From December 2004 until December 2007, The Alewife newspaper covered the neighborhood of North Cambridge, Mass. It was a wonderful community of businesses, writers and photographers. The paper is no longer printed, but this Web site continues both as an archive and as an ongoing blog dedicated, mostly, to this humble little corner of the universe.
The poetry editor of The Alewife Fridaywill be on the bill for the "City Night Readings" evening called: "A Presentation of Women's Work: Prose, Poetry & Music" at La Luna Caffé at 403 Massachusetts Avenue.
Joining Lo will be: Coleen T. Houlihan, Danielle L. Georges, Isabella Ruggerio Du Mond and Sole Nazaire.
An Evening of Scenes from ASP’s Henry V with Responses
In the Basement of the Harvard Square Garage
January 28, 2008
A Review by Lo Galluccio of Ibbetson St. Press/The Alewife
Coordinated by Coppelia Kahn, including panel members:
Diana Henderson, Fred Marchant, Normi Noel and James Siemon.
"Henry V" conversations: What is a Just War was the fifth in a series of remarkable discussions that Ben Evett (Artistic Director) and Bobbie Steinbach (Company member) have put together to achieve a community response that expands upon Shakespeare’s themes and show their relevance to modern times.
I last attended and wrote on, “Entertaining Violence” a forum tied in to a marvelous all-male production of “Titus Andronicus.” ASP should be given credit not only for a top-notch acting company but for ingenious marketing, grant endowments and a genuine desire to give money and intellectual capital back to the community
So it was that on the evening of George Bush’s last State of the Union address, an avid audience of about 60 gathered at the performance space of ASP in the bottom of the Garage in Harvard Square. Opting out of the President’s final major speech of his at best controversial career in office – one marked by a costly and unpopular War in Iraq -- the fans of this theatre troupe settled in to watch three scenes from the production and to hear a distinguished panel talk about Shakespeare and issues of warfare. While I feel strongly that the first topic was discussed fiercely and elegantly, I came away wondering why the main question of the evening had gotten a bit lost in the shuffle of eloquence and intellect. I really wanted to hear a rousing discourse on the subject of a Just War, some typology, some philosophical or humane resolve. What better time, I thought, making my way through the holiday lights and snowy streets of Mass Avenue to discuss this issue, than now?
Not only are we $530 billion dollars in debt to a war that is being fought mainly by poor, rural men with few options, we’ve succeeded in an evolution of war devices/terminology that suggest an even colder and possibly more brutal, detached and inhumane way of dealing with our war, than before. We now call civilian deaths,”collateral damage, ““Water boarding” (a form of torture used against those suspected of terrorism, and many believe in violation of the Geneva Convention) was discussed for weeks on NPR recently in connection to the FBI’s “War on Terror.” And, of course we have seen the inception and rise of suicide bombers/bombing unprecedented in history. The latter is not an invention of the Iraq invasion, but certainly given the disturbing justification for this War—the doomsday destruction against U.S. Capitalism we call 9/11-- suicide bombing is on the rise as both cause and consequence. One example of this is the recent assassination of Opposition Party candidate Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan on the eve of elections there by another young suicide bomber. The fact is we have, what several of the academic panelists called, a “surround” to this subject which is reality-based and not entirely embedded in the various interpretations of text or acting of Henry V which penetrated the evening most, though that is the groundwork from which we this event started. Shakespeare’s prism of language, perspective and context was the guiding light.
Today a reporter from The Cambridge Chronicle interviewed Poetry Editor Lo Galluccio about her column which broke the story that there were questions surrounding the ballot and voting in the city's Poet Populist election.
The Chronicle was on our Web site today at least three times for almost 30 minutes total.
In a City of over 300,000 people less than one percent actually voted in its first Poet Populist election – approximately 1,000 ballots were cast and the majority of those for Peter Payack.
To the poetry community this figure seemed rather substantial at first, but on second glance, rather pitiful. If this is a City where the likes of E. E. Cummings started writing (my father moved through dooms of love/through sames of am through haves of give/singing each morning out of each night/my father moved through depths of height) and Bob Dylan lied to say he’d played what Club Passim was back then, Club 47, (okay so he wasn’t purely a poet but he’s America’s premier poet songwriter) where have all the poetry lovers gone?
Are they hiding under rocks by the Charles or did the Arts Council and City Councillor Brian Murphy just not up the ante enough on this first Poet Populist contest so that more people were drawn into what might have been a more significant and engaging race?
The fact is that poetry is raging across the nation in many forms; among independent presses and journals, in MFA programs, at Slam competitions and at open mics.
One has to wonder something else: is Cambridge too polarized between those who attend or teach at its Universities and those who live and work here? Where’s the bridge in Cambridge? When you have the likes of Seamus Heaney and Lucy Brock Broido teaching at Harvard, and then wonderful slam poets from the Cantab competing on a national level, you have to wonder why this contest didn’t reach into the guts of the City in both arenas? And that would have been a very tall order, I grant you.
This is also a problem in City Council elections where the turn out to elect local government is notoriously low. It’s hard to interest the so-called, New York Times reading crowd in local politics. And so it goes. Our butterfly-shaped city is divided and many choose to opt out of public contests because they have rich private and career lives. And well, woe to them when their car gets towed or local officials do make decisions that impact their lives, which is quite often.
Jason Weeks, the executive director of the Arts Council, told me they had tried to come up with an electronic ballot system in concert with the IT Department but could not do it in time.
So, instead of people being allowed to go to the Web site and evaluate the bios of the candidates and vote, people had to download an application and either drop it off at the Annex or mail it in. In addition, there wasn’t the manpower to publicize the election at clubs, libraries and other public places. That may be why many people were unaware of the election and why they didn’t bother to vote.
Next year, Weeks said they can probably institute the changes.
The main controversy surrounding the election of Payack is that he was not one of the original nominees chosen by the Advisory Committee, a committee set up to screen the applications for their merit and decide the finalists to be put on the ballot. [I served on the committee.]
I called Murphy and asked him if the rumor was true that Payack called him and convinced Murphy to put him on the ballot.
Murphy adamantly denied that Payack had appealed to him or that he had put the poet on the ballot. Rather, he said, Weeks called him after Payack had called the executive director and Weeks then asked if Murphy objected to putting Payack on the ballot based on Payack's complaint that he had been overlooked. Murphy gave Weeks his assent.
Weeks told me Payack had presented him, “a special case.”
Payack emphasized that he had done a lot of community work in Cambridge and that his resume was good enough to pass the bar, Weeks said.
Instead of in turn asking the Advisory Committee to review Peter’s request, Weeks said he then called Murphy, who figured that more than less candidates were better for the election.
Payack was added to the ballot around the time Diana der Hovanessian, who was a Fullbright Professsor of American Poetry in 1996 and 1999, pulled out due to an unexpected trip to China. The interesting twist is that Payack wound up winning the election.
Antonio Galluccio was born in Avellino, Italy, in 1917, the son of the Guerreiro family (which means “warrior” in Italian.)
He was one of two twin boys born after WWI, and given up for adoption because of the family’s poverty. Brought to America by Cecilia Galluccio in 1923 at the age of six. She dressed him as St. Anthony to ward off evil spirits during the journey by boat across the Atlantic.
The Galluccios opened a grocery store in Cambridge, where Anthony, who soon took the nickname “Tony, ”was encouraged to study hard, mostly under the store’s ice-cream chest.
He won a full scholarship to Harvard, was the first Italian immigrant scholar-athlete to attend, and became friends with Jack F. Kennedy with whom he played football. Those were the 1940s, known as the Convertible Days, in later films.
[Photos Courtesy of Charlie Galluccio]
While Jack and wealthier classmates lived in the Gold Coast dorms, my father lived at home and worked hard to matriculate into Harvard Law School’s class of 1942.
His real dream was to play baseball for the Boston Red Sox. But he was drafted into WWII and fought with many young men at the time to liberate Europe from the Nazis. His service in the Army interrupted both his law school career and his chance to play big league baseball.
Following his service, he became involved in JFK’s first Congressional race, rallying the Italian vote behind Jack and inventing what came to be known as the Ladies Teas, which met at the Sheraton Commander and attracted women into the Kennedy movement.
A long-time Democrat, and always on the side of labor and defense attorneys as opposed to prosecutors, he was appointed Labor Attorney for the State of Massachusetts under Governor Furcolo in the 1950s.
He also served on the Cambridge School Committee for four terms and did a stint working as an entertainment attorney on Tin Pan Alley with another classmate from Harvard. It was really politics that called to him.
In 1963, he married my mother, Nancy Williams, who came from a Welsh Protestant family from New Jersey. The couple were 19 years apart in age and from widely different backgrounds but met while she was on vacation in Florida and fell in love. My mother’s practicality, American beauty and generosity were a good match for my father’s romanticism and ambitious dreams. They bore three children: myself, my brother, Anthony and my sister Lissa, and made their home in the city where my father had grown up.
They spent their honeymoon at the Kennedy Presidential inauguration in Washington D.C. After a falling-out with Jack’s brother Bobby and a feeling the Kennedy clan were closing in on themselves, Tony detached from their political lives.
