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

December 3, 2012


I have no idea how it happens the way it happens. But I find, in my creative, poetic endeavors, just as I live now in the desert, that when it rains, it pours.  Lately, I've had the good fortune to learn that new poems are finalists in pending competitions over here, and again over there, and again over there-there, and a few journals desire the same pieces, and if those pieces are unavailable, they tell me they want others...which dilemma, as I say, is a treasure.

But there are also the weeks, no, months, of drought.  The hand-wringing days of concern where, in the sending of the work, you wonder if you were off by one or two letters in the email address or if insufficient postage was placed on the envelope, or the phone lines have been cut by some creeping intruder lurking without.  Drought. I've known it.  It will curl the ground up from itself for lack of moisture. The days you look at the page with words on it, and you wonder why the bell clangs and does not ring.

The painting above was made by Isadore Schwartzberg, my father, in 1932.  He was 15 years old when he created it.  Oh, yes, over the years, that painting has been woefully abused, shunted aside, suffered through a big flood in a spring Chicago basement.  When I was myself 15 years old, I tried to clean it: using a wet rag on the face and skirt of the figure -- only to find actual paint on the rag. My heart cried.  My father should have been a painter.  Instead, he did what most men in that day and age did.  They conformed for the sake of their families.  Just look at that left hand's index finger.  The masks of comedy and tragedy.  The palette and brushes.  He was 15 years old when he did this.  I'm told it hung for some years in the students' wing of the Art Institute in Chicago.

Now it hangs in a special corner of my home.  Over five feet high, it beckons my friends and guests when they come to visit.  It speaks for itself.  They move toward it as if an invisible force were guiding them. I wish I had known him better.  I wish I could have told him to never lay down the brush. It's the choices we make that make us.  No one stands alone.  We've all heard the adage that we're born alone, we die alone.  But I believe we are so inextricably bound to one another that our forms mesh, that in truth there no margins. Being in this world is a deeply ingrained business.  Rain comes in many forms.

November 15, 2012

Another Reason Why This Grown Woman Loves Men

How delighted I was this week to appear at Paradise Valley Community College as the visiting poet/lecturer in their Visiting Writer and Scholar Lecture Series.  I hadn't counted on what a wonderful experience it would be.  An audience filled with eager, attentive students was a blast!  After reading poetry for an hour, which is a long set, I then was honored to answer over a hour's worth of Q&A, and essentially share with the audience how I craft and construct my poetry.  And of course, all the musical influences:  I had to reveal The Four Tops had more of a hold on me than Keats.  A blanket endorsement. 

What can I say about Lois Roma-Deeley, Poet-in-Residence and director of the Creative Writing Program at PVCC?  She's a remarkable poet and person, and astonishing in her love of sharing poetry while "lifting all boats."  This is a woman I truly like.  If you don't already have it, do yourself a favor and get her latest, awesome volume of poetry, High NotesHere's a brief synopsis of the book pulled off the Amazon site:
With its many thematic riffs and harmonic phrasings, Lois Roma-Deeley's newest collection of poems invites the reader into the shadowy jazz scene of the late 1950s, where music and language fuse into a road of longing and desire. This book won the Benu Press Samuel T. Coleridge Prize. 

And oh yeah, how's that for a kick-azz cover?

SO, here's why this grown woman loves men:  I've got a brand new hokey-dokey cell phone, all the bells and whistles. Phone camera scenario:  Lois takes a picture of me signing a copy of my book in her office and the picture's fuzzy. Lois takes a picture of us weird-ed out by the new technology.  I take a picture of Lois pointing at my book, which you can hardly see because why would I remember where the picture-taker stands and that the sun's supposed to be at my back?  Just one reason I love men: A man would not have taken a shaky picture, a dark shadows picture, or a goldfish-bowl picture.  At the very least, a man would've deleted all of them.  But it's what I've got to show for the day -- we had a ball!

Gotta give us credit for trying. Cheers!

November 14, 2012

The Most Beautiful Blue Bookshop in the World

What I can truly say: Happiness and Gratitude Immeasurable. And I'm not overstating myself one iota when I say that. This just in: My publisher, Salmon Poetry, and editor, the wondrous Jessie Lendennie, and I have confirmed the date for my second collection of poetry forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.  I couldn't be more elated.  Second book in the works!  Coming soon, to all lovers of poetry and the written word, on March, 2016!  Woo hoo!
About one-fourth of the book is fully complete. About five or six other poems finished, and already published in literary journals.  Work ahead to finish that last big half of the second volume so it's ready to deliver to the publisher in the summer of 2015. 

