This summer: workshops with Baron Wormser

Baron bio pic JPEG

Through Open the Doors Workshop, Baron Wormser will be hosting three, five-day workshops this summer.

Through this workshop we intend to open doors for each participant that have not been opened before. We invite each participant to start afresh with each piece of writing, to find new ways through the thicket of the self and welter of the world.

Dates/ Instructors

Fiction workshop with Baron Wormser and Rachel Basch, June 13-17, 2016. Rachel Basch, a novelist, has been teaching fiction and creative nonfiction on the graduate and undergraduate level for 28 years. In addition to her university teaching, she’s been leading writing workshops out of her home since 2004.

Poetry workshops with Baron Wormser, June 26-30, 2016 and August 15-19, 2016. Baron Wormser is the co-author of two books about teaching poetry along with nine books of poetry, a memoir, a novel, and a book of short stories. He has led generative workshops for decades.

Nonfiction workshop with Baron Wormser and Kim Dana Kupperman, July 27-31, 2016. Kim Dana Kupperman is an award-winning essayist who has worked as an editor, writer, and teacher for over thirty years. Open the Doors is one of the most exciting and provocative creative-writing teaching experiences she has ever had.

All the details can be found here

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News and Events: Week of January 11th


Brent Newsom, Brigham Young University (Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium, Provo, UT)
Friday, January 15th at 12pm
Brent will be reading in the  English Department’s Winter Reading Series

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Going Places #5 by Randy Smit

About Going Places:
Welcome to an experiment in documentary writing.  Randy Smit is director of Compassionate Connection, an organization offering pathways of practice to greater empathy and creativity for all people.  This travelogue offers a multidimensional view of his own “ordinary person’s journey.” What follows are glimpses, glimmerings witnessed through the various lenses of its author; the Poet, the Person with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the Pastor, the Artist/Collaborator… the one holding together and letting loose the many facets of self that contribute to “this splendid ride worth tending.”

We are waiting for the news

not knowing what to say

remembering dreams of travel

keeping busy, wondering what others think

looking to our sages

eating our warm toast

searching for Snow

— — —
I have lived on the lip of insanity,DSC01406

wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door.

It opens.

I have been knocking from the inside.

— Rumi

— — —

Caregiver Q.,

It’s not about you.  Yet, I’m choosing now to write… and say the things I want to say just like you’re here.
Like you never left really… because you were the one who said “Come with me, come with me” knowing I never could.

Someone new started today, you would have asked me how it went, I would’ve said, pretty well… although it’s hard for me to keep building trust.  It’s a collaborative venture after all, we shall see what we assemble for ourselves.

So shall the world.

How strange it is though, “the Attendant” not being you… my having to instruct every little single move, my moves.  [Are they mine?]

When I was a young man I made a few bucks playing chess with some of the guys at the old peoples home right across from our church.  One guy (I think his name was Art,) a stroke victim with a lazy arm and floppy lip, my favorite senior, used to cuss a lot when he could not bring the words out of his mouth.

“Ah, for Christsssake!…” he would holler.

When it was time for me to move on, I promised him again and again that I would return and see how he was doing.  He closed his eyes and shook his head and waved me off like a gnat.  I never did.

Tapping his finger on the checkered board, he’d bark “No bull shit, play the game.”  He always knew when I was trying to let him win.

— — —


A mind is a terrible thing.

If at first you don’t succeed, never mind it.

You have been blessed, in order to be an entitled nuisance.

It’s not you… it’s your fabric softener, what is that… formaldehyde?

A stitch in time, leaves a mark.

You win some, you lose your keys.

When things get tough I just try to take one day at a nudist colony.

The only thing to fear is projectile vomiting.

There once was a man from Nantucket who became a theologian.

Today is the first day of the rest of the compounding interest on your credit card.

— — —

February 2015
(Sinus, sinus…)

We got a sick call from a caregiver, like two crows we cuss back and forth our attempts at plan B… then in the next moment, Jill’s work calls with an opportunity to take a personal day as a result of a low census at the hospital.  She’s called off.  We’re all set.  Go figure.

The day went haywire so wonderfully.  If things had ended up differently I would have issued a more negative decree.

