Saturday, May 24, 2014

the Aurorean Spring/Summer 2014

the Aurorean
Spring/Summer 2014
Publisher/Editor: Cynthia Brackett-Vincent
Assistant Editor: Devin McGuire
62 pages, $11, softbound

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Two quick disclosures to open this review of the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of one of the best New England based magazines:  the Aurorean.  Disclosure number one: I do not particularly care for rhyming poetry.  Disclosure number 2, poet Dennis Daly is in a wonderful group of people of which I am also part: The Bagel Bards (which meet every Saturday morning 9 a.m. to noon at the Au Bon Pain, Davis Sq., Somerville, MA.

Well with that behind me, I was genuinely pleased to discover Dennis is in the current issue. Despite the rhyming, of which he is an excellent practitioner, the two poems are quite readable and enjoyable. Dennis a fine poet and at readings his baritone voice rings out with the lines of his poetry. In the current issue of the Aurorean he is one of the Showcase Poets with two offerings, “Little Misery Island” and “Great Misery Island,” two real islands near Salem, MA where the poet resides. 

In “Little Misery Island”  the opening stanza sets the tone:  Some say you can walk across/From its larger kin. A gloss/I think on a darker fact:/All men are islands, compact.

Here he has summoned John Donne (no man is an island) and bravely states that “All men are islands, compact.” This seeming disagreement with Donne is really not a divergence for what Donne is saying is that man cannot function alone and Daly simply states that men may seem like islands but there is interaction with other men and nature.

the Aurorean has always pumped out good poetry and the current issue certainly matches its reputation and always offers poems that catch the eye.

Ryan Bayless’s offer is:

My garden’s first fruit,
a ripe tomato,
offers its skin to
the beak of a bird.

Sharon Anderson’s Wash Day addresses the woman of another day – the unliberated:

Monday morning, without fail
on a clothesline stretched between
two elms, hung Grandmother’s
flour sack aprons—freer than
Grandmother ever was.
For those with a penchant for the longer poem Jack Galmitz’s “The Riggings” provides a take on relationships that crosses time and space from infinity to birth to marriage and back.

I went down
as water goes down
to seek my level
to stop staring at the sky
as if moons and stars were mighty
and the shrubs and rocks were wrong.

I went down
to find her
her eyes so blue
I fell in and began
to swim with fins and gills
and wouldn’t come out
until she pushed me out
in time and I was hung
upside down and slapped
on the bottom and cried

When we married
and I was told I could kiss the bride,
we were already wrapped in one another’s arms,
for we had known each other since the beginning
of time that comes to pick you up
when you fall down.

Another poet whose work I have enjoyed in the past is Alan Catlin.  In a previous book of his work which I reviewed he dealt with people who suffer one way or another. In the two poems which appear in this issue of the Aurorean Catlin sounds a hopeful note but somehow leaves off with  not-so-hopeful endings such as tarnish sails or unlike Robert Frost, “…paths that lead us/nowhere”

There is plenty of fine poetry in this issue of the magazine from the opening Featured Poet David Stankiewicz to the closing Feature Marilyn Dorf.  the Aurorean usually delivers poems worthy of their publication and this current issue is no exception.

Zvi A. Sesling
Author, King of the Jungle and  Across Stones of Bad Dreams
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Publisher, Muddy River Books
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 7 & Anthology 8

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Front Cover Ibbetson 35 ED Galing Tribute!

I got this from Ibbetson Street designer Steve Glines. This is the front cover--with some of our featured poets, and the late Ed Galing's resplendent smile as portrayed by artist Ashe Troberg. We will be sending the final PDF to the printer on Friday afternoon, and we hope to have copies in our hand in mid to late June--meanwhile Steve will be putting a print-on-demand issue up that can be ordered. This should be done by next week. You would be doing the press a great favor if you purchased extra copies online from our bookstore... Ibbetson Online Bookstore  and don't forget our books--enjoy them and help this small press at the same time!

---Doug Holder

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Questions About Home By Cynthia Brackett-Vincent

Questions About Home
By Cynthia Brackett-Vincent
Encircle Publications
Farmington, ME
ISBN-10: 1-893035-21-2
55 Pages

Review by Dennis Daly

Going North in mid-life, chasing humming birds, loons, fireflies, and the clarity of heaven’s magical vault, exposes pioneer wonderment and a daring heart of faith in some folks. Others turn South to gated condos and difficult air.

Questions About Home, Cynthia Brackett-Vincent’s paean to her Maine homestead, family relations, and pet connections, refashions sometimes barbarous nature into a comforting sanctuary that reflects back her lovely poetic meditations in sympathetic splendor. Her provincial words melt time’s weather into a universal language applicable to the Maine woods or anywhere that humanity calls home. Brackett-Vincent’s first poem entitled This Is My Maine effectively introduces this collection. Here she imbues her home with generational memories on a Sunday morning,

My father on his wedding day
in a photo on the wall
looks out, too,
over the trees he would have carefully measured,
called by name. He’d like to be
climbing them, pruning them,
counting rings of the less fortunate,
splinters no matter

This one moment in time is my Maine,
this November 21 a.m.
Its very seconds will be ticked away;
its little flakes melt point by point,
but here it is now, solid as the oak
whose branch  brushes my crystal-gleaming pane.

The poem Valentine’s Day Blizzard exhausts and teases as a neat little love poem. Brackett-Vincent extolls the benefits and downsides of winter to her marital relationship. Here’s the fun part,

The snow we’ve wished for all winter has come.
Has come in whipped-up wind stinging my face
as we dig out the mailbox & shovel
the roof. We make games of it—when the gusts
bring tears, I say he looks like his brother,
laughing as the sun glints off his glasses
when he realizes his truck plow is stuck.
We start at ends & meet in the middle…

A pioneer spirit and her need to question her place in the universe come through with eye-opening simplicity in the poet’s piece It’s just me & a fingernail moon. Returning mail delivered in error to her address back to its rightful mailbox, Brackett-Vincent, without the benefit of civilization’s noise and distractions, contemplates her physical relationship with her neighborhood’s geographical details. She explains,

…suddenly I realize it is just us
me, the moon, & the old stone wall
which leans in a little closer, it seems
each year to the roadside’s curve
a little bit like love, a little bit like need
while my hip screams louder
with each nuance of gravel
each boot-plod up the hill—
distance between neighbors
so close, so far. But we get there…

Brackett-Vincent gives a rousing defense of her concept of “home” in her title poem, Questions About Home. She details a contentment of sights and sounds that have drawn her in, as well as those beloved woods that help channel memories of her father in this family-centered meditation of belonging. The combination provokes empathy; her heart connects. The poem ends with a religious upturn,

Is where you’re from necessarily home?
Home is where you soul finally sees it.
Blackberries ripen. We watch, wait for deer.
Why Maine? What on earth made you move there?

Home is where your soul finally sees it.
I saw the woods like my father showed me.
Why Maine? What on earth made you move there?
The luminescent stars, calling us home.

Deep in her memory the poet stores and treasures childhood memories of quiet family moments that demonstrate her sense of strength and source. Brackett-Vincent’s poem How it Was That He Laughed Still brings one such moment to the surface. The poet’s father had polio and had once utilized an iron lung. In spite of his misfortune he brought joy to his family. Consider these lines,

His stories, his father’s stories—
how he loved each
more & more with each telling.
How polio offered my father the luxury
of rumination, as my sister & I sat—one
at his side—one at the foot
of his bed. How he laughed…

In a simple but elegant poem entitled Hymn of Praise Brackett-Vincent paints her own personal, yet strangely classic, Madonna and Child. I really like this piece. The poet’s daughter-in-law poses playful, adult-like questions to her infant son. The father looks on with not a little adoration. The poem ends this way,

…I catch a glint of morning light
shining in my son’s eyes as he watches,

these two—his two—how this woman he loves
sings her morning hymn, how the son he loves
holds the universe with one breath.

In a breathtaking pantheistic and poetic lament, Winter Lost, Brackett-Vincent becomes the image of her polio stricken father, admiring the attributes of nature through her home’s window. Her immobility, however, is temporary. She has been stricken with Lyme disease and has a fractured foot. Her bent is reverent and, as she peers into the winter landscape, she intones,

Each whirl of the universe calls my name.
Each soft fold along the rough-laid rocks calls my name.

The stars are suns burning my skin.
The scarves warm only the rocks.
My snowshoes hang, metal teeth ready.
I drag my foot cast around the house.