But his early involvement with what had become a kind of revolutionary movement for change in American politics colored his memories for the rest of his life.
It bothered my father that Jack had never come over to his mother’s humble home for a coffee; it bothered him that after the political support he had given, that he was never politically rewarded. It was, I think, both a matter of tribalism – Irish vs. Italian, and a matter of socio-economic class.
In 1963, the year before I was born, Tony bailed a small-time Italian-American inventor out of jail, who he believed had stumbled upon an energy invention of great significance.
Citing Marconi and Galileo and other Italian scientific visionaries, my father fought for 15 years to have this long-running battery tested and marketed by some major companies in the United States. His obsessive belief in this project of eliminating the world’s dependence on oil and creating inexpensive energy for everyone, is, in hindsight prophetic, but it cost him his health, his career as a practicing attorney with the state, and eventually his life.
My father died in 1980 of liver cancer after a year of chemotherapy and other alternative treatments.
The inventor may have been a grade school genius, but he was also a temperamental and paranoid liar.
When my father was dying, he still fought to get the invention tested and at 63, I can remember my father saying to a friend on the phone,” I can’t die now, I have to watch my kids, grow up.”
In my first poetry chapbook “Hot Rain” the opening poem is called “Being Visited.”
In it, I wrote from the black vinyl couch of a NY Chelsea studio, “We film too much.”
At that point, I had no TV set or VCR and little extra money to afford movies, but there was something else at stake I thought, in writing that declaration. Life.
I have always had a love/hate relationship with Hollywood films.
Sometimes they are too manipulative for me, too gratuitously violent, and I honestly think that people sell out their own emotional lives to the stars on the silver screen who’re getting paid millions of dollars to emote.
That bothers me. All our dramas should be big and deep and matter, in my ideal world anyway. On the other hand, I’ve always had a hard time distancing myself from films enough to just use them as distraction or pure entertainment, the way most Americans do.
My boundaries get broken down and I identify too much or get too caught up in the story, forgetting that it is, in fact, an artifice.
The wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz, with her hideously pea green face gave me nightmares for years, until I realized that poor Margaret Hamilton the actress had nearly died under the trapdoor she had to emerge out of in a cloud of orange sulfur smoke.
Another good example is when I took my Brooklyn Night High school students to see the film “Glory,” about the first black Union regiment to fight in the Civil War.
They were essentially slaughtered but they died with the conviction that slavery had to be abolished and they wanted to do their part.
There I was; the Social Studies teacher in charge of the field trip weeping helplessly next to the Latino street kid who says to me, “But Miss G., it’s only a movie.” Well, it is, and then again, it isn’t.
Because movies that try to depict actual historical events are meant to teach us lessons, and can be powerfully graphic tools, much more so than history books.
I think of the film “Gandhi” with the Hindu non-violent revolutionary played brilliantly and soulfully by Ben Kingsley.
That is a film that every Social Studies teacher should show in school – it may not be perfectly accurate – but it captures the life-story of the man who defied the British Empire by fasting, protesting and marching to the sea instead of resorting to violence, and who, in turn, influenced, our civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. to end desegregation.
The point here is that poets can change their minds, like everybody else. Now that I have realized the value of great films and have a little spending money even a DVD player, I decided to try and write poems about films as a new writing project.
So far I have written two: both films about women artists but very different in style and substance.
I have not come near refining this craft because it is not so much a critique of the film I am interested in but a visceral account of language that gives some sense of how the movie impacted me. Still, I hope it has some meaning for you as well and that it tells the story in a poetic way.
The first poem is about the biopic just released on the life of French singer, Edith Piaf, called, La Vie en Rose.” Piaf rose to fame in the 1950’s as a recording artist and concert hall singer after a nightmarish childhood and apprenticeship in rough Paris cabarets. Like many famous musicians, she became addicted to drugs and alcohol. One reason I chose this film is because I am also a singer myself. Many know her as “the sparrow” and though a petite woman, her voice could be thunderously and tremendously moving.
Edith Piaf: La Vie en Rose
“Hold me close and hold me fast The magic spell you cast This is la vie en rose
When you kiss me heaven sighs And tho I close my eyes I see la vie en rose” Louis Armstrong
Oh the dream her boxer man comes to her and sits at her bed. She brings him coffee. She floats on love. Her voice is low and cream. The sparrow has wings. But the boxer has crashed over the Atlantic and the dream crumbles. The soul of the singer is shaking her apart. Breaking her heart. The boxer man from Morocco was her one joy. Both fighters and lovers.
She shoots dope. She dreams death. She is pale and withered-- the sparrow, named by the booking agent in the cabarets whose father pimped her for La Marseillaise. She is France. She is the soul of her country. Om Khartoum in Egypt. Billie Holliday in the US. Raised by whores. Anesthetized by alcohol.
St. Teresa sees all this. St. Teresa knows Edith Piaf, the sparrow. St. Teresa of the roses.
No matter how hard you hit me, I will sing back. I will sing until I collapse on stage. My audience, knows Piaf, will hear my voice until the end. Like Judy Garland -- with those arms gesturing, that body swaying, conducting waves well beyond the lithe frame. My voice is my teacher and she will save me in the end. I will not drown.
Then we see another sparrow. She is sitting on the beach and it is pale and dry like sober champagne. Sand surrounds her and she heals as the rhythms of the waves come in. She is at peace even though it is only silence she commands. But her face is ravaged; At 40, she looks 80. Yet her eyes are the eyes of an astonished child.
She knows she too will be gone into an infinity sign, that treble Clef of God. Oh Teresa, where are you? In the end will the sparrow have your roses?
Gone, gone, real gone, gone beyond even the most gone. And still her voice remains:: the rose. La vie en Rose.
The second film for which I penned a poem is about “The Hours” based on the acclaimed book by Michael Cunningham, who also wrote the novel “Specimen Days” which I highly recommend.
The story follows three women living in three different eras whose lives are connected through time by Woolf’s novel, “Mrs. Dalloway.” The story of “Mrs. Dalloway,” by Virginia Woolf, first appeared as a short story, “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street,” published in 1923. The novel was published in 1925.
As some of you may know Nicole Kidman won an Oscar for her amazing transformation with the help of a prosthetic nose from her bewitching blonde self to a dour suicidal and brilliant writer in the English country-side.
But it is a trio of female actresses who spin the story: Julianne Moore (Laura,) living in LA in the 1950’with a doting but less than stimulating husband and a boy child who later becomes an award winning poet dying of AIDS and Meryl Streep who is for all intents and purposes, a reincarnation of Mrs. Dalloway, herself, living in modern-day NYC.
She is the one who is trying to hold everything together with social grace by throwing a party for the poet and who must come to terms with the fact that her flowers arrangements are not enough.
In fact, something is terribly wrong and a party won’t solve it. He will, in fact, throw himself off the window ledge and free himself from his pain.
The party does not go on despite her nurturing ministrations and intense love for him.
I wrote a long version of this poem that still needs revision and a shorter one that I will give you here, inspired partly by Irene Koronas’ work who I interviewed last month for this column:
THE HOURS, based on the book by Michael Cunningham
To live or die because of reading Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Shy Laura takes her friend’s chin and passionately kisses her on the mouth. Two housewives. String of pearls. The boy looks on. He will become the tormented poet.
The meat is bloody in Richmond England. And what is this kiss? What does Virginia say to her sister?
I AM REAL I LOVE YOU. I AM CRAZY. I WILL TAKE YOU ON THE MOUTH LIKE A MAN WITH MY MOUTH. SEE WHO WE REALLY ARE? THE BREATH OF SOULS.
She walks into the river with a stone tied to her leg. The water swirls around her dress as she sinks deeper. She is leaving behind the kisses, and cigarettes, and words, and the breath.
Mrs. Dalloway must be reconciled. We give each other flowers flowers flowers.
Postscript: Virgina Woolf’s beloved husband Leonard made many sacrifices in order for his wife to write and be herself. Eventually, though, she committed suicide so as not to be a burden on him anymore.
For me the kisses between the women are significant because it is they who are trying to find themselves and who understand that passion is, in fact, necessary for life.
Our Poetry Editor Lo Galluccio gave us the heads up on this great Harvard Square event and she is on the bill!
An Evening of Jazz & Gospel
Geoffrey Hicks at the Piano
FEATURING VOCALISTS: JIMMY SMITH, LO GALLUCCIO AND OTHERS
Saturday, September 8, 2007 ~ 7:30PM
Old Cambridge Baptist Church
1151 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
This concert is designed for your listening pleasure and in support of The Legal Defense Fund of Victor Rosario. Victor Rosario, an innocent man, has been incarcerated for 25 years by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is seeking a new trial so that he may receive the justice he never got.
Admission fee is $20 to go toward his legal defense fund.
I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
Sometime this past year City Councilor Brian Murphy was at a Seattle conference and started chatting with City Councilor Nick Licata of Seattle about their Poet Populist Program, a program that’s now been in place since 1999. It jazzed Brian – long supporter of the arts in Cambridge – to think about initiating a program that would combine Art and Democracy in his home base of Cambridge.
Unlike Poet Laureate programs, for which dignitaries or government officials select a poet – like Ted Hughes in England, on a nation-wide basis – Seattle conducts a city-wide popular vote to determine who can speak as the Voice of the People, i.e., The Poet Populist.
Once elected – or selected through a process of governing Arts Boards—the Populist has a lot of freewheel in developing a modus operandi, and a voice to reach out to the various populations of his/her City. In other words, the Populist has a one-year fellowship of sorts with a small stipend to foster the fire of poetic expression among the peeps.
Along with this, of course, goes a list of established obligations, like readings and teaching stints and appearances.
FRIDAY AT OUT OFTHE BLUE GALLERY’S OPEN BARK AT 8 PM (OPEN MIKE FIRST TIL ABOUT 9 PM) EDWARD J. CARVALHO, RECENT AUTHOR OF “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” WILL FEATURE ALONG WITH POET/VOCAL ARTIST LO GALLUCCIO, AUTHOR OF “Hot Rain” AND 2 SOLO CD’S, BEING VISITED, AND SPELL ON YOU. WE HOPE YOU CAN MAKE IT. Cover is $5 for the night.
Edward Carvalho is a twice-nominated Pushcart Prize poet (2004-2005) and author of solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short (2007) from Fine Tooth Press. His poems––once described as "original, innovative, imaginative and brutal"––have appeared along with his essays, reviews, and critical papers in numerous journals throughout the country.
He holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Goddard College (2006) and is currently researching the poetry of Walt Whitman while enrolled as a doctoral student in the Literature and Criticism program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Additionally, he is also the recent recipient of that university’s Twentieth and Twenty-First Annual IUP Doctoral Fellowships and employed there as editorial assistant for the Works and Days journal. A native of Connecticut, he now shares dual residence in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Boston.
“If Henry Miller, Walt Whitman, and Edgar Allan Poe had an intellectual love child, this book [solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short] may well have been result."
“Carvalho’s words come screaming off the pages. Intense, Angry, Awesome.”
––Brian J. Kenney
“Carvalho comments upon (among other things) the frustrations presented by wireless communication, traditional creation stories, animal rights, prostitution, serial killings, and political happenings, all within the pages of solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. Carvalho also presents countless clever references to canonical authors such as Shakespeare and Beckett, proving that this doctoral student has read all of the pre-requisite masters, and is well on his way to becoming a master himself. If Henry Miller, Walt Whitman, and Edgar Allan Poe had an intellectual love child, this book may well have been the result. You don’t need to 'get' every single allusion this author makes; but you do need to wrap your hands around a copy of this book. [. . .] His work challenges you to think about man’s struggle within a plethora of haunting, daunting, and complex social conditions." —Jen Woolston
Lo Galluccio is a writer and vocal artist with published poetry and prose in Lungfull magazine, Night magazine, Out of the Blue Writer’s Unite, Heat City Literary Review II, Ibbetson St. Press, the Bagel Bards Anthology, I am from Lower East Side, Abramelin, www.strangeroad.com, and more.
She is also the poetry editor of the The Alewife newspaper with a column called, “Words and Music.”
Among other venues. she’s performed at St. Mark’s church (Marathon Day reading) in NYC, Borders downtown Boston, Mad Poet’s Café in Warwick, R.I. and Toast in Somerville, MA. As a vocal artist she’s produced two CDs, Being Visited, Knitting Factory Works (1997) and Spell on You (self-release) in Boston 2003. Lo is a Harvard College graduate and attended Berklee College of music for two semesters. She’s been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.
Her chapbook “Hot Rain” was released on Singing Bone Press in 2004, She will be reading at the Somerville Writer’s Festival in memorial for the late poet Sarah Hannah on Novmeber 11th at Jimmy Tingle’s Theatre. “Sarasota VII” a memoir written while a chorus girl in Florida, will be published by Cervena Barva Press in spring of 2008.
Irene Koronas and I meet and talk under an Au Bon Pain umbrella in Davis Square, Somerville as the renowned local Bagel Bards are also meeting beside us. Under a bright June sky, Irene’s characteristic sun-dappled skin and mane of white hair set off her jazzy green and yellow pants suit. She’s taken some time out from her duties as “word catcher” for the Bagel Bards to talk to me about her newly released poetry book: self portrait drawn from many, hot off Doug Holder’s Ibbetson Street Press.
Previously Irene’s self-published an estimated eight poetry chapbooks, among them, species, confessions in 64 parts and flat house, and her last major exhibition was poems and paintings entitled, “The Spiritual Power of Zero.”
An active visual artist in North Cambridge, with NOCA and as an individual, one can immediately see the connection between her art work and her poetry, especially in this latest work, where the poems float like paintings in the center of each page – no punctuation and imaginary frames from the margins of justified borders. She likes to think that the reader can then inhabit the “solitude of the poem.”
She works in many mediums as a visual artist: watercolor, oil pastel, graphite and collage. As with her poetry, Irene’s a self-taught artist with the exception of a bachelor’s degree from the Massassachusetts College of Art earned at 47. “Degrees don’t matter,” Irene said.
“It’s the study that matters,” she said. “I’ve always like to study and why not study what you like, instead of what someone else tells you to?” Still, she admits, with a twinkle in her eye, getting her degree was a lot of fun.”
Editors: Julia Bernd, Sal Coraccio, Kaolin Fire, Sue Miller
This is a dark, wicked, futuristic, funny, brilliant and up/down collection of literature. Some of it pissed me off a bit. I looked up the author of Max Velocity, and, surprised to find she was a female, realized she’d also been anthologized in an L. Ron Hubbard collection so…. Okay then. Now, it’s just I don’t really dig a scenario of no birth control and girlfriends being buried in the earth to undergo labor and having tuberic flesh-eating children. I try not to be judgmental, but a buzzer goes off in me, like, uh if there’s no point to this, isn’t it a bit dangerously misogynistic? But, then, maybe I’m not visionary enough to apprehend the true sci-fi sorcery involved. And that’s cool. It’s cool because the rest of this journal is pretty awesome. And that story was well-written and engrossing. The picture of a female torso growing branches which introduced it, made for a perfect epigraph.
I also grimaced when, at the end of Steve Dines’ “Unzipped” the Iraq War Vet loses his shit completely and smashes a mirror into the face of his well-meaning, stand-by-your-man girlfriend. I got the gritty sarcasm and post traumatic stress disordered telling of Humpty Dumpty dismantled and tortured which he read to his five year old. Again, though, it’s just the violence so exquisitely and bloodlessly drawn that kind of shakes me up these days. I appreciated the long interior monologue which the avenging vet had leading up to his final moments in a park going pervert on a kid as his woman lay in a hospital bed all scarred up. That’s the War. And that is, I’m sure, no exaggeration in some cases. It’s haunting and reflective of how military violence really does warp a soldier’s psyche.
The writing is superb. And these rather grisly tales are kind of exceptions in a sophomore strike that is even better than the journal’s debut. It’s more daring, more surreal and probably more sci-fi. It seems that in almost every case, we’re treated to a tale of life and death, fantasy and fable, reality and hyper-dream. The male violence stories can be balanced thematically against other works in which women are the mysterious and commanding witches, as in “Women of the Doll” – probably my favorite. Or the bonding that develops in an unexpectedly theatrical situation in “Aliens” by Jordan E. Rosenfeld that takes place in an Arizona organic food restaurant when one waitress is fired and the other reveals her fake sexy Russian identity to be one of many shifting personas she dons for fun and transformation. The two dance in front of mirrors in a shack filled with various outfits and wigs.
SPARKS IN THE DARK, A LIGHTER SHADE OF BLUE – a poetic memoir by “the Haitian Firefly” Jacques de Fleury
BOY IN A DREAM CARRIED OFF BY FIREFLIES BECOMES BRILLIANT WRITER
I love the way the fireflies talk in Jacques’ dream, after he’s finally vanquished his step-father, boldly brandishing a knife in his own self-defense. It is his first truly restful night of sleep. And they come buzzing, “Wezzwantzzz youzz toz comezz withzzz uzz.”
These appear to be the same fireflies that swarmed him and his mother years before and made him cry for a day a half.
Now in a dream-state, they appear out of the silence of the night in a green glow and take him soaring up with him.
This is the perfect resolve to the first section of Jacques’ poetic memoir: why indeed the horny, bright, flashy and vulnerable Haitian youth follows the voodoo kings and queens in a dream (legend has it in Haiti that fireflies are synonymous with voodoo) and becomes an evolving artist.
After many trials and tribs away from Duvalier’s oppressive Haiti, Jacques finds himself and his mother “finally basking in the light and smiling as morning filters through our window in the sky, with the American flag fluttering above our heads.”
A Spark in the Dark
In the absence of Light Look Closer And You Will See A Spark!
