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

December 23, 2013

Wouldja Believe...Oh How Happy You Have Made Me

I've been reading some blogs written by various poets and writers. Jeez, some of these people are masters at the art of self-promotion without making it sound like they're promoting a book, or a reading, or they want to cozy up to "so-and-so," so they drop that person's name a few (many-few) times -- or on facewatch, that's krazy with a "k," it's like they're actually licking the screen where the person's name and their little "deer markings" appear. No, you "fill in the blank." 
Everybody has their own curious tone, usually kind of a side-hush-wink-nod kind of thing. Hmm. I have the promotion etiquette of a mule. I just plunk it down in front of you and say, Hey, well, here's this and this is happening next year, and oh look here, this is comin' up, and I got asked special to do this -- that sort of thing. I'd call it "sobering" because it feels unnatural. 
Example! If I said, "Boy, I wish William Matthews lived next door." Well, aside from the fact that the man has passed, see, it's my way of saying I love the man's poetry, I love how he conducted himself, and I wish (yeah, if he were alive) he would pay some attention my way. Which means I wish he'd lick the screen when my name appears. That sort of thing. 
Engineers, on the other hand, especially aerospace engineers, remain uninvolved and extremely objective when they write. They have to because of their business, or some such folderol. Here's their trick: bullet points. Here's how it would look if a poet did it --
  • I've been asked to give an encore poetry performance at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. The work I've written about is from Julianne Swartz's exhibition, HOW DEEP IS YOUR, and the private reception will include the artist herself in attendance. She'll be giving a talk about her work prior to the reception, and I believe there might still be availability to attend her presentation, by RSVP to the link below. That's starting out the new year with a genuine thrill for me. Yessiree!  http://www.smoca.org/calendar/artist-talk-julianne-swartz
  • Next up, I've got new poetry coming out in February from Minor Arcana Press. They will be publishing a fantastic anthology I'm proud and excited to be a part of. It's called DRAWN TO MARVEL: POEMS FROM THE COMIC BOOKS. I can pretty much assure you there won't be any boring, self-important, blah-blah-blah poems in this anthology. Just the fine stuff. It's what makes superheros fly! You can pre-order the anthology here.
  • Next, next up, I'll be the "Featured Poet" in a stunning literary journal in Spring 2014 which I cannot yet name, because they haven't made the announcement yet. This will be the first time I've been the featured poet for a literary journal and I'm just thrilled over this honor. As it happens, poet and major hunk-a-lunk Chris Campanioni, winner of the 2013 Academy of American Poets Prize for Poetry, is also a contributor to the Spring issue. Now that's company! {More news to come on this as it is released.}
  • Next, next, next up, I am beside myself with elation that a series of poems will be coming out in mid-to-late Summer 2014 from a spectacular press. I'm so excited that if I don't stop typing about it this instant I'll give it away, I know, I do not own a poker face, that's a given...except to say this: these new poetry developments aren't said to tease, but rather, when a publisher or editor graces me with acceptance of my work, I make it a personal rule that they then have the privilege to make the initial announcement. {So again, even more news to come on this one as it is released.} I want to share it with you so much!
  • I'm loving these bullet points. Keeps you on track. But in an oh-so-serious, "hey, we're having a conference here" kinda way.
  • 2014 can't get here soon enough. This is going to be a wondrous new year. I'm ready, and there's a seat right here for you!

December 10, 2013

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and "Art Out Loud" Poetry in the Galleries

Didn't we have a time!! 

The SMoCA reading was an immense experience and delight, and filled with a kind of "holiness." I use that word because, to read within the confines of a museum, beside and surrounded by artwork created by visual artists, in addition to the dim mood lighting specifically hued to highlight the exquisite artwork alone, and, in addition to that, the packed, standing hushed crowd of people...all giving their undivided, powerful attention to each poet reading their poems on a personally selected artwork --gracious, it was a truly unforgettable evening. I feel blessed to have been invited to participate in this event.