I want to be the universe.
I want to wrap myself in hot snow.
Flaming-cold suns. Be out there.

If you have any soul at all, dear reader, upon finishing this collection you will do as I have already done and head north to the woody cathedrals of Maine and the fellowship of hungry animals depicted by Brackett-Vincent in this delightful volume of hardy word artistry.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

SOMERVILLE POETS NEIL CALLENDER and NICOLE TEREZ DUTTON: An accomplished poetic couple in the heart of Union Square.

Nicole Terez Dutton

SOMERVILLE POETS NEIL CALLENDER and NICOLE TEREZ DUTTON: An accomplished poetic couple in the heart of Union Square.

Poets Neil Callender and Nicole Terez Dutton with their baby in tow arrived at my quiet nook in the back of the Bloc 11 CafĂ© in Union Square for a chat about their lives and work as poets. Dutton relocated from Jamaica Plain in Boston, and Callender moved from the Republic of Cambridge, to live in Somerville together. Both find Union Square a fine place to set down roots as they are surrounded by creative types: editors, graphic artists and fellow poets. Dutton told me: “I love the diversity and sense of community Somerville has to offer.”

Callender is a graduate of Brown University.  When he graduated from college he worked at Northwest Airlines cleaning airplanes. After a broken love affair, he gravitated to the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge and starting reading his lovelorn poems at the noted Slam poetry venue held there Wednesday nights. Later as he progressed his poetry expanded to include political concerns, inequality, issues he studied at Brown where he was a Political Science major. Callender said: “I was a member of the Socialist Workers Party in school and what I dealt with there and elsewhere, class division, race-relations—all enter into my work.”

Callender earned his MFA from Vermont College, and currently teaches writing at Roxbury Community College. His poetry has appeared widely, including two anthologies: Poets Against the Killing Fields and Liberation Poetry. He was also active in the anti-apartheid movement in this country, and has traveled the world, absorbing the culture of countries like Brazil, Belgium, Mexico, and many others. He continues to write about the slavery experience and feels his mission as a poet is to address the defamation of African culture in this country. Callender said this rich culture must be recreated, and he is an ongoing contributor to this effort.

Dutton got her MFA from Brown University and in 2011 won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for her collection If One of Us Should Fall.  She currently teaches at Boston University. From an early age Dutton said she knew she was primarily a poet, although her interests vary widely. She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and her parents encouraged her creativity. At Brown she studied with novelist Edgar Wideman and poets like Forest Gander and C.D. Wright. C. D. Wright was a major influence on her. She said C.D. Wright brought “… a different quality of attention” to her work. Wright focused on line breaks, and ambiguity in Dutton’s writing. Most importantly to Dutton was  that Wright let her experiment with her work.

Dutton, like Callender, has traveled extensively. She toured with a band and traversed the country. In a poem she wrote of her love for “leaving.” Now, with the responsibilities of a family her priorities have changed. But she still likes the idea of wanderlust. As she put it: “I like the idea of being light and lean and living in the moment.”

In terms of influences Callender counts Walt Whitman as one,” I love the reach of his lines—his epic statement,” he said. He also admires the late poet Hart Crane: “I like his language—the sense of surprise in his work.’

Dutton spoke of the poet Thylias Moss. She told me: “I love how the poet connects historical context to the personal moment in a poem.”

One of the great things about Union Square is that I can expect that I will run into both Dutton and Callender again on the street very soon, as well as the usual cornucopia of creative folks here in the Paris of New England.



Magdalena, she of the coffee bean hair, skin of coriander
and twilight, almond-eyed, trekked from Tegucigalpa, through
a gauntlet of money condors and stone faced violators of women,
resisting a desert’s dessicating heat and the blanching of forsaken

Magdalena survived her odyssey to arrive here, in this place,
inside a rest stop somewhere along an interstate highway,
behind the counter, under these garish lights, to sell me
a hamburger, some greazy fries, and a milkless shake.

The imperium demands heroism from its victims,
then imposes gangrenous mediocrity,
spinning human beings into inert instrumentalities.

