BigCityLit New York Edition

the rivers of it, abridged
New York Edition

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Big City, Little
Bridge City Lit
Twelve - 12
Series on Series
Series Reviews
Free Expression
Legal Forum
Print Series
Audio or CD
Other Arts
Special Events
Advertiser Index

Bridge Photo

time is the hardest labor of all / lifting each second into place
-- Marc Desmond (1945 - February 2001)
Photo: George Kunze (

Live Performances

On March 19, a dozen award-winning poets and musicians from Lyric Recovery Festivalȁ at Carnegie Hall 2000 appear at Caffè Taci in multilingual performance as one of nearly two hundred venues involved in the United Nations project, "Dialogues Among Civilizations Through Poetry" (

On March 29, James Ragan, who featured last April with Galway Kinnell at the LyR Festival ™ at Carnegie, reads at the UN itself along with Yusef Komunyakaa and Joyce Carol Oates. A multilingual "ambassador of poetry," Ragan has read for four heads of state, including Mikhail Gorbachev and Vacláv Havel.

In This Issue

Note: Call for Submissions - Deadlines Extended to April 1 - Consult Submissions Page


Featured this month are the award-winning poems from Lyric Recovery Festival™ at Carnegie Hall, several of whose authors reappear with quite different work in this month's Twelve. Our Global Poem Zones series continues, with a poem by P.K. Page, selected by Marilyn Hacker, to be read this month on international territory as part of the UN Dialogues project. The cumulative Big City, Little page adds work by Marc Desmond (NYC) and James Ragan (Paris). The Bridge City Lit pages feature work in corresponding languages.


We continue with the second of two installments of George Dickerson's "The Cause," a feature-length return to the Fifties, when Americans, black and white, first took the crash course of Brown v. Board of Education. During Black History Month (February), a New York Times article asked whether the seminal 1954 Supreme Court case had perhaps been 'fuzzy.'


In "Instead of Proving Human," Tim Scannell converses with poetry and recalls his first encounter with the great buck in Robert Frost's "The Most of It." James Ragan, the poet behind The Hunger Wall, is revealed in an in-depth essay, "Stages of Man and Earth."


The poor will always be with us -- even if fortune and the Force are not. Historian Patricia Franz recounts the enduring power of Boccaccio's image of Poverty and Fortune, and the Church's efforts to reconcile the two. In "Bench, Bag and Frozen Styrofoam," that Guy from Albany, Dan Wilcox, recounts a mid-winter sleepover near the State House. The UN's "Dialogues Among Civilization Through Poetry" anthology project offers 'big-tent' internationalism to far-flung poets, but will they be talking to one another?


'The existentially and spiritually profound lines in [Matthea] Harvey’s volume (Pity the Bathtub its Embrace of the Human Form, Alice James Books) come unadorned by gimcrackery ("I too am attracted by want, that glass-/ bottomed boat"), but they are nearly lost in a hodgepodge of effects.' (Diana Manister) Commenting on Galway Kinnell's "The Music of Poetry" in Water to Wine to Waterford®, the Lyric Recovery™ Carnegie collection, reviewer Tim Scannell writes, 'The lyric's potential is such that the reader almost looks forward to lyrics on out-of-body experience, channeling, astral planes, and UFO abductions -- almost.' Jo Ann Wasserman's chapbook We Build Mountains shows us that 'our very words, even as we speak them, conceal more than they do reveal, all this in our terrible and absurd effort to "feel safe".' (Bill Kushner) In her satiric, The Evasion-English Dictionary, Maggie Balistreri 'parses the subtleties contained in our seemingly most inarticulate, often ungrammatical constructions.'

In a special Editors' Picks Book Shelf section, we comment on books that belong on the shelf of anyone who wishes to understand the linguistic music of lyric poetry, its potential, and place among the arts. They are: Alfred Corn's The Poem's Heartbeat, Ellen Bryant Voigt's The Flexible Lyric, Mary Kinzie's The Cure of Poetry in an Age of Prose, Dana Gioia's Can Poetry Matter? Also discussed is Mary Kinzie's recent A Poet's Guide to Poetry.


Scheduled excerpts from interviews with James Ragan and Galway Kinnell were not available as of press time, but may be added later in the month.

Series on Series: The Monday Saturn Series at Revival Bar

Before the arrival of the Zeckendorf high rise and mega book store Barnes & Noble, the greenery at Union Square was nearly invisible, so pervasively dreary were East 14th Street's bargain fabric stores and bars. "Gentrification has made many Manhattan cultural events look as artificial as the set of a Seinfeld or Friends sitcom. Come to a poetry reading and you will find real people experiencing spontaneous, real emotions." (Series co-host, Bill Duke) The sofas upstairs in the salon at Revival have an honest, lived-in feel.

Series Reviews:

Ahem, not 'euthanasia,' no, the topic was 'youth and age.' A writers' discussion moderated by Roger Rosenblatt (Rules for Aging) with guests, George Plimpton, Frank McCourt, and others at the 92nd Street Y left reviewer Elena Kondracki with thoughts of swizzle sticks. Rick Pearse contemplated Stephen Dunn contemplating the death of God at Exoterica, and we sat in at a Poetry Project workshop conducted by Jayne Cortez.

Free Expression:

In her piece, "Hail to the Thief," songwriter Judy Klass contributes a sense of humor and fun to the serious business of electoral illegitimacy. We defer treatment of the latest episode of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's face-off with the Brooklyn Museum, this time over a controversial depiction of The Last Supper, to April's Easter and Passover season.

Other Arts:

In "The Wilder Duck," Maureen Holm faults The Importance of Being Oscar, recently revived at the Irish Repertory Theatre: 'Too little in evidence in this script is the change brought about in an artist once content to be highly styled and amusing.' Bill Kushner's review of Edwin Torres's Gecko Suite: An Opera in Three Colors takes poetic form, while Nicholas Johnson offers prose notes on the preview: 'As the symbolic actions resonate with the onlooker, he inhales meaning without knowing it, familiar actions, ripe for allegorical interpretation.'



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