October is Americans with Disabilities Act Awareness Month at CKP

from Teresa Carson, Associate Publisher

On Monday I attended a workshop, facilitated by John McEwen and Robert Carr from the NJ Theatre Alliance, on creating a three-year Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) plan, which the NJ State Council on the Arts requires of all of its grantees. Three years ago I was puzzled when I discovered that it was my responsibility to write the ADA plan. How did such a program apply to CKP? What did the ADA have to do with publishing books? CavanKerry isn’t a presenting organization. We don’t give gallery talks.  CavanKerry doesn’t have a facility. As a matter of fact we don’t even have an office. So what was I going to include on an ADA plan? But writing that plan not only taught me how little I understood the ADA but also turned me into a strong advocate for it. My first “aha” moment happened at a meeting of the Bergen County Division of Disability Services when I watched, and cringed, as an individual with a disability struggled to open the sealed CKP brochure which described our LaurelBooks imprint, which are books about illness and disability. The irony was not lost on me.

I was very struck by one particular point that Carr made at the workshop: “An organization’s approach should be: we want to make sure that everybody can participate in our programs.” While CKP has always had some ADA-related programming and activities in place, I’m always looking for what more we can do. One thing we can certainly do more of is talk about the ADA. So, the CKP ADA Advisory Board has designated October as “Americans with Disabilities Act Awareness Month” on the blog. Some individuals with disabilities will write about their experiences. We’ll share articles and handbooks. I’ll do an interview with Robert Carr. I’ll talk about CavanKerry’s commitment to ADA-related programs and activities. You’ll meet the members of the CKP ADA Advisory Board.

But let’s start with the basics: What is the ADA? Who does it cover? What does it cover? The ADA.gov website is chockfull of good information including this description of the ADA:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 — the ADA is an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities.

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

And what is the definition of “a disability”? Per the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended:

Sec. 12102. Definition of disability

As used in this chapter:

(1) Disability

The term “disability” means, with respect to an individual

(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;

(B) a record of such an impairment; or

(C) being regarded as having such an impairment (as described in paragraph (3)).

(2) Major Life Activities

(A) In general

For purposes of paragraph (1), major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

(B) Major bodily functions

For purposes of paragraph (1), a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

(3) Regarded as having such an impairment

For purposes of paragraph (1)(C):

(A) An individual meets the requirement of “being regarded as having such an impairment” if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited under this chapter because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.

(B) Paragraph (1)(C) shall not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor. A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.

(4) Rules of construction regarding the definition of disability

The definition of “disability” in paragraph (1) shall be construed in accordance with the following:

(A) The definition of disability in this chapter shall be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals under this chapter, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this chapter.

(B) The term “substantially limits” shall be interpreted consistently with the findings and purposes of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

(C) An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.

(D) An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.


(i) The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as

(I) medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies;

(II) use of assistive technology;

(III) reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or

(IV) learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.

(ii) The ameliorative effects of the mitigating measures of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses shall be considered in determining whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity.

(iii) As used in this subparagraph

(I) the term “ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses” means lenses that are intended to fully correct visual acuity or eliminate refractive error; and

(II) the term “low-vision devices” means devices that magnify, enhance, or otherwise augment a visual image.

Posted in Community | Tagged , | Leave a comment

News and Events: Week of September 28th


Shira Dentz, Utah Humanities Festival, (15th Street Gallery, 1519 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City)
Thursday, October 2nd at 7pm
Shira will be reading from door of thin skins
For more info, visit Utah Humanities Festival

Baron Wormser, Brooks Memorial Library (224 Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont)
Sunday, October 5, 11:00 a.m
Robert Frost Panel with Jay Parini and Donald Sheehy
For more info, visit Brooks Memorial Library 

Posted in CKP Events | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Celebrating a New Mission


From Joan Cusack Handler, Publisher and Senior Editor

Interestingly enough, our mission statement changes as we grow.  Our first emphasized our dual commitment: A not-for-profit literary press serving art and community. Unique among independent presses we wanted to single ourselves out for our programs as well as our books.