Here is SMoCA's link to the event, and when you click on the circles within the "speakers" photo, you'll see further photos of the poets who read that night: Logan Phillips, Allyson Boggess, Pinna Joseph, Sally Ball, and me. Mark Haunschild and Myrlin Hepworth also read, but apparently they were camera-shy enough not to supply a head shot.

Very few photos were taken inside the gallery as most of the artwork remains unauthorized for capturing in private use. However, Martha Schulzinger, a wise, clever, wonderful woman did happen to capture a photo of me reading beside artwork created by Julianne Swartz. In this photo, my chosen piece of artwork is, in fact, the lidded box at my feet, just to the right of me. That was the piece I selected, and I'm so happy I did. The piece is called "Open," and when you open the lid, something striking and marvelous is heard. 

My poem is called "In Which Case I Could Stay/Open." 

That's another Swartz artwork behind me, multi-colored wands that almost touch, but don't. Very delicate, very tenuous, hardly storm-proof.

And this is Julianne Swartz. A superb artist.
I'm looking forward to meeting her personally, in January.

And so it goes! Again, I have wonderful poetry publication news from a variety of fronts, Yes!, which I can't disclose just yet, but I will be able to do so after the new year. Stay tuned for all these fabulous announcements! I'll keep writing poetry, as I turn my attention now to the deep blue tones I love so well. I'll be venturing into the "corrals" of a few creatures of great charisma and unpredictability, both the 4-legged and 2-legged sort. As more than a few folks know, I've never been one to play it safe.

It feels as if December is running away with itself -- the pecan leaves are dropping off the trees in great cascades of amber and sticky brown. Soon the limbs themselves will be completely bare, with only the pods of pecan nuts as ornaments. Because this is indeed a holiday season. Be merry. The ride so brief, the view so beautiful. Glad tidings to all of you!

November 12, 2013

Since Last We Spoke

Somewhere between the end of October and today I dropped this blog page, but here it is! I knew I left it somewhere,---so there was a birthday celebration in October, mine. And because I'd grown up with maple leaves turning amber and spinning softly to the ground, and fog, and cold sweater weather, out of sheer nostalgia, we celebrated in an old-style, well-known establishment in Phoenix, one of my favorite restaurants, Durant's. Folks "in the know" understand to enter through the back-door kitchen entrance. I saw my chef even before he'd cooked my scrumptious lobster. After the flawless meal, which involved a few good bottles of French wine, as we were leaving, I went to kiss the chef on his right cheek. It was salty from working over the stove. He liked it. I have a feeling he doesn't get kissed much for his delicious meals.

And the next day my bike got tuned up. Rode this bike up and down Sheridan Road in Chicago for many a year when I was a teenager, on a road that borders the lake on the north end of Chicago. Oh, the stories this bike could tell. Fortunately, it can not speak or I would have to put it down, but it has taken care of me, and seen me through--safely--trials and tribulations of the heftiest kind. It's a Sears bike, used to be my brother's, made in Austria, 3-speed, and the speed mechanism was made in England. My favorite part: it makes this really cool tick-tick sound in the back gear when you're walking it. I love this bike. Original everything except seat, gear wires and tires. Man, I'm so happy this bike can't talk.

And then the day after that, at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art's gift shop, this stainless-steel-(!)-with-inner-pastel-colors, magnificent, work-of-art clutch bag said it wanted to come home with me, and who am I to say no? We'd stopped in to look around after I had my own sneak peek at the fall exhibitions at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, where, on December 5, I will be convening with fellow poets, Allyson Boggess, Logan Phillips, Pinna Joseph, Sally Ball and Mark Haunschild to read poetry written in response to the breathtaking exhibitions of Julianne Swartz and Contemporary Japanese Artists. Here's a sample of the beautiful work on display there:

Narrow Road to the Interior: Contemporary Japanese Artists

Julianne Swartz: How Deep Is Your
What you don't hear is both those Swartz exhibits are making sounds. In the forefront, there's the ticking of a variety of clocks, in the back, weird squealings and screechings. Whew!

