Tuesday, June 11, 2019

National Poetry Month 2019- Part One!

Above is a photo of me at Readings Against The End Of The World, my bad side, already exhausted from all the hubbub of National Poetry Month, and I was only halfway through. April 2019 seemed like a busier Poetry Month than usual. Maybe it’s because I’m more focused these days on the art, or maybe I’m just putting myself out more places, or maybe I’m getting a little lazy and might just like to stay home once in a while and peruse Netflix without planning for some reading or another all the time. In any case, I attended several terrific events, and spent most of May recovering from the whirlwind.

The April feature at Calling All Poets in New Paltz on Friday the 5th was El Presidente Himself, Thom Francis. Although a vital force in the Albany Poets organization, Thom doesn’t often feature much these days, perhaps because of the demands of his newer roles of husband and father. It was a treat to hear Thom again. His work is fresh and energetic. His delivery draws the audience in with direct attention. Thom is at once intimate and unapologetic. His was one of the superior readings this spring at CAPS.

On Saturday, April 13th, I did a rare “double-header,” and read at two completely different events, at opposite ends of the Hudson Valley. I signed up online for the 11:00 a.m. slot at Wordfest’s “Readings Against The End Of The World.” Revived just a couple of years ago, RAEW was created by Tom Nattell as a marathon reading showcasing the diverse voices and views of Albany poets (with a small “p”). It’s now hosted by Jil Hanifan and Mary Panza, and is truly a 24-hour event. A few years ago, I was up for sleeping on the floor, but time, love, and knees no longer allow for such excess. 

Stay tuned for Part Two of my April Poetry Odyssey…

Sunday, May 5, 2019

"Until The Words Came"- New Book!

Just a quick update-- how time flies! April was jam-packed with poetry doings, and I'll be bringing you all up to date this week. For now, I'm happy to announce that my new collab with Guy Reed, Until The Words Came, has just been published by Post Traumatic Press!

The text is based on a reading we did together about a year and a half ago at Teresa Costas's WOMPS (Word of Mouth Poetry Series) at the Art Bar in Kingston, NY. Instead of the same old, same old, we decided to pick a theme that we could both live with, then truly read together, alternating poem by poem.

Oddly enough, the theme we picked was "Poets & Poetry." We've gone to several of the old, good Dodge Festivals together, as well as many, many readings around the Hudson Valley over our almost twenty-year friendship. I say oddly because I find poets writing about poetry to usually result in pretty dreadful work. Hopefully this chapbook bucks the perceived trend.

If you might be interested in a copy of Until The Words Came, you can drop me a line at cheryl.a.rice.02@gmail.com for now. The cost is $12, postage included. Soon, you'll be able to go to https://www.posttraumaticpress.com/ to order it there, too, but since the ink is barely dry, for now reach out to me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


I’ve always felt that an important part of being a poet is putting your stuff out there in the world. With the unique exception of Emily Dickinson (and even in her case we can’t be sure of how many others she shared her work with), poets write to express an opinion or emotion. They write to be heard. Otherwise it’s just so much scribbling.

The two main ways of sharing these days are either by sending work out to a publication, online or print, and reading it aloud at an open mic or featured event. I send things out in spurts, and then lag behind for months. With the Interwebs, gone are the days of typing out fresh copies of poems, searching for targets in the Poets Market (always outdated by the time the annual edition reached the bookshelves in the fall), stamping SASEs, and tossing it all into the corner mailbox, fingers crossed. I honestly feel there is a place for every poem now, more so than ever before. Several Facebook pages even specialize in sharing information on where to send your work. Most times poems can be emailed, and response times are often in hours, not the weeks or months (or never) of old. 

Connecting with a crowd face to face offers a unique satisfaction that no publication, no matter how exclusive or venerable, can match. It’s a kind of performance, yes, but I made the choice long ago to only strive to read my poems as I hear them in my head, and no more. The more I can let my own personality come thru, either in my words or my asides, all the better. No copies are required, response is immediate, and I can even jot down a few revisions after I sit back down. Hearing the poems is a great way to really find out if you’re getting your ideas across the way you intended.
Does the size of the audience matter? I was recently a featured reader at a Hudson Valley venue where attendance has been uneven at best. I was surprised to see a few of the regulars missing, although the crowd there of about a dozen was very receptive to my work. Am I a creep because of that little nagging disappointment that was hoping for a few more bodies? 

There is the Facebook Invite illusion, where creating an Event Page lets you tally up dozens of Yeses or Interesteds, when in fact they’re mostly being supportive. I try to only share information about readings with people I think will be interested. I surely know poetry isn’t everybody’s thing. But even so, when those inflated Facebook numbers don’t manifest into even a fraction of attendees, it’s a bit of a downer. 

And the weather was bitterly cold that night as well. It was a weeknight, and even at my age most of us work full-time. I hardly attend any readings myself these days. But, I can honestly say I read as I almost always read. I was in the groove, and got the words out in a close approximation of what I heard in my head before I put them on paper. And yes, the first draft is always on paper. That much of my writing habits will probably never change. The second draft is created in my laptop. 

How do you feel reading to crowds smaller than you might have expected? How do you feel reading aloud at all? Do you prefer online writing communities, for convenience or comfort? Am I an egotistical pig for feeling the way I did? I can’t be sure.

***It seems that some changes to Blogger may make it difficult for you to leave a comment. If you’re having trouble, just email me at: dorothyy62@hotmail.com. Thanks!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

*Poem: "Six More Weeks"

Image result for groundhog pic

Six More Weeks

It takes him three tries to get to the story,
his odyssey, 500 miles to forecast the rest of the winter.
Cold and dark, deprivation of sound
and the angled stimulus he is accustomed to.
I hear the sink and splash in the background.
We are both Sunday dish-doers,
lives lived in the rush of singles
scampering across any available floor,
any outing to avoid the solitude.

He tells it like it was, abbreviating the hours
I would have lost hope in,
endless drive across the flat highways,
the boxy hills of Pennsylvania where
many of my ancestors dug,
and still dig in their quiet blooming.
He describes the one-eyed pioneer,
getting her fix from a private flask,
at her station at a hometown dive,
and I picture short-haired discouragement,
flailing at air for the tourist cameras,
her weekend routine disturbed by the groundhog's carousing.
He melts by the bonfire,
counts the teeth of the locals with one mittened hand,
air a solid mass of cold and beer and silk high hats,

and I laugh, and the futon beneath me
slides from its slick pine frame.
My day is for paperwork, poetry,
sorting socks and cotton panties.
We have six more weeks, according to Phil,
before we are obligated to move
our homemaking efforts to the outside.
I have only seconds, odd surrenders of faith
to make it mean something.
I have only the hint of a shadow
to drive me on.

CAR  2/3/02