Jacques Fleury has become a well-known figure on the poetry circuit and journalism scene – his reviews, poems, and coverage of Haitian stories running in Spare Change, The Alewife and the Weekly Dig -- in Cambridge and Somerville and Boston.
Since first spreading his Firefly wings in a dream as a boy, Jacques has cast his spell on many of us as a spoken word artist and writer.
His latest creation, 194-page poetic memoir filled with raw, vivid and lyrical stretches of poetry and a 13-page introduction which defines Jacques coming of age in Port au Prince, Haiti and his flight to America, is a fabulous treat indeed.
Along with the brightly paneled book, which includes an expressionistic porrait of his family in a boat coming across the ocean – dark chocolate faces in an Alice in Wonderland coffee cup sporting colored caps, especially the famous Haitian cowboy hat which is Jacques’ trademark, comes a CD with the same art.
It contains three collaborative folk songs from the poetry in the book, recorded with the duo Sweet Wednesday.
by Lo Galluccio [April 16] "Titus Andronicus," or "The Most Lamentable Romaine Tragedie of Titus Andronicus" may be Shakespeare's earliest tragedy. It depicts a fictional Roman general engaged in a cycle of revenge with his enemy Tamora, the Queen of the Goths.
The play is by far Shakespeare's bloodiest, taking its inspiration from the Senecan Tragedy of Ancient Rome, the gory theatre that was played to bloodthirsty circus audiences between gladitorial combats. The play lost popularity during the Victorian era because of its gore, and has only recently begun to revive its fortunes.
The basement of the Garage in Harvard Square was set up with a rectangular wooden riser and small white droplet lights above it, with a hefty pillar stone-like at the center, surrounded by a circle of rocks. The audience is seated on all four sides of this stage area, something like theatre in the round.
It is a striking trick of stagecraft to go from the commerce of the Garage down into a performance area so clearly defined and pristine.
This is the setting of the Actor"s Shakespeare Project"s latest production of Titus Andronicus - the eighth show in its existence as a company, and also the last in a trilogy season about revenge, starting with Hamlet, followed by Winter"s Tale and now ending with what most consider Shakespeare"s bloodiest work. But as many early works of writers, the themes then are bold, raw and often symbolically manifested. As one friend of mine put it, this
is Shakespeare"s "Reservoir Dogs."
This isn't meant to be the proverbial desert island list of the few sonic provisions you'd take to make it through. Because, for one, there are no instrumental jazz CDs on it at all.
Never mind gospel, world or country. It's my little historical listing of 10 favorite albums.
Before the CD goes the way of the dodo because of digital downloading and iPods, I thought I'd put this together.
Obviously music is subjective and our tastes somewhat emblematic, so this list says almost as much about me as it does about the artists good or bad, that's what you're getting.
What follows is my b-side list of favorite CDs and they are just as good as the top ten.
My favorite 10 CDs of all time: The Beatles: The White Album Prince: Dirty Mind The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street Laurie Anderson: Strange Angels Suzanne Vega: Solitude Standing Joni Mitchell: Hejira Patti Smith: Horses Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville Sinead O'Connor: Universal Mother Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
The Beatles: "The White Album," released 1968. I don't even own a copy anymore but will always treasure and bop to "Back in the USSR" and be haunted by "Dear Prudence" and "Blackbird." Diana Krall's version is awesome.
As a teenager, those glossy pictures inside of the Beatles mattered much. In a dare by a clique of girlfriends, I picked Ringo as my future husband. I've always liked drummers. It's a strange & beautiful masterpiece of the early 70s. George Harrison brought yoga & Krishna consciousness to the US. Lennon challenged the US government to stop its war machine.
I always remember the scene at the end of a film about an actual nuclear holocaust when some survivors with a few hours left in white fallout, dance to a Beatles tune. "You say you want a revolution, well, we all want to change the world." Prince: "Dirty Mind," released 1980. I've got to replace my copy of this one too. In high school I listened to this incessantly. It was so dirty and the beats so hypnotic. The coolest black athlete in school and I sat and listened to it in his car during graduation. "Morning, noon and night I give you head..."
I first heard it at a party in Jamaica Plain and then I couldn't believe how totally seductive and elegantly raw Prince was. He totally broke all the taboos: incest, oral sex, and wow. Then I hung a poster of him in my room at Harvard writhing on a crucifix. And I was soon to be out of my mind in the parallel world of music, insinuating itself, as it does in our lives and dreams.
Rolling Stones: "Exile on Main Street," released 1972. Okay, so the sex and booze factor is high on this rock-blues orgy. I still can't resist the chills it gives me. When things were relatively open & free in my 20's; including the demons, I'd be in a dorm room with a bunch of boys dancing my ass off to this album.
I think it's the Stones' strongest record ever. And you know, I don't have a copy of this one either right now. (Maybe I should have put the Velvet Underground's banana record before this one. The Velvets in the end influenced me and another band I adore, Luna, more, but "you got to roll, roll, roll me, call me the tumblin' dice." Laurie Anderson: "Strange Angels," released in 1989. Here things shifted, a lot. In Chicago my acting teacher turned me on to Laurie Anderson and after Big Science, her debut with Roma Baran, this album floored me. She transcended so many modes of music with her vocal electronics and her lyrics and sensibility. The ode to Pynchon about history is something I quote to myself to this day. "History is an angel being blown backwards into the future. History is a pile of debris..." She really invented the avant-garde in the pop world. As a female artist evolving, I badly needed Laurie. I think the world as we knew it needed Laurie to transmute its weirdness and beauty. This is when I get totally biased toward female solo artists...or maybe this entry would be the Talking Heads album, "Remain in Light."
February and March are full of opportunities to see & hear Lo Galluccio, the paper's poetry editor.
She will be...
Feb. 17--featured on Wake Up and Smell the Poetry, HCAM Televsion in Hopkinton from 10:30 – 12:30 with two other artists. She’ll be performing tracks from her new EP with Leda’s Swan and reading poetry. HCAM studio, 77 Main Street, Hopkinton.
Feb. 19--one of the Ibbetson Street poets featured in this night of poetry and networking, 8 p.m. @ Club Passim's Small Press Night, 47 Palmer Street in Harvard Square, Cambridge $12
Feb. 20--vocalist performing with jazz quartet Blus Cabaret from 6-8 p.m. at the Gateway Art Gallery in Brookline in a Mardi Gras celebaration. Admission is free.
Stay tuned for March: Sweet & Lo = Lo and Josh Klein at Squawk Coffeehouse March 22 & with Richard Cambridge at Emack and Bolio’s in Roslindale March 29.
News: Lo’s Memoir "Sarasota VII" has been accepted for publication by Cervena Barva press. Due out in 2008!! cervenabarvapress.com.
Greatest Uncommon Denominator (a.k.a. GUD) – a new magazine of short/flash fiction and poetry with surreal and beautiful graphics by various artists in mostly New England. Issue 0- Spring 2007; $10; gudmagazine.com; Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GUD is a new journal of top-notch modern literature which embodies both eclecticism and unity. Its stories run the gamut from Gibsonian Sci-fi tales to moving emotional friezes about real people in naturalistic landscapes.
Peppered with fine surreal and free-associative poetry that’s always got an eye to form, the reading public is treated to a rich cut of cake, including the often multi-media inspired drawings and paintings.
Here are some standouts from Issue 0, released just this past month. Hats should be be tipped to all the editors and especially lay out editor Sue Miller and Instigator of the mag, Kaolin Fire (if that’s a real person, or if it’s not.):
There’s Beverly Jackson’s “Fade In and Fade Out” – a great three stanza poem – next to the mixed media work by Fefa called, “Changing Destiny.” The poem is about the shifting perspective one can have watching a movie, about getting lost in them and coming back around to the real details that mark them also.
“My eyes are like the director’s. Eyes seeking out the monster. Looking for the love connection.” page 32
In the past year vocal artist and poet Patti Smith has released three new collections of work in written form and a new CD, called, "Trampin’" with the famous Patti Smith Group, which once stormed CBGB’s (now shut down) in the mid-1970’s.
The title track, "Jubilee," has already been anthologized in a compilation of NPR world music. The second track, "Rose," is devoted to her beloved mom, Beverly, who was a jazz singer and waitress. Patti Smith was born in Chicago and then raised in Woodbury, N.J.
Her real home became New York City after she left work at a “piss factory” and high-tailed it, like so many artists of the era, to the Chelsea Hotel.
Like Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen and Jim Morrision she strove to live and evolve in the City, the Dread City, the enchanted City of New York. It is there she evolved and found a powerful and original voice. She was the female self-described “rock and roll nigger” of the decade. A raven haired waif of fire who took command on stage with an all-male band behind her. And she rocked. This was the beginning.
In March of 1980, after the release of "Easter," and the world-wide hit
“Because the Night” put her on the charts because of its intense
romantic hook and collaboration with Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith
retired the band and married Fred “Sonic” Smith of MC5 and moved to the
Motor City. She lived a quiet life in a Detroit suburb raising two
children and then producing “Dream of Life” in 1988 – a joint
production of both artists’ muses, with the inspiring track, People
have the Power.”
