Interview With PEN Award Winner, Steve Dalachinsky

PEN Award Winner, Steve Dalachinsky’s revised and expanded book of poems, A Superintendent’s Eyes arrived in bookstores on July 3rd.

Steve Dalachinsky: This particular book is a departure from most of my other work, and was at the time of its first publication in 2000 the largest book I had out. It was a limited edition of 300 and contained prose, poetry, prose poetry, the Japanese form of haibun which combines prose and haiku and some of what Kerouac would call “prosody.” The main inspiration for that and this newly expanded edition was my job as superintendent of my building and all the craziness and chores that it entailed. The concept expanded to incorporate older pieces from the 60s and in this newer, larger version, recent pieces which seem relevant to the work. I am extremely pleased that Ron Kolm, Jim Feast and Jim Fleming of Unbearable/Autonomedia Books were willing to take on this enterprise. The use of Arthur Kaye‘s photos followed the pattern of the photos in the first edition but also expanded on that idea to add a very REAL and needed dimension to the work. Continue reading

Beijing: Is Americanization “Cool?”

Beijing: Is Americanization “Cool?”

by Ishmael Reed

When I turned fifty, I began to study Japanese under private tutors. This resulted in my publishing a satirical novel called “Japanese By Spring,” a send-up of the curriculum wars that were flaring up on American campuses at the time. Though dismissed by “mainstream” American critics afraid to wander from their Eurocentric intellectual bunker, the novel got the attention of scholars, students and intellectuals in Japan. I was invited to Japan, and I toured the country in 1996. As an exemplar of the world wide interest in African Literature, I was a guest of the Langston Hughes Society in Kyoto, ironic because when Hughes visited Japan in the 1930s, he was detained as a result of controversial remarks that the Japanese regarded as subversive. He was also held under suspicion by the F.B.I.

A few years ago, a brilliant young Chinese scholar informed me that there was interest in my novel at BeijingNormalUniversity. I was invited to attend a conference there and give a lecture. They also invited my co-worker of nearly fifty years, Carla Blank, who directed her play, “KOOL-Dancing In My Mind,” at the Kennedy Center in 2010 and for which she was dramaturge in 2009 (a Robert Wilson Project which I named “Kool.”) After attending a dance workshop conducted by Carla at the university, a student said that it was the “most fun” class she’d had there. We were in Beijing from November 5th to the 13th. Continue reading

Visiting Poets House

By Patricia Riordan

I was frustrated that I couldn’t see the boats lining the Hudson from the second floor of Poets House.  I was sitting in a chair adjacent to the large windows reading Galway Kinnell’s “Strong is Your Hold.”  Across from where I was sitting was a woman in her early twenties with long blond hair and a blue floral print dress.  She was curled up in the chair, sleeping with a book on her lap.

Poets House is a poetry library in Battery Park.  50,000 volumes of poetry are freely available to the public. Stanley Kunitz and Elizabeth Kray founded Poets House in Soho in 1985.  In 2006, Poets House signed a sixty year lease agreement with Battery Park City.  After three years of construction, the library opened its doors to the public in late September of 2009.

Those years of construction are captured in photographs on the walls of Lee Briccetti’s office.  “Notice that I’m facing away from them!” Lee laughs, sitting at her desk.  Lee Briccetti is the Executive Director of Poets House and considers the construction to be a mark of what they lived through.  Perhaps this is the cause of all of the gray hairs intertwined in Lee’s dark curls.  She is also wearing a dark gray shirt, yet despite all of the gray, she has a young face and a beaming smile. Continue reading

Poets & Writers: My visit to Broad Street

Poets & Writers

by Patricia Riordan

Eliot Figman sits at a round table with his hands gripping the edge.  He looks me square in the eye.  He’s not nervous just deeply concentrated.

Concentration is a necessity in the day to day work at Poets & Writers.  As Executive Director, Eliot oversees fundraising, meetings with the board of directors, and publishing the magazine.  Poets & Writers is a magazine and website that offers resources aimed to help creative writers advance with information and encouragement.

High above Broad Street, the office suite is museum like.  The hallway is lined with black and white miniature portraits.  The walls in Eliot’s office are washed white with abstract paintings.  There is an old, black and white photograph in the back corner.  Eliot tells me it is a photograph of Robert Lowell, Alan Ginsberg, and Galen Williams.

Continue reading

My Visit to CLMP

My Visit to CLMP

by Patricia Riordan

The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses offers resources to smaller presses and literary magazines.  CLMP was founded in 1967 by George Plimpton (founder of The Paris Review), Russell Banks (novelist and founder of Lillabulero), and many others.  They now have over 500 small presses, literary magazines and electronic publishers.  Their mission is to serve literary presses and magazines through shared knowledge and organizational tools.  Presses and magazines have the opportunity to expand and diversify their audience by using the tools CLMP has to offer.  Tribes has been a member of the Council since its inception in the fall of 1991. Continue reading