Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Sunday Poet: Llyn Clague

  Llyn Clague's  poems have been published widely, including in Atlanta Review, Wisconsin Review, California Quarterly, Main Street Rag, The Avalon Literary Review, Ibbetson Street, Hiram Poetry Review, and other print and online magazines. His seventh book, Hard-Edged and Childlike, was published by Main Street Rag in 2014. Visit


A pair of kayakers, rhythmic and silent,
slide by, graceful and smooth as ducks
directly below my perch on a bench
on a boulder at the edge of the lake.

In irregular arcs and eights
the birds glide, go suddenly topsy-
turvy; with small splashes pop
up, smugly smacking their lips.

High on the upstroke, paddle tips
shoot sparks, drip last tears
back into mother lake; drop and slip
under, propelling their riders.

In passing, the man and the woman,
raising fingertips high in the air,
give me companionable waves,
noiseless ripples in their wake.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

NOON UNTIL NIGHT by Richard Hoffman

Richard Hoffman


NOON UNTIL NIGHT by Richard Hoffman ( Barrow Street Press $16.95)

Review by Doug Holder

When I read the poetry collection “Noon Until Night” by Richard Hoffman, I said to myself, “Damn, this is one wise dude.” I think Hoffman has a way of reporting back to us through his own scars, displaying the bullshit we will encounter, and then he tells us in an avuncular way, “ Move on.”

Hoffman is a Senior Writer in Residence at Emerson College in Boston, the author of two memoirs and several collections of poetry. I will be teaching his harrowing and artistically rendered memoir of childhood abuse “ Half the House” at Endicott College this fall.

I think to a great extent we try to figure out the puzzle of our fathers in order to understand ourselves. In the poem, “ A Face in the Ceiling”, Hoffman pens a wonderful paragraph (among others)—a scene-- a set-- that captures the complexities, the sorrows of a father, and his need and attempt for transcendence. And there is a boy beside him who intuitively senses this, and tries to bring him out of his malaise,

as he was in my earliest memories, home
from “ the steel” where he laid track in the yards,
sprawled on the floor of the living room, spent,
in his boxer shorts in front of an oscillating fan
that dinged at intervals at some point in its sweep
( I swear I can hear it now. I can hear it!)
I lay next to him, and he asked if I could see
the faces in the cracked and water-stained ceiling.

And in his title poem, “Noon Until Night”, Hoffman gives a sort of road map for life. It is for those on the first half of the roller coaster ride-- all the way to where that fat lady is about to sing her swan song.

One of us is going to have to rise and set out, then,
with no assurance of arrival, nor of any welcome
if we make it there where we guessed the new to be,

just like the old days, in leaky boats, through storms
toward a hunch, toward what we've been told of by others
whose credibility is vouched for only by their scars

and the cohesion and agreement of their stories, though
we know they're not beyond a bit of fun at our expense
and always want to be remunerated for intelligence,

so we have to weigh, still, the tone, the spirit if you will,
with which of course is offered to us, at the same time
we have everything to lose, friends, and no time to waste.

Hoffman is able to find joy and consolation a midst the carnage of this world .He tells us to seize the is comically and inevitably short. In some ways this book is a primer for life, that can be referred to as you pass through its dangerous shoals.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ron Israel: Bringing the art of Protest Songs to the Paris of New England

Ron Israel: Bringing the art of protest songs to the Paris of New England

By Doug Holder

I met singer/songwriter Ron Israel at the Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square. Although I was unable to secure my usual seat in the back of the bustling cafe, I did manage to get a window seat in the front for our interview. Israel is a man of a certain age, with an elfin and inquisitve look about him. He proved to be contemplative and deliberative in our conversation.

Israel told me that he wanted to talk about an event he is organizing that will take place at the Somerville Arts Armory titled, “The Art of the Protest Song.” It will take place July 2, at 7PM. All the proceeds from the concert will go to the Mass. Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Center.

The performers will be Sarah Lee Guthrie, the granddaughter of Woody Guthrie, folksinger David Roth, noted poet and performer Regie Gibson, and the Clave &Blues Band—a jazz influenced Cuban group.

Israel has an interesting background. He identifies himself as a folksinger even though he feels the term may be antiquated. He revealed in an interview, “ I am fortunate to have had my music blessed by the many folks who attend my shows, and by a number of people I admire in the 'music business,' like the late Columbia Records producer John Hammond, Sr. , Richie Havens, Stephen Davis of Rolling Stone magazine, Susan Stamberg of National Public Radio, etc...

Israel has long been a practitioner of the Protest Song, which he considers an art—rather than just a rant about politics. He traces his influences back to Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Pete Seegar and others. He feels that there has long been a dormancy of politically-conscious music, but he feels it is reviving-- spurred on by the ascent of Donald Trump.

Israel's latest CD is titled, “ Homeless in America: Blues and Protest Songs in an Era of Trump.” Israel reflected on his latest release, “ I've been motivated by the divisive path that the new administration is taking.”

Although Israel has been involved in music for many years—he has been long involved in work that addresses the needs of developing nations. It is evident that Israel is someone who firmly believes that protest music can bring change and he is going to bring it back home to Somerville, Ma.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Sunday Poet: Bridget Galway

Poet Bridget Galway

Bridget Seley-Galway, an artist/poet, has exhibited throughout New England, and can also be seen on the Spanish Island Ibiza’s web site. Her poetry has been printed in Provincetown Magazine 2009-2010,Bagel Bards Anthology 2009-2012, and Popt Art 2011-2012. Her art has been presented in 1985 Artist Magazine, 1991 The Review Cape Cod Arts and Antiques, 2005 Cape Arts Review, and picked for the covers of Bagel Bards Anthology #5, Ibbetson Street Press #26-#30.

Son’s Light

In this mid day coming;
The great newness of joy,
Swaddled your being
Nestled in my arms.

Your small hands touch my cheek,
With the sweet scent
Of the lost natal sea.

My heart rests,
In the smile this bliss creates.
In contrast my soul cries,
Be perfect for this perfection.

A Star’s light,
From whose dust we are made,
Twinkles from your gray blue eyes, and
Offers up a long ago memory,
Of Angels, now ever present,
Define this forever Holy Day.

Written for my Blake