It strikes me that one of the least celebrated communications between us is the simple thank you. I, for one, don’t say it often enough. Nor to enough people. I’m sorry is another biggie. Widely underrated, they’re two of my favorites. And though I don’t have anything I’m aware of today to apologize for, I am full with the bounty of thank you—to and for my wonderful family—Alan, my beloved husband, David, our magical son and Marlene, our soon to be daughter (no, I’m not pregnant; David’s getting married), all of our friends and our grand and generous CavanKerry family—my focus today. And May seems a perfect time– such a generous month, serving up delicious pinks, purples, magentas, and fragrances in a splendid fiesta to celebrate all who have given so abundantly to us over the past months-particularly during April, National Poetry Month.
The heart of CavanKerry is community—we believe in it; we practice it, and we depend on it. And the center of that community is our amazing staff. As evidence: enter Florenz Eisman, CKP Managing Editor, who started CKP with me. I was looking for a partner, and she was looking for challenging work. Fueled with little more than a vision and some start-up dollars (another generous gift from Alan), we knew nothing but set out to learn how to put a press together and produce books; 12 years later we know something about the making of a press and books– battle scars notwithstanding. Donna Rutkowski and I go back at least 25 years to the days when she was the expert who typed (yes, typed, but not on a computer, on the grand and state of the art IBM Selectric TYPEWRITER!!! Remember those?) and organized my fledgling poems into respectable looking packets and sent them out in the hope that some journal would accept them. Now my assistant and CKP administrator, Donna keeps my life and CKP’s on track. Next to arrive was Catherine Breitfeller, my sister and keeper of CKP finances. Always the detail-oriented one in the relationship, Catherine and I shared a bedroom as kids that was divided down the middle—her side impeccable, mine an explosion. With her oversight, not a penny is lost from CKP’s pocketbook. And Baron Wormser, long time friend since our early days teaching at the Frost Place. For over twenty years, Baron has supported and stood beside me as friend, poet, and champion of my poems and memoir. And champion of CavanKerry. The gifts of his time, his intelligence, and commitment to the healthy life of CKP is unmatched. His impeccable editing of each CKP book consistently raises each to its finest hour. He is the one person, Florenz being the other, that our authors are most anxious to meet—for it is the two of them—who, like godparents, minister to each book with love, respect and attention. Next in line and most recent is Teresa Carson, our development director, long time writer-friend and girlfriend, who has husbanded CKP out of adolescence into adulthood and our share of the spotlight—or almost! Thank you! Thank you! To all of you.
And thank you to those I’ve never even met! Out on the coast of California, Bob Weibezal has been writing our press releases since our infancy—numbering over 60 now—brilliant and insightful studies of each of our books, while he, ever mindful of our 501c3 poverty, donates a portion of his fees back to us. Greg Smith, our book and graphic designer, also a Californian and recommended by Bob, whose book covers I’d recognize anywhere for their originality and succinct interpretations of our books, but whose face I wouldn’t recognize if he walked in the door this minute. Nor would I recognize Dawn Potter, CKP author of How the Crimes Happened, whose copyediting skills and dazzling fretwork with semi-colons, commas, and verbs, prepare our books for a mostly unblemished if not impeccable entry into the world.
Then there are the many friends who send contributions year after year to provide support of our books and programs. We don’t know most of your faces, but we know your hearts. You are the core of our work and without you our goal of community is an empty one. We rely on your gifts—financial, of course, but also the gift of your assurance that we are doing work worthy of your friendship.
Thank you. Thank you.
And our partners: The Arnold P. Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine—such a noble and worthy cause– co-sponsor of our LaurelBooks: Literature of Illness and Disability and The Waiting Room Reader (WRR).
The Liana Foundation whose sustained generosity gave life to the WRR and continues to make all our work possible.
Mark IV Transportation and its owner/manager Jerry Giampaglia who, without pause or cost to CKP, picks up and delivers our GiftBook donations.
