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.

KC Trommer’s Reading Was A Hit

September 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am happy to say that our first First Tuesday was a big success. Sadly, my phone batter died and so I have neither photos nor video of the evening, but everyone who read was wonderful. During the open mic, Naomi read, as she has been for the last year, her mother’s poetry; Fernando got and read for the first time in five years; and Norman Stock made us all laugh with the poems he read from his two books, Buying Breakfast for my Kamikaze Pilot and Pickled Dreams Naked. And somehow these three readers encompassed how poetry builds community: by embodying voices that endure, by giving voice to the simplest and most complex yearnings we experience, and by making us laugh. And KC Trommer’s poems were a delight, playful, erotic, fraught–as she herself put it a couple of times. There was not just life in them, but a life was in them, and it was a pleasure and a privilege to be allowed into that life just for the evening.

The audience was responsive and appreciative throughout. I am looking forward to October’s reading. I hope you will join us.

KC Trommer – September 4, 2012

August 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Jackson Heights poet KC Trommer will be kicking off First Tuesdays 2012-2013 season on September 4, 2012. She is a graduate of MFA program at The University of Michigan and has been the recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Center for Book Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Prague Summer Program. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, The Antioch Review, Coconut, MARGIE, Octopus, The Sycamore Review, Poetry East and a number of other journals. She has completed her first collection of poems, Puncture, and is at work on her second collection. If you want to know a bit more about her, check out her website. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens with her family.

When:  September 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 one of KC’s poems:

Surface Anatomy of the Head and Neck

My mother brushes her hair in bed, the hard brush
against her scalp. No pliable bristles, just plastic teeth
that dig in. I would rather an easier, less punishing instrument.

At night, I need to soften the place where my neck meets
my shoulders. I rub out the debris of who was late and how
late they were, of the word I meant to learn the full meaning of
but used anyway, of the woman I meant to molt but instead keep wearing.

When he drives, I grip the back of his neck, hold my fingers stiff
like claws, move them over the surface. Plates of the head like plates
in the earth and the pressure and relief, necessary. He closes his eyes

for a moment but the car keeps going. The mother cat grabs her
mewlings by the scruffs to carry them to the darkest corner of the barn.
I pick them up in the same place as if to say, Listen, I’m your mother now.

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: