Juan Matos, New Poet Laureate of Worcester, Massachusetts

I’m happy for my friend Juan Matos! What a superb choice as poet laureate of Worcester, or of Anyplace-At-All! He’s not only an excellent poet —Rhina Espaillat, who should know, considers him one of the very best poets writing Spanish in the United States— but a dear, sweet man, with great reserves of dignity in him. To hear him read make me think of the famous Caedmon recordings of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

In this article printed in Worcester Magazine, he and Amina Mohammed talk about their reactions to being selected as Worcester’s poet laureate and youth poet laureate, respectively. I found what each of them had to say profoundly moving. Congratulations and every blessing to them both!

A Frontier Romance

Wendy Ford, whom I am proud to call my student, has poured her heart and soul and hundreds of hours of painstaking composition into a narrative sequence based on the experience of her great-grandparents, early settlers of Wichita, Kansas.

You won’t go wrong if you judge this book by its terrific cover. Using the time-honored techniques of traditional verse, Ford has written a timeless love-story. Where most tales of romance come to a happy ending, this one is only beginning. Girl meets boy, they fall in love and live happily ever after —but what a life they live together! The man who’ll come to be known as Judge “Tiger Bill” Campbell and his “pioneer bride” Kate ride west, fleeing her irate father, to settle in Kansas—where not much is “settled.”  Drought and swarms of locusts destroy their crops; a cyclone tears an infant from them. Wildfires threaten their very existence. As judge, Tiger Bill must stand up to lawless gangs who threaten his life. Nothing, however, diminishes this couple’s love for one another; it spills over into love for their neighbors, as they feed the  hungry and defend the outsider. A love story, indeed!

Purchase A Frontier Romance from the publisher, Kelsay Books

Purchase from Amazon

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.

Purchase Brief Accident of Light at Amazon.


			

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.