Richard Cambridge’s third book is "Pulsa," his first full-length book, a marvelous work of his own visionary beliefs that are and aren’t quite theological.
It is about a logic of God in one sense, and a belief system of faith, along a path of enlightenment. Richard writes about a struggle with the divine born of a visitation he experienced in the 60’s, an awakening that had to do with the “cresting” of social movements at the time and a vision of Christ, Christ telling him to give up poetry and become a “living poem ‘’ an epistle,” which Cambridge writes about in his Book of Psalms.
At a time when Nixon was invading Cambodia, four Kent State students were killed in a tragic clash with the National Guard and the Black Panthers were on the rise, Cambridge also experienced a call to drop out of normal institutional endeavors – school, the Catholic church – and drop in to what was really going on beneath the surface.
He went his own way with a partner who had been teaching at Northeastern, setting up information centers about racism in colleges, among other things. Born in New Jersey, just outside of New York City, Cambridge migrated to Boston in his teens knowing he needed to uproot himself from home to learn in the unfamiliar. Boston was the City that pulled him forward.
Richard said those who experienced the 60’s full brunt and inside, aren’t living in the past, they were seers of the future, a future that remains with them. We talked at Café Paradiso on a warm October day. After a 20-year hiatus, he began writing again with a manifesto-theatre piece about his fierce intractable addiction to cigarettes.
A man who loves chocolate and was trained by Sufis, Cambridge’s writing is sublime and pure. Pulsa consists of six books: the the Book of Psalms, the Book of Canticles, The Book of Maps, the Book of Oracles, the Book of Breath, the Book of Maps and the Book of Manuals.
Loosely fashioned after Rilke’s Book of Hours which are essentially love letters to God, in each Cambridge sets up an epigrammatic introduction and frames his lessons in a different numerology and spacial format.
I met Richard at a reading at the Newton Free Library in October where we both featured. He is an angelic looking man in a tweed jacket with longish brown hair fringed gray. Cambridge took the stage with magical ease and delight.
He opened with the epigram to his Book of Psalms:
Well, Being I won And wisdom, too I grew and took joy in my growth: From a word to a word I was led to a word, From a deed to another deed. --The Poetic Edda (1200 ad)
This is his favorite book because in it is the crux of his journey. His sometimes pithy, sometimes spacious abstractness can be challenging but the classical even, post-modern humor and awe with which he writes indeed about a spiritual struggle with God is completely engaging. It is a passage he describes as being marked by Fire…
“It was worse then his worst trip on acid. All he wanted was chocolate bars, the pain Was so bad. Then the shaping began – God’s
Hands all over him, around his heart, between His legs, painful and sweet, so…intimate, God’s hands on his body – molding, shaping
Then came the Fire…we won’t even talk About the Fire. Some things are Mysteries. God has a reputation to maintain.”
Asking Cambridge if he believes God changes in relationship to humans and their situation on the earth, he answered, “Absolutely.”
The verse, politics and humor of the Stone Soup host
Sarcastic Haiku 3: American Haiku
F*ck five-seven-five! Americans make the rules. U-S-A! U-S-A!
Sarcastic Haiku 33: American Haiku 2
F*ck five-seven-five! Sequels can be just as good Four more years! Four more years!
Sarcastic Haiku 53: American Haiku Presents: the Iraqi Government Five-seven-five what? Bombing makes it hard to hear. We are free. We are free.
Chad Parenteau admits that his haikus are innately political and come from a sense of outrage. Unlike longer-form poems, they offer quick impact, a punch, if you will toward the enemy. As Chad and I spoke in La Luna Café on Massachusetts Avenue, he said, “It’s like having a CNN camera in your face for a few seconds and giving Bush the finger.” Not that he isn’t sensitive toward the tradition of a formal Japanese haiku…usually a poem that is in three lines of five, seven and five syllables relating to nature, but the American sarcastic haiku is his poetic invention. He says it actually embodies American arrogance anyway to do it like that. In fact, his haikus are really closer to the Japanese senryu which is like a haiku but doesn’t necessarily have a nature theme.
Chad began his haikus as “America was on the verge of bombing another former ally (Iraq),” And he didn’t know how many he would write, though at the time, in 2002, he had vowed to write a poem a week in a black bound notebook he showed me at the table. Bush’s re-election prompted more sarcastic haikus and the poet himself wonders how far he can take the invention, thinking in his own ironical way that it may just “self-destruct” as a concept. But for now, these pieces keep what Chad calls “the liberal id” going. Not proud to call himself a liberal these days because of the ineptness of many on the liberal Democratic side, he nevertheless believes that Bush has “legitimated arrogance and pure ignorance” in America. He also says that being a liberal, or having a liberal perspective is difficult these days because of the intense scrutiny of the right, who are in power and resort to quick backlash.
Parenteau will admit, also, that he knows both sides of the war. What got him going originally was a dear friend who spent a tour of duty in Iraq and would throw candy to the street kids. “I see both sides,” he says. Chad also works as technician for the Veterans Administration in Jamaica Plain, but says his poetry is not much connected to what he does for a living.
When writing longer poems, Chad says it’s most important to him that a poem hinge on a unique image or metaphor, something he learned from a Doctor at Framingham State College where he did his undergraduate work. Later on he studied poetry at Emerson College in a Masters program. We talked about poetry genres: the difference between the performance poet and the page poet.
“A good poem is a good poem, either way,” he insists.
“You could take a slam poet like Regie Gibson and a page poet like Tom Daley and put them on the same bill.” “They’ll both get standing ovations.” But, he says, not only is the slam not for him –“I don’t have that kick”—he describes it as largely a ”marketing strategy to sell performance poetry. “
He only wishes the page poets could come up with something as powerful, sometimes.
When I was a teenager growing up in the apartment building on the corner of fancy Buckingham Street in West Cambridge, there was a boy who lived just up from St. Peter’s Catholic church. His name was Eddie Sperry. Those were the days when we’d have crab-apple fights on Healey Street near the transformer which scared us in thunderstorms, and hide close to each other in the
playground of Buckingham Brown & Nichols School. Later I’d hang out with a girl whose parents were, relatively speaking, hippies, and we’d take baths and listen to Grease and Elton John, especially "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."
Edward L. Sperry with a friend in Hanoi
Eddie Sperry and I both went to the Peabody Grammar School and to get home we’d walk through the Harvard Observatory up a hill past where the stars and planets were on display and the scientists studied black holes and other astronomical categories of space. Eddie was a little pale and wiry, with waves of reddish brown hair around his face. I can remember that he asked to carry my books for me and he said I had a “sweet ass.” Must have been about 12 years old then. He also had a pet snake as I recall and would call me up late, before he watched Johnny Carson on TV.
What I remember most distinctly about those days was one summer when Eddie sent me a love letter spattered with his blood from summer camp where he’d also sawdered a forest green ring for me. He said he didn’t have a “perfection” like I did –which was my competitive swimming – and wished he had one. I believe my mother still has a Kodachrome slide of the two of us at a beach party in Gloucester with us both buried side by side in sand. She didn’t exactly approve of him taking me to the grade school prom in ragged jeans. But he was the closest thing I had to a boyfriend, and we were kind of opposites. Eddie being the quintessential bad boy, or delinquenta, while I was the one always striving to achieve in school. The thing is what always amazed me about Eddie was how brave and crazy and funny he could be.
If you fast-forward through high school and the 1980’s, Eddie and I re-connected in New York City. I left my Harvard boyfriend one night to be with him in his Chelsea crib because I knew Eddie had the goods on the music scene in a way I wanted. Also, I still loved him and we’d never actually made love. Yes, I was being bad, but I’d heard from a mutual friend, that Eddie was dating models and artsy girls and I wondered if he still felt any loyalty to me. After the experience I wrote this poem:
THERE IS A NAME
There is a name for blue feet, For chilly scales up the back, For hot dimes in shoulder blades.
There is a name for love: Quarantine, ammonia, January, fear. These are the wrong names for love.
When I awake union is far removed. In one butterfly wing I dreamt The space of your nose distant The taste of your mouth filament.
Some toothless god smiling. Some hairless goddess shining. In your Chelsea cave: No matter how long, how deep, how wet Our souls are shy of meshing, And we are the meshing kind.
Steep and white, like the Andes and cattle bones. A sea of moans rattling. Red roses crackling like popcorn in our graves.
There is a name for it: saved.
The secret was that competitive swimming was not my “perfection,” it was something I did to please other people and have an identity as an athlete. I was as far as Eddie was from finding what I truly wanted. Yet, for some reason, I found myself in situations that called for his wisdom later on in life.
Eddie got married in the early 90s to an aspiring actress named Margie and I went to their wedding in upstate New York after I returned from Greece on a tour with a LaMama Company. I’d broken up with that Harvard boyfriend, and was dating a bass player someone on the tour had introduced me to.
I remember Eddie wore a crazy top hat at the wedding and had lots of wild musician friends.
Regarding the August 18-24th issue’s cover “America’s Next Musical Genius,” by Sharon Steel….have you all lost your soul(s)?
