Monday, December 31, 2018


my youngest son turning 21 and becoming someone you can trust and admire, a role model for me (and others) in many ways...
the continued health and happiness of my other children and grandchildren, despite challenges...
the publication of a selection of a lifetime of poetry (ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY: Poems 1960-2017) by Dan Simon and 7 Stories Press, sparked by Paul Abruzzo's suggestion and initial selection of poems he'd include to help me focus on my own choices...
the book tour for ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY, organized by Rachel E. Diken (and Allison Paller and others at 7 Stories), and Rachel and Eve Bandstein convincing me to end the tour in California where I think I may have given the best reading of my life at Beyond Baroque in Venice Beach...
The documentary film Rachel is making about the book tour and me (called MICHAEL LALLY: I WANT TO CALL IT POEMS), and all those who contributed to making that happen (the only thing I have to do with the film is being interviewed and suggesting others to interview, I haven't seen any footage except what's already been made public), and Rachel's getting the film under a non-profit documentary support group so individuals and groups and charities etc. can make tax-deductible contributions to help get the film completed...
and a lot more, including my still being around to appreciate all of the above...

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Keira Knightley is totally miscast as the title character in COLETTE, but as always she so completely commits to the role she overcomes that obstacle. And it doesn't hurt that the cinematography and art production on this film are Oscar worthy, and the filmmakers so Britishize the iconic French author's story, they even use "Down By The Salley Gardens" to fill in for a French provincial song!

In my thirties I attended a fancy dinner party in New York with the cream of the Manhattan cultural elite (at least as I saw it then) where someone asked my opinion of Colette (as a writer) and I admitted I hadn't read her. A shocked silence ensued until the poet and dance critic Edwin Denby saved me by saying, "How I envy you Michael, that you have that to look forward to."

Needless to say I went out the next day and bought every book of hers translated into English and every book about her. She soon became one of my favorite authors and people. COLETTE the film focuses on her emergence from the French countryside to become the famous author she still is. Part of the reason I fell in love with Colette and her story was her unconventional sex life, which I identified with, as well as her talent for reinventing herself and her life. And this movie captures that lusciously.

Worth seeing (for my taste).

Friday, December 28, 2018


I got this photo off the Internet but wouldn't know if it's accurate or not because I haven't seen a photo of Morty Sklar since the 1970s and if my memory is correct I never even met him in person. I knew him through the old kind of mail you waited for the mailman (back then) to deliver to your actual mailbox. Morty was a New Yorker who was displaced a few times to Iowa City after I had left there in 1969.

He was one of the originators of the poetry movement called "Actualism" which he and others included me in initially (until I published a poem I wrote that mentioned I was included in without being asked or understanding exactly what it was (which no one ever definitively did I finally realized). The true founder was Darrel Gray, a dear friend who passed long ago.

Morty also edited and published the poetry magazine THE SPIRIT THAT MOVES US, in which he published poems of mine after he asked me to submit some. I have our correspondence in my archives (at NYU) but haven't seen his letters since the 1970s, but my memory of our contact is a happy one. I thought of him as a really good guy, honest, authentic, no front or bs, just digging what he dug and wanting to share it with anyone interested. Which could be said of all of us little magazine editors and publishers and poets back in the day.

I hear he passed pretty peacefully, loved ones nearby. I remember him fondly and offer my condolences to his loved ones and all those who loved him. Rest In Poetry Morty.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


I found this meme on FaceBook and felt compelled to share it because I so totally agree with the sentiment. I've been digging the uniqueness of the Kurdish culture since I first read about them as a boy (in National Geographic?). If you don't know, they are a distinct ethnic group in The Middle East who were deprived of a homeland when Europeans created the map for the countries there, so what is their natural homeland became a part of several other countries (Turkey, Syria, Iraq, et. al.) who then treated the Kurds' aspirations as terrorism. The governments and political movements and parties that have come out of the Kurdish culture are the most gender equal, democratic, and economically balanced of any in the Middle East (or much of the world for that matter). They should be our main ally in The Middle East in terms of the values we supposedly share, but instead we cozy up to ruthless dictatorships and misogynist oligarchies etc. and abandon the Kurds over and over again.  Bah.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Happy Christmas to all who celebrate it, and
here's another couplets list, taken from 2018 posts,
a list of some of my favorite movies I saw in 2018
(with the caveat that there's still a bunch I need to see):











Friday, December 21, 2018


I can't find the historic chart I posted not long after 45 was sworn in but it showed what I know from my own experience, that the Great Depression and The Great Recession and most of the other economic downturns that occurred in my lifetime happened after a Republican administration was in the White House for a while.

Others show conclusively that most of the periods of economic growth that created more lasting jobs and wealth occurred after a Democratic administration was occupying The White House. My father's Great Depression generation knew this in their bones. But the rightwing masters of deception (alternative "facts" etc.) have managed to misdirect and obscure and boldface lie about this truth.

But if you were reading my blog or FB posts or anywhere near my voice since January 2017, I've been predicting (and of course others have as well) another Great Recession. 45 may make it worse, but it was inevitable when the wealthiest were given tax breaks to accumulate more wealth they stick in offshore accounts etc. while the rest of us keep falling behind financially.