The following weekend, up we went to Pine, easily a good 20 degrees cooler, and 100 miles due north of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Tall ponderosa pine trees. Clean, clear fresh air. Went up to visit friends at their "cabin." My friend, Mary, got my goat when she told me earlier in the week that they did, in fact, have an outhouse available for our use. I'd packed rolls of toilet seat protectors, and flashlights, and bug spray, not knowing quite how rustic this all was going to get. Instead, their cabin turned out to be a smaller version of a sumptuous lodge. We had a splendid time. All the effects of city life fell away like the prettiest bird call.

Pine, AZ, pictorial:

Blue bird with blue cap. We weren't sure what it was.

Kelli told me her father taught her how to find elk tracks. The two indentations on the right are from elk. The two indentations on the left, and a little bit above, are Kelli's knuckleprints. The direction the larger of the two prints is pointing toward is the direction the elk was moving in. So that elk was moving toward my camera shot.

Mama doe with trailing fawn.

Oh yes, I saw them, and they saw me too.

Red-headed woodpecker.

View from cabin's back patio.

Essentially, this is their back yard. I know. Very cool.

And then the following weekend, at Changing Hands Bookstore, I hosted the most stunning duo poetry reading I've had the pleasure to moderate in a very long time.  Jefferson Carter and Michael Gessner traveled up from Tucson to read from their new books, which are each, tremendous, and so different from each other, you couldn't find two books of poetry more polar, and yet, which blended so melodiously with each other that the attentive and appreciative audience was mesmerized. It was truly an unforgettable night. Both men are as kind and smart and witty as they are poetically gifted. I felt fortunate to be hosting their appearances. 



Captivated Changing Hands Audience
After their readings, we all went over to a local restaurant/bar and talked, ate, and drank until the wee hours of the morning, which for the Phoenix area is 11:30PM-ish. Here's my "seance"-looking version of us having a grand time. Michael's at the end of the table, standing to the right. Jeff is standing just behind me, so we're both spectral, in accordance with the photo mood! A fine night was had by all. This, we'll have to do again.

And oh yes, giddily thrilling new poetry news just over the horizon! Developments will be revealed soon. As Robert Creeley, some years back, once proclaimed to me, Onward!

October 11, 2013

Ardor, Fortunately

Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss
Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss by Antonio Canova

Here's to the spirit that all it takes is one well-timed, courageous kiss. 

A full month spent determining an enhanced voice to put to words on sound.

Not looking for options. Not disguising one for one other.  

The last chrysalis shucked. A cool, sunlit breeze. Momentum.

October 1, 2013

Hello, October

And thank you for your arrival, not a minute too soon. September, that month-of-limbo, no longer summer, not quite fall, has meandered away, hands in pockets, shuffling its tapped shoes -- and with it, all the fits and starts and pfffts! of half-done and half-embarked-upon projects. 

Clean slate. My favorite month. Birthday month. Halloween. Candy. Time to dust off the free weights and lift. Time to write the book reviews I've committed my hand to for some presses. Time, naturally, to draft new poems, revise others. Time to wash the outside screens and open a few windows. Time, I've decided, is the one thing of absolute value on earth. As you'd suspect, it doesn't run with any type of currency. It appears to prefer a catch-as-catch-can posture. Fine. It's never too late to learn to adjust. What did that good dog teach me? Yes, to be glad. And if I couldn't be glad, then to be indifferent -- but without having an attitude about the indifference. In my house, we say, "I'll have a BLT" -- be like Taz.

There's a coolness in the air and the pecans are brand spanking new, doing their green-before-brown thing. I'm glad about that.

September 7, 2013

Deluge By Any Other Name

The rain hurtled down sideways yesterday. I had concerns that last night's poetry reading might be cancelled, or worse, no audience members show up, or worse yet, the poets themselves unable to get to the venue. As most folks know, it hardly ever rains in the Phoenix-area desert. I was forced to utilize something called an "umbrella" to get from my home to the car, and subsequently, from the parking lot to the bookstore. Do you know that getting into a car when it's pouring rain came back to me "just like that"? As I opened the car door I remembered --  ooh, I have to use this contraption like a shell over my head, and bend it ever-so-slowly downward as I back in to the driver's seat. It's funny how those maneuvers you don't even remember you've forgotten come back to you.

At the bookstore, three of us were in the seating area in front of the small stage where the poets would read. We're long friends, and laughed together wondering if we'd end up reading to each other for the night's festivities. Pinna Joseph, my dear friend, and Changing Hands' Marketing Director was the essence of calm. Dave was busy reading a poem of William Pitt Root's, from his marvelous new book Strange Angels. It was 6:45PM and the reading was set to commence at 7. Yikes.

It would've been humorous: large capacity, rows and rows of chairs, just us four, but we were so desirous for Pamela Uschuk and Bill (yes, he did insist I call him that) Pitt Root to arrive, safe and sound, in such unfixed, tumultuous weather. Suffice to say, by 7 they'd arrived, with Melissa Pritchard, and by 7:15, in just fifteen simple minutes, they were about to read to, somehow, a packed house. The weather had broken; the crowd had gathered. I felt like the happiest woman in the audience, to be surrounded by good friends, and a duo of exemplary poets. Our little group sat in the front row, so I didn't twist around to snap a photo of the audience, but it was full and enthusiastic, and we were not disappointed.
Pinna Joseph and Dave Chorlton

Pamela Uschuk
 Pamela read selections from her books of poetry, and a memoir she is currently writing. From her American Book Award collection, Crazy Love, she sweetly read a poem I'd requested, "The Horseman of the Crass and Vulnerable Word." Her poetry is truthful and mindful and penetrating. It's simply a joy to watch a master craftswoman at work. To speak of her reading from her memoir would set me to tears to tell you -- her survival and triumph over ovarian cancer, and the roadway she and Bill were obliged to walk down is something indescribable. I await the publication of her memoir, impatiently. She imparts faith in poetry, in travails of the temporal, and the overcoming of them with grace. Honored. Honored to have met her.

William Pitt Root
 These days one can find so many articles, or essays, or commentaries from the world of the literary arts written by 20- or 30-something's that are rife with a kind of disgust or downright maliciousness for the process of writing great work, and, significantly, maintaining humility in the formula of being a writer. I wish it were compulsory for younger poets and writers, including university students in the written arts, to immerse themselves in the works of contemporary adult poets like Pamela Uschuk and William Pitt Root. These younger writers would learn a thing or two about decorum and good form, evenly, for the act of writing itself and the act of presenting oneself in coat of decency. It would constitute a great measure in informing the rest of the world outside of the written arts just who we are who actually perform the business, the craft and the art of it. And we would no longer have to be embarrassed by the contingency of snide-casters and naysayers. If only they'd learn from someone like William Pitt Root. His reading was majestic, yet fully embracing. I highly recommend you pick up the virtuoso volumes of poetry he's written. 

These people are remarkable. They are our best role models.

Speaking of role models, I've heard of a superhero who doesn't much care for the limelight, but will help anyone, absolutely anyone, out of a jam in a heartbeat. He comes from a faraway planet called We'd Like To Remain Anonymous, But Our Hearts Are Huge. Shrewdly, I've captured his musings for you. Thankfully, The Los Angeles Review partook of the telling of them. And, hopefully, you will pre-order their Fall 2013 issue here.

Please support this fine literary journal, and the poets and writers in this issue, by purchasing a year's subscription. You can share it with family and loved ones, neighbors and friends, when you've finished reading it. The written word needs all the help it can get. Particularly to you folks who are not in the literary arts, please do pick up a copy. You'll most likely find yourself enjoying the experience of reading excellent work by writers who've worked hard to hone their craft, and who would be thoroughly appreciative to you for supporting their efforts. You might also find yourself tapped on the shoulder by an unassuming superhero.

And so it rained last night. And the dust of the desert washed away and everything was bright green, and shiny, and I felt so happy. Umbrella: like riding a bicycle. 

It's the things that are ingrained that remind you who you are.  

July 31, 2013

Witnesses Report Superhero Seen Flying Over Main Street!

Just in time for summer’s end – two new “SUPER DAN COMICS QUESTION BOX SERIES” poems in the gorgeous new issue of THE MAIN STREET RAG. Volume 18, Number 3, Summer 2013. This issue is so cool it has an outer and inner front cover, both poignant and engaging, particularly as played off one another. 

Find out how a mere mortal can make a superhero speechless AND stupefied, simultaneously, all on the basis of a gingerly-placed, albeit spectacular, sofa. 

Then find out how a superhero can kick a mere mortal’s ass in the “just do it” department.

Martha Schulzinger’s take: “I really enjoyed SUPER DAN COMICS QUESTION BOX SERIES #24. A lot. I've read it a couple of times and I feel I can identify with Super Dan on that quite a lot. SDC #40 is very inspiring. As I read it, I feel Super Dan is inspiring us to take action, action we may not want to take. It's hard work, but we can do it.” 

In some circles, “SDC #40” is affectionately referred to as The Closer.

Thrilled to be pagewise side-by-side with the gifted poet and critic Bill Christophersen, in addition to a bevy of first-rate poets, including Roy Bentley and John Guzlowski.

Many thanks to publisher/editor M. Scott Douglass for his astute, dedicated and guiding care in constructing this special summer issue as well as the full body of fiction, poetry, interviews and artwork constituting The Main Street Rag Magazine and Publishing Company since 1997. 

July 18, 2013

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

I’m so honored to share that I have been commissioned by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to create poetry in conjunction with the Museum’s superb fall exhibitions, Narrow Road to the Interior: contemporary Japanese artists, and, Julianne Swartz: How Deep Is Your

SMoCA’s gala event, “ART OUT LOUD: POETRY IN THE GALLERIES,” will be held Thursday evening, December 5, at 7PM

It will be an outstanding celebration of poetry and art and everyone is invited to attend! I am very excited to participate in this wonderful occasion.

SEPTEMBER 21, 2013 -
JANUARY 12, 2014
Narrow Road to the Interior, takes readers on a pilgrimage—both worldly and immaterial. The artists in this exhibition also evoke the idea of earthly and spiritual passage in paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations using elemental materials such as wood, paper, ash, minerals and ink.

OCTOBER 12, 2013 - 
JANUARY 26, 2014 
Acclaimed for her unique blend of high and low-tech materials, artist Julianne Swartz often makes the ephemeral presence of the viewer fundamental to her work. Her art quietly celebrates contradictions and dichotomies that invite us to slow down and sharpen our senses.

I’ll be participating in this event with a few other poets whose names I don’t know yet. As soon as I do, I’ll certainly post them here on the blog. In November, my fellow poets and I will be attending a private introductory tour with the Museum’s Associate Curator in order to become acquainted with the exhibitions and to select the particular artworks on which we will be basing our poems. So thrilling!

Save the Date! Please come join in the festivities. 
Thursday, December, 5, 2013.  7PM.

June 27, 2013

Projects and Projections

Night-Blooming Cereus just before opening, which will take place in the dark of coming night.

This is the time of year when southern Arizona is the hottest and almost the most miserable. The most miserable will be in August, when the schizophrenic monsoon season, and by that I mean a pittance of rains but with dragon-breathing winds, settles upon us like a goose-down comforter over a 400 degree oven. August is when the nights don’t cool off and you’re lucky if the temps lower to 100 degrees. There’s no help then, at least until the end of October. We become, collectively, The Truffle People. Indoors by day, timidly emerging our foreheads by night.

