Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WCW Article

FOR MANY years, Rutherford native William Carlos Williams practiced medicine and wrote poetry. It is hard to say how much one may have influenced the other, but the historical record, at least as it speaks to us in the written word, shows that it was a productive collaboration.

Fittingly, Williams' vast talents are being recognized next year, with nine other American poets, in a postage stamp collection being issued by the United States Postal Service. We can think of no more deserving recipient.

For Williams, who in his role as physician must have observed so much about the daily struggles of life and death in North Jersey, penned a uniquely American form of poetry. In essence, Williams wrote what he saw, and he saw plenty. He saw poetry in the everyday: the subtle possibilities of a red wheelbarrow in the rain, the not-so-subtle seductions of Queen Anne's lace.

Of course, Williams, also an essayist and prolific letter writer, is best known for his epic poem, "Paterson," which appeared in five separate volumes from 1946 to 1958. In 1963, the year he died, Williams' collection "Pictures From Brueghel" won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Now, nearly 50 years after his death comes this new honor, being part of a postage stamp memoriam to be released next March. The photograph of Williams used in the collection was taken in the 1940s. Other poets honored include Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens and Sylvia Plath.

Thanks must go to photographer and historian William Neumann of Rutherford, a longtime Williams admirer, who nominated the poet for the stamp and gathered support from local legislators and literary groups. "He spoke to people directly through his poetry, and he was a tremendous letter writer, so I thought it was appropriate," Neumann told The Record.

As far as New Jersey is concerned, Williams might be fairly seen as that creative bridge between the original American poet, Walt Whitman, and the counterculture genius, Allen Ginsberg. Williams' poetry was informed by the gritty, diverse and working class people and landscapes of Paterson and beyond. Its themes are universal, its origins undeniably American.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kudos to Kay Ryan and AE Stallings. Such an impressive list! (via HuffPo)

MacArthur Foundation 'Genius Grant' Recipients 2011

CHICAGO -- The following 22 fellows each will receive $500,000 over the next five years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation:

_Jad Abumrad, 38, New York. Radio co-host and producer of the nationally syndicated WNYC program "Radiolab."

_Marie-Therese Connolly, 54, Washington, D.C. Lawyer who works to combat physical and psychological elder abuse and mistreatment, and elder financial exploitation.

_Roland Fryer, 34, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University economics professor who studies causes and consequences of economic disparity due to race and inequality.

_Jeanne Gang, 47, Chicago. Architect focusing on the geographic, social and environmental factors of residential, educational and commercial buildings.

_Elodie Ghedin, 44, Pittsburgh, Pa. Parasitologist and assistant professor at University of Pittsburg School of Medicine who studies genetic sequencing techniques.

_Markus Greiner, 38, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University associate professor of physics and condensed matter physicist.

_Kevin Guskiewicz, 45, Chapel Hill, N.C. Sports medicine researcher and University of North Carolina professor of exercise and sports science specializing in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sports-related concussions.

_Peter Hessler, 42, Ridgway, Colo. Long-form journalist whose work explores life in Reform Era China.

_Tiya Miles, 41, Ann Arbor, Mich. University of Michigan history professor who studies relationships between African and Cherokee people living and working in colonial America.

_Matthew Nock, 38, Cambridge, Mass. Clinical psychologist and Harvard University psychology professor whose work focuses on suicide and self-injury in adolescents and adults.

_Francisco Nunez, 46, New York. Choral conductor, composer and founder and artistic director of the Young People's Chorus of New York City.

_Sarah Otto, 43, Vancouver, B.C. University of British Columbia professor and evolutionary geneticist.

_Shwetak Patel, 29, Seattle. Sensor technologist, computer scientist and assistant professor at the University of Washington.

_Dafnis Prieto, 37, New York. Jazz percussionist and composer with classical training and Afro-Cuban musical heritage.

