Category Archives: literary news

The Reading Series Returns – September to November 2014

podiumThe Fox Chase Reading Series

Ryerss Museum and Library

2nd Floor Gallery

7370 Central Avenue

Philadelphia, Pa. 19111

 

After a summer break, The Fox Chase Reading Series returns with readings in September, October and November at Ryerss Museum and Library. The featured readers are followed by an open mic.  Please note our new start time of 1 p.m.

September 28th

mmwittleinlondon1rodger-lowenthal

 MM Wittle and Rodger Lowenthal 

October 26th

billwunderrosenbloom

Bill Wunder and Robert Rosenbloom

 November 30th

lynnjelee
Lynette G. Esposito and Jeffrey Ethan Lee

The Americans by David Roderick

IconAmericans1Series: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 88 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (August 5, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963124

ISBN-13: 978-0822963127

.

Reviewed by g emil reutter

There is always a danger in the blandness of a poet, of a poet who writes well-crafted poems, so well-crafted that they are void of passion, of reality. There is also the elitist view of suburbia as a wasteland of culture. And, then there is The Americans by David Roderick, a poet of passion and a craftsman whose series of poems titled, Dear Suburb, appear throughout this outstanding collection of poems.

Roderick tells us in the Dear Suburb (page 3) poem, I’m not interested in sadness/just a yard as elder earth, a library of sunflowers/battered by nights rain. And again in this poem, I see how you exist, O satellite town, your bright possibility/ born again in drywall/ and the diary of the trick lock. In Dear Suburb (page 13) he captures the transformation of rural to suburb, If your billboards peel, if the gaze/ is really dead, then what are those/remaining fields to you…/or the mirror of thought, or just thought’s sleeping sheets?

There are the other poems where monkey’s howl, Virgin Mary rests in a window, Judas swinging from an aspen, of pastoral settings, big box stores, gardens, Plymouths, the Enola Gay and of being an American.

Roderick reminds us of the dream of America, the American Dream and the loneliness of dreams, the longing for nostalgia and the possibility that delivers us into the future.

.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Americans-Pitt-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963124/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408576264&sr=8-1&keywords=the+americans+by+david+roderick

.

g-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Poem Continuous – Reincarnated Expressions – By Bibhas Roy Chowdhury- Translated by Kiriti Sengupta

poem continuous us editionPaperback: 62 pages

Publisher: Inner Child Press, Ltd. (July 17, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0692233180

ISBN-13: 978-0692233184

 

Reviewed by Shernaz Wadia

 As Leonard Cohen put it so aptly poetry is just the ash, the evidence of a life burning well. When a poet fleshes up his emotions and thoughts and attires them with words, a poem seems to take on a life of its own but an invisible umbilical cord runs from the creator’s soul to that of the poem, making them indivisible.

 It has been said that a poem is never finished. Even if the last line seemingly ends on an air of finality there is no true closure. There remain gaps to be filled between the stanzas, lines and words. Poems grow along with the poet making them an uninterrupted process. Even if he does not alter them on revisits, new ones sprout out of that receptive emptiness giving them continuity. In this book, Poem Continuous, the ‘Reincarnated Expressions’ are birthed through their transition from Bengali into English, done smoothly by Kiriti Sengupta.
 
Bibhas’s voice pulsates with an undercurrent of passion…it is melancholic yet inflected with hope…pithy in words but loaded with sensitivity…it is a reflection of the loneliness of the poet’s heart and its aches. To quote Kafka, “(his) pen is the seismograph of (his) heart.”  I realised that these poems are not for idle reading. I read them once, I read them again and then again each time sinking a little deeper into their profundity, their challenging complexity, and emerged with an ‘aha’ feeling. That is the beauty of these poems…they plummet you beyond the tips into their inner core and thereby into your own deeper recesses, conversing with your sense of self. 
 
Minimalistic, staccato at times, as in “The Small Boat” – Bird…Bird…Bird…Bird/Fetch the sky
 
and again in ‘The Offering’ which is all of four very poignant lines dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore,
 
“Poison in the diet
the budding poet!   
 
Ye, the source…   
 
What is in your mind?”
 
The poet leaves us pondering. I have used more words to talk about the poem than he has to convey his distress at the pathetic marginalisation today of poetry and poets. In the third line he expresses his reverence for the great bard in just three words!
 
Bibhas’ poetry is enigmatic with a near mystical aura to it as he puts into words his innermost emotions about life, love, nature and other poets. He connects with both the worlds – that of matter and of spirit to find and define the meaning and balance in life. His language is fragmented at times when all he has are shards of pain to be expressed, for instance, in ‘The Tie of Brotherhood’, where he laments –
 
“We are finished, aren’t we?
Can you hear me, Gurudev? Ye Tagore?
Crowd no longer…no music…hands free!
Now the ties are lost, and so are the Bengalis…”
 
In his Translator’s Note, Kiriti says “… wounds are essentially native, and they are difficult to translate into other languages.” I think other poets will concur with me when I say that often wounds of the spirit are native to the individual soul and are near impossible to transmit into words. That Bibhas and in this case, the translator has been able to open up those deep gashes so movingly to the readers, is very laudable.
 
‘Bhatiali – Song of the Boatmen’, is pure anguish. It harnesses the distress of myriad souls who
“Wish my blood obliterates the Partition, on either side of the border…” His pain transmutes into obstinate hope as he ends his poem with these lines:
 
“In the core of my heart I nurse the wounded soul carefully/Union of the parted Bengal will aid in my recovery…”
 
Though the poet talks of a divided Bengal, the soreness of his words reflects an universal ache…no country, no people like the divides they are forced into by the scheming, screaming, contorted truths propagated by authority, by those few who snatch power, control minds and leave them defenceless.
 
The poet often asks questions in his poems. In The Horizon, he asks “What is poetry?” and concludes with these lines
 
“The blind bird/was painting/its nest so deceptive/on the water-body…” Let each reader and lover of poetry demystify these words in his own heart and mind, for poetry means several things to different people.
 
Don Martin calls this book “A Literary Tour-de-Force”. Full of praise for the work he says, “This is a seamless, and highly accomplished Bengali poetry. Experienced lovers of poetry will immediately recognise the significance and nuances of the work. Those new to Bengali poetry are in for a real treat!”
 
 
Shernaz-Wadia3Shernaz Wadia, a retired teacher, lives in Pune, India. A free-lance writer, her articles, short stories and poems have been published in many online journals and literary magazines like Muse India, Boloji, Kritya and The Enchanting Verses etc. Her poems have been anthologised in Poets International, Roots and Wings and Caring Moments. Shernaz is in the process of publishing her poems in a book titled Whispers of the Soul.. She has also co-authored a book of poems titled “Tapestry”, with Israeli poetess Avril Meallem. It is an innovative form of collaborative poetry writing developed by the two of them.
 

10 Questions for Kristina Moriconi

Kristina 124 (1)Kristina Moriconi is a poet and essayist. She received her MFA in creative writing from Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington. Her work has appeared most recently in Cobalt Review, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, Prick of the Spindle and Blue Heron Review. She is the author of a chapbook, No Such Place (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Kristina is currently the Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Her website is: http://www.kristinamoriconi.com/

Interview with g emil reutter 

mont

GER: You were recently selected as the Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. What are the duties of the office and what goals have you set for yourself as Laureate?

KM: As Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, I am reading at various venues, and I have also started The Traveling Poets Project that will bring art-inspired poetry writing workshops to places throughout the county. On September 27th, I will be participating in the One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change event at the Souderton Arts Jam. I’m very excited about this. I’ll be reading with J.C. Todd and Laren McClung, and I will be offering art-inspired poetry workshops throughout the day.

no suchGER: No Such Place was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. Judith Baumel said of this collection, “These wise poems portray the terror and menace built into the architecture of the world”. Tell us about the collection and your journey to publication?

KM: No Such Place is an important collection of poems for me, because it is my first chapbook and I was filled with excitement to know it was being published. And I am thrilled by the words of praise from poets whose work I admire. But I am also continuously learning from that collection. As I work on two different projects now, I am striving to let in more light, to see “the architecture of the world” through eyes less clouded by fear and pessimism. 

I keep asking myself: Is it even possible to write a happy poem? But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the poem is not so simple as to be defined by a single emotion. It is a many-layered thing, and the voice of the speaker in my most recent poems is one that both sees and responds to all of those layers. It is important to me to continue to learn and grow as a writer, to keep my eyes and ears open to everything around me, and to never stop thinking there is room for improvement.

