Archive for the ‘New York City’ Tag

New Digs   Leave a comment

Vector image of a Michigan state trunk line hi...

 

2012 has been a slow year for me as far as writing new material is concerned, partly because it’s been a very busy year personally. This year I remarried, and relocated in September from the East Coast to mid Michigan.

 

It’s apparent to me, now that we’re settled here, that I was spoiled living equidistant to Boston and New York City. It’s been difficult to find writers’ groups and readings close enough to our new home for us to visit regularly. We’ve found one, a writers’ workshop associated with Michigan State University, but it only meets every other week.  The off weeks I have of course my online workshops and social media, but I kinda miss the days I could jump in the car and find a reading any day of the week within 60 miles.

 

It isn’t all bad for the writer in Eaton Rapids. We’ve discovered the library, and have found that we aren’t the first published poets to live within the city limits. At the turn of the last century Elizabeth Rogers Kellogg was born. Having lived in Eaton County most of her adult life, her poetry gives some insight to me of the town we now call home. I can see in the buildings nearby what once was, can hear the clatter of horse and buggy on my way to Hamlin Square Coffee for my daily cup of chai, and that’s pretty cool.

 

I checked out Kellogg’s first book, simply entitled Poems. It was published in 1969 at the request of her mother. The poems were written in the 20’s and 30’s while Elizabeth was sick with tuberculosis. Many of the poems have a touch of the untrained poet about them, being simple in style and subject but having overly poetic words and turns of phrase strewn about. For example, the stanza

 

 

There is one memory of childhood days

 

Which starts the laughter still;

 

‘Tis when I helped my father feed

 

The hogs their corn and swill.

 

 

 

seems to try too hard, with rhyme and tis, to make pigs a subject worthy of poetry. There is self-consciousness there, either from her illness or from her upbringing in a different age from ours, that clouds the beauty of simple things. However, when her poems lean to more emotional subjects, like love and marriage, the stripped bare truth and pain of her topic shines through.  These are poems worth reading again and again, and make you want to learn more about this woman and her life in an earlier Eaton Rapids, living on the Rogers Centennial Farm, far from her parents in Goshen Indiana. For example, in the poem The Blue Bowl, she speaks of her husband’s great strength, unknowingly breaking a blue bowl on their wedding day. In the closing stanza she says:

 

I repaired things so well they were almost like new,

 

Even reveled in making them whole,

 

But I mended my heart with a costlier glue

 

Than I needed to mend the blue bowl.

 

 

 

With very little, she tells us much about their relationship and her role within it. Without complaint, without whining or pretty words, she reminds us that love has its cost. The way she swaps one thing for another, and the way her last line zings us with the truth, is very reminiscent of Dorothy Parker, without Parker’s self-effacing satire.

 

 

 

This week I’ve discovered that Rogers also wrote fiction. I look forward to reading her novels, and getting a chance to peek further into her world.

 

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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.

Poetrybay   Leave a comment

Georgia O'Keeffe

Image via Wikipedia

To read the poem, click here

To learn more about the painting, watch here

One of my very, very first publishing creds. I met George Wallace while I was still in school, going to hear him read in Groton at the UConn campus. At that time he introduced me to Poetrybay and invited me to submit work, which I did. We’ve since become good friends, and have read together on a couple of occasions.

The poem, “On Georgia O’Keeffe‘s Goat Horn and Red”, is based on am O’Keeffe painting I had printed on a tile in my living room at the time. It was written for an assignment in my Writing Poetry class with the fantastic Daniel Donaghy, who had asked us to write a poem based on art work. Unfortunately, he wanted something less abstract, and so I had to write my Charles Sheeler poem for the grade, but that’s another blog post.

The poem in itself is simple, abstract, capturing what I saw in O’Keeffe’s work without getting too deep. Getting in deep came much later in my work. It was cathartic to get into the mix of orange and red swirls, bought at the Recycle Shop in Montville CT to match my newly painted living room’s blue walls with orange trim, a color scheme chosen by my new boyfriend at the time who eventually became husband number 2.

I later sold the tile on Ebay when husband #2 lost his job and I was desperate to pay the mortgage, then lost the house, the living room anyway. But again, another story.

Hmmm, perhaps it’s time to write a deeper poem.

