Friday, January 30, 2015

from The Hastings Room ( Poetry Series) Gloria Mindock ( Ibbetson Lifetime Achievement Award winner -- 2014), and others....

from The Hastings Room:


The Battle of Hastings in 1066 was to bring about a dramatic transformation to the English Language. At The Hastings Room Reading Series we do what we can by hosting a quarterly poetry reading at First Church Congregationalist, 11 Garden Street (across from the Sheraton Commander) off of Harvard Square…

This coming Wednesday, February 4th, at 7:00 pm, we will be featuring Gloria Mindock,
the winner of the 2014 Ibbetson Street Press Lifetime Achievement Award. (See flyer for this event at the end of this announcement.)

Irene Koronas, poet, painter and multi-media artist, was a reader at our debut reading in May
of 2014. She is a member of our planning committee, and has been a devoted attendee at the readings. Irene has written a very thoughtful memoir of Franz Wright’s evening with us on Wednesday the 19th of November 2014, which we are grateful to share here:

F r a n z  W r i g h t
by Irene Koronas

“The sun shining no warmer than the moon.”  Michael Steffen, hosts, Hastings Room Poetry Reading, Cambridge, Ma., he reads Galway Kinnell's poem, 'For Robert Frost," before he introduces the poet Franz Wright who asks Mike for the date the poem was written. The audience remains quiet when Mike asks if anyone knows. I don't know. I've never read Kinnell's poetry. Sometimes I feel like a an alien, a foreigner at a poetry reading, not knowing certain references written or spoken of in poems. Franz is at home, poetry is his home. He is comfortable enough to ask. He seems grateful to be approached by admirers. He's different. Changed. Illness transforms people, for better or not.

For many years I've attended poetry readings. Franz continues to draw me to his readings. I listen with a keen sense to how his poetry takes life, squeezes what lives, drains out experiences, how he can not live any other way. He is (for me) a poetic super star. He lends to his own legend, what we might consider, creative anger, loss, abstract thoughts peppered with loneliness. He often uses accusation to reference contemporary life. Whatever he writes, Franz Wright comes across. He spits three times like a Greek priest during baptisms, wards off evil. I always appreciated the Greek in him. Profound, feisty,  unlike people who please, he meets his own weaknesses. He stares down other people's weaknesses. His poetry is his way of life. This is evident in all his writing. We encounter the way he has lived and how he has lived. His poems slip off pages and remains in our blood. More human than evidenced in some poetry, he is in those phrases which allow us to enter and to be there.

My age teaches me there's not enough time to day dream any more. With my hearing loss,
I keep trying to pay close attention, knowing I might not be privy to his voice again. His voice has softened, it is difficult for me to hear. I watch his breath, the roll of sound, like low tide. Words lap the sand. Foam traces recede. Another wave. This time wet words soak my mind, I listen anyway. 

He asks, if there are any poems we would like him to read. I'm immersed in his presence and I fumble through my bag for his F book. “Elderly Couple” written at Mt Feake Cemetery 1990. This is the second poem in his book. It brings me to my knees. My first thought on reading the poem was, if only I could write like him. By the time I fish his book out of my bag, Franz is on his way back to his wife on the red Victorian couch. She moves aside his black cane. My head leans on his movements, still musing on his poem. How all or most of my American family from the 1930's are buried at Mt Feake. My mother being the most recent. She died this summer and I still cry at my loss. “rapidly graying, dissolving into one substance with the dusk, they are so still they tremble.” His poem, Elderly Couple, leads me into the rest of  F book. Too late to ask him to read the poem. I tremble at my own weakness.

People ask him to sign his books. I watch his long gentle fingers write my name. His hand writing reminds me of the quick notes mother used to leave me. Her notes shake my grief. I stash them in my bureau draw. Wright's book is back in my cloth bag. Still I can't leave.

Paper cups strewn under seats. I'm reminded, service helps relieve sorrow. I pick up the cups, stack them in an empty plastic cookie container. I repeat this task until I find the courage to leave the room, walk to the subway train and return home wanting more poetry from Franz Wright. “this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his making...” Kinnell

   Poetry Reading to Celebrate
   Gloria Mindock
 2014 Ibbetson Street Lifetime Achievement Award 


11 Garden Street, off of Harvard Square
Wednesday February the 4th at 7:00 pm

Gloria Mindock is the founding editor of Cervena Barva Press, and one of the USA editors for Levure Litteraire (France).  She is the author of La Porรพile Raiului (Ars Longa Press, 2010, Romania) translated into the Romanian by Flavia Cosma, Nothing Divine Here (U Soku Stampa, 2010, Montenegro), and Blood Soaked Dresses (Ibbetson, 2007).  Widely published in the USA and abroad, her poetry has been translated and published into Romanian, Serbian, Spanish, Estonian, and French. Her fourth chapbook, “Pleasure Trout” was published by Muddy River Books in 2013. This past December 2014, Gloria was awarded the Ibbetson Street Press Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Gloria will be joined by co-readers—

Jaime Bonney received a Master's of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in 2012, concentrating her work in languages and in a pastoral theology of the arts, especially investigating the consolations of Fyodor Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov. She is a member of the Bethany House of Prayer poetry group in Arlington, MA, led by poet Kimberly Green. In addition to writing poetry, Jaime is a singer and painter. She lives in Jamaica Plain.