_Kay Ryan, 65, Fairfax, Calif. Former Poet Laureate of the United States and author of eight volumes of poetry.

_Melanie Sanford, 36, Ann Arbor, Mich. Organometallic chemist and University of Michigan professor of chemistry.

_William Seeley, 39, San Francisco. University of California associate professor and neuropathologist who studies human neurodegenerative disease.

_Jacob Soll, 42, Camden N.J. Rutgers University history professor whose work encompasses early modern Europe.

_A.E. Stallings, 43, Athens, Greece. Director of the poetry program at the Athens Centre, poet and translator.

_Ubaldo Vitali, 67, Maplewood, N.J. Fourth-generation silversmith, conservator and scholar who restores silver masterworks and creates original art.

_Alisa Weilerstein, 29, New York. Cellist who performs traditional and contemporary music.

_Yukiko Yamashita, 39, Ann Arbor, Mich. University of Michigan Medical School assistant professor and developmental biologist studying stem cell division.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

From today's Poem a Day. I think this poem captures the change in season we have been experiencing the past few days. Not sure I care for the use of the "they" pronoun, though.

Will be home saucing tomatoes, and blending up a few batches of pesto today. Ahhhh Autumn. I've learned to love it.

by Amy Lowell

They brought me a quilled, yellow dahlia,
Opulent, flaunting.
Round gold
Flung out of a pale green stalk.
Round, ripe gold
Of maturity,
Meticulously frilled and flaming,
A fire-ball of proclamation:
Fecundity decked in staring yellow
For all the world to see.
They brought a quilled, yellow dahlia,
To me who am barren
Shall I send it to you,
You who have taken with you
All I once possessed?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another death "in the family." Ralph was such a great guy. Dean and I so appreciated his blending of art, spirituality and domestic gay life.

The Rev. Ralph Carskadden dies at age 71 (full story here)

If we are to grasp the message of
the gospels;

If we are to understand the
teachings of Jesus;

If we are to be faithful disciples,
then we must realize what
we are called to be:

Called to act counter to the
prevailing culture which
surrounds us.

-The Rev. Ralph Carskadden (from Peter Hallock, ©1994, on the Compline Choir website)

The Rev. Ralph R. Carskadden died Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011 after battling cancer. He was 71. A Requiem Mass will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle, followed by a reception at Diocesan House. Both of these events will be hosted by St. Paul's, Seattle.

A Northwest native, Carskadden was born in Seattle on June 25, 1940, raised in that city and on north Whidbey Is. Baptized into Christ at 6 months old, he grew up into the faith as a Lutheran. During his senior year at Wittenberg University in Ohio, he found a home in the Episcopal Church and was confirmed by the bishop of Southern Ohio on “Low Sunday” 1962. That summer he became a postulant in the Diocese of Olympia and traveled to New Haven, Conn. to the Berkeley Divinity School, graduating in 1965. He then moved to New York, where he was a caseworker with the welfare department as well as a paid alto in the Men and Boys Choir at Trinity, Wall Street.

Carskadden cherished a long association with Peter Hallock and the Compline Choir, with whom he traveled to Russia, Scandinavia and England.

“A piece of my soul is connected to the art, music and spirituality of Russian Orthodoxy,” Carskadden once explained. He traveled several times to Russia as a member of the St. Petersburg, Russia, Seattle Sister Churches program, and helped raise support for the Children’s Hospice in St. Petersburg.

A founding member of the diocesan Dismantling Racism Training Team, Carskadden was instrumental in facilitating conversation on race relations, working with congregations to eradicate the sin of racism and encouraging them to move toward being more inclusive, diverse and welcoming. Home was a sacred place to him, and together with his long-time partner, Steven Iverson, Carskadden lovingly and painstakingly restored their 1910 Craftsman house on Beacon Hill. Jacob, their Scottish terrier, was a constant companion.