One last shot to show the interior "blue wall" all of us Salmon poets are crazy about:

2016, full speed ahead!  Here we come!

November 8, 2012

The Dry Cleaner's Daughter

I have always felt, on my own blog, I would never present my own work in full. Until today.  Because of a confluence of emotions today regarding my life and heritage and ancestry, I want to present a poem I wrote, for those who grace this page with their time and attention.  I am very thankful for very much.  I always say that, and it is always true.  Today I am thinking about my parents.  I am also thinking about the unspeakable events that began their atrocious unraveling on the day after today, 74 years ago in foreign lands.  I am thinking about why it is that the human race edges always towards divisiveness, instead of the wonder of union. 

This poem is about my father, my family, my heritage, and I present it, today, on the anniversary of my mother's passing, in 2008. In memory of Isadore and Angela Schwartzberg. 


The dry cleaning business had its own mythologies. My Jewish
father, unceremoniously, called his Viking Cleaners.
Perhaps he forged himself the plundering marauder
of Devon Avenue, where stood Selma’s delicatessen,
Mlodinoff’s photography studios, and the pastry-luring
Gitel’s bakery; all quaked from the reverberating wake
of his landship station wagon, its suspension sprung, wheezing
and harrumphing along the potholed road, its interior stuffed
with bundles of the kehilla’s soiled ensembles of finery.
Great care readied the clothes for cleaning. Buttons,
shrouded with satiny cloth, zippers zipped and waxed, hooks
detached to safeguard gossamer fabrics from vicious snags.
Next, the pockets, reviewed — and there, from the sundry folds
of faceless pockets, sometimes my father extracted intricate filigreed gold
mezzuzot, and forthright silver Stars of David, and one exceptional piece,
brushed brass, in the shape of the holy tablets, encrusted
with striking Judaic stones signifying commandments.
He reserved them in a cigar box a year or more.
No one remarked on or claimed their vanished valuables.
These he brought home to me, as offerings.
A brooding girl: where were people arriving at
or returning from that a sea engulfed them, seafoam
prickly in their lungs, and the choice was made not
to display their mezzuzot the entirety of the evening?
No one removes gold cuff links midway into an event.
No pearl cluster earrings wantonly set aside.
Anyone would inquire as to their whereabouts.
What coerced fine Jews to shed these symbols, place them
in outerwear’s abundant depths and go on, blithely,
about their occasion? What amplified quality of
an evening had they? Did the company they kept, who
professed to care for them, care for them any more or less?
Was the wine spectacularly replenished, the dance
simply one degree more rousing?
The Christian does not remove the cross and stealth it away
in trouser or skirt pockets. A likeness of
the young Jewish journeyman is proudly displayed
around the neck. The crosses are large.
I now know my father drove that wagon
for his family’s sake. From out its windows wafted
premonitions and resignations in brocades of gray
cigar smoke. I was seven when I discovered Jesus Christ
and his mother were Jews. I confess I
was confused. I surmised he’d grown up the same
old way, the kids he’d hung out with, cousins, siblings, the
whole citizen block, families squabbling, embracing. He knew,
but any Jewish child knows the riotous arousal
they simply walked in on. Options were afforded him.
Would he, elocutionistic, peripatetic, charged and emitting,
with his Jewish buddies in tow, have removed all vestiges
of Jewish ornamentation, as he wound
his way up and over, on the road to Capernaum?
And in his travels, if he stooped
at the dusty roadside to hand a darkhaired
girl some cloth from his family tree, she
would have needed nothing of instruction, less
of intervention, and deliverance but an anathema.
It was a given, a corolla of nimbus,
a thing to be held onto in its immoderate beauty.

The Dry Cleaner’s Daughter is published in “The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor.”  It first appeared in Jewish Women’s Literary Annual - New York, 2003, Volume 5, and was reprinted in Tempe Poetry in April Chapbook – City of Tempe, 2005, Volume 5.  It was also published in Scribblers on the Roof, an online journal, in 2009.

October 28, 2012

Yes! Echo Magazine's roll call for the Poetry Line!