What kind of Faustian bargain is being made with the “multi-million dollar” button producers and studio wham wizards that you herald Paris Hilton as a “musical genius?” I’m happy to be declared the Madame Defarge of this decade/era, steadfastly knitting the names of plastic aristocracy princess hustlers into my sweater before their executions.
Not that I would have Paris die violently, but a slow agonizing death as a would-be artist couldn’t please me more. Look, there is barely anyone who can’t make a pop manifesto record of some kind, especially living a “large life,” on that kind of dough. Her hiring tactics, patience, “bitch slap” image/voice do not make her a genius.
I might give Madonna that status at this point in her career –and she’s someone I’ve actually nearly risked my life defending to drunken ignorant men who were convinced she was a stupid blonde ho, back in the day. She came up through the Lower East Side with a real band, from a broken home, and she persisted through a scene rampant with fast money, drugs and fame seeking. Read her eulogy to Jean Michel Basquiat (America’s premier surrealist painter who died of a heroin overdose in the 80’s) and you will realize how much Madonna, at an early stage, valued art.
That is a far cry from a to-the-manor-born socialite who belongs, at best on the pages of Vanity Fair, at worst, the Enquirer. Just so you understand in one sense where I’m coming from--I’ve made two solo CDs –both with fair critical acclaim and both for artistic reasons—on virtually no bread. Let’s say, under $5,000, with the support and grace of fellow musicians who love to play and trusted my vision.
I was mentored by and have played with some of the finest jazz and avant-pop people in New York, some of whom in their 50s and 60s still teach music to financially supplement their careers. They know how to make brilliant, if not genius records on practically nothing.
We are, in relative terms, in the trenches of the music industry; the bruised and vivid packages on cdBaby.com and the bios on myspace pages with downloadable tracks.
You are looking in the wrong direction totally for genius, and to qualify Paris Hilton as one—given how little she has ever suffered through anything most of us would call real – is misguided, disgusting and dangerous.
WAY WAY OFF THE ROAD ($18) (Ibbetson St. Press 25 School St. Somerville, Mass. 02143)
also order from lulu.com http://www.lulu.com/content/303269
By Hugh Fox
Reviewed by Lo Galluccio http://www.logalluccio.com
There’s something genuinely and lovingly kooky about Hugh Fox’s world….a little Antonioni mixed up with the Addams Family on TV. And he is a rare –as my good friend Doug Holder put it—"collector of people" as well as being a damn good abstract thinker, concrete poet, zen metaphysician and reviewer himself. You understand his soul accepts the gray zones, the inevitable march to death that we all face, but there’s so much color, and I mean color to burn, in his vivacious portraits of his fellow travelers that it’s a well, kooky contradiction sometimes. He has strange eyes that see the full tilt-a-whirl of sexuality, style, spirit in one felt swoop. This memoir is littered with portraits of his encounters with his contemporary writer-lover friends and COSMEP organizers. But there are also beauteous nuggets of poetry and reflection amidst the rather comical despair and debris of broken lives….lives captured by sex and religion and corporate jobs and disease. Fox holds nothing back in his portrayals. A story’s a story and that’s where most of his heart lies. Oh, he’s by no means a Leonard Cohen type lyricist and closer to Henry Miller in his broad American (especially Chicago and New York tastes), but rather than contemplate what it all could mean, he tells it like it is. Lo Galluccio
In some ways the book pivots on Bukowski…opens with Hugh discovering Charles’ work after being an academic and already writing a book on Henry James and his dissertation on COSMOLOGY IN POE’S EUREKA. Then in the Kazoo, a bookstore in North Hollywood he finds a copy of Bukowski’s "Crucifix in Deathhand" and arranges to meet him. He tells CB that he’s the first writer he’s found who uses words like they used to in Chicago days, meaning I guess like sort of tough lyrical conversation, and Bukowski agrees to give him his manuscripts so Hugh can write a book on him. The book gets published but an advance or comp copy never gets into Bukowski’s hands through the shenanigans of the small press world. It’s a good warm up story for all the mishaps and mine-traps of the world he’s in….determined to do what he wants, follow his instincts and not worry about the dough too much. And maybe those were the times. But they were certainly Hugh Fox.
Now I’m a child of 1964, and my father was a labor lawyer and politician of sorts….he and my mother even attended the Kennedy inauguration for their honeymoon. I’m not from a freewheeling artist family at all. My mom liked to keep her house neat and orderly and we rarely had adult guests over, just one nut case I can think of who was the youngest of the Grace brothers with whom my father went to Harvard. He said it was a Communist school. Anyway, what astounds me is the sheer people power of Hugh Fox, while he’s dressing up as Connie Fox in black latex and doing archeological digs in Peru and checking in on his friend Harry Smith and dropping in all over the place to visit wacky artist friends. It’s astounding to me….I feel like a f_____g puritan compared with this tribe of people.
As he puts in on page 21, "I had this wanderlust, vagabond, hobo thing in me that wanted to just rush to meet LIFE, EXPERIENCE, WHATEVER WAS NEW, ORIGINAL, CHALLENGING AND GRASP IT TO ME."
There’s a longish section in the book about Harry Smith, a COSMEP cohort who becomes its Chairman of the Board, who is married to a woman named Marion who deteriorates from brain cancer. It starts with her feeling, "goofy" and progresses to the point where the tumor has to be operated on, but has spread. She winds up in a nursing home and Harry takes up with a kind of ball-busting nymphomaniac bohemian woman who is rather disliked. Hughes writes,
"Back in the Fall of 1986 OTHER VOICES (Chicago) published a short story that really isn’t a short story at all but the condensed novel that in turn is condensed LIFE. The decline and fall of Marion Smith. " But see, there’s one sentence devoted to the work, and pages and pages describing the actual people relationships, Harry’s reaction, the almost soap-opera drama of it all. Stuck in this section is a poem called "Deciphering the Brooklyn Hieroglyphic:
"The faces talking
WHAT AM I DOING HERE,
WHY DID I EVER LEAVE
SAN JUAN, MANAGUA,
WHY DID I EVER LEAVE,
The poverty for the pain,
Koreans in the delis,
Hindus in charge of the porn,
Ghosts of Yorubas, los
Caribes, this is where
I belong… p45
Hugh’s revelation that he’s Jewish and not Czech Catholic as he was raised to be, is another turning point in the book. And when Marion Smith is dying, his Jewish friend Menke comes into her room and they both pray over a long meditation involving Archangels and birds and God and Gabriel….an extensive prayer to prolong her life.
Hugh also gets involved in a three-way marriage down in Brazil with his wife Nona and Bernadette.
George doesn’t know I’m writing about him. I doubt he even knows where I am anymore. I can trace him to a suburb of Boston, a phone number and his wife’s revelation that he is no longer Catholic, but Unitarian.
But, maybe it isn’t the ghost of George I’m reckoning with these days, but some ghost of me.
At any rate, recently assigned to a top-secret temp assignment at the Park Central Building in downtown Boston, near the Arlington Street Church, the trendy up-scale new yoga salon, Exhale, and all those shops on Newbury Street, I couldn’t help but remember my old friend and mentor, George Perry.
You see back in the late 1970’s there was actually a movement in state government for high school student rights.
We forget, but the times were considerably more liberal back then. And as a result public and private high school students in the Commonwealth had representation at student service centers across Massachusetts, lodged in offices at the regional headquarters.
One of several students representing Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, I was hired by George Perry as a staff member at GBREC which existed down a reclusive road behind what is now the Alewife Station.
One of the other student staffers, William DiBlasio, hailed from the then Pilot School (an alternative program in C.R.L.S.) and is now a prominent member of the New York City Council. I have lost track of our third cohort who went to Lexington High School.
I guess we were paid minimum wage and were charged with the broad task of upholding student rights in the Commonwealth.
That meant more explicitly, that students had freedom of the press, freedom against having their lockers searched without due cause, freedom against racial discrimination, etc. And we were very for real about it. We had a secretary in our office, a young woman in her early 20’s to whom we could give correspondence to be typed.
We answered calls from students and gave workshops to teachers about student rights. George was our undisputed and well-loved leader. He, also, was way into his work.
Every summer back in the day when there was state funding, the student leaders would go on retreat to a small college in the Berkshires for a few days and simulate the state government.
We also had talent shows and voted on movies to watch for recreation… and I have a vivid memory of George’s first born vibrating on a table in a big room one night while we danced to Prince’s first CD, “Dirty Mind.” I was probably singularly responsible for that record being spun, because I adored it, from the moment I first heard it at another student leader’s house in J.P.
We mingled, we wrote proposals, we allowed the adults to guide and judge us. There was something terribly and fantastically harmonious about those times. How did those adults manage our raging hormones and channel us into discussions of legislative decisions?
Well, they did.
We even accepted that our adult peers had the legal right to drink a beer after a long day as counselors and we could not.
However, the awareness, political and legal, of these issues always crossed the table first, which was in retrospect pretty cool and pretty democratic, especially in light of these times when more Americans vote for their American idol on TV, than for the President of the U.S.
