Saturday, May 21, 2011

A busy collection of bits

Two things I should have mentioned weeks ago:

The Spoken Word Series' new sponsor, The Theater Company, his hosting an afternoon of planned and open-mic performance as part of Monroe Arts Center's May Open Studio Day Sunday. Siobhan Barry and Scott Summers will join me in presenting the literary side of the arts spectrum, and we'll be joined on the schedule by some of the great musical talent that works the Hudson County area (and beyond!). Scott and I will be unveiling a new project called Voices from History where we showcase voices from times in history that you don't find in contemporary poetry all that often. We think it's worth a visit; check out the TTC website for the schedule, or just arrive at 1 and spend the day with us.

I have a poem in the last issue of Redheaded Stepchild - one I'm particularly proud of because it's quite a departure for me. It derives from a scene from Fred McBagonluri's Dusk Recitals; writing about an image that originated in someone else's mind and is completely outside my experience is quite atypical for me. I'm quite proud of the poem when you're there, make sure you read the rest of the issue, especially A True Princess Bruises; it's always gratifying for me to appear alongside poets whose work and counsel has guided me, and Jeannine Gailey's poems take you to a place you think you know but still surprise you.

And here's one thing I don't know that I'm supposed to mention, but I'm too jazzed not to: there's a rumor going around that Alex and Janel have invited some special guests to sit in with them during the release show for their new collection "You Won't Be Alone", and that one of these guests may be packing an accordion. You should go even if there's no accordion. But there may be one. Maybe.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

A Few Words From My Mother

Traditional Mother's Day poems, like most poems written for Hallmarkian holidays, tend toward sweetness, and since I don't (think I) do that very well, I'll not contribute to the buffet here (for some occasion poems, check out the last week at or David Young's "Mother's Day" at A rare alignment of circumstances gave me a couple uninterrupted hours with my mother this weekend, which we spent mostly by talking about events from long ago - some well known and raised for reliving, some that I knew less well. It's interesting to revisit events for which I have some memory of as an 8- or 12- or 17-year old through the filter of being a father now, and to hear my mother describe these events to me as a peer, without the softening or misdirection that sometimes infiltrates the parent-child relationship.

Some of the events we relived made their way into poems 20 years ago, some more recently; I've mentioned in this space that the older I get the righter my father becomes, and gaining a little context makes me want to return to that material and treat it a bit differently. And of course, there are the poems about my father as young man, whose subjects I know only from what my mother has told me. Lord knows he wasn't about to talk about them.

So though I've written more about my father than my mother - because ours was the more complicated relationship, and because I tried to write my way through the months after his death. But I suppose in a way those poems about Dad were almost as much about the shared experience with my mother as they were about my memory of my father.

Which reminds me of a quote; I don't know where exactly I first heard this, but Google turns it up intact and similarly attributed in enough places that I think it must be accurate. And after watching my daughter compose a poem for my wife, I'm convinced that whether it's accurate or not, it's true:

"My mother is a poem I'll never be able to write, though everything I write is a poem to my mother." Sharon Doubiago

Happy Mother's Day.