Lovely article by Liz Massey in Echo Magazine highlighting the art of poetry and its beauty as the spoken word.  In her "Verse by Verse" section, I was thrilled to find myself mentioned in a gallery of incredible, stellar poets -- wow, the likes of Jed Allen, Alberto Rios, Regina Blakely and Cynthia Hogue. What a beautiful surprise! (Don't know who the "James" is referring to - the last name accidentally left off.)  Very insightful commentaries included, notably by Rosemary Dombrowski and Cindy Dach.  The article really gives a sense of the wonderful resurgence of poetry as art and entertainment in the larger Phoenix metropolitan area.

Here's a quote from Rosemary Dombrowski, to whet your appetite for a read at it:
"Open with a few introductory, ice-breaking remarks, followed by a poem or two that's easy to read and comprehend ... end with a poem that concludes with a profound closing stanza or series of lines. All good published writers know it's better to go out on a high note, and live readings should be no different."

               Avanti, gentile spirito!

October 27, 2012

Memoirs of a Fabulous Frenetically-Filled Friday

Whew! What a superlative day yesterday was! OK, smarmy, sentimental stuff first: I have to say I feel like the richest, most fortunate woman, to have the friends and family I have.  I am so utterly thankful to have all of you in my life. 
This is not a mug shot. I promise.

DOUG MOLITOR:  Do you see this man?  Take a good look at this man.  I mean, a really, really good look. This man is what they call a brilliant, gifted, handsome, wise, kind, person. Did I mention "kind"? "Kind" is a big deal in this world, these days. Remember kind people? The Gregory Peck-type in "To Kill a Mockingbird"?  He is one of them. Here's his extraordinary new book, MEMOIRS OF A TIME TRAVELER, just released in paperback and Kindle.  And perhaps the cover gives it away, but this is not poetry.  Well, it is poetry of a certain kind, the way-back and the way-forward, filled with entertaining insights along the way. An absolute must-buy, if you truly love literature:
But this is not the only reason why I write about this superlative man.  Let me be frank.  Doug and I have a very special relationship.  If we passed one another on the street I believe we would look slightly familiar, as if maybe we'd had a conversation from adjoining tables at a restaurant once, months ago...but, otherwise, hmm...you look familiar, but....  Such is Facewatch.  OK, hang with me, I'm getting to the action.  Some of you are familiar with "But the Gentleman to my Right."  Well, FOR FORTY-PLUS YEARS, "BTGTMR" has been figuratively PLAGUED with wondering what the name of a film is, from which he remembered only one rather, shall we say, weird scene. Additionally, with only a 7-year-old's memory at that. Kind of a James Bond-y scene but not quite.  Over 40 dingdang years pondering what could that movie be -- just think about that ladies and gentlemen, please.  Over 40 years.  I asked Doug, in desperation, about it.  [I did ask Peter, and Arye, and William, and they worked diligently -- they all worked very hard to find the movie.]  Here comes the Amen part: I put the question just after noon, about 12:15, to Doug.  "BTGTMR" has been waiting for an answer to this NAGGING movie scene for 40 YEARS (last time I say that).  And Doug! Doug had the answer in FIFTEEN minutes, by 12:31pm.  15 minutes!  Not only had he the answer, but he sent the link to view the entire movie on bluetube. Not only did he send the link to view the movie on bluetube, but he gave me the exact time, down to the minute when the scene would appear. 

Doug Molitor has a place at my table for the rest of his life.  Bless him.

Moving forward:

I met my good friend, and blossoming poet, Dorothy Stewart, for lunch at Cyclo, a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant in Chandler. I am not a picture-taker of plates of food, so just believe we enjoyed our meals, but the conversation was really the highlight of the afternoon. I love it when you can sit for a few hours, in lovely surroundings, and really get to know a fine person. And how about those orange sunspots on the walls?  That ain't nuttin'. I arrived at the restaurant before anyone was there, even the hostess.  I could hear people in the kitchen, obviously preparing food, but the front door had been open. In I walked, and sat for about six, seven minutes just looking around:Lovely environs. Pretty wall art, cool fixtures, "invisible" chairs.  Not a single person there but me at the corner table, facing the door.  And you know what I thought?  This is the old Chicago-born-bred-influenced, what else can I say, Chicago-girl in me. "Five minutes," I thought, "three guys, one van, five minutes would be all they'd need, this place would be empty. Literally. Empty. Front door wide open. This place would be totally empty." Oh, and then the hostess finally came, and then there was Dorothy! And then luncheon attendees started showing up.  Will that Chicago scheming-ness never depart completely?

