Just Poets Annual Picnic & Le Mot Juste 2017

On Saturday, June 3rd, Just Poets held its annual picnic. This event always gives JP members a chance to catch up with each other as well as celebrate the publication of our yearly anthology Le Mot Juste

The 13th edition of Le Mot Juste is dedicated to our good friends, Michael and Carolyn Czarnecki of FootHills Publishing. Michael and Carolyn, celebrating 30 years of publishing, made every copy of every edition of LMJ by hand, all 13 volumes.

The 13th edition of Le Mot Juste is dedicated to our good friends, Michael and Carolyn Czarnecki of FootHills Publishing. Michael and Carolyn, celebrating 30 years of publishing, made every copy of every edition of LMJ by hand, all 13 volumes.

This year's editor, Kitty Jospe, shared a write-up of our big day:

A hearty thank you to Karla Linn Merrifield who hosted the Just Poets annual picnic for the third year in a row.  In addition to a feast of delicious foods, we had a visual feast of poetry, starting with a couch covered by books generously donated by Bill Heyen. As he says modestly, it’s because his publishers are going out of business.  Karla suggested that if people wanted to match his generosity, to make a $5 donation to Just Poets.  I believe she meant in particular for the hardcover copy of Hiroshima Suite with the stunning cover illustration by DeLoss McGraw, The Fish, but certainly, there were so many other books to choose from.

Other poets brought works as well--and the top drawer of a chest was open to disclose titles.  Facing the couch was a delightful display Bart White had put up of pictures of members and their activities.   

After we ate, Bart gave a lovely overview of all the activities of Just Poets and all the people who have worked behind the scenes to create wonderful programs and community connections.  He read a poem by Maril Nowak as an example of the fine work produced in JP meetings.

                       

                        Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

                        Mid-afternoon waves rising to collapse

                        waves jazzing the pebbled shore

                        waves in a shimmy of sunlight

                        waves in a rupture of the bag

                        of diamonds on the pier

 

                        It’s like this:

                        When you watch the water dance

                        you have to dance along.

                        When you watch the water toss

                        its treasure you have to grab for it.

                        When you watch the water’s weave

                        you will wear that new coat home.

After Bart's brief but pointed year-in-review, we had a fantastic read-around where everyone shared a poem of their own. Some read poems from this year's Le Mot Juste while others read new original material or recited old favorites.

It was a great day and a beautiful display of exactly what this group has to offer. And, as Karla, our gracious host, remarked at the conclusion of the day: "Damn, we're good." I could not possibly agree more.

Genesee Reading Series at Writers & Books, April 11th

The impression one takes away from Tuesday night’s Writers and Books Genesee Reading Series was a sense of stillness. Neither Andrea Weinstein nor Jennifer Grotz, the two featured poets, brought the rumble of dump trucks unloading personal issues. More measured, metered and self-reflective, each, in turn, offered a glimpse of themselves through their work.

Weinstein offered the sentiment “silence gives the self a chance to replenish.” Her poem, “I Hear” bespoke that inner search: “…rhythms in blessed silence….” Using listing in several pieces, she asked in her poem, “One Good Man” to:  “…stand up… to yell loud and long…” in her humbled lament against man’s inhumanity to man. She touched upon elegies, one in particular “Archaeology of Life” about what others might find in the treasures left “post  Weinstein,” listing a number of things accumulated including “neon strapped heals…”  andsummed it up eloquently in here poem’s closing line “When I am not here what will be gleamed for these artifacts? I think not much.” Poetically, not true.

Jennifer Grotz read several poems from her books, but true to the night’s unofficial theme of quietude, her work was delivered in measured tone. Whether observations in her self-portrait,              “The Window” with lines like “Eyes wide like an owl’s…anger hides in the jaw…” the window image was imaginative and superb.  Her reflections continued with poems that spoke of her writing times generated while in a French monastery. Grotz’s comment, “sight leads to insight” rang true throughout. Whether observing a Krakow nun riding across from her on public transportation or her lines from, “The Mountain” observed from the monastery: “No matter how long I looked I could not see it all… how to look at something too big to fit the frame…” or her delicate poem brushing fear, “Scorpion,” or concluding her reading with “Poppies” and the natural wonder around, which she summated with “Love is letting the world be half tamed,” Grotz’s poems like Weinstein’s brought a stillness to the evening that was refreshing.

The Genesee Reading Series is now in its 34th year at Writers & Books, and is held every month on the second Tuesday. 

Thanks to David J. Delaney for writing this review.