A well-respected liturgical consultant to a wide variety of churches and organizations, Carskadden taught the Introduction to Christian Worship course in the Diocesan School of Ministry and Theology and served on the Advisory Board of the Summer Liturgy Institute at Seattle University. He served a three-year term on the City of Seattle Arts Commission and also on the board of the Association of Diocesan Liturgy and Music Commissions of the Episcopal Church. As a craftsman he worked in textiles, clay and iconography.

In August 1967, Carskadden returned to the Pacific Northwest and was ordained deacon, and the following year, priest, by Bishop Ivol Curtis. He served on staff at Christ Church, Tacoma; St. Paul’s, Seattle; Christ Church, Grosse Pointe, Mich.; and for three years was canon liturgist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Detroit. In 1976 he became an associate at All Souls’, San Diego, and in 1979 was elected its rector.

He returned again to Seattle at the end of 1986 to work on a degree in art at the University of Washington, and in 1988 became part-time on the staff at St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, where dean Fred Northup appointed him canon liturgist. When that position was terminated, he finished his degree and became priest-in-charge at St. Clement’s, Seattle. After two years, he was elected rector of what he affectionately called “that wonderful, multi-racial congregation” until his retirement. Later, he served again at the appointment of Bishop Greg Rickel as priest-in-charge of St. Mark’s Cathedral, where he guided the congregation on a process of discovery and self-examination through the creation of textiles, vestments and altar cloths, made by weaving together pieces of fabric and yarn donated by the congregation and larger community. He found his spiritual home at St. Paul’s, Seattle, where he was a priest associate.

Carskadden, a beloved pastor, consultant, craftsman and artist, will be deeply missed. Please keep him, Steven Iverson, their family, friends and all those who mourn in your prayers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Seattle coffee scene loses beloved barista
Brian Fairbrother, longtime Espresso Vivace barista and manager, dies a week after bicycle accident.

So sad, so sad. Dean and I remember Brian from when we were first together, and went for coffee at the old Vivace cart on Broadway. He was a kind and gentle and principled soul. full story from Seattle Times linked below:

For thousands of Seattleites over the years, Brian Fairbrother was the face of morning.

A longtime barista and manager at Espresso Vivace, he orchestrated the delivery of coffee and pastries to the caffeine-depleted hordes, making conversation with those whose eyes were open enough on topics ranging from the arts to cooking to linguistics.

Fairbrother, 50, died Thursday from head injuries sustained in a bicycling accident on Aug. 30.

Customers and co-workers can't imagine mornings — or Seattle's coffee scene — without him.

"We had a daily morning routine with my Vivace doughnut addiction. I am not sure if I'll be able to buy another doughnut from someone else. We had a system," Brandon Carr wrote at, one of several websites with outpourings of love and sadness for Fairbrother.

Brad Mumbrue, a regular at Vivace's Alley 24 location near the REI flagship store in Seattle, said the place is diminished without him. "Having him here made you want to linger. He brought a sense of community."

Fairbrother also knew how to pull an espresso shot and to treat employees fairly, said Vivace co-owner David Schomer.

"He created a balanced organization to counter my impulsiveness," Schomer said. "If I had a good training with somebody, I'd give them a raise. Brian said, 'You can't do that. You have to be very systematic.' "

When Schomer and Vivace's other owner, Geneva Sullivan, got divorced several years ago, they gave Fairbrother one share of the business, making him the tiebreaker for any future business squabbles.

"He was so perfectly trustable," Sullivan said. "When Brian said something to you, it was a very kind honesty, but you knew you were getting the story. You never had to read between the lines with the man."

Sullivan met Fairbrother in the mid-80s, when he moved to Seattle from Maine and they both danced for the same belly-dancing troupe. He started working for Vivace in 1989, when it was a coffee cart on Capitol Hill.

Fairbrother eventually became general manager over all three of Vivace's locations and directly oversaw its Alley 24 shop. Like all great baristas, Fairbrother easily made conversation, sharing with customers his enthusiasms outside the coffee bar.

