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You may say I'm a dreamer, / but I'm not the only one. -- John Lennon
Photo: George Kunze (



Donald Lawder (1916-2000)

Poet Donald Lawder (Namory Keita), 84, died on Sunday, December 17, and was buried in Moribabougou (Mali) near the Niger River. Present were the poet's American son, Wally, his Malian family and hundreds of villagers. Services were conducted with a 30-man Malian military guard, American and Canadian consulate officers, Peace Corps staff, and a Malian cabinet minister who posthumously awarded Lawder the country's highest medal of honor. The writer was originally from Long Island, and recounted that childhood in "Open, O Sesame": break like an Indian through the trackless brush -- / and there I was: sweet-toothed Demosthenes / shouting Night and Autumn at the roaring ripples.


Slovenia, We Read You

And vice versa. One of the many surprising sets of user statistics reported by the new web host since our independence from NYCpoetry and relocation (see December, "Moved: Candle Left Burning") is the source of hits. We had anticipated readers from, say, Holland, Australia, even Japan, but the level and consistency of traffic out of Slovenia exceeds the combined total for other countries in the region: Austria, Hungary, etc. Perhaps Big City Lit™ has replaced Mark Twain on Slovenia's high school English syllabus.

The basic readership figures are remarkable. We logged more hits during the first two weeks in our own cyberhouse than we had during the first two months as tenant senior editors of NYCpoetry. The page views/per session figure has shot up, indicating that readers are realizing that Big City Lit™ is not a mere web site, but rather, a magazine, and are settling in to read 10, 20, and more pages of its contents per session. The incidence of error pages was understandably high: Many readers were so mesmerized by George Kunze's photo of the Brooklyn Bridge in fog that they did not scroll down to use the in-text links in the "In This Issue" segment. We are gradually loading all the sidebar items, (see, e.g., Big City, Little, Bridge City Lit, Twelve-12, and Fiction), thereby giving readers a choice between in-text and sidebar links.

In This Issue

Global Poem Zones (Poetry)

"Imagine there's no countries." We can. We did. Reorder the planetary geography by longitude and New York finds common ground with Montreal, Caracas, and Tierra del Fuego such as Los Angeles will never offer: shared real-time experience. "Nothing to kill or die for." The pie's 24 pieces are all equal--theoretically at least. The hours of the day, however--theoretically of equal duration--are surely not.

Thus, we conclude the year 2000 and bridge to the January issue already as of midnight, December 31 in Auckland, New Zealand for a preview of poems and short essays from the world's 24 time zones. This month's selections include master traveler contributing editors, Patrick Henry, George Dickerson, and Margo Berdeshevsky, among others. ("Imagine" photo by George Kunze.)

Because They Did (Poetry)

Mary Biggs provides context and commitment, offering work by Enid Dame, Marilyn Hacker and many other players in the "Second Wave" of feminism. The women's rights agenda was greatly aided by the general demand for individual autonomy--and by men. "If the decade began with a broad civic challenge ('Ask not what your country . . .'), it ended with broad civil defiance ('Hell, no! We won't go!')."(NJ) ("Resolved in Lavender" drawing by Cheryl Yellowhawk.)

Live Performance

Enid Dame and nine feature contributors from the New York area are scheduled to appear in live recording session on Monday, January 22, 7:30 p.m. at Caffè Taci (110th & Broadway). (Marilyn Hacker has been invited, but may be still in Paris on that date.) Call (212) 864-2823 to confirm/reserve. ($15 minimum.)


"Imagine: Strawberry Fields Are Frozen." Singer/songwriter Walker offers a challenge based on his nineteen years of performing at the ritual Central Park tribute to John Lennon. In "Ego-Free, The Poem Aloft," Senior Essayist Maureen Holm contends "that extreme deference to the poem during the compositional dialogue and unobtrusive service during delivery are indispensable to its retrieval from the non-verbal nether into the speech-illumined world. " (Published in two installments, the second appears in February.)


"Pegasos: A Quixotic Lifetime of Reading": Finn, Petri Liukkonen, went live with his global author bio compendium in Spring 2000, and has already drawn nearly 1.5 million hits. "If I am what I have read, then Pegasos is my self-portrait, one which has evolved like Dorian Gray's according to my habits." In "From the Kentucky Rough, the Likes of Diamonds," Paul McDonald profiles talented Kentucky writers at the NY Underground Festival (see December, Series Review), and insists there are lots more back home, despite the state's reputation for "basketball, bourbon and cock-fighting."


In the poems of Elaine Schwager's I Want Your Chair, "subjects and objects pass before us in words, images, metaphors, then vanish into wherever and whomever they came from." Vic Schermer reviews the collection and also interviews Schwager about her dual careers as poet and psychotherapist. In her chapbook, A House of Corners, Bertha Rogers "succeeds in making absence present," acknowledges Diana Manister. "Failure to perceive that totality is our limitation; the illimitable remains radiantly true and present in all things."

Series on Series:

Host Steve Bennett profiles The Unnamable Poetry Series at The Baggot Inn in the West Village. Included are poems by a dozen Saturday afternoon regulars.

Series Review:

On December 14, "Poetry & Mentorship," a series jointly sponsored by Makor and the NYU Writing Program, presented Pulitzer Prize winner Galway Kinnell and two of his former students, Sharon Kraus and Rita Gabis. Elena Kondracki describes the 67th Street facility as "a multi-level, multi-use arts center that feels like an uptown Knitting Factory housed in European-consulate architecture."

Other Regular Features:

This month, we've added to Big City, Little, and loaded Bridge City Lit, Fiction, and Twelve-12.


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