Event Announcement: Crossings–Words and Music, Friday, November 2nd at 7:30 pm

Sunday Best Reading Series in partnership with Sunday Concerts in the Lounge present Crossings: an Evening of Words and Music. On November 2nd at 7:30 in The Lounge @ HVG, Rika Lesser, poet, will read from her translation of The Brazen Plagiarist by Kiki Dimoula. Composer Aaron Jay Kernis‘s “The Four Seasons of Futurist Cuisine,” based on Marinetti’s Futurist Cookbook, will be performed by Asta Hansen Nelson, narration; Evelyne Luest, piano; Nurit Pacht, violin; and David Bekamjian, cello.  The suggestion donation of $10 includes a reception with free snacks and a cash bar.

The Lounge is at Pinehurst Avenue and 183rd St., in Northern Manhattan. Take the A train to 181st Street.

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.

Event Announcement: Crossing the Atlantic, April 15, 2012 at 4PM

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Crossing the Atlantic

Poets British and American

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Please join the Sunday Best Reading Series on Sunday, April 15, for an afternoon of poetry by literary artists from both sides of the pond. Britain-based poets Anne-Marie Fyfe and Cheryl Moskowitz will join Washington Heights’ own Chris Hansen-Nelson in offering Sunday Best audience members with a program of verse both eclectic and entertaining. As usual, the reading will take place in The Lounge at Hudson View Gardens at 4PM. A suggested donation of $7 covers the performance as well as drinks and snacks at the reception after the event where audience members will have a chance to meet and mingle with the poets.

Read on for more information about the writers who will be appearing at Sunday Best on April 15.

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Poet Anne-Marie Fyfe

Anne-Marie Fyfe (born in Cushendall, County Antrim) has written four collections of poetry including, most recently, Understudies: New and Selected Poems (Seren Books, 2010). She has won the Academi Cardiff International Poetry Prize, has run Coffee-House Poetry’s readings and workshops at London’s Troubadour since 1997, organizes the annual Hewitt Spring Festival in the Glens of Antrim, and was chair of the Poetry Society from 2007 to 2010.

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Chris Hansen-Nelson received his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College where he had the good fortune to study with Dennis Nurkse, Tom Lux, Stephen Dobyns and others. More recently, he has worked with Rachel Simon and Jean Valentine. He is currently working with Heather McHugh. His work has appeared in, among other journals: The Literary Gazette and The Gallatin Review. He is a longtime resident of Washington Heights.

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Poet Cheryl Moskowitz

Cheryl Moskowitz was born in Chicago, Illinois and moved to the UK at the age of eleven. She studied psychology at Sussex University and has worked as an actor, performance poet, therapist, and writer. She has won the Bridport Prize Poetry Competition (2010), the Troubadour International Poetry Prize (2010), and the International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine (2011). She is the author of a newly published poetry collection, The Girl Is Smiling; the novel Wyoming Trail (1998); and a collection of poetry for children, Can It Be About Me (2012).

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Event Announcement: Openings to Light, December 4, 2011 at 4PM

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OPENINGS TO LIGHT

Three Poets, Three Journeys

The Lounge at Hudson View Gardens

Please join the Sunday Best Reading Series for an afternoon of poetry on Sunday, December 4 at 4PM. As always, the reading takes place at The Lounge at Hudson View Gardens, 116 Pinehurst Avenue (at West 183rd Street).  A contribution of $7 covers the event itself, an after-reception to meet the writers, and free drinks and snacks.

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AMY HOLMAN

“Wistful and full of wonder. Part freak show, part searing insight

―Anne Yale, Voice in the Wilderness: Musings on Writing and Poem-Craft

Poet Amy Holman

Amy Holman writes poetry, fiction, and essays and advises writers on where to publish their work. She is the author of Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010); the prize-winning chapbook Wait For Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005); and An Insider’s Guide to Creative Writing Programs (Prentice Hall, 2006). She wrote the popular column “Amy Holman’s Tough Love Guide to Publishing” for Poets & Writers Magazine and was a recent guest blogger at The Best American Poetry, which anthologized a poem of hers in 1999. Her essays have appeared in the anthologies The Subway Chronicles, Making the Perfect Pitch, The Practical Writer, and Knitting Through It, and in the online journal Connotation Press. She blogs semi-regularly at We Who Are About To Die and Lending Whale.