“That’s it! Nose back to the grindstone!”  Time for another great thrust of energy to be thrown into managing the myriad unmanageable circumstances that sputter and fly and hiccup and flow, that we call life.

omiInstead, we ended up quietly perusing a gallery.  We hopped in the van and
drove away several miles and landed in 8th century Japan.  A sanctuary of beauty and contemplation had called out to us from the Frederick Meyer Gardens, the garden gates had been opened.  Creation would bring a Japanese garden to West Michigan.  It was intended to open in May, but here in February an array of precious artwork comprised of paintings, pottery, Kimonos and panoramic scrolls (ancient pedagogical necessities) had been loaned as if to begin building the bridge between our two worlds.

As I lost myself inside the vast panoramics (Six-foot high, five yards across)… of Nomura Bunkyo, The Eight Views of Omi, 1899… the serenity of the landscape, the effortless mountains gave and blessed.

Here and now [eyes closed, heart open] I am longing and enjoying their pure and timeless welcome.

Later we viewed an incredibly cheesy vacationers guide to the Shago region, complete with American 70’s jazz fusion soundtrack which accompanied the viewer’s entry into sacred Buddhist monasteries.  I would come to know immediately how precious my few moments in the mountains had been.

Maybe the thing to be kept in mind is knowing where you are, irrespective of what you see, what is given.  I am on the mountain.  Yes, that is what I’m telling you.  Whenever I remember, I live there.  What I recall not only “comes with,” it assembles organically an interior place, a home space I can bring with me wherever I go.

I think it’s just your cold medicine making you feel funny, what about breakfast?


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Paola Corso in The Christian Science Monitor

1221-HOFO-UFISHMy mother in the kitchen a generation later: On Christmas Eve, she removes plastic-wrapped shrimp cocktail and clams garnished with packets of lemon juice. She takes a slab of baked fish swimming in a pool of ersatz butter from its plastic foam container, all prepared by an “Ah-mer-i-gan” supermarket. She refuses to be pressed into the Italian stereotype of being a good cook and enjoying it, too. She’s the first to unapologetically admit her meals are menza menza (so-so) at best.

Read her full essay,”Three generations, seven fishes” at The Christian Science Monitor

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Nin Andrews interviews Robert Cording



Robert Cording

These are such profound and meditative poems (Only So Far), I wondered as I was reading them if you had a spiritual practice? Or if writing might be, for you, a kind of spiritual practice?

Yes, I do think of writing as a form of spiritual practice, if for no other reasons, that writing makes me look hard at the world and myself. For years now, I’ve tried to sit and look at the world immediately around me, or walk and note daily changes in the life of my neighborhood, both in the natural world and in houses and the activities of the people around me. I also have done the Jesuit Spiritual Exercises twice and still use their “Examen” daily, which is a series of short prayers that give praise, ask for help in the long process of self-honesty and self-examination, and ultimately in the even more difficult activities of loving and hoping. And I try to read a Hebrew Psalm each day.

Reading this collection, I had the desire to weep. It’s so beautiful and so full of sorrow and grief. Were most of these poems composed in the aftermath of your father’s death?

No, a good portion of the poems was written at a retreat called the Hermitage in Englewood, Florida on the west coast. I did two three-week stays in January over two consecutive years. The poems about my father came quickly about a year after his death just when I thought I had finished my grieving.

In the opening section, you have this lovely poem about your father, “Still Listening.” I was wondering if you might post a section from the poem here.

This is from the last section called “My Father’s Hearing Aids.”

Too costly to throw out,
my mother says, my father’s hearing aids,
some whole, some in various stages
of disassembly, lie in his top drawer
like a museum exhibit of a lost past—
when he was still living,
hand constantly raised to his ears,
trying to take hold of the sounds
that fell out of the air or floated
around him like apparitions.

I pick one up and fit it into my ear
as if, my own hearing amplified,
I might pick up something he is
still saying, but all I get is that loud hum
and screech, which, like a rip
in the scrim of memory,
bring him back—he’s at it again,
working to tune in the scramble
of insect chirr, rain chattering
on the trailer’s metal roof,
wind in the pines, a grandchild’s
high-pitched play, the buzz
of his wife’s voice. He wants to hear

again without thinking
of what he’s hearing, wants the Sinatra
song on the radio to sound exactly
the way he remembers it,
and not as if some damaged stylus
were sliding across the black ice
of an old LP. In the end,
nothing ever came to him clearly enough.

I see him spinning those little dials
on his hearing aids back and forth,
nearly frantic, nearly in tears,
the world he’s hearing
like the static of space, those gurgling,
stuttering, anomalous noises
we have our radar pointed at
as if we cannot imagine, being human,
the deep, enclosing silence
without another voice.

This collection moves seamlessly from poem to poem—almost as if they were composed in order. But I am betting that’s not the case?

No, that’s definitely not the case. In fact I had more trouble with the ordering of the poems in this book than I’ve ever had. Even after I hit on the ordering principle of the two epigraphs and the movement between sorrow and joy, or life’s dead-ends and those moments, which Woolf called “matches struck in the dark,” I didn’t see my way. The person who truly saw the pattern of organization that the book’s final form took was my editor and friend, Baron Wormser. I am deeply grateful for his help.

There’s a dialectical movement throughout the book, sometimes a linear divide—whether it be Kafka’s Fence, the North Korean border, Philippe Petit’s tightrope, or the road one is crossing in “Amnesty.” Was that a conscious choice?

Yes, I wanted the poems to vacillate between the poles of the Herbert poem that serves as one of the epigraphs to the book.

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sowre-sweet dayes
I will lament, and love.

I love your lines about Emerson in the poem “Midwinter Emerson,” his belief/ we were made for ecstasy and his fear of just that, which reminds me of the lines in the poem about Camus, “Watching Cranes, I think of Camus,” who wondered how we could ever be // miserable, so much beauty in the world,/ but also, how we could ever be happy, / so much shit in the world. Do you share their feelings?

Yes, I do. I have always lived, it seems, in a kind of “in between” place. By that I mean: on the one hand, my experience tells me that I live in a creation that is a gift of love. On the other, I see quite well the more rationale understanding that the world we live may simply be the result of accident and Darwinian evolution. I think Keats’ notion of “Negative Capability” and Simone Weil’s idea about contradiction have always been touchstones for me: that we must live in the contradictions of our experience without an “irritable reaching out after fact and conclusion,” to quote Keats.

Tell me about the title.

The title, Only So Far, comes from a phrase in the poem “Like a Dream” about manatees. Here’s the ending:

Have they made some placid truce
with our noisy world above them,
unable to do more than what they do?—rise
to the surface, their buoyant peace

a kind of offering and sacrifice,
a story to be told thousands of years from now
on some cathedral wall—of creatures that passed
beneath us, at rest in their movement,

then disappeared from our world,
never needing anything from us,
their peace only able to bear us so far,
even if we always wanted to believe in it.

The larger idea in the book is that we can only “get so far.” Like Moses overlooking the Jordan River, we can see the Promised Land, but never get to cross the river. Our place is always that “in between” I spoke about: between the “wilderness” and the Promised Land; between what we can know and the mystery we must acknowledge.

Do you have a specific time of day or year that you write? Do you have any writing rituals? Are their poets whom you work with?

When I’m writing, I work each morning from 8-12. I tend to read and make notes for poems for months, then write for two months, a schedule that came from teaching no doubt. I was never able to do much more than make notes and do revisions once a semester started up. Then in May, when the second semester ended, I would write every day for four hours until school resumed at the end of August. In response to your second question, I exchange poems on a fairly routine basis with the poets Jeffrey Harrison and William Wenthe.

Who are your primary literary influences?

Because I loved and taught British and American literature for forty years, my influences range widely, but behind most of my poems and thinking you can find George Herbert, William Wordsworth and John Keats on the British side, Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens on the American.

I admire so many of these poems, I wanted to underline most of the book. “A Christmas Story” is one of my favorites, especially when you describe the Polish poet’s revelation. I wondered if we could close with the interview by posting the poem below.