Next, we focused on clarifying that dual commitment: Through publishing and programming, CavanKerry Press connects communities of writers with communities of readers. We publish poetry that reaches from the page to include the reader by the finest new and established contemporary writers. Our programming brings our books and our poets to people where they live, cultivating new audiences and nourishing established ones.

Our third statement introduced our new tagline, Lives Brought to Life, the addition of memoir to our publishing program, and our commitment to diversity: CavanKerry Press is a not-for-profit literary press dedicated to art and community. From its inception in 2000, its vision has been to present, through poetry and prose, and to create programs that bring CavanKerry books and writers to diverse audiences.  

And now, we are proud to announce our newly composed fourth mission statement which hones in on CavanKerry’s aesthetic  and inclusive spirit: CavanKerry Press is committed to expanding the reach of poetry to a general readership by publishing poets whose works explore the emotional and psychological landscapes of everyday life. Our vision follows from that : A literary press at the center of a community of poets and readers.

I can’t say why this newest mission statement delights me so. While each of them has been accurate, none has expressed quite as succinctly what drives us today and what drove me to found the press in the first place. Clearly, it identifies our most basic yet profound raison d’etre.  So much poetry published today does not include the general reader nor does it focus on the emotional and psychological truth of everyday life. On the other hand, CavanKerry was founded to focus on a bedrock commitment to broadening the reach of poetry and to the belief that poetry belongs to everyone.

I can’t imagine clarifying who we are any better than this newest mission statement, but who knows—we’ll keep you posted.

Thank you to all of you who help us do this work.

Posted in CavanKerry: Behind the Scenes | Tagged | Leave a comment

Saying Yes to Poetry Out Loud from Holly Smith

New Jersey Poetry Out Loud turns 10 this year! During the 2014-15 school year CavanKerry will celebrate this significant anniversary by inviting New Jersey teachers and students to write about their NJPOL experiences. If we’re lucky some of them will also share their own poems.
I find it quite fitting that a piece by Holly Smith is launching this series because she was the first recipient, in 2013, of the CavanKerry Press scholarship to the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching because her student, Cameron Clarke, was the state runner-up that year. Holly is a Language Arts teacher and departmental coordinator at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School in Jersey City, NJ. She currently teaches AP Literature, Journalism, and Critical and Creative Writing.
 -Teresa Carson, Associate Publisher

Saying Yes to Poetry Out Loud
by Holly Smith

The last thing you want to say to a teacher in the first month of school is “Hey, how about you organize a whole-school, nationally affiliated, kinda-of-a-big-deal poetry program in your building.  Now.” When you’ve barely got your roll book set up, the papers are mounting into a summit that needs climbing, and you’re nursing your first cold of the year.

But I am telling you that Poetry Out Loud is the stuff we need to make time for. And that it is the best teacher-cheat in the world. Students will hand you a list of high-interest poems of literary merit to use in the classroom.

Trust your students and their voices and that the poems will speak to them.

For those of you who simply cannot add another thing this year, here’s the seed to plant:

  • Look up the State Regional Competition for your county.
  • Shoot an email to the regional coordinator  to set up getting free reserved spots for however many kids you can bring (a full house is welcome for the competition).
  • Come late Fall, pick a small but hardy group of freshmen, sophomores and juniors to take to the competition as spectators. Let them know. Show them the Poetry Out Loud website. Perhaps select one or two seniors who might be able to come back next Fall to help coach or guest judge a school competition. Pick students who show a love of drama, or are flagrant bookish types, or are just so hardworking that you know if they get lit up with excitement will follow through.
  • Then, a few days after the Regionals, have a chat with them about what they saw.

I hope that you will also find they will own it and be eager to take the next steps to bring POL to the school. You can start the program with a small handful of committed kids that have seen it in action, and “get it.” Keep it as small as the POL rules allow until the program builds the word of mouth (ha, puns). You might even find allies in your Department or school will emerge to help.

If you are already on board with the idea and ready to bring Poetry Out Loud to your school – my suggestion is to use your teacher sense of backwards planning.

The POL website can be a bit daunting with dates, rules, etc. Pull out your planner, your school calendar, fire up the browser window– now work backwards.