The reason I remember George, who ‘d grown up in East Cambridge, the son of Portuguese parents, and the product in part, of Bentley’s Business School, who then went on to get a Master’s of Education from Harvard, is that he played an instrumental role in my life emotionally and intellectually, especially following my father’s untimely death in 1979.
He was more like a young uncle to me than a boss. When I acted in high school productions, he came and wrote me cute notes. When my father did pass on, George came to the funeral at St. Peter’s Catholic.
Red arrives in a girl-proud sweater with a big red heart on it, carmine cat-eye glasses that sit perfectly on her nose and that trademark deep auburn hair, now with “low-lights” of black.
Her new hand-made poetry chapbook, "May December," came out in late July/early August and Red sold out all her copies at a recent feature at Stone Soup at Out of the Blue Gallery.
She tells me laughingly that she read a lot of “new erotic stuff” and that’s probably what sold her chapbook, though the poems weren’t in it. Even so.
In her introduction to May December she writes: “I’ve often considered – do we die and leave the earth completely, leaving not even a trace of our soul?
Are we reincarnated in another form? Or maybe we never fully leave the earth once we are born into it, leaving a small bit of ourselves behind after we die? I’m not talking about religion, rather about who we are, the mark we leave on the world and why we do it. Each of my writings holds a piece of my soul…”
I first encountered Red reading a poem for Sylvia Plath at the Gallery. It’s called “Panic Bird”, a title I like very much.
And yet, I think, Red is a somewhat unlikely candidate to be a devotee of such a dark female poet.
As seminal as he was for many of us, her poems, like Daddy, which Camille Paglia just anthologized, can border on psychotic.
But Red has levity on the subject, having researched a great deal to write her senior thesis for Vermont College on how Plath’s poetry was effected by her turbulent relationship to poet Ted Hughes.
I ask her if she’s seen the movie version, with Gwyneth Paltrow, and she has.
According to Red, the pivotal scene before her suicide was a Hollywood concoction…Hughes coming home to seduce her and then tell her that his mistress is pregnant. “It never happened that way,” she says….”in fact there is evidence to suggest she didn’t necessarily want to die. Two people were supposed to come by her flat and one didn’t show, the other was late…” I admire anyone who can bring an upbeat vision to that famous scene. I say the same thing about Marilyn Monroe, another famous blonde of a totally different kind.
"POEMS OF SURVIVAL" by Marc Widershien Poplar Editions 2006
There is much to admire and much to absorb from Widershien’s poetry collection, “Poems of Survival.” I may have quarreled a bit with its cover as it seemed too agit-prop, stark black vs. white, a baby in a womb that could be an anti-abortion shot, but after speaking with Marc, I learned he had the movie Space Odyssey 2001 in mind.
The initial poem reads like an evolutionary list, or a Zen koan: voices are born on crests/children float up in test tubes/gnosis/dawn shimmer/nuclear/hieroglyph. In fact, the book’s scope and patina of colors ranges well beyond the black and white of its face. Widershien believes as Joni Mitchell sings: “Every picture has its shadow and its source of light, blindness blindness and sight.”
For him the extreme polarity of views taken by some in the world is destructive, whereas a duality in nature with reasoning shades of grey, is what he sees and prefers to describe. The world is not an either/or proposition, though the themes of hope, survival and ultimate surrender do prevail, as in
“The Appearance II,”
“from the dark intangible inception
we exist in the first dawns of already vanishing days.”
For Marc knows, as in poetry, …” everything on the page is told once but over and over.” From Words, for Erik
There are many beautiful, even gorgeous rhetorical moments in this work, but what is very satisfying is the concrete place the earth has in it. Indeed we are, but are not just moon-children cast into space in fragile cocoons.
[I would like to thank Roger Nicholson’s “Roger That” for inspiring this article. Soon, I will return to my duties as poetry editor. And if he wants to review some poems, Let it be. Whisper words of wisdom. Let it be…..
Lo Galluccio Ash Wednesday March 1, 2006]
I am walking back through the fierce cold now with what looks like a grey moth across my forehead, for it is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent for Christians. The Rector says it is a sign of mortality—the smudge of oil and ash-- and is our symbol of death in a sense, crossed by life.
I feel some despair and much hope during the service -- a group of 12 or so congregates in a half moon around the altar and the cross.
And during and afterwards, I can’t help thinking about my “sins” and about what a Woody Allen movie once deemed, “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” I am also thinking about a Peacock, the Kurdish Peacock, their religious icon embodying both good and evil, as I reflect darkly on the brutal and foolish war that now seems to threaten a Civil one in Iraq.
“It is as if the Anglicans bombed St. Peter’s Catholic and the next day they retaliated and bombed Christ Church on the Common,” I say to my mother as we are driving through my neighborhood. It is all I can do to imagine what a religious war in Cambridge would be like.
I remember my grandparents, both Welsh Presbyterian, who bravely were cremated, accepting with grace and wisdom the simple limits of our sensual lives. And I am thinking also, of a Catholic lover who once told me, as we were both engaged as actors at the Alley theatre in Houston, to “sin bravely, sin.”
Of course, we did. And I have. And there are times when these sins, these misdemeanors, seemed necessary, and I slipped by without intercession of the Devil’s real whips; disease, injury, imprisonment, death.
Oh I can tell you some stories…as we all can. For it is a day, I think, as Easter also –like the pink clouds through a blue dusk— approaches, to reflect on the gray shades of sin….
It astounds me now that I spent almost a year ducking the turnstile in New York City because I was poor and got away with it, until the day when I was caught on the way to a music studio uptown to record a dance-track. About five New York City police (under Guiliani’s reign) were standing against the wall across from the turnstiles and clearly saw me avoid the fare. In an instant, I knew I had been caught.
But what I didn’t realize is that without sufficient identification on me, I could be taken to jail for the price of $1.50 token. Oh yes, there was justice, in the form of an African-American female cop who seemed amused by my red leather hi top sneakers and my breathless plea: I have to get uptown…. And then, when I offered to show her my name and address on my checks, she scoffed, “Are you trying to bribe me?”
It was over. Handcuffed, three hours in the holding pen, fingerprinted and photographed…what saved me was doing some yoga to calm down and singing. The police seemed to enjoy that.
Almost 12 hours later I was escorted into night court, after being teased in the holding cell that I might do time or be put on probation, and a handsome Irish lawyer with a snazzy tie approaches me and simply gets all charge off. I had no past criminal record: it was a $1.50 token. But there is the cost of a misdemeanor and then I realized, also, why should I get away with riding the train for free when everybody else…of course.
There was the time I can barely remember, when a handsome patron of the bar I worked at during college, took me out on a date to the Top of the Hub and then let me drive recklessly tipsy and without a license back through the streets of Boston. I think this is the sin, or crime, for which I am most grateful to have escaped punishment.
Let me say the truth is a small bird that hovers around wounded You cannot cage it, or catch it, or let it fly alone Let me say the truth is a small bird who plunges for pity And who feeds on the city at the edge of your soul Let me say the truth is a small bird, who’s blind and who aches But who soars for our sake, and can’t leave us alone --Lo Galluccio
One windy dark night in Houston, I decided to sing at my first open mic a capella the poem above. I was terrified, even though I knew I had the bluesy melody down and the voice for it. My fear had me circling the Montrose neighborhood with its huge banana trees and dreamy lights on my ten-speed bike many times before I got to the club, a place called Blithe Spirits.
Months later, I would leave Houston, where I was acting at the Alley Theatre, in some anguish but it was Patti Smith’s song “People have the Power” that got me through.
February is our designated black history month. Talking to a friend of mine who has written many publications and articles about relations between the races in a hyper-zany way—now in a kind of literary exile in Berlin -- grounded in his history, told me that in fact June would be the better month for black history.
Many people celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation on Juneteenth day because it isn’t clear which exact day the Proclamation took hold.
I suppose the closeness to Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is a logical juxtaposition, but a warm month like June would be a beautiful substitute.
I associate the poem about truth above with a writer I’d become familiar with through a novel which is now a Broadway musical, “The Color Purple.”
Experimental poet and painter Irene Koronas based in Cambridge began creating when she was 12-years-old.
She explored language by reading and writing poetry and eventually fell in love with Octavio Paz, Cavafy and Yannos Ritsos.
Her Orthodox Greek heritage led her to be inspired by these poets as opposed to many confessional American poets.
Her latest creative exploration Project Zero, has led her to contemplate the meaning, image and representation of zero in all its many forms.
You will find paper reinforcements in some of her artwork because they are, after all, little sticky zeros. The title painting of her exhibition up at the O’Neill branch of the public library this month is titled 1 with 0=10-0_1 full circle.
Looking for zero, word combinations (o)
Wording zero’s representation, round sound Void of biology, creator of chaos. Who belongs Open? O differentiation from others. O only alone Allows alone. O look you fools collapse
So broken so whole so smooth, so long So propitious to soothe to group to block Combinations; odd one equation annoys power; Old power oppositions. Zero uncovers
Look how wantonly, look you opposites, come, come. One, one good to two Zero zero plus two, no addition Only zero operates somehow out of thought, subtraction. Others also born from cosmos, from reason, from axiom of you.