Brother Nicholas Bartoli n/SSJE is a monk in the Episcopal order of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, having joined the order in August of 2013. He is originally from Brooklyn, New York, and most recently lived in Boulder, Colorado where he practiced psychotherapy and attended seminary. Nicholas is a beginning writer of poetry whose inspiration comes primarily from poems arising from mystical traditions.

---Michale Todd Steffen ( Co-Director and Founder of  Hastings Room)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Interview with Mike Basinski: Curator of the University at Buffalo Libraries' Special Collection.

Mike Basinski ( Curator of  Special Collections at the University at Buffalo, N.Y.)

I caught up recently with my friend Mike Basinski, curator of the University at Buffalo Libraries/ Special Collections. The University at Buffalo website states that the poetry collection is ".... the library of record for 20th- and 21st-century poetry in English. Founded in 1937 by Charles Abbott, the Poetry Collection now holds one of the world’s largest collections of poetry first editions and other titles, little literary magazines, broadsides and anthologies; a substantial collection of artworks; and more than 150 archives and manuscript collections from a wide range of poets, presses, magazines and organizations."

The collection has just about every Ibbetson Street Press title we published, and provides a huge service to the literary small press. I interviewed Mike about ten years ago--so I wanted to revisit him.

Doug Holder:  So, if you are game, tell me what is up for you for the past decade—professional and personal

Mike Basinski:  Well, I take care of the realm of the poem. As the world should know, libraries are changing. I don’t mean just the digitizing of certain materials. What is digitized is always somebody’s selection and things are selected for… money, power, prestige, and politics, for example. There is a selection process so democracy always at the end of the line. Not to gloom. I don’t. Libraries are changing and there is less publicly supplied funding for libraries. But what I am saying is that poetry and the poem is still small, relatively, and still lives in a book. Care is about funds to buy poetry books, subscribe to poetry magazines, secure poetry broadsides.  The State of New York only funds 11% of the University at Buffalo, so poem funds have to come from someplace else and it comes from friends of poetry and the poem.  I beg. Tin cup in hand. The priority for the Poetry Collection is expanding. Always I wish to maintain first our first edition collection but to do that we need friends. I have lots of ties, around my neck and in the community, community of art, the realm of the poem, anywhere. I say, this is a public institution so this Poetry Collection is the public’s collection and by facts we are all curators of this collection. So, what do I do at work: Keep the doors open so in may waltz and walk the poem. These are strange times. Fear not, I have my finger in the dike!

And, well, I am happy to say, I am on guard. And we have friends and more friends each day. A friend a day keeps the apple away. I am not just being old time. Tis a modern world. I don’t blame the State or the University. I also pay taxes, too many. But I also call to arms. Being a poet is being responsible for the world of the poem. Be poetry’s friend – write me and will work it out:

I keep making the poem with real letters and visual letters as has been my form forever. Each day the poem summons and I respond. I am thinking of a poem of just end lines. A poem that is a text for pure improvisation.  I keep thinking of one phrase in Ulysses, which is “a form of forms,” which is in one sense jazz but should be the poem. There is where I am happy. I am looking for the right combination of sounds which will be the spell that introduces magic back in this sometimes very stale and sour world. I know it is there.

What else? My wife and I have a home near some woods, some of which is ours, and there are deer and fox and such, and provides else viewing. I sit in the heaven of the woods. What more! 

DH:  Any poets you have your eye on?

MB: Eye Catching poets? I am at the stage of rereading. H.D., Pound, Basil Bunting. Like listening to old records – great. Kerouac. I like reading myself.  I like reading new books by Lisa Jarnot, Dodie Bellamy, and Susan Howe. I always stop and read them. And I found the poems of Ruth Fainlight – all wonderful moons. And the poet – Patrick Riedy. He is a real poet – he is the Keats of Lackawanna, New York.

DH: Any magazines that strike your fancy?

MB: I am a local guy, so I like local literary magazines. Our freshest in Buffalo: Yellow Field . Edric Mesmer molds each issue. It is NEW! Yellow Field, attn.: Edric Mesmer, 1217 Delaware Ave. – Apt. 802, Buffalo, New York 14209. yellowedenwaldfield[at]yahoo[dot]com

DH: Your philosophy of poetry and good writing?

MB: I like all poetry. We have to join together and forget our camps and agendas and I am this poet and your write like that. We are all Ring Tailed Lemurs and the society is cutting down our Madagascar. All of this your kinda poem and my underground and ivory tower – poets, watch the hell out! We are one big union and have to think that way. Or it’s over the edge.

Good writing? I have no woRms of wisdom.