  • When are Nationals? (Ah, the “luxury problem “ of making it to Nationals!)
  • When are States? (Another “luxury problem.”)
  • Regionals?
  • When do you need to have your 2 school competitors reciting at Regionals locked-in with poem choice and poem order?
  • When do they need to be coached and off-book?
  • When does the school-wide competition need to happen?
  • When do classroom competitions need to happen?
  • When do we get the word out to teachers and students?
  • When can you have an informational meeting with students (planting that seed)?

Pacing and planning gives you and the competitors time to prepare. Let’s face it, we are asking them to do something so anachronistically un-teenage.  In public. Under a spotlight. We want them to have a good experience and honor their effort.

My school is entering into our second year of full-on Poetry Out Loud action. And backwards planning has saved me. Here’s what it looks like on the playback in chronological order:

  • I put Poetry Out Loud on my staff meeting agenda from the first day of school.
  • Our school is registered with NJ Arts.
  • We have selected Nov. 19 as our school-wide competition date, and it is on the school calendar. (I learned last year December is way too crowded. I got the competitors, but not the audience.)
  • On October 1, I will do an after school info session open to any interested student. This can be as simple as a walk through of the Poetry Out Loud webpage and viewing recitations on Youtube.
  • In-class competitions with participating teachers will begin in mid-October. Mine are October 20th, and I have already posted the rubrics and criteria to my class wiki.
  • Then we move from classroom to whole school. A few willing teachers will judge an audition-type preliminary on November 5 to select the 12 school-wide competitors.
  • Those competitors will have some vacation days to memorize two pieces (for most of them, is just adding one, as they did a piece in class). We will coach the 12 during the week of November 10th. I will get the 12 students excused from class early and do a dress rehearsal on the 19th for the school-level competition.
  • Once we have our winner and alternate from our school competition, we can take our time and guide the two Regional representatives through the process of selecting pieces, finding voice, and practicing recitations in December and January.
  • In January, there are submission and paperwork deadlines. Then practice until Regionals in February.

And then we breathe.

Unless we’ve made it to States. But that’s another blog entry.

And, did I mention, Poetry Out Loud is a free program?

Posted in Community, Poetry and Education, Poetry Out Loud | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Summer and Jack Wiler by Teresa Carson

Jack Wiler

Jack Wiler

A few times this summer I drove past the building, in the Jersey City Heights, where Jack and Johanna were living when he died. By habit I’d glance up at the back porch of their second floor apartment. The porch proper was a small area—four people felt crowded in the space—but, at the edge of it, a rickety ladder led down to a garage roof, which was large enough to hold a canopy, a table, chairs for more than a dozen guests, and an aisle wide enough for performances by Johanna’s friends.

Jack and Johanna loved summer, loved having summer parties, parties with loud music and lots of alcohol, parties that began in the late afternoon and ended around dawn of the next day. When I glanced up, I saw Jack happily cooking bratwursts and hamburgers on his grill or refilling his fancy wine glass with the chilled, cheap vinho verde that we both liked to drink in the heat. I saw Johanna spending hours to prepare an authentic arroz con pollo or urging me to smear mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese, instead of butter, on the corn on the cob. And I saw Jack and me sitting side by side, trying to hear each other’s words, as dusk fell. One night, out of the blue, he expressed concern about not having written a poem in a few weeks then, right on the tail of his concern, came a dismissive wave of his cigar-holding hand and the statement, “But I never write in the summer.” Why? Because he was too busy enjoying, too busy “paying attention” to each and every minute of his favorite season. But you only have to read “Love Poem at the Beginning of Summer” or “Hoboken in June” or “The Love Poem Johanna Asks For” to know that in the summer when Jack wasn’t physically writing, he really was writing. In fact, he is, in some inexplicable and wonderful way, the most “still alive” in his summer poems and thus, when I read them, he comes back from the dead and, if only for a minute or two, we’re back on the porch, the stars are out, and he hands his red sweater to me because there’s a chill in the air.

Here’s my favorite “summer” poem by Jack:

The Love Poem Johanna Asks For

She asks for a love poem.
She says it has to be done in a week.
I say, sure.
I say, I can do it easy.

