We are thrilled to debut our newly designed website!
We are sad to learn about the passing of Peggy Penn on July 27th.
A memorial will be planned in the coming months. Once we learn the details, we will pass them on.
“Silence will never console your secrets.”
What is a story you never tell? Is it a secret? Does it disappear or dissolve? Or does it climb into your thoughts and whisper, speak me? We are limned by the stories we tell. They make us visible. But stories need a community of listeners as well as tellers. For the mothers who live at the Clinton Family Inn (Homes for the Homeless) that community can be found at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan where I have volunteered as a writer for the past five years.
Each week we welcome up to twelve mothers and their children. Despite the pressures on the lives of these families, the desire to attend week after week, from October to June is strong. Every session, approximately 30-32 each season, we have a balance of returning mothers and new participants, many of whom will themselves become regulars.
The complete format of this two hour program includes an hour of mommy-and-me type activities including free play, singing, reading, etc. We also use the time for informal conversation with the mothers while the children are engaged with the museum’s early childhood educators. Seated around the art table for the project of the day, the child-size furniture creates an immediate intimacy. “When I’m at the shelter, I stay in my room and don’t talk to anybody.” The mothers recite this refrain often, but their chatter shows a magical alchemy has already begun to occur—isolation is being transformed into connection. During this time, I, or the program’s other writer (poet Catherine Barnett), might also work with the mothers one-on-one on the pieces they wrote the week before.
After a communal lunch, the women begin the second hour with a rap session led by a social worker. “How has motherhood changed you,” she might ask. Or, “Does anyone want to share what brought them to the shelter?” The women open themselves slowly to their own feelings and to the group. One woman cries, a tissue is passed, a hug is given, heads nod—“Yes,” “I know,” “Me too.” The women are then guided in writing exercises that help lead them down pathways of deeper exploration to find the story that must be told. Sometimes they work together to collaborate on a poem or dialogue. Sometimes their work is solitary; they go on a voyage in which they think they are alone. But when they share their words with each other, they realize they were never alone. You are like the mirror looking back at me, one mother writes. The women are each other’s mirror, prism, magnifying glass. What one sees, they all see. The alchemy from isolation to community is complete.
What happens when there is no place to tell stories, when the words pile up behind the heart?
“Shame my soul for everything I hold inside.”
“Darkness hurts your soul.”
These nuggets of wisdom fill the pages of the anthology of the women’s writing that Catherine and I create at the end of each year and in the voices heard at the standing room only public reading with which each season culminates.
Southern Comfort was my first attempt at writing a book about my childhood, and it was a difficult book for me to write. How to explain . . .
For years I promised myself I would not write about my past. It felt too exposed, too open, like an unhealed wound. But my children urged me to break that promise. Living in suburban Ohio, they were entertained by my stories of the South and the farm I grew up on, stories that sounded to them like a chapter out of a Faulkner novel.
And maybe that was and is part of my resistance. Some of the stories I tell about life on the farm are a lot like Faulkner’s stories, complete with racism, sexism, and many deceptive, criminal, and strange as well as wonderful people who walked up the dirt road to our barn like stray cats and stayed for months or years.
But how do I begin? I wondered. After all, a childhood has so many layers to it, especially a childhood with many characters. Not only were there six children in my family and an endless train of farmhands and guests and aunts and uncles and cousins, there were also the horses, the cows, the dogs, the cats, the chickens . . . Back then the animals were as important as the people.
The problem was (and is) that I have many books to write on the subject. Who knows if I will write them.
I decided that if I could compose a single poem that gives a sense of the accent of the South, the pace, the lilt like a dip in the middle of each word that catches the mood, that makes meaning settle in the brain like that warm, wet Virginia air, and cling to your skin and slow you down, then and only then would I try to write a book on the topic.
The poem had to be called “Southern Accent.” While writing the poem, I pictured a southern accent as a hammock for words that lets them swing in the air for a while, as if enjoying the afternoon sun, while I contemplated the next line.
