Sunday, June 8, 2014

Breaking the Silence

When I said "farewell" after writing a poem a day in the month of April, I didn't really mean forever. Still, over a month is close to "forever" in blog-time. Yeah, I got a little lazy after the April spurt of creativity, but not totally idle. Personally, the last several weeks have been pretty busy, mostly revolving around our youngest son, who had his Senior Prom, graduation and the subsequent party, and now, already, a summer job as an adult counselor at Boy Scout camp. Next weekend is my nephew's wedding, and right after that we say goodbye to our international student for the summer, so May and June have been a whirlwind so far.

The other big event was a combined Mother's Day/birthday gift to my wife and me from my son and his significant other. We were treated to dinner at John's of 12th Street, an Italian restaurant in the East Village that was featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It's actually none of those, just a great little bistro with deliciously-prepared food. I had the Tuscan Ragu over Homemade Pappardelle (one of the dishes featured on the program) - the meat sauce melted in my mouth, and the pasta was done perfectly. Afterward we went to Carnegie Hall to see a concert of music by the Estonian-German composer Arvo Pärt. If you're not familiar with him, he is a former serialist composer who, after a hiatus of several years, embraced other types of music like minimalism and Gregorian chant, and has created a beautiful body of choral and orchestral work largely on religious themes. The concert was wonderful, and Mr. Pärt was in attendance - we even got his autograph at a "meet-and-greet" after the show. It was a splendid evening in New York.

Poetically, the highlight for me in the past month was participating in an art-and-poetry event at the Markheim Art Center in Haddonfield, NJ. There is a juried exhibit there called "Power of the Flower" - a variety of artists working with different media who created a stunning display of all things floral. A poet friend, Dave Worrell, invited a number of local poets to view the works and write poems about them (there's a word for this: "ekphrastic" poetry), and on May 31, we read our poems at the gallery as the works that inspired them were displayed. Several of my poet friends were there to share their works: Dave, Barbara Daniels, Tammy Paolino, Rocky Wilson, BJ Swartz, Walt Howat, and nine others including me. Several of the artists and photographers were in attendance, too, and I think they appreciated our response to their works. I got to read last, and though I actually wrote six short poems for the works on display, I didn't expect to have the opportunity to read them all, but Dave asked if I would, and they all got a nice response. It was a fine evening of visual and written works of art. I'd love to do it again some time.

I have had one recent publication: The baseball-themed journal Spitball has published my poem "Baseball in Manzanar" on their website as Poem of the Month. This is my third appearance for Spitball (the other two were poems for their print edition). Thanks to editor Mike Shannon for his support of my work. I also have two upcoming readings: Barnes and Noble in Marlton NJ on June 16th, and the Big Blue Marble Bookstore in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia on July 25th The other news is that I have been asked to write a blurb for a posthumous collection of the poetry of my friend John Bourne. It's an honor, and I'll share more details as they become available. (Still waiting to hear about whether I'm accepted into Billy Collins' workshop at the Key West Literary Seminar next January - I'm supposed to be notified by late June.)

Poems: Here are two of the six poems I wrote for the above-mentioned event at the Markheim Gallery, along with the art works that inspired them.

Bird of Paradise
(after stained glass art by Tom Sharp)

from itself
a riot of yellow and orange

at the end of the stalk
ready to launch

while afternoon light
filters through
from behind

speared sunshine
bright splinters
of the day

Ravens and Foxglove
(after art by Jonathan Greenberg)

Harbinger birds,
black as an omen,
carrying powers
on tips of their wings,

roost near a garden
of fingertip flowers,
small purple bells
that do many things –

poison our foes
or keep our hearts beating.
Life hangs, we suppose,
on what each symbol brings.

We’re all in the throes
of indefinite hours.

1 comment:

S said...

Bruce, I am so thrilled that your poetry is out in the world and being loved--I have enjoyed many of the poems I've read at PAD. I haven't been participating, the past two years (can't believe it's been that long!!!) anyway, too busy with family and work--now that the kids have moved out, we're caring for my inlaws and my parents--however, we're also taking a few more vacations ;-) Hope that you hear soon that you were accepted to the workshop! (you'll be in my neck of the woods) Billy Collins is one of my favorites