He belonged to a Spanish-language book club and was an amazing cook, said Lisa Parsons, who manages Vivace's sidewalk espresso bar at 321 Broadway E.

"I've never known a more intellectually curious person," said Parsons. She said Fairbrother loved the color orange, pagan celebrations including May Day, and traveling to India and Mexico.

"When he first had the accident, a lot of us wore nothing but orange," she said.

In the '90s, Fairbrother commissioned the "Sacred Shrine of Caffeina, Goddess of the Waking Day" that's painted on a rock near the sidewalk espresso bar.

"I'm an urban pagan, and I see the goddess emanating in all sorts of ways," Fairbrother explained.

People who worked with him admired his skill with coffee and people.

"He's iconic as a barista," said Christopher Nicely Abel Alameda, a barista at Intelligentsia Coffee in Los Angeles who used to work for Vivace.

He remembers Fairbrother's response to a neck tattoo Alameda got while he worked there.

"I was actually afraid," Alameda said. "But he said, 'If that's how you express yourself, well then, there it is.' We had people with funny-colored hair, too, but as long as you worked hard, you had that level of protection and encouragement to be yourself."

Fairbrother crashed his bicycle on stairs near 1177 Fairview Ave. N. around 6 p.m. on Aug. 30. He was unconscious but still breathing when medics arrived, according to a Seattle Fire Department report. They took him to Harborview Medical Center, where he died Thursday.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Ahh, this did my heart good. A physician-poet who writes a humorous parody of Dante -- make sure to follow the link and read the poem. It's pretty amazing, in terza rima, too!

The scoop: Doctor wins national humor poetry contest

Local physician John Harris never considered himself a poet, but he indulged his writerly side on a burst of inspiration and won national recognition in the process.
Harris' poem, "The Flight Line Commedia," won the 2011 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, earning him $1,500 and, as he describes it, "a nice shirt I'll proudly wear to the tennis court."
Based on Dante's "Divine Comedy," the poem uses Dante's style of terza rima - an interlocking three-line rhyme scheme- to mock the difficulties of air travel, imagining comeuppances for stingy airline executives and pushy, impatient passengers.
Harris, 63, said the idea came to him after a hellish airplane trip. "What would Dante have done?" Harris said he thought to himself.
He worked on the poem for about four months and says he's considering having it illustrated and self-publishing it in book form. He says he doesn't plan on writing again "unless I get the urge to trash 'The Odyssey.' "

To read "The Flightline Commedia," go online to

Saturday, September 03, 2011

A really interesting passage from a long poem: "Outremer" by Fanny Howe, up on PoFo:


There has been a phenomenon,
known only to a few, in certain high mountains,
called the Brocken Specter. It shows the magnified form
of a person woven into lower mists.
This voluminous human figure takes on a trinitarian shape,
and the head of it is surrounded by glory, a rain halo.
The figure looms in the sky, moves forward towards you
and then evaporates and is gone.
It bears an astonishing resemblance to visions of the Christ.
But it can all be explained by sun streaks
shooting towards an anti-solar spot,
and the projection of your own shadow upon the mist.
Your shadow is the looming figure,
and the sun forms the halo in the soft rain.

I think the supernatural is all the more wonderful
when it is natural; it can be analyzed from so many angles.


and from later in the poem . . .

People want to be poets for reasons
that have little to do with language.
It is the life of the poet that they want, I think.
Even the glow of loneliness and humiliation.
To walk in the gutter with a bottle of wine.
Noetic monasticism.

Some people’s lives are more poetic than a poem,
and Francis is the proof of this.
I know, because he walked at my side for a short time.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

From yesterday's Writer's Almanac:
This poem captures the feeling so well . . .

by Linda Pastan

it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet

I dreamed of artillery
of the thunder of horses

in the morning the fields were strewn
with twigs and leaves

as if after a battle
or a sudden journey

I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain

in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn