...In-between sets from poet Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow

September 23, 2019

Divine Paraiba, Talk to Me

I'm not what you'd call adept at asking friends for favors, like "will you please review my book?" or "can you get me into the private lounge where the illustrious poet is yawning and thinking about, where did I put that credit card a few days ago or, whose phone number is this on this slip of paper and do I need this thing?" Because friends have their own lists of of "gotta-do's" up to their necks, and I'll never be comfortable pushing aside an ottoman to get my question answered, all at the expense of losing someone's respect. 
So it's looking like if you want me you'll find me at the house, usually with the mister, usually letting him watch his crazy Westerns. 
And that's why, and when I say blue, I mean out of the flawless blue, like the, oh excuse me, Her Name is Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba, sweetie, all 191.87 carats, she's a dinner plate, baby, a flawless, inclusion-less, see-through-perfection majestic piece of earth's dynasty, from the legitimate Paraiba mine-now shut down forever, mind you-and, where was I...out of the complete blue, I get an email...

Sincerely, if you have to ask, you can not come close to affording....

...from a friend, a wonderful fellow, and a good poet to boot, and a student in my poetry workshops, Al Fournier, just a great guy, who writes me, out of the complete blue (see above) this laudatory "review" of a new poem of mine just published in Plume Journal called "I'll Be Fine." So the really striking point to me is he gets it, straight on. What he writes, aside from the really sweet complimentary stuff that, hey, I appreciate very much, is exactly what this poem is essentially conveying. How happy, how lucky, I felt, to have a friend who comprehended the underscore behind the overlook. 
Al Fournier, watch for his poetry. He's coming for you.

Here's his review of "I'll Be Fine":

"I have been enjoying your poem in Plume so much. I have returned to it and read it several times. It is beautiful. Alive and a little bit heartbreaking. I love your word choice throughout. Delicious!

I feel as if the horse is poetry itself. “the most turnabout, brimful thing” to be admired and aspired to. The people cannot keep away. The people, maybe, are aspiring poets, mesmerized by the horse’s grandeur and gorgeousness.

At first, I thought maybe the horse was the poet, not be lauded from the towertops (great word). To be prevented by whomever put up the fence, from running free, from being fully appreciated.

And the bit about the Oreos is real, charming, funning and mysterious. I don’t see how it fits the whole, exactly, but it feels right. It is like a consolation prize for the speaker / poet. A human moment. While some things are beyond our reach, we can enjoy the simple pleasures.

Whether my interpretation misses the mark or not, I adore this poem. I feel its energy, the way it moves. I can see the horse’s broad shoulder in the glassy sun. I will return to look at him again later."

Thank you, Al.

August 9, 2019

No Egg, No Soy, Lots of Fiber

Someone I know talks on the phone to me, sometimes an hour goes past, and afterward I think to myself, "People in NYC actually get upwards of 250 bucks an hour for this very thing," but I listen, and am truly interested for a bunch of reasons. He's a very kind person. He knows a lot about a few pristine areas and freely shares everything he knows with me. I always have one ear courtroom-tuned where I've caught him in info that tells me he's considered "x" prior to just this once, or an approach to something set him off in the wrong direction, which is why "x" is now the situation. I miss working in law. It took me years to find great, totally ethical attorneys to work with, and really remarkable that they were the most monetarily generous. I remember that bird's-eye maple conference table that took up the entire size of the conference room. That wood was the prettiest I ever saw. All this time later, now, I know whomever did the lacquer job on that table was a master.
It looked very much like this--

A really long time ago, something like 28 years, maybe 27, someone sat me down in front of a computer. A tiny Apple computer I'm pretty sure, with a screen that was maybe 10"x 6" and that's if you measure the length before the height first. I revolted like a sprayed-on wasp's nest and kept saying all I wanted was a sheet of paper to write on, a sheet of paper and a typewriter! And this man kept patiently showing me what one key did, and another key, and all I wanted was a sheet of paper because every time I hit a key myself the thing talked back to me. It spoke. It said, "I'm tryin' to think but nothin' happened!" And I looked at the man, and I said the words I've been repeating about technology these past 3 decades, just about: We're going to hell in a handbasket now, boy! 
Because I knew, I knew it, just like Dr. Einstein knew about his bomb, they wouldn't be able to corral that thing back. Oh, to live in Mayberry with Andy. 

March 26, 2019

AWP book signing notice

There'll be some poetry book signing going on at AWP this Saturday. Come on by and say hello!

March 2, 2019

PLUME POETRY 7 is in publication and order-able--one click away!

