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Gloria Mindock, Editor   Issue No. 76   August, 2012




Welcome to the August, 2012 Newsletter!

John Elsberg

In Memoriam:

John Elsberg, editor of Bogg magazine passed away last week. I was so shocked to hear this news. I published two chapbooks by John and Eric Greinke. I really had a nice time working with John. He was such an amazing writer and editor. Many years ago, he accepted a poem of mine for his magazine. I feel sad and numb over his passing. All of us in the writing community have lost a wonderful person. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, family and his friends.

I hope to see some of you in New York City on Wednesday August 8th.
I will be reading at Cornelia Street Café. Here is the information:

August 8, Wednesday, 6-8 pm

Intercultural Poetry hosted by Andrey Gritsman
is proud to announce
the Program "In the American Grain"
Great line up of American Poets:

  • Gloria Mindock (Boston), Ed-in-Chief, Červená Barva Press
  • Gardner McFall (New York), former Executive Director, Poetry Society of America
  • Tod Thilleman (New York), Ed-in-Chief, Spuyten Duyvil Press

Gloria Mindock is editor and publisher of Cervená Barva Press. She is the author of two chapbooks, Doppelganger, and Oh Angel and is the author of three books, Blood Soaked Dresses (Ibbetson St. Press, 2007), Nothing Divine Here (U Šoku Štampa, 2010), and La Portile Raiului (Ars Longa Press, Romania, 2010), translated into the Romanian. Her poems have been translated into Serbian, Romanian, French, and Spanish.

Gardner McFall is the author of two volumes of poetry, The Pilot's Daughter and Russian Tortoise and the librettist for Amelia, an opera commissioned and premiered at Seattle Opera in 2010 with music by Daron Hagen. Her poems have appeared in such publications as the Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Tin House, Southwest Review, and elsewhere. She lives in New York and teaches at Hunter College.

Tod Thilleman was born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin. He moved to New York at the age of 18 and worked for a brief period with Pace Editions. After the abandoned Williamsburg waterfront, paper-making, the typewriter, protests and marches, the guitar, Reagan and the 1980's, he started the reading series at CBGB's 313 Gallery on the Bowery. He now produces (with his wife, Katya Edwards) fiction, poetry, and art books through their small press Spuyten Duyvil.

The Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia St.
Greenwich Village, NY 10014

Červená Barva Press recently published a novel called "Following Tommy" by Bob Hartley. This book is available at The Lost Bookshelf and soon will be available from Small Press Distribution.

Following Tommy by Bob Hartley

Following Tommy a novel by Bob Hartley

Bob Hartley was raised on the West Side of Chicago. He holds an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Pittsburgh. He has been, among other things, a writer, actor, singer, teacher, bartender, mail room clerk, and soap mold washer. He currently makes his living as a respiratory therapist and lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and two children. Following Tommy is his first novel.

Following Tommy tells the story of the O’Days, two young brothers living in an Irish American, working class neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side in the 1960’s. As thieves they are the bane of the neighborhood until the arrival of the first African American family.

“Following Tommy,” is a powerful, mesmerizing debut novel by Bob Hartley. Sharp-edged and honed to perfection, this novel takes us back to the Irish ghetto of the West Side of Chicago in the early ‘60’s. These characters pack-a-punch to the gut: tough, perceptive and shrewd. An unforgettable read.
—Meg Tuite, author of Domestic Apparition

In Hartley’s novel, set in the heartland of America, we dive deeply into disturbing pathos of intriguing and relatable characters. His keen narrative balances so the lively dialogue, and we feel we know, or at the very least, can relate to so much of his book. I urge you to read this remarkable debut, “Following Tommy.”
—Robert Vaughan, editor of Flash Fiction Fridays

ISBN: 978-0-9831041-8-6 | 104 pages

Review by Irene Koronas:

Order online at

Between August and the end of September, I will be releasing 4 more full-length books and a few chapbooks.
There are so many books coming out as well as translations. It is a very busy time for the press! It is exciting!

20th Annual Poets House Showcase

10 Poets House, 10 River Terrace (at Murray St.) in Lower Manhattan,
EXTENDED and on view during regular library hours through Saturday, August 11 at 2:00PM.
Admission is FREE!

This month in the newsletter, there is one interview and 4 book reviews. Enjoy!


Review of From the Umberplatzen by Susan Tepper
Review by Ralph Pennel

"Above the Clouds, Midnight Passes"

From the Umberplatzen by Susan Tepper

Every successful work of art relies on the evocation of tension and balance. Some aspect or aspects of the art must work to simultaneously suppress and elevate some other aspect or aspects of the art and vise-versa. In doing so, this evocation of tension and balance serves to ennoble the viewer's experience. Relationships rely on the balance of tensions, as well. It is obvious that Susan Tepper, author of From the Umberplatzen: A Love Story, understands this implicitly. From the Umberplatzen, Tepper's latest collection of stories, is an exercise in balance and tension in content and construct, in the divination and limitation of the human spirit, and in meeting and challenging the reader's expectations of relationships and love.

From page one, it is obvious that Tepper is not afraid to take risks. Though the book is a collection of stories (and all flash fiction, no less), thematically the pieces serve as one unified story between the two central characters, M and the narrator; a format, which, through this marriage of short and long forms, automatically lends itself to the dialogue of contradictions that are self-evident in both balance and tension. And although the collection of stories is unified by the constraints of a formal narrative structure (each piece is not longer than one page), the exploration of the relationship shared by the two central characters extends well beyond a single page and fights against the reader's expectations about the utility of the form. A perfect metaphor for every affair.

These tensions are evident immediately in the very first story, "Leaves," a title which alludes to both beginnings and endings. The story begins with the narrator opening a letter she receives from Germany, from M, the lover she's left behind but not forgotten. The envelope is filled with remnants of leaves from a tree that becomes a central, unifying image throughout the text, the Umberplatzen:

From Germany, M sends me leaves from the Umberplatzen tree. He sends them flattened in a number 9 envelope. By the time they reach the states they are dried into almost total powder A few veins remain but that's about it. (3)

Umber (or umbra), which is all at once the pigment, or vibrancy, the firey emblem of a life at its peak, is also a shadow, or ghost, an emblem of what once was. That the leaf was reduced to powder, to ash, is the perfect allusion to the end of an affair, to the end of the allusion of love. And the allusion does not end there. With each new story, we glean a new piece of the puzzle, as if it were possible to reassemble the affair into what it once was, or, at the very least, into something meaningful, more than just a memory. However, with each new envelope that arrives in the mail, the conflicts in the relationship are revealed and the image begins to fray.

In the mail, the narrator, Kitty Kat, receives kite string, hair from a carousel horse, holly, a silk scarf, all of which inform us more of the varied and complicated fabric of the life they shared together. In one of the most telling moments in the book, in the story "Communion," she receives "a silver cross . . . nailed on a bed of maroon satin" (41). The cross affixed to the fabric like a kite frame, as if to say all faith in all relationships will fall short its final destination regardless of the strength of the breath that hoisted it, never breaking the clouds where midnight passes, never ascending to the spiritual realm, the realm of uncompromised adoration and exaltation. Never reaching heaven. The perfect metaphor for Kitty Kat's own emotional state, who is still tethered to the man to whom she is married to be able to fully commit to M. In fact, Kitty Kat herself is even likened to a kite in the story, "The Party." After receiving an art post card from M of the painting "Above the Clouds Midnight Passes," where he explains "he cannot step foot in the gallery" (5) again, an obvious declaration to the state of their affair, Kitty Kat "hug[s] the wall a moment. Then slid[es] down sitting on the floor" (5). In this moment, she is both kite and the passing darkness of night, both the empty grasp at bliss and the emptiness itself. And, if there were any doubt of Tepper's intent with this image, she draws the connection for us in her own words through M in "Kites:"

Mixed with the clouds he'd say. Close to the sky. That's where I like my kites. I Swear he even puffed out his chest. Personally I found it a waste of good kites and had told him so. M just swung my hand. It was a bright morning with the faintest breeze. He said you will never understand about eternity. (9)

The final divination and exploration of tension and balance happens, appropriately, at the very end. Of course, in every relationship that shapes us, the end is never really the end, where the memory of the feelings of love is always measured against its absence, and it is its absence that we inhabit. In the last story, "Grafted," even the title itself speaks to this inhabitance, to the way our lives grow and fuse together while simultaneously growing apart. In the final moments of "Grafted," M insists that Kitty Kat "Hold on to that blue. Look at those clouds how they puff. Remember these leaves" (50), a wish that brings us back to the beginning of the book, to the very first story, and the clearest sign that she "would remember everything" (50) despite and because of "the few veins that remain" (3).

Order From the Umberplatzen from: Susan Tepper's Website
Also from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Poetry in Ink: on White Papers, by Martha Collins
article by Michael T. Steffen

White Papers by Martha Collins

Poetry is always interested in time and space…It is also interested in time specified-in history. Especially for nations emerging from colonial status…history needs to be made freshly significant, newly sacred…Immediate challenges arise for a lyric poet who is writing a poem about (or within or against) history…written history…is not only narratively complicated, but always politically disputed.
—Helen Vendler, Poems Poets Poetry (Bedford Books, Boston, 1997, pp. 237-8)

Speechless poetry: a paradox. An oxymoron. Or, say, one powerful effect poetry can have is its evocation of what is meant beyond the words themselves. The ineffable: some say the ultimate task of great poetry, saying that which cannot be said. Registering silence, the note of pain, perplexity underlying the whole equality of meaning, the pros and cons, the why's and why-not's, the lefts and rights of any issue deeply affecting us. This is what Rolland Barthes called the zero degree of writing. A truly honest consideration of any pressing topic cannot finally decide or judge with certainty.

In a good attempt at such a difficult subject as race and white privilege in American history, in a passage from White Papers, her new book of poetry, Martha Collins writes:

            On his way to the Capitol largely built by slaves
            who baked bricks, cut, laid stone-

            to stand before the Mall where slaves were held
            in pens and sold-
                              on his way to the White
            House partly built by slaves, where another
            resident, after his Proclamation, wrote:
            If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. (p. 62)

Who today would argue against the statement? On the very next page it is to Collins' talent to juxtapose the expression of what a total leveling of uppercase writing implies:

            when an other, a one
            you've capitalized upon,
            rightly decides to capitalize

            itself, should you capitalize
            yourself as well as the other
            to remind yourself you have

            what you've never fully
            acknowledged: a race, a place
            in an unbalanced history
                              you keep lowercasing
            yourself, but now you can't decide

            what to do about the others: you
            wonder whether someday we
            might capitalize no one, nothing at all (p. 63)

Her argument at this deliberating finale of the book, is for ink to capture, memory historically printed, individually imprinted, which alone retains the many possible meanings of this restated term to "capitalize," to write in the uppercase, to make important, to profit from, to put into the Capitol, to punish ultimately… Maybe E.E. Cummings first made the statement with his lowercase "i": who wants to be capitalized?

It's a wonderful and rare talent that produces poetry eliciting so much thought and feeling yet leaves the reader herself virtually at a loss for words. A poet and critic once noted that great poetry communicates before it is understood. The poetry of that poet subtly informs this book by Collins. The compositional touchstones of doubt moving to resolution, the "Because" and "Although" of T.S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday" polarize the passionate personal debate of White Papers:

            Because my father said Yes
            but not in our lifetimes Because
            my mother said I know my daughter
            would never want to marry
… (p. 1)

            although my father although
            my mother although we rarely
            although we whispered… (p. 64, final page)

Collins' concern, however, is social and historical rather than inspirational. Technically White Papers exhibits a preoccupation with the vortices of the societal forms inspired by early 20th century Modernism rather than by one of its rare devotional meditations. But the reader gets a strong sense of the poet's struggle in this book for a mature atonement, to transpose a religious term for a historical topic. The book reads of an earnestness of dedication to theme, mirrored by the very print on these papers of Collins', hitting the reader as it were between the eyes, with a glimpse of every meaning read between the lines, with the magnetic power of a lone title of a book of poetry named White Papers.

The book's cover appreciations each witness to the spiritual wrestling and bravery of Collins' writing:

Martha Collins has laid bare the more complex dangers of America's central trauma
—Afaa Michael Weaver

profoundly social… [Collins] confronts the illimitable issue of "whiteness"…a breakthrough in the conversation we, with our fractured thinking about race, have yet to have.
—Gail Mazur

transforms the history of America's troubled racial roots…into a slide show of non-capitalized flesh
—Thomas Sayers Ellis

The book's theme is thus rich in complexity, inviting a like formality. In the lexical disorder of the poems, their fragmentation, grammatical confusion, ellipses, allusions, quotations, a sophistication of arguments is reached yielding the expression of appositions, ambiguities and incomprehensions which are surprisingly resolved, for example, in the simplicity of childhood observations:

                              …among the crayons
            there was one called Flesh. (p.1)

As complexity dominates the book, climactic or "capitalized" images or passages are difficult to identify. On the opening page minted coin terms like "father", "mother", "George Washington Carver" and "Gwendolyn Brooks who was not assigned" are almost immediately recognized, catching the eye. I thought that when the poem called up "Brown v Board of Education" (making me think of other _____ v _____ s), the text tapered from the common domain into material dug up selectively, in this case politically, rather than by the inner ear. This is one recurrent aspect of White Papers that especially challenged my reader's attention.

It is important for the whole of White Papers to be read, its sum greater than its parts, if for Collins' modesty with the traditional units of poetry: titles, the line, the stanza… She has come in her maturity as an artist to prefer scrivenning and editing in a personal journal entry manner, juxtaposing passage on passage under section numbers.

The book is heavily championed, with impressive acknowledgments, to Radcliffe and Gail Mazur, Cornell and Alice Fulton; titles, dates and presses of studies on slavery, white privilege, the wars in Asia. Its reflections and references are socially relevant, to the day, consciously orchestrated rather than, I thought, culturally collective. Yet the book is well, well worth the time you spend in it. It is a labor of love and pain which readers on the topic owe a great debt to.

White Papers by Martha Collins
University of Pittsburg Press, Pittsburg, PA

Two Červená Barva Press Chapbooks reviewed by Irene Koronas, Poetry Editor,
Wilderness House Literary Review

All This Dark 24 Tanka Sequences by John Elsberg and Eric Greinke

All This Dark 24 Tanka Sequences
John Elsberg and Eric Greinke
Červená Barva Press, 2012
Review by Irene Koronas

         "cars speed down the road
         their garish colors bleeding
         through the dark shadows
         accompanied by a big stomp
         bass   jacked up   thumping up"

The tanka is a Japanese five line verse. Elsberg and Greinke give us a blend; nature, human folly, human place in nature, how that relationship effects the balance within our world, and "soggy spring breezes." The pause between the three verses gives us the reader space to come to an understanding about what the verse is singing:

         "a big golden dog
         ran into a burning house
         with no thought of self
         to warn people   she loved
         her love   hotter than mere fire"

There are three, five line poems on each page in this chapbook. The poems are seamless in their reflections of each other; the relationship of the poems surprises the reader in their flawless juxtaposition, even when the subject seems different, on a closer read we find sameness, if not sameness, then intimate differences:

         "seven friends met up
         at a bar on Bourbon Street
         they had a few beers
         each man told   a sad story
         so they each had   a good laugh

         the audience   fled
         when the giant ape got loose
         but they left behind
         their purses & their programs
         to be crushed by   big feet

         three chickadees   splash
         in the bright garden birdbath
         they chirp to the light
         alive on a sunny day
         their wings drip   electric sunshine"

This chapbook is a fine example of what tanka is and can be. Another wonderful book of poems not to be missed.

Irene Koronas
Poetry Editor: Wilderness House Literary Review
Reviewer: Ibbetson Street Press

Order All This Dark 24 Tanka Sequences at The Lost Bookshelf...

The Land of the Four Rivers by Matthew A. Hamilton

The Land of the Four Rivers
Matthew A. Hamilton
Červená Barva Press, 2012
Review by Irene Koronas

         "...Purple clouds swallow my words.
         I walk the line toward the river and dip my hands
         in the ice water and wash my face.
         I look at the age of my hands and see them
         transform into sand and time..."

The poet's journey is a quagmire "within the peaceful and steady dance of nature," people, places and vodka. His poetry enlivens the village mirage set in solitude:

         "I take a shot, then two, until I lose count.
         Someone hands me a piece of bread, cheese.
         Laughter and song, then silence, winds from a feather,
         clouds of sleeping sheep, sunflower dreams.
         Florets of children sprout from the Darichay River.
         Blood bleeds from the cliffs,
         nourishing unknown souls behind an oil stained door,
         the final stripe of the Armenian flag under a clear sky.
         The smells of candied mulberries sneak around the fence line,
         burning my veins, like glass heated into magical shapes
         of triangles and squares, a stone sealing my tomb.
         I wake up and do not remember how I ended up in a gift shop
         buried inside the catacombs with sacred scrolls
         duplicated on decaying walls."

Hamilton's poems take the reader into his realizations; what it means to "watch birds peck the snow and drink from crystal puddles." We twirl and turn waiting for summer to melt the constant chill:

         "I open the door
         and enter the warm
         air of summer
         and grab a scythe.
         I dispatch a mix
         of greens and yellows,
         create swirls of air..."

I could not stop reading these poems until I got to the last poem where I'm back to myself thinking about what it means to travel to live within an unfamiliar environment. The poet finally enters from where he always was, himself. Hamilton gives us an oral tradition. His poems are the beginning of a poetic life set in his experiences in which we may all relate. This chapbook is a must read:

         "...Seedlings parachute
         to the ground,
         new life for next year's pigs.
         The fallen grass
         dies a soldiers death.
         The three headed fork
         mourns them,
         flips the dew off their backs.."

Irene Koronas
Poetry Editor: Wilderness House Literary Review
Reviewer: Ibbetson Street Press

Order The Land of the Four Rivers at The Lost Bookshelf...

Interview with Robert Walker
by Dan Nowak

Robert Walker

I met Robert Walker in Chicago during AWP. The first time I heard his poetry was during a reading put on by Columbia College. Robert's presence made him stand out from the other readers; he straddled a chair, he took pulls off his flask, he read an entire poem comprised completely of song titles from the nineties. Robert simply had a very large and confident sense of himself. On the train ride home from AWP, Robert's book The Buoyancy of it All was easily top of the 'to read' list, and I'm not sure I made it out of Illinois without finishing the book. So here are a few questions that came to mind which Robert graciously answered:
Dan Nowak

You mention Sharon Olds and Allen Ginsberg in a couple poems, what other authors do you see in your family tree?

I might need a family forest rather than just a tree, but Edward Albee, Samuel Beckett, Denise Duhamel, Rane Arroyo, Gore Vidal, and Langston Hughes, along with Olds & Ginsberg, are all writers I always come back to.

Do you see these poems as a sort of how to grow up gay and male or do you see these as more of a how to grow up with the sins of hyper-masculinity? (I'm not sure about the wording of this question. I fear it seems offensive.)

(No offense taken)
I don't really see the book as a "how to" in any sort of way. I'm more interested in questions than in answers. But the collection does contain threads that deal with both growing-up gay and what you called, "hyper-masculinity" which I would probably call "passing." I'm fascinated by what we, as a society, encode as masculine and how that relates to being a gay man. Honestly, I've been told, more than once, that I was "too big to be gay." I find it amusing that, a decent number of folks, still haven't caught on to the concept that we come on all sizes.

There is a certain juxtapositioning these poems engage in with the discussion of identity versus (or perhaps in concert with) the image of identity. When you're crafting your poems, is this something you're actively seeking out?

Dan, I wish I could say, yes. I feel like that intentionality to it would make me seem super smart. The truth is I'm obsessed with identity, and that obsession naturally filters into my work. We live in a world in which things like Second Life and all of these avatars and cyber identities exist. Now, more than ever, identity seems, to me, to be a very interesting and important concept to grapple with. I was recently reading Alone Together by MIT professor Sherry Turkle. In the book she talks about a man who is married, with two kids, but also has a wife and family on Second Life. While he's pushing his daughter in a swing at the local playground, he is using his cell phone to interact with his second wife spouse. This both fascinates me and boggles my mind.

Your poems are often using nightmares or dreamscapes, what freedoms are you allowing yourself?

I was in the process of putting this manuscript together. At the time it was my MFA thesis. I'd started writing, what I considered, "weird-less-narrative" poems. Connecting these poems using the "Nightmare" label and the idea of nightmares allowed me to both divorce myself from my narrative impulse while still achieving some accumulative narrative effect by linking the poems.

Your use of the Boogeyman as former lover/assailant/partner is an interesting choice. Does your use of this character, or personification of this character, allow you a new sense of agency in looking at these past relationships? Ideally, how would you like your readers to see it?

I must confess that I really don't know how I'd like the reader to see it. I hope they find it interesting, entertaining, worth having been read. The Boogeyman actually came about from the title, "The Boogeyman & I Seek Couples Counseling." I may have written a few poems with the Boogeyman as a character, but those always featured a more literal Boogeyman character. Anyway, that title dropped into my head and it became a process of figuring out how to employ the Boogeyman in the collection in way that made the most efficient use of all that the Boogeyman as character brought to the text. Somewhere along the line it just made sense that the Boogeyman would serve as catch-all representation of things that haunt, but, in all honesty, all of that was born from my need to have a piece with that ridiculous title in this collection.

There seem to be a lot of missed communications, half stories, pseudo-craigs list ads of relationships here. Do you find yourself drawn to filling out the other halves of these stories? You certainly give us an example in your poem "You Don't Hear Me/I Don't Hear You."

The poem you mentioned was actually written as part of a collaborative project with poet Dustin Brookshire. We'd send each other lines from Denise Duhamel poems and that line had to be the first line of our poem. That's where that poem came from. Funny you should mention Craigs List. Reading the missed connections ads is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I guess it would be fair to say that relationships are something that I'm fascinated by and don't think I fully understand (thus the writing about them). We slip in and out of each others' lives in remarkable ways. The way we can mean so very much to someone one day and, eventually, become as faint in their mind as the echo of a whisper is, honestly, remarkable to me. It's also sad, tragic, beautiful, and, well, life. It was definitely an obsession in my life at the time I wrote these poems.

How do you see the use of gay icons like Dorothy and Cher playing a part in your poems - subsequently how does your dislike of Lady Gaga play into this?

I was working a lot with being young and gay in many of these poems, so harkening to gay icons just seemed to make sense. Most of these references just happened in the moment. I also just happen to like both of them, so they're cataloged in the lexicon of references my mind is working with. I don't honestly "dislike" Lady Gaga. I'm just indifferent about her. I'd probably recognize her music on the radio, but I haven't bought any of it and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. That isn't an indictment of her or her work; it's more a reflection of my current taste in music: I don't listen to a lot of pop these days.

I certainly would recommend The Buoyancy of it All to anyone who loves poetry or even wants to learn to love poetry. The book is available from New Sins Press.



CALL: (718) 942-4102

Mr. Graves is the winner of a grant of four thousand-five hundred dollars ($4,500.00) from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation for 2004.

He is the author of two full-length books from Black Buzzard Press: Adam and Cain (2006) and In Fragility (2011).

His chapbooks are Outside St. Jude’s (R. E. M Press, 1990) and Illegal Border Crosser (Červená Barva Press, 2008).

He has published thirteen poems in the James Joyce Quarterly and read from his poems influenced by Joyce to a gathering of the Joyce Society at the Gotham Book Mart.

His poem Apollo to Daphne appears in Nina Kossman’s anthology, Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths (Oxford University Press, 2001).



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