Saturday, December 12, 2009

The True Story of Emily D

Check out this amazing animation by Flash Rosenberg. I was blown away by the research Lyn Pentecost of the Lower East Side Girls club did into Dickinson's life. Turns out most of what we think of the lonely, recluse, dressed in white drifting upstairs like a ghost, is BS. Ready to have as Emily says, "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." This video will loosen your skull cap or double your money back! I like this new Emily- she's gutsy- like her poems.

It preimered at the big Emily Dickinson Birthday Bash at The Bowery Poetry Club on Dec. 10th, This piece was commissioned by the Lower Eastside Girls Club as part of the National Endowment for the Arts initiative, 'The Big Read.'

Emily Dickinson – Her True Self from Flash Rosenberg on Vimeo.

An impressionistic animation about Emily's life and poetry, energetically revealing the truth about her spirit. It's a myth that Emily was stuck in her little room. She was aware of the world, much loved, prolific and had the courage to follow her own imagination.
11:30 minutes
drawing, script and direction: Flash Rosenberg
video editor: Sarah Lohman
original music: Ken Rosenberg
voices: Renee Laster, Flash Rosenberg
produced by: The Lower Eastside Girls Club, New York City

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Beth Lisick Stars in "Everything Strange and New."

I met Beth Lisick in the mid 1990's when she was burning up the poetry scene in San Francisco. She has gone on to write many books including, "Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone," published by William Morrow. Adding to her many credits she is now staring in a new indie film "Everything Strange and New." Here is a little from the San Francisco chronicle review-

"Director Frazer Bradshaw has worked as a cinematographer, which you might guess from seeing his new feature, "Everything Strange and New." This drama about the existential woes of a blue-collar worker is told in a strikingly visual way.

Bradshaw is drawn to long takes and a motionless camera to tell the story of Wayne (Jerry McDonald), an Oakland construction worker coping with a rocky marriage and a general sense of frustration. Wayne informs us (he's also the narrator) that he had a satisfying sexual relationship with his wife (Beth Lisick) early in their relationship, but now, with two kids to support and finances tight, his home life isn't so rosy" read the rest of the review here SF Gate

I felt lucky to be in San Francisco to see the opening. The acting in the film is spot-on. Bradshaw has a sharp eye and has written a compelling screen play. The title comes from a line in "The Pied Piper Of Hamelin," by Robert Browning, which is recited in the film in a pivotal scene-

"It's dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can't forget that I'm bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the Piper also promised me:
For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
Joining the town and just at hand,
Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,
And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
And everything was strange and new;
The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
And honey-bees had lost their stings,
And horses were born with eagles' wings:
And just as I became assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the Hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Michael O'Keefe's Book Party for "Swimming From Under My Father"

Michael O'Keefe's Book Party for "Swimming From Under My Father"
At the Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, New York City, Sunday Oct. 25th, 2009, 4pm EST.

With special guest readers: Mary-Louise Parker, Michael Lally, Portia, and Saul Rubinek .

Watch it live on the WEB!

Thrilled "Weeds" star Mary-Louise Parker will be at the BPC today to support her friend Michael O'Keefe and his first book of poetry!

And course Lally is one of my favorite poets!

More on Swimming From Under My Father here

Here are the closing lines from O'Keefe's poem, "Campaign Plans,"

Ol’ Roscoe smiled and returned to his task,
which was to mop the cheap linoleum floor
sending waves of ammonia and loss to the heavens.

It looks to be a great event. Hope you can make it down or get a chance to catch it live on the web.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Poetry in Motion Redeux

Danny Heitman's New York Times article from 8/16/09 ruminates on Marianne Moore's flirtation with the Auto Industry.

Here are a few examples we think poets might drive:

Billy Collins- 1941 red and white, Mitsubishi Lanyard, with Nine Horse engine.

Coleman Barks- 1937- Ford Whirler

Pablo Neruda- 1904- VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Trabant- Is there anything sadder in the world than a Trabant standing in the rain?

Marianne Moore- 1887- horse drawn Ford Fiddle, I too dislike it...

Langston Hughes- 1902- Deferrer, with exploding ejection seat

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Firecracker Day!

Please check out this video I made with Mark Crutch to explain my absence from a Bowery Poetry Club staff meeting. I hope you enjoy it! Best, Gary

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Hollywood Does Poetry

Sunday, May 10th
at the Bowery Poetry Club- 7pm

Second Annual Bowery Arts & Science Benefit
for the non-profit wing of the Bowery Poetry Club

6pm Cocktails with the Stars! Schmooze w/ the Poets!
7pm Main Event Hollywood Does Poetry!

Performers include:
Patricia Clarkson
Claire Danes
Michael Lally
Michael O'Keefe
Rene Ricard
Sarah Vowell
Amber Tamblyn
Kristi Zea
and Youth Poets from Urban Word NYC

Here are the opening lines from Amber Tamblyn's "Moth,"
you can read the whole poem here

I consider myself flexible in awkward positions.
Not a home wrecker,
but I do knock.
And you and I are pals.
The kind that
open up to each other but keep mouths
at a safe distance.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Darwin Inspired by his Grandfather's Poetry

This recent New York Times article on Charles Darwin's great-great-Granddaughter British poet Ruth Padel's new book of poetry "Darwin: A Life in Poems" got me thinking about Darwin's other poet relative, his Grandfather Erasmus Darwin.

Here is a quote from an article in "The Guardian."

Darwin's long poem "The Botanic Garden" (1789) is one of the most extraordinary - some would say bizarre - works in English literature. Arching between two eras, it was a final exuberant flowering of Enlightenment experiment and optimism but also a glittering treasure trove of images and ideas for the coming Romantic generation, plundered by Shelley, Coleridge, Wordsworth. Four thousand lines of rhyming couplets humming above thickets of footnotes, with engravings by Blake, Fuseli and others, it consisted of two parts, "The Economy of Vegetation", and "The Loves of the Plants".

With wit and sly humour it mixed poetry, science and startling radical notions: a sheaf of "Additional Notes" explored everything from meteors to Wedgwood's Portland vase, from clouds and coal to shell-fish and steam-engines. Most disturbing of all to contemporaries was the poem's first hint of a new theory of biological evolution - 50 years before his grandson Charles published Origin of Species.
Portrait of Erasmus Darwin by Joseph Wright- c 1792-3 (or after)

click here for the full article

For me the Times missed a crucial element by not including the full story of the Darwin family's poetry connection. Here are a few lines from Economy of Vegetation:

Astonish'd Chaos heard the potent word: -
Through all his realms the kindly Ether runs,
And the mass starts into a million suns;
Earths round each sun with quick explosions burst,

And second planets issue from the first;
Bend, as they journey with projectile force,
In bright ellipses bend their reluctant course;
Orbs wheel in orbs, round centres centres roll,
And form, self-balanced, one revolving Whole.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Happy Poetry Month

Colbert! Penn! Pinsky! in the Meta-free-phor-all--shall-i-nail-thee-to-a-summer-s-day-

This is a great clip from April 2007.
Penn was a drinking buddy of Bukowski.
The opening clips shows Penn and Colbert as butterflies!
In the great evolution of the poetry slam this is akin
to walking upright! Why don't more Slams take this format?
Challenge to anyone organizing a performance poetry contest!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Photography by LaVerne Harrell Clark

The University of Arizona Poetry Center's next exhibition will feature photographs of poets and writers taken by the late LaVerne Harrell Clark, the Center's first director.

Here is a wonderful photograph Harrell Clark took of Joy Harjo in 1975. This was shortly after Harjo's first book "the last song," came out from: Puerto Del Sol Press, located in Las Cruces, New Mexico, was released. The exhibition is being held in honor of Clark, who died Feb. 24, 2008. Here is a story on the exhibit from UA News.

You may view more of Harrell Clark's work at Artistic Network including great photos of Creeley and Borges.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Buson Poem and Grave Stone

The spring sea rising
And falling, rising
And falling all day.
The spring sea rising
And falling, rising
And falling all day.
The spring sea rising
And falling, rising
And falling all day.
The spring sea rising
And falling, rising
And falling all day.
The spring sea rising
And falling, rising
And falling all day.
The spring sea rising
And falling, rising
And falling all day.
The spring sea rising
And falling, rising
And falling all day.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Indie Feed does Howl

Mongo from Indie Feed writes:

Dear IndieFeed Poetry Family...

It isn't frequently that I feel compelled to drop a note to every poet that has been on IndieFeed over the past few years. But today is such a day.

I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for being a part of our channel since we debuted, three years ago this week. During the past month we've had a huge number of anniversaries for us, and they all illustrate how successful the show has become:

* 3 years of podcasting
* 2 million + total downloads
* Our first month ever (January, 2009) surpassing 100,000 downloads
* 200+ poets featured

And to me, most importantly:

* 500 shows!!!!

If you haven't checked in with the show lately, this would be a good time to do so. This morning we released, through special arrangement with the estate of Allen Ginsberg, his epic poem "Howl (for Carl Solomon)". By far the longest, and arguably, the most historically important piece ever to appear on the channel.


I've enclosed a press release that we've been distributing in advance of the show's airing today. If you have a blog, or any other place that might find this interesting, please feel free to use it or forward it widely. The great thing about podcasting is that once a piece is up, it remains available for download in perpetuity.

But the real reason for this e-mail is just to thank each and every one of you for being a part of what we do. I wish I could reach out and give every one of you a hug, not only for being on the show, but for keeping the flame of performance poetry alive each and every day, for all of us, and for generations yet to come.

You all mean the world to me. Keep doing what you do...

Much love,

Founder and Host
The IndieFeed Performance Poetry Channel

PS You can catch some of my poems on IndieFeed as well!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Thanks to the New York Times and CQ Transcriptions for the text to Elizabeth Alexander's Inaugural Poem.

Let the Whining Begin! (Or in the case of Packer a Preemptive Strike)

Erica Wagner at Times on Line

The Opinionater

The New Yorker's George Packer on "Presidential Poetry,"

Packer's "Ars Poetica Redux,"

The Weekly Rader

The inaugural poet followed, a sort of filler, with a long windup, a few good phrases in the middle ("someone is trying to make music somewhere ... a teacher says, 'Take out your pencils. Begin'"), and then it trailed off into some misty thoughts about love. And then a big horn blast of a benediction. -Garrison Keillor us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right." -The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Poe Stamp Big Bang!

From the Post Office Website: In 2009, the U.S. Postal Service commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, one of America’s most extraordinary poets and fiction writers. For more than a century and a half, Poe and his works have been praised by admirers around the world, including English poet laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who dubbed Poe “the literary glory of America.” British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called him “the supreme original short story writer of all time.”

The stamp portrait of Edgar Allan Poe is by award-winning artist Michael J. Deas, whose research over the years has made him well acquainted with Poe’s appearance. In 1989, Deas published The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe, a comprehensive collection of images featuring authentic likenesses as well as derivative portraits.

Down at the bottom of this article on the stamp is the news that Poe may have "pioneered the idea of the Big Bang theory for the birth of the universe in his non-fiction work, "Eureka, A Prose Poem." The piece was adapted from a lecture Poe had given.

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Carol Adair Rest in Peace

Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's partner Carol Adair to whom she was married twice - once at San Francisco City Hall in 2004, the second time at the Marin Civic Center in 2008, on the same day Ryan learned she had been named U.S. poet laureate, died of cancer on January 3rd, 2009. They were together for 30 years. From her San Francisco Gate obituary, "She met her life partner, Kay Ryan, in 1977 while both were working in the academics department at San Quentin. Carol was a teacher by nature. Teaching was her consuming art and genius. She understood how to bring out the best in her students and in all who knew her. She loved learning as much as teaching and was constantly on the hunt for new information and deeper understanding."

The Pieces That Fall To Earth
by Kay Ryan

One could
almost wish
they wouldn't;
they are so
far apart,
so random.
One cannot
wait, cannot
abandon waiting.
The three or
four occasions
of their landing
never fade.
Should there
be more, there
will never be
enough to make
a pattern
that can equal
the commanding
way they matter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blagojevich the Poet

Blagojevich Poetry Jams are breaking out all over.
Even clowns are writing poems inspired by the Govs quoting of poems. Clown Cafe

And yes! Catholics are jamming on the Blago-band-wagon!

After Blagojevich ended a press conference by citing
the poem "Ulysses" by Lord Tennyson Alfred,
poets started coming out of the woodwork.
And by woodwork I mean the badger that lives on his head.
Tennyson could have used a hair helmet like that.

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Don't forget Timothy McVeigh choose
William Henley's "Invictus,"
to be read as his last words:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.