Sunday, June 19, 2016

Triple Book Launch in May!

The long-awaited reading by our own Glenn Bowie, who had to cancel the first time with some cockamamie story about being in the ER with a punctured lung.... he was joined by Michael Keith and Lori Desrosiers.

Not to make this about me or anything, but I do take the worst pictures,
and Glenn was busy being a feature... so most of these lovely shots are courtesy of
my good friend Joy Martin! Thanks, Joy! 

Also, I like to mention the food... what was special this day was
the key lime pie cookies! O M G.

Okay, so we began with Michael Keith, whose new book, 
Bits Specks Crumbs Flecks just came out. His usual great writing,
but this was the first time I got to sit and hear him read at length.
He was red hot! 

Next up was our darlingest Glenn Bowie, who read from
his new poetry collection, Into the Thorns and Honey.

As if that wasn't enough - and by golly, doncha think
it oughta be??? we had the lovely Lori Desrosiers
reading from her latest collection, 
Sometimes I Hear the Clock Speak.

Adding to the special-ness of the day was my friend
Jonathan Furman, who was visiting from California!
He was so impressed with everyone!

Saturday, May 14, 2016


What took us so long to do one? We do not know! But we will definitely be doing more. There is something magical about the center after dark... all the softly lit lamps... the dim ambiance... me saying I HAVE TO TURN THE LIGHTS ON BECAUSE NONE OF MY PICTURES ARE COMING OUT GOOD.

Anyway, it was a blast to have so many participants... some familiar faces, and (hooraaay!) some new!

The usual yummies. 

I was SO delighted to see my new friend Ann Doyle there... she and I met in Boston a couple of weeks earlier when we read our poems at Boston City Hall. I hope she'll become a regular!

She even brought some friends: this is Cheryl Savageau.

Daniel Hudon is a bit of a rarity in these parts, so it was completely great to have him join us. 

My favorite performance poet, Harry Mishkin!

Couple fellow poetry group partners, Keith Tornheim....

and Rachel Greenberg.

And of course Christopher Reilley! 

Great friend, the poet Richard Fox.

Someone named Russ... can't remember his last name, but he was great!

My dear dear friend Ruth, who came from far to join us... she read one of my all-time favorite poems - it's included in the Best of Boston Literary Magazine Anthology.

She and Chris have been enjoying a new friendship on Facebook, and finally got to meet!

The only person not pictured is my darling friend Joy Martin - and that's because she took all these pictures. Seriously, all of mine sucked big time. Thanks, Joy, SO much! 

See you all at the next Open Mic! 

Sunday, May 1, 2016


On March 26 we hosted a huge book launch with FOUR features from far-away places like California and New York and Pennsylvania! Before you get too excited, no, there was NO CAKE... the bakery's printer was down! We made do with other stuff...

Yeah, so there were some writers there, too ! I can't remember what order they went in (it was SO last month) but I seem to recall that Amye Archer was first, reading from her phenomenal memoir, Fat Girl, Skinny. Big Table Publishing has nominated this one for a PULITZER PRIZE because uh huh, it's that good! 

Lots of people know the story of how I was extremely loving and supportive of  Amye after she signed on with an agent and  then with another publisher; but not everyone knows that I was only being nice so that in case some miracle happened and that contract fell through, she would let me publish the book. And somehow... that's exactly what happened! 

Tony Press is another author I nagged  encouraged for a long long long time to publish with Big Table. I have been a HUGE fan for years... and finally he couldn't stand the pressure agreed that he was ready! He flew across the WHOLE country to be here, and meeting him was such a blast, I can't even tell you!! Here he is reading from his collection of shorts, Crossing the Lines.

Our next guest was one of Boston Literary's Darlings, Tina Barry... I admire her writing so much, and was SO thrilled when she submitted a manuscript to Big Table! I'll be honest - I didn't actually read it before I accepted. I wanted to say YES before she sent it to someone else! When I read it the next day, of course I loved it! Nyaah Nyaah, other publishers! She's ours! She kept us spellbound as she read from her new collection, Mall Flower.

And finally, a local author I've had my eyes on for a while... Nadine Ryan is warm, funny, brilliantly talented, and did I mention funny? Her novel, She Came from Beyond is terrific! The writing is great, but to hear her read from it was even better. (Nadine, want to come to my house and read the whole thing to me? Call me!) 

The following pictures came from Amye Archer and our Center's photographer, Glenn Bowie... I have discovered that although I have a sparkling personality that delights everyone, I can't take pictures for shit.

Christopher Reilly and Glenn Bowie

Nadine, Chris, Moi, and Glenn

Phil Temples, Glenn, Tony, and Michael C. Keith

Seriously... could we BE any cuter? Sorry, Tony, that you had to be flanked by babes! 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In which the weather turns cold but the writing is hot!

December kicked off with a visit from John Treat, author of Big Table Publishing Company's 2016 Best Seller, The Rise and Fall of the Yellow House. Set against the backdrop of early 1980s Seattle at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, it's a love story of two gay men fighting addiction and battling demons. The writing is masterful, with compelling characters and a powerful story line. He described the times (which he experienced firsthand) and told some really funny stories. (He does a great impersonation of Arianna Huffington!) But of course there were tragic aspects too, and it was very emotional hearing him talk about friends he’d lost. A great great person. Please check out the trailer for the book here:

Thanks, John, for coming all the way from Seattle!

The following weekend was another TRIPLE BOOK LAUNCH, featuring Keith Tornheim, Glenn Bowie, and Richard Fox. There was a little glitch in the proceedings, however, when Glenn texted me that morning from the ER. Two collapsed lungs! And I was like, "But you were supposed to bring the cheese platter!" A quick call was dispatched to Chris Reilley, who agreed to stand in for Glenn. 

Before a larger-than-expected crowd, we began with Keith Tornheim, who read from his new collection of poetry, Fireflies - Poems of Love and Family. Great writing, and lots of laughs!

Next up, Chris Reilley. Before he read from his collection of shorts and poetry, Breathing For Clouds, he spoke warmly about our beloved Glenn Bowie. Glenn, in addition to writing poetry and composing songs, builds elevators. Seriously, like, from scratch! He was deeply missed, but of course Chris was his usual great!

Richard Fox rounded out the afternoon, reading from his new collection, wandering in puzzle boxes. His poem, "fil de telephone" is about the last time he heard his father's voice, and, standing in the back of the room, I couldn't stop crying. That poem always gets me.

A visitor from the past showed up unexpectedly - Edgar Allen Poe! We were SO thrilled to have him there! He was so impressed by the poetry he heard that he said not a word. Sometimes that happens.

And yes, there was a cake!!

THANKS everyone, SO much, for being part of our last events of 2015! Please keep following us on Facebook and check our site from time to time to see what fun things we have planned for 2017! 

Friday, October 2, 2015

In which my words inspire a great poet.......

I love everything written by local performance poet Harry Mishkin; it's not just the amazing way his mind works, but it's his voice... when this former radio host talks - I listen!

So when he showed me this piece he'd written after a heady and intense conversation with me, I said "GIMME IT!"

And here it is.........

“I like Swiss cheese,” she said as I reached for a cracker and a savory slice.  A cue for conversation from the organizer of this gathering of local literati.   If I was as sharp as the cheese, I would have offered her my snack.  But her cue might as well have been a metaphor for my riddled attention span. Gazing at the yellow succulence as I guided it towards my mouth, I fell through one of its holes.

I could still see our vibrant hostess as I hurtled through a tunnel of hope for arriving at the shore of inspiration, anchored only by the stories, offered  before the break in festivities, on writing and of appreciation for one of its chief practitioners, the focus of this celebration.

“I like revelations,” I responded from some distance beyond the audible spectrum. 

“I like epiphanies!” I shouted to my private universe

As I unraveled the lines of reverie and revelation cast into the crowd during this celebration of the art and artifact of writing, my frenzied craving for my own material blocked out all external sight and sounds.  Until an explosion of taste opened my ears to the crunch of the cracker that was in my hand.

“I don’t just like Swiss cheese, I love it,” I told her.  And thanks for inviting me.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Breakfast at Tiffany's was divine, darling!

Usually I don't get to blog about an event until a few weeks have hurried by, but today was so special that as I looked at the pictures and thought about Capote's amazing writing, I couldn't wait to share the day.

We begin with the obligatory shot of the food:

There was a little panic this morning when Phil Temples PMd to let me know he had a bad cold and was afraid his sneezing and nose blowing would be too distracting, and so he would not be attending... but soon I got another e mail from him saying that he felt better and would be there!