But wait, there's more:
Balboa Poet House!
The night topped off with a delightful flourish of poetry, fellowship, merriment, and stimulating conversation.  Many different forms of poetry were heard, and shared, to hearty applause. It was a true poetic salon experience.  I had one of the nicest times I've ever had.  Here's a photo our wonderful hostess, Deborah Berman, took:

Here's hoping this is the beginning of a beautiful Valley tradition!  To Deborah and Joe, many thanks for welcoming all of us to your lovely, love-filled home.  (P.S. If you're looking for me, you can see 3 inches of the top of my head. I'm seated, fourth from left, right behind the very left-leaning Chris Robideaux.) 

Here's Deborah Berman's comments on the Balboa Poet House extravaganza.  I'll end this post with her very competent telling of our sweet October night:
A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who came to Balboa Poet House tonight. It was a beautiful night of friends, food, wine and words and I am so grateful to everyone for participating. It honestly could not have gone better and truly was the night of my dreams. Thanks to Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow for the cheesecake and vodka (you're coming back over to drink it, you know!), to Debby Mitchell for her award winning guacamole (best I've ever had - for real), wine & for bringing Gary Mitchell (glad to see you're feeling better!), to Victoria Hoyt & Paul for the book I can't wait to read and the Ryan Lyin' haiku, to CChristy White, the winner of our Haiku contest!, Neil Gearns, Gary Bowers & Julie Elefante for reading their poetry, to Robert J. Lee & Jasmine for being awesome supporters of poetry...and lastly thank you, with all my heart, to Heather Smith-Gearns & Chris Robideaux for featuring, for sharing a body of your work in way few get to see. I am in such awe of your talents. Thank you for being a part of our night. We love you all! See you next time!

October 11, 2012

ROBERT OLEN BUTLER: Have Your Cake; Eat It Too!


Step over to the Preach Corner for a few seconds and let me holler at you:  The most attractive, the very most beautiful person in this world, is the person who, not merely willingly but joyously, ebulliently, with both arms throwing it out at you, gives you the knowledge they possess of the thing they know best, and they want you to have it, they want you to have it so bad that you now know it’s not actually a gift, but a duty.  And the duty for you will be to pass that very thing on to the next fellow. There is absolutely no more beautiful person in the world.  I will not spend this time telling you about all of the people who have committed this bounty to me, and they know who they are, on the many, various occasions of my life.  I want to tell you about last night.

Last night I walked into The Poisoned Pen Bookstore expecting a crowd of 60, 80, 100 people at the least. This was a Pulitzer Prize-winning, Guggenheim Fellow, Nat’l Magazine Award winner, with at least 17 books under his belt who was giving a reading.  Eight people milled around, counting Patrick, the bookshop employee.  This figure is more important than it appears, so bear it. My friend, Martha Schulzinger, came in, and now there were ten of us.  Robert Olen Butler arrived, with no attending fanfare – he’d made his way from the Valley Ho, with its bathtub eight inches from the bed’s mattress. (See Mr. Butler’s own photo on his “facewatch” page.  All puns and double entendres intended.)  [And that’s what we call “fb” in our house; we call the internet the “internut,” “nut” for short; and we call photoshop “autoshop.”] That is how we manage to not go crazy with technology that changes every three months; we make fun of it.

So, we’re engaging in introductory conversation at the front of the store, near the cash register, when Howard, whose business card I have but not the permission to disclose his private information, mentions that yes, he’s now writing his 3rd book on Van Morrison.— OK, now if you know me, you know that Van Morrison belongs to me – me alone; of course, Van does not know this but everyone else does, so there. He’s mine. Go get your own.  The key thing here is, Yes – I pushed, and we do have witnesses, I pushed a Pulitzer Prize-winning author out of the way to get to the counter to share contact info with regard to Van.  Suffice it to say, everyone was amused, particularly Mr. Butler.  With another Pulitzer Prize-winning author (ahem) this may have not been the case.  And I know you writers know who and what I mean.  In the background, I heard Patrick moving what had been three long rows of chairs. 

