Poem for the Boston Marathon Bombing Anniversary

#poetry #napomo #bostonmarathon Last April 15th I was at a work reception thanking the benefactors who funded a student trip to the AWP Conference in Boston for  which I served as the chaperone. At about the same time as the reception, the bombs were going off at the marathon, which I only learned about when I went home and turned on the news. This past weekend, I read a poem about one of the heroes and one of the survivors of that day. The reading was part of Philly Poetry Day and was held at Brickbat Books. Last night on the news, the police announced they had found the makings of another (unrelated) bomb just down the street from the bookstore. The irony wasn’t lost on me. Today, let’s celebrate heroes and hope–not bombs.  Here is the poem:

Here is the picture that inspired the poem:

Carlos with Jeff Bauman Jr 72.preview

What’s hard to imagine is how some people have since accused the bombing of being fake. Others have accused Carlos Arredondo (the man in the hat, above, and the subject of my poem) a fraud. Such accusations disgust me.

In better news, Jeff Bauman, the man who lost his legs in the photo, is now expecting his first child and he is engaged to be married.

#napomo2014 @phillypoetryday #phillypoeryday #poetdelphia #Apiary

Philadelphia as a World Heritage City?

#GlobalPhiladelphia #PhiladelphiaLiterature #poetry #PhillyPoetryDay

Good news for Philadelphia. The Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) is helping to sponsor Philadelphia as a World Heritage City, a UNESCO distinction.

I had the privilege of meeting Zabeth Teelucksingh, the GPA’s executive director, at Community College of Philadelphia last week when she was a guest speaker for International Festival, an annual spring event. I was there to accept an award for a poem for a contest among faculty, and even better was seeing that two of my students had been selected by the contest judges for the essays they wrote about their international journeys to come to this country. Teelucksingh gave the keynote address, and I was delighted to gain insight into the application process GPA is undertaking to make this designation a reality.

Philadelphia already has seen Independence Hall gain designation as a World Heritage Site. The city now wants that designation broadened. The World Heritage City designation is one of six designations overseen by UNESCO.

For a long time, I have told anyone who will listen that I’d like to find collaborators to help make Philadelphia a UNESCO City of World Literature, which is an additional distinction and part of its Creative Cities Network program. Currently, only Iowa City has this feather in its cap. Philadelphia should not only be a World Heritage Site, in my opinion, but it should also be honored for its ongoing contribution to the literary (and other arts) as a Creative City or City of World Literarure. The Global Philadelphia Association is taking the first step in making the former happen, and it just might some day lead to the latter opportunities at some point in the future.

Philadelphia not only holds special significance as the birthplace of America, it’s also a city that has been the stomping grounds for writers as diverse as Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe –and, more recently– the likes of poets Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and Edward Hirsch, each of whom studied here, as did novelist John Edgar Wideman. Pearl Buck lived for decades in Bucks County, and Sonja Sanchez, Eleanor Wilner, and Elaine Terranova have all been literary prize-winners who have made the city their permanent home. (And I haven’t even scratched the surface of Philly’s Language Poets.) It’s the way language arts thrive in Philadelphia academically and on the grass roots level that make me happy to live here, and we shouldn’t forget the city’s history as a major publishing hub, either.

Efforts by folks like the people at the Global Philadelphia Association are welcome, and this idea of becoming a World Heritage City is long overdue. I’m confident it will happen, and that it will lead to even greater things to come.



Leonard Gontarek Spotlights Philly Poets Via Apiary

#Apiary #LeonardGontarek #Poetry #Poetdelphia #PhillyPoetryDay

pictureFriend of Poetdelphia, Leonard Gontarek, recently launched a new spotlight column on Philadelphia poets at Apiary. The man deserves kudos for getting the ball up and running for Philly Poetry Day, an amazing success this past April 12 when Philadelphians Poetdelphians took to the parks, the front porches, the libraries and the bookstores to spread their love of poetry. Check out what Leonard is up to at http://apiarymagazine.com/philly-poetry-picks-leonard-gontarek/

While we are at it, let’s sing the praises of The entire Philly Poetry Day Committee: Charles Carr, Lillian Dunn, Leonard Gontarek, Jacob Winterstein!!!


Photos from Philly Poetry Day

A big thanks to Leonard, Lillian, Joey, Elizabeth, Nancy H. and everybody else who had a hand in the first #PhillyPoetryDay. Here are some photos! #215Festival @AmPoetryReview @PhillyPoetryDay

From the Brickbat Books Reading… that would not dare be canceled!!  The first batchh of photos feature Chris McCreary, Kelly McQuain, Pattie McCarthy and Jenn McCreary.





This photo is from Charlie O’Hay:


Around 3 pm I moseyed over to the Sketch Club where I read with Wendy Fulton Steginsky, Juditha Dowd, and Helen Mirkil,  the ladies in these photos. The Sketch Club! What a beautiful spot! The walls had eyes thanks to the small oil portraits on display.






Countdown to Philly Poetry Day

#phillypoetryday @phillypoetryday


1:00 – 2:30 pm: Philly Poetry Day gets off to a fun start with a wienie roast and poetry reading at Port Richmond Books, 3037 Richmond Street, sponsored by the 215 Festival and American Poetry Review. Poet Laureate Frank Sherlock headlines, and I’ll be reading a couple of poems, too. It should be beautiful weather. Hope to see some friends there! Then I’ll be hopping down to Center City to take part in a…


20140402-162503.jpg3:00 – 4:30 pm: Philly Poetry Day Gets a Little Sketchy: A Reading at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. On April 12, 2014, join four poets at the Sketch Club in the Exhibition Gallery surrounded by the works of the Small Oils Exhibition. Featuring Juditha Dowd, Kelly McQuain, Helen Mirkil and Wendy Steginsky.

Juditha Dowd is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet with work appearing in The Florida Review, Poetry Daily, Cider Press Review, Spillway, Ekphrasis and elsewhere. Her full-length collection, Mango in Winter (Grayson Books, 2013), joins three previously-published chapbooks. She is a poetry editor for US1 Worksheets and a member of “Cool Women,” an ensemble performing poetry in the metro area and on the west coast.

Wendy Fulton Steginsky traces her passion for poetry back to her Bermuda roots and childhood days growing up on the water. Her poems have been published in two volumes of Bermuda Anthology of Poetry, And The Questions Are Enough, online at tongues of the ocean, The Wild River Review and featured in a multi-media exhibition, Making Magic: Beauty in Word and Image at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

Kelly McQuain grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. He holds graduate degrees from the University of New Orleans and Temple University. His recent book Velvet Rodeo is the winner of the Bloom Chapbook Prize and his poems have appeared recently in The Pinch, Painted Bride Quarterly, Assaracus, Redivider, MEAD, Paper Nautilus, and Kestrel, as well as in such anthologies as Between: New Gay Poetry and Drawn to Marvel: Superhero Poems. He also writes prose, essays, and book reviews. He occasionally designs book covers, illustrates comics, or draws for the sheer pleasure of it.

Helen Mirkil is both a poet and visual artist. Her recent book Sower on the Cliffs, poems and drawings (BookArts Press 2013) merges her two passions. Her poems have appeared in Apiary (online), Art Times, Bucks County Writer, The Griffin, and Ruah. She received a coordinate BFA from University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, as well as an MFA from the Academy. She was awarded a fellowship from the Academy to live and work in Raglan, Wales. Mirkil’s paintings and drawings are part of the permanent collections of several museums in the area.

For other poetry happenings in Philadelphia see phillypoetryday.com




Edward Hirsch gave an amazing talk last night

I had the pleasure of listening to Poet Edward Hirsch talk about his new book, A Poet’s Glossary, last night at the Free Library. I can only imagine how lucky his students are. In an hour-long talk, Hirsch swept us through a global connection between poetry, folklore and cultural epics. I took three pages of notes to help start me on my journey through the 700+ page book. I had the pleasure of introducing Professor Hirsch, who is just as warm and welcoming as he is intelligent. I also got a chance to talk again to David Simpson, the blind writer who is the former poet laureate of Landsdowne. He was there with his twin brother, Dan. By chance, I had sat beside David on the long flight from Philly to Seattle for the AWP Conference earlier this year, and I enjoyed a long conversation with him (I was also impressed with how his assistance dog, a beautiful yellow Lab, was able to curl up contentedly beneath the seat in front of us the entire trip).  I also met two area writers I look forward to getting to know more through their work: Autumn McClintock who was published alongside me in an Issue of Redivider this past year, as well as the charming Ru Freeman, a novelist who calls Sri Lanka and the U.S. her home. The Visiting Author series of the Free Library is a cultural gem–a place where you can make new connections, find like-minded souls, and hear an exchange of truly great ideas. I was grateful that people complimented my introduction for Professor Hirsch, and my thanks to Andy at the Library for asking me to take part.

In a few days, the podcast for the event should be here at the Library website.