The Virtual Poetorium Father’s Day Poetry Project Anthology

The Virtual Poetorium Father’s Day Poetry Project Anthology

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Table of Contents

Foreword

The Poems

“Bailiwick” — Jonathan Andersen
“My Father’s Covid” — Wayne-Daniel Berard
“The Lesson” — Curt G. Curtin
“Dad” — Tom Ewart
“The Sunday Saint of Pancakes and Popcorn” — Jennifer Glick
“Simple Gift” — Diane Kane
“My Father, A Sonnet” — Howard J Kogan  
“Youthful Memories” — Sotirios (Sam) E. Lalos
“Listening for His Voice” — David M. May
“Ode to My Father” — Susan O. Nedd
“Promise” — Carla Schwartz
“”V” Formation — James R. Scrimgeour
“Closing Hymn:The Boston Naval Yard” — Meg Smith
“In the Space Between Your Words” — Tom Smith
“The Farmer’s Son” — Paul Szlosek

The Poetorium Group Ode to Fathers

“Remembering Our Fathers: A Group Ode in Two Parts” — Compiled by Paul Szlosek (with contributions from Tom Ewart, Mishelle Goodwin, Howard J Kogan, Jonathan Andersen, Carla Schwartz, Rob Jaret, Patricia O’Connor, Dee O’Connor, Susan O. Nedd, and Natasha S. Garnett)

The Bios of Contributing Poets

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Foreword

Dear Readers,

The  original idea for Poetorium Father’s Day Poetry Project was conceived by the Poetorium’s good friend Dee O’Connor, who reached out to us for assistance in transforming it into a reality (which we were more than happy to provide). The Father’s Day Poetry Project consists of three parts:

1. A Father’s Day Virtual Poetry Reading: Poets from the Worcester Poetry Community and beyond were asked to submit an original poem about a father/father figure. From the submissions received, fourteen poets were then selected to read their poems on a special Zoom event held on Sunday, June 21st (although it may be a bit rough and unedited, here is the link to the video recording of that very special evening: https://youtu.be/BJgYhmocm00).

2. A Group Ode: Poets were also invited to send 2-8 lines inspired by the prompt “I Remember My Father”. The lines received from eleven poets were then compiled and edited by myself who has prepared many similar group poems for the Poetorium in the past (the concept for this ode was modeled after a similar poem by national poet Kwame Alexander who released “The Ceremony of Giving” on  this year’s Mother’s Day (you can find his poem and read the full story behind it here @ https://www.bonappetit.com/story/kwame-alexander-mothers-day-community-poem). The group ode which I titled “Remembering Our Fathers: A Group Ode in Two Parts” was then read by myself at the conclusion of the Zoom event on June 20th. Unfortunately when I read it, it turned out a bit garbled, so I’m also including another separate video of myself again reading the ode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INgQj9JQ64M

3. The Poetorium Father’s Day Poetry Project Anthology: All fourteen poems read during the virtual reading, along with the group ode, plus short bios of all contributors ‘were compiled into the anthology you are now reading. Please enjoy!

I want to thank everyone who made all aspects of the Poetorium Father’s Day Poetry such a success including Dee O’Connor, and all the other wonderful poets who participated: Jonathan Andersen, Wayne-Daniel Berard, Curt G. Curtin, Tom Ewart, Natasha S. Garnett, Jennifer Glick, Mishelle Goodwin, Rob Jaret, Diane Kane, Howard J Kogan, Sotirios (Sam) E. Lalos, David M. May, Susan O. Nedd, Patricia O’Connor, Carla Schwartz, James R. Scrimgeour, Meg Smith, and Tom Smith. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Sincerely,

