Monday, September 24, 2007

Guaranteed Overnight Theater

GOT at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.

This past weekend I participated in Guaranteed Overnight Theater or GOT. I haven’t had so much fun in years. We survived in spite of my mistakes. Silly me saying the event would start at 5 P.M. on a Friday – what was I thinking … that theater and writer types live on the same schedule I do? Twelve people showed up and two promptly left. I think I must look scary. One gentleman came in very late with a rather morose short story he wanted converted into a script. When it was clear that wasn’t going to happen he left. We lost another overnight – an email stating that she would rather work on her own plays and did not wish to collaborate further. Well la de da, that left 8 of us.

By 10 PM we had the outline of 7 mini scripts and a framework that would tie them all together. By 10 AM we had reassembled and disassembled to work on our various scripts. By 1 PM we were ready to rehearse. We managed to do about 3 walkthroughs before the show.

Four Bagel Bards participated, Gloria Mendock (I designed her first book), Anne Brudevold (we’re serializing her novel “Hunter Moon” in, Jacques the Haitian Firefly (no comment) and me.

We played to a packed house of twelve. The work was titled “The Open Mike” (or “Modern Vaudeville”) and began with your typical open mike poetry by Wilhelmina Shakespeare followed by Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemmingway. This was for warm-up. Then we did "The Pig and the Wolf," how theatrical types would have changed "the three little pigs" and "Little Red Riding Hood." The next playlette was titled, “Dating through the Decades,” in three acts. Following up on a theme that worked we did, “Internet Speed Dating in Person.” This was very funny with Jacques delivering the punch line flawlessly. Jacques also started in “The Dance Class,” where he believably seduced his way through a dance class leaving a student dazed and confused which lead to “The Shrink.” In “The Shrink” a traumatized dance student explains why he’s fallen in love with a sex addict. Another punch line delivered perfectly. “Brra dump dump,” says the imaginary drum. The last act had Anne Brudevold tormenting Jacques as a sadistic massage therapist in “The Last Gas.” Throughout the open mike Gloria Mindock and I played “the audience” sitting with a table between us on stage dripping sarcastic battery acid lines between playletts.

Enjoying himself in the audience was David Bertolino, former proprietor of “spooky World” and now an aspiring playwright and theatrical producer. His next work will be opening in Boston next May – Oh, how can we possibly wait? – is called “Deep Throat, the play.” Seriously, see

We had a blast and hope to repeat our stunt in January when we can next have access to the little theater at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (or sooner should another theater materialize).

Top - Jacques & Sophya in "Dating through the decades"
Middle: Sophya, Jim, Jacques and Mary Ann (standing) in "Speed Dating"
Bottom left: Lynn in "The Pig and the Wolf"
Bottom right: Jim finishes the script of "The Shrink"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Glittering literati to honor famed poet Jack Powers

The glittering literati of Boston will be gathered this weekend to honor the acclaimed poet Jack Powers on the occasion of his 70th birthday. If you have never heard of Jack Powers then you have not been part of the literary scene in Boston for any of the last 40 years. Jack founded “Stone Soup Poetry,” the oldest continuous open mike venue in Boston bringing the likes of Laurence Ferlenghetti, Gregory Corso and many more to the scene. Stonesoup also published over 20 poetry anthologies and dozens of individual poetry chapbooks. Jack was also on the founding board of FIRST NIGHT.

The event is a potluck dinner this Saturday Sept 15, 2007 at 5 P.M. at the International Community Church in Allston, 30 Gordon Street. Expect to see the pick of Boston’s glamorous and not so glamorous literati there. Music by the "Blue Dust Drifters" and Jennifer Matthews.

The small press scene (is there any other literary scene in Boston?) is very incestuous. Gloria Mindock, proprietress of Červená Barva Press, has just published a collection of poems titled “Blood Soaked Dresses” with Ibbetson Street Press. While Ibbetson Street’s proprietor Doug Holder’s latest book “No One Dies at the Au BonPain,” published by another small press, Sunnyoutside is received glowing reviews from Ibbetson Street author and small press bad boy Hugh Fox and in Small Press Review. ISCSpress, as usual managed the production of “Blood Soaked Dresses” and Hugh Fox’s latest, “Way, Way Off the Road.”

Rumor has it that bagel bard, Simmons professor and all round nice guy, Affa Michael Weaver is preparing a new volume of poetry to be published by one of the big boys (a brand name NYC publisher) and after a front page interview in Poet & Writer and an upcoming splash in Poetry magazine his national and international fame is beginning to spread beyond Boston, Baltimore and Taipei. I smell major literary prize.

In other news “Guaranteed Overnight Theater” or GOT is coming to Boston (Cambridge actually) next weekend, September 21 and 22. GOT has been a perennial favorite in Philadelphia for the last 10 years. GOT is unlike any other theatrical experience. Halfway between improvisation and tag-team writing GOT puts writers, directors and actors together for 24 hours of creativity. Starting Friday evening the team writes a play or series of plays, Saturday afternoon they rehearse and Saturday night a performance is given. It should be exciting. GOT will be at the theater at the Cambridge Center for Adult education.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pale imitation of a poem

Pale imitation of a poem
for Jack Powers

Inspiration on the back, side,
inside flap of an old utility bill
three poems to be read once
then placed in a filing system
only a fireman could love:

“Old man rises
for Madonna with child
noisy, smelly, subway car
modern manger, god bless,
god bless”

“Screams to the Almighty
murder the infidel
pox upon your house
… all your houses ….
And we wonder why God is silent?”

travelers in common
a conversation stricken
at our destination when
we become fearful, alone again.
Why? When we had
so much in common?”

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

On the first day of school

Remembering your first day of school

The First day of school
was the best day of my life.

It was the start of a new year,
the next incarnation, reinvention of me.

Not beige and sullen as I left it in June
but tan, strong and muscular - energized.

Voices deeper,
horseplay harder.

I showoff what I’ve learned this summer,
that I too can be strong and, oh, I read a book.

It said that your first day of school
was the best day of your life.

That your redesign of yourself,
your, my, our act of renewal brought us closer.

Exciting thoughts to keep us warm this winter
if darkness spoil or obscure our vision.

Remember the first day of school
you wore petticoats and I was so proud.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Musings on a long weekend

Last Monday I was at the Out of the Blue Gallery to hear Anne Brudevold read poetry at the Stone Soup poetry venue. Stone Soup is the oldest poetry venue in Boston at 35 plus years. I wanted to hear Anne read. I love her prose but hever heard her poetry. Her novel “Hunter Moon” is being serialized by Wilderness House Literary Review ( expect another couple of chapters in the next issue available about October 1. I’ve been editing the novel for Anne over the last year or so as part of my job at ISCSpress ( Some literary agents we know are now reviewing it. Expect it to be published next year sometime. Thom August’s mystery novel “Nine Fingers,” another editing job by yours truly, has been picked up by Dorchester Press and will be out in January.

Chad Parenteau, the current moderator at Stone Soup said from the podium that I was in the “office, I mean the audience.” It’s beginning to feel that way since we are producing, editing and designing so many books for the small press community in Boston.

Speaking of Wilderness House Literary Review, Gloria Mindock of Červená Barva Press has finished editing an anthology of Volume 1 of WHLreview. ISCSpress is publishing it and it should be available in a week or so.

We’ve also just finished doing layout for three; yup count em, three books for noted Boston poet and playwright Don DiVecchio. The books include a volume of poetry titled “Circle of Crows,” a collection of plays, poetry and stories titled “Voices from the Invisible” and a wonderful broadside titled “Eleven Ways to Change the World.”

An upcoming releases also created by ISCSpress and to be published by Červená Barva Press is Phillip Burnham’s touching poetic tribute to his wife titled “A Careful Scattering.” Phillip’s book is a collection of the Christmas cards he created with wife over a 40-year period. Phil wrote the poems while his wife, Louise (who died of cancer in 2002) and their daughter Elizabeth created the visual art. It’s beautiful and I’m sure will be a hit for Christmas this year.