Imperial Court of New York charity show, featuring Fran Sisco singing her parody, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Mrs. Claus”

December 16, 7pm, “Holiday Celebrations in Art” with Beth Gersh-Nesic, PhD; the Byram Shubert Library; register here

Chax Poetry Series with Michael Gottlieb, Rachel Blau Duplessis, Tom Mandel (YouTube)



Monthly Readings – ET


First Sunday, 4pm, Poetic License (Austin)


Every Tuesday, 2pm, Spoken Word World (Paris)


Every Tuesday, 7pm, Curley’s Diner


Third Fridays, 7pm, Hudson Valley Writers Center Open Mic – click third Friday for details


Every Saturday, 5pm, Lit Balm



Veggie Onion Gravy


At last, a gravy recipe for vegetarians and vegans alike! This one is a keeper.


5 tablespoons butter (can sub Earth Balance)

1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce (optional)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add onion and pinch of salt. Sweat the onions, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8-10 minutes. If they start to turn brown, turn down heat -- you're looking for translucent and tender, not golden. Increase heat to medium. Stir in flour and cook, stirring frequently, for three minutes. Gradually stir in vegetable broth and continue stirring, over medium heat, until thickened to a gravy consistency, 3 - 4 minutes. Stir in Tamari or soy sauce. Add salt and pepper and serve.



ʼRound the Net


The Book Movie’s María Luisa López for producing “The Beauty of Confrontation,” by Chinese poet Yan An, translated by Chen Du and Xisheng Chen, and read by yours truly


Greenburgh Arts and Culture Council Executive Director Sarah Bracey White on receiving a $1,000 ArtsWestchester grant for "Let the Poets Speak," a "Restart the Arts" spring 2022 live event

Poet, essayist and filmmaker Terry Dugan for alerting us to the new bookstore, Hudson Valley Books for Humanity, opened last week in Ossining’s historic Opera House

Jeff Kwitny
Bibliophile Elyse Faltz for sharing The Kwitny Report, a delightful literary newsletter


Translator and art historian Beth Gersh-Nesic for this panel discussion on Jewish art dealers and the European art market


Poet Cindy Hochman on being both nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a featured reader at this great weather for MEDIA event


Big Blue / Still Life
by Meg Lindsay
Poet and artist Meg Lindsay on showing 16 paintings in the gallery at the Lathrop Community in Northampton, MA where she and her husband moved a year ago; and on her recent book, Notes from a Caregiver (Poetry Box); see her website for more info

Yorktown Poet Laureate John McMullen for being featured at Spoken Word World last month, and for this wonderful article on William Shatner’s experience in space, and what we can learn from it


The New York Public Library for its list of Best Books of 2021


Poet Christina Rau on What We Do to Make Us Whole, her second poetry collection forthcoming from Alien Buddha Press

William Blake (1757-1827)
Endangered Cottage
Cellist and music archivist Jay Shulman for this article on the endangered cottage where Blake wrote “Jerusalem”


Playwright and poet Joseph Simone on having his poem, “The Elysian Fields,” appear in The Disasters of War (Moonstone Press)


Kapej, San Antonio

Poet and artist Linda Simone on having watercolors on exhibit at the Kapej Gallery in San Antonio

Performer Fran Sisco on singing for Mike Marino’s podcast, Live from My Mother’s Basement; acting at the historic WOW Café; performing comedy in the "First Annual Anthony J. Ribustello Memorial Night of Entertainment" fundraiser at Marina del Rey; reciting original poems at the Transgender Memorial and Celebration at St. Paul’s Church; and reading a selection from Quentin Crisp at the Gene Frankel Theatre



Herb Hadad, a Writer’s Writer


Herb Hadad (1936-2021)
To know Herb Hadad, who was both Jewish and Arab, was to know someone with a heart for the world. He would often joke that we met in a closet of the Episcopal Church in Briarcliff Manor. True! In a windowless supply closet, he headed a table with eight students for his essay class. An award-wining journalist born in the grit of a Boston Globe newsroom, he could have easily been wearing a turn-of-the-century visor and armband, saying “Take out the third sentence and it’s gold. Good job, kid. Now get back to work.” In that room, laughter ruled as much as his gently suggested revisions.


Not long after that, he put in a good word when I wanted to write for a Fortune 10 where I was a proofreader and he a staff writer. We participated on the National Writers Union’s local board with my soon-to-be indispensable writing pals, Sarah Bracey White, Linda Simone, and Terry Dugan. We immediately adopted him as our unofficial coach and mentor.


And when my first book was published, he came to celebrate. I said, “Herb, I can’t believe I’m doing this launch. My mother died two weeks ago.” Without missing a beat, he replied, “This is good, to keep your mind occupied.” That fatherly encouragement was just what I needed to hear.

For nearly two decades, Herb thrived in his role as press officer at the Department of Justice in New York. After retiring, he would email some of the Arabic he was learning. In a daring move that rattled the State Department, he took his entire family to Syria a year or two before that country imploded. It was vital to him that his adult children connect with the culture of his forebears. Tapping into his nomadic roots, he would often end emails with a playful “I am returning to my tent.” On a more reflective note, he once confided he knelt in prayer toward the east each morning.


Now the sun has set in the west, and you have returned to the tent of your Syrian ancestors. Shukran, Herb Hadad.


Until next time,