 

Moriconi at Elkins Park

GER: You currently host the “Arthur Krasnow Poets and Poetry Series’, at Elkins Park Library in Pennsylvania. Please share with us how this came about and the interactions between poet and audience and the open mic?

KM: At some point, after Arthur Krasnow passed away, someone from the Elkins Park Library contacted me to ask if I would be interested in hosting the reading series. I was, of course, honored, and I still am. I want to keep these readings going in Arthur’s memory, with his vision always in mind. So, the format of the evenings has stayed the same; there is a featured poet who reads and that is followed by an open mic. I hope to continue fostering this sense of a poetry community. I think it’s so necessary for poets to have a place to read, to be inspired, and to join together in conversation.

GER: In addition to poetry you conduct workshops on memoir, familial, and other non-fiction writing. How did this come about and share with us your passion for teaching?

KM: The focus of my MFA at the Rainier Writing Workshop was creative nonfiction. I attended many of the poetry workshops in the program as well, but my thesis was a collection of short nonfiction essays. Once I completed it, though, I knew almost immediately that I wanted it to be something else. So, I put it aside and I started writing more and more poems. It helped so much that I had worked with mentors at RWW who were both poets and essayists—writers such as Judith Kitchen and Rebecca McClanahan and Lia Purpura. I came to realize that switching back and forth between the two genres was critical to the language and the structure of my writing. My work continues to evolve, pushing the boundaries of genres and focusing in more and more on the lyric quality of language.

kristinamoriconi-1

GER: What poets do you read for inspiration and how important is it for poets to read other poets, both major and minor?

KM: When I am writing poetry, I often like to read brief nonfiction pieces. The short lyrical essays online at Brevity help me to think about the sound and the cadence of what I write. And when I am writing essays, I turn to poetry for inspiration. Reading poems as I write prose reminds me how critical it is to think about every single word. Lately, I have been reading the work of Jenny Boully and Carol Guess. And the writers I return to again and again, for both inspiration and craft, are Brenda Miller, Lia Purpura and Judith Kitchen. They are my constant mentors. 

Moriconi at Fox ChaseGER: You have read your poetry at a number of venue. How important is it to your development as a poet to read in public and is there a difference between a page poem and performance poem?

KM: I have been writing since I was a young girl. Reading my work aloud, however, is something I have only done in the last eight to ten years. At first, I was very reluctant to stand up in front of an audience and read. I prefer the quiet, solitary process of writing. But, at some point, I realized that my poems needed to be heard. I had something to say and, even if it only reached one person, I needed to say it.  

GER: Many poets become disillusioned with the submission process, particularly if they submit to major publications. Bukowski is said to have stated if the biggies don’t want your work submit to the little’s.   Do you agree and why?

KM: I can honestly say that I have never been disillusioned by the submission process. I send my work out into the world knowing I have revised it and read it aloud (to myself) over and over until I am confident it is my best work. I do my research ahead of time, trying to find a literary journal that is a good match. And, then, off it goes. I look at rejection in one of two ways. Either the journal was not the right match for a particular piece or I need to think about further revision. I’ve been writing and submitting long enough to usually know the difference. So, there are times when I will hold onto a piece after it’s rejected, really scrutinize it, blow it up, turn it into something else entirely. But most often I will send rejected work right back out there.  

KristinaMoriconiWP4

GER: Tell us of your passion for graphic design and how it has impacted your poetry?

KM: My background in art and graphic design has impacted my writing in many ways. Foremost, it has intensified my interest in form. Art of any kind is composed of elements that become integrated or unified, and I am very fascinated by the process of discovery one goes through in finding the right form for whatever they are creating, whether it be a painting, a poster, a piece of music, or a poem.

Visual art also serves as inspiration for many of my poems. I often look at paintings and photographs to trigger memories or to prompt words or phrases that I will use in my poems.

GER: You have written several book reviews. How is this process different for you and after writing a review does the process have an impact on your own writing?

KM: Writing book reviews is an entirely different process for me. My creative writing engages one side of my brain while my critical writing relies entirely on the other side, the more analytical half. I am a voracious reader, so writing reviews is a logical next step for me. From reading so much, I have the vocabulary I need to express what I think works and what I think doesn’t work. I read every book twice—first for content, then for craft—and I take notes only on that second read. Compiling my notes and writing the actual review feels like a conversation I get to have with other readers out there.

KristinaMoriconi4

GER: Do you have another manuscript in the works and what other projects are you working on?

KM: I have one complete manuscript of prose poems right now. I have been working on it for years; it is actually the “something else” I wanted my MFA thesis to be. It just took a lot of time, a lot of patience, and many rounds of revision for me to finally know that. I am ready to send it out into the world, but I’m in the research phase now, trying to find a small press that is a good match for it.

I love to travel, so I am also working on some poems inspired by place. When I write, I prefer to have a specific project in mind, rather than just writing individual poems, so I am trying to figure out what these place poems will become in terms of a larger collection. But, for now, I’m just letting them sit beside one another. They look a lot like a map. A journey.

.

You can read the poetry of Kristina Moriconi in The Fox Chase Review at these links: http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/s14-kmoriconi.html http://www.foxchasereview.org/11WS/KristinaMoriconi.html

.

g emil reutter 2g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)  http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

 

Image

Brake, Sahms-Guarnieri and reutter @ Moonstone April 27th

august 27th

The Last Cowboys at the End of the World By Nick Reding

LastCowboys1Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Three Rivers Press (October 1, 2002)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0609810049

ISBN-13: 978-0609810040

 

.

Reviewed by Stephen Page

Once I took a vacation with my wife to visit some of the interesting places in Argentine Patagonia—the Perito Moreno Glacier, the Petrified Forest, the Cave of Hands, etc.  We decided on hiring a guide in a pickup that would wind us through Patagonia. Our guide was friendly and helpful.  In-between the beautiful locations (mentioned above) most of Patagonia is windswept semi-arid desert, so for hours at a time we would only see tufts of yellow grass and scrawny bushes (xerophyte classification).  Once in a while we would see a harrier, or a hawk, or a condor glide by. When we did see a tree or two, they where sticking out of the ground at a thirty-degree angle, because the strong year-round winds made the trees grow that way.  Occasionally we would see a guanaco (an animal genetically related to an African camel and also but more phenotypically related to a llama, which is a smaller, hairier version of a camel), a hare, a snake slither across the road, or a herd of huddled sheep overseen by a lone gaucho sitting in a saddle on a horse silhouetted atop a hill, him and his horse leaning a little due to the wind. Otherwise, our first impression of Patagonia was that it is all but barren.  The gauchos I saw looked ominous, hunched over in their saddles, puffing on hand-rolled cigarettes, staring at us with slit-eyed hatred as if we were something they were not or at the very least, intruders in their world.  I didn’t understand.  We were just tourists driving on a public (dirt) road.  The guide told us “some gauchos are irresponsible, resentful, lazy, violent, drunkards.”  But then he then added, “not all of them.  Most of them were good employees, and good human beings.”  I didn’t think much about those comments at the time.  I just associated gauchos with the romantic notion of cowboys of the Old West in the U.S. of A.—riding in a saddle all day, sustaining for weeks at a time on jerky and coffee (by the way, gauchos drink maté—not coffee—which is a loose-leaf tea sipped out of a gourd through a metal straw).  Anyway, most of the time on our trip, we stayed in one or two star hotels.  We ate grilled meat and white bread three times a day. We travelled . . . ascetically . . . to say the least. One evening the guide invited us to his home to introduce us to his family.  “It’s on the way.” He said.  “Just a few miles from our tour route.”  His house was set against a line of sand-beige foothills spotted with clumps of sparsely leaved green bushes and a few clumps of yellow grass.  A few sheep and a couple of horses were wandering around and chomping on the grass.  It was a humble abode, but well maintained and immaculately clean inside.  His wife was very accommodating and good-natured.  She cooked us up some lamb stew (guiso).  They had an infant child who was lying in a portable crib set by kitchen table and gooed while we ate.  We ate bowls and bowls of the guiso and sipped red wine and talked for hours.  By then it was after sunset, so the couple showed us the guest room.  It was just big enough for a small dresser and a twin bed, and since the only fireplace in the small house was in the living room, we slept with the door open. To keep us warm while we slept, the couple had placed 10 blankets atop the sheets (southern Patagonia can be very cold, all year round—did I mention that Patagonia was windswept? Yes I did. I forgot to mention that the wind is extremely cold, sometimes coming from over the snow-capped Andes, usually directly from the south—Antarctica). That was a romantic night for my wife and me, cuddled together in a small bed with a mountain of blankets over us.  It was certainly memorable. We often talk and laugh about it.

