Event Recap: Crossing the Atlantic

In the United States, April 15 usually means tax day. (Perhaps T.S. Eliot had a point when he wrote that April is the cruelest month!) But this year, on April 15, the Sunday Best Reading Series took some of the pain out of tax day with “Crossing the Atlantic: Poets British and American.”  The afternoon’s program featured writers with ties to both sides of the pond: Anne-Marie Fyfe, a poet born in Northern Ireland who now lives and works in London; American poet Chris Hansen-Nelson, a long-time resident of Washington Heights; and poet Cheryl Moskowitz, who was born in Chicago but has lived in the UK since she was 11 years old.  Read on for a recap of the reading with links to more photos and an audio of the event, which was broadcast on WHFR (Washington Heights Free Radio) on April 18.

From left to right: Anne-Marie Fyfe, Cheryl Moskowitz, and Chris Hansen-Nelson

Anne-Marie Fyfe kicked off the afternoon’s event with a series of poems on the theme of travel.  With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic just past, Anne-Marie began with the story of her grandfather, one of the builders of the legendary ocean liner, who avoided joining in the ship’s doomed maiden voyage by eloping with her grandmother. Although her grandfather seemingly cheated fate, he and Anne-Marie’s grandmother nevertheless both died young.  Anne-Marie began her set with a poem that attempts to redress the tragedy of her grandparents by allowing them both to grow old.  The work she read repeatedly returned to the narrative device of the journey, telling of train trips across America and airplane flights on September 11.

Poet Anne-Marie Fyfe

Northern Manhattan’s own Chris Hansen-Nelson presented a selection of new work that represents an experiment in narrative poetry. These poems were all written in the persona of Jim Casy, the preacher Casy from The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck’s landmark American realist novel about poverty and the struggle to survive in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression.

Writer Chris Hansen-Nelson

Poet Cheryl Moskowitz closed the afternoon’s program with readings from her most recent book The Girl is Smiling, which takes the past seven years of Cheryl’s life as its primary material. Cheryl explained that much of the poetry deals with the definition of things and with the nature of absence and presence. One of the poems Cheryl read, “The Visit,” deals with her recent reunion with her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. For many years, her father was an “absent presence” in her life, and now she is getting to know him just as he is in the process of forgetting who he is.

Poet Cheryl Moskowitz

At the close of the event, Sunday Best curator gave special thanks to our poetry consultant Martin Mitchell, who was instrumental in getting both Anne-Marie and Cheryl on the afternoon’s program.

Sunday Best poetry consultant Martin Mitchell at the after-reception

Following the event, the artists and the audience members enjoyed drinks and snacks at our traditional after-reception.

Poet Anne-Marie Fyfe talking to an audience member at the after-reception

As always, the Sunday Best Reading Series thanks the efforts of its volunteers, whose efforts and dedication are crucial to the series’ success.

Sunday Best comptroller and bartender Peter Martin.

This event was recorded for WHFR, Northern Manhattan’s own internet radio station. You can access the audio here. Podcasts of previous Sunday Best events are available on our program page on WHFR’s site.

For more photographs from this event, please visit Sunday Best’s Flickr page, which is accessible at this link or by clicking on the photos displayed in the sidebar to this blog.

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