Tuesdays at Curley's

Welcome to PoemAlley, Stamford, Connecticut's eclectic venue for poets, poetry reading and discussion! Open to anyone living in Fairfield County and the surrounding area, we meet Tuesday nights at 7:00 pm at Curley's Diner on 62 Park Place (behind Target) . Come contribute, get something to eat, or simply listen!

May 4, 2015

Grace Under (The Sanction) Of Pressure: An Evening With Rowyda Amin

Stamford resident Rowyda Amin will share selections tomorrow evening from her latest chapbook, Desert Sunflowers (Flipped Eye Press, 2014), praised by Lauri Ramey as “a study of migration and a negotiation between place… notions of identity and self (and) so much more.” Previous appearances have included many events in the UK, including the Ledbury Poetry Festival, the Brighton Festival and the Royal Festival Hall.

Born in Newfoundland of Saudi Arabian and Irish parents, Rowyda has lived in Riyadh and London before moving to Connecticut. She won first prize in the 2012 Venture Award for poetry chapbooks from Flipped Eye. 

Her work and reviews have run in Magma, Modern Poetry in Translation, Wasafiri (for which she was awarded their New Writing Prize in 2009) and other print and online magazines; anthology appearances include Ten (Bloodaxe Books 2010), Bird Book: Towns, Parks, Gardens and Woodland, (a 2011 Sidekick Books collection of poetry and illustration celebrating British birds), Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Cinnamon Press, 2012) and Coin Opera (Sidekick, 2009) and Exposure (Cinnamon Press, 2010).

Rowyda's deft and versatile approach is typified by elements of quiet surprise and magic realism mixed with moments of emotional complexity to illuminate matters of isolation and belonging, as reflected in this intimate example from Coin Opera:

Café Danube
He stayed behind the fridge until he was sure
there was no one left, then stepped through
the litter of glass and abandoned suppers
to the podium with the Yamaha synth.
He righted the stool and played, as he did
most evenings, the themes from Love Story,
Casablanca and Titanic. Rain squalled
through the empty door frames. A dog
entered, shook itself, licked the cream
from a fallen éclair and urinated on the leg
of a waiter, which was sticking out
from behind the bar. The pianist broke
for a whiskey then switched to show tunes.
Water pooled into the centre of the room.
He heard claps, far off but getting louder.

“The Dwarf” performed by the late Geoffrey Lewis and the storytelling group Celestial Navigations strikes a consonant note with Rowyda’s themes that are of special relevance in today’s highly-globalized society, where the received authority of a few to define matters of social acceptance and human grace is too often automatically reinforced by everyone else:

Find out more about Rowyda at www.rowyda.com.

Apr 21, 2015

Belonging To The Song: Andrew Calhoun Returns To PoemAlley With More Words, Music & Perspectives

Folk singer and poet Andrew Calhoun returns tonight after two years to regale PoemAlley and Curley’s with readings and live music from 2011’s Grapevine, a solo-performed tribute to formative influences like Martin Carthy on his life and music, featuring, respectively, restored and historically updated performances of “Oh, Susanna” and “Patrick Henry” and 2013’s Living Room (with vocal contributions by his daughter Casey). Here’s a duet performance from 2013 of Andrew’s original composition “Peach Song” below:

 Both of these titles, along with the Scottish ballad collection Telfer’s Cows (2004), Tiger Tattoo (2003) and 1993’s Hope, among many others, are available through Andrew’s artists’ cooperative Waterbug Records. Check out his own and the music of other bardic artists at the 23-year-old label here.

Broadly praised over the years by critics from the Chicago Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch to Performing Songwriter for his keen use of imagery and the sensitivity of his challenging, perspective-jumping performances, Andrew’s writing also embodies these attributes, collected in titles like 1989’s Twenty-Four Poems. Suffused with careful comparisons, the piece below delights in love’s paradoxical wont to leave us each unmoored in time while also honoring the personal history of the beloved, expressed in acts both gentle and dramatic:

When We Make Love
© Andrew Calhoun

It is the sweetness of raspberries growing
Full in the sunshine
Near a salt tossing ocean
Easing up and down between continents,
Pregnant with mystery

When we make love
Sunken treasure rises to the surface
Breaking free, rocking endlessly,
Blissfully disappearing,
Giving itself away

When we make love
It's the hush in the theatre
Before the curtain
The promise made and kept in the same moment
A poem composed in a dream
Remembered in a dream

When we make love
We belong to the song
Where I kiss your resistance
Through halls of childhood
Through walls of adolescence
Through trials of womanhood
And at last you know

With our bodies exploding in gentleness
With great winds whistling the treetops,
Quick as a tomahawk,
You and I
In past, present and future

You know
It is you that I love
When we make love

The influence of Woody Allen and Groucho Marx comes through The Trilogy Trilogy (2012), Andrew’s first book of humor, containing numerous vignettes with intriguing and easily-relatable titles like “Because I’m Neurotic” and “Sweating the Big Stuff”.

Apr 9, 2015

Meditations In The Glass House Of A New Century With Connecticut Poet Laureate Richard Allen

Delving into the cultural, political and religious themes for which he is known, Connecticut Poet Laureate Richard Allen ushers in National Poetry Month tonight in New Canaan, reading from his newest book, This Shadowy Place (St. Augustine Press, 2014), winner of the 2013 New Criterion Poetry Competition.

Credited for applying the form to meditative, lyrical effect in charting the delicate transition from the last century to this, Richard makes atypical use of metered, rhyming poetry in Shadowy Place, which follows on seven earlier books, most notably Present Vanishing: Poems (2008)—winner of the 2009 Connecticut Book Award for Poetry, The Day Before: New Poems (2003) and Ode to the Cold War: Poems New and Selected (1997). All three are published by Sarabande Books. Among numerous accolades for his work, Dick received a Pushcart Prize and a William Carlos Williams Poetry Prize Runner-Up (First Finalist) for Best American Poetry Book of the Year, as well as two poetry writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ingram Merrill Foundation.

One of the most accomplished presenters (of his own and others’ poetry) in the United States, Dick performed twice at inauguration ceremonies for Governor Malloy. Judge for yourself as he reads his “The Horse Knows the Way” from a program at the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford, last year:

 A six-time contributor to The Best American Poetry series, Dick has also placed more than 900 pieces in magazines with varied focci: The New Yorker, The Hudson Review and The New Republic, with more recent contributions appearing—or soon to—in Emerson College’s Ploughshares, Tricycle (the long-standing Buddhist publication) and American Scholar

New Canaan’s Gwen North Reiss, along with members of the St. Mark's Poetry Group, which she directs, will also be celebrating the Month with their own material (including contributions from six student poets of New Canaan High School).
Gwen with photographer Pedro Guerrero

Gwen has a degree from the Yale College of Literature. She began her career in book publishing with Houghton Mifflin and has penned The Winter Lodge: A White Mountain Mouse Tail (Salem, 2008), a children’s book illustrated by David North. 

Her work has run in the Connecticut Review of Eastern Connecticut State University, the Atlanta Review and Rhino, a literary annual based in Evanston, Illinois. Her poem, “Illuminated” won the 92nd Street Y’s Rachel Wetzsteon Prize in 2012. Presently she works part-time at the Silvermine Arts Center and the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan.

Adrian Lamb Room
New Canaan Library
New Canaan, CT

Thursday, April 9, 2015
7 PM

The New Canaan Library, 203-594-5003; www.newcanaanlibrary.org
Register at http://goo.gl/T3DH21