Brief Accident of Light

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.

Purchase Brief Accident of Light at Jabberwocky Bookstore.

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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 .

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