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Gloria Mindock, Editor   Issue No. 104   February, 2021




Cervena Barva Press February Newsletter, 2021

Hi Everyone! Here it is February already. I have news to share!

Our new interview series called Behind the Book had its first session. I interviewed Svet DiNahum, author of "Escape from Crimea."

If you have not heard it, here is the link.
Please "like" or comment.

Thank you to Renuka Raghavan for coming up with the name, Behind the Book, for our interview series.

In the future, look for the following interviewers: Lloyd Schwartz and William Walsh. Already scheduled: Harris Gardner will be interviewing Afaa Michael Weaver and I will be interviewing Linda Nemec Foster. Once interviews are done, they will be posted on YouTube to watch. Stay tuned for the announcements.

Our reading series is back in full force on March 10th, with a book launch. Millie Collins, Your Barn is Gone by Sherri Felt Dratfield. Thank you to Steve Asmussen for laying out this book. You rock!!!!

Millie Collins, Your Barn is Gone is now available for ordering.
Order here: Millie Collins, Your Barn is Gone

Here is the book launch information:

Portrait of an Artist & Poet will begin again also. Our first guest will be Lylanne Musselman. Date to be announced. If you are a singer, painter, drawer, or other, contact me if you would like to be a part of this. We have had such wonderful artists in the past.

Our Poetry Roundtable has been going strong. Everyone has been sharing such great work!

We have many, many books in the process of being laid out. We ask that you are patient. I will contact you. A reminder, due to Covid, things are slow with the printer.

I have a new intern this semester, Katie Kawachi. I look forward to working with her and all her help.


Set in Stone by Kevin Carey
CavanKerry Press, 2020, $16.00, Paper
Review by Christopher Reilley

"The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So, nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return."
-Milan Kundera

Nostalgia is the meat and drink of life for Kevin Carey in "Set in Stone."

In 39 small slices of a life that had been lived in New England, some of it in my hometown, Carey carves a multifaceted work of nostalgia - as appetizer, entrée and dessert.

In one piece, "Concord," he speaks of nostalgia as "the natural ghost," and he appeases that ghost with sepia toned warmth, the clarity of hindsight, and a romantic's eye for detail.

Throughout these pages he explores his past, like a kid with a newly lost tooth. His time spent in his neighborhood pub or the basketball court is as precious to him as those moments dropping his kids off to start an adult life, or appreciating dad's sacrifices. Each moment has its own worth.

Honesty and awareness walk hand in hand in these poems, and they are as different from each other as children are from their parents; list poems, forms, prose, and some playful word wrestling. Part of their collective charm is the feeling they were not the result of toil and sweat on Carey's part, but rather are being shared in a conversational way over a cold one.

Finally, in the title piece, Carey acknowledges nostalgia as "always dangerous" and together - both reader and poet - we are trapped "between a memory and a moment."

A painful reminder that nostalgia can hurt sometimes.

This collection will stay with me, my own nostalgia for Leitrims Pub not so very different than Kevin Carey's.


The Open Door by Ruth Smullin
Finishing Line Press, 2020, Chapbook, $14.99
Review by Lawrence Kessenich (Guest Reviewer)

The Open Door by Ruth Smullin is a simple book-and I very much mean that as a compliment. It's not long-winded or overdone or full of self-indulgent verbal pyrotechnics. It is concrete, muted, down-to-earth (literally, in several poems involving gardening). But, as the old saying goes, "watch out for the quiet ones." In her quiet, unassuming way, Smullin continually touched me and made me consider the meaning and impact of memory, because many of the 26 poems in this chapbook are about remembering people, places and things.

Here is a sample from "Moving the Peonies" that I think captures these qualities:

Under the tall spruce, heavy roots,
Sucking water from compacted dirt,
the peonies-every spring more stunted,
less and less the beauties my mother planted
years ago...

I cut a wide circle, push down deep
to spare the roots, carry each plant
to a sunny bed of airy soil. I remember
my mother, her joy in flowers,
her need to take care of others.

There is sometimes a powerful mixture of joy and pain in Smullin's poems. She is attuned to suffering as well as enjoyment, and sometimes the two sit side-by-side in the same poem, such as in "Lucky" and "Miriam's Blue Suit." Here is a sample from "Lucky":

With shovel and mattock
my father tears at tangled roots,
uses fulcrum and lever
to prize out old shrubs holding fast
where he wants to plant flowers...

He knows he's lucky, strong enough
for bear hugs, the children begging
Break my bones, Grandpa, yielding
soft ribs to his crooked embrace.

But younger friends are dying,
grief a bone that's stuck in his throat...

And this powerful, shocking transition in "Miriam's Blue Suit":

She ordered a suit in a classic style: French blue wool,
velvet trim on the collar of the jacket...
She knew the importance of appearance-a
fashionable clothing, a good haircut, good makeup.

In the camps, rouge she found hidden on a corpse
gave color to her ashen face...

Perhaps my favorites poem in the book, "Lost," takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to our use of the word "lost" to speak of someone who has died, using an imaginative "as if" to paint a scene of forgetting someone. if we'd left him at the beach by mistake

Buried up to his neck, face covered with a hat
we'd have noticed the hat, the mound of sand.
We'd have missed him a later...

But this comical image of people searching for a lost family member has a poignant end:

We peered into trashcans, sifted through sand,
walked from one end of the beach to the other,
scanning the water, calling his name.

Those last three words sent a shiver up my spine.

There are a number of childhood memory poems in the collection, and those paint scenes from childhood that will resonate for many, because they deal with common experiences such as interacting with siblings, schoolmates, cousins, and, in two poems, grandmothers. Here is a sample of the latter from "My Portion":

Friday mornings, Grandma made challah for the Sabbath
with dough risen the night before. She'd give me a lump
to play with, cut the rest in three, roll each piece
into a long rope.

When the challah was cool, she cut me a thick slice,
spread half with jam, half with butter, the way I liked it...

I was her "sheyne meydele"-her pretty little girl-
her "zisse kinde"-her sweet child...

In Smullin's hands, memories come alive, move us, send us down our own memory lane, contemplating both their richness and their pain. It's a powerful journey.


The Boiling Point for Jam by Lynda Tavakoli
Review by Gene Barry

The poems in The Boiling Point for Jam by Lynda Tavakoli are Accomplished, Impeccable, Immaculate and Stimulating. Tavakoli has a unique ability to capture a poetic moment and to deliver it in a descriptive, emotional, impassioned and poignant way that is profoundly exclusive.

Her ability as a poet to deliver picturesque and emotional situations is the foundation of every poem in this book. Lynda is both a biographer and an ink slinger capable of delivering poetry to an absolute perfection. Taken for Grantedness is cast aside as Lynda paints pictures as uncommon as her poetic technique.

Each poem delivers a deep comprehension, compassion and acknowledgment of the topic of the poem and Lynda delivers it in a way that is profoundly unique, uncommon and exclusive. Her poems are original and capture the moment in her exclusive poetic way. I haven't read a collection of poetry as unique as The Boiling Point for Jam in a long time and from the opening poem Kitchen Comforts to the final poem You're Beautiful, they are delivered in a conscientiously formatted way with an exhilarating and an invigorating methodology.

In the poem Missing on page 60, Lynda captures a uniqueness in so few words and this poem is delivered as a bullseye.


They would find you
three days later,
a smudge on mossy earth,
the mulberry coat
to keep you warm,
though an absent heartbeat
was already ceded
in the veins of air and sky
and a residue of smiles
still spittled out along
the pleated seam of your mouth.

The poem Garden on pages 75-77 opens with;

Edward, you are the holly,
pulled by the roots from a memory hedge
to grow again in different soil.

The fourth stanza delivering love and acknowledgment;

I planted you with care,
dug the beds you lie in deep
and named you for
the losses in my heart;
Kindness, Beauty, Loyalty and Love,
friendships living on with
every rising of a morning sun,
and all of you the light that greets
the coming day.

The opening lines of each stanza in the poem Reach on page 41 are most stimulating and descriptive;

He lays a map upon the table,
fingering their long journey
from the smudge of home

His touch finds the place
they should now call home -
this wound on the paper

Yet his head harbours lists
reluctant to recede, grievances
as infinite as time passing in foreign tongues,

This is their future now, reached
by the single span of a hand across a map.
He will pleat his sorrow into its folds,

I would highly recommend this unique collection of poems which will arouse, stimulate, vitalise and exhilarate every reader. Heartfelt thanks Lynda Tavakoli for enhancing and stimulating our world with your original, distinctive and characteristic poems. You are a poet to be acknowledged and admired.

That is it for this month. A huge thank you to all of the Cervena barva Press Staff! You are the best!

Červená Barva Press Staff

Gloria Mindock, Editor & Publisher
Flavia Cosma, International Editor
Helene Cardona, Contributing Editor
Andrey Gritsman, Contributing Editor
Juri Talvet, Contributing Editor
Renuka Raghavan, Fiction Reviewer, Publicity
Karen Friedland, Interviewer
Gene Barry, Poetry Reviewer
Miriam O' Neal, Poetry Reviewer
Annie Pluto, Poetry Reviewer
Christopher Reilley, Poetry Reviewer
Susan Tepper, Poetry Reviewer
Neil Leadbeater, Poetry Reviewer
R. J. Jeffreys, Associate Editor, Web Development
William J. Kelle, Webmaster

See you next month!


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