--Neil Callender  (About Place Journal)

 The You in this Poem
Doesn’t have to
try hard to be the one
raw with trumpets and lightening broken
across a crowded room–
something we all are
brighter and suddenly foreign for,
as if we’d forgotten,
the archipelago of our bodies
or the salt in all directions
calling out our name.
The you in this poem
doesn’t so much speak as stir
a darkness of loosened feathers
claws and tendriled weather
upon our eyes and open mouths.
No telling why the music carries,
or what might pry the ribs open.
I’m not sure which equation
might rescue you from your own skin.
I’m saying I like sky when you speak it.
I’ll never care which latitude
even if you leave your body
by the roadside near the crickets
I’ll recognize you by the spine bowed
as Herodotus beneath its story
the sore knees, the bruised and perfect
mouth. I know just how to find you
no matter the distance, I’ll hear
the pastures singing back our voices
a blade of grass for every tongue.

 – Nicole Terez Dutton ( From Uses of Anger journal)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

LOST BOSTON BY Anthony M. Sammarco

LOST BOSTON BY Anthony M. Sammarco ( Pavilion Books 2014)
Review by Doug Holder

Every now and then you might see one of those faded, archaic advertisements on a building wall.  It appears because the elements eventually wear away layers of paint and collected sediment that covered it. You will see signs hawking elixirs, brand names that arise from the dead;stilted slogans that were once uttered by so many snake oil salesman. Anthony Sammarco, author of Lost Boston, is in a way like a force of nature in that he blows away the dust that covers the Boston that is lost to us. As it states on his website: “Even the most beloved buildings, lauded landmarks and treasured modes of transportation can’t stave off changing taste, structural degradation and fires forever—and many famous landmarks have succumbed to the passing of time and favor.” What this book essentially does is provide an archive of these vanished beloved places ; these institutions that have succumbed to the ravages of time. Through text, and often stunning photographs, Sammarco curates an exhibition of ghosts of the past including: Franklin Place, Old Boston City Hall, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston Coliseum, Revere House( Hotel), Braves Field, and much more.

This book is rich with material, and of course I can’t cover the whole waterfront. I treated the book like a buffet and picked and chose what appealed to my taste and fancy.

One such place that I focused on was Gleason’s Publishing Hall. As displayed in an archival photo the hall was quite impressive. Sammarco writes that it had, “… a colonnade of six monumental Corinthian columns on the facade at the corner of Tremont and Bromfield streets.” Frederick Gleason, the owner of the hall was a well-known publisher in the mid-1800s, and he was best known for his illustrated weekly Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room. He was later known as the father of illustrated journalism.   He also published a series of short novels including: The Doom of the Dolphin, and Wharton the Whale-Killer by Benjamin Barker and Mautrin Murray Ballou, that were read widely. Edgar Allen Poe was published in another well-regarded newspaper of his The Flag of Our Union.  His weekly paper and the books he published became quite popular and the public would gather in the grand columned hall to browse in his newspaper.

Being an arts editor of our local paper the old Boston Coliseum caught my attention. It was located in Art Square now known as Copley Square. Sammarco writes, “William Gibbons Preston, one of the foremost architects in the city, was commissioned to design what was known as the Boston Coliseum.  Although not as memorable as the one in Rome, it was 550 feet long by 350 feet wide and cover 4.5 acres.” The structure could seat 100,000. The Coliseum was up in June of 1872 and was demolished in July of 1872.The National Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival was held there in reaction to the carnage of the Franco-Prussian War. As music has charms that sooth the savage breast, the festival was conceived as a sort of balm as well as something to excite the senses. Sammarco writes that they had an impressive list of musical guests from Europe, “Highlights included the Grenadier guards from London, the Garde republican from Paris, the Kaiser Franz regiment from Berlin, as well as Franz Abt, the German songwriter and many famous soloists.”

And for you baseball fans-- how about the lost Huntington Avenue Grounds?  According to Sammarco: “The Huntington Avenue American league Baseball Grounds were one of the most popular and well-attended baseball fields in Boston in the early 20th Century.” A photograph shows the wide expanse of the open-air field that was in the Fenway section of Boston. Cy Young, threw the first perfect game there in 1904. These hallowed grounds were the first home for the Boston Red Sox. Sammarco includes a photo of Mayor John F. Fitzgerald throwing out the first ball of the season in 1910.

As the prayer goes: “ Dust to Dust , Ashes to Ashes,” but just as Walt Whitman’s blade of grass sprung from the ashes of our ancestors, so does Boston in the hands of Anthony Sammarco.

Highly Recommended.