After I wrote the poem, others came more easily.
The day I came home with a busted lip and two black eyes,
my mother said the problem with me
was my southern accent. Get rid of that extra y
in Dayaddy, and you’re talking about your father,
not some deity.
I tried to tell her it began with a dayare,
but my mother said it was dare, not dayare,
and besides that, she didn’t want to hear one thing about it.
A girl is supposed to act nice.
And speak like a lady.
If you’re going to fight like a boy,
you can cut your hair like one, too.
What’s more, that stuff growing on top of your head
is not hay as in hayer, it’s hair.
Driving to Watson’s Beauty Salon downtown
on Jefferson Park Avenue, she instructed me
to open my mouth nice and wide, say ahhh, not ayyy.
I didn’t mean to, I tried to explain.
It was just an accident.
Not everything rhymes with Bayer, my mother commented.
She was from New England. She wasn’t like me.
But I never could get it right. No matter how hard I tried,
I’d hear my father’s voice,
his Memphis drawl in the back of my head:
You being about as helpful as a crawdayaddy under a rock?
When was the last time you peeled your mama spuds
or washed your hayands and said something sweet
with a smile on those rosebud liyips?
I knew how to answer him, keep my eyes cast down,
my voice a wisp: No, Sir. Yes Sir. Or, if I dared:
Can I please be excused?
No Ma’am, he’d answer just as quick as a blink.
You can. But you may not.
Not as long as you don’t know
which word is proper,
and what kind of excuse you might be.
Poet’s Spotlight is an ongoing series that invites CKP writers to select a poem of their own and reflect on everything from inspiration to publication and everything in between.
I was asked by a CavanKerry colleague a while ago to blog about submissions. My reaction? Give me a break. Is there anything less necessary to write about? After all, CKP’s website has a submissions page with guidelines. Won’t newbies find everything they need on the screen?
My colleague reminded me that when she sat on a panel for soon-to-graduate MFAs, several asked her how to submit a manuscript. They didn’t have a clue how to go about it. Nada. Nothing. That gave me pause. MFA students who don’t know how to maneuver through the submission process?
How can I help these new and emerging writers? I’ll give you a take on reading submissions from my vantage point – as one of several people who reads all CKP submissions word-for-word. Maybe my reactions will give you a start into the submission process.
A stupendous number of manuscripts arrive during an open submission period. Reading such a quantity of material (in a limited time) evokes many reactions: joy, amazement, goose-bumps, and (dare I admit) ENVY. The best part of my job is to start reading at 9am and find I’m still at it until noon. My stomach is grumbling for lunch but I can’t stop. I can’t put the manuscript down. It has engaged me totally. I don’t hear the phone ring. I’m in another world –on the Santa Maria with Columbus, in the straits with Magellan or with Neil Armstrong on the moon. I’ve hit the mother lode — another accomplished and exciting writer’s work is in my hands.
The worst part of my job is when I’m struck (ahem) by a dreaded paralysis or brain freeze when reading. Sometimes I want to cry. When brain freeze or paralysis sets in and it becomes near impossible to turn to the next page, it’s apparent the writer has not worked enough on the manuscript, and hasn’t consulted with a strong writer. It’s valuable for emerging writers to consult with writers/editors who are far more experienced than they. You need to show your work (and work with) people who are fiercely honest. It’s not enough to elicit opinions from your mother or dearest friend. You want feedback and advice from at least one published writer who has been thoroughly involved with the art and the craft of writing for many years.
You may be talented, but that’s not enough. Whether you’re a first-time writer or even have some work behind you – going forward requires a lot of work. We want to see work that’s (almost) ready to go to press. Sometimes the process of creating the manuscript seems to have halted too soon. The writing signals that the writer hasn’t self-edited, reviewed, re-read, re-read and self-edited as often as necessary.