And Project Zero is not the first time Koronas has looked at numbers for their spiritual and artistic value. Her father made lists of numbers –pages and pages- before going to the dogtracks to bet and her Aunt was a compulsive scratch ticket gambler.
For Irene the numbers have a mystical meaning, for instance 1+ 2 = 3, is like the trinity. Her cubist paintings could compare with Eucharistic bread, broken into pieces but always whole.
Indeed her paintings --which relate to her poems like abstract correspondences-- are usually made on a grid composed of squares, which like eyes have images (or pupils) at the center.
On Dec. 10, at St. Mark’s church in Manhatten’s East village, where I will join, poets, dancers, and other musicians in a line up emceed by a Native American named George Stonefish.
The event is called “EROSIONS AND RENAISSANCE,” and starts at 7 p.m. My band, Will DiMartino, Lou Rossi and I hit around 9:30 pm.
The following is a review of my chapbook “HOT RAIN,” by Carolyn Gregory, a fine poet in her own right.
Having heard of Lo Galluccio for some time as I frequent the Boston-Cambridge poetry venues, I had the good fortune to hear her read poems at a recent feature at Emack and Bolio’s in Roslindale.
I should preface these comments on that reading and her recently published chapbook, “HOT RAIN” (Ibbetson Street Press) with the fact that I am a tough critic to please.
I’ve been doing my own poetry readings and attending nationally and locally known poetry readings on and off for 30 years now, having lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Boston. I’ve heard many pretenders to the throne of poetry and music, along with some very good academic and street poets.
Lo Galluccio is an original and striking voice, based both on the quality of her work and her lyrically pleasing performance style. Her work is an interesting amalgam of the psychological, mythical and musical. Its content is entertaining and challenging at the same time, weaving in toughness and surrealism.
“HOT RAIN” is a musical and sustained piece of work.
In her Acknowledgments, Lo writes “These poems are about love, loss, identity and just the language out of which they are made.” This is accurate but also an understatement.
Galluccio’s best work is earthy, vivid, painful and haunting. Her style is marked by interesting use of conventional poetic devices like internal rhyme, alliteration, the use of refrain, lending to a distinctive, lyrical style.
Her voice is sometimes nonsensical, almost like Dame Edith Sitwell on acid! She makes playful use of rhyming preconscious language in wordplay poems like “The Sweat of His Labor”’s lines: “A mermaid is caught./A mermaid is not.”
The poems occasionally echo poets from another century, while making the subject matter and voice her own:
“The heart pounds in every mask. Desire burns to ashes of wisdom. That is passion’s task.” (from “Virtue’s Tongue”)
There’s an oddly medieval tone sometimes from witchcraft, notable in recurrent words like crossbow, flintlock, repeated interest in Puritans, Hansel and Gretel, black bras and rainy days.
One of the most interesting aspects of her work in the collection is how she manages to mix the Catholic/Christian with the pagan in poems like “No Matter What that God Judges,” one of my favorite in this collection:
“And there’s a Godfather looking down saying That one, if left alone, will find her way to me. But there is also an Earth Mother looking up Within me, humming – she hums gorgeously – No matter what that God judges she or me to be. We string our necklaces and wash our hair.”
You are my brother a blessed rose/ You are my brother a heart of gold You are my brother and you inspire, inspire, inspire
You are my brother a solid brave/You are my brother a pretty white wave You are my brother and you inspire, inspire, inspire brother
J.M. from her new CD “The Wheel”
Jennifer Matthews, poet/lyricist/songwriter/guitarist, has had several defining moments in her career as a performer.
At three, she tells me, her sister says she’d jump up on coffee tables in front of guests and sing “Over the Rainbow:” declaring her intention to be a professional singer someday.
She doesn’t remember doing this, but her sister, a child psychologist, does. She adored the old song and dance movies with Fred Astair and Judy Garland and also aspired to be a dancer.
[Two parallel experiences of mine were listening to Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” in the living room and singing and dancing to the song over and over again. I also loved the Wizard of Oz and played Dorothy in a grade school production.]
Then at thirteen, in boarding school in Connecticut, she had a spiritual experience because of a pact made with another student in the smoke-filled ladies room of the school.
TIMOTHY GAGER is a published short story writer and poet as well as a key player in the Boston literary scene.
His short stories have been published in many literary journals including, “Word Riot,” “Midnight Mind Magazine,” “Scene Boston,” “Thieves' Jargon,” “The Insights Anthology,” “VerbSap,” “Swankwriting (83 Words)” and “Write This Magazine.”
Master of the small press scene, Hugh Fox, wrote about Gager’s first chapbook of poems:
"His work is super-realistic, I hate to say the Beat-Buk school, but, in general, that's where he's coming from. At the same time, though, there is a touch of lyricism in his work that hearkens back to romantic classics. All these little glimpses of Beauty in the midst of the sordid, heavy Everyday: "Love/will walk/into this bar/(and it will)/maybe/a funny drunk gal....her hip bone/against my stomach/her face suddenly/exquisite, sensual/until she leaves.../she is/ IT HER SOMETHING ELSE/all rolled/into/one. /She is/about/thirty minutes/of hope caught/within the/blink of my eye." ("The Same Corner of the Bar")."
“The Heat City Literary Review,” the brainchild of Gager and co-editor Maria McCarthy, is now in its second issue and is on sale locally at Porter Square Books. The quarterly magazine, which debuted in 2004, has an archive at the Web site: heatcityreview.com.
Gager said the title came from a cold Boston night when the heat malfunctioned and went up to about 80 degrees. For a Boston winter that made it a heat city.
He draws a parallel to the Paris Review in the way the Journal’s formatted and is proud to have quality work the likes of Nightrain and Agni featured, he said. Volume II includes fiction, quick fiction, poetry, a memoir and a review.
Gager wears another hat as the emcee of the Dire Reading series at Deborah Priestly’s Out of the Blue Gallery on Prospect Street.
Five or six years ago, Gager said it was difficult for unpublished authors to read around Boston, but now his series and others affords an ample chance on the first Friday of the month.
It certainly is a credit to his hard work and energy, when in April, Dire celebrated its 50th session.
Timothy Gager (right) standing with Papa-son Patrick Hemingway and Gager's Heat City Review co-editor Maria McCarthy at the J.F.K. Presidential Library at Boston's Columbia Point.
Lo Galluccio, poetry editor of The Alewife, interviews Timothy Gager for her "Words & Music" column in the September edition of the paper.
Gager is one of the founders of "Heat City Review" magazine and the impressario behind the Dire Series poetry readings, and with Douglas Holder, the Third Annual The Somerville News Writers Festival, which will take place at Davis Square's Somerville Theatre in November.
The poetry editor of The Alewife, Lo Galluccio, will be one of two headliners tonight at the "Emack and Bolio's Presents" poetry night in Roslindale Center.
Galluccio will be joined on the bill by Richard Wilhelm. Wilhelm is the arts editor for The Ibbetson Street Press the Somerville-based literary magazine, which regularly features Galluccio's poetry and reviews, said Marc Widershien, the series' curator.
After Galluccio and Wilhelm, audience members will be invited to take part in an open mike session, he said.
The poetry series, since its beginning in April 2003, has been held on the last Thursday of the month in the art gallery in the rear of the ice cream boutique, he said. The show begins at 7 p.m.
It’s August, that month of hazy zenith summer and the ultimately turning, turning into fall. There are already dead leaves on the sidewalks but we’re not supposed to notice them. Fallen leaves belong to autumn, as so many great jazz singers have intoned.
My poet of the month is not a neighborhood maverick, but a far-flung genius from Detroit, who writes up past and present in glorious, strange and tantalizing language.
If Walt Whitman had been a woman, all of nature would have been reconfigured to a different time, zone, place. That is what Connie Fox’s poetry makes me believe. And it’s Whitman who this free verse of gorgeous and engorging poetry reminds me of most.
From the title poem: Blood Cocoon, “small epiphanies you take me into your secrets I’ll take you into mine/rigid white sprouts out of rich decay….Inside Fushia/the world streams/monkeys across the stone faces of god.”
My featured poet for the July is Coleen T. Houlihan.
Coleen’s first chapbook of poems, “Desire’s Burn” has as its centerpiece a passionate fable she based on a Hans Christian Anderson story, The Little Mermaid.
The poem’s called “The Human Heart” and is both lyrical and powerful – about a mermaid who trades with a witch her voice for human legs.
A tragic love story, its initiation came after a Tori Amos concert, from which Coleen says she left feeling both “empty and inspired.” As it happens, a few days ago, Coleen won a contest over the radio, and the chance to meet Amos in person.
She asked Tori what advice she would give herself now as a teenager looking back.
At first stumped, she went on for about ten minutes and transfixed Coleen who was able—in a basket of treats in honor of Tori’s latest CD—to slip “The Human Heart” to the singer who gave it to her assistant and said, “Make sure I read this.”