Monday, July 28, 2014

A Midsummer Night's Blog

It seems like I blinked and summer was already half over. My son is almost done his summer job as a Boy Scout camp adult counselor, and before I know it, we will be moving him in for his first semester of college. We have also planned a couple of short vacations, and we will be welcoming back our wonderful international student as she returns from Korea the end of August. Where did you go, July?

A few bits of poetry news:  First, I learned that my poem “SeƱor Morning” was accepted for the next issue of US 1 Worksheets. I’m happy to be appearing in their fine journal once again.

Second, Robert Brewer announced a few more winners for his Poem-a-Day Challenge Contest on his Poetic Asides blog. Robert has a daunting task, slogging through literally thousands of entries and picking the ten best from each day of April to send to his guest judges for a final decision. I’m happy to report that my poem “Romantics” won for Day 15!  It was selected by the judge of the day, poet Barbara Hamby, and it will appear with the other winners later this year in an anthology, Poem Your Heart Out, to be published by Words Dance Press. I also had three other poems make the top 10 among the fifteen days that have been judged so far – there are still another 15 days of winners to be announced.  A couple of other poets have had multiple wins for this month so far, so I still have a chance of getting another winning poem, but I’m quite happy with the one win.  Thanks to Robert and Ms. Hamby for their appreciation of my work.

Third, I was invited as a featured poet to the monthly reading series “Poetry Aloud and Alive” at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Philadelphia, last Friday the 25th.  It went very well – they are a talented and very appreciative group of fellow poets, and they really seemed to enjoy my work. Thanks to Mike Cohen and Dave Worrell for inviting me to read.

Music:  Recently my wife and I attended two music events that we thoroughly enjoyed.  The first was the movie Jersey Boys, about the 60’s singing group The Four Seasons, directed by Clint Eastwood.  The other was “Classical Mystery Tour”, a great live concert featuring a Beatles tribute band backed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. The band was really good, and you can’t do much better than the Philadelphia Orchestra for your back-up musicians. They played a variety of Beatles songs, featuring especially the ones that were originally recorded with orchestral arrangements, like “The Long and Winding Road”, “All You Need is Love,” “Yesterday”, and so on. You haven’t lived till you have heard “A Day in the Life” performed live with a full orchestra.  They also did two solo numbers, John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die”.  There was even an arrangement of the head-trippy “Tomorrow Never Knows” – it’s not easy to replicate electronic effects with an orchestra, but they pulled it off admirably. The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia is a wonderful venue too, by the way.

Poem:  Once in a while I feature poems by other poets, and today I thought I’d introduce you to one from a new collection, Sisters and Courtesans, by my talented friend Anna M. Evans. This is her first full-length book, an impressive collection of sonnets in the voices of women through the ages, from a vestal virgin and a geisha, to Victorian streetwalker and a gangster’s moll.  The book is available on

My Life as a Russian Orthodox Nun
by Anna M. Evans

My grand duchess took orders long before
the trouble started. I was glad to go
with Europe heading for a bloody war.

And then the revolution struck. The snow
was knee deep on the night they came for us -
she was an aristocrat, I guess, although

she'd sold her jewels to help the poor, owned less
than anyone. They held us in a school,
then gave us to the cheka. I confess

I was afraid. But my lady kept her cool
even as they threw us down, tossed in
the hand grenades. She said, The golden rule

is: don't let the bastards have a single thing.
She squeezed my hand and then began to sing.

[©2014, White Violet Press; used with permission of the author]