A Christmas Story

Sure, I’d had too much wine and not enough
of the Advent hope that candles are lit for;
and I’ll confess up front, I was without charity
for our guest who, glassed in behind those black,
small, rectangular frames, reminded me
of those poems that coldly arrange a puzzle
of non-sequiturs to prove again how language
is defective and life leads to nothing more
than dead-ends. So, after a night of wondering
if our never-more-than-hardly-surprised guest,
a young professor whose field of expertise
seemed to be ironic distance, would give
a moment’s thought, as he took apart everyone’s
unexamined stances, to how and why his own
might be constructed, I blurted out a story
over our Christmas dinner dessert, about
Alexander Wat, how the Polish poet,
taken one day from his Soviet prison
to see a local magistrate, stood in the sun,
reveling in its warmth on his face and arms
and hands; as he took in the beauty
of a woman in a light green dress, he knew
he would soon be back in his prison cell.
He never forgot, he said, the irony of
his freedom, and yet he felt, standing there,
something like a revelation, the autumn day
surging in those silly puffiest white clouds,
and a hardly bearable blue sky, and the bell
of a bicycle ringing, and some people
laughing in a nearby café, and that woman,
her bare languid shoulders turning in the sun—
it was all thrilling, achingly alive, a feast
happening right there on the street between
the prison and a government office, nothing else
mattering, not even the moment he knew
was coming, and arrived, right on schedule,
when he stood woodenly before the magistrate.
And when I had finished, my face flushed,
my guest looked at me with astonishment,
unable to process where so much emotion
had come from, and then asked, calmly as ever,
what I meant when I’d used the word, revelation.

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Julianna Baggott interviews Robin Silbergleid about “The Baby Book”

Silbergleid_8169“I will confess that this process was much harder with The Baby Book than with other projects, mostly because of its emotional and autobiographical content.  That was a useful reminder for me as a teacher of writing that receiving criticism is not an easy thing, particularly when students are producing, as they should, deeply honest work.  Still, the ability to look at one’s own work with critical detachment is vital; I don’t think it’s possible to grow as a writer, or survive the business, without it.”

Read the full interview on Julianna Baggott’s blog

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CKP Authors in the Community: Paola Corso interviews Dawn Potter

Since its inception, CavanKerry Press has been committed to community. It’s outreach programs include Giftbooks, Waiting Room  Reader, Bookshare, New Jersey Poetry Out Loud, and The Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching. And in return for CKP authors getting their books published, they offer free talks and workshops to underserved readers in their communities and free books to those who can’t afford them. They are also committed to sharing information with fellow writers to build a supportive and nurturing literary environment.
In this new series of  interviews on community outreach, CKP author Paola Corso will speak with other press authors about these press projects and how they turn words into acts of community.
In this first interview, Paola speaks with Dawn Potter, author of, most recently, the poetry collection Same Old Story with CKP and director of  the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching, which brings together classroom teachers and poet/teachers to share their experiences of how to effectively present poetry in the classroom.

Dawn Potter

The Frost Place conference is held every summer at Robert Frost’s home in Franconia, New Hampshire. Let me begin by asking who participates, how it works, what’s your role, and why is it a CKP outreach project?

Participants in the conference come from all over the United States. Most are K-12 classroom teachers, but we are drawing an increasing number of participants from government and social-service settings, MFA programs, and university departments. The geographical and economic distribution is extremely varied. We have participants from giant urban schools and tiny island schools; some teach in wealthy prep schools, while others teach in very poor districts. Some think of themselves as poets, while others are timid about engaging with poetry. My role as director is to foster an intense intellectual and emotional engagement among these disparate colleagues, and every year I am overwhelmed by the way in which a focus on poetry both creates and reinforces an intense communal commitment to the vocation.

CKP has long been connected to the Frost Place. Over the years, many CKP poets and staff members have participated or taught in its various poetry programs. Currently, Teresa Carson, CKP’s associate publisher, is the associate director of the Conference on Poetry and Teaching. She and publisher Joan Cusack Hander immediately recognized that the press’s educational mission aligns with ours at the Frost Place. Not only have they begun donating numerous classroom copies of CKP books to our participants, but they have also established a scholarship, linked to the New Jersey Poetry Out Loud program, which each year sends a New Jersey teacher to the conference. Their generosity has truly enriched our work.

How do you make poetry a living art there rather than an outdated literary trope and what impact does this have on community building?

Robert Frost’s poetry and other writings are the linchpins of the conference. While we do talk about many other poets, from many nations and time periods, we keep his work at the center. At the same time, we’re living and working in his barn and house—these quiet, modest structures on a dirt road in rural New England. There’s something about focusing so intently on his words, in this place where he himself worked so intently, that is tremendously vivifying. I am not generally inclined to proselytize about spiritual matters, but there’s no question that the living spirit of poetry is present in this place, and we try very hard to keep that flame burning.

Please give an example or two to illustrate your point.

We focus on the language of poems rather than their meaning. This is something that is new to many teachers: they are used to guiding their students directly into the abstract elements of poetry rather than using language itself as the stepping stone into the abstract. Meanings reveal themselves as we acquaint ourselves with the physical materials of the work. And talking in this way also means that everyone in the room is an equal colleague in the endeavor. No one “knows more” or “knows better.” Every one of us can hear a sound, a word, a comma. Every one of us can learn from what someone else has heard.

Can you relate the relevance and importance of activating words in the community to our world today and horrifying news about war, refugees, terrorist acts, mass shootings, racial injustice, etc.?

For a long time I struggled with the thought that, as a writer, I couldn’t do anything or change anything. It’s taken me a lifetime to understand that some of us are put on this earth to be witnesses and to speak about what we see. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten both more comfortable with this role and more willing to use it publicly. Poets are artists of observation and ambiguity. We see black and white, right and wrong, but we are surrounded by politicians and demagogues who are constantly feeding us their narrow notions as truth. We are surrounded by neighbors who accept these notions, for reasons of fear, mostly. So poets must stay alert to the world, and vulnerable to it. And we must keep speaking about what we see.

This barely says what I am trying to say, and I fear it sounds smarmy and pat. But what else can I do but keep watching and talking? Telephoning my senators and demonstrating in the streets are equally useless responses. Working as a doctor might be more helpful, but few of us know how to be doctors. Giving lots of money is also helpful if one has a lot of money to give. But neither health care nor donations solve the basic problem of endemic cruelty and fear.

I want to discuss your background and how it’s helped shape your writing life. You don’t have an advanced degree or an ivory tower that can come with academic affiliation. Do you think this has made you more grounded in the community, and why or why not?

You’re right that I don’t have an advanced degree. In fact, I’ve never taken a graduate class. In many ways, this has been a completely stupid life choice, and I’ve suffered both financially and career-wise because of it. But as far as my artistic life goes, it’s been a gift. Since graduating from college at the age of 21, I’ve never had to follow anyone else’s reading trajectory or anyone else’s rules for “how to be a poet.” Of course I’ve learned from other people. I’ve studied poems, and absorbed valuable advice, and studied the craft; but throughout it all, I’ve remained in charge of the tenor of my apprenticeship.

Still, I don’t think it’s the right choice for everyone, and I’m glad that writing programs exist for the people who thrive in them. I think life circumstances dictate what works for different people, though I do wish that hiring entities recognized that all artists-teachers don’t follow a single graduate-degree path toward excellence. Partly I was fortunate in being such an intense reader as a child, with a mother who not only fed me difficult books but also nurtured my autodidact urge. She left me alone with them; she let me find my own way. From the beginning I was obsessed with reading what my inner self knew I had to read.

As far as making me grounded in community: in most ways, no. I’m drawn to the old: Beowulf, Wyatt, Milton, Coleridge, that sort of thing. This is where much of my artistic urge comes from, whereas my poet contemporaries tend to be inspired by contemporary work. And for the most part, my friends and neighbors don’t read or think about poetry. We talk about other things, when we talk. And that’s okay. When the conversations do arise, now and again, with the handful of poet-lovers I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life, they are always a gift and a miracle. Part of my goal as director of the Frost Place Conference is to construct a week, once a year, where these kinds of miracles happen constantly.

You live in rural Maine, what you have called a “downtrodden” place with poverty and disenfranchised people. Nonetheless, you say it’s prompted you to define solitude, and, in turn, to define community. Define them and how has this changed the way you live your life?