Sometime after, I read Nick Redding’s The Last Cowboys at the End of the World.    I bought the book just before I started studying at Bennington and read only part of the first chapter when a friend of mine, over a cup of coffee, in a Buenos Aires café called “El Gaucho,” explained to me the plot and the ending.  I was, to say the least, perturbed.  I decided to put some time between the book and me so I could read it somewhat unbiasedly.

The Last Cowboys is a wonderful book.  It has some tones of Chatwin, in the narrator behavior and voice, but in the end, overall, it is a unique story.   The setting takes place on a huge spread of a ranch in the Chilean side of Patagonia (more mountainous than the Argentine).  The main character, nicknamed Duck, whom Redding studies in the book is a gaucho, a family man (married and with children), and he is a hodgepodge of all the bad-guys in gaucho land—knife fighter, horse thief, cattle rustler, heavy drinker, wife-beater, philanderer, cuckold, malingerer, excuse maker, liar, irresponsible employee.  Duck lives Spartanly—as do all romanticized gauchos and cowboys—but not because he wants to, because he has to, due to his inadequate salary.  So, in order to live better, rationalizing to himself he deserves better for his family because the owners of the ranch he works on are rich, Duck sets up a system along with a few other gauchos from neighboring ranches, to “lose” a few head of cattle every time he moves the bovines from one pasture to another or when the big end of the year cattle drives are on.  I won’t tell you if Duck gets caught or not, but there is a detailed chapter in the book that explains how difficult it is to fire a bad employee even if he is not working in the manor the employer wants (with the labor laws in effect at the time).  The reader gets to know the inside story of ranching on a big spread—a dying entity in itself, what with feedlots and overpopulation causality.  Reding shows Duck working, in home at rest, his family, his social life. Duck confesses to Reding his dreams, his thoughts, his heartbreaks and elations.

To Reding, Duck’s cowboy/gaucho life is evolving (a most intelligent observation), and he explains why, not didactically, but through the actions of the main character.

Reding puts together a great novel, filled with drama, action, excitement, everyday work drudgery, and romanticism of the Old West set in the present.  I am glad I read it.   You should too.  I will quote something for you to ponder which Reding puts in the introduction:  “if you can’t tell a story without maintaining the dignity of the people involved, you should not be telling the story in the first place.”  I need to tape that to my computer screen.

.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Cowboys-End-World/dp/0609810049

.

stephen-in-the-countryStephen Page is from Detroit, Michigan.  There he worked in factories, gasoline stations, and steel-cutting shops.  He always longed for a vocation associated with nature.  He now lives in Argentina, teaches literature, ranches, and spends time with his family.

 

Hands Turning the Earth by Bill Wunder

wunder-handsPaperback: 84 pages
Publisher: WordTech Communications (June 27, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1625490941
ISBN-13: 978-1625490940
 .
Reviewed by g emil reutter
 .
There are some poets who become stuck in the murky past, never wanting to leave the warm bubbling places of their comfort zone. Bill Wunder is not one of those poets. Hands Turning the Earth is a collection of poems that include the past always moving toward the future.
 .
Wunder writes of riding bikes in the fog of mosquito trucks, his mother cooking pot roast in a Levittown kitchen, of Agent Orange falling upon him from the sky in Vietnam and the cancer ward at the V.A. hospital. Wunder is insightful, deliberate as he tells us of birds in the Vermont Mountains, of the Promised Land in sobering lines, “to wither and fade, never to see the milk and honey of spring, another Moses, Forsaken.”
 .
The poet discovers the need to believe again in the birches of Vermont in the poem, Walking my Dog in Vermont. It really isn’t a poem about walking a dog, but of more, the need to believe. An excerpt:
.
The sky has shattered
and tumbled down
like when you said you no longer
loved me and moved out.
The entire world crackled
and remains in pieces.
The birches have shed the ice
but are hunched, one by one, each
A monument to trauma.
Pablo pulls us home
to the warmth of wood stove,
comfort of rocking chair
and dependability of books.
I follow needing
Something to believe in again.
 .
And here is the essence of Hands Turning the Earth, the need for something to believe in, something to move on toward.  
 .
 .
g-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) http://gereutter.wordpress.com/