Archive for May 2012

Poetry in the Barn,Huntington New York May 18th, 2012   1 comment

 

While I’ve been writing all my life, I didn’t start considering it my life’s work until about 6 or 7 years ago. I began as almost everyone does by submitting my work to the big guns; The New Yorker, the Atlantic, Poetry, and getting back in reply form rejection after form rejection.

It was at this point that I met George Wallace. He was reading at Avery Point in New London and I went along with some classmates. I was impressed with his work and we exchanged information. I sent a few poems to his online journal, Poetrybay, and he became the first editor to accept my work. Later on that year, he invited me down to read in Huntington New York at the Historical Society Barn, one of my first featured readings.

Poet Helen R. Peterson reading at the Huntington Historical Society Barn in Long Island

Performing my poem, “The Chicanery of Drunk Boys”

I’ve always been grateful for George’s guidance through my early career, and was pleased to be invited back down to the Barn, five years later, to promote my own book, Melons and Memory. It was a great crowd, the open mic ranged from a ukulele player, to a Haitian immigrant, to poems about ancient torture techniques utilizing milk, honey, and a hollow tree. George himself was out inLos Angeles, so Russ Green, who had hosted my feature at the Cornucopia Noshery in Amityville two months before, was guest hosting.

Poet Russ Green hosting a poetry reading in Huntington New York

The incomparable Russ Green, warming us all up.

The 3 and a half hour drive stretched to 4 that night, thanks to traffic right outside of the city. Fortunately for us, when George left for the west coast, he’d accidentally left his house key with Russ, instead of the barn key, so everyone was still outside waiting when we drove up. It is a testament to the quality of this series that everyone chose to stay and wait the 15 minutes it took to retrieve the spare key.

Man playing a ukelele, woman holding music book.

One of the highlights of my evening, acting as human music stand to poet and musician Ed Luhrs.

As I will be moving to Michigan at the end of the summer, this was probably my last appearance in Long Island for awhile. I will be sad, as Long Island audiences have typically been the most receptive and engaging for me, but it was fitting that I end in the same place I’d begun.

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A Reading at Wyld Chyld: Long Island Welcomes Me Back   Leave a comment

I’ve read in a lot of different places in my career. Bars, bookstores, bakeries, all have been subjected to my literary genius at one time or another. But until the lovely and amusing Peter Dugan invited me to come on down to Long Island and read at the Wyld Chyld, I’d never read in a tattoo parlor before.

Helen R. Peterson reads her poetry at Wyld Chyld

Reading to the crowd at Wyld Chyld

Wyld Chyld is part tattoo parlor, part café, divided down the middle so the whir of the needles doesn’t disturb. Located in Merrick NY, it offers a unique intimate setting for a reading. I was the first to read, something I don’t usually like to do, as I like to riff off of what others present when deciding what to perform. But, in the end, it almost seemed as if the open mic readers had read my mind, bringing poetry that had similar themes and influences as mine did.

The other feature was Lloyd Abrams, a local Long Island poet and former educator. His poetry was entertaining and thought-provoking. He and his wife were kind enough to invite me to spend the night at their place and not make the three-hour drive back to Connecticut, but I politely declined, as I had kids to get on the bus in the morning.

The Wyld Chyld crowd

Listening to Lloyd Abrams read while sipping my green tea.

I always enjoy traveling to Long Island, as the audiences are always welcoming and encouraging. That’s why I’ll be traveling down that way again this Friday, May 18th, to feature at George Wallace’s series at the Barn. This will probably be my last Long Island appearance before the big move to Michigan in late August, so if you’ve wanted to see me live, make a point to be there!

Napo 2012   Leave a comment

The Voice (U.S. TV series)

The Voice (U.S. TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another NaPoWriMo has come and gone, and, as opposed to last year, I actually got about 5 poems written. There was a time when I was able to write 30 poems in 30 days, but age, 3 kids, and a serious illness have kept me from keeping up. So, I’m happy with what I got done.

 

National Poetry Month, National Poetry Writing Month for poets, is a great excuse to get off your butt and get writing if, like me, you’ve been going through a dry spell. It’s amazing how easy it is to just stop writing, telling yourself you’ll do it tomorrow, next week, maybe next month. And then you think it’ll be hard to get back in the game, you let the ideas pile up in the back of your mind, you catch up on watching the Voice.

 

But guess what? There are prompts everywhere, even in the showboating of Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine. One you pick up the pen, boot up the computer, and start writing, you wonder why you ever thought it would be so hard. It’s so easy! Like riding a bike! The ideas start flooding back through you, you start to revise, and you’ve got some fresh work to submit instead of the tired old poem you’ve already sent out a hundred times before.

 

It doesn’t matter if you get five, thirty, or just one really good, tight poem. The important thing is to turn off the TV and get writing!