Thursday, July 31, 2008

Grand Finale! July 22, 2008

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a week since our fabulous grand finale at Miller’s Cabin. The summer is flying by. If you didn’t get out to the series this summer, I hope you will find us next year!

We had another perfect evening on the 22nd, with poets Sauci Churchill
and Therese Halscheid. Well, nearly perfect. Our decades old sound system got stolen, along with Kathi Morrison-Taylor's old Honda. Darn! That was rude! So our poets had to make a special effort to project but they did. So poems about fathers, travel, and the natural world fell into our peaceful Cabin evening of fireflies, galloping horses, and cyclists were definitely heard!

Therese Halscheid's latest book of poems, Uncommon Geography, won the Paterson Poetry Book Prize's Finalist Award. She was also awarded Pudding House's chapbook prize, as part of their Greatest Hits Series. Her writings have been published in numerous magazines. She is Fellowship winner through NJ State Council on the Arts, a visiting writer in schools and teaches at Atlantic Cape Community College in NJ.

Sauci Churchill taught high school, worked 30 years as law librarian, and currently works in a garden. She lives with husband and White Cloud, 3rd of the shelter dogs that have graced their lives. Her two chapbooks have been published by Finishing Line Press: Running Down Division Street and The Red Fin.

Thank you to all the poets who read in the series this year, some who traveled far and others who are neighbors. Also thanks to open readers.

Also thanks to co-directors Melissa Tuckey and Rosemary Winslow. Thanks to Michael Hauptschein who brought his unicorn banner almost every program!

Keep in touch. And if you’re local, hope to see you at Café Muse sometime soon!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A New View of the Creek!

On July 15th, we were happy to welcome Nicole Cooley and Ellen Rachlin to Miller’s Cabin. Someone had moved the picnic tables out of last week’s formation, so we decided to try something new and set up the reading with the audience facing the creek. The night was perfect and the view spectacular. Thank Fate (and the previous picnickers) for that suggestion.

Nicole Cooley grew up in New Orleans and her book of poetry about Hurricane Katrina, Breach, is forthcoming from LSU Press. She began the evening reading poems from the new book about her family, St. Bernard Parish, and the city's response to the hurricane.
(Her first book of poetry, Resurrection, won the 1995 Walt Whitman Award and was published by LSU Press in 1996. Her second book of poetry, The Afflicted Girls, about the Salem witch trials of 1692, came out with LSU Press in April 2004 and was chosen as one of the best poetry books of the year by Library Journal.) It seemed especially fitting for her to read the Katrina poems outdoors, by the bubbling creek, which, as Karren Alenier pointed out, has flooded in the past. The audience felt honored to have such a picturesque and powerful preview.

Next, Ellen Rachlin read. She is the author of Until Crazy Catches Me (Antrim House Books, 2008), and two chapbooks, Waiting for Here (Finishing Line Press, 2004) and the forthcoming Captive to Residue (Flarestack Publishing, 2009). Ellen’s poems remind me of Anglo-Saxon riddles, with answers like smoke, wind, an egg, time. In her stanzas, for instance, water may have a lair and lemons may be sweet. Wonderful to hear her selections out loud – delicate, puzzling, intriguing.

Our last Miller Cabin reading of the year is coming up next week, July 22, 2008: Sauci Churchill and Therese Halscheid will feature. Please join us at 7:30 in Picnic Area #6 for the grand finale!

Special thanks to Michael Hauptschein for the many times he has brought his unicorn banners to the park to help make the backyard of the Miller Cabin festive!

Sheila Black and Charles E. Wright

July 8th brought about another attentive and somewhat boisterous audience in Rock Creek Park by Miller’s Cabin. We’ve been very fortunate with the weather this year, with just our June 10th reading held inside due to a whopper of a thunderstorm. In any case, it was an impressive turnout of poetry lovers.

We were very happy to have Sheila Black as one of our featured readers, visiting all the way from Las Cruces, New Mexico. Sheila is author of House of Bone (CustomWords Press, 2007) and the chapbook How to be a Maquiladora (Main Street Rag, 2006). Her second full-length collection, Love/Iraq, is forthcoming in 2008. The immediacy and imagination in her poems, such as “Barcelona” and “What You Mourn” held the audience captive and left us all wanting more!

Our second featured reader of the evening was Charles E. Wright. His musings on schwa and the infield fly rule kept us all attentive and entertained. In introducing him, I stole (with permission, of course) a favorite short poem of his:

Salad Days

These ribbons
of carrots

were medallions
in my youth.

And I learned something new, talking with Charles. Wallace Stevens’ wife was the model for the Mercury dime! There's got to be a poem in that somewhere!

What a great evening!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Crowd Gathers for John O’Dell and Katy Richey

John O’Dell treated us to a fine selection of his poetry, including this one, from a visit he took to Alaska. (Click on “Archibald MacLeish” in the epigraph to learn more about MacLeish in DC)

Asking More
“Do you ask more? Do you ask to travel forever?”
Archibald MacLeish in Tourist Death

Not long before he died, my father
went north, bored his Studebaker
through a wide redwood, puzzled over
The Trees of Mystery, posed my mother
before totems, trading posts, then beside
a Mounty, the milky waters of Lake Louise.

Now, I approach the sheer wall of years
he stood upon when he made that trip.
I, too, find myself following a needle’s
northern urge, looking at Raven’s wooden
preening, hearing his hoarse morning cries,
the afternoon thunder of calving ice.

Salmon shove against a creek’s unyielding
flow, fight for and win the death that birth
ordains, and in their spawning, outruns.
I stand halfway across a Ketchikan bridge
refusing the river’s infallible instruction.
In steady drizzle, in silence, I ask for more.

Next, Katy Richey’s poems graced the evening.Searching and playful, mysterious and direct--from “charlotte,” observations on the baby spiders in Charlotte’s Web, to a set of poems on the body: breasts, penis envy, blood pressure, Katy overcame a finicky sound system to deliver her poems with style. Please visit more of Katy’s poems in Beltway Poetry Quarterly.

The open mic brought our evening to a satisfying close, as dusk set in and moved to dark and we headed up the hill to the reception site. A number of our readers have a web presence, and this week I’ll offer a link to Elliot Perlin’s book, Like the Trailings of a Comet on an Endless Journey.

There were over thirty in the audience on Tuesday, a perfect July evening for poetry at Miller Cabin.

Please join us next week for Sheila Black and Charles E. Wright:
Tuesday, July 8 at 7:30.