David Yang, Director of the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival, has commissioned composer Robert Bradshaw to write a string quartet channeling the energy and spirit of eight locations in the town of Newburyport, and has asked Rhina Espaillat and me to write poems that draw their inspiration from those eight places. The three of us will present our work at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 7 PM, Sunday, Aug. 18. Click here!
Here’s a terrific video put together by Ely Campaneau to celebrate the the five-year anniversary of The Frost Farm Poetry Conference in Derry, NH
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, 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.
The New School
66 W 12 Street, New York, NY
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.
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.
The double dactyl is aptly described on the jacket of this new anthology as “a devilish amalgam of rhyme, meter, name-dropping and pure nonsense,” but editors Daniel Groves and Greg Williamson have somehow persuaded the likes of X. J. Kennedy, J. D. McClatchy, Kim Bridgford, Caki Wilkinson, Andrew Hudgins and Charles Martin to contribute their efforts to this new anthology, conceived as a follow-up to the original Jiggery-Pokery anthology compiled by the inventors of the form, Anthony Hecht and John Hollander. Also included are three of my own poems, along with several by my good friend A. M. Juster.
It’s nice for a writer to imagine someone may read the stuff he puts out there; nicer still to discover that someone has actually read it. Mike Juster brought my attention to these remarks on Patrick Kurp’s blog, “Anecdotal Evidence.”