So here we go.....

"It never occurred to me in those days to write about Holly Golightly, and probably it would not now except for a conversation I had with Joe Bell that set the whole memory of her in motion again..."

"I've got the most terrifying man downstairs," she said, stepping off the fire escape into the room. "I mean he's sweet when he isn't drunk, but let him start lapping up the vino, and oh God quel beast! If there's one thing I loathe, it's men who bite." She loosened a gray flannel robe off her shoulder, to show me evidence of what happens if a man bites.

"She is a phony. But on the other hand you're right. She isn't a phony because she's a real phony. She believes all this crap she believes. You can't talk her out of it. I've tried with tears running down my cheeks. Benny Polan, respected everywhere, Benny Polan tried. Benny had it on his mind to marry her, she don't go for it, Benny spent maybe thousands sending her to head-shrinkers. Even the famous one, the one can only speak German, boy, did he throw in the towel."

"It was from a small university review to whom I'd sent a story. They liked it; and, though I must understand they could not afford to pay, they intended to publish. Publish: that meant print. Dizzy with excitement is no mere phrase. I had to tell someone: and, taking the stairs two at a time, I pounded on Holly's door."

Her muscles hardened, the touch of her was like stone warmed by the sun. "Everybody has to feel superior to somebody," she said. "But it's customary to present a little proof before you take the privilege."

"Having no key to the apartment, I used the fire escape and gained entrance through a window. The cat was in the bedroom, and he was not alone: a man was there, crouching over a suitcase. The two of us, each thinking the other a burglar, exchanged uncomfortable stares as I stepped through the window."

"Never love a wild thing, Mr. Bell," Holly advised him. "That was Doc's mistake. He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can't give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they're strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That's how you'll end up, Mr. Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You'll end up looking at the sky."

"But mostly, I wanted to tell her about her cat. I had kept my promise; I had found him. It took weeks of after-work roaming through those Spanish Harlem streets, and there were many false alarms -- flashes of tiger striped fur that, upon inspection, were not him. But one day, one cold sunshiny Sunday winter afternoon, it was. Flanked by potted plants and framed by clean lace curtains, he was seated in the window of a warm-looking room: I wondered what his name was, for I was certain he had one now, certain he'd arrived somewhere he belonged. African hut or whatever, I hope Holly has, too."

Thanks Harry Mishkin, Michael C. Keith, Christopher Reilley, 
Timothy Gager and Lawrence Kessenich! 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The 2015 International Beat Poetry Festival was a gas!

As much as I had looked forward to the festival, it turned out to be even more fun than I imagined... why? Because as I sat and listened to the Beat poems I learned something. About rhythm. About delivery. About structure. For a long time I have been trying to clarify in my head WHAT makes a poem BEAT. And I discovered that it's not so much the content as it is the attitude. Some truly truly great things happened at the center that day... here's a sample....

To a New Beat
Keith Tornheim

Government of the people, by the people, for the people
did not perish―
it was just bought out.
So now it is just for some of the people
…maybe more than that one percent.
What opens some doors
closes some ears.
So if you want to be heard,
you may have to howl.

What Poets Do
Lawrence Kessenich

I can walk along the river
with ear buds jammed into my ears
but if I want to be a poet
I must listen to the mating calls
of red winged blackbirds, the scuffle
of mammals in the underbrush,
the silent movement of green waters.

I can drive through the city
in my air-conditioned car, windows rolled
up tight, but if I want to be a poet
I must feel the oven breezes on my face,
the thump of rap from passing cars,
observe lines of sweat sliding down
the cleavages of luscious men and women.

I can watch television, feeding on
pabulum, but if I want to be a poet
I must dig into the complexities
of Rilke, Shakespeare, Dickinson, listen
to street musicians wail the blues,
learn from dancers and soccer players,
whose grace trumps brute strength.

I can go out on a date with anyone
who comes along, but if I want to be
a poet, I must fall madly in love,
pick daisies from a dusty field and thrust them
into my beloved’s hands. And when love
dies, part of me must die, too, shriveling
like a plum on a Tuscan tree.

Last Night at the Holiday Inn

Brad Rose

The rain patters on the roof, like soft applause. I’m listening, closely. Very closely. Constant acceleration. You can hear the sky, swarming, shivering. Listen. Low altitude velocity. Before I know it, it’s just like fun. But harder to enjoy. In the next room, I hear laughter, like a little boat, bobbing. Just laughter. And at the end of my bed, my suitcase, small as a monosyllable. I’m visiting. Only visiting. I can’t stay. Really, I can’t. Goedel’s incompleteness theorem. Always something missing. The letter J is not in the periodic table. What am I waiting for? Something tells me, it could get ugly. Something tells me shut up and concentrate. Something keeps telling me. Everything is ticking, the wallpaper, the air conditioner, the rain. Sharp, bright, ticking. I’m listening. It ticks faster. Nine bullets. By the time you read this, everything will be different. Nine Bullets. What am I waiting for? Faster. No, faster. Everything will be different.

They’re Reading My Mind Again

Brad Rose

I feel it when I’m asleep. Sometimes when I’m awake, too. Those damn magnetic fields. My girlfriend, Raylene, says I should relax. I tell her it’s hard to relax when you’re in Demolition. It makes you jumpy. Especially when you’re on the thirteenth floor. Raylene says that when I get back on my feet I should try out for the Devil’s stunt team. Says I’m a natural for the Devil’s stunt team. Besides, she says, they’ve got the best uniforms and you never have to pay for your time at the shooting range. I’ll probably have to have plastic surgery first–maybe change my finger prints, too. But I’ve been practicing. Practicing painting pictures of lava. Mostly red and orange, with a little black here and there. I’m pretty good, even if it’s hard to get the volcanoes just right. You’d think that would be the easy part? What are volcanoes, anyway? Just exploding mountains. No big deal. But when the volcano painting isn’t going too good, I like to get in the car and go for a drive. Doesn’t matter where I go. Sometimes, I drive all night. Roll the windows down, listen to the wind. It sounds like nails hissing through wood. Have you ever noticed that? Maybe that’s just me?  I don’t know. I like to drive out into the desert, way past Pahrump; watch the sun come up. Did you know there’s no word for ‘smile’ in Latin? I read that in a book, once. Those poor Romans. At least they had swimming pools. The trouble with the desert is that it’s running out of easy-to-kill prey. They say the planet is getting warmer, and it’s affecting the wildlife. I love wildlife. They’re not really that different from you and me. Not really. The snakes and the bugs, they just live their lives. Just do snake and bug things. They even sleep at night. Hey, I hope nothing terrible happens. That would be a shame. The snakes and the bugs. Coyotes too. All gone. They’re just like us. They don’t like heat. Not really. Not even in the desert. The snakes and bugs and coyotes. At least there aren’t any volcanoes. Not yet. But you never know. I might drive out there one day, and there’ll be nothing but lava; the wildlife all burnt-up. You never know for sure. They say everything is getting hotter. With all this damn radiation, there’s no telling. But don’t worry. Not about the coyotes, anyway. Coyotes are smart. They’ve got brains. Not like bugs and snakes. They think like us. At night, you can read their minds; you can tell what they’re thinking. Sometimes even before they’re thinking it. If anything happens to the coyotes, I’ll let you know. Ditto, the volcanoes.

Richard Fox

When Allen Ginsberg visited Webster College
supplicants filled the Loretto-Hilton Theatre
the beat opened with Howl
heard many lines echoed
pausing for sips of water
he surveyed the suits the chic the freaks
offered the house his thermostat
a baritone Please Master
hippies nodded their heads
waved peace signs
he swallowed a sly smile
rumbled through America

                                                there was a VIP reception
                                                there was a VIP banquet
                                                there was a VIP apartment


Allen Ginsberg strolled dormitory halls
room to room he considered canvases
slid proffered poems into his pouch
kvelled over a newly fired goblet
in the kitchen he called out ingredients
assembled a macrobiotic meal
guitars sax fiddle set a meter
matched by knife to board

lotus in a circle sharing common bowls
he led chants a meditation
pulled out finger cymbals danced
shadowed by young feet
on an empty bed in someones room
dirty sheets stained quilt patchouli
he flopped snored the night
endured cafeteria breakfast

Allen Ginsberg rode to the airport
in a car bereft of reverse and first gears
grateful the window rolled down