Publisher: Canisy Press
An author roster like this is a poet's dream come true. I am thrilled to have my poetry in this anthology with these splendid, exemplary poets. You don't have to look too hard for the "needle" of my name in this haystack line-up, I'll say. I swoon just having Stephen Dunn's name above mine.

You can order your copy of the anthology today at Plume Poetry 7. I am confident this anthology will excite and satiate your literary spirit.

February 6, 2019

Old and New

The Nortown Theater, on Western Avenue, just south of Devon Avenue,
west side of the street
Gene Siskel and I both, but not together, watched the movies of our youth in this great movie theater. Stars in the blue night sky actually did twinkle above our heads. The walls were lined in jewel-toned frescoes. There were large spiral columns holding up the sky, at least as all we children thought, but the spiral columns encircling the audience seating were real.
There was a second story to the building, where a marble staircase led you to the marble ladies' restroom. Once inside, it was magical to an 11-year-old. I will never forget the metal machine affixed to the restroom wall at which you could purchase, for two quarters, ladies' private needs, bobby pins, soft thick wrapped kleenexes, and most fantastically, a rich, red miniature lipstick. Ah, Debbie and Geralyn and me, we were swept away. 

It was at the Nortown Theater we saw Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet over a dozen times, Buster and Billie, still a film dear to my heart on so many emotional levels, on top of which with that gorgeous Hoyt Axton theme song, oh! The Exorcist, once and once only. I believe it scared me so much I did sleep with the light on in my closet for a week. So many, many movies. You know the phrase--it holds truer here about theaters than almost anyplace: they really don't make them like they used to. I think I bought that lipstick once. I think also I was too timid to try it on.

Meanwhile, front and center, I've been teaching poetry workshops quite often and having a grand time. I have a student who has published a new chapbook with a fine press for which I have provided a blurb and the book is sublime. I'll write more on that on a future post. Gads of other students are sending their brand-new shopped poems out all over the place! I'm thrilled for them and their best cheerleader. Here's a photo of one of my classes at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe--these folks are great people, and very good poets.
Poetry Ms. Workshop Students
They've inspired me to light a fire, finally, under my own self. No less than eight poems for my next full collection are in progress as I write this blog post. I'm very happy that my muse has returned and unpacked his bags. Always a good sign.

October 31, 2018

Poem Acceptances Are the Best Candy


McCall's vintage pattern for a "Poet Shirt" costume
What's better than chocolate and candies? I used to think nothing, but things do change...this morning I received not one but two poem acceptances, one from an outstanding annual anthology, and the second from a well-read and much-respected literary journal, so I'm good if I go put on an old white nightgown, wrap a black leather belt around it and swashbuckle my way into throwing something in the skillet tonight for dinner. Eye patch, I need an eye patch. I can't help it; it looks more like a "pirate" than a "poet" shirt to me.

Bring two eye patches, please. Keep one for yourself.

October 23, 2018

October 2018 Poetry Book Exemplars, you say? 'Bout time you asked!

Ms. Grace Cavalieri

This is the lovely and gracious Poetry Book Reviewer, Grace Cavalieri. She has a monthly column with the above-bannered magazine called Poetry Book Exemplars, further indicated by pertinent year and month. This month's is called 2018 October Poetry Book Exemplars, and I have the amazing great fortune to have had my new collection, Horn Section All Day Every Dayselected as one of October 2018's outstanding books for review. It's a thing like delicious freezing ice cream mouth shock when I think of the magnificent company my book keeps among its fellow exemplars. Listen, and I don't go around prefacing sentences with single words like "Listen" or "Look" at all, ever, but this time, this time, let me tell you....
It's funny, because in Ms. Cavalieri's review you can see down below--I reprint the whole thing for you, that is the size of my overwhelmed state--she has a sentence that is more than precious. She says, "This girl's got game...." Girl. I love that. There's something about me that people sense doesn't get old. I can't deny it. It's not a deniable thing. I wear the lingerie. I dance the dance. Heck, I'm the one pulled over getting the speed ticket. And tomorrow's my birthday. I can't help it, it's my favorite day of the year. It's a very special day to me! Yours should be to you! Sixth decade and counting. Harry Winston, you can keep that flawless 15c. Burmese ruby. This is a birthday gift priceless to me. I'm overthrilled about this review because something like this has never come my way during my poetry career--my plus-forty-year poetry career.
So I'll sing a little while, and then I'll get back down to lacing up these word-boot Redwings, and climb on up those word-trees, have me some more looksee around.
Thank you for all time, Miss Grace. They named you exceedingly well.

Horn Section All Day Every Day by Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow. Salmon Poetry. 80 pages.

