September 23, 2012

Ken Ronkowitz Reading at Carriage House October 16

The Carriage House Poetry Series was established by Adele Kenny in 1998 and is held in the Kuran Arts Center, a 19th carriage house, in Fanwood, New Jersey.

The Carriage House Series has featured a wide range of both nationally-known and local poets including Gerald Stern, Renee Ashley, Stephen Dunn, Alicia Ostriker, Patricia Smith, Taylor Mali, and Maria Gillan.

Ken Ronkowitz will be the featured reader on October 16. Ken is a lifelong NJ resident and educator. After many years teaching in public schools, he moved to the NJ Institute of Technology. Ken has been the editor since 1998 of, a monthly online poetry magazine and web site for poetic inspiration. His poems have been published in magazines such as English Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, Paterson Literary Review, Roadmap, Prague and the anthology, The Paradelle. He has worked with the Geraldine Dodge Foundation on poetry projects in NJ and is the recipient of a two Dodge Foundation Writing Grants. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council. He has been a volunteer educator for the past 30 years in the NJ Non-Game and Endangered Species Program. Since 2008, he has been the Director of Writing at Passaic County Community College and is an adjunct professor at both PCCC and NJIT.

Readings are held at 8 pm on the third Tuesday of each month from February - June and from September - December. All readings are free and open to the public. Most readings include an open mic after the feature, and audience members are invited to share their poems.

The remaining readings for 2012 will be Nancy Scott and Dave Worrell (November 20) and a 14th Anniversary Celebration on December 11 featuring James Arthur with a book launch, reading and signing for Charms Against Lightning (Copper Canyon Press)

September 19, 2012

Writers at Rutgers Reading Series Fall 2012, Spring 2013

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The Writers at Rutgers Reading Series fosters an exchange between well-known writers of diverse backgrounds and the Rutgers students and faculty.

This year's series will feature readings by Carolyn Forche, Gish Jen, Mary Gaitskill, Sapphire and Natasha Trethewey.

For additional information:

September 16, 2012

America's First Feminist Poet

Anne Bradstreet was America's first published poet. Anne was born in Northampton, England in 1612. She was the daughter of Thomas Dudley, a steward of the Earl of Lincoln, and was a well-educated woman for her time, being tutored in history, several languages and literature. 

At the age of sixteen, she married and both Anne's father and husband were later to serve as governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Anne and her husband Simon, along with Anne's parents, immigrated to America along with Puritan emigrants in 1630.

Anne Bradstreet was the first poet in the British North American colonies to be published, although her collected poems, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, By a Gentlewoman of Those Parts, were published in 1650 without her knowledge. The collection received a positive reception in both England and the New World.

Anne Bradstreet died on September 16, 1672 in North Andover, Massachusetts at the age of 60. A marker in the North Andover cemetery commemorates the 350th anniversary in 2000 of the publishing of The Tenth Muse in London in 1650. That site and the Bradstreet Gate at Harvard may be the only two places in America honoring her memory.

Her poetry is of a style that is not in fashion and if Anne is read today it is most likely to be something anthologized in an American literature textbook.

From her poem "Prologue", here is a witty and sarcastic stanza about how the Puritan men talk to and about her as obnoxious and that "[her] hand a [sewing[ needle better fits” than a pen. How could a woman produce a work of art that would be worthy of praise? It must be “stol’n” or just dumb luck.

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits.
A Poet’s Pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
For such despite they cast on female wits.
If what I do prove well, it won’t advance,
They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance. 

         from The Works of Anne Bradstreet

September 15, 2012

100 Thousand Poets for Change Day 2012

September 29th is 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day 2012. 

You can join other poets around the USA and across the planet in a demonstration and celebration of poetry used to promote serious social, environmental, and political change.

100 Thousand Poets for Change will organize “participants” by local region, city, or state, and find individuals in each area who would like to organize their local event.

If you would like to organize an event in your community, visit to learn more and to see all the great events that took place last year.

If you are an organizer for your community this means that first you will consider a location for the event and begin to contact people in your area who want to participate in the event. Participation means contacting the media, posting the event on the web, in calendars, newspapers, etc., reading poems, performing in general, supplying cupcakes and beer (it’s up to you), demonstrating, putting up an information table, inviting guest speakers, musicians, etc., organizing an art exhibit, and documenting the event (this is important, too), and cleaning up, of course.

Each local organization determines what it wants to focus on, something broad like, peace, sustainability, justice, equality, or more specific causes like Health Care, or Freedom of Speech, or local environmental or social concerns that need attention in your particular area right now, etc.

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September 9, 2012

Prompt: Teachers

Labor Day has passed and in the United States that means the unofficial end of summer, and back to school. There are many poems about school. After all, poets probably learned at least some of their craft in a classroom. It may have been their first exposure to poetry.

We did a writing prompt here before on what happens in the classroom. But this month, we are looking at the teacher.

Our model poem comes from the brand new collection, The Place I Call Home, by Maria Mazziotti Gillan. Her teacher, Miss Spinelli, is that teacher that we all want to have in school. I have been in classrooms all of my life as a student or teacher and if you're a teacher, it's how we want to be remembered by our students - "wrapped in a veil of shimmering light."

Miss Spinelli's classroom was one where "she carved out a space / where I could be safe" and that's a very important thing for a teacher to do. It's a plus that she read poems and encouraged a young girl to write.

Of course, not all teachers are Miss Spinelli. And not all of our memories of teachers are in shimmering light.

The Poetry Foundation collected poems about teachers and school that cover a wide range of teacher memories.

There is “The Process of Explication” by Dorothea Lasky whose teacher is less enthusiastic about teaching.

Students, I can’t lie, I’d rather be doing something else, I guess
Like making love or writing a poem
Or drinking wine on a tropical island

In “Prof of Profs”  by Geoffrey Brock, someone is a bit out of place in a poetry class.
I was a math major—fond of all things rational.
It was the first day of my first poetry class.
In “Workshop” by Billy Collins, we sit in a poetry workshop full of budding poets (some of whom will never bloom).
Maybe it’s just me,
but the next stanza is where I start to have a problem.
Maybe it’s just me,
but the next stanza is where I start to have a problem.

And “December Substitute” by Kenn Nesbitt covers the world of that most difficult of teaching positions - the substitute.
Our substitute is strange because
he looks a lot like Santa Claus.

Your own submission can can take any point of view you wish about teachers. You can view things from behind the big desk in the front of room or from the smaller desks looking at the sage on the stage. Your teacher might be a Miss Spinelli. Or not.

September 1, 2012

Wild Nights to End the Summer

Here's wishing you a few wild nights at this unofficial end of summer.

Wild nights - Wild nights! (269)
By Emily Dickinson

Wild nights - Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the Compass -
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden -
Ah - the Sea!
Might I but moor - tonight -
In thee!

In an explication of the poem, Lilia Melani says: 
"Wild nights! Wild nights!" is a poem of unrestrained sexual passion and rapture. When the 1891 edition of Dickinson's poems was being prepared, Colonel Higginson wrote to his co-editor Mrs. Todd,
One poem only I dread a little to print--that wonderful 'Wild Nights,'--lest the malignant read into it more than that virgin recluse ever dreamed of putting there. Has Miss Lavinia [Emily Dickinson's sister] any shrinking about it? You will understand & pardon my solicitude. Yet what a loss to omit it! Indeed it is not to be omitted.
His comments reflect both the sexual narrowness of his times and the Myth of Emily Dickinson, Virgin Recluse.