Remember those manuscripts that keep me enthralled and away from lunch? Because CKP publishes 5-6 books year and so many submissions are outstanding, you can stay in the running only by submitting the best possible work. You should know that CKP would love to publish more of those outstanding submissions but we work within a budget and its restraints. CKP does not run contests; the $20 handling fee covers only some of the costs for handling, reading, and documenting submissions.
You’d be surprised how many writers submit their manuscripts to CKP without taking time to read CKP’s Submission policy and Guidelines. The website is more than a place to highlight our books and authors. It’s where you get information. Did you know the website says, “The theme, LIVES BROUGHT TO LIFE, resonates from all CKP titles?” If you submit a manuscript based on your travels to Yosemite and it’s a delightful read about wildlife and the natural sciences, you’re submitting to the wrong publisher.
I know you’re busy, you can’t read everything but if you’re submitting to CKP, it might help if you read at least one recent CKP book. Better yet, read two or more. I’m not trying to make money and fill your bookshelf. The point is that you’ll “get” the CKP sensibility. Reading Gray Jacobik’s, Little Boy Blue: A Memoir in Verse; Baron Wormser’s, The Poetry Life: Ten Stores or emerging writer Marcus Jacoson’s, Neighborhood Register will tell you more about what CKP is looking for than a thousand words from me and the publisher.
Last but not least (a cliché to set my teeth on edge when written by someone else, but hey, this is my blog):
If you haven’t read your work out loud, you’re not ready to send your manuscript anywhere. Read it aloud – to yourself. And listen. Tune in. Does the poetry or prose fall neatly on your ears? Are there clinckers you didn’t know were there? (What’s a clincker you may ask. You’ll know when you hear it.) Are there detours that don’t make sense? Do you stumble and hesitate as you read because the words don’t flow? Even business writers who care about getting through to a specific “audience” will take time to read aloud or charge someone else with that task so they can hear what they’ve written.
Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself and your writing. Take the time and effort that your manuscript needs. And don’t give up. Make your manuscript as strong as possible. Keep strong yourself. Remember that writers as world famous as Dr. Seuss, Rowling (Harry Potter), Emily Dickinson, and many more that we revere and have read for years were rejected, rejected, and rejected again.
Dawn Potter, Frost Place (Franconia, NH)
Sunday, June 24 at 7:30PM
Dawn is associate director of the Frost Place Conference on Poetry & Teaching, and this event will be the first in a series of evening readings by Frost Place faculty members. All readings are free and open to the public.
Laurie Lamon, her poem “Danger” (reprinted from Poetry Daily feature May 8, 2012) was a Sunday Poetry feature on Women’s Voices for Change
Danny Shot writes:
I always carry a few poems with me, well because I teach a few classes and I don’t like to repeat myself.
This year’s collection will include:
Jack Wiler’s “Poetry For Fun and Profit” and “For Levi”
Sylvia Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song”
Pedro Pietri’s “Telephone Booth #508”
Florenz Eisman, CKP’s Managing Editor, writes:
On days when a smile is called for, I turn to my favorite nonsense poem: “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll.
It brings me back momentarily to childhood when a wonderful teacher introduced it to my third-grade class without explanation or analysis. Was that when I learned that words (strange or plain) strung together can be magical? I think so.
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
‘And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Deborah Henry writes:
I would say my daughter Sara’s awesome poem, “Train Home From Work,” which was published in England but she would be mortified that her work was being promoted by me….
So . . .
“Birthday Present” by May Sarton
Like a shooting star,
As the soul,
Meets the pristine moment:
I love the “alive, ageless” sense of truth and passion that we often forget.
Nin Andrews selected:
“Neruda’s Hat” by Kelli Russell Agodon
On a day when weather stole every breeze,
Pablo told her he kept bits of his poems
tucked behind the band in his hat.
He opened the windows to nothing
but more heat, asked her to wander with him
down to the beach, see if their bodies
could become waves.
When they returned he placed his hat,
open to sky, in the center of the table.
She filled it with papaya, figs, searched
for scraps of poems beneath the lining.