Now there was small, intimate circle of chairs.  If there had been a round table, and food, it would have made for an apropos celebratory dinner. The intros and reading began.  Mr. Butler read from his new spellbinding book “The Hot Country.”  I believe he read probably, only, the first 10 to 12 sentences from the book.  He told us the tale about how he possessed a postcard showing the nape of a man’s neck, and a horrific murder, male bodies heaped upon on ground in front on him, and further ahead, a gaggle of beautiful Hispanic young women, one of whom did this man’s laundry.  The man in the postcard had drawn an arrow from the back of his large head to her, there far down the road.  This was the spring from which Mr. Butler began his new novel.  And then you know what he did? He laid it to rest.

And then you know what he did?  He started talking to me, and to Martha, and to the guy next to us, and to Howard, and suddenly and without warning, us in this small circle were present to the privilege of an astonishingly gifted writer sharing his craft, how to shape it like clay, how to work plot (and that means all of us, all ya’ll, poets included.)  He said, verbatim: “Plot is simply yearning challenged and thwarted.”  Any writer in any genre can utilize that one sentence alone to better and polish their craft.  And he shared with us, many, many more insights.  You know what it was like? It was like AWP without the10,000 people roving about in an airport concourse trying to find their flight.  It was just you and the man who knew how to do what he did best.  Which he did extraordinarily well.  And he was telling you alone.

RECOMMENDATION:  To those of you fortunate enough to be in the geographic path of Robert Olen Butler’s book tour for the rest of October and November, RUN, DON’T WALK, to be at his appearance and reading for the wonderful “The Hot Country.”  Buy his books; support the literary arts.  Bring a friend; I bought “Hell” and “From Where You Dream.”  Martha bought “The Hot Country.”  We’ll swap and return when we’re finished reading. 

To Robert Olen Butler: Best Wishes on your fantastic book tour.  It was not just a nice evening of literary worth.  It was a night I will always remember. Thank you for the generosity of your wisdom, your talent and your spirit.  Thank you for your inscriptions.  As promised, we’ll be in touch in December.  Onward!

Robert Olen Butler, upon throne:

Robert Olen Butler and Cynthia grimacing at all the books Robert had to sign to leave for the bookstore shelves. (Note re: photo: Never let your wonderful hairstylist cut your hair one week after her honeymoon.  Way too much of Cynthia's hair cut.)

Good friend and wonderful fiction writer, Martha Schulzinger, and Robert Olen Butler.

A wonderful night.

September 25, 2012

Location, Location, Location

If you're going to work outside the proverbial box, and be brave enough to give a poetry reading at a women's clothing retail shop, with a 35% off the merchandise incentive, as Aretha would say, "Don't fight the feeling."  Take my advice: no amount of mini-candy on the poetry table will suffice.  No book arrangement in the shape of a horseshoe will suffice.  No floral display in a lovely, large glass carafe will garner any attention.  Heed this: position your poet-table at the cash register counter. Hawk your wares from that position.  Advantages: avid audience, finally single-minded in purpose; no yelling over the piped-in store music; no competing with the hanger-swishing noises across the racks and racks of clothing.  Did I mention the now-finally avid audience?  Other upside: already have the candy for Halloween handouts!

September 18, 2012


3 Small Lessons in Great Expectations:

First thing: the entrance to Antigone Bookstore was virtually impossible to get to.  The city of Tucson is in the midst of installing a light rail system, which runs directly down 4th Avenue, Antigone's thoroughfare. Chaos and bewilderment, to say the least.  No parking.  Lots of chain link fences. The street itself now a meandering walk-through, jackhammered asphalt, shiny bright unfinished rail lines in shiny bright new asphalt.  The cool university bohos took it all in stride.  Lisa, who I was reading with, was unable to make the reading at the very last minute.  Which I didn't know.  Liza, the moderator for the Other Voices series, was unable to be there because she caught a nasty cold from her child.  Which I didn't know.  I knew nothing until I sauntered into the bookstore, only to be met by Debbie, one of the proprietresses.  Her face bore a combined look of I-take-this-all-in-stride-only-some-of-the-time-niceness, and some measure of winced concern.  

What Debbie didn't know I knew because I now know, finally, from so much darn mishugina sweet life, is to expect nothing, and raise my aim.  I sat calmly in the back with "But the Gentleman to My Right" Daniel Edlow, and reviewed my set list.  I was bemused by my own calm.  As usual, the gentleman was an exemplar of regal quietude.