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CHRISTOPHER LOCKE

“True-story poems about growing up in America . . . delivered in plain, sure-footed language. Read a few . . . lines and you’ll find yourself helplessly engaged.”

―Billy Collins, poet

Poet Christopher Locke

Christopher Locke has received over two dozen awards for his poetry including grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, New Hampshire Council on the Arts, and Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain). His fifth collection of poetry, End of American Magic, (Salmon Poetry, 2010) was a Top Ten Book of the Year, as chosen by Maine Publishers & Writers Alliance, and was nominated for the Forward Prize (U.K.). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Literary Review, Adbusters, Southwest Review, 32 Poems, Connecticut Review, Alimentum, West Branch, Exquisite Corpse, Atlanta Review The Chattahoochee Review, The Sun, Slipstream, Agenda (U.K.), and twice on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” His four chapbooks of poetry are The Temple of Many Hands (DeadDrunkDublin Press, 2010); Possessed (Main Street Rag, Editor’s Choice Award, 2005); Slipping Under Diamond Light (Clamp Down Press, 2002); and How To Burn (Adastra Press, 1995).

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SHARON WHITE

“The poems reverberate with the feeling that comes from deep observation and deep caring.…precious in the fullest sense…shining with their own light.”
Baron Wormser, former Poet Laureate of Maine

Poet Sharon White

Sharon White’s Vanished Gardens: Finding Nature in Philadelphia won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award in creative nonfiction. She is also the author of a collection of poetry, Bone House. Eve & Her Apple, a new book of poetry, was published in May by Harbor Mountain Press. Her memoir, Field Notes, A Geography of Mourning, received the Julia Ward Howe Prize, Honorable Mention, from the Boston Authors Club. Other awards include a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction, the Leeway Foundation Award for Achievement, a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship, the Calvino Award for her fiction, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her poems, essays, and articles have appeared in Salt Hill Journal, Isotope, House Beautiful, Appalachia, Kalliope and North American Review. She teaches writing at Temple University in Philadelphia, and she blogs at she blogs at Gardens and the City | Thoughts on gardens, urban nature and wilderness.

Event Announcement: The Persistence of Dreams: Readings from New Books, Sunday, May 1

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The Persistence of Dreams

Please join us on Sunday, May 1st at 4PM for the final Sunday Best event of the Winter/Spring 2011 season: The Persistence of Dreams, a program featuring readings from new books. Readers will include Elisabeth Frost and Elaine Terranova, both poets, and novelist Carol Wallace. In keeping with Sunday Best’s goal of providing a forum for writers local to Northern Manhattan, we are pleased to note that two of the scheduled performers, Elisabeth Frost and Carol Wallace, are residents of Washington Heights.

As always, this event will be held in The Lounge at Hudson View Gardens, 116 Pinehurst Avenue (at West 183rd Street). A suggested contribution of $7 gets you admission to the event, as well as drinks and snacks and the opportunity to talk with the artists at the after-reception. Wines will be provided by Vines on Pine.

Read on to learn more about the literary artists scheduled to read at The Persistence of Dreams.

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Elisabeth Frost. Photo: Fordham University.

Poet Elisabeth Frost is the author of All of Us (White Pine Press) and Rumor (Mermaid Tenement Press). She has also published a critical study, The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry, and served as co-editor of Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews.  She is an associate professor of English at Fordham University.

“delicious, low-key, disturbing and always surprising prose poems…a world unto themselves” ―Alicia Ostriker, poet

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Elaine Terranova. Photo by Yoni.

 

Elaine Terranova’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Cincinnati Review, Ploughshares Review, and Pleiades. She has also authored four books of poetry: Not To, New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2006), which was a runner-up for the Poetry Society’s William Carlos Williams Award; The Dog’s Heart (Orchises Press, 2002); Damages (Copper Canyon Press, 1996); and The Cult of the Right Hand, winner of the 1990 Walt Whitman Award (Doubleday, 1991). She is the recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a National Endowment in the Arts Fellowship in Literature, and two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grants.

“flashes with moments and flares with memories… burns with a steady human light. ―Edward Hirsch, poet

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Carol Wallace. Photo by Jim Anness.

 

Carol Wallace has authored more than 20 books. Her most recent, Leaving Van Gogh, is her first historical novel. Wallace received a M.A. in art history from Columbia University in 2006. The research for her M.A. thesis provided the foundation for Leaving Van Gogh.

“truly delightful … effort to illuminate the life of [a] luminous man.” —Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

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In Memoriam: Phil Miller–A Tribute

With deep sadness, we report that Phil Miller, an exceptional poet and a generous teacher and mentor, passed away on Monday, February 14, at his home in Mt. Union, Pennsylvania, with his wife Nancy and his family by his side.  In November 2008, Phil shared his unique poetic vision with Sunday Best audience members, reading his work as part of the program Powers of Disturbance. Phil authored several collections of poetry, edited the literary magazine The Same, and taught writing and literature at Kansas City Kansas Community College for more than 25 years.  These are but a sampling of his accomplishments.

 

Phil Miller, April 2010

It was Phil’s ability to see into and to illuminate what was haunting, unexpected, and uncanny in the normal and the mundane that set him apart. In an introduction to Phil’s book The Casablanca Fan, Sunday Best poetry consultant Martin Mitchell described the experience of reading Phil’s poetry as follows:

Sometimes, reading the poetry of Philip Miller is like viewing the etchings of M.C. Escher.  You can’t just look, or read; you’re drawn in.  As you peruse the surface, the poem is likely to lure you into its world, its own take on reality — so convincing as to offer plausible alternative scenarios for day-to-day events.

As Mitchell has observed, Phil was a visionary, and those visions come to life in poems that spring from “his incisive, illuminating comprehension of everyday occurrences and people.”

Phil Miller, April 2010

Phil had been ill for quite awhile, and his friends and colleagues knew how sick he was.  But news such as this is somehow always unexpected.  Instead of contemplating inevitable ends, we hope for remissions and miracles.  We tell ourselves that we know what is coming, all the while seeking shelter in our conviction that it will not come today.  When it comes, if it comes at all, it won’t come until tomorrow, that mythical tomorrow that marks the horizon of our future.  Despite what reason tells us, we are never quite prepared for the loss of someone like Phil Miller, who not only created remarkable poetry of his own but also supported and encouraged others in their endeavors to write and read and understand it.

Phil wrote frequently of ghosts and of himself as a ghost, a haunting observer.  In “Shadowing,” a poem that appears in The Casablanca Fan, the narrator declares, “I’m invisible to you as a ghost.”  In “Translucent,” from the same volume, he calls himself “a ghost with no future/ and a shady past.”  It would be difficult to overstate the magnitude of the impact that Phil had on his colleagues and his friends.  Inevitably, his presence will linger in the imprints and the impressions he has left behind.  But there is little doubt that those who knew and loved Phil will find more pleasure and comfort than sadness in being haunted by such a benevolent poetic spirit.

Phil Miller, November 2009

A personal note:  The writer of this blog entry was only peripherally acquainted with Phil Miller.  I knew him primarily through his poetry and his poetry readings, both of which I have enjoyed immensely, and through my observations of how much others, who knew him far better than I, valued and admired him both as a poet and a human being. But I did have a handful of short conversations with him, and I regret that I will not be able to have more.