But here the heat is. I once wrote a poem called “Desert Bird” which has in it a line “…shade the sustainer…,” and every year that line proves true. And yet, every year, I’m astonished that these trees and foliage and cacti hold up against such relentless, tyrannical heat. Usually, summer in southern Arizona means, Take a break, slow down, those of you unlucky not to have a cabin up north, which I don’t, just slow the heck down. Well, not this summer. No slowing in sight. Some shiny projects are in the offing, one involving the creating of spanking-new coruscating poetry for an event I’m overjoyed to have been invited to participate in. I feel like a racehorse at the gate, snorting and stomping and fidgeting, ears attuned to any and every possible influence for material. I want to shuck this saddle and rider, and run, run with this.
And then there are poems to finish for my next collection. I’m seeing semblances emerging, not only from a superhero series of poems, but others too, that squawk with harmony and prongs and girdles. So much to do. As always though, albeit more infrequently now (thank goodness), there’s the nonchalant rejection note, lately from the oh-so-famous journal I have sent to at least ten times. What follows from that? Nagging self-doubt. Which leads to a run-away night.

Last night’s run-away was over to a high-school-packed auditorium to see Neil Gaiman read from his newest book, The Ocean at The End of the Lane. Over 1,300 people attended. Gaiman read Chapter II, which referred to a cow and milk, and then he read a children’s tale, which involved many references to milk, and then he took questions. In my opinion, this man is thirsty for a mug of milk. Oh, and because we were allowed three signatures from him, I’m suspecting last night alone he signed his name 3,900 times. If I were him I’d have a professional hand masseuse traveling along in that giant RV parked in the high school lot.
A very dedicated Gaiman crowd outside
        A very dedicated crowd inside

Gaiman signed the July/August Poets&Writers cover for me, which has his photo on it, and he looks just like Bob Dylan’s brother. Then he signed an interior page, kindly, and wrote, “Way to go, Cyn!,” his black marker pointing down to the notice of my winning of the 2012 Red Hen Press Poetry Prize for "Super Dan Comics Question Box Series # 18". That was sweet. Did he have to do that? No. He could’ve knocked his signature number down to 3,899. In his book, his inscription simply said “Dream.” My one question to him was rhetorical: “Do you know how fortunate you are to have an audience of this magnitude?” He nodded, and still I saw a sliver of suspicion. I am, and possibly will always be, freighted with this type of line-of-questioning from law. It can’t be unlearned, no matter how hard we in the field try. Then it was time to hunt down “But the Gentleman to my Right,” who typically couldn’t care less about the whole dang thing and was eating a chili dog from one of the food trucks outside. 

A few days before, I'd seen the great comedian Brian Regan at Stand Up Live. He was, as usual, stunning, in the ways he constructs his routines and sketches. This is a photo of not him, but the stage he was about to enter:
And then there's, oh this. Again, not something. Not law, the standard type of work I'm used to, but this, which is more heart-wrenching. Funny, for old comics to make you misty-eyed and wistful. Just another portion of real work for the hot summer. And, if they ask you if comics are a funny business, just tell them Cynthia sent you and it's a long row to hoe.

Two Night-Blooming Cereus, full bloom after having fallen, and risen, again.
If they ask, and they might, all of it is worth it.

June 9, 2013

O Bisbee, Sweet Bisbee, Part II

Some shots from my poetry reading at The Oliver House in Bisbee.

That long instrument, a didgeridoo, heralded the beginning of the event. We had a packed house, and I was fortunate enough to present for a genuine poetry-loving audience. It was a uniquely memorable night. The people of Bisbee were enourmously kind and big-hearted. I’ll want to return again very soon. If you’re looking for me in the crowd, I’m way in the back on the left, just in front of the open window. Working hard to get those sweet 50-degree nighttime Bisbee breezes.

After reading from JUDGE SPENCER, I asked the crowd if they wanted to hear new work. Happily, they did, and that is what is cradled under my left arm. This shot is a reminder to me to forever remember not to wear floral prints when giving a reading. My excuse is: but I was told this was a community of ex-hippies! Am I off the hook if I just say: it's a tunic! 

A quick pictorial of my lovely time in Bisbee --

Every trip needs one inexplicable shot.