And then, as if sprung from the bookshelves themselves, people gathered.  The crowd grew into an intimate, energized gathering.  It was a special crowd, as there were local Tucson legends present, and above all, people I didn't know, and they were so, so present as I read those poems.  And that was the moment when I realized the lesson was, as usual, mine to learn:  I did not race my way through a single poem.  During "The Birthday Earrings," which begins with the remembrance of an early boyfriend who later in life has a full-scale sex-change operation, which gets somewhat graphic, to the same poem ending as a love anthem to my cat, I read each line, each word, purposefully and with variable weight.  The poem which was my first-ever request from an audience member, "Autopsy: Upon the Tamis Table," is fraught with one graphic and distressing, if not fully disturbing, image after another.  Additionally, it's well, uh, medical.  And I read that poem so the people could see and feel each moment, each item of specificity.  "Bad Boy in Post Office" -- I wired that poem to hit all the comedic moments spot-on, instead of a bleeping-miss on the beat after.

The audience nodded in affirmation during whole segments of poems, some rocked gently back and forth in their chairs sharing their own exhibition of relating to something assorted poems were saying; at the humorous pieces, they laughed aloud unselfconsciously.  Their gift of comradery with my work allowed me to see with immense clarity what I'd only briefly speculated on in the past, and once or twice happened upon by accident.  My voice.  The poet's voice is the primary tool in a live presentation.  I know this may sound elementary to some of you, but for most poets it is SO hard to get up at the lectern and read their art.  The poem on the page awaits a driver.  What these musicians I've been hanging out with have been working to get me to see is true.  All the vocal devices -- modulation, inflection, pause, intensity -- that's what serves an audience.   Without the voice, the poems are designed to be heard aloud in the mind.  I cannot believe how much I intrinsically learned how powerful the voice is designed to be.

And the second thing I learned?  That "But the Gentleman to My Right" is an honor to know.  Julie Andrews said it best for me in "The Sound of Music," when she sang these lines "...Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must've done something good..." 

The third thing?  Being my own cashbox for the first time was a wild, wonderful trip!  To take money for my own work?  Exhilarating.  Bizarre.  Thankful.

September 11, 2012

Tucson Bound

I've received my very first request to read a poem from my book for someone who will be attending the reading.  This is so exciting for me, especially since the poem is "Autopsy: Upon the Tamis Table," the first poem that opens the book. And, I've never read this poem before in front of an audience!  Here are a couple of lines from "Autopsy...."
...Stomach a dress shirt
folded over then under to lessen 
wrinkles. Cropped runt of a left lung
obliging the muscle of all muscles. Endless
astonishing intestine, like the champagne
ruffled skirting around a buffet table....

Tucson, we'll be there on Friday.  If you're in the vicinity, please come on out to Antigone and share in the poetic festivities. 

September 3, 2012

Turn Up the Heat

Calling all poetry lovers in the Phoenix area: I'll be hosting the First Friday Poetry event this Friday, September 7 at 7PM, at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe.  The featured reader Friday evening will be two-time national poetry slam semi-finalist Bill Campana, and all I can say is, fasten your safety belts,  Bill's poetry takes no prisoners!  It'll be a rollicking good time.  An open reading will follow.

September 1, 2012

Glad Tidings

I can't help but feel thrilled today.  I just recently received an acceptance from an awesome literary journal on a few poems of mine that will be in my new collection of poetry.  These poems are completely different from anything in my debut collection.  One editor described them as having "edgy, sweet humor." Exactly the tempo I was looking for.  When I read them in front of audiences, they receive outright belly laughs.  And now they've found a great home at a wonderful journal.  Blessings! And this editor is astute, boy.  Right between the eyes.  Not trying to be cryptic, but when the news is brand spanking new like this I like to hold on to it a little longer. Stay tuned!

And to top it off, the editor/publisher of my debut collection has just bought an amazing, enchanting bookshop, with expansion across the road to hold workshops, seminars, readings, and other assorted and sundry literary efforts. And!, with a back area like it's out of a fairy tale, with assorted tangled bushes and trees and rock walls and endless possibilities.... All of us poets associated with Salmon Poetry are absolutely GIDDY with joy and excitement!  Jessie Lendennie, our fearless leader, is, unequivocally, a stellar woman. 

Why not try a little giddiness yourself?  It doesn't hurt at all; in fact, it's a pleasure.