 

 

Inwood Indiana 2011   Leave a comment

Indiana Route Marker

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To buy a copy of the latest issue, click here

To read the issue free online, click here

A misanthrope is someone who hates and mistrusts humanity. Imagine being married to and having kids with a guy like that. That’s what I did in the 3 dollar poem, “Mr. Misanthrope”, that Inwood Indiana just published in their Breaking Curfew issue.

The poem’s title is also a friendly homage to the Beatles’ song, “Mean Mr. Mustard” who was, if you think about it, a misanthrope. And a dirty, dirty man.

3K Down, and No Ending in Sight!   2 comments

Zombie Love Forever

Image by Walt Jabsco via Flickr

Writing during the week is difficult. By the time I get home, get kids, get everyone fed and washed and asleep, there isn’t much drive left. On the weekends, however, even with kids, I get a nice little gap of time to write. Naptime is my time, and I squeeze as much as I can out of it. Today, that squeeze got me over 3ooo words, and 6 pages. I don’t think I’ll have a whole novel at the end of the month, and I haven’t even touched the project I went into NaNo with the first week, but progress has been made, and I’m grateful for the push into longer projects.

Today I introduced new love interests for both of the main characters, creating two separate love triangles. Oooo, tensiony, right? I mean, especially considering two of the four people involved are zombies??? Jane has a best friend as well,  and her favorite pizza is Hawaiian barbecue chicken. The back story is just about wrapped up, and a lot of the action is going to pick up very, very soon. Considering I myself don’t have a clue as to where it all ends, I’m pretty pumped.

Alas, tomorrow the project goes on  the back burner, as I will be in NYC at the Bowery Poetry Club at 4 pm doing a reading. If you’re in the neighborhood, you can come. If you aren’t, you can watch it live. Find more here: http://www.bowerypoetry.com/#Event/85825

Inwood Indiana   Leave a comment

William Blake's The Body of Abel Found by Adam...

Image via Wikipedia

You can read “Cain: A Life” and “Mother” here

You can buy a copy of Issue 2, Hawthorn Road here

I have been working on my first novel. Well, not a novel, really. Don’t think I have the attention span for a novel yet. Let’s call it a novella. It’s about Cain, son of Adam and Eve, cursed to walk the earth without rest for all of time. It’s also about the people he meets along the way in modern times, mostly in the midwest section of the United States, and how they react to meeting a man who keeps moving, has no moral code good or bad, possibly no soul, and no goals. Slowly witnessing his emptiness allows them to realize, and to fill, the emptiness in their own lives. It’s happy for them, sad for Cain, who must keep moving and has no idea about the good he has done.

I started writing Cain around the end of last year, but I’d had the idea in my head for quite some time. Unfortunately, I can only work on it from time to time, here and there, before life, or other ideas for other stories and poems, overtake it for awhile. I came to a standstill around the time that I was sending out a batch of work, and decided to send what I had so far out, in the hopes that seeing it in print might encourage Cain to emerge.

So, now that it’s out, I’m patiently waiting. If you get a chance to read it, and like it, please don’t be shy about letting me know. Likewise if you hate it. I want to know what you like as well as what you hate, both will help me out a lot in getting the other 90+ pages written.

Mother is a good scary poem, perfect for this time of year. Especially if you suffer from arachnophobia.

Enjoy!

 

Maintentant 4   Leave a comment

outside the Cornelia Street Cafe

Image by roboppy via Flickr

http://threeroomspress.com/maintentant4/

Every year, Three Rooms Press in New York City puts together a collection of Dada poetry and art under the title Maintentant, and dedicates a Son of Pony reading to Dada as well. This year I was fortunate enough to have a small poem and photograph included in the 4th installment of Maintentant, entitled “What my Refrigerator Feels”.

To me, the secret of a good Dada piece is the title. You run any random string of words together, put a clever title on it, and people find deep meaning in the nonsense you’ve created. For me, all I did was open my fridge up and list all of the items I saw within, and took a picture for good measure. There was also a companion piece that didn’t make it into the book, called “What My Refrigerator Says”, where I’d transcribed all the goofy sayings and poetry magnets on my fridge, then took a picture of them. Not as clever, I guess.

My sister and I went down for the big Dada reading, I wrote about that experience in the Legendary, and you can find that article here.

You can watch the video of that performance, as well as some other poets getting their Dada on at the Cornelia Street Cafe here.

Enjoy, get inspired.  Get random. Get Dada.