Healing Voices: an R-Voices Event

With husband Roger Weir, cancer survivor, sitting next to her, Just Poets’ Karla Linn Merrifield stood up. “We’ve been coming here for 18 years,” Karla said to the 25 or so Oncology staff volunteers and caregivers who came to share lunch and words at the R-Voices’ “Healing Voices: Poetry at Wilmot” reading. Not 18 times, 18 years. Imagine that. It was my first time in this Family Resource Center. It was the first time Strong held such an event. Karla read three strong poems: “At the Feet of Birds” “On Earth” and “Invitation in Massai” from her chapbook The Urn. Then Just Poets members, as well as cancer survivors themselves, Ruth Wright and Anita Augesen shared some cathartic work of their own. Ruth read her poem “The Salon,” her metaphor for the radiation room, and Anita read “Chemotherapy,” telling of losing her hair and finding so much more. They brought the poetic voice of “what’s-it-like being a patient.” Colleen Powderly, David Delaney, Precious Bedell, and Bart White also shared their work. Then several of the staff and volunteers in attendance gave poetic voice to the warm and friendly gathering. Senior Social Worker Sandra Sabatka explained how she heard a poem on the radio coming into work one morning on WXXI’s“Writer’s Almanac.” She read that poem entitled “I Give Thanks” by Marie Reynolds.  Michele Allen, from the Oncology finance office read Mary Oliver’s “Summer Morning.” Caregiver Ellen Van Zandt read her poem “I Climbed a Mountain Today.” Hazel Pugh, assistant to Catherine Thomas, director of Patient Services, shifted gears a bit and sang a beautiful rendition of “What a Piece Of Work is Man” from the musical Hair. Applause. Applause for all. Dwight Hettler, the Wilmot Center’s assistant associate director, and Catherine Thomas expressed their pleasure at this event. “This is the first time we have had poetry here” said Dwight.  And he enthusiastically welcomed a return next year. Catherine Thomas gave the poets and attendees a big thanks and a special thanks to Sandra Sabatka, Bart, and Karla for putting it all together. But the last words came from Karla.  “Cancer teaches us so much,” said Karla. Imagine that. by David Delaney For more photos and a video of this event, please click here.

With husband Roger Weir, cancer survivor, sitting next to her, Just Poets’ Karla Linn Merrifield stood up. “We’ve been coming here for 18 years,” Karla said to the 25 or so Oncology staff volunteers and caregivers who came to share lunch and words at the R-Voices’ “Healing Voices: Poetry at Wilmot” reading. Not 18 times, 18 years. Imagine that. It was my first time in this Family Resource Center. It was the first time Strong held such an event.

Karla read three strong poems: “At the Feet of Birds” “On Earth” and “Invitation in Massai” from her chapbook The Urn. Then Just Poets members, as well as cancer survivors themselves, Ruth Wright and Anita Augesen shared some cathartic work of their own. Ruth read her poem “The Salon,” her metaphor for the radiation room, and Anita read “Chemotherapy,” telling of losing her hair and finding so much more. They brought the poetic voice of “what’s-it-like being a patient.” Colleen Powderly, David Delaney, Precious Bedell, and Bart White also shared their work.

Then several of the staff and volunteers in attendance gave poetic voice to the warm and friendly gathering. Senior Social Worker Sandra Sabatka explained how she heard a poem on the radio coming into work one morning on WXXI’s“Writer’s Almanac.” She read that poem entitled “I Give Thanks” by Marie Reynolds.  Michele Allen, from the Oncology finance office read Mary Oliver’s “Summer Morning.” Caregiver Ellen Van Zandt read her poem “I Climbed a Mountain Today.” Hazel Pugh, assistant to Catherine Thomas, director of Patient Services, shifted gears a bit and sang a beautiful rendition of “What a Piece Of Work is Man” from the musical Hair. Applause. Applause for all.

Dwight Hettler, the Wilmot Center’s assistant associate director, and Catherine Thomas expressed their pleasure at this event. “This is the first time we have had poetry here” said Dwight.  And he enthusiastically welcomed a return next year. Catherine Thomas gave the poets and attendees a big thanks and a special thanks to Sandra Sabatka, Bart, and Karla for putting it all together.

But the last words came from Karla. 

“Cancer teaches us so much,” said Karla.

Imagine that.

by David Delaney

For more photos and a video of this event, please click here.

Gail Hosking featured at Just Poets Open Mic in June

Just Poets Open Mic Review

by David Delaney

This month’s featured poet, RIT instructor, Gail Hosking’s churned through a number of turbulent and affecting poems about war, family, the “collision” of different points of view, as well as love and its devastating effects. Several stirred the audience to stillness as she recounted insanities played out as normalities. A clever reach was her grab at Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Goin’ On” and threaded it with impressive lines like “…rusted tanks left slow moving ghosts…” that reflected on her “army brat” upbringing.  Her poem “Crossfire March 1967” brought back Vietnam, and “Damn the Moon” put a new spin on that old standby in the sky with her lunar persona watching the wreckage below.  Her work was cadenced and her complex thematic weave played deceptively easy. 

A schooled and accomplished essayist, Gail also spoke of how she came to tackle poetry –“I just sat down and wrote 100 poems” a comment that speaks to a modified slogan: “just doing it”. Her poems and list of accomplishments indicate her years of work have paid off.  

David White opened the open mic portion of the evening with short burst poems that brought laughter and contemplation to the audience. Kitty Jospe’s persona poem “Dear Piano” is right at the top of her game, and Breven Bell rolled out an intimate and fierce, yet delicate, five section love poem with several gutsy lines gutsy including “I murdered your indifference…” Jim Jordan read his poem “They Say that Normans Enrich the Language”—a look at our origins and what could have linguistically changed had history been altered. Roy Bent recited his “Poetry Died on Friday” with professional presence. Bart White brought out a new poem “Brutal Proof” that too stilled the audience. JP MC David Yockel started and concluded the evening with Gail Hosking’s poet of choice Stephen Dunn.

You know, this little bookstore (Before Your Quiet Eyes) in the heart of the Monroe Avenue is a pretty cool place for a reading (thanks Ken – the owner). And Just Poets is pretty cool for making poetry happen there. Monthly open mics are second Wednesdays of each month at 7 p.m. Enjoy the neighborhood, some good poetry, or better yet, come out and share one!