By evening, the hat was empty
and his typewriter, full
with pages that began something about ocean,
something about fruit.
And they didn’t notice the sky, full of tomorrow’s
stars or the blue and white swallow
carrying paper in its beak.
They sat outside until the edge of daylight
stretched itself across a new band of morning,
the shadow of a hat washing onto the shore.
Nin Andrews is the author of several collections of poetry including Why They Grow Wings, Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane , The Book of Orgasms, Sleeping with Houdini, Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum, The Secret Life of Mannequins, and Southern Comfort. For more info, check out her blog at http://ninandrewswriter.blogspot.com.
Martin Farawell chose…
“Northern Pike” by James Wright
Martin explains: The first time I read this poem, I don’t know how many years ago that was, I wanted to carry it with me. So I’ve carried it in the pocket of my memory ever since. It reminds me how powerful and evocative an apparently quiet, simple poem can be.
Martin Farawell is the Director of the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival
Diane Lockward chose…
“The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry
Diane explains: A wonderful poem to get you through the dark days of raising teenagers.
Kevin Carey chose…
“Starlight” by Phil Levine
Kevin Carey teaches writing at Salem State University. His book The One Fifteen to Penn Station, has just been released. kevincareywriter.com
January Gill O’Neil writes…
My poem this time around will be William Carlos Williams’ poem “To Elsie.” It’s a poem I rediscovered recently, one I’ve always loved. And seems more relevant and timely than ever in our supercharged election season. How can you miss with a first line, “The pure products of America/ go crazy–” and the last lines, “No one/ to witness/ and adjust, no one to drive the car”? I believe that first line inspired Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” the poem that made me pay attention to poetry. Both poets were New Jersey natives.
William Carlos Williams
The pure products of America
mountain folk from Kentucky
or the ribbed north end of
with its isolate lakes and
valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
and promiscuity between
devil-may-care men who have taken
out of sheer lust of adventure
and young slatterns, bathed
from Monday to Saturday
to be tricked out that night
from imaginations which have no
peasant traditions to give them
but flutter and flaunt
sheer rags-succumbing without
save numbed terror
under some hedge of choke-cherry
which they cannot express
Unless it be that marriage
with a dash of Indian blood
will throw up a girl so desolate
so hemmed round
with disease or murder
that she’ll be rescued by an
reared by the state and
sent out at fifteen to work in
house in the suburbs
some doctor’s family, some Elsie
expressing with broken
brain the truth about us
ungainly hips and flopping breasts
addressed to cheap
and rich young men with fine eyes
as if the earth under our feet
an excrement of some sky
and we degraded prisoners
to hunger until we eat filth
while the imagination strains
going by fields of goldenrod in
the stifling heat of September
it seems to destroy us
It is only in isolate flecks that
is given off
and adjust, no one to drive the car
January Gill O’Neil is the author of Underlife (CavanKerry Press 2009) and the forthcoming Misery Islands (CavanKerry Press 2014). She is an assistant professor at Salem State University and executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival.
Teresa Carson writes:
At this year’s Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Dawn Potter and I will be teaching a workshop called: The Dramatic Monologue: Writing the Other “I.” We will use “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning to show how writing in the voice of someone else can teach you how to write in your own voice. It is an understatement to say that I am obsessed with this poem right now. On every re-reading of it I find something new—another layer of meaning, another perfect word choice, another place in which sound enhances meaning, another insight into the Duke’s character. Last week I marveled over the opening four words (“That’s my last Duchess”) and how the meaning of those words shifted—ever so slightly but oh so importantly— depending upon which one I chose to stress. Over the weekend I wondered why Browning, who chose words very carefully, chose “stoop” instead of “bow” and so to the OED I went. Today I’m thinking about the echo of Macbeth in “that spot” on the Duchess’ cheek. Why do new aspects of this poem keep opening to me? Because Browning, to paraphrase John Keats, loads every rift of his subject with ore; may we strive to do the same in our poems.
