The Longest Pleasure by Vinita Agrawal

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Review by g emil reutter 

Vinita Agrawal is a poet of honest observation who is an imagist at heart. The poem, Wrought By The   Storm is about having tea with her father, the death of her mother is central as in this excerpt:.

The storm struck our prayer bell

Shook the Gods at the altar

Caused the fan to whir anti-clockwise

Jerked wildly in our pulse beats

Skewed our outer expressions of calm

Flickered like fear in our eyes.

She captures in stark images those left behind in economic prosperity and social reform in the poem, Pedder Road Flyover:

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Here they lived – under the canopy of opulence

on a road named after Mr. W.G. Pedder,

a British Municipal Commissioner of 1879 Bombay.

Politicians changed the name to Dr. G. Deshmukh Marg after a social reformer.

But somehow the families here still picked garbage,

waded around in stench, did death’s work,

stayed alive only because cholera was dead.

If you ventured out at the devil’s hour,

you’d have heard them groan into the darkness

as at last, traffic dimmed around three in the morning.

A few hours of oblivion must have felt good

with loyal street dogs curled up warmly by their sides.

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In the poem, Jovan Musk and Tiananmen Square, Agrawal writes of being there during the uprising. Of

…The screams of raw blood flooding a public street

Unaware, that on its silver jubilee, I’d be reminded with deadly hurt

Of what it was like to live in oppressions long shadow

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Azadirachta Indica is a poem about the shade of a Magosa. How they populate most courtyards in India of her walk with a doctor and the dangers of the Magosa and then:

Watch, he said, and picked up a golden yellow seed

popped it between his thumb and forefinger until oil oozed out.

He poured it on a worm down below, stunning it.

It retreated hastily. Didn’t stand a chance.

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Later, I dipped my sins in it,

hoping it would cauterize tissues of guilt

sterilize thorny voices in my head

that accused me of being unclean.

 

From the poem, Time Lag

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Despite loess caressing the roots

and the damp, earthy aroma of trees,

a brokenness clings to the winds;

fresh as a pistil that has just lost its flower.

Despite the wet tissues made of air and rain,

the tree branches look fractured

their leaves pale like pinched skin.

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Vinita Agrawal is a well-traveled poet who takes in all that she observes. Her honest and passionate images cause a stirring of thought and a desire of action. She is an urban poet who writes of the stark realities of the world and of her own pulse beats and broken drift wood of the heart.

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You can pre order the book here: https://finishinglinepress.com/product_info.php?cPath=4&products_id=2423

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IMG_1360-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. You can find him here: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

 

 

 

 

Summer 2015 Edition of The Fox Chase Review Coming This June

Trail at Pennypack Nature Sanctuary

Trail at Pennypack Nature Sanctuary – Philadelphia, Pa.

Coming this June… The summer 2015 Edition of The Fox Chase Review, our 21st. Until then visit the Winter edition at www.thefoxchasereview.org

An Interview with Kiriti Sengupta

Global Dimension To Bengali Poetry

Interview by Anit Mukerjea

kiriti 5Kiriti Sengupta, a Dental Surgeon and graduate of the University of North Bengal is also the author of other bestselling titles: My Glass Of Wine, a novelette based on autobiographic poetry, and The Reverse Tree, a nonfictional memoir. His other works include My Dazzling Bards [literary critique], The Reciting Pens [interviews of three published Bengali poets along with translations of their Bengali poems], The Unheard I [literary nonfiction], Desirous Water [contributed as a translator], Poem Continuous – Reincarnated Expressions [contributed as a translator]. Sengupta’s works have received critical acclaim Sengupta has also co-edited three anthologies of poetry; Scaling Heights, Jora Sanko – The Joined Bridge, and Epitaphs. His latest creative venture Healing Waters Floating Lamps is a collection of philosophical verses that delves into the magic of healing, complimented by photographs that are eye-catching. While appreciating the book K. Satchidanandan, the renowned poet has stated, “These poems are different from the run-of-the-mill Indian English poems in being far closer to our humdrum daily experiences and their baffling paradoxes and cruel ironies.” Healing Waters has been a bestselling title in the United States [on Amazon]. Here are excerpts from a personal interaction with the poet and translator, Kiriti Sengupta.

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Anit Mukerjea: What inspired you to base your present anthology of poetry on the theme of Healing Waters Floating Lamps?

Kiriti Sengupta: On a recent trip to Varanasi I observed the devotees of Lord Shiva floated tiny lamps in the Ganges. These lamps floated for a long time without extinguishing, the water having a healing effect and the lamps moved on. My present book of verses was first named Crucifixion Is Christ-Filled. This was inspired by one of my poems titled Namesake. However, I was not happy with the title, and I emailed the entire manuscript to Eileen Register, who is a brilliant writer and a poet, living in Florida. It was Eileen who carefully read my manuscript and came up with the title. You know, the title Healing Waters Floating Lamps perfectly compliments the poems that have been included in the book. Now, if you ask me the inspiration behind this anthology of poetry, it was Gopal Lahiri, one of my reviewers who strongly suggested that I must publish an exclusive collection of my poems, for he thought my other books have quite of a few of them woven in nonfictional memoirs. So, this has been the background score. Spirituality and Philosophy have always been an integral part of poetry. The book is all about the philosophies of my life, the way I look at my being!

Anit: You are a Dental Surgeon by profession. What made you choose poetry as your creative canvas?

Kiriti: Does one really enjoy an option of choosing poetry as his/her kiriti 2creative canvas? I don’t think so. Poetry is one of the most condensed form of literature, and it germinates within one’s existence. You don’t have a choice here. Either you have poetry in you, or you don’t. You can’t write poetry just for the sake of writing it. You may learn crafting, but poetry arrives naturally. I must tell you that a few months back I have interviewed the famous Bengali poet Bibhas Roy Chowdhury, and the article [interview] appeared on “Word Riot,” a well-respected, online literary journal published from the United States. In his interview Roy Chowdhury categorically stated, “Poetry involves eternity … I believe, poetry emerges from our lives quite helplessly…”

Anit: What is your take on the flow of ideas in poetry should be spontaneously backed by a stream of consciousness?

Kiriti: Ah! A relevant question indeed. If you ask me what consciousness is I would tell you that it is a larger perspective of your vision. I told you before, my poetry reflects the ways I envision life and its challenges. There is always a stream of consciousness irrespective of the tone, structure, and nuances of the language I use in writing poetry. You know, during the launch of Healing Waters Floating Lamps poet and academic Sharmila Ray read from the poem Evening Varanasi, and she interpreted the title first. She explained, “One must meditate on the title. Sengupta did not write ‘Evening In Varanasi,’ but he wrote Evening Varanasi. Readers have to comprehend the implications of such a title.” Sharmila is one of the prominent Indian English poets of our times, and she has been pretty quick and apt in identifying the ‘streams of consciousness’ in my poems.

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Anit: You have been known to have undertaken translation work of Bengali poetry into English in The Reciting Pens, Desirous Water, and Poem Continuous. What has been the response of these translated poems abroad?

Kiriti: Both The Reciting Pens, and Poem Continuous have been published by Inner Child Press, Limited. This is a small press situated in New Jersey, U.S.A. On the other hand, Desirous Water has been published by The Poetry Society of India, Gurgaon. Among them Poem Continuous has been widely appreciated and reviewed both nationally as well as internationally. I think, globalization of Bengali poetry can be achieved through translation work, and I have been considerably successful in my attempts.

Anit: Don’t you think translation work becomes difficult when two different languages with their distinct separate nuances and idioms whose meaning and dimension may be lost in translation?

Kiriti: You are right. Translators do suffer from apprehensions of conveying the exact nuances of the original language to the target audience. But you know, translators are primarily readers, and interpretation of poetry differs from one reader to another. Therefore, I consider “translation” as “transition.” My approach is to follow the original piece as closely as possible, and I seldom include my interpretations in the translated version, for a “faithful” translation is believed to be the best approach.  I make sure my translation hits the right chord of the target audience as I get my works edited by an expert poetry-editor. Unfortunately we don’t have many efficient poetry-editors in India, and poets at large refrain from getting their works edited. They fail to understand that an expert editor would not impose changes forcibly, an editor finely polishes the surface roughness of a work rather.

Anit: Until now you have collaborated with three American editors. Stephen L Wilson, Kate Lantry, and Don Martin. They have given the requisite edge to your works. Any plans to work with them again?

Kiriti: I’m eternally grateful to my editors. Both Kate and Stephen have been instrumental in editing The Reciting Pens, a book of translated long interviews of three published Bengali poets from Calcutta along with their translated poems. They taught me to identify “lazy words,” and helped me to get rid of irrelevant portions from the interviews in order to make them compact and sharper. Long interviews often tire the readers, but in The Reciting Pens my editors made sure that the interviews read smooth and fresh. I can remember while translating From The Crossroads, a Bengali poem by Ranadeb Dasgupta, I wrote: “During daytime the shops resemble lover boys, while under the halogen street-lamps they have conspiring eyes.” Kate aptly edited the line that finally read as: “During daytime the shops resemble libertines, while under the halogen street-lamps they have conspiring eyes.” From lover boys to libertines, you see, how a word-change rendered better perspective to my translation!

