Calliope—Poetry Readings at West Falmouth Library is a monthly event organized by poet Alice Kociemba. It features readings by three accomplished poets, after which the floor is opened to anyone in attendance who wants to share one of his or her poems. The meeting concludes with a reception, during which poets autograph and sell copies of their books and chat with poetry lovers.
Even those intimidated by poetry find the readings accessible and rewarding–sometimes we get a clearer idea of a poem from hearing the author read aloud it than by reading it ourselves, and the social atmosphere of the meetings allow attendees to share interpretations and responses to the poetry.
April is national poetry month, a good time to give Calliope a try, if you haven’t already. The April meeting is Sunday, April 21, from 3 to 5 PM at the library. Attendees are asked to donate $5 to fund a stipend for the poets.
Susan Donnelly, Mary Maxwell, and Dan Memmolo are the featured poets on Sunday. Those wishing to share a poem of their own are asked to sign up for the Open Mike at 2:45 PM.
Susan Donnelly is the author of three poetry collections: “Capture the Flag,” “Eve Names the Animals,” which won the Morse Prize, and “Transit,” as well as three chapbooks.
Fred Marchant, author of “The Looking House,” describes Donnelly’s most recent collection:
“From Falluja to Donegal to Boston, and from yesterday’s worrisome MRI all the way back to memories of early childhood, ‘Capture the Flag’ rides on a vivid energy, an emotional or spiritual gumption, a ‘moxie’ that helps Susan Donnelly take an unflinching look at the mingling of suffering and joy, near and far, and in the process enables us to feel in our bones how we are all ‘spider-webbed’ together, and that a tug on one strand will set ‘each of the others / trembling.’ These are beautiful, aching, buoyant poems.”
Her poem, “Notice to Guests Before Taking a Shower” provides a glimpse into one of those small, but significant moments of everyday life. After noticing the “notice to guests” sign only after she took a shower, she writes:
I turn away, as always,
from finding out what it says:
watch for this prevent that
maybe don’t use this shower at all.
It’s too late and I’m glad.
Seems I never want to learn
about any rule if it means
I’ll have to feel bad,
looking back, at having done
what chances are if I’d known,
if I’d read the notice,
I would have done anyway.
Donnelly’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Prairie Schooner, The Sun, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry and many other journals, textbooks and anthologies. It has been featured several times on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac and on Poetry Daily. Donnelly lives, writes and teaches poetry in Cambridge. She reads her work regularly at libraries and reading series in the Boston area.
Mary Maxwell is the author of three volumes of poetry, “An Imaginary Hellas,” “Emporia,” and “Cultural Tourism.” She lives in Truro.
“Cultural Tourism” includes poems on past and present residents of the Outer Cape who have left their mark on the culture: Millay, Lazzell, Breuer, Mailer, Motherwell, Resika, and others. Maxwell writes: “Those who’ve committed themselves to a life of the imagination seem to have remained here as its perpetual inhabitants.”
James Dickey wrote, “Maxwell has a very good ear, a discriminating eye, and that most indispensable quality a poet must have, if she really is a poet: an original way of looking at things, a definite stance.”
In “Edward Hopper,” Maxwell describes some of the painter’s works. It begins:
Architecture is not the point, though his buildings do indeed tell
a wordless tale. The erect lighthouse lies upon nature’s bosom,
perched unsatisfactorily against her flattened dunes. And outside
the clapboard Cape, not foghorn husband or paired church bells
but a lone whippoorwill is heard at dusk by the dog, his bird-wife
complaining from a grove of locusts all grown from one taproot.
Maxwell’s poems have appeared in AGNI, The New Republic, Paris Review, Southern Review and many other journals. A winner of the “Discovery”/The Nation Award, Maxwell received a fellowship from the Carnargo Foundation in Cassis, France. She has also been a visiting artist and scholar at the American Academy in Rome. She has written a monograph about the painter Serena Rothstein titled “Discourse in Paint.”
Dan Memmolo has been described as “equal parts wiseacre and soothsayer,” writing with “a jazzy, appealing cockiness” that “sizzles with energy, humor, and insight.” He often provides a verbal soundtrack—the songs of Elvis, Marvin Gay, and Sinatra—as well as the music of Tchaikovsky.
In “Honky Tonk Night in America,” from his first book of poetry, “Fist City,” he provides a glimpse of a marital squabble, set to music. It opens:
You better move your feet, sings Loretta
from the radio on the kitchen counter
and as my wife pushes and pulls diced onions
in a pan, the sizzle keeping time with the song,
Miss Lynn continues, if you don’t want to eat
a meal that’s called fist city.
“Fist City” won the 2011 Holland Prize from Logan House Press. Memmolo is also the author of the chapbook, “Beat Surrender” (Main Street Rag) and his poems have appeared in numerous magazines, including, The Atlanta Review, Gargoyle, New York Quarterly and Southern Poetry Review. Memmolo has an MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University and lives in Barrington, Rhode Island.
For more information, contact Alice Kociemba at email@example.com or 508-566-1090.
The May poetry reading is Sunday, May 12, from 3 to 5 PM, and features poets Marjorie Block, Charles Coe, and Joyce Wilson.
West Falmouth Library is at 575 West Falmouth Highway (Route 28A) in West Falmouth.
For more information on Calliope’s readings, workshops, and other events, visit www.calliopepoetryseries.com or contact Alice Kociemba, director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-566-1090.
A Quick Look:
What: Calliope—Poetry at West Falmouth Library, with poets Susan Donnelly, Mary Maxwell, and Dan Memmolo
When: Sunday, April 21, 3 to 5 PM, 2:45 PM to sign up for Open Mic
Where: West Falmouth Library, 575 West Falmouth Highway (Route 28A), West Falmouth
Admission: $5 donation