“My Last Duchess”
by Robert Browning
That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—which I have not—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse—
E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me
Kenneth Rosen’s “Poem in Your Pocket” pick:
Melancholy Inside Families
Pablo Neruda (tr. James Wright and Robert Bly)
I keep a blue bottle.
Inside it an ear and a portrait.
When the night dominates
the feathers of the owl,
when the hoarse cherry tree
rips out its lips and makes menacing gestures
with rinds which the ocean wind often perforates–
then I know that there are immense expanses hidden from us,
quartz in slugs,
blue waters for a battle,
much silence, many ore-veins
of withdrawals and camphor,
fallen things, medallions, kindnesses,
It is only the passage of one day to another,
a single bottle moving over the seas,
and a dining room where roses arrive,
a dining room deserted
as a fish-bone; I am speaking of
a smashed cup, a curtain, at the end
of a deserted room through which a river passes
dragging along the stones. It is a house
set on the foundations of the rain,
a house of two floors with the required number of windows,
and climbing vines faithful in every particular.
I walk through afternoons, I arrive
full of mud and death,
dragging along the earth and its roots,
and its indistinct stomach in which corpses
are sleeping with wheat,
metals, and pushed-over elephants.
But above all there is a terrifying,
a terrifying deserted dining room,
with its broken olive oil cruets,
and vinegar running under its chairs,
one ray of moonlight tied down,
something dark, and I look
for a comparison inside myself:
perhaps it is a grocery store surrounded by the sea
and torn clothing from which sea water is dripping.
It is only a deserted dining room,
and around it there are expanses,
sunken factories, pieces of timber
which I alone know,
because I am sad, and because I travel,
and I know the earth, and I am sad.
Gray Jacobik is carrying…
“August 1945” by Hayden Carruth from his book Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey.
She writes: It’s about four young soldiers in Italy waiting for WWII to end, getting drunk and thinking about their predicament, the Atom bomb that’s just gone off over Japan, and the general misery of war. Carruth links their situation with that of Odysseus’s soldiers twenty-five hundred years earlier, and, with deft elegance, that of all soldiers at war. It is so marvelously timeless and straightforward and heartbreaking. I’m carrying it because it represents an element of the human condition that causes me to think and to cry, and because I love it (and love Carruth for writing it and for surviving that war).
Jeanne Marie Beaumont writes:
I am reading upstate that day (Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 26th), so I plan to stuff my pockets like a magician preparing for an act. One that I will carry for sure, for the sheer exuberant pleasure of it is…
Frank O’Hara’s “Today”
Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they’ve always talked about
still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They’re strong as rocks.
Dawn Potter selected
Hayden Carruth’s “Emergency Haying”
Jean Churchill selected
Robert Seder, “To The Marrow”
I am the widow of Robert Seder, who wrote “To The Marrow” I lost him 10 years ago, right before I turned 50. Now I have turned 60 and I still miss him every day.
Carolyn Bardos selected
“Saint Judas” by James Wright
This is a poem that I read pretty much every day.
“The Two-headed Calf” by Laura Gilpin
Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.
But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass.
And as he stares into the sky, there
are twice as many stars as usual.
I started carrying poems in my pocket when I was in sixth grade and needed to remind myself that I would survive Sister Mary DePaul. One that I carried then, love still, and gave to my own sixth-graders last week is May Swenson’s The Blind Man.
Howard Levy selected:
Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts”
He writes, “No poem I know captures so gracefully the moment of the artist trying to stop time, to take on the responsibility for seeing everything that happens in the world and reporting it.”
Carol Snyder, President of the Cavan Kerry Press Board, selected:
“Autopsy” by Teresa Carson
She writes, “Because of its quiet pain and vulnerability. So many have experienced these feelings totally alone. Now they don’t have to. You’ve given them a voice.”
“Without” by Donald Hall
“Otherwise” by Jane Kenyon
“Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver
No one who knows me is surprised that I came up with 3 poems instead of one for Poem in Your Pocket Day–I actually had 8 and took hours deciding on these 3 that refused to be set aside….
