The Diminished Prophets visit Bunker Hill

Rhina Espaillat, John Tavano and I have added two other terrific musicians to our melopoeia ensemble, Roger Kimball and Kate Sullivan. We’re calling ourselves The Diminished Prophets. Our second performance as a group will be on Thursday, April 11, at the Charlestown Campus of Bunker Hill Community College. The program begins at 1 PM

2019 Newburyport Literary Festival Poetry Events

8:30-10:00 AMBreakfast with the Poets: Wake up on this festive day with coffee, pastry and poetry. The locally-based, nationally-recognized Powow River Poets never leave their readers in the dark!  Anton Yakovlev, Jose Edmundo Ocampo Reyes, Toni Treadway, David Davis andA. M. Justerwill read from books they’ve published since last year’s breakfast. (There must be something in those pastries Gina bakes.)

10:00 AM The Poetry of Maryann Corbett & Nausheen Eusuf: Two remarkable poets whose work appears in Best American Poetry 2018, Maryann Corbett and Nausheen Eusuf know that, whatever poetry is about, it is always about language. It is a kind of liberation to recognize that. Both poets, Eusuf with her virtuoso wordplay and Corbett with her knowledge of ancient tongues, employ a whole range of language—different tones and voices, high and low modes of speech, allusions, quotations, and puns—to touch on things that matter either for the moment or for eternity.

11:00 The Poetry of January O’Neill & Ned Balbo: “The world is too much with us,” but ultra-contemporary poets January O’Neil and Ned Balbo have not turned their backs on it. Their poems make room for tattooed girls and young men in grey hoodies, reruns of Star Trek, LSD and Wikileaks, hospital corridors and crabcake recipes and Smart TVs. Here you’ll find elegies for Prince and David Bowie and odes to brownies for Sunday breakfast. And family: imagined and real, close-knit and departing. Somehow, in the middle of so much stuff, a space is cleared for these poems to become “vessels of almost uncontainable longing” where— always—“there is that question of how to love.”

1:00 The poetry of Daniel Hall & Mary Jo Salter: It’s no wonder that these two distinguished poets are also distinguished teachers of poetry, Daniel Hall at Amherst College and Mary Jo Salter at Johns Hopkins. Each of them is a consummate craftsperson, and both seem to embody the ancient idea of sprezzatura, choosing “to avoid affectation in every way,” perfecting their art by making it appear to occur naturally and without effort. This is poetry that rewards our attention without clamoring for it. As in a clear night’s sky, we’re offered much to marvel at.

2:00 The Poetry of Major Jackson & Sydney Lea: Besides the state in which they reside, what these two Vermont poets have most in common is, paradoxically, what sets them apart. They don’t sound anything like each other —nor does either of them sound much like anyone else. “The poetry Major Jackson offers us…sounds different from any other being written today,” writes one reviewer. “The truth is, no one writes—or has written—like Sydney Lea, except maybe E. A. Robinson,” writes another. Here are two unique and original voices in contemporary American poetry. 

3:00 PM The Poetry of Rhina P. Espaillat & David Ferry: Biographies of famous poets sometimes leave us with the impression that poetic talent and decent behavior may be inversely proportional. That’s not the case with Rhina Espaillat and David Ferry, two of America’s finest poets, whose poetic visions are extensions of their personalities. Ferry, who volunteered for years at a dinner for street people, gives voice to the homeless and isolated in his poems. The poems of Espaillat, whose kitchen table has been the site of so many creative collaborations, envision humanity as “one single family.” 

2019 Newburyport Literary Festival Poetry Events

We’re proud to announce the list of terrific poets who’ve agreed to read in Newburyport on April 27, 2019:

Ned Balbo

Mary Ann Corbett

David Davis

Rhina  P. Espaillat

Nausheen Eusuf

David Ferry

Daniel Hall

Major Jackson

A.M. Juster

Sydney Lea

January O’Neill

José Edmundo Ocampo Reyes

Mary Jo Salter

Toni Treadway

Anton Yakovlev

See the festival website for more detail as the event approaches. It’s going to be a day to remember.

Chronos Dines Alone

My favorite surrealist Anton Yakovlev’s new chapbook, Chronos Dines Alone, winner of James Tate Poetry Prize 2018, will be out shortly from SurVision Books and is now available for pre-order: http://www.survisionmagazine.com/books.htm .

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