Tag Archives: memoir

Boston 1978-83 Stream of consciousness sort of–portrait of an artist as a young poseur

By Doug Holder

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The picture above is of a one time rooming house on Newbury Street ( 271) which I was a denizen of from ( 1978-1983).

I lived in a room on the top floor (38/week), bathroom down the hall, a stairway to the roof, cockroaches–above Davio’s Rest. I remember I worked at the “Fatted Calf” in Copley Square as a short order cook, and sold the Globe over the phone in Cambridge. Used to frequent the Exeter Theatre down the block– Marx Brothers, Rocky Horror–chanting at midnight–ate at Guild’s drugstore across from the Lenox Hotel, Ethel, the counterman, continuous narrative of her rotten kids at the Old Colony project in Southie… I also was an asst. manager at Big L Discount Stores for a stint– health and beauty aids–can you believe it?…taught in the South End at Dr. Solomon Carter Mental Health Center–DYS and DSS Kids… field trips to Roxbury and the abandoned Jewish Temples…  home visits for the kids…the families smoking pot and doing lines..There was a restaurant I used to frequent, the Peter Pan on Beacon Street–big cafeteria style food, poetry readings, Jim and I sat near the steam table, our words floated on the mist of steamed cabbage– and I was habitually at the Kebab and Curry right down the block…sitar and sag . I used to see Richard Yates  (Revolutionary Road”)  a drunken shamble down the block, and I had the same Chinese laundry ( I always lost my ticket..he was irate Why you lose ticket!!) as the late radio personality David Brudnoy–loved his show. I remember … working as a clerk at the corner of Newbury and Beacon Street–  (Sunny Corner Farms) “The Cars” used to come in there regularly,  Rick so sky high..fingering a Twinkie.. also remember meeting Gildna Radner, Barney Frank, and Howard Zinn on the night shift. And beers after work at Frankenstein’s. My boss after–a fat Irish man called me a dirty kike regularly after he had a few…nice to me the next day… I remember the ancient gay security guard ( Maynard) who used to come in to chat–and always told me of stories of how young men were enamored with him–and yes the “toothless whore” who told me she only gives “head” to her ” man” her point of honor. I remember during a snow storm I gave shelter to the street icon ” Mr. Butch” and almost left him there overnight…Oh yes the Victor Hugo bookshop–what a joint– cloistered myself with used and rare..and the Newbury Steakhouse–remember the chef– a real card–dirty jokes and hard-earned wisdom–we used to shoot the shit..even had a sort of girlfriend–well–I later learned she was community property–if you know what I mean–I remember sitting on the stoop of my brownstone on a hot summer night, and people would stop and chat and shoot the summer breeze–I remember being dead drunk and asking the drunks sleeping on the grates of the Boston Public Library what the meaning of life was…They told me to f-off. I remember the thick hash and eggs I had every morning for breakfast– how the eggs would bleed every morning on that mound–and Malaba–the Zimbabwe  man on the night shift at McLean –called it hashish browns -would be dead if I continued that habit. I remember writing in my furnished room–with my hot plate and thinking I was a Beat poet or something–mice scurrying by–my father told me” get the hell out of there,” My mother joined in ” That’s the life style they live, Larry…”  Hordes of us made pilgrimages to be with the rodents and roaches.. remember all night poker games with the service bartender, who worked at the Hilton. He was going back to U/Mass for years to finish his degree.. for the past 5 years. Courtesy of Shabunawaz Photography © 2010 ( Picture first appeared in Oddball Magazine)

Part 2

Oh–that distinct flushed out smell of Father’s Five–tattooed- Hell’s Angels, ready to bounce you at the door–the Citgo sign flashing in the canyon of Kenmore Square…direction, an elixir for your fog–vinyls at Loony Tunes–the old ladies in Coolidge Corner who brought you their dead husbands’ shirts when you manned the counter–“this should fit you they crooned–“-and you would be a walking monument to the deceased. Cutting through the alleys in the Back Bay– a buffet in the trash bins for the down and out–they delicately picked at the remains of the day–sewage and rot behind a tony shop– it was always Doomsday in the Commons–street preachers at a clearance sale—street singers–sing for change and begged for it–the old Italian guy who yelled at you: “Hey kid–ripe tomatoes–bring some for ya tomato”–laughing–the stub of a cigar shaking outside his mouth… the Mass. ave bridge gave your life a horizon–open space from the small furnished room– a city on a hill–Buzzy’s roast-beef–in front of the Charles Street Jail —a knish–delish–hotdog , —  oh,red phallus of beef, melts in my teeth– .  Karen–the Jewish girl in the North End–you lived and learned to love and leave–Caruso music and the couple that had operatic fights in sync… Her last words before she threw you out “I can’t stand all this eating.” Smell of bread baking all night–corpulent men outside the social club–called you twinkle toes, as you jogged by with chicken legs.  Your friend– a clerk–dating a dwarf–an adjunct at B.C.–American Studies–small love affair–

Part 3

Lived on Park Drive–sounds fancy–  but overlooked  the subway tracks and the vast Sears warehouse– the roar of the subway, the gray, looming Sears trucks in the distance–the trickle of the Muddy River–My window open–forgot I was nude, catcalls from the subway platform at my flabby body–bloated from the 11 to 7 shift, sitting watching the restraints– on patients– rise and fall slightly with their sedated breath–so many chests inflated, deflated…defeated. The croissants from the Savoy Baker in Audbon Circle were flaky concessions, the dark beers and dark cavernous bar at Brown’s my balm. And the elevated tracks on Harrison avenue–elevated me–I was a transcendent blur crosstown… the Dudley Bus idling near the vacant lot, rats as big as cats foraging near a fence. Sometimes I met her at the Nickelodeon,…was it the Kiss of the Spiderman…? Held her hand…traced it the way I would her body later in her studio– a rail thin graphic artist from Providence–she wrote me beautiful letters, that made me swoon in my room. holder 2

 

 

Part 4 

The Greyhound Station was near a RockaBilly bar–the flashing, seductive light of the Playboy Club, hawked long legs and short resumes–there I weaved my way to the carnality of the Combat Zone–down La Grange Street, first stopping by Hand the Hatter, an avuncular old man–some fish–some fish out of order–in the midst of all this–presided over blocked, buffed and august fedoras–the kind my father wore, his heels pounding the floor in Penn Station. And the whore in the bar said ” Give this kid a glass of milk.” And all my street-wise posturing melted with these succinct words–not a boilermaker man but a milk boy.

In the old wing of the Boston Public Library Bacchante and Baby met me–lifting her child with joy–I wondered if my mother ever did that with me? A bust of Henry James stared at me in Bates Hall, as I made my way to the Periodical Room–scrolls of newspapers– old men–half-glasses, canes,wondering why that man was praying over an Anchorage Times–the room smelled like sweat, vaguely urinous–reading a rag– a waiting room for death…

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*first published at The Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene, 12/18/14 .

Doug Holder

Doug Holder

-Doug Holder is a Boston Poet and publishes the widely read Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene Blog. He is the publisher of Ibbetson Books, hosts a community access show in Somerville, Mass. among the many activities he engages in the good name of poetry. http://dougholder.blogspot.com/

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 

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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

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