Elizabeth Swados - Bert Stern - Polish-American Mark Pawlak
These three distinguished poets were born and grew up in or near Buffalo, New York, but have pursued lives and careers elsewhere for many decades. Now they have teamed up for the Buffalo Expatriates Poetry Tour. Pierre Menard Gallery will host their kickoff for the reading tour that will culminate in Buffalo later this year.
Tuesday, July 21st
Pierre Menard Gallery
10 Arrow Street, Harvard Square
Elizabeth Swados has just published her first poetry book, The One and Only Human Galaxy, a collection of poems about the life of Harry Houdini, with Hanging Loose Press. Perhaps best known for her Broadway and international smash hit Runaways, she has composed, written, and directed theater, music, and dance for over 30 years. Some of her works include the Obie Award-winning Trilogy at La Mama; Alice at the Palace, with Meryl Streep, at the New York Shakespeare Theater Festival; and Groundhog, which was optioned for a film by Milos Forman. Her work has been performed on Broadway, off Broadway, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, and venues all over the world. She has also composed highly acclaimed dance scores for well-known choreographers in the U.S., Europe and South America. Ms. Swados has published novels, non-fiction books, and children’s books to great acclaim, and has received the Ken Award as well as a New York Public Library Award for her book My Depression. Other distinctions include five Tony nominations, three Obie Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Ford Grant, the Helen Hayes Award, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Foundation Writer’s Award, a PEN Citation and others. She lives in Manhattan.
Bert Stern’s chapbook, Silk/The Ragpicker’s Grandson, was published by Red Dust, and his new, full-length collection, Steerage, has just been published by the Ibbetson Press. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including New Letters, Beloit Poetry Review, Hungry Mind, Poetry, and the American Poetry Review, and also in half a dozen anthologies. Presently, he teaches men on probation in a national program called Changing Lives Through Literature, and he and his wife co-edit a small press dedicated to the work of poets over 60. He lives in Somerville.
Mark Pawlak is the author of five poetry collections, of which Official Versions is his most recent. Another collection, Jefferson’s New Age Salon, will be published in fall 2009 by Cervena Barva Press. His poetry and prose have appeared in The Best American Poetry, New American Writing, Mother Jones, Pemmican, and The Saint Ann’s Review, among other places. Pawlak supports his poetry habit by teaching mathematics at UMass Boston. He is coeditor/publisher of the Brooklyn-based literary press and magazine Hanging Loose. He lives in Cambridge.
Here's one of the poems from Mark's powerful work The Buffalo Sequence:
"Buffalo Sequence .ix."
who is this?
attends with his murky agitated waters
where the whole familiar generation
of settled and settling silts
picnics in the tall sweet grass
growing along the cheekbone of grandfather's grave;
and can't hold back, not with four hands,
what took him so long to tame:
who is this?
what a necklace of polished stones they make
around his grandpa's crude stone,
then rips boards off the attic door
from behind which his childhood cries:
who is this ?
who is this ?
attends the table once again, prodigal and starving;
all of his absence come as a pained larynx to sit
beside mother and dearly loved; and,
kiss kiss, she tugs the roots of his anguish
by its combed strands
asking what her son's losing so much hair about;
after the meal, more hungry than before
and dumbfounded with talk,
whose feet lead him into exile again,
the arid climate of speechlessness;
artificial orchards beside the river of slag
and the oranges a desperate cry:
who is this ?