Don Martin, on the other hand, is not only an efficient editor, he is a bestselling author as well. I have worked with him for most of my books. Whether it is my translated work, nonfiction, memoir, or poetry Don understands my breaths quite well. I have picked quite a few of editorial skills from him, and Don has been extremely supportive to my literary endeavors. He is a nice gentleman, and we are now good friends.

my glass of wine

Anit: Your older books like My Glass Of Wine, and The Reverse Tree have done remarkably well in the market. MGOW has been a national bestseller while TRT has been a bestselling title in the United States. Both of these titles got you critical acclaim in several literary journals. Do you think marketing goes a long way towards the success of a book?

kiriti 4Kiriti: Marketing is indeed important to secure immediate readership, but it is the work that will speak for itself in future. In MGOW my objective was to bring more readers to poetry, and I proved my point. Poetry can be cherished even by the general readers of literature if it is presented with narratives or relevant nonfictional prose pieces. MGOW has essentially been a work that centers around poetry, written by me in English-language. In an article published in The Statesman [Delhi ed.] on 23rd of April, 2014 it was documented that MGOW has been a bestselling title across the online portals in India.

The Reverse Tree has been a work of nonfictional memoir that included a few poems. It got several interesting chapters on transgender/transsexual issues, scriptural verses and their influences in my life, racism, mimicry, among others. In a nutshell, TRT projected my journey towards understanding the quest of life. It has been appreciated in international journals like Red Fez Magazine, Word Riot, and I am expecting a review in Muse India, one of the most significant literary journals published in India. I’m thankful to my reviewers who have appreciated my works. Having said that I must add I have my share of negative or not-so-positive reviews, but they only made me alert of my limitations as an author.  

Anit: Tell me something about the anthology Jora Sanko – The Joined Bridge.

Kiriti: Jora Sanko has been a diligent effort of compiling and editing English-language poems by the Bengali poets across the globe. I co-edited the anthology along with Dr. Madan Gandhi, President of The Poetry Society of India, Gurgaon. In this book I have had collaborated with the big names and some extremely talented poets like Debjani Chatterjee, Sudeep Sen, Sanjukta Dasgupta, Sharmila Ray, Ranadeb Dasgupta, Ananya S Guha, Gopal Lahiri, Bishnupada Ray, Jaydeep Sarangi, Debasish Lahiri, Sutapa Chaudhuri, Sujan Bhattacharya, among others. Our effort received appreciations in The Hindu Literary Review, Muse India, among other places. Another exciting achievement is Jora Sanko has been placed in the Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall, London. I’m planning to bring out the second edition of Jora Sanko in order to include other Bengali poets who write in English-language.

Anit: What is the response of your present book of poems Healing Waters Floating Lamps? Your reviewers must have been happy with those spectacular verses.

Kiriti: HWFL got published only a few weeks ago. I’m yet to receive reviews, but I’m sure my work would be appreciated by the critics, poets and readers. Let me share the trade facts here: HWFL has been a best-selling poetry title in the United States in Indian Literature, and you know, it ranked first among the “Hot New Releases” in Indian Literature on Amazon [United States].

I don’t know if my verses are “spectacular,” I’ll rather term them “subtle,” or “humble.” You are perhaps aware that I am a spiritual person, and spirituality centers around one’s journey towards realization of the “self.” Spirituality has nothing to do with the so-called “religions.” Religions divide while true spirituality unites. My poems are to deliver certain messages to the readers. Above all, my poems speak about “simple living.”

Anit: When you are penning a Bengali or an English poem is there a subtle difference in the thought processes of those two languages?

Kiriti: Certainly yes. Languages have their characteristic nuances. The way I think when I write a Bengali poem is quite different from the way when I think in English. This is indeed a challenging task for any bilingual poet, but poetry in itself is a cardio-cerebral affair.

Anit: What are the projects you are currently working on?

poem continuous us edition

Kiriti: I’m trying to bring out the second edition of Poem Continuous. The first edition bore only thirty translated poems by Bibhas Roy Chowdhury. And now I would translate another thirty poems of Roy Chowdhury, so the target readers can read more works of this noted Bengali poet. I’m also planning for another book of my verses. I’m yet to finalize the manuscript, though.

– Anit Mukerjea is a poet, writer, and a painter based in Calcutta. He is a columnist with The Statesman for nearly three decades. He has extensively written in other journals and magazines published from Delhi and Mumbai.

Poetry in the News

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Book thief vents rage on laureate’s poetry with shotgun

http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/05/21/book-thief-vents-rage-laureates-poetry-shotgun/27711589/

Powerful language fires poetry of Clarke in Traverse

http://thechronicleherald.ca/thenovascotian/1288715-powerful-language-fires-poetry-of-clarke-in-traverse

Utah Cowboy Poetry Festival is ‘dad burn’ fun

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2538748-155/utah-cowboy-poetry-festival-is-dad

Les Murray finds brevity in poetry anthology Waiting for the Past

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/les-murray-finds-brevity-in-poetry-anthology-waiting-for-the-past/story-fn9n8gph-1227361535511

Rebel Poet’s 116th birth anniversary

http://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/rebel-poets-116th-birth-anniversary-86902

Debate continues in Chile over reburying the remains of poet Pablo Neruda

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2015/05/20/debate-continues-in-chile-over-reburying-remains-poet-pablo-neruda/

The Body Poetic: An Interview With Luna Miguel

http://thequietus.com/articles/17932-luna-miguel-interview-emily-berry-poetry-body-mermaids-alt-lit-death-los-estomagos

Polish Poet Zagajewski: ‘Being Optimistic Today is Rather Naive’

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/05/21/polish-poet-zagajewski-being-optimistic-today-is-rather-naive/

Immigrant Model by Mihaela Moscaliuc

imm modelSeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 112 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (January 7, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963345

ISBN-13: 978-0822963349

 

Review by Dennis Daly

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Like mythological werewolves rising from musty crypts, these passionate poetic lines of Mihaela Moscaliuc’s Immigrant Model prowl over page warmth feeding from the flesh of grim fables and drinking the metallic blood of modern mechanistic life.

Moscaliuc mixes unfortunate history, the unhappiness of others, and bleak folklore in her labyrinthine journey into the heart of gothic darkness. Along the way her persona develops a survivor’s surreal logic of alternating stoicism and fear, tempered by acute powers of observation. The poet’s major pieces are cosmopolitan in nature, set in Madagascar, Romania, Spain, the Ukraine, America, and even Ireland.

The first poem after the introductory piece Moscaliuc entitles Self-Portrait with Monk. She describes a monk festooned in garlic and pushing a wheelbarrow. Then the poet invokes that strange novel of murder and mysterious mayhem, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, for atmospheric effect. The narrative quickens, alters its flight, and changes into something wicked or wonderful that comes our way. The poet describes her ownership of the action as follows,.

He cooks and feeds and scrubs but never eats, my monk,

spends lunch elbow-deep in suds or scratching the bellies of cats.

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No wonder he’s so famished by the time Cassiopeia arrives.

Then black chiffon and ivory flesh stream upward,

shape-shifting in flight: raven, whiskered bat, pricolici, varcolaci.

At dawn, he lands between two rose bushes, soot in his mouth,

weeping who knows why, my celestial monk,

torn cassock glistening with spent saliva, rapture in upturned eyes.

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In Turning the Bones, Moscaliuc uses straightforward narrative to relate a seemingly ghastly ritual practiced by villagers in Madagascar in which the shrouded bones of relatives are temporarily disinterred and danced with. The occasion calls for good food, local brews, and colorful dress. Carthusian monks would understand this ceremony of remembering death and examining mortality. Here is the heart of the poem,

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… bundles heaved up

onto woven straw mats, names coursing the cheering crowd.

Perfumed and swathed in new damask, bodies are invited to dance.

In this hummock of tall grass, in the eye of the Indian Ocean,

the living and the dead reclaim themselves, flowery skirts

flapping against the bouquet of bones, bones reshuffling

as they warm to the tunes of trumpets and clarinets.

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The lengthy poem Ana to Manole reinterprets a chilling Romanian folktale that certainly rings true in the art world of today. Eyes wide open, the artist—here a mason—sacrifices his family to the needs of his patron, his ego, and his audience. He walls his pregnant wife up, betrays her for the ephemeral, only to be destroyed himself, turned into a cheap tourist destination. The poet describes Manole’s fate through the eyes of Ana,

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You raised the wall till it cinctured me whole,

silt shored against carcass, and for the glory of what?

A toe ring in the god’s trinket box, this masterpiece

you then bragged you could outshine.

I say it was the jaded gods having fun.

To think you could win their grace

with gilded turrets, dream yourself

a welder of shadows.

You fashioned the voice out of fear

you’ll stay a mason, master bricklayer

instead of Creator, so here we are:

you, water fountain fed pennies by tourists

too sated to invent their own myths

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For harrowing detail and lyrical fury very few poems can touch Moscaliuc’s sectional poem entitled Radioactive Wolves: A Retelling.  Divided into two major parts the poem first relates the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986 and its aftermath and then tells a fictional tale based on real events that occurred at an infamous Romanian orphanage. Both sections deconstruct misery into detail packed with dread, often lyrical. Consider this comment from the Chernobyl section on government helpfulness,

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All books disappeared, all important ones,

on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on X-rays.

The medical bulletins too, vanished.

Those who could took potassium iodine.

For that, you really needed to know someone.

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A sign we could follow, live by:

as long as there were sparrows and pigeons in town

we could nest there.

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My favorite poem in this haunting collection, Memoir, combines righteous anger with passionate celebration. Nothing surreal here, the nerve endings are too raw. Moscaliuc portrays the despicable and wealth-besotted dictators of Romania, Elana and Nicolae Ceausecu,  after twenty–five years of terrorizing their people, denying the obvious. Dragged before a firing squad of machine gunners they collected their well-deserved rewards. And, yes, Elana, did indeed actively participate in the countless atrocities. Both the abbreviated show trial and the execution were filmed. The piece ends in catharsis and relief,

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You may have understood the story of the firing squad,

how, fearing clones, we measured and re-measured the corpses,

shot and reshot them. We each craved a bit of dried blood,

a frayed cuticle, an eyebrow stump, a finger

on the trigger, so we replayed the execution all through Christmas,

kissed our informers, broke bread with strangers,

stopped stoning strays, begged Gypsies for forgiveness.

We loved as only people who cannot get enough of death love,

we loved unconditionally for one long day that Christmas of 1989.

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Immigrant Model, the final and title poem in this collection works wonderfully. The poet infuses her protagonist with mystery and sensuousness. Models, at least the very best of them, channel natural processes in ways unknown even to them. They connect with an artistic perception and stoke it further. Add in the immigrant’s complex and sometimes fluctuating identity and an interesting, often darker, dynamic occurs. Model perceives her artistic interpreters and then seeks to judge them in these lines,

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… as students sketch, she re-roots:

the desiccated belly of her Moldavian village creek

toothed with rocks, eyed with shriveled minnows,

but she can still feel their eye, the hammock of her body

swayed by the screech of charcoals’ smooth incisions.

Tonight she steals in to see herself in various stages

of completion, looks for the hand knowing enough, kind enough

to release her…

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Bats flitting in from the night sky, Moscaliuc’s poems may startle. Mornings after, one remembers only their magic.

You can check out the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Immigrant-Model-Pitt-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963345

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Dennis Daly

Dennis Daly

-Dennis Daly has been published in numerous poetry journals and magazines and recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.  Ibbetson Street Press published The Custom House, his first full length book of poetry in June, 2012. His second book, a verse translation of Sophocles’ Ajax, was published by Wilderness House Press in August, 2012. His third book of poems entitles Night Walking with Nathaniel was recently released by Dos Madres Press. A fourth book is nearing completion. http://dennisfdaly.blogspot.com/

Memorial Day 2015 – United States

Remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice . . . 

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Whats Going On?

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Loudenslager American Legion Post

Fox Chase/ Rockledge

Join us on Memorial Day Mon May 27th at 11:00 am for our annual Memorial Day Service in Lawnview Cemetery. The service is open to the public so bring your family and friends to help us remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There will be a short procession from the entrance of the cemetery to the chapel with the Loudenslager American Legion Post members, the Son’s Color Guard, Boy Scout Troop 290, AOH/LOAH Div 25 and the NE Lions Club members. Those interested in joining our procession please meet at Lawnview’s entrance at 10:00 am. Lawnview is located at 500 Huntingdon Pike, Rockledge.

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Esposito and McClung Welcome Summer to Ryerss

Featured Poets Laren McClung and Lynette Esposito

Featured Poets Laren McClung and Lynette Esposito

Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer and Poets Lynette Esposito and Laren McClung warmed up the old mansion at Ryerss. The featured poets were followed in the open mic by Louise Sprouse, Wendy Schermer, Norman Lampert, Ethyl Treatman Burns and Rodger Lowenthal.

You can see photographs of the event at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12065560@N04/sets/72157629096910438

Next up: Poets on the Porch 2015 July 11th @ 1 p.m.