And as my father taught me happened to his successful attempts to succeed in a small business in the 1920s, when Wall Street crashed in 1929 he lost everything, or as he put it: "The big boys bought it all back a dime on the dollar, and sometimes a nickel." And they'll do it again, they'll buy everything back on the cheap while any wealth anyone other then the wealthiest accumulated in recent years will evaporate.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


me and new friend poet/playwright Lonely Christopher at our Brooklyn poetry conversation/reading
old friend and great actor Paul Lieber and me after he interviewed me and had me read some poems for his show on Pacifica radio in LA
 me with old friends poets Michael C. Ford, Phoebe MacAdams, and Harry Northup at Beyond Baroque in Venice CA

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


I first met Penny Marshall at a small party in New York around 1980. I knew she was on a TV show but said something to her like "I never saw it cause I don't watch TV shows, I think they're all jive"" or a version of that kind of downtown punk/avant/anti-etc. perspective at the time, and she said, "Fuck you," and walked away. Next time was at a party at Carrie Fisher's house in Beverly Hills around 1983, and this time TV didn't come up and we got along fine.

Last time I saw her was at a party at her house in the Hollywood Hills (I really doubt I know, or ever knew, which hills were which), in the 1990s, where I knew by then I was lucky to be and lucky that she tolerated me hanging around with a handful of stragglers until near dawn, all hugely gifted artists much more successful and famous than me. Though I was still arrogantly certain of my own taste and perspective, and got in a mild disagreement with Gary Oldman over a recent film he was in (!), she didn't throw me out.

There was no one like her. I am happy I got be around her now and then and that she graced our world with her enormous talents. Condolences to all her family and friends. And to her many fans, among which I include myself.

Monday, December 17, 2018


The film Rachel E. Diken is making about my poetry and my life has partnered with the Center for Independent Documentary through a Fiscal Sponsorship, which means that donations are now fully tax-deductible!
Please help spread the word by sharing with family, friends, social networks, and anyone else who might consider the documentary in their end-of-year donations.
Tax-deductible contributions can be made online…/film_no_stats.php…
or by checks written to The Center for Independent Documentary with "Michael Lally: I Want To Call It Poems" in the memo line. Mail to: Center For Independent Documentary, 1300 Soldiers Field Road, Suite # 5, Boston, MA 02135.

Sunday, December 16, 2018


I'm still recovering from my trip to California and whatever I came down with on my return. Up until today, my brain has been too exhausted to function much beyond the capacity to watch movies on TV. So that's mostly what I've been doing (along with "lots of fluids" "rest" etc.). Usually it's an old movie, but two more recent ones I watched were ROMA and THE DEATH OF STALIN, filmic recreations of historic moments.
I'm still too fried to write much, but all the positive things you've heard about Alfonso Cuaron's evocation of the world of his childhood in early 1970s Mexico are true. ROMA is a movingly brilliant film with a stillness at its center despite the domestic and national dramas unfolding throughout it. And that stillness can be attributed to Cuaron's directorial (and scriptwriter's) restraint (starting with the choice of black and white film) at the heart of which is his casting of non-actress Yalitza Apacano, who as the domestic servant Cleo is the star of the film, and whose soulful presence elevates what might have been an otherwise mundane tale to great art.

I missed THE DEATH OF STALIN when it came out last year, though friends kept recommending it. Now I see why they did. I just couldn't see how this cast playing those historic figures would be anything more than bad farce. But I was wrong. The casting is perfect because it is so unexpectedly bizarre, skinny little Steve Buscemi playing the rotund Kruschev? Let alone the others. But Buscemi so owns the character of Kruschev as seen through director (and co-screenwriter) Armando Iannuci's eyes, that I bought his "essence-of" characterization immediately. Not an easy film, but a satisfying work of art.

What both movies have in common is their adherence to historic realities no matter how quietly or bizarrely they are portrayed, and the unavoidable connection between the personal and the political, at whatever level we experience them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Got back home late Monday night from the California trip and woke up the next day coming down with something and totally wiped out, so only enough energy to post some photos from the trip:
poets Mello-Re Houston and Yvonne de la Vega,
and me, at the book signing after the L.A. reading
poets Hilton Obenzinger (in hat) and Stephen Vincent
and me after the San Francisco reading
The Green Arcade bookstore that hosted the SF reading

Sunday, December 9, 2018


The last of the readings for the new book (and the documentary about the book tour and me) was another love fest. And though I was low on energy and my voice was giving out, it was so wonderful to see old friends (from DC and Iowa and the Bay Area and The Berkshires and New York) and to make new ones. I am once again so honored and humbled and delighted. Love never dies.

[PS: Photo by Barbara Wyeth. And PPS: The Green Arcade is one of the all time coolest bookstores (and Patrick is one of the coolest bookstore owners), so if you're ever in San Francisco, check it out]

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Saturday's reading at Beyond Baroque to a packed house of old and new friends was an explosion of love. The entire trip so far has been about expanding my heart, but it's also been exhausting for this old mind and body, which is why I've hardly had the time or energy to post. But here's a few photos of it that friends posted on FB and I "borrowed" without writing down who took them (hopefully I can do that in the coming days)...