I remember one conversation in particular, though I remember more about how I felt during the conversation and the impression that Phil made upon me than I do about anything we discussed.  What I remember most is this: Phil was surrounded by published poets and editors–people in the “literary know.”  Yet, for the short time that our conversation lasted, it was clear that I, a nondescript individual of whom he knew practically nothing, was the most important person in the room to him.

There is in all of us a sense for beauty, an inner eye, that can see the magic, the splendor, the exquisite tragedy that are concealed within the everyday and the routine.  In many, if not most, that sense lies dormant; others, for whom that sense is “turned on,” often find they must switch it off in order to meet the demands of the lives they have constructed for themselves.  But I have the feeling that, in Phil Miller, that sense was wide awake and always dreaming.  His poetry speaks directly to that sense; real poetry–the good stuff–always does.

Phil Miller’s poetry wasn’t just for published poets and erudite scholars (though it was just as much for them as for anyone else).   It wasn’t just for that elite group whose mastery of language sometimes seems to set them apart from those of us mere mortals who admire them and their work.  His poetry was also for gifted poets who write beautiful poetry but struggle to find publishers.  It was for bad poets who scribble earnest stanzas on cocktail napkins.  It was for people who aren’t sure what poetry is in the first place, people who know what poetry is but wish they didn’t, people who don’t like poetry at all or at least don’t think they do.  His poetry was for anyone willing to awaken that dormant sense within, even just a little, and begin to see the world transformed through new eyes.  And his kind words and his generosity left me without a doubt that his poetry was for me, too.

Thank you, Phil.

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To learn more about Phil and what he meant to the literary community, particularly the literary community of Kansas City, please read this tribute to Phil that appeared in the Kansas City Star on February 19.

Phil’s obituary appears below, along with one of his recent poems “Life After Death.”

Philip Winn Miller, teacher, poet, husband and father, age 67, of Mt. Union , Pennsylvania passed peacefully early Monday morning, February 14, at home with his family.

Born in Kansas City , Missouri , May 21, 1943 to Richard M. and Alveretta J. Miller, he received a BA in English and Psychology, and a MA in English from Emporia State University in 1966 where he studied under Keith Denniston.

Miller taught at Kansas City Kansas Community College from 1976 until 2002. While at KCKCC, he coordinated the college’s Basic English program for over 20 years; he served as professor of English and taught creative writing, composition and American literature.

Miller was a longtime resident of Kansas City . He was a founding member of The Writers Place and he co-founded and directed the Riverfront Reading Series. In 2004, he retired to Mt. Union , where he edited The Same magazine, was co-director of the Aughwick Poet and Writers Reading Series and was a board member on the Huntingdon County Arts Council.

Miller’s works appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals. He edited and co-edited numerous publications throughout his career. He had many books of poetry published.

He is survived by his loving wife Nancy, his beloved Scottie-Dachshund Milton, his children, Kevin, Darren & Khris, Meredith & Darick, Alison & Brent and Jaime and his grandchildren, Ryan, Alec, Philip Brooks, Charlie, Nicole, Owen, Hattie, Ella, Rhys, Andrew, Ian and Lily.

Miller gifted his body to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Human Gift Registry . His family will hold a memorial gathering at a later date. The family requests that remembrances be payable to The Philip W. Miller Memorial Scholarship Trust at Clearfield Bank and Trust, 16 West Shirley St, Mount Union, PA 17066,(814) 542-2591. The scholarship will be awarded to future English majors.

The family expresses great appreciation to his many caregivers especially those from the Home Nursing Agency and Hospice of Huntingdon County, PA.

Life after Death

It isn’t so bad, you know,

now that I’ve packed my bags.

I get along on my own,

pay my rent, hold down

a small job, have a friend

or two, at a distance, of course.

Look, there are my shoes

beside my bed, ready for action,

ready to walk whichever direction.

Who knows, this may be it.

(by Philip Miller, from his forthcoming collection, The Ghost of Every Day and Other Poems, to be published by Spartan Press, Kansas City, MO.)

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