The White House is on Fire!

Ward Sutton’s cartoons vis-a-vis the Trump administration are among the most incisive and memorable commentaries I’ve seen. We all realize how absurd it is for the President to dismiss the pandemic by saying, “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases,” but we find ourselves at a loss for words to describe how inane the remark is. Sutton says it for us:

Ward Sutton, The Boston Globe, July 17, 2020

My Interview with A. M. Juster

In 2010 Paul Mariani gently “outed” Commissioner of Social Security Michael Astrue, who had served in senior roles for four presidents, as the poet writing as “A. M. Juster.” That year Astrue won the Alzheimer’s Association’s Humanitarian of the Year Award to go with awards from many health care and disability organizations. A poet with a background very unlike that of most contemporary poets, Juster talks about auspicious and inauspicious trends in contemporary poetry and his own approach to the craft of writing and translating verse.

The Great Bill Russell’s Hope for America

One of the first books that made an impression on me was a memoir by the legendary Bill Russell, Second Wind, co-authored with Taylor Branch, who later won the Pulitzer for Parting the Waters, the first of three books chronicling America in the King Years. Here is a brief but eloquent statement from Russell about the “strange times” we’re living in. Our president could learn a lot about winning from this true champion.

2020 Newburyport Favorite Poem Project

The U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky launched The Favorite Poem project in 1998. Five years later, Debbie Szabo, Newburyport High School’s beloved English teacher, started the Newburyport Favorite Poem project, which has been an annual event held at The Firehouse ever since. Covid 19 threatened to cancel year 18, but Debbie rose to the challenge and organized the readings as a series of Youtube videos, which can be viewed here.

The Rosary: A Tract for Catholic Misfits

My good friend Jim Rurak, who served as mayor of the city of Haverhill has published a book addressed to a certain kind of Catholic reader. As he says in his Preface: “If you, like me, are no longer feeling at home in the Roman Catholic Church, I hope you find both value and maybe even relief from my personal testimony about how the Rosary fills a hole in my spiritual life.”

I’m proud to say that, as one of the manuscript’s first readers, I helped bring this book into the world. It can’t hurt, and maybe it can help.

Purchase the book from Wipf and Stock Publishers

Purchase the book from

“Cruel April: Poems for the Pandemic”

In an email message, Daniel Mark Epstein writes, “I have long had a policy not to send unpublished poetry to friends or family. Now I’m breaking my own rule for a sequence of poems that is so much of the moment I feel an urgency to share them in the moment.” In the same spirit, Epstein has now produced a video of the sonnet sequence read by award-winning actors Tyne Daly, Paul Hecht, Jennifer Van Dyck, and Harris Yulin, and illustrated with artwork contributed by members and friends of Tivoli Artists Gallery. Producer: Holly Peppe; Art Director: Doug Trapp; Artistic Advisor: Paul Hecht