The Home School

Last week I attended, well, half attended, The Home School in Hudson, NY, because I thought it was time to shake things up. There, I became a student for the first time in decades, & it was useful to note how various poets led their poetry workshops. Harryette Mullen was my favorite, a reminder to ‘be yourself,’ do a sophisticated analysis of a poem yet be simple in your discussion of writing—If you enjoy it, do it, she reminded them. Wild CA Conrad developed/gave ritual workshops every morning which helped ground us, however wacky they seemed, involving touch, sight, fast writing, and listening. Myung Mi Kim was the hit of the week—doing groundbreaking work in poetry—more on that another time. Jorie Graham came up to read & to my joy says she’d be happy to come to my class this year. Adam Fitzgerald’s reading was so fast & contained so many contemporary references--younger generations have access to worlds and languages I do not—but at least that got me thinking about what might happen next. Got all sorts of ideas for my own poetry workshop, so we’ll see this term what happens.

Poetry Readings at Outpost 186, Fall-Winter

Happy to be invited to read in this Saturday afternoon series, organized by poet and editor Ben Mazer. I will be reading with Fanny Howe in February.

Outpost 186
186 Hampshire St
Inman Square, Cambridge
For more information: www.facebook.com/Outpost-186

Here is the full schedule:
Sat. September 30, 4-6 pm
Jim Dunn
John Mulrooney

Sat. October 28, 4-6 pm
Ben Mazer
Stephen Sturgeon

Sat. November 11, 4-6 pm
Marc Vincenz
David Blair

Sat. December 2, 4-6 pm
Thomas Graves
Rob Chalfen

Sat. January 6, 4-6 pm
Judson K. Evans
Gale Batchelder

Sat. February 3, 4-6 pm
Ruth Lepson
Fanny Howe

Sat. March 3, 4-6 pm
Philip Nikolayev
John Hennessy

 

The Phillip Whalen Award

The winner of the Phillip Whalen Award this year is Ruth Lepson, for her book of poetry, ask anyone, from Pressed Wafer.

The award was created 3 years ago to recognize outstanding works of literature that seem to embody qualities Phillip Whalen brought to poetry, a projectivist practice with great flow, elements of surprise, and a sense that everything is just as it has to be. Previous winners have been Kyle Schlesinger and James Yeary, and Phillip Sultz.

There are no guidelines or applications for the award; rather, it is selected by Chax Press and friends (Chax books are ineligible) out of the books that come into our purview during a year, with the award then announced some time between April and August of the ensuing year.

There is no particular benefit from this award other than recognition; however, if anyone wishes to donate to or endow this award for the future, please contact us.

You may order ask anyone directly from Pressed Wafer, The Grolier Poetry Book Shop, or Small Press Distribution.
 

Caterina Davinio Poetry Network

Happy to be a participant in this project:

Dear friends poets and artists,

To celebrate my participation at the Medellín International Poetry Festival 2017, where I am performing for the second time (the first was in the early nineties) as a poet and an electronic poet, I have created the online poetry happening "Medellín Highs Medellín Blues” where poets from all over the world are invited.

Participation in "Medellín Highs Medellín Blues" is free; young poets and artists are encouraged. The theme is free, but texts on the topic of peace and friendship among the peoples are welcome.

You are invited to post your poem (max 30 lines) or enter a picture or video (please, send a YouTube link) in the comments of this post.

If you want to share, THIS IS THE LINK: 

http://caterina-davinio-poetry-network.blogspot.it/

If you find problems in posting or you want to stay in my mailing list, to stay tuned about the development of this project, or you just want to contact me privately, please write to: davinio@tin.it

Everyone is welcome!

Warmly

Caterina Davinio  

Patrick Keppel's Introduction

The following is the introduction given by Patrick Keppel, Chair of Liberal Arts at NEC, from last week's reading with Timothy Ogene.

I’d like to welcome everyone to an evening celebrating the work of NEC’s poet-in-residence, Ruth Lepson.  Ruth is a great colleague, a real joy to work with—an extremely warm, talented, and engaging teaching artist.  Her Poetry Workshop and Contemporary Poetry electives are always extremely popular, as her emphasis on the pure music of language resonates with the kind of students NEC attracts.  In their evaluations, students often comment on how her classes give them insight into their lives in general and as musicians in particular.

One student wrote that Ruth helped him see that “Poetry is music, art, composition, and everything alike.”

Another wrote, “There were so many engaging moments in this class…The idea and teachings of this class have expanded my outlook on art, life, and music.”  

And still another:  “This course taught me to look into the deeper meaning of things and in other situations to just enjoy the experience.  Ruth Lepson is awesome!”

At our annual Poetry Reading, as well as at our Hear Here! publication event, Ruth’s students present their compelling original poetry and impressive musical settings.  As you watch them interact with Ruth, it’s clear just how much they treasure her. They feel deeply connected to Ruth personally, as both a professional mentor and friend.  Some even have collaborated with her artistically, in poetry and jazz, in recordings and in concerts in Boston and New York.  In fact, we will see and hear some examples of these collaborations tonight.

Ruth’s passion for extending herself as a multidimensional artist has earned her the respect of many wonderful local, national, and international poets—many of whom she has invited to her electives as guest artists, including her mentor Robert Creeley, Llyod Schwartz, Fanny Howe, Gerrit Lansing, Laurie Duggan, Geoffrey O’Brien, Tina Darragh, P. Inman, and Kate Greenstreet—as well as major composers/musician collaborators such as Steve Lacy, Alan Fletcher, Bob Cogan, Joe Maneri, and Frank Carlberg, who created a song from one of Ruth’s poems, which we will also hear performed tonight.

Ruth has published several volumes of poetry including Dreaming in Color, Poetry from Sojourner, Morphology, I Went Looking for You, and of course, her most recent book of poems, ask anyone, which is receiving significant critical acclaim. There are copies of the book for purchase in the back, and if you haven’t yet got a copy, I strongly urge you to, as it’s quite remarkable.

As the poet and editor Joyce Peseroff wrote in a recent review, “The gift of Lepson’s poetry lies in the degree of attention she pays the world. Like the painter in the poem ‘the painter’s turning his head,’ Lepson believes that ‘in talk   in art   two things going on//two languages   one of love and one of noticing//each a pleasure   they happen together.’ Ask anyone offers its pleasures the way a musician builds a chord, each line a distinct note that resonates in fresh and harmonious ways.”

Our special guest tonight, the poet Timothy Ogene, recently wrote what I consider a particularly insightful review of the delicate complexities of the language and structure of Ruth’s poems.

“In Lepson’s work,” he writes, “thought reveals itself in the choice and structural placement of words and, in other instances, a reluctance to carry an emotion to an expected end. The goal, it seems, is to create a binary that balances overt emotions with critical deliberations.

“Most important, however, is the fierce grasp on the function and limits of language, where the poet does not merely play and experiment with language for its own sake but for an intended subliminal effect. That subliminal effect is accentuated by the not-quiteness of her poems, how they leave the reader sandwiched between a climax and a joyous longing for more, practically making us ‘want to think and dance at the same time’ as Betsy Sholl says of Lepson’s poems.”

So, in short, we have a great night of thinking and dancing ahead of us.  Ruth will be reading from a variety of her volumes, including a poem based upon Fielding Dawson’s portrait of the artist Cy Twombly which she read at the ICA Black Mountain College show this winter and which she’ll be reading for an upcoming Cy Twombly show at the MFA.  She’ll also be reading poems with accompaniment, which she will describe. And of course we’ll also hear poems from our special guest, Timothy Ogene, whom Ruth will introduce.

But first please welcome to the stage, our terrific poet-in-residence, Ruth Lepson.

 

Daniel Wuenschel

Thank you everyone who came to Sunday afternoon's reading at the CPL. We were truly honored to be in the presence of Celia Gilbert, Ruth Lepson, and Ethel Rackin as they shared their engaging and thought-provoking work with us.

If you missed the reading, you can still come and visit the work of these three excellent poets by borrowing their books or visiting the display of their materials on the second floor of Cambridge Public Library.

 

Photos from our reading at the Grolier.

Some photos from our reading at the Grolier to launch the new issue of spoKe journal.
 

Numéro Cinq

Coming in March. It's the Magic Box issue. With fantastic work by the Egyptian ceramics artists Michel Pastore and Evelyne Porret (Porret Pastore) and new art work from Anne Hirondelle. Also essays by Rikki Ducornet (on Gnosticism), Timothy Ogene (on Ruth Lepson), Yannis Livadas (on experimental aethetics), and Steven Moore (on the American avant-pop novelist J. P. McEvoy). And a brilliant interview with the Costa Rican-born Puerto Rican novelist Carlos Fonseca by Jessica Sequeira. New fiction from Kelly Cherry, Ben Slotsky, and Sean Preston. Poetry from Fleda Brown, Maura Stanton, and Sue Elmslie. Plus poetry in translation from the fantastic Spanish writer Agustín Fernández Mallo. Reviews by Jason DeYoung, Carolyn Ogburn, Mark Sampson, and Linda Chown. And for our Irish series this month, a gorgeous childhood memoir by Amanda Bell.

Upcoming events this week

I’ll be reading pages from Bill Berkson’s memoirs and from his emails to me, this Friday at the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, for the spoKe journal new issue reading, 7:00PM.
On Friday I will also be speaking about Robert Creeley to prospective students & their parents at The New England Conservatory of Music. The Day before I will be talking about George Oppen in one of my classes.

Good luck to me! A pleasure, really.