Maine is famous for its beautiful coastline, but many of the inland regions of this enormous state are composed of long stretches of forest, fields, and barrens dotted with aging mill towns and frontier-like hamlets. The county I live in is one of the poorest in the state, and I moved here when I was in my late twenties, right before I got pregnant with my older son. So basically this town is where I learned how to be an adult, and it’s also where I learned how to be a writer. It’s is not a particularly beautiful place. In many ways it encapsulates all the stereotypes that people have about rural America: extreme poverty, unemployment, cultural isolation, domestic violence, opiate addiction, rampant gun ownership, conservative politics, religious fundamentalism. Living here is not easy, and it is often lonely. But it has forced me to construct my own cultural life, and also to understand that community means more than common interests and like-minded eating habits. We’re all in the same boat here—suffering through winters and deaths; laughing at our children’s Little League games; sharing compassion and affection. We put up with each other, even if we don’t always comprehend each other.

I was struck by a quote of yours: “At every turn, I’ve met another person struggling to link eye with ear with hand with mind.” Tell me more.

People everywhere, in all walks of life, long to find some way to articulate their inner lives. Some of the most moving poems I’ve read have been written by teenage boys in vocational education classes—students who may never write another poem in their lives but who have used this rare opportunity to share their hearts with poignancy and grace. I find this with musicians too. I play in a band, and the guys I play with are a farmer, a contractor, and the owner of an appliance business. Week in and week out, they come together to practice—to share an emotional bond with one another, to make themselves vulnerable to feeling. It’s very moving.

What has the literary community given to you and what do you hope to give back?

Poetry is not a rarified art, but neither is it rambling anecdote. It is difficult and sustaining and terrifying. It requires nakedness and awe. It requires also that we stay to true to our own yearnings.

I do feel that discovering myself as a poet was a way of being born again. My primary mentor and model has been CKP poet Baron Wormser, and I try always to live up to what I have learned from him. I want to be the person Baron was for me, for the poets who come after me.

How has your community outreach  experience with CKP been different for you than with other presses?

Unlike any other press that I’ve worked with, CKP has invited me to participate as an active member of its mission. It doesn’t just ask for my financial support; it asks for my moral support. And when it sees an area in which an author’s work and the press’s mission aligns, it works to create a collaboration. That’s certainly been the case in the partnership we’ve built between CKP and the Frost Place teaching conference.

I’d like to end with a sonnet of yours from Same Old Story that captures some of the abiguities we discussed:


So wild it was when we first settled here.
Spruce roots invaded the cellar like thieves.
Skunks bred on the doorstep, cluster flies jeered.
Ice-melt dripped shingles and screws from the eaves.
We slept by the stove, we ate meals with our hands.
At dusk we heard gunshots, and wind and guitars.
We imagined a house with a faucet that ran
From a well that held water. We canvassed the stars.
If love is an island, what map was our hovel?
Dogs howled on the mainland, our cliff washed away.
We hunted for clues with a broken-backed shovel.
We drank all the wine, night dwindled to grey.
When we left, a flat sunrise was threatening snow,
But the frost heaves were deep. We had to drive slow.

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Going Places: Entry #4 by Randy Smit

About Going Places:
Welcome to an experiment in documentary writing.  Randy Smit is director of Compassionate Connection, an organization offering pathways of practice to greater empathy and creativity for all people.  This travelogue offers a multidimensional view of his own “ordinary person’s journey.” What follows are glimpses, glimmerings witnessed through the various lenses of its author; the Poet, the Person with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the Pastor, the Artist/Collaborator… the one holding together and letting loose the many facets of self that contribute to “this splendid ride worth tending.”

My damn horse ran off.
What can I say?

“What we let go of stays with us.”

Aw, shush it!

— — —

Art, my neighbor across the street, in order to care for his heart, stays busy all day out in his workshop.  Love that Art.

I’m here in my pajamas (I’ve been told crips should never admit this to anyone, ever,) remembering a candle, listening to faint whispers.  They have traveled to me these hundreds of years.  I found ’em in a folder which was in a folder inside of a folder in my computer, a PDF copy of some pages from a book I borrowed from a friend in 2004.  Here and now, my mystic sister reports…

[Just after Communion] He… told her that now it was time that she consider as her own what belonged to Him… and that He would take care of what was hers, and He spoke other words more destined to be heard than to be mentioned.

Teresa of Avila

— — —

January, 2015

You should wait till you feel better to write.

                   No, you should wait until you’re at your worst, when things are most pressing, undeniably….

Better yet, it’s probably best not to force yourself into some decision.  If attending the entries becomes an obligation, I fear that we are off to the races and headed in the wrong direction.

— — —

I think it’s pretty clear to anyone who’s ever thought about these things carefully, that Yoko Ono was not the one responsible for breaking up the Beatles.  Rather, as this extended essay will attempt to argue, Paul McCartney and John Lennon were just two people who were developing spiritually and artistically at different times, different paces and in different directions.

In conclusion, we are left with a body of work that continues to inspire, music that very few of us would ever want to have to live without.  That these two came together and ever coalesced to create beautiful things for us to dance to and be young to and to cry to and dream with is miraculous.  We can be grateful, in the end, that any of it ever happened and left us singing… There are places I remember.

 — — —

Pete writes on his knee trying not to pop the ball point pen straight through the paper.  Be careful how hard you press in an effort to put down words.

This was just after I had said, shivering after the blankets came off, “What would it be like if the temperature around us was always 98.6?  That would be way too hot, right?”

“Be glad you’re not a fetus” Pete replied.

Indeed, indeed.

— — —

January 2015

And where are the hippies, my brother?

They’re still parked on a beach in their snug Winnebago which comfortably houses two, but the five of them do okay.

He’s been dreaming tangerine and letting the seagulls sing him slowly awake.  Coals from the bonfire still smolder at the center of the circle of stones they placed after it was raging high with its fireflies buzzing wild all down the muggy shoreline.

Even later, golden in the firelight that huffed and leapt gusty, they would disappear into the darkness, each reappearing like a new idea, glazed and dripping, wet sand between their toes.  When they step close their faces light up first, he remembered thinking.

Sunset had oozed into the fire through the evening and now that same subtle orange turned circles aglow at her fingertips.  July 20, California.  They could, if they wanted, lie here all day till the drizzle passed.  But there was a knock at the door.

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News and Events: Week of December 7th


Richard Jeffery Newman, QED Astoria (27-16 23rd Avenue Astoria, NY)
Saturday, December 12th from 2:00-3:30pm
Richard is hosting a workshop: Making Fear a Thing of Beauty: Turning What Scares You Into Art

The statistics speak for themselves. Depending on the measure used, studies show that as many as 20% of men will experience some form of sexual violence at some point in their lives. Sadly, most of those men suffer in silence, victimized a second time by a culture that refuses to acknowledge the truths of their existence. Richard Jeffrey Newman broke his own silence as a survivor of childhood sexual assault in his first book of poetry, The Silence of Men, which was published by CavanKerry Press in 2006 and which some survivors have credited with helping them begin to tell their own stories. Since then, with the help of a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts, Richard’s been delving into this silence more deeply, making poems from the fears that it nurtures and giving voice to how being a survivor has shaped his life. Some of those poems will be published in 2016 by Ghostbird Press, as the chapbook For My Son, A Kind of Prayer.

“Making Fear a Thing of Beauty” will combine a reading and discussion of this new work with a workshop built around strategies for “turning what scares you into art.”

For more on the event, visit QED Astoria or Facebook


Wanda Praisner’s poem, “The Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize (this will be her eighth).

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Cutbank reviews “Love’s Labors”

LL_approved_coverTo labor at what we love—whether that is tinkering away at the car in our garage or carrying our first child to life—is a process of concentrated intensity just as it is a painful, lengthy, and arduous journey. To labor, then, implies paradox: the flash-flickering moments of strenuous human effort and the dull understanding that relief is a long road ahead. Brent Newsom’s debut poetry collection Love’s Labors captures such a paradox. In Newsom’s poems, we encounter an intricate growing narrative of the poet’s becoming a father just as others around him lose their own loved ones. Life and death, grief and shame, flare up with equal intensity, just as a complicated consolation slowly cools the senses.

Read the full review at Cutbank

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