“You simply could make no better choice than Rhina P. Espaillat, and you will be ever grateful that you have brought her work into your world.”
My thanks to the gracious editors of Marginalia / LA Review of Books for sharing our enthusiastic endorsement of Rhina P. Espaillat as Inaugural Poet.
My review of Maryann Corbett’s In Code appears in The University Bookman, October 25, 2020.
On Rosh HaShanah–Yom Teurah or the “Day of Shouting”–we raise a loud noise by blowing the shofar. Inspired by the late David Davis, author of The Joy Poems, poets Michael Cantor, Robert Crawford, Midge Goldberg, Alfred Nicol, Kyle Potvin, and Deborah Warren will explore the idea of finding joy in the world around them, including in loud cars and mud puddles. All the poets have published books–Cantor’s Furusato, Crawford’s The Empty Chair, Goldberg’s Snowman’s Code, Nicol’s Winter Light, Potvin’s Loosen, and Warren’s Dream with Flowers and Bowl of Fruit. The reading will be followed by an open mike.
Adult Continuing Education Department of Etz Hayim Synagogue, 1 ½ Hood Road, Derry, NH 03038 has developed and sponsored these programs. For more information about them, please contact: Stephen Soreff, MD, at firstname.lastname@example.org 603-895-6120
To access zoom. Topic: Poetry Reading
Time: Oct 15, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: 996 7432 8101 Passcode: 073507
Talking all night on Youtube sounds like something Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady would have done, had the technology been available. This is another kind of ambitiously spontaneous endeavor. Mark McDonnell and Mary Meriam have set up a Youtube channel called The Ballsians where you can hear poets read their work aloud, including several of the Powow River Poets: A. M. Juster, Kyle Potvin, and Andrew Szilvasy. Other talented contributors included Erica Dawson, David Southward, Rick Mullin and David Katz. Here’s a link to my reading.
Thanks to Barbara Egel for her generous review of A Brief Accident of Light, my collaboration with Rhina Espaillat and illustrator Kate Sullivan, which appears in the new issue of Light Magazine. You can read it here.
The omnibus review also includes a consideration of Rhina’s masterpiece, And After All, as well as delightful new work by the incomparable A. E. Stallings.
Daniella Gitlin and the other wonderful volunteers at Word Up Bookshop in New York have made available videos of the Rhina Espaillat Symposium which took place in October. It was a memorable day. People came from as far away as Los Angeles to show their admiration and affection for Rhina, and she, of course, reflected all that loving energy right back on us. I’ve been comparing her to a mirror ball when I talk about what happened that day.
So much happened that day. These videos are studded with gems. Leslie Monsour borrowed John Tavano’s guitar to sing —beautifully— a song she’d composed using one of Rhina’s Spanish poems as lyrics. Harvard Professor Lorgia García Peña revealed that, ever since hearing Rhina read at Dartmouth over ten years ago, she has carried Rhina’s poems with her as a daily source of inspiration. Paula Dietz of The Hudson Review celebrated her friendship with Rhina. The young scholar Dan-el Padilla Peralta delivered a riveting essay. Juan Matos read his poetry with a passion that moved even the Spanish-challenged, like myself. Nancy Kang and Silvio Torres-Saillant, authors of the first full-length study of Rhina’s life and work, presented new papers. It’s impossible to list all the treasures to be found in this trove. It’s worth coming back to, whenever you want to be reminded what literary community looks and feels like. Here’s a link to the links: Rhina Espaillat Symposium
Rhina and I are thrilled to announce that Kelsay Books has published Brief Accident of Light !
Brief Accident of Light is a collection of twenty poems, ten by Rhina P. Espaillat and ten by Alfred Nicol. The poems were written for an arts collaboration initiated by Newburyport Chamber Music Festival Director David Yang. Mr. Yang, a distinguished violist and composer, made a list of emblematic locations in and around the city of Newburyport, and assigned to each location a specific time of day or night. He first commissioned composer Robert Bradshaw to write a new piece for string quartet drawing its inpiration from those locations. Mr. Yang then invited Espaillat and Nicol to visit each spot at the specified time and to give voice to their experiences in a series of poems. Because the poets chose to make their visits together, most of the poems gathered here are paired —a reader will hear two voices emanating from each place, as when two birds perch in the same tree.
The two poets found themselves a little taken aback by the way these poems seemed to write themselves. One can only surmise that the spirits of City Hall and Oak Hill Cemetery really had something they needed to express, and were only waiting for an opportunity! A poet can get carried away when that kind of thing happens. You’ll see that there are four unpaired poems in this collection—“Waking Up,” “Fly-By: The Newburyport Art Association,” “The Closing Year,” and “Fog at Night”—each resulting from one or the other poet writing from a place not mentioned on the original list.
In keeping with the collaborative nature of this project, Kate Sullivan was invited to illustrate the collection with images of the sites mentioned in the poems. She too got caught up in the spirit of Mr. Yang’s vision, and contributed the celebratory ink-wash sketches the reader will happen upon, turning these pages.
Order Brief Accident of Light directly from Kelsay Books.
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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!