First Tuesdays’ 2012-2013 Season

August 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

First Tuesdays is Jackson Heights Poetry Festival’s monthly open mic reading series. Held on the first Tuesday of the month, from September through June, the series features some of the finest writers from New York City and the surrounding areas. While we have a commitment to highlighting writers from Queens, our featured readers have come to us from other boroughs, other states and other countries. Our open mic is one of the most hospitable around. Almost every month, there is someone who gets up to read her or his work for the first time, and we have regulars who come to read not their own work, but the work of others who are important to them, like the woman who has been keeping her mother’s memory alive by reading her poetry for us. So if you have poetry you’d like to share, or if you just want to have some poetry in your life, please join us. We’re at the Terraza Cafe from 7-9 PM (sign up for the open mic starts at 6:45).

First Tuesdays 2012-2013 schedule:

Deborah Fried-Rubin – June 4, 2013

May 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Deborah Fried-Rubin is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Queens College, CUNY after many years of practicing law, and is a recipient of Queens College’s Silverstein-Peiser Award for Poetry and a former writer-in-residence at the Louis Armstrong House Musuem.  Her work has appeared in the anthology Why I Am Not A Painter (Argos Books), and at Broadsided Press (online), as well as in WSQ’s Viral issue.  Her chapbooks Language of the Lost and Found and Go Soon (forthcoming) are both put out by Finishing Line Press.  She lives on Long Island with her husband and three children.

When:  June 4, 2013
Where: Terraza 7 Cafe, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (open-mic sign up at 6:45)
Other: $5 suggested donation. For more information contact Richard Jeffrey Newman.

Here’s one of Deborah’s poems:

In The Town You Do Not Know

Marta dips two rugaleh in coffee to wash
off calories.  Corner store barista knows
to put two Sweet n’ Lows.  Barista knows
barista is no barista, but someone making coffee,
that no Sweet n’ Low counteracts two chocolate
rugaleh and creamy lemon pie.  Marta drinks
her coffee, to carry away calories in liquid form.
Barista knows you can’t wash away calories.
Barista knows you can’t wash away blue
and purple welts.  Marta wants welts to stay
behind glasses, wants calories to stay
behind Spanx.  One leads to the other:
welter of calories and spanking new glasses.
Blue and purple eyeshadow. Eyeshades.  Spanks.
Barista knows, but Marta doesn’t know she knows.
Marta knows barista knows, but doesn’t want
her to know.  Doesn’t want to know she knows.
Rugaleh sweet enough to counteract low points
of coffee.  Barista knows this isn’t so, but Marta
dips again, waiting for sweetness to rub off.

Miguel Falquez-Certain – May 7, 2013

April 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Miguel Falquez-Certain (Barranquilla, Colombia) has been living in New York City for more than three decades, where he works as a multilingual translator and writer. He is the author of six volumes of poetry:Reflejos de una máscara, Habitación en la palabra, Proemas en cámara ardiente, Doble corona, Usurpaciones y deicidios, and Palimpsestos; of a short novel, Bajo el adoquín, la playa; of six plays: La pasión, Moves Meet Metes Move: A Tragic Farce, “Castillos de arena,” “Allá en el club hay un runrún,” “Una angustia se abre paso entre los huesos,” and Quemar las naves, as well as of short stories and essays. Book Press–New York published Triacas (short fiction) and Mañanayer (poetry) in 2010. Mañanayer received the only honorable mention in The 2011 International Latino Book Awards in the category of Best Poetry Book – Spanish or Bilingual.

When:  May 7, 2013
Where: Terraza 7 Cafe, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (open-mic sign up at 6:45)
Other: $5 suggested donation. For more information contact Richard Jeffrey Newman.

Here’s one of Miguel’s poems:

Hypothesis of a Dream

 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking onto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

―First Samuel, 18:1

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth ― for thy love is better than wine.

―The Song of Songs, 1:2

Nevertheless, I never offered a thorough report of your absolute surrender. After all, I was the one who had gone searching for your scent of moss, until I found you distracted at the bar in the opal-tinged lights of the afternoon. Sycophants, preventing me from coming closer, were surrounding you; our eyes met patiently. While leaning over, I noticed the dark-blond down that made furrows on the back of your neck; I felt the swell of your breath and foresaw a capitulation. Our lips showed us the path.

A recent break-up had made me vulnerable. I lusted after your kisses; I longed for your young body sweet as sugar cane; I breathed in the fascinating insolence of your unsophisticated loquacity. I relinquished everything for your lips. While the summer’s scorching sun was hitting the walls, I nibbled on your buttons, until I pulled them out and found you, strong and flawless, in the intoxicating sweat of your thighs, in the inner perspiration of your navel: We sat up in the midst of the bed sheets impelled by the obstinate onslaught of a deferred lust, rising up in the umbra tree of that irreparable afternoon.

Habits make us despicable. Ordinary and fainthearted, preferring security instead of the chance of reaching for the sublime, I went back to the winding, although familiar, path, to the compliant arthritis of forgetfulness.

Even though you offered me everything, I chose the comforts of an insipid bonding. Long ago, I lusted after the kisses of your mouth. You are no more. You exist in the hypothesis of a dream.

To Magdalena Araque

Sarah Stetson – April 2, 2013

March 19, 2013 § Leave a comment


Sarah Stetson graduated from the MFA Program at Queens College where she studied poetry and won the Giro S. Cestaro III Memorial Scholarship for her thesis, Barefoot in the Package Store. She has worked for Ploughshares and was Editor of Ozone Park, an online literary journal founded in 2008 by Queens College MFA students. She is now an adjunct lecturer in poetry and composition at Queens College.

When:  April 2, 2013
Where: Terraza 7 Cafe, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (open-mic sign up at 6:45)
Other: $5 suggested donation. For more information contact Richard Jeffrey Newman.

Here is one of Sarah’s poems:

A Man Freshens Up at One Woman’s Apartment

Pick up your mess – tiny hairs stuck
to sink after you shave like porcelain

porcupine. Pick up moist tissues and
nicotine patch. Mud ring

from coffee mug, toothpaste like
blue tar tracks. The mess you

pick – mud on tiles, lines of mold
and line on your ring finger.

Pick one – touch-up glaze or Fantastik.
One remedy at a time. Don’t overdo,

you might miss it (the mess)
where you left cracks and scratches –

the mess of the fixtures, the dusty
filaments. How many people

does it take to replace your bulb?
How many drinks do you need

before touch-up glaze becomes
touch-me gaze? Don’t mess up the joke.

Patch the porcelain. Pick up the patch.

Jacqueline Jones LaMon – March 5, 2013

February 19, 2013 § 1 Comment

Jacqueline Jones LaMon is the author of two collections of poetry, Last Seen, a Felix Pollak Poetry Prize selection, and Gravity, U.S.A., recipient of the Quercus Review Press Poetry Series Book Award; and the novel, In the Arms of One Who Loves Me. A finalist for the 2012 NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literature: Poetry, she lives in New York City and teaches at Adelphi University.  Visit her website at

When:  March 5, 2013
Where: Terraza 7 Cafe, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (open-mic sign up at 6:45)
Other: $5 suggested donation. For more information contact Richard Jeffrey Newman.

Here’s a sample poem from Last Seen:

Who are you and whom do you love?

The woman you were when you left them. The silhouette

sorting through your garbage, in search of aluminum

cans and credit cards. The man who jumped

in front of your car and the man who thought

he had pushed him. The jealous husband. Clarence Thomas’

first wife. The minister who built harpsichords

and molested you, again and again. The mother who cannot

taste her milk. Your grandmother’s image of herself.

Sammy Davis, Jr.  Your children. The children you knew

would die as sacrifice. The man who wears headphones

and operates the ride. The child running into the fire,

for protection. The reprieved. The stoic who embraces

his weakness. The woman you swear you have become.

Joseph Legaspi – February 5, 2013

January 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

Joseph O. Legaspi is the author of Imago (CavanKerry Press). He lives in Queens, NY and works at Columbia University.  Recent poems appeared in American Life in Poetry, From the Fishouse, jubilat, World Literature Today, Smartish Pace, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The Normal School, and the anthologies Language for a New Century (W.W. Norton) and Collective Brightness (Sibling Rivalry Press). He co-founded Kundiman, a non-profit organization serving Asian American poetry.

When:  February 5, 2013
Where: Terraza 7 Cafe, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (open-mic sign up at 6:45)
Other: $5 suggested donation. For more information contact Richard Jeffrey Newman.

Here’s one of Joseph’s poems:

Dispel the Angel

Lately his loneliness has sprouted wings.
It hovers above his darkened head like a desecrated
angel.  It clouds his eyes with the cream of nostalgia.
It is the ghostly geyser of the spouting steam
when the kettle boils for his private tea.
In bed, balled up under the sheets,
an echoing cove of limbs, he thinks
of Orpheus: if only he could’ve contained
his forlorn love for Eurydice
and not turn back.
Such a gulf, sad bereavement.
Recently he’s gotten into the habit
of talking to himself, at first in front
of the foggy mirror while shaving,
the blade scraping off lather to reveal
his translucent face, but now, often, he talks
in movie theaters, public gardens, on the corner
of Houston and Ludlow.  At dinner, he discusses
Magritte and Hopper with his duck l’orange.
The salt and pepper shakers can-can for him.
Later, he says to the lamp, I haven’t been touched
in weeks.  He senses he’s transcended
the loneliness of the inanimate: of empty
corridors, of solitary light illuminating a house
on a stretch of highway in daytime,
of wet matches, rotting fruits, and dust.
On a summer’s morning, he then dispels
the sullied angel from his shower, makes
an appointment at his neighborhood salon
where the shampoo girl will shi-atsu his erogenous
scalp with her thin fingers.  Soon after, on the subway,
sitting next to a man, their arms touch—heat traveling
by the wires of their hair—then rub slowly against one another
like the first friction of the earth.

Sweta Srivastava Vikram – January 8, 2013

December 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is an award-winning poet, writer, novelist, author, essayist, columnist, educator, and blogger. Born in India, she is the author of eight books, including Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors, Perfectly Untraditional, and No Ocean Here, which is forthcoming in 2013. Sweta has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was described in the Taj Mahal Review as “A poet with hauntingly beautiful talent.” Sweta has held several artist residencies in Europe and America and worked on collaborative projects with artists from Zimbabwe and Australia. A graduate of Columbia University, she reads her work, teaches creative writing workshops, and gives talks at universities and schools across the globe. Sweta lives in New York City with her husband. You can follow her on Twitter (@ssvik) or Facebook.

When:  January 8, 2013
Where: Terraza 7 Cafe, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (open-mic sign up at 6:45)
Other: $5 suggested donation. For more information contact Richard Jeffrey Newman.

Here’s one of Sweta’s poems:

For the men who mugged my husband

He wasn’t in the wrong place
displaying indiscretion, swaggering
like planktons in an ocean of alcohol,
discussing the art of pollination with pimps.

It was six p.m.,
a time when the sun leaves
the cacophony of New York City
in the arms of solace, heads towards home.

He was walking towards the entrance
of the 14th street subway stop, armed
with groceries for my party and a poisoned apple—
a bag from the Apple store as a gift for my birthday.

Bees smelled honey, showed up from behind—
a kick, a punch knotting his spine,
ribs on the floor, face licking dirt,
rats running, lights on the PDA crushed.

As the city witnessed this crime
and ER ran urgent tests,
I sat ten blocks away, unaware,
sipping chardonnay tasting like tears.

I am no clairvoyant,
yet I could sense something wasn’t right.
I left early, not knowing
bad news was two steps ahead of me.

I was told the hospital tried to reach me,
but I checked—
no missed calls or messages.
I want to believe doctors don’t lie.

When I got home that night
flailing bones opened the door—
my faith screeched, blisters of anger grew,
mistrust crawled like ants on my spine.

Don’t for a moment think you won,
a woman never forgives.
I curse you with my silent hands—karma
can smell vomit, take care of everything.

And as you turn a hundred and twenty,
and rats nibble on the bricks of your home,
may your body never feel free
as loneliness strangles you in an airless room.

Judith Sloan – December 4, 2012

November 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Photo: Lisa Kahane

Judith Sloan is a writer, actress, poet, radio producer, oral historian, and audio artist whose work combines humor, pathos and a love of the absurd. Her theatre works include Denial of the Fittest, Responding to ChaosA Tattle Tale: eyewitness in Mississippi, Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America, and YO Miss! Teaching Inside the Cultural Divide! (in development in partnership with Viper Records and Morgan Jenness Abrams Artist Agency). Sloan was commissioned by the Queens Symphony Orchestra to write the libretto for a new symphony, “1001 Voices” with music composed by Frank London (premiered 2012). Sloan has produced documentaries for NPR, PRI, WNYC and the Third Coast International Audio Festival and has won several awards for her audio /poetry works including the First Place Winner in the Missouri Review National Audio Competition, 2007 for Sweeping Statements, 2008 for Dayenu for Narrative Essay, as well as first runner up 2008 for What’s Your Status, and was a finalist in 2011 for her documentary Tongues Twisting. With Warren Lehrer she co-founded EarSay, and collaborated on the award-winning multimedia project Crossing the BLVD which includes a book, (W.W. Norton), audio CD, traveling exhibition and performance. She is a member of the Adjunct faculty at Gallatin, NYU. She is the founder and director of EarSay’s Youth Arts and Activism program, Transforming Trauma Into Art, under the umbrella EarSay Voices.

When:  December 4, 2012
Where: Terraza 7 Cafe, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (open-mic sign up at 6:45)
Other: $5 suggested donation. For more information contact Richard Jeffrey Newman.

Here’s a sample of Judith’s work:

Fall 2007

I’m reading an article in the New York Times about undocumented immigrants
at an upstate milk farm who were rounded up and deported
by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I.C.E.
A perfect acronym.
I wonder which homeland security poet came up with that.
I wonder how much they get paid.
The article is on the front page but a lot of people don’t seem to know these sweeps are happening.
I tell someone in my neighborhood, ‘those people could be our neighbors.’
He says, “Nah, that’ll never happen here. Can’t happen here.”
I point out that there’s a history to that phrase,
it was said at another time,
once before, in another place,
in another country.
I start talking to other people like me,
who work with kids who have no papers,
kids who came to this country with their parents,
kids who came when they were 9, 10, 11.
I run into a principal in one of the schools where I teach.
He saw the article too.
He tells me before 9/11 he used to tell teenagers,
“look, this is the United States, even if you’re undocumented
you don’t have to live in fear.”
Now, he tells them not to talk to anyone.
I wonder should I cheer for this man and say,

Jackson Heights Poetry Festival is Profiled in The New York Times!

October 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Lloyd Robson reads for JHPF in October. Photo by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times.

I don’t particularly like the title, “Poets Gather in Exile, in Queens,” because I certainly don’t think of myself, as a writer or in any other way, as living in exile because I make my home in Queens, NY, but I like the article very much.

It’s funny how these things happen. I took over Jackson Heights Poetry Festival and its First Tuesdays reading series in June of this year and started hosting the series in September. K C Trommer was our first reader and it was a lovely evening, most especially because we got some nice press coverage on DNAinfo. Paul DeBenedetto, the reporter who wrote that story, was so taken with the evening that he did a profile of one of the poets who read, Norman Stock, whose first book of poems, Buying Breakfast for My Kamikaze Pilotwon the 1994 Peregrine Smith Poetry Series. (Norman’s second book is called Pickled Dreams Naked.) John Leland of The New York Times read DeBenedetto’s profile of Stock and contacted me to see if there might be a story about a developing community of writer’s in Queens. John came down to our October reading, at which Lloyd Robson was the featured reader, met some of the writers who attended, and “Poets Gather in Exile” was the result.

What I like best about the article is the way it captures the sense of a building and burgeoning community of writers, which is, for me, the most important function that First Tuesdays can serve:

For Mr. Goodrich and Ms. [Honor] Molloy, the exiles from Brooklyn, the monthly reading could not compensate for what they had lost — what they had moved to New York to be a part of. Ms. Molloy used to spend free hours toiling in the Brooklyn Writers Space; wherever she walked there were other writers, who would tell her about their readings and offer to come to hers. “I feel like an expatriate,” she said, “like I lost my country.”

And yet.

Was it really so injurious for a writer to be away from what Mr. Goodrich called the “designer organic tapioca shops” or “hipsters with double-wide strollers”? In two months, they had found a good wine shop, a dry cleaner, a grocery. They had run into a newly arrived actor they knew; another day they ran into the poet K C Trommer, with whom Ms. Molloy used to work at Simon & Schuster and who was also a newcomer to the neighborhood. They had met Mr. Feldstein, who told them about the reading series.

“It all starts to fall together,” Mr. Goodrich said.

I also–I can’t help it–like the picture that Michael Kirby Smith got of me:

I hope you’ll go read the whole piece, and I hope you’ll come to next month’s reading, with Luis H. Francia, on November 13th.

Luis H. Francia – November 13, 2012

October 23, 2012 § 3 Comments

Luis H. Francia’s poetry collections include The Beauty of GhostsMuseum of Absences, and The Arctic Archipelago and Other Poems. He is the author of the memoir, Eye of the Fish: A Personal Archipelago, and of A History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos. He co-edited Flippin’: Filipinos on America and Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream, 1899-1999. He teaches at New York University, Hunter College, and the City University of Hong Kong. A Jackson Heights resident, he is very much a part of the 99 percent.

When:  November 13, 2012
Where: Terraza 7 Cafe, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (open-mic sign up at 6:30)
Other: $5 suggested donation. For more information contact Richard Jeffrey Newman.

Here is one of Luis’ poems:

To Slaughter Angels or Stand With Them

You don time and search for spirits
As if there were nothing to exploring
As if on a few chosen afternoons you
Could see who sat behind the big screen.
But lives end and stories don’t
And even spirits do, and
Whether you encounter god as
An ant or your dead father in the
Hall, or galaxies glimmer on the
Head of a redemptive dog, disorganize
Or organize, what does it matter?
What does it matter whether idiot
Loves have shaped your life or smeared
Its edges, whether history were to begin
Again by outing its own silences, whether
You slaughter angels or stand with them?
What manner of rock will you build on?
In the hierarchy of needs is
The need for no hierarchy.
This moment has its own paradox, with

No higher truth than this:
The rock I seek is me.

Lloyd Robson – October 2, 2012

September 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Vulgar, vigorous and exhilarating, Lloyd Robson is a Welsh poet, prose
writer and broadcaster based in Queens, NY. Lloyd has performed and been
published on five continents and is author of several books, most notably
Cardiff CutBBBOING! & associated weirdness, and Oh Dad! A Search for
Robert Mitchum. You can check out his website here.

When:  October 2, 2012
Where: Terraza 7 Cafe, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM (open-mic sign up at 6:45)
Other: $5 suggested donation. For more information contact Richard Jeffrey Newman.

Here’s one of Lloyd’s poem:

this sticky heat

cornhead primed, the wheatsheaf tide laps cliffhigh
in milky wet sunshine at the edge of field.

laid under bramble hedge, i roll pert blackberries between my teeth
project with my tongue & pop between your waiting lips.

over walnutwood eyes you drop your lids
loll fruit flesh & squeeze for release, suck juice, swallow pips.

we kiss, join & rejoice in the field off the gulling sea, reverberate the low breeze
the pumping thud of human blood, quiverheavy with salt & seed.

our sweated sighs entwine with the bush branch & leaf, the final flicked wingbeats
of blacksaffron bees prone on the sandy mud, each bleached with this sticky heat.