Today is a harsh day. I’m in my home in the East Hampton woods –the sun’s high, the plum trees are flowering and the weeping cherry and my chest caves in with the absence of my Dad to share this holiness– gone 2 and 1/2 years ago after 99 and 1/2 of life– not long enough never enough when the life is loved. Then I read Donald Hall’s “Without” -the book and the poem and the fire erupted again in my chest and someone-some deep trusted soul came in and sat beside me holding my grief in his hands.
To come back to blossom and life and every minute counts and we’re each a perfect creation, I sought out Jane Kenyon’s “Otherwise” and Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese.”
All good things,
To My Daughters, Asleep
Surrounded by trees I cannot name
that fill with birds I cannot tell apart
I see my children growing away from me;
the hinges of the heart are broken.
Is it too late to start, too late to learn
all the words for love before they wake?
A note from Michael:
With our son and his pregnant wife arriving on April 2nd from New Orleans, this seems like the poem I should be carrying.
Judith Hannan, The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd Street, New York, NY
Wednesday, March 14th at 6 pm
In this event co-sponsored by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and Romemu: Judaism for Body, Mind and Spirt, Judith will be reading selections from her new memoir, Motherhood Exaggerated.
Carole Stone, Watchung Books, 54 Fairfield St., Montclair, NJ
Thursday, March 15th at 7pm
Carole will be reading from her new book, American Rhapsody
Gray Jacobik, reading/recording for Grace Cavallieri’s Poet & the Poem Series is currently being broadcast on NPR stations across the U.S.
Recording is available as a podcast at the LOC site and will be archived at the Library of Congress. During the first half of the program, listeners can hear Gray discuss and read poems from Little Boy Blue: A Memoir in Verse, published in 2011 by CavanKerry Press. During the second half of the program, Gray reads poems in the voice of Eleanor Roosevelt from a work-in-progress. Below is the link. Listeners will have to scroll down to Gray’s name.
Wanda S. Praisner, The 2012 New Jersey Poets Prize Winners Reading, First Honorable Mention
Adriana Paramo, winner of the Social Justice and Equality Award in Creative Nonfiction with, Looking for Esperanza.”
“Looking for Esperanza,” a collection of true stories of undocumented women working in the Florida fields, will be released in May.
Two-time CKP author Karen Chase has a new book out (Jamali-Kamali: A Tale of Passion in Mughal India, Mapin Publishing, 2011).
Jeffrey Levine, the Publisher at Tupelo Press, blogged about her reading of it in Williamstown, MA.
Check it out here,
poems by Carole Stone
Carole Stone’s new collection of poems, AMERICAN RHAPSODY (CavanKerry Press; March 2012; $16.00), is a rhythmic cycle that explores themes of our imperfect national history, collective and individual identities, and sometimes amnesiac sense of nostalgia. The poems, some of which first appeared in such prestigious journals as Southern Poetry Review, Chelsea, and New Jersey Journal of Poet, are at once personal and communal, drawing on the poet’s own family heritage, but linked to the broader world through vibrant references to music, popular culture and shared memories.
Many of the poems hearken back to the 1920s—the Jazz Age with “tasty booze/flowing from kegs, basement jugs./”In bathtubs, in stills—“ (“Invocation/Intoxication”). We come to learn that the poet’s father was a rum-runner who made a sizeable living bootlegging, but died when the poet was a young girl, leaving her with hazy, somewhat conflicted recollections. “My father is/a roller coaster, a grey fedora,/cut glass decanters with silver tags/engraved: Scotch Gin Rye. (”Homecoming”). Her mother also died young, leaving so much clouded, like the identities of strangers in old photographs. Recalling an upbringing overseen by a colorful collection of relatives, all vividly portrayed with the poet’s gift for concision, Stone paints a portrait of childhood in a less complicated age.
The poet’s ken extends well beyond the personal, though, as she recreates the world that shaped her—New Jersey in the 1930s and 40s: Days spent in darkened movie houses watching gangster movies, learning in a classroom under the watchful gaze of FDR’s portrait, summers at the Jersey shore or eating Sunday dinner at the local Chinese restaurant. She imagines, too, the landscape before it was settled, paved over, choked by bad air. Hers is an American experience that speaks loudly of the ordinary things we cherish, sometimes disregard, and in the end yearn to regain.
Despite its wide-angled lens, though, at its heart this collection focuses most acutely on a daughter’s need to clarify a relationship that remains shrouded in the haze of the past and perhaps unanswerable questions:
Here I am again, Father, searching
Sloppy Joe’s souvenir photo for the man you
were. Cigar between two fingers,
face forever handsome and tan,
the only likeness you left me. Again I wonder,
as you leaned against the bar,
beer bottle half-full, one foot on a bar-
stool rung, did you miss me?
(from “A Daughter Returns to Her Habana Fantasy”)
“AMERICAN RHASODY is a charming, witty, musical portrayal of American life in the 1920s and ’30s and of its larger impact on the nation today,” says Grace Schulman. “Stone evokes the sublime of Le Jazz Hot and the seediness of rum-runners, marathon dancers and racketeers. Through it all she muses on the hope and destiny of the American dream, elegizing believers who ‘live/as language/in my inky heart.’”
About Carole Stone
Carole Stone is the author of two books of poetry and seven chapbooks as well as many critical essays on writers, among them George Eliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Sylvia Plath. A recipient of fellowships from The NJ State Council on the Arts and residencies at Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers in Scotland and Chateau de Lavigny inSwitzerland, she is Professor of English Emerita, Montclair State University. She divides her time between New Jersey and East Hampton, N.Y.
AMERICAN RHAPSODY by Carole Stone
Publication Date: March 2012
Price: $16.00; ISBN: 978-1-933880-28-0
Distributed by: University Press of New England (UPNE), 1-800-421-1561 or 603-448-1533, Ext. 255
Baron Wormser, School of Business Dining Room, Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT
Wednesday, March 7 at 7pm
Baron Wormser, Nathaniel B. Greene Community Center, Quonnipoug Room (32 Church St., Guilford, CT)
Thursday, March 8 at 7pm
Jack Ridl, Haworth Center in Holland, Michigan
Friday, March 9 at 7pm
Keynote Address for Women’s Final Four Banquet: Poems from Losing Season
Baron Wormser, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT
Friday, March 9 at 8pm
Shira Dentz at RealPoetik with “Skin lines”
Note: RealPoetik is the oldest and most active little magazine on the internet.
Foreword by Alan M. Dershowitz
Introduction by Leonard H. Wexler, M.D
“The dramatic language, both highly descriptive and emotional, rings with the unforgiving pain and fear of this terrifying disease…The amplification of the lives of Judith and her daughter, Nadia, are felt as you read this deep and loving book.” —Carly Simon
In her emotionally uncompromising memoir, MOTHERHOOD EXAGGERATED (CavanKerry Press; February 2012; $21.00), Judith Hannan recounts the ordeal of her young daughter’s battle with cancer and how the frightening medical journey tested and strengthened a mother’s reliance. This latest volume from LaurelBooks, CavanKerry’s Literature of Illness imprint, takes readers from diagnosis to remission as eight-year-old Nadia Hannan endures the nightmare of potentially terminal bone cancer, and the entire family weathers the dire interruption in their lives. Told with grace and candor, Judith Hannan’s fierce depiction of an unwelcome trial of motherhood is, in the words of novelist Mary Gordon, “a moving, engaging retelling of the complex bonds and tensions every parent experiences in our relationship with our children.”