The Waiting Room Reader II (WRR II) Committee –Chair and Board President, Carol Snyder, Bob Gurmankin of the Gold Foundation, Teresa Carson, and Florenz Eisman, CKP Board member, Deb Henry, and CKP writers Judith Hannan and Susan Jackson–steadfast in their commitment to raise funds to support this next volume, slated for publication in January, 2013. Toward that end, special thanks to Judith, Deb and Susan for offering to host fundraising salons to help support this new collection; to Deb again and her husband Brian for their bountiful gift of $10,000 to the WRR II; to Rachel Hadas, guest editor, for putting together such a rich smorgasbord of poetry and prose; to her assistant and CKP intern, Joanne Chin, who managed all the details from typing the poems and bios to obtaining permissions and communicating with the writers; and to Josh Kashinsky (discovered by Teresa), WRR coordinator, whose career as a theatre producer and director, prepared him well to take on such a comprehensive production as the WRR from distribution, to blurbs, to evaluation and everything else in between. And to Gray Jacobik, CKP poet and visual artist who donated her brilliant art work for the cover of the book. Rounding out the gift giving aspect of this splendid project are David Handler (yes, my son) and Justin Kantor, founders/owners of Le Poisson Rouge Arts Club in NYC, who have offered their venue at cost for a CKP WRR benefit –now if anyone of you knows a celebrity of any art who might perform for us, we’d be delighted if you’d put in a good word for us.
The NJ Council on the Humanities and its Associate Director, Mary Rizzo—sponsor of the Literature and Medicine program in NJ hospitals– invited us to partner with them in providing four workshops for healthcare workers at four separate hospitals this past April. Conducted by LaurelBooks poets: Teresa Carson, Gray Jacobik, and Joan Sidney, these events were enthusiastically received by participants, one of which is explored in depth by Teresa in the article that follows this one. The success of the program is attested to by the fact that plans are ongoing to broaden the program next year. Thank you. Thank you. Our hospital work is so important to us; thank you for opening the door and allowing us to show you the brilliance and sensitivity of our writers. And to all of you who responded to our call for poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day, also co-sponsored with the NJ Council on the Humanities, many many thanks.
To Teresa Carson once again for spearheading our entry into the world of Facebook and social media. It was she who singlehandedly was responsible for raising our Facebook friend status from under 50 to 450 in a matter of a few months and subsequently discovered Angela Santillo who now tends so gracefully and professionally to this new phase of our public persona—including our blog, newsletter, Twitter and Facebook presence. And to our writers– particularly, Nin Andrews, Gray Jacobik, and once again Dawn Potter, who leapt to the plate to help—Nin with her interviews of all of our new writers, Gray for graciously offering her magnificent visual art to CKP for book covers, and Dawn, generous with ideas for blog and Facebook content and expansion and the hard work of tending the CKP table beside Teresa at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival weekend. Finally, CKP poet Sondra Gash hosted a salon honoring CKP authors and the publication of their books; Motherhood Exaggerated by Judith Hannan, American Rhapsody by Carol Stone and My Painted Warriors by Peggy Penn. Sondra (and her handsome husband Ira who good naturedly juggled cartons of books, coffee urns, chairs and more formidable pieces of furniture as needed!) has a long history of hosting these salons for CKP –be they to celebrate the birth of a book or to help with fundraising. There isn’t a NY or NJ CKP poet who hasn’t been showcased at one of Sondra’s lovely salons. Such bounty! Such goodness! As you see, CKP writers appear here time after time. They are our ambassadors not only out in the literary world but here at home as well. The heart of our community outreach program, they are committed to offering three (free of charge) outreach events—readings, workshops etc—annually to underserved populations in their communities. Add to that the many in-kind donations of services and the generous checks they send in support, and one can’t help but conclude that CKP is blessed to have not only a collection of brilliant artists that it publishes, but a community of kindred souls interconnected in the advancement of art, CKP, and each other. Thank you!
Thank you all!