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!

Jun 9, 2015

The Collaborative Side Of Verse

Tonight, Richard Duffee will be leading a discussion on haiku and Matsuo Bashoo, the acclaimed Japanese seventeenth-century poet who first developed the poetry form between 1662 and 1694.

Richard will explain how it evolved from the structure of the Japanese language (including earlier Japanese and Chinese forms) and, via examination of 32 examples, how haiku’s meaning is highly dependent on various facets of Japanese life, such as the self-reflective bent of Buddhist philosophy and the inclusive animism of Shintoism—two existential perspectives Bashoo was uniquely adept at combining.

Most prominent in the 1670s, Bashoo taught poetry and founded a tradition of literary criticism while writing haiku and populist, yet contemplative, nature-themed travel diaries incorporating it, for which he is most cherished to this day (much like Thoreau or Woody Guthrie in the United States). The most renowned poet of the country’s economically- and artistically robust Edo period, Bashoo has remained Japan’s national poet since about 1685.      

As Japanese is a much more an allusive language than the more literal English, the 17-syllable structure of haiku of three lines in a 5-7-5 distribution embodies an intimate, collaborative pattern of expression particular to its language and society of origin, fostering an especially personal sense of connection with the poet.

A faithful contributor to PoemAlley for many years, Richard is the author of The Slow News of Need (available at the bottom of the blog though Yuganta Press) and has run several times for office with the Green Party of Connecticut, including twice for Congress in the 4th district (click here for a clip from a debate with Christopher Shays in 2006).

Currently, he focuses on matters of legal redress as a committee chairperson with the Stamford NAACP. Find out more about Richard and his own writing here and here.

Jun 8, 2015

John Sakson: Scrutinizing The Ups And Downs Of Being And Time

As this evening’s featured reader at Barnes & Noble’s Open Mic in Stamford, John Sakson, past editor for Salt Hill, has taught writing at various colleges and universities throughout the New York region and has frequently shared pieces in his distinctively leisurely-paced and absorbing style at Curley’s over the years.

The following piece is nicely representative of the simultaneously relaxed, yet thorough, focus on setting, texture, mood and implication characteristic of his work from his page on the website of the Ploughshares Literary Boroughs Series: 

Daylight Savings

In the drunk’s elevator, late,
on the wall next to the floor panel:
a note reminding us to advance our clocks.
And near the top, near the pretentious
hotel letterhead: the red-hot imprint of lips.
Someone (probably a woman, and probably not
the person who drafted the message) pressed
herself to the paper, drafted her own
message, an intimate seal of approval.
Maybe she was just very grateful
for the reminder. Maybe there was no
tissue to be found and this served
as an impromptu blotter. Perhaps
she told her blind date, when he tried to mix
his whiskey breath with hers: Charlie,
I’d rather kiss this damn paper, and then did.
Not likely. And better anyway to imagine her
silent with her own unknowable thoughts
at the moment, and now in her sleep, deeper
somehow, after what she really must have done:
kiss away in peace an hour lost, let the doors close
without looking back at the compartment that now
had held us both in turns
as it descended or rose.

A graduate of Syracuse University’s MFA program, he has contributed poetry to many literary magazines, including Rattle, Pearl, The Marlboro ReviewThe Worcester Review and Sierra Nevada College’s The Sierra Nevada Review. Most notably, he has also placed work in Poet Lore, which, now in its 125th year of publication, is the oldest poetry magazine in the United States.

John currently resides and teaches in Connecticut.

Hosted by Frank Chambers, Barnes & Noble’s Open Mic Poetry program meets the second Monday of each month in the cookbook section on the main floor of the bookstore (located in the Stamford Town Center), beginning at 7:15 p.m.

For more information, contact:

Barnes & Noble
100 Greyrock Place, Suite H009
Stamford, CT 06906


May 17, 2015

Richard J. Newman: "The People We Need Always To Come Back To" When The Bullet Lies Deep

A fellow professor of English at Nassau Community College where PA facilitator Ralph Nazareth teaches, Richard Jeffrey Newman, poet/translator, will share his writing and thoughts on feminist meaning and progressive masculinity, childhood sexual and global violence and, ultimately, the greater reward found in pursuit of right questions over pat answers when he visits Curley's this Tuesday.

Richard’s books include The Silence of Men (Cavankerry, 2006), his first collection of poetry, admired online by a three-time reader and fellow English teacher for its readiness to let memory and the past function not just as some determinist trap of “obsession or grudge to be chipped away, but (as) a source of richer voice…. actively riding and owning the waves of circumstance”. Below in a 2012 interview with readings, Richard elaborates on this and related liberating perceptions and how poetry proved an effective channel for their expression:

Moved by strife in the world and motivated by the impact of feminism on his own life, Richard bypasses predictable male metaphors of intimacy to recast sex as a reflective, inclusive dialogue that promises an amplified sense of humanity (see at the end of this entry the hauntingly choreographed “Running Up That Hill” performed by UK rocker Kate Bush, covering similar relational territory).

Considering how Iran’s historic role as a major cultural seedbed is all but forgotten against the peril of East/West tensions, a greater consciousness of the species-wide import of this theme is especially vital today. As such, Richard means his translation of a portion of the Islamic Republic’s national epic in The Teller of Tales: Stories from Ferdowsi's Shahameh (Junction Press, 2011) to demonstrate the relevance of Persian poetry to our lives in such chaotic times.

Kazim Ali lauds Richard’s lyric yet accessible accomplishment of  bringing to life a classic tale of politics, devotion and peace-making filled with “corrupt kings, rebel princes, dragon-sorcerers, and resourceful cooks (travelling) through (a) poetic history of an ancient and storied civilization.”

Words for What Those Men Have Done, his second volume-in-progress, is being penned through a grant awarded by the Queens Council on the Arts. Richard also curates the First Tuesdays neighborhood reading series at Terraza Cafe in Jackson Heights, NY, serves on the Board of Directors of Queens-based Newtown Literary Alliance (publisher of the Newtown Literary Journal) and has participated earlier this month in ManQuestion.org’s 2015 New Masculinities Festival in Manhattan (check out The Good Men Project for a comparable forum on issues of masculinity in society, male identity and its formation). Richard’s website is www.richardjnewman.com