Richard Fox

Joe likes his martini dry, Just dip the olive in vermouth, willya?
married ladies seeking the forbidden—initials on his calendar.
it's summer, he's at South Schroon—the lake house with listing stairs,
windows propped open by Beefeater bottles, slivers anywhere you lean.
the barn hides paint, palettes, easels, shrouded canvasses

after lunch, we drink Narragansett tall boys—
my gift, gaunt beer from the hometown.
            when we have ten empties, it's time to bowl.
            we don't have a ball but a cantaloupe is handy.
            to our eyes, it rolls straight and true.
            after a dozen frames, Joe nods at the china cabinet—
open the top left drawer, bring me my knife.
I hand him a foot long bowie knife, oiled and edged.
he tosses the cantaloupe in the air.
a flick of the wrist, it splits in two.
            My father sent me this knife when I was overseas.
            Told me to use it to kill Nazis. How the fuck was I
            going to kill Nazis with a knife at 28,000 feet?
            Throw it at a Messerschmidt? Bean an ack ack gunner?

Joe fluffs my hair, you're a real hippie, huh?
Dylan and Baez? Those two are punks. Never paid dues.
Hippies are copycats. You're all ersatz beats.
            I visit his Greenwich Village loft.
            there is a fragrance, sugary but musty
            on his clothes, in the air, on Coke bottle butts.
            he hands me Ginsberg, Levertov, Ferlinghetti, Bukowski.
            This is real poetry not that crap they teach in school.
            any book in his digs is mine.
            I choose Upton Sinclair, the man in the signed photograph.
the next July Fourth at Schroon, after a swim, he rails on flower children.
my response—beats are just watered down ‘20s Socialists.
he smiles, nods, clasps my shoulder.

after breakfast, before beer-martinis-weed,
he pulls out a pair of hand carved bows.
I grab a couple of quivers, Joe a fresh cigar.
            in front of the beach sit two targets.
            my spot is less than a stone's throw from the bullseye.
            his, across the street past the edge of the property.
on a good day, I put two arrows in the outer rings.
he always buries five in the center circle.

Mine were just for fun....

Jack Kerouac's Grave
Robin Strattton

Years ago I went to a cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts to look for Jack Kerouac's grave with a boy who vowed to quit smoking for me. Sexy, brilliant, Hollywood hair and potting soil colored eyes. Kerouac, not the boy. The boy? He and I searched for hours and then gave up. Ah, Kerouac, who lives in my bookcase, emerging glorious when I quote everyone's favorite line from On The Road: "The only people for me are the mad ones..." who would be the first to scorn my search for his grave! He quit smoking for me. The boy, not Kerouac.

To Be Like Allen Ginsberg
Robin Stratton

I often wonder what it would be like
to be like Allen Ginsberg
Brilliant misfit
Anxious teen
Had crazy Communist mother
Liked boys
Was suspended from Columbia for writing on a dusty windowsill
     that the dean had no balls
Signed the paperwork giving the hospital permission to perform a
     frontal lobotomy on his mother
Was unwittingly involved in a burglary ring and arrested and forced  
     to spend time in a mental institute
Worked as a baggage handler at a Grayhound bus station
Wrote Howl which landed the publisher/bookseller in jail for
     seeking to “willfully and lewdly print, publish and sell obscene
     and indecent writings, papers, and books”
Was voted King of the May in Prague
Was kicked out of Prague
Formed the Committee of Poetry in an attempt to channel tax
     payer money into poetry, not the Vietnam war
Chanted Om for seven hours at the National Democratic
Witnessed the interconnectedness of the universe
Was not interested in making a social revolution but wanted to
     propose his own soul to himself
Was “the most unharried Krishna” William F. Buckley ever heard
Signed a copy of his book for me two years before he died
Holy, happy Buddhist
Wrote poems that were lists

Some of our other readers....

Doug Holder

Craig Fishbane (came all the way from NYC!)

Karen Friedland

Lori Desrosiers

Yvon Cormier, one of the festival's co-founders

Colin Haskins, the other co-founder, with me and AmyWoronick -
they drove up from Connecticut and their energy added so much to the day!


We concluded the festival with a group reading of "I Am Waiting" by 
Lawrence Ferlinghetti... it was just phenomenal... the vibe was 
really something special !

And of course it was all captured on film by our beloved photographer,
Glenn Bowie... he's the greatest!

Here's the vid:

And here's the poem:

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail

and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead

and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer

and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs

and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness

and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear

and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence

and I am waiting
for Child Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again

and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem

and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder