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.

Where Am I?

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