Monday, January 30, 2017


Saturday evening's reading at Studio 26 Gallery in NYC was a fulfilling event. Rachel E. Diken gave a stunning debut reading of her poetry that had an obvious impact on the standing-room-only crowd, and I received a warm reception as well for poetry and prose I'd published over the past half century about my Civil Rights and racial justice activism since the 1950s, and anti-war, feminist, and gay rights activism since the 1960s, hopefully reminding people that the struggle for justice-for-all has been ongoing and peaks and wanes but has never been fully stopped or disappeared...

You may have noticed that I've been focusing on the various arts that sustain me and my spirit more in my posts since the inauguration of "the predator-in-chief" (as he has become known to many), because in order to maintain my strength—intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally—so I can take part in what we used to call "The Movement" in the 1960s and '70s and now is called "The Resistance" I need constant creative arts breaks, which is why on my car radio I'm listening to either my public jazz station or classical music station rather than NPR and other news stations constantly, to give my brain and heart a chance to re-energize....I recommend it...

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Martin Scorsese's SILENCE is not for everyone. The friend I saw it with felt it could have been a lot shorter. I thought it was pretty much miscast—Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson as Portuguese?! (Jesuit missionaries in 1600s Japan as the Japanese were closing down their efforts and demanding they give up their faith). And Garfield seemed in over his head or level of talent, at first, but eventually impressed me as did Scorsese's usual mastery (lacking only when someone else has the upper hand, i.e. Jack Nicholson in THE DEPARTED), making it a worthwhile trip to the theater for me.

If you found Scorsese's version of Edith Wharton's THE AGE OF INNOCENCE slow and too nuanced, then SILENCE isn't for you. But if you like spending time staring at paintings in museums, uncovering depths maybe even the artist didn't intend but that bring a kind of creative fulfillment to you (I'm guilty), then I think you will be able to surrender to the pace and the ignore the miscasting to ultimately experience a worthy work of art, despite its few limitations, or maybe a better word is challenges.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


I never worked with him, nor met him (as far as I can remember), but I would love to have done both. He was one of the greatest actors to ever work in film, period. To get an idea of the range and depth of his creative gifts, I recommend watching these three films: THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT from 1975 where he portrayed the gay pioneer Quentin Crisp and captured him perfectly, THE ELEPHANT MAN, 1980, where he played John Merrick in one of the most moving performances ever filmed, and 1990's THE FIELD where he played Bird O'Donnell, Richard Harris's lead character's flunky. Three characters so different you can't find the same man in them anywhere. And the latter, "Bird," is an Irishman, so if I commend an Englishman playing one of "my people" (when I often rant against English actors being cast for "Americans" and "Irish" etc.) you know he nails it. Condolences to all his family and friends, and to his fans, of which I consider myself one of the most ardent.

Friday, January 27, 2017


"Following straight lines shortens distances, and also life." —Antonio Porchia (from Voices, translated by W. S. Merwin)

Thursday, January 26, 2017


[this was taken on January 2nd, while Obama was still in The White House for a few more days, from left to right my friend the poet Rachel Diken, me, my oldest son Miles and behind him in the hat my youngest son Flynn, in my apartment kitchen and living room in New Jersey]
[PS: the title of this post is from a poem of mine from the mid 1970s]

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Open letter to Sen. Ben Cardin, alleged Democrat
“...We would like to see the Trump administration succeed, and we're going to do everything we can to make him a successful president.”
—Sen. Ben Cardin, Democratic senator from Maryland, on NPR, Jan. 19th, 2017
20 January 2017
Sen. Ben Cardin:
This is a sad day for many Americans. To see a man like Trump become leader of this country is a depressing sight. He ran a racist, white-supremist, sexist campaign, one filled with un-Constitutional proposals such as torturing captives and blocking people from coming here on the basis of religion. He mocked the handicapped. He bragged about committing sexual assault.
But then I hear you on NPR yesterday saying how much you want Trump’s presidency to be a successful one. Excuse me? Did I just hear my Democratic senator from a Democratic state wishing success to Donald Trump? What sort of success would you like Trump to enjoy? Do you want him to be successful in enacting the aforementioned agenda? 
You epitomize everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party. You are weak, always ready to surrender to right-wingers. Never resisting, never fighting, never standing up against the forces of darkness we are now faced with. There is a reason why Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are so popular with actual Democrats---it is because they are not owned by corporate sponsors and various lobbies. They are willing to take on the extreme right (which is now the entire republican party) while you & your ilk are wishing Trump success. It’s unimaginable that any republican out there would be such a docile enabler of his or her opponents.
What you should have said is that you would do everything possible to block Trump’s agenda at every turn. You should have echoed McConnell’s famous line about making Obama a one-term president. One thing you should not be doing is wishing success to Trump.
I very sincerely hope that you retire after your current term is up. If you don’t, I hope a true progressive will emerge to challenge you in a primary. Maryland Democrats deserve better than you.
Terence Winch
Silver Spring, Maryland

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


I'll be reading poems that resonate with current events but were written and published over the past fifty years, and my friend Rachel Diken will be giving her inaugural New York poetry reading, as part of the Acidic Ghost Spectral Reading Series on Saturday, January 28th, 6PM, at Studio 26 gallery, 179 East 3rd Street, NYC.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Another fine artist gone, at 61, too young. I met him through a friend, who knew him a lot better than I did. But the times I spent with him revealed him to be a really nice guy. I enjoyed being in his company (and am grateful he told others he felt the same about me).

That friend, writer and actor Jamie Rose, said something when she found out Miguel had passed that's been resonating with me ever since. She said: "All my stories are ending." It's become my new favorite quote, because it succinctly summarizes a lot of what I've been feeling lately. And doesn't rule out new stories.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


This is my mother sometime in the 1920s (the hair gives the decade away). She was a high school graduate, which in the Irish-American community of that time was a signal accomplishment (my father, her husband, was a seventh grade drop out, he had to go to work to help support his Irish immigrant family), the youngest secretary ever in the New Jersey chapter of the Daughters of The Grand Old Army (if I'm getting this correctly, she had grand uncles who served in the Union Army during The Civil War, her father's clan, the Dempseys, came over before that war)...she was among the youngest of the generation that fought for women's suffrage and among the pioneer women voters in the first decade of suffrage (she was only fifteen when women got the vote so didn't get to vote in that presidential election). She was tough (could spit through her teeth and whistle for a cab louder than any man) and sweet (look at those eyes and that dimple) and loving. She left us over half a century ago, and I still miss her...

Friday, January 20, 2017


Both writing my own and reading that of others (or making art and digging various arts, in general). So, now more than ever, I will be relying on the arts to replenish my spirit and determination, and to inspire me to continue to do my best to progress toward "a world where love is more possible."

In that spirit, on this day, I wanted to mention some relatively recent small and large books of poetry that I've been meaning to write about but haven't, so here is a short list (alphabetically by title) to start with:

ABANDONED ANGEL by Burt Kimmelman, his subtle approach to the short, lyric, observational poem may seem on the surface to be narrowly focused, but if you listen to the underlying resonance of deeper meaning in his lines and images, I think you'll be pleased.

"I think not to mark this/day in the cold winter/although to write it down/as if I had lived it/is more than I should have/to do yet here I am."

FREEZE FRAME by Robert Hershon, his usual laugh-out-loud, stand-up-poet humor is aimed this time at his experiences as a lifetime movie-goer and movie-lover, a satisfying read, especially  for those of us old enough to have been mesmerized by the big screen when that was the only visual entertainment around, outside of our pre-social-media lives.

"I have become a man who cries at old movies/not when the crippled rancher's son/is killed in the war/but when Jane Powell starts singing/on the hayride"

IN THE EMPIRE OF THE AIR by Donald Britton, a posthumous collection that gathers all of Britton's published poetry and more (edited by Reginald Shepherd and Philip Clark) and brings his tender yet clear-eyed voice and perspective back to those of us who knew him (full disclosure, I'm mentioned in the Afterward by Douglas Crase) and hopefully to those who will discover him.

"Nothing told us it would work out/This way, that nothing/Stays put in the drawer of itself."

"I awaken—/a clam between/cool sheets.//A nude bather/like Cezanne's.//And showering/in the dark/I imagine/my body."

A LUCENT FIRE by Patricia Spears Jones, from the dailiness of her life as "a woman," a "black" "American," a "poet," a "New Yorker," a "teacher," a "lover," and all the categories of humanness her life and work can be forced into or volunteered for, these "New & Selected Poems" of Jones's enrich the reader with lyric and prosaic detail others too often leave out.

"Heaving garbage down three flights/She recalls reading Hegel/But really wanting to read/Spinoza. That poseur. Oh no,//that was Sartre, one last Calvados/(the bartender had never heard of, alas)//for the boulevard."

RECONNAISANCE by Carl Phillips, a slim collection of poems that often transcend the normal while illuminating it, an impressive volume that any poetry lover would be glad to own, I think. I am.

"Not because there was nothing to say, or we/didn't want to—we just stopped speaking/entirely, but like making a gift of it: Here;/for you."

SOUTHNESS by Vincent Katz, may be the best, or certainly one of the best, book of poems so far from this prolific wordsmith whose work often deflects from the personal to the unusual, in images and word choice, but this time reads, at least for me, like a soul being exposed, and one worth noting.

"I'd like to be a better person/I know that in their eyes I'm fine/that everything has been left in order/but in my own I fail at intervals/I'm not enough there for people/I evanesce or my own desire's paramount"

WHAT ALL THE SONGS ADD UP TO by Greg Masters, a quietly revelatory journey through the mundane and the poignant to sum up an individual experience that anyone can understand and relate to, by a master of understatement, which left me poetically satisfied and happy, what more could you want from poetry?

"A box of tea has disappeared/from my apartment/'Look behind the stove'/ says Lorna. She always/has answers. Not necessarily/to my questions."

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Me in my mother's arms early in World War Two, when it looked like the original and actual "fascism" was going to take over the world (it had already taken over Europe, much of Asia and Northern Africa, etc.). We got through those dark days, my oldest brother (in uniform) survived, my second oldest (in dark suit just before he joined the Navy) survived, my oldest sister (despite the diabetes she had just been diagnosed with and would die from complications of at fifty), my third brother in the light jacket (drafted during the Korean War but fortunately not into combat), my father (air raid warden for our neighborhood during The War), we all survived that dark time, as all of them had The Great Depression. And we will get through these dark days (though not as dark as then) as well, because there is always light even in the darkest times...

Sunday, January 15, 2017


[They don't say where these quotes came from but they sure sound like MLK so I'm assuming they're accurate, and even if not, they're still great expressions of his philosophy/]

Friday, January 13, 2017


I went into JACKIE as someone who isn't crazy about Natalie Portman and was initially pleasantly surprised that her take on Jackie Kennedy seemed pretty accurate and well intentioned. But it wasn't long before the movie started to aggravate me. Especially the filmmakers presuming to know what was going on in private, either when Jackie was alone or in conversation with Bobby Kennedy (played by Peter Sassagaard, a terrible casting choice) or her priest (John Hurt, a better choice) and that presumption leading to Portman's too often overwrought interpretation of what drama is kicking the flick into BLACK SWAN MEETS JACKIE KENNEDY. Not recommending this one (though Billy Crudup and Greta Gerwig give perfectly underplayed performances worth watching as examples of realistic portrayals of real human beings).

Thursday, January 12, 2017


This photo of poets was taken at a group reading I organized at Trinity College in Washington DC circa 1970...from the viewer's left that's the teenage Simon Schuchat, the late Steve Shrader sitting, behind him Eric Torgerson, sitting on the ground in front I think that's Dick Patterson, behind him the late Ray DiPalma with beard, next to him Paula Novotak, and me standing with my knee up...not the best shot but still evokes some great memories of poet friends...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


The sound is a little difficult because of the resonant acoustics in the church. I had prepared something to read, but when I got to the podium decided to just go with whatever came to mind in the moment. Thanks to Charles Bernstein, who made this video on his smart phone, not an easy task, at least it wouldn't be for me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


FENCES the movie is a fair representation of August Wilson's play, but it isn't the great movie I was hoping for. Denzel Washington stars and directs and he maybe took on too much. His direction is pretty placid and his acting, always terrific in my memory, needed a better, or different, director in a few crucial scenes, particularly the centerpiece when his character reveals the truth of his early life which helped make him the man he became.

Maybe I just saw too much of Denzel and not enough of Troy (his character) in the performance, particularly that revelatory scene. For me it was anti-climartic and hard to buy that Denzel was really that guy who'd gone through all that. He still has moments of great acting as always, and Viola Davis did her usual seriously committed job, as did the other actors.

But for me, with the exception of Mykelti Williamson as Troy's mentally damaged combat veteran brother Gabriel, nothing rose to the level of the accolades I'd been hearing about it. Glad I saw it. And I do recommend it, for some of Wilson's dialogue and scenes and memorable characters, and the historic importance of the play and the movie's just existing, let alone winning critical acclaim.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


I didn't know Nat Hentoff personally, though I was in the same room with him a few times, and was briefly a colleague of his, you could say, since we were both columnists and writers for The Village Voice, though him for over fifty years and me for only a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

But I knew who he was from my teens on, first discovering his reviews in Downbeat, the jazz magazine, in the 1950s before I discovered The Village Voice and his wider cultural criticism and commentary there. He was also a political writer and a memoirist whose opinions and positions I didn't always share but respected.

He lived a long, productive, fulfilling life, by all accounts, including his, so good for him, and may we all be able to say the same when our time comes.

Friday, January 6, 2017


My old good friend, poet Ray DiPalma's funeral will be held this coming Tuesday, January 10th, at 10AM, at Saint Xavier's church, 46 West 16th Street, just off Sixth Avenue. I am honored to be giving the eulogy. If you knew Ray, I hope to see you there.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


me and my progeny, from the viewer's left it's my grandson Donovan, his father, my oldest son Miles, me, my youngest son Flynn in the hat to my left, my granddaughter Elizabeth in front of me, and her mother, my oldest, Caitlin, next to her, in the kitchen of my apartment in New Joyzee on January 2nd, 2017...

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


And by "watched them" they mean Congress, not just repubs...who reversed it when they got called out by media and public for all those who kept insisting during the election season that there's no difference between the dems and the repubs, this is proof otherwise...the dems are the ones that created the independent ethics oversight committee, even though they didnt agree with or like some of the results that followed...but the first thing the repubs did when they got control was to eliminate this independent ethics oversight committee (not create a jobs bill or etc.)...and I'm sure they'll try to slip eliminating it into another bill when the press and public aren't looking..."fasten your seat belts, it's gonna be a bumpy ride"...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


"The universe is not expanding
It's just coming around from the other side."
—recently departed old friend, poet Ray DiPalma (from "Mansion Avenue")

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Gotta watch this short film (seven minutes) all the way through:

[PS: This was filmed in my ex-Jersey nieces and nephews-in-law's restaurant—Never Enough Thyme—in Alpharetta, Georgia]