August 26, 2012

O Happy Night

Such a night, such a night, such a night!  The Room was beside itself this past weekend, graced with the magnificent talent of Mr. Henry Gray, on keyboard.  If you're a big fan of Howlin' Wolf, that's Mr. Gray playing on those songs for over a decade of musical history and perfection.  If you love "Little Red Rooster," that's Mr. Gray on piano.  If you love ANY American music since the 40's and 50's, you have Mr. Gray and his colleagues to thank.  He's played, too, with other American Greats: Jimmy Reed, Junior Wells, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon. This is the man every band you're currently listening to was listening to in order for them to start banging out their rock 'n roll and alternative indie.  This man.  An unforgettable night of boogie woogie and blues.

You see those talented musicians onstage playing with him?  Bob Corritore, harmonica; Chris James, guitar; Brian Fahey, drums; Patrick Rynn, bass.  You see how they're looking over in Mr. Gray's direction?  They don't need to work the eye cues, they're too talented themselves for that.  They know where the song is going.  You know why they're watching that man?  Because a legend is playing those keys. A legend was in the Room that night.

Pssst! Want to know what makes a bluesman different from other men?  I asked Mr. Gray if he needed some help getting back onstage after a break and he replied, "Naah, I can jump back up there!"  87-year-old man, playing 'till 1:00 in the morning.  That's a bluesman.  And, oooh, that hug he gave!

Mr. Henry Gray and harpman Bob Corritore

Mr. Henry Gray and bassman Patrick Rynn

"If you see my little red rooster
please drag him home,
there ain't no peace in the barnyard
since the little red rooster been gone."

(Lyrics by Mr. Willie Dixon)

August 23, 2012

Extra Whipped Cream with That, Please

How sweet it is! And caffeinated!  The happening coffee and decadent treats shop in Tempe, Arizona, Solo Cafe Tempe, has the cover of THE DAY JUDGE SPENCER LEARNED THE POWER OF METAPHOR displayed on their front door -- just below their own logo.  If you're in the area, try a cafe mocha and one of their delicious pastries.  You can't help but love it.  The place is always swamped with locals and their laptops, with a cup of java steaming at every table.  Look closely at that photo -- beyond the door's reflection, just to the right of the logo's "L," you can see a fellow hard at work on his great American novel.  Great place. Thanks Solo Cafe!

August 1, 2012

New Poems Out for Summer

New poetry out from Georgetown Review. Best part? My poem, "If When You Do, You Cry to Me" opens with a sweet epigraph as sung by the late, great Solomon Burke.
And more new poetry out from Broad River Review.It may on its face seem to be a poem about nature, but then Louis Prima, as usual, makes an after-hours lowdown appearance.

July 4, 2012

How Cool Is This Hot Crowd? This Ain't Hooterville, BUT...

On July 10th, the Pyleated Poets (I remain entrenched, still call us "the Pyles") will take the city of Glendale BY STORM, and lord knows our sweet valley needs a little rain, when we appear for a round-robin group reading at Glendale Community College.  Here's the address:
Student Union, 104E
6000 West Olive Avenue
Glendale, Arizona  85302

The event should start around 6:30-7:00 pm.

We're talking a lot of bang for your buck here, if one may abuse a colloquialism, because naturally, it's free! Look at this line-up:  The Lady Poets -- we've got  'em for you -- Johnnie Clemens-May, Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow, Dorothy Stewart, Lin Stryker and Susan Vespoli.  It's a poetic Petticoat Junction!  No, alas, Uncle Joe will not be making an appearance, but speaking of MEN, and frankly, we're in luck -- we've got Mr. Jed Allen, Mr. Bob Longoni and Mr. Mark Young, all for your linguistic pleasure.  It'll be a great night of poetry!  Come on out and join us!

All that's missing is the town water tank and that scrappy little dog.

June 4, 2012

A Couple of Book Launches And...

A person can lose three or four months!  How does that happen? I'll tell you how that happens. A person dances the night away (ahem, frequently) at The Rhythm Room in Phoenix, and before you know it, it's June in Arizona and 110 degrees.  What better way for the gathering of hot blues to make cool poems?  Word is, there's a Chicago drummer on his way, and even though he dances behind the beat, he owes me one. Dance. James Knowles.

February 10, 2012

Here's to a Sense of Wonder

My debut poetry collection is here from Salmon Poetry!
The Book Launch for The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor will be held at:
The Poetry Center
Chicago Cultural Center
 78 E Washington St., Pedway East,
Chicago, Illinois      at 5:30 p.m.

Nine other Salmon poets will be reading from their new titles.  Come join us for the celebration!