15th Anniversary of Boston Women’s Memorial

I brought three generations of women to the fifteenth anniversary celebration of the Boston Women’s Memorial, sculpted by the incredibly-talented, true artist, Meredith Bergmann.

The event was quite wonderful —simple, dignified and eloquent. The speakers took legitimate pride in having been part of doing the organizational work and raising funds to put the memorial together, pointing out that before its installation there had been only three statues of women in all of Boston. They acknowledged being discouraged by what has taken place in our country in the last two years, but they were by no means in a surrendering mood. Meredith’s own presentation was, of course, perfect. The three actresses who performed were utterly believable. And best of all, from my perspective, the three generations of women that I brought to the event all loved being there. Little Cora gave a babble-speech that competed with one of the actresses’ recitations!

Lazy By Nature

Mishara Records has just released a new LP (yes, a vinyl record!) of music performed by the Justin Quinn Band called Lazy By Nature. I wrote the lyrics for track #6, “A Woman’s Trick.” Justin, a legendary blues harpist, and guitarist Jon Ross teamed up on the music. I’d like to think that puts me at only two degrees of separation from two of the greatest songwriters of our time, as Ross has played guitar for Duke Robillard, who played for Bob Dylan and Tom Waits! The LP cover in its cover is a work of art suitable for hanging (I’m talking from experience), but for those of you without turntables, the songs can be downloaded from iTunes or Amazon.com here

Passages, our new CD!

Passages, our new CD, was released on October 1! Hard to believe that it has been nine years since our we made our first recording of melopoeia,, the art that so delighted Rhina Espaillat when she heard it as a child in the Dominican Republic. Rhina’s earliest memories include the pleasurable one of hearing poetry recited in her home to the sound of guitars and the piano. Her grandmother, herself a poet, would invite other poets and musicians to the house for recitals. Though as a child she could not understand what was being said, she understood immediately an essential thing about how it was said: music came from the spoken words as well as from the instruments.  “These people were having fun!” she remembers.

We’re still having an awful lot of fun putting together programs of melopoeia and performing them for appreciative audiences, though I’m afraid many of our best performances take place around Rhina’s kitchen table. It must be the sherry!

In this most recent program  we explore various kinds of journeys, or passages: the very different sea-voyages of conquistadors and exiles; the swift travel of atomic particles; a seemingly inconsequential walk from the work-place to the bus; and finally, the passage of time and the final border-crossing that lies ahead of us all.

Classical/flamenco guitarist John Tavano has never sounded better!

Thanks to Alan Bull for letting us use his painting for the cover, to my sister Elise Nicol for doing the graphic design, and to the wonderful poet Alicia Stallings, and the great Richard Wilbur, whose poems we’ve borrowed to add to the mix.

You can view track listings and listen to samples at CDBaby.

Save the Date: Sept. 20 The Best American Poetry 2018 Launch Reading

The New School
The Auditorium
66 W 12 Street, New York, NY

7 PM

Best American Poetry series editor David Lehman and guest editor Dana Gioia headline an all-star cast of poets included in this year’s much anticipated volume.  Join them for the launch reading, an annual rite of Autumn in New York.

Allison Adair, Kaveh Akbar, Andrew Bertaina, Bruce Bond, George Bradley, Brendan Constantine, Mary Ann Corbett, Cynthia Cruz,Warren Decker, Dante Di Stefano, Nausheen Eusuf, Jonathan Galassi, Sonia Greenfield, Ernest Hilbert, R. Nemo Hill, Anna Maria Hong, Marie Howe, Steven Kampa, Mandy Khan, Ilya Kaminsky, Karl Kirchwey, Nate Klug, Nkosi Nkululeko, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Alfred Nicol. Sharon Olds, Jacqueline Osherow, Elise Paschen, Wang Ping, Aaron Poochigian, Michael Robbins, Jill Rosser, Jason Schneiderman, Nicole Sealey, Michael Shewmaker, Adrienne Su,, Agnieszka Tworek, G. C. Waldrep, James Matthew Wilson, Ryan Wilson.

Read an excerpt from Dana Gioia’s introduction here.

Free and open to the public

Books will be available for purchase.

More information here. 

 

One of My Proudest Moments

One of my proudest moments: to see a poem of mine in Scribner’s Best American Poetry, together with poems by so many friends and teachers: Maryann Corbett, Robert Cording, Dick Davis, David Mason, A. E. Stallings, James Matthew Wilson, Christian Wiman… And if anyone had told my teenage self that Gary Snyder and I would one day publish poems in the same book, well, I’d have been speechless. Kerouac’s Japhy Ryder?!! No way. I couldn’t have hoped that high. Many thanks to editor Dana Gioia for seeing fit to include my poem in his selection of the best poetry published in 2017.

 

Photos from Newburyport Literary Festival

Thanks to John Foy for sending the pictures he took of poets reading at this year’s literary festival.

Alfred Nicol introduces an impressive lineup of poets
John Foy reads from Night Visions
Catherine Chandler, whose poems are bright candles
“If you thought you knew what formal poetry was, you need to read Jenna Le.” (K. Bridgford)
Rachel Hadas reads poems of “unapologetic bliss”
Mark Doty: “Poetry…represents the resolutely specific experience.”
2017 Yale Younger Poets Prize winner Duy Doan