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Gloria Mindock, Editor   Issue No. 89   May, 2015




Welcome to the May 2015 Cervena Barva Press Newsletter!

Bill and I celebrated the 10th anniversary of Cervena Barva Press on Thursday April 16, 2015. A big thank you to all who attended and/or read!!! I really loved getting all the e-mails of congratulations too. You are the best!!!!

Thank you to Denise Provost for giving Bill and I a citation from the Mass House of Representatives recognizing our 10 years of publishing. Wow! This was such a surprise and an honor.

Thank you to all our authors, volunteers, interns, friends, staff, Arts at the Armory, and our newsletter audience. Thanks to everyone who donated books to The Lost Bookshelf. Thanks to all the editors and publishers I correspond with and that helped me, and thanks to family. Thanks to all the magazines that have reviewed our books. So many to thank that made these 10 years the best!!!!! Thank you for all your kindnesses!!!!

The Lost bookshelf, our online bookstore, is 10 years old too. Soon, it will be open in our Cervena Barva Press Studio with regular hours. I have only opened it once in awhile in the space so I am excited about the change.

This summer, Cervena Barva Press will be offering a ton of workshops. All priced reasonable. I strongly feel that no one should have to break the bank to take a high quality workshop! Stay tuned for the listings.

The next two full-length books to be released are by Ralph Pennel and David Giannini.

Haley Cherico, our intern from Lesley University, just finished her internship with us. Thank you Haley for everything! I really enjoyed working with you and wish you the best.

The interview in this month's newsletter is by intern, Zofia Provizer. Thank you Zofia for all your help!!!! I hope you have a great summer and find the college you will be attending.

Raves will start again in the June Newsletter.


At The Arts for the Armory
Basement, Room B8
191 Highland Avenue
Somerville, MA

Thursday, May 21, 7:00PM
Featuring: Michael C. Keith | Miriam Levine | Steve Luttrell

Michael C. Keith is the author/coauthor of 30 book volumes and dozens of articles on the subject of radio and broadcast studies. In addition to his non-fiction books, Keith has published a dozen creative works, including an acclaimed memoir The Next Better Place a young adult novel, Life is Falling Sideways and 10 short story collections, most recently The Near Enough. His fiction has been nominated for several awards, among them the Pen/O.Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. He is a professor in the Communication Department at Boston College, the former chair of education at the Museum of Broadcast Communication, a member of the executive advisory board of the University of Rhode Island's Harrington School of Communication and Media, and most recently a member of the board of the newly created Newton Writer's and Publishing Center.

"I'm interested in people and their stories," says Miriam Levine. Her most recent book is The Dark Opens, winner of the 2007 Autumn House Poetry Prize. She is the author of In Paterson, a novel, Devotion: A Memoir, three poetry collections, and A Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. Her work has appeared in Harvard Review, The Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, and Ploughshares, among many other places.

Steve Luttrell was born and continues to live in Portland, Maine. He is the author of 5 books of poetry and several chapbooks. He is the founding editor of Maine's award winning literary quarterly, THE CAFE REVIEW. He is the former Poet Laureate Of Portland, Maine and continues to be a "strong voice" for poetry in the area. His new book is PLUMB LINE, published by North Atlantic Books, will be released In May of 2015.

Admission is $3.00. Refreshments served.

Featuring: Jen Knox | Joani Reese

Jen Knox is the author of After the Gazebo (Rain Mountain Press, 2015). Her short fiction can be found in The Adirondack Review, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Gargoyle Magazine, The Istanbul Review, Per Contra, Room Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post, among others. Jen works as a writing coach and educator in San Antonio. Find Knox here:

Joani Reese is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Final Notes and Dead Letters and the hybrid collection Night Chorus, from Lit Fest Press. Reese's poetry and fiction have been widely anthologized. She has been poetry editor for THIS Magazine and senior poetry editor for Connotation Press—An Online Artifact. Reese is currently editor of MadHat Lit. Reese has won the first Patricia McFarland Memorial Prize and The Graduate School Creative Writing Award from The University of Memphis where she earned her MFA. Reese won the 15th Glass Woman Prize in 2014. Reese lives and works in Texas.

Admission is $3.00. Refreshments served.

The Center for the Arts is located between Davis Square and Union Square. Parking is located behind the armory at the rear of the building. Arts at the Armory is approximately a 15 minute walk from Davis Square which is on the MTBA Red Line. You can also find us by using either the MBTA RT 88 and RT 90 bus that can be caught either at Lechmere (Green Line) or Davis Square (Red Line). Get off at the Highland Avenue and Lowell Street stop. You can also get to us from Sullivan Square (Orange Line) by using the MBTA RT 90 bus. Get off at the Highland Avenue and Benton Road stop.

Cervena Barva Press announces a new poetry publication
"Almost Too Much" by Barbara E. Murphy

Almost Too Much by Barbara E. Murphy

Barbara Murphy's work has appeared in several literary journals including New England Review, Green Mountains Review, The Threepenny Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is the recipient of a Vermont Council on the Arts fellowship. Murphy has worked as president of Johnson State College in Vermont since 2001 and has been recognized for her leadership roles in higher education. She lives and works in northern Vermont with her husband Tom Garrett.

Almost Too Much both tactfully and relentlessly interrogates our human experience in these dehumanizing times. There’s not a sliver of false hope in these pages, but reading them, we catch glimpses of the paradox of our lives, that "The sound of geese /overhead, their thin cries clear /as night through the ceilings and roof / of the house, is either the saddest /sound [we] will ever know / or one of great lifting joy." Barbara Murphy’s quietly brilliant poems move us readers toward usable truth.
—David Huddle Author of Glory River and Blacksnake at the Family Reunion

Murphy’s lyrical narratives, lively and exact, speak of braveries and hesitations, fugitive beauties and stations of calm. A lifetime of truths take the reader through first games of hide and seek, the boys so far away/lost in their secret places/there was no way/they’d ever get home in time; first loves and second marriages where desire is more of a casual friend./It will not/always be there breathless and flushed; loving children and step-children with different needs in different time zones. These poems should be read aloud for their honesty and musicality. They do the heart good. Almost Too Much is a stunning debut.
—Dzvinia Orlowsky Author of Silvertone and A Handful of Bees

Deeply intimate, each line a breath. In flashes of brilliance against a landscape of existential dread, these poems flare up and stare down this given world until it surrenders its grace.
—Nancy Mitchell Author of The Near Surround and Grief Hut

$17.00 | ISBN: 978-0-9861111-3-6 | 70 Pages

Order "Almost Too Much" by Barbara E. Murphy here...

Interview with Lynn Levin
by Zofia Provizer

Discuss your new book, Birds on the Kiswar Tree.

Birds on the Kiswar Tree

Birds on the Kiswar Tree is my translation from the Spanish of a collection of poems by the contemporary Peruvian Andean poet Odi Gonzales. The book was published this year in a bilingual Spanish/English edition by 2Leaf Press. The poems in Birds on the Kiswar Tree are based on church art painted by devout but subversive indigenous and mestizo Quechua painters during Peru's colonial era. In their paintings, these Andean fine artists expressed their sincere Catholic faith as well as their ardent opposition to the Spanish destruction of the Inca empire. The paintings and the poems that describe them depict both familiar and exotic scenes: for example, the Last Supper and the nativity but also a warrior angel hidden in a church and the marriage of an Inca princess with a Spanish aristocrat.

Most of the poems in Birds on the Kiswar Tree have several literary speakers. The cast includes figures depicted in the paintings: saints, angels, members of the Holy Family, a powerful Spanish cleric, and many others. Gonzales himself interjects observations, and, most importantly, he gives voice to the painters. Many of the painters were anonymous, and many, although accomplished painters, were illiterate. Gonzales gives them words. In the poems, they express their artistic independence, their devotion to their art, the censorship they endured, the threats they suffered, and their religious faith.

Buy Birds on the Kiswar Tree on Amazon

How did these indigenous and mestizo artists come to paint their works?

During the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Spain sent accomplished painters to the Andes, some of them painter-priests, to evangelize the Quechua people through art. The Andean artists received expert art instruction and produced remarkable canvases in the then-current Mannerist style of painting. The painters were, however, commanded by the ruling Spaniards to paint only religious subjects on pain of excommunication. The Andean painters honored their own culture by painting native flora, fauna, foods, and landscapes in their paintings. For example, instead of depicting a lamb at the Last Supper, the anonymous Quechua artist sets before the disciples a typical Andean dish of roasted guinea pig.

Because many of the painters were working in studios in Cusco, the capital of the former Inca empire, their artistic movement came to be known as the School of Cusco. In fact, La Escuela de Cusco [The School of Cusco] was the title of the original edition of this book, which was published in Peru in 2005. We titled the bilingual edition Birds on the Kiswar Tree because of the wealth of bird imagery in the poems.

How long did it take you to do the translation?

I spent six years translating the poems and another three years seeing the book to publication. So nine years start to finish. I translated intermittently, between teaching, various projects, and my own writing. Translating these poems required a good deal of research into Peruvian history, art history, culture, and geography... and many consultations with Gonzales. I learned a lot along the way.

Then this was a collaborative translation.

Very much so. After translating a small batch of poems, I would email my translations to Gonzales, who was sometimes in Peru and sometimes in the States. He would write me back with approvals and corrections or clarifications. Then I would make the appropriate changes and send out the translations to literary journals. Editors accepted the translations quickly. It was so gratifying to put Gonzales's work out there, and to see it recognized. Gonzales currently teaches at NYU, so he and I had a number of face-to-face meetings as we polished the manuscript for 2Leaf Press. It is a huge privilege to be able to work directly with the poet.

Odi Gonzales one of the most important Peruvian poets of his generation, and he is also a specialist in Quechua language and culture and prehispanic literature of the Andean region, a preeminent scholar in his field. I was able to go right to the source for help with cultural terms and so much more.

How long have you been writing poems?

I have been writing poems ever since I learned how to read and write. I was lucky enough to have teachers who assigned creative writing and who encouraged me. In fact, I dedicated my newest collection of poems, Miss Plastique (Ragged Sky Press, 2013) to my ninth-grade English teacher and all the other teachers who had faith in me as a poet.

Who are some of your favorite poets and why?

I love Pablo Neruda, especially, his book Elemental Odes. I adore the way he choses an ordinary object like a pair of socks or a bicycle and then expands on it with luxurious descriptions and a sense of awe. B. H. Fairchild, an American narrative poet, is a special favorite. Fairchild shows tremendous respect and sympathy for the people he writes about. There's Kenneth Koch, especially the Koch of New Addresses; I savor those poems time and again for humor and wit. Likewise the work of Tony Hoagland. Also high on my list of favorites are Robert Lowell and A. E. Stallings, whom I admire for their elegant melancholy. I love Elizabeth Bishop for her precision and descriptions, and Edna St. Vincent Millay for her frankness and formal grace. Lately I've been a big fan of the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva. Her work is steeped in passion and torment. When I was in Prague a few years ago, I even visited the house she lived in during her years there.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Believe it or not, I like writing on an airplane. There are no distractions, except for my own wandering mind. Maybe I should park a little airplane in my backyard. That way I could always write in an airplane.

What do you try to teach your students about writing?

I encourage them to be emotionally sincere, to be clear, and to engage the things that haunt them. I am a big believer in both showing and telling, and I urge students to think on the page, to include turns of thought, to surprise the reader with unexpected insights. I tell students that is it also great to be funny in poems, but not cute. It is important to nudge students out of their old writing habits. I find that poetry prompts help a lot. My friend and colleague Valerie Fox and I co-wrote a text, Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, and we are always amazed at the work students produce when prompted to write an unanswerable-letter poem or a poem with lines organized according to the Fibonacci numerical sequence. Most of all, art breeds art. I always assign collections of poems by established and sometimes less-established poets. I love to see another poet light a fire in a student's soul.

Zofia, thank you, for asking me all these great questions.


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