“Super Dan,” a hero from outer space, comes to Edlow’s consciousness to observe our humanity. These thought shards are in the form of “Super Dan Comics Question Box Series,” and they number 88 poems. Super Dan poems are interspersed with others: riffs on music, animals, brothers, baton twirling, policemen, drummers, and even a love poem to bison. What I’m telling you is this is encyclopedic high holiday where Edlow romps with language, risks everything, uses dialogue as if she invented idiom, and writes with high-octane energy.

Edlow houses her imagination in couplets, haiku, narratives and all respectable versification, but the end result is the same. The words burst at the seams with insistence to be original and incorrigible and seem to say if poetry isn’t fun, who needs it. This poet is in her own lane, and manages structural success with unconventional methods. It’s intense reading because Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow believes velocity is trajectory. The girl’s got game. She brings it, and her verbal connections are skill, not coincidence.

 Baton Twirler With Horns

Only the trumpeters and Sharon
drink the peppermint schnapps

under the bleachers.
Good thing half-time is over.

Two-inch white-heeled go-go boots
on a spongy grass field don’t jive

with a flying metal rod
above the head. Keeping the free hand

L-shaped, and pretty all the time,
the non-stop smile even as her head is

thrown back to gauge
shimmering rotation against the overcast

sky. Blue skies disorient the game out of her.
Through a soft chilly schnapps fog

her mind revives the crown of her routine—
the forward bending at the cinched, spangled waist,

her mom rising out of her seat. Dad, silent.
She catches the descending baton

with her right shoulder blade. The wand jumps high, still
in revolution and on the arsis

she grabs it from the air like an oriole. Then kicks on.
Which is when the tassels finally get their due.

[end of review]

August 20, 2018

Washington Independent Review of Books - August 2018 Exemplars: Poetry Reviews by Grace Cavalieri

August 2018 Exemplars: Poetry Reviews by Grace Cavalieri

A monthly feature that looks at books of and about poetry. Read the reviews here.
Kindest Regards: New and Selected Poems by Ted Kooser
Copper Canyon Press. 256 pages.
Esperanza and Hope by Esperanza Snyder. Sheep Meadow Press. 
120 pages.
If You Have to Go by Katie Ford. Graywolf Press. 72 pages.
Sing Silence by Le Hinton. Iris G. Press. 80 pages.
Blue Mistaken for Sky by Andrea Hollander.
 Autumn House Press. 96 pages.
Enter Water, Swimmer by Mary Morris
Texas Review Press. 100 pages.
The Carrying by Ada Limon. Milkweed Editions. 120 pages.
The Goldfish Window by Lisa Beech Hartz
Grayson Books. 100 pages.

Also, most innovative, plus best chapbooks, anthology, and illustrated:
Feeld by Jos Charles. Milkweed Editions. 80 pages.
The Wild Side of the Window by Irene Fick. Main Street Rag. 40 pages.
Ozark Crows by Carolyn Guinzio. Spuyten Duyvil Press. 86 pages.
Lovebirdman by Stephanie Pressman, illustrations by Lydia Rae Black. CreateSpace. 62 pages.

Plus, four books not reviewed but listed as AUGUST’S BEST BOOKS for summer reading:
Someone Is Breathing by J. Morris. Dos Madres Press. 100 pages.

I wanted to be nonchalant about having my new poetry collection listed as an August
"BEST BOOK" by Ms. Cavalieri for summer reading in her Washington Independent
Review of Books column, truly I did. But it's fruitless to be disentranced and lukewarm
when you're jumping for joy like you're half-trampoline -- and I assume all the other 
solid names on this lovely list feel quite the same. Well, except for, you know, 
Mr. Kooser, because don't we assume he's napping after all that tree-trimming 
he does?

Come this October, Horn Section All Day Every Day will receive a full, astute 
consideration from Grace Cavalieri in the Washington Independent Review 
of Books. I can think of very few things I've looked more forward to, and for.

May 20, 2018

Quasimodo's Bell part II

...continued book launch pictorial--audience, buffet tables, and "Satin Bondage" in all its phenomenal glory...

...and one real-life caped crusader...
So much, so much....

Leah LeMoine, in scarf, Managing Editor for PHOENIX Magazine, and one heck of a magnificent lady.

Jax. Man of few words.

Mom, I'm sorry about those black plastic tongs. I know, I know. No time to polish  three sets of burnished tongs.

Booksigning Table, oh!, we sold out Horn Section..., with a few copies for the shelves in the Tempe & the Phoenix stores.
Satin Bondage Cake.
"Snarfed" it, they did, I tell you.

Thank you to the entire sublime audience, and to my great friend Patte Lanus for taking all these photographs!

Overwhelmed by the explosive response. It was beautiful.
Signing books

A true and real SuperHero dropped by for a sip of the bubbly before dashing off to try to keep the planet spinning in the right direction, and stop it from hurting itself. The people saw, and they believed.

Thank you to Amy Schwab, and her daughter, and her daughter's friend, for this photo. Very much appreciated. 
Yes, Mom would say, "don't let the grass grow under your feet." Sure, you've heard that one.
So I won't. There's a new and third collection a' brewin' right now. Going to give it my all.
I've decided to call this period my National Poetry Summer: May 1-Sept 30.

Big Love to Everyone who came to the launch and made the celebration for Horn Section All Day Every Day so memorable and extraordinary. I never forget.

Oh, interested? I was waiting on you to ask!


Only a thinking girlfriend would get a fab pic of the best portion of my outfit. And those unpinching shoes.

Quasimodo's Bell part I

And so somewhere last month, April, that much-embraced month of poetry, just a short while after Friday the 13th, to me a rather blessed, lovely day, and better evening, I think somewhere between truth and fiction I ran full-steam into a concrete block wall and inside, my head rang like Quasimodo's bell. The taking of stock was at hand.
The aforementioned Friday had been the launch of my new, second poetry collection, of which I feel the kind of joy, satisfaction, pride, and relief a writer had been better feel, or as the great Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette had remarked upon another occasion, it would be for the writer "...time to lay aside the pen." 

Further below in this post are a bunch of photos taken of the launch. But here are my favorite parts:
  • The audience laughed just where the poems wanted them to, and the audience applauded madly, spontaneously, after four of the seven poems I read.
  • No one left early. No one wanted an open mic after. No one fell asleep; well, Johnnie's husband, dear Tom, feel asleep, but he falls asleep at everything, and I'm crazy about him anyway. NO ONE looked at their CELL PHONE EVEN ONCE! Not one single person.
  • Standing room only, and so many people were sitting in the aisles beside bookshelves, and then began thronging to the stage area, the staff had to put out more chairs.
  • I didn't say too much, finally, after all these years, and I didn't screw up even one word in any poem -- which I've always done at every reading I've ever given. 
  • My shoes didn't pinch.
  • The owner of the famous independent bookstore made it a point of attending my reading. Yes, I was overjoyed by that. You'd be, too. She leaned forward in her chair during the whole reading, smiling, her blue eyes sparkling and wide with listening.
  • I didn't read any of the sadder, more intense, longer poems. Seems people (honestly) want a happy time when they go out. They'll tolerate "bleak" but I've also learned you can tell bleak truths just as powerfully with a dose of sly humor on the underbelly. Took a long time to get that one down pat.
  • Five of my students were in the audience. Everyone's tired of hearing about my work in law, I know -- and last year I began teaching poetry workshops and craft classes (for money, and a pittance) at Phoenix Center for the Arts, and wouldn't you know it?, five of my wonderful students came. I got misty-eyed at the lectern when I told the audience they were there that night. Photos to prove. One of them, Daniel Pereyra, has just had his own collection, How I Learned to Learn New Things, accepted for publication at Finishing Line Press, and I was honored to provide a blurb for his book. It is a very good book of poems.  
  • My mother's serving trays, cake tray, and serving ware graced the buffet table and the dessert table. Nobody knows how much this meant to me. In fact, four days up to the reading I was more concerned about the food, the arrangement, the specialty cake, and the presentation than having my set list down. This is a true statement. I changed that set list over six times the four days up to the day of the reading.
  • The booksigning line was serpentine - I say, serpentine, to the degree that the store closes at 9PM, and cash registers were still ringing and I was still inscribing up to near 10PM. Serpentine! J. K. Rowling-serpentine, well, not quite....
  • I felt like the most fortunate person to have this embracing, thoughtful, engaged, spirited, appreciative audience. 
  • The specialty cake was actually called "Satin Bondage." I am not fabricating this. I've never used this word before in print, but it applies like no other: they "snarfed" it. I was beyond happy.
Pre-Reading, with Pinna Joseph, Marketing and Events Director for Changing Hands Bookstore

Book Display Table, Lectern, Mic - The Changing Hands Bookstore Stage

I'm thinking I'm in the "warm golden oil" line from "Why All The Ladies Like Ray"

Rachel and Danny, two great students in this pic, including Gayle, owner of CH, but you can't see her because she's directly behind the applauding man in the black T-shirt. Oh joy! Jeredith! Wilson! Everyone else is beautifully new.

 And so there has to be a part II since this blog won't let me load but so many photos per each post. And I haven't even shown off the buffet!