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!

Sep 11, 2016

Gil Fagiani: Our Competing Attentions For The Soul & Heart

An essayist, short story writer and poet, this Tuesday night’s featured speaker at Curley’s, Gil Fagiani, has filled his ouvre with accounts of the ups and downs of close to seventy years of life, shaped at different times by discipline, despair and rediscovery.

Several of his poetry collections cover his middle class upbringing in Stamford, such as Chianti in Connecticut (Bordighera Press, 2010) and Grandpa’sWine (Poets Wear Prada, 2008; a bilingual version forthcoming, translated into Italian by Professor Paul D’Agostino of Brooklyn College). Rooks (Rain Mountain Press, 2007) concerns his military college years at Weider University in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Now living in Long Island City in proximity to the streets of his time as a heroin addict in the 1960s, Gil grew into a social activist in response to the discrimination he witnessed by the police when dealing with drug users of different backgrounds and, by his forties, found poetry and fiction the most affecting forms of communicating awareness of the injustices he saw. As he says in a 2015 New York Times interview with David Gonzalez, “You don’t change people with political rhetoric.”

Following on such titles as the state hospital-situated Serfs of Psychiatry (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Gil’s latest book from his time at a South Bronx heroin treatment center, Logos (Guernica Editions, 2015), emphasizes the need for wider understanding of the complexity of an issue too often dismissed judgmentally by extending his internal struggles (including the confusing mix of hope and potent illusions of empowerment) to those of all of us in times of crisis.

En route, and instrumental to Gil’s recovery were his rekindled ties to his heritage upon learning that the Fagianis hailed from a line of dialect-specific poets in Lanciano: “These towns in Italy were their own universes,” he told Gonzales. “When I asked someone for directions to the street named after my uncle, he started reciting one of his poems.” This has culminated in his current co-curation of the Italian American Writers’ Association, based in Manhattan.
Below is his contribution with Stephen Siciliano, reading, respectively, from Stone Walls (Bordighera Press, 2014) and The Goodfather at a 2015 IAWA event held at the Cornelia Street CafĂ©; musical accompaniment by Peter Dizozza:

Additional Reading:

Mate, Gabor, M.D., In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts (North Atlantic Books, 2010)

Sep 10, 2016

Because WE Are Poems: Esther Cohen At Open Mic

After two years, cultural activist, poet/novelist and teacher, Esther Cohen comes back to the Stamford area this Monday night at Barnes & Noble’s Open Mic to offer poetry writing instruction (no fair leaving your pen at home!) and share from Breakfast With Allen Ginsberg (Pleasure Boat Studio, 2016), her newest collection of fifty pieces, spanning writing, family, friends and life from the Catskills to the Big Apple.

For a preview, enjoy “Dear Everyone”, Esther’s contribution to Alimentum's Menupoems 2010 program, performed at Tout Va Bien in New York, sponsored by the online journal of gastronomical literature:

From humorous fiction, like 2006’s Book Doctor (Counterpoint) and the relatable warmth of God Is a Tree and Other Middle-Age Poems (Pleasure Boat Studio, 2008), to the dignity of her innovative photo essay book of blue collar life, unseenamerica (Regan Books, 2005), Esther demonstrates an artful thirst for melding the personal and social dimensions with a fuller appreciation of workers and what they contribute (click here to see a 2011 interview with journalist Sheryl McCarthy on CUNY TV’s One to One, where Esther talks of her work with the Bread & Roses Cultural Project, Local 1199, from where unseenamerica grew).
Her September 5 entry from her poem-a-day site (www.esthercohen.com), “Labor Days is a We Poem” captures this synthesis through a series of vignettes bearing the invisible grace and daisy chain-like interconnectedness that forms the unsung, yet indispensable contributions that at all levels make society worthwhile for everyone—as opposed to defining its value based on the actions of an over-promoted few. Lyricist/drummer Neil Peart’s “Nobody’s Hero”, performed by Rush, dramatizes the cheapening distraction of celebrity fixation at the cost of acknowledging real-world nobility to be found around every corner:

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.