Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blessing Lucille, Rod, Marty

This year at Café Muse, The Word Works has been paying tribute to poets whose bodily presence we miss. The programs have brought incredible audiences together. June 2011 in tribute to Lucille Clifton was especially poignant as we featured poets Martin Galvin and Rod Jellema who created a poetic conversation as they went back and forth in their readings, sharing subject matter and their own poems that “talked to each.”

Jeffrey Coleman, a Saint Mary’s College of Maryland associate of Ms. Clifton shared his story about how she mentored him and how she sent out her graduating seniors with this poem:

Blessing the boats
(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back    may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Lucille Clifton

Copyright © 2001 by Lucille Clifton

Word Works author Donna Denize provided a humorous anecdote about how she came to sign a book
for Ms. Denize. 

The open mic heard some new voices to our forum.

And outside the Friendship Heights Village Center after the program was done, Rod Jellema added a story about how her first book Good Times came to be published by Random House. It’s a story the remaining audience of a dozen people had never heard. Carolyn Kizer, who Rod Jellema called as strong as Sherman tank,  by some chance read Ms. Clifton’s manuscript and asked if any of these poems had been published. Ms. Clifton responded none had been published because she didn’t know how to go about doing that. Ms. Kizer got on the phone and called Random House and said they must publish this manuscript, which, by the way, was only enough for a chapbook. However Random House published the manuscript with blank pages in between each poem to make up the difference. Good Times published in 1969, was cited by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year.

Don’t miss our July 18 program when Poets Carlos Parada Ayala and Luis Alberto Ambroggio read from Al Pie de la Casa Blanca: Anthology of Spanish-Language Washington-Area Poets with tribute to Egla Morales Blouin.

Friendship Heights Village Center
4433 South Park Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD

7:00 pm with open readings after featured readers. Free.

Adele Steiner, Hailey Leithauser, and Laura Golberg host.
Michael Davis plays classical guitar at most programs.

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