Everything can change in an instant. “It is Halloween and Nadia is still dressed in her angel costume after an evening of trick-or-treating, when the cancer finally shows itself,” Hannan writes. “I look and see the lump. I am more curious than concerned, as if I have been give a puzzle to solve. It is still 36 hours before we are being prepared for a cancer diagnosis. Nadia will have one gymnastics session with her new coach, one swimming lesson with Gaby and then her violin will be put away permanently. She will be stripped of her wings and confined to a chrysalis woven of chemotherapy. I am the one who will grow wings. My flight will be clumsy at first, but I will remember all those dragonflies. How could I have not recognized their strength, their certainty, their agility? If I fly like them, I will learn what I thought I should have known but have always struggled with—how to be Nadia’s mother.”
Nadia is diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a malignant bone tumor, and undergoes a grueling six month of chemotherapy that will devastate her body and disrupt her young life. As Judith, and her husband John, struggle with the harsh, persistent demands of this treatment, they deal with their own issues and fears. Nadia’s older sister, Frannie, and twin brother, Max, handle their sister’s illness in their own often-surprising ways. For Judith, her daughter’s illness also rekindles emotions that had lay dormant since her mother’s battle with terminal cancer, and reawakens, too, a yearning for spiritual answers long suppressed in her secular Jewish life. In MOTHERHOOD EXAGGERATED, Hannan never whitewashes the truth about this arduous medical journey, detailing the negative and, yes, positive steps along the way. Without pity, she admits to her own insecurities, missteps, and moments of weakness, but also takes pride in the small victories won as she battled for her Nadia’s very life.
“Judith Hannan has performed a valuable service by publishing this remarkably honest account of the crisis she and her family went through as her daughter—now a brilliant and beautiful young woman—dealt with a rare form of cancer,” writes Alan M. Dershowitz in his foreword to MOTHERHOOD EXAGGERATED. “She takes us with her on her journey through the valley of the shadow of death and then back to the sunshine of life….Judith’s willingness to share intimate feelings and to discuss difficult moments is a gift that will help so many, as it has already helped me, to deal with the past as well as the future.”
About Judith Hannan:
Judith Hannan has been a writer for over 25 years; 10 years ago she began exploring personal narrative. Her essays have appeared in such publications as Woman’s Day, Twins Magazine, The Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine, The Healing Muse, and the anthology On The Vineyard III. She teaches writing about personal experience to homeless single mothers and to at-risk adolescents. Ms. Hannan has a long history of involvement in children’s education, health and welfare. She served as Director of Development for the 92nd Street Y and then for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. She serves on the board of the Museum as well as on three boards affiliated with the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York—the Adolescent Health Center, the Children’s Center Foundation and the new Global Health Initiative. Ms. Hannan lives in New York City with her husband and three children.
MOTHERHOOD EXAGGERATED by Judith Hannan
Publication Date: February 2012
Price: $21.00; ISBN: 987-1-933880-27-3
Distributed by: University Press of New England (UPNE), 1-800-421-1561 or 603-448-1533, Ext. 255
Congratulations Jack Ridle!
His poem “Bus Driver,” from LOSING SEASON, was featured on Writer’s Almanac on February 16th.
Read it here.
Praise for Jack Ridle’s feature on Writer’s Almanac
Today my wife woke/rustled me awake turning on the radio for the first of her daily favorite programs–Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac […] and I was stunned by the quality of the poem by someone I’d never heard of, Jack Ridl, published by CavanKerry.
I have quite an ostrich-like approach to life in this world, and tend to be pinheaded for ease of sand burial. Ridl is an extremely impressive guy, and doesn’t bury his head in the sand, works hard at what he does, and truly accomplishes transparent iron–as remote from my preferred smoke, mirrors, ashes, with sloppy dashes of molten lava, as anyone could imagine.
I’m going to order his book and congratulate you, Joan and CavanKerry for publishing Jack Ridl. It’s wonderful to be so bestirred and revived, and for this I wanted to thank both of you.
Welcome to our new blog.
Check in as we will be posting the latest CKP news, interviews with poets, special features from guest writers, and so much more!
Welcome to our new blog.
Check in as we will be posting the latest CKP news, interviews with poets, special features from guest writers, and so much more!