Then I go to sleep and dream.
I dream all the things that people dream and then
I get up and work and work and people intrude.
I work and I come home and I eat and my love poem
fades and fades.

She doesn’t.
She is here every day.
Large and happy some days.
Small and scared on others.
The music loud, the beer cold, friends all around,
but really it’s only she and I here.

She and I and the dogs we picked.
They run through the house like my love.
On the porch are our flowers.
It’s fall now so some of them are collapsing from
a rich summer of sun.
Like sometimes Johanna and I collapse after a day at the beach.

Tired and drunk.
Happy and laughing.
Ribs on the grill, friends all around arguing over this and that.
But always on the porch all I can see is Johanna.
She fills my house.
She makes our house.

She strolls through the rooms trailing smoke and joy.
She screams bloody murder at the dogs.
She lolls at her leisure and calls me at work to say,
I’m lonely.
Me too.
I’m lonely.

All around me people are yelling and angry.
Trucks are stuck in traffic and
my coffee gets cold but I can see her on the porch
with the dogs jumping like maniacs
happy like me to come home to her.

This is our house.
The house we made.
A house we prayed for and received.

We have a porch and flowers and an office
and a bedroom and a living room and a kitchen.
Johanna works hard doing what she doesn’t want to do.
I work hard doing what I have to do.
But all the time I see her on the porch,
twirling around in the sun.
Laughing and laughing.
Spinning joy out of nothing.

She asks for a love poem.
She gave me lots of rules.
She says I should talk about how we live a life most people don’t.
We do.
She says I should talk about how she feels.
I don’t.
Because all I can see is her on the porch,
dancing with our dogs,
smoke billowing around her,
flowers blazing in the beautiful sun.

Sometimes you get exactly what you want.


Posted in NJ350 | Tagged , | 2 Comments

News and Events: Week of September 22nd


Howard Levy and Dawn Potter, Verdi Square Festival of the Arts (New York, NY)
Tuesday, September 23rd at 7pm
Both reading this new outdoor series
For more info, visit Verdi Square Festival

Posted in CKP Events | Tagged , | Leave a comment

News and Events: Week of September 15th


Karen Chase, Crossfit Great Barrington (11 Crissey Road, Great Barrington, MA)
Friday, September 19th at 7:00pm
Wine, hor d’ouvres and Polio Boulevard book talk and signing. Co-sponsored by The Berkshire Edge.
Visit Crossfit for more details

Posted in CKP Events | Tagged | Leave a comment

News and Events: Week of September 8th


Jack Ridl, Shores of Lake Michigan (Holland, MI.)
Wednesday, September 10th, 6-9pm
Come Write with Jack (a workshop)
Click here for more info

Howard Levy, Clark University (Worcester MA.)
Wednesday, September 10th, 4:30pm
Click here for more info

Joseph O. Legaspi,Word Bookstore (123 Newark Ave., Jersey City, NJ)
Thursday, September 11, 7:30pm
Reading with Gina Apostol, Hossannah Asuncion and R.A. Villanueva
Visit Word Bookstore for more info

Posted in CKP Events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

News and Events: Week of September 1st


Karen Chase, The Bookstore (11 Housatonic Street, Lenox, MA.)
Thursday, September 4th at 7pm
Polio Boulevard Book Launch
Visit The Bookstore for more info

Jack Ridl, Alcona Arts Retreat (P.O. Box 506, Lincoln, MI) Thursday-Sunday, Sept 4-7, all day
Visit Alcona Arts for more info

Dawn Potter, Writers in the Round Retreat (Star Island, NH)
Thursday-Sunday, September 4-7, 2014
Dawn will be teaching poetry at this island poetry and songwriting retreat.
Visit Writers in the Round for more info

Joseph O. Legaspi, Bureau of General Services-Queer Division (83A Hester St., NYC)
Friday, September 5, 7:00pm
Reading with Melissa Febos, Matthew Hittinger and Shelly Oria
Visit Bureau of General Services for more info

Posted in CKP Events | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Poetry Out Loud National Finals

Check out 3rd place winner/NJ state champ Natasha Vargas and her reading of “Ecology” by Jack Collom

Posted in From the web, Poetry and Education | Tagged , | Leave a comment