A Vibrant Community

A Vibrant Community

Monday, February 23, 2015

Conversation and Poetry with Louise Nayer

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Louise Nayer, a native New Yorker, now San Franciscan, grew up among books, music, theater, art and dance. She attended the honors program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1967 and graduated with a B.A. in Comparative Literature. She also studied with the poet Ruth Stone. In 1971 Vehicule Press in Monreal, Canada published Louise's first broadside. In 1974 she attended SUNY at Buffalo for graduate school where she studied with poets Robert Creeley and John Logan. She received a Master of Arts in Humanities (MFA equivalent) and drove out West in 1974. Once in California, she began teaching writing workshops at UC Berkeley Extension Center and later in nursing homes and senior centers. She received California Arts Council grants for six years and was privileged to hear many stories of older people who had survived the Great Depression and the General Strike in San Francisco. She also worked with developmentally disabled seniors, a program her husband developed; she helped them write poems and stories. She collected their work in numerous collections. During the same time, she worked for Poets-in-the Schools, teaching writing workshops for children.

 She has published two books of poetry: Keeping Watch (with funding from the NEA) and The Houses Are Covered in Sound (Blue Light Press) . She co-authored a non-fiction book with Virginia Lang, How to Bury a Goldfish: Celebrations and Ceremonies for Everyday Life (Rodale). Her book Burned: A Memoir (Atlas and Co.) was published in 2010 and won the 2011 Wisconsin Library Association Award and was a finalist for the USA Book News Award. She has given readings all across the country, including on NPR. She has also traveled as a speaker, most recently to The Phoenix society. For over twenty years Louise was an English Professor at City College of San Francisco where she taught Creative Writing, English Composition and Literature while raising her daughters. She lives in Glen Park, a San Francisco neighborhood with her husband. She teaches, writes and still tries to work for a better world for all, particularly through her constant contact with young people, inspiring them to write about what matters. Louise is a member of the San Francisco Writer's Grotto where she spends time working on new writing projects.

How Writers Write Poetry 2015

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  How Writers Write Poetry 2015, a seven-week course beginning on March 23, 2015, offers an interactive progression through the principles and practice of writing poetry. The course presents a curated collection of short, intimate talks on craft by two dozen acclaimed poets writing in English. Craft topics include persona, notebooking, the line, the turn, form, and the lyric. The talks are designed for beginning poets just starting to put words on a page as well as for advanced poets looking for new entry points, engagement with process, or teaching tips. The course will be taught by Professor Christopher Merrill, International Writing Program Director, poet, and translator; and Camille Rankine, poet, Assistant Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Manhattanville College, and editorial director of The Manhattanville Review.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Conversation and Poetry with Cecilia Driscoll

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Cecilia Reid Driscoll has loved poetry ever since she memorized “The Wonderful World” by William Brighty Rands in third grade at St. John’s School in Alden, New York. She has been writing poems at least since Mr. Wild’s Creative Writing class at Alden Central High School. A lifelong learner, she has gradually earned degrees in English from Canisius College, Nursing from Erie Community College, and Library Science from the University at Buffalo. She has worked in healthcare, as a reporter, and as a teaching librarian. She now serves as Reference and Local History Librarian at Niagara Falls Public Library, where she gets to order great new books, develop poetry programs, and meet lots of writers. Cecilia’s poems include observations and reflections on nature and the events of ordinary days. She is inspired by the music of language and voices of others in the community of writers. She is often found in local poetry venues with notebook and pen in hand to record those inspirations. Her poems have appeared on the Buffalo News Poetry Page, earned awards in student publications, and have been featured in area readings. Cecilia and her husband Kevin have five grown children and one grandson. They live in Tonawanda with two dogs, a Pomeranian who loves Western New York winters, and a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix who tolerates them.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Conversation and Poetry with Martha Deed

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Martha Deed has been writing ever since she could hold a crayon or pencil.  Academically, she started off in history, completed her B.A. in Psychology at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village (New York City) when the village was teaming with poets Ashbery, Creeley, Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas and others who were meeting in places where she did not dare to go and consuming liquids and other substances she wished to avoid.  Next stop:  Boston University where she earned her PhD and launched her career as a psychologist.  She studied one building away from the famous Robert Lowell seminar that included Anne Sexton, Maxine Kumin and others.  But she was unaware of them.  For the next 30 years, she combined writing with her career as a psychologist, retiring early in 2000 to write full time.  Since then, she has published four books (including one edited), several chapbooks and dozens of poems.  Two Pushcart nominations and winner of the Ice Boom contest.  She has read at many Buffalo venues as well as in Albany and Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Several of her collections focus on particular topics.  Several are multi-genre.  They include (partial list):

Climate Change. (Foothills Publishing, 2014).  A selected collected work.  Poems from 1965-2013. 96 pages.

The Last Collaboration (Online published by Furtherfield, 2012; print edition by Furtherfield and Friends of Spork, 2012 ).  Multi-genre reconstruction of life and death in a community hospital's ICU.  Millie Niss was a writer and web techie who found herself on a vent and in an ICU, continuing to email, writing all of her communications, because she could not speak.  Wanting her story told.  The resulting book is a collage of Millie's medical records and writings, Martha's poems and log, along with administrative reviews by the NYS Department of Health.  Can be read as poetry; can be read as non-fiction.  212 pages

City Bird: Selected Poems (1991-2009) by Millie Niss, edited by Martha Deed ( BlazeVox, 2010).  Millie Niss was in discussions with the publisher prior to her death, but did not have the time to create the submission.  Martha Deed, her mother, completed the project for her. 158 pages.

Intersections: A 20-day Journal of the Unexpected.  Mixed media of prose, poetry and photographs.  I am vicariously following Michael Czarnecki on his journey along US Rt 62 from Niagara Falls, NY to El Paso , TX and journaling as "we" go when a family health crisis causes a detour and an investigation of how to balance family needs with creative urges and projects.  Originally published in Regina Pinto's "Library of Marvels" (arteonline, 2006).  80 page e-book.  Copy online at:

65 X 65 is a send-up of autobiography, published by Peter Ganick's small chapbook project in 2006, revised and re-issued (with his permission) in 2009.  65 65-word texts with interlocking words.  A giant puzzle. Oulipo.  36 pages.

The Lost Shoe (Naissance, 2010).  A chapbook that weaves three murder trials into an examination of justice and injustice in local criminal courts.  40 pages.

Blog:  http://sporkworld.tumblr.com/
Links to published work: http://www.sporkworld.org/Deed/writing.html
The Last Collaboration excerpts and links:  http://www.sporkworld.org/Deed/tlc.html
Luther Milton Loper Civil War Letters Collection:  http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/115thInf/LoperColl/115thInf_LoperColl.htm