Paul Szlosek

The Virtual Poetorium

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The Poems

Bailiwick

Wheelhouse was never
part of my father’s lexicon
though I do remember him
using the synonym bailiwick;
I think he liked the click at the end,
the slight touch of baritone drama in
Cracking down on guys like that
(referring to a local wife beater)
would definitely be part of my bailiwick.
He said it as if he were expecting a promotion
from truck driver to sheriff. His one
promotion took him from the road
to head shipper at Gorra Bros.
Fruit and Produce Company
where his bailiwick included the juggling
and barking of orders while solving for
the most efficient weave of truck runs
in which the violent sociopathy
of the Olde Wharf’s head chef had to be
worked around the hair-trigger tempers
of four of his drivers. He choreographed
the hustling shuffle of avocados, corn, plums,
celery, boxes upon waxed boxes of iceberg
lettuce, crates of oranges; he charmed the bitter
secretary, got a few guys to not vote
for Reagan in 1980, to read a few books,
and somehow had the racists and black guys,
the teachers and dropouts all working
together. He told me about how
one day he daintily plucked a dead
tarantula up from between two hands
of bananas and dropped it gently
onto the left shoulder of the boss’s boy
home from Princeton for a summer of work
or pretend work, scaring the bejeezus
out of the kid who leapt yelping, throwing
his box into the air, broccoli falling
like ordnance. It’s one of those stories
that still makes me guffaw and snort
before I remember I’m in the middle of a meeting
with the community college president and should be
paying attention. (Pay attention, professor!
my dad snaps, then grins).
Many years on now and I still love
that his bailiwick included blowing up
with laughter and scattering across the loading dock
the brilliant system he had so carefully effected there

—Jonathan Andersen from Augur (Red Dragonfly Press, 2018)

My Father’s Covid

the landing craft
of my father’s life
has once again ground
itself on omaha beach
but the iron door
is not dropping
normandy is all gusts
and bluster like always
like him night is falling
and he wonders why
no order to disembark
and why he is alone
in the hold’s center
a single candle
gutters and gasps
drowning in the liquid
of its own meltedness
my father wonders if
he’s dreaming or gone
crazy until he hears a
woman’s voice calling
his name from the darkening
cliffs he recognizes her but
doesn’t the candle sputters
he huddles in the corner of
his craft I hope he knows
not to wait for me (denied
permission to board by
executive order) I hope
when the wick exhales
and all the iron falls away
he’ll see only enemyless
beach moonlit and know
his one love’s call unhiding
in the high hedgerows

—Wayne-Daniel Berard from Art of Enlightenment* (Kelsay Books, 2021)

*Originally published in North of Oxford Review

The Lesson

Once, when I was a boy of seven or eight
my Da taught the closing of doors.
We stood by the kitchen door, he leaning low
and near, his face become the room itself.
He said, You turn the knob like this.
The rough map of his hand covered everything:
the knob, the vast kitchen where our lesson met,
perhaps the universe where moments went
to be turned and turned until they could be seen
from anywhere. You don’t need to slam.

—Curt Curtin from Kerry Dancers (Kelsay Books, 2020)

Dad

Old and frail at the end,
barely able to stand,
living in a doublewide
near a marshy everglade,
his second wife by his side,
a night nurse when my mother died,
she took the reins and began
to stride along his side, to guide
his long remaining fade.

He always said that you raise
your children to leave you,
because they would, and I did,
but not before he appraised
me not only of the way things are,
but how they can be if, unafraid,
we all learn to just get along
in this brave new world we’ve made.
With that, he slipped around the bend.

—Tom Ewart

The Sunday Saint of Pancakes and Popcorn

For me, Dad was the Saint of Sundays.
Our religion? Pancakes and popcorn.

Early Sunday mornings, Dad flipped
to the High and Mighty, pancake saucers
that he slipped onto our plates,
butter-and-syrup ready.Yum.
We would eat our fill
before having to fancy dress
and pile into the late-model Pontiac
for the drive into Hartford,
a traditional Protestant church service
and Sunday school, which compared
to the pancakes was less than satisfying.
So bor-ing.

Sunday evenings, as we settled
intomesmerization over Walt Disney
and Ed Sullivan, Dad’s preparation
of popcorn was a sacred practice,
carefully measuring the oil
and kernels into the lidded pot,
gently agitating it across
the stove burner to keep
thosedivine kernels from burning,
becoming useless to us.
Bowl after bowl of fresh, hot,
buttered and salted popcorn.
We couldn’t get enough.

Blessed Sainthood is conferred on you, Dad,
for all those heavenly delicious Sundays.

—Jennifer Glick (January 2020)

Simple Gift

A simple gift of words I give
to a man of simple birth.
In my life you’ve given me
treasures of priceless worth.

It’s you who cast the mold
set solid to be my mind.
You who carved the lines
run through my soul I find.

Working the shapeless clay
with love to make my heart.
With artist skill you held the brush
on the canvas to set me apart.

It is you, the patient gardener
tending while I have grown.
The fruits of my life, many
the seeds you have sown.

Steady but gentle hand
when need for me to hold.
Words few and wisdom much
you taught me to stand bold.

Seeking long the rainbows end
your ageless spirit inspired me.
Making real the magic of life
believing in things I cannot see.

Sharing a sky of infinite stars
seeing beyond walls of my mind.
An endless passion for living,
with love of adventures to find.

It’s you I have to thank,
treasures of a lifetime had.
You the man of many talents
the man I’m lucky to call Dad.

—Diane Kane

My Father, A Sonnet     

 I look up and not for the first time,
see my father walking ahead,
and seeing him want to catch up,
my heart pounding with the excitement
of being with him, with anger at his leaving.
There is so much that has gone unsaid,
so much we no longer know about each other.

I want to rush forward to reach him,
to place my hand on his shoulder,
to see his face, but, for once, I resist.
I walk along and follow, it’s better like this,
each of us on our own side of the abyss,
anything can happen, every possibility exists.

—Howard J Kogan

Youthful Memories

Going to the botanical gardens,
Fishing for plastic play fish,
Ducks, and swans–
They were beautiful–
Being fed,
Tying a string to my toy ocean liner,
Floating on water.

Father strapping me onto his back,
Then riding on his motorcycle at night,
Through the endless streets
Of the city of the goddess Athena,
Lights swirling,
Sounds jumbled,
Breeze on my legs,
Breeze on my face,
Hair flying.

They took my ball
With colors like Joseph’s robe,
And I watched them play soccer
With it, by it, for it.
They wouldn’t let me play.

The poor kids talked me into
Not buying candy,
But paying to see a puppet show.
It was a good show,
I got my money’s worth.

Lying on my back,
In a field of poppies,
Looking up into the sky,
Not realizing
What I was about to give up.

It turned out for the best.

—Sotirios Sam E(vangelos) Lalos

Listening for His Voice

This stays with me, like breakfast in my Mamma’s kitchen,
How my father read aloud to us from the Bible on Sunday mornings,
His hands, rough, heavy, and strong from years of work,
Moving so carefully across the thin pages,
As if he carried a flashlight through a dark house,
Searching for familiar passages – those his father read,
Passages read and sung aloud by solemn voices,
Gathered in quiet, sunlit, Sunday meetings, I had not known,
How the Lord first called Adam, then, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses…
and the one he called his own.

This lingers still,
Between the visits, and in absence that came,
How he called out my name,
And in an instant, I was home,
No other voice spoke the same,

In the sound of his voice,
There was a floor beneath my feet,
His resonance defined the space within the walls of every room,
With the sound of his voice, he inscribed his story on my soul,

It was his voice calling out a warning from the front porch,
His voice on the phone calling from work,
His voice from the receiver at my dormitory far away at school,
His voice from the hall, welcoming and cordial,
Reminding me of the path by which I came,
Simply by calling out my name.

So in his absence, I have learned to listen,
Because of absence, I have learned to see,

And this endures,
In autumn, when I rake the leaves that trees cast down,
And the afternoon casts broad shadows across the lawn,
His dark presence seems to stand on the periphery, observing as I pass along.

I do not hear my father’s voice,
Yet his words remain,
And when I sing an old spiritual refrain,
I am mindful of the gospel cadence of his speech,

As true and sweet as cane,
I would gladly trade an hour or a single day,
To hear the vibrato in his song,
And his words I know by heart.

—David M. May (© 3/20/2015 David M. May)

Ode to My Father

I used to think
I didn’t know my father—
very well.
Didn’t know the times
when he helped me onto my bicycle
with the training wheels.
Didn’t know
when my shoe was untied.
No—he didn’t tell me so.
He just
took care.
Wrapped me up when I was too cold.
Tucked me in
so slumber could touch my cheek.

I always believed in the Sandman—
but I didn’t know it was his sleepy dust
that closed my eyes.
What a guy!
Yes—it was my father!

Didn’t know of
all the surprises
he would bring
to me
even in my waking dreams.

For I was too young,
too innocent, too naive
to perceive
that which I didn’t know of my father
was simply what I just couldn’t see.
I just knew
I had to believe
that he is all the things
I knew he was
and would be to me.

—Susan O. Nedd (© SONedd)

Promise

A promise of hope to ski with my father
unfulfilled amid the snow and the trees—
a pleasure—the joy he once shared with my mother.

We couldn’t do better than Saturday’s weather.
The cool sunny day, the light winter breeze,
so I promise to ski with my hopeful father.

I urge him to carry some food and water
and to use his less cumbersome skis
for the pleasure he once shared with my mother.

With pink ribbons tied to his poles—his tethers—
I spot him afar, from hundreds of feet,
a hopeless promise to ski with my father.

His ski pace is a crawl, no faster.
He can no longer kick-glide with ease
to practice his pleasure once shared with my mother.

His unflappable will to ski doesn’t dither.
Tumbles and icy spots fail to displease.
He vowed ever after, so to ski goes my father,
a joy first kindled in him by my mother.

—Carla Schwartz

“V” Formation

There is a gap in the “v” formation
of autumn geese heading south.

The foliage glistens with radiant sunlight;
J. D. (my oldest son) is singing 
Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees”

The crops are all in; the peaches are rotting,
the oranges piled in their creosol dung.

The reds, the yellows, the oranges mix
with the remaining green — the leaves, 
breathtaking, hanging on, refusing to fall.

Who are those friends all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says they are just deportees.

Was it twenty years ago he serenaded us 
from the well of the old VW as we drove
along these same roads, through these same leaves
from graduate student housing to visit Yiayia?

Now, J. D., following Arlo’s rendition — yes

. . scattered like dry leaves
all over the topsoil . . .

Woody, Arlo; J. D., me; red, orange; green, yellow —
swirling, blent in an autumn rainbow.

My father’s own father,
he waded that river. . . .

“Hey, that’s a great line,” says J. D.
“Ya, I know,” says I.

We look up and the gap is closed.
The “v” formation is solid — heading
into the twenty-first century and beyond.

—James R. Scrimgeour

Closing Hymn: The Boston Naval Yard

My father as a teen wanders to the docks
as the sun bleeds where the vein joins
at the Mystic, the Chelsea, and the Charles.
The Constitution bucks and sighs,
moored in fingers of darkness.
Everyone tells him he’s got it so good.
With a surname like his, what can he own
about real blood? Or bristling bones?
And everyone says our famines are fake,
just green phantoms in pubs.
He is looking toward the channel,
through a dim
outline of a dream — 
a prayer in an unseen language,
a country of weeping waves,
above and below.

—Meg Smith

In the Space Between Your Words

The things I needed you to say
You kept them safely stowed away
Is something wrong with me
That you could not read
The signs I gave to show the way
The lines of love and loneliness are blurred
In the space between your words.

Some words take courage to speak
Those arrows never left your sheath
To risk they’d miss their mark
To show what’s in your heart
Would expose where you were weak
But hurt can be delivered though unheard
In the space between your words

Rust is like the burning of the sun
It burns too slow for me to see when I was young 
But trust can span the distance that is spun
Between a father and his son

“Time heals all wounds”, I’ve heard it said 
My scars have faded where I bled
Now that I’ve reached your age
The day you went away
I can say with no regret
I told my son what I believe I heard
In the space between your words

You told me in the only way you could
In the space between your words.

—Tom Smith (© 2018 Tom Smith ASCAP)

The Farmer’s Son

On a certain June evening,
unable to descend
into the shadowy depths of sleep,
I find myself back
in the back of a pickup truck,
seven years old and pining away
for the Saturday morning cartoons
I’ll be missing.

My mom’s at the wheel,
steering the old Ford
down the rock infested path
to the potato field.

My two sisters are already there,
so eager to begin, they are digging
with their bare hands, the soil accumulating
in back quarter moons at the tips of their nails.
And my dad, he’s perched high in the seat of the John Deere
staring straight ahead, as steel fingers
rake the earth behind him.

It’s our job to walk these trenches,
trying to tell the dirt-encrusted spuds from stones,
dropping our bounty in to burlap feed bags
slung over our shoulders.

I do not care to be here,
laboring under the morning sun.
I do not care for potatoes
except for their names:
Kennebec, Catawba, Green Mountain,
names too exotic, too divine
for such bland-tasting fleshy tubers.
I believe they are really the names
of foreign kingdoms,
lands of of untold wonders.

I am the farmer’s son,
but not a good one.
I am, by nature, an indoor child
grown pasty by the blue light
of the television screen,
a pale boy who prefers
school work to farm work,
who withers and faints
while picking string beans
in the summer heat.

My dad conceals his disappointment
in a son who does not share
his love for the land
he has toiled for his entire life.
Yet somehow he understands
and tries not to push me so hard.

Perhaps he recognizes
I am not a crop to be cultivated,
but more like a weed
which must spread its roots
wherever it pleases to survive.

And now once again,
it’s twenty years in the future,
the path I chose, led
not to the potato field,
but this cramped city apartment
where I lie in an unmade bed,
trying to come to grips
with the passing of my father,
harvesting longings and regrets.

It is soul, not soil
I dig through now
and what I uncover may not be
as comforting as potatoes.

—Paul Szlosek (originally published in The Landmark)

The Poetorium Group Ode to Fathers

Remembering Our Fathers: A Group Ode in Two Parts
1. In Hushed Rememberance

I remember my father as a silent presence,
a volcano smoking in the dark,
erupting not often, but memorably—
a presence to keep your eyes on. 

I remember my father now mainly in dreams
(though more and more less frequently),
ones in which he’s behind the wheel 
of our second-hand Ford Granada,
his own eyes on the road ahead, 
while demanding irrevocable quiet
from all the other occupants,
as we drive into deepening darkness
down lonesome one-lane byways.

I remember my father on his 80th birthday
(to grow old is to be drowned out by the cacaphony
of change, as your entire world is dismantled 
all around you). The next day my mother called,
she was crying. He passed away in the hospital
without saying a word. Now cremated, he rests
in sulking stillness on my mother’s bureau in her room…

2. The Braid

I remember my father when I was a child
of eight or nine, trailing him through the cornfield
with my instamatic camera, clicking and clicking the shutter,
the visor of his soiled gray cap turned up,
as I captured what I beieved was the eternal twinkle
in his eyes and a joyous grin animating his face,
but now with hindsight, more likely just
his natural reaction to the harsh rays
of the glaring afternoon sun.

I remember my father’s blue-eyed smile,
his laughing approval, his circling arms
how he walked me up hills holding my hand,
took my picture in the wind. He still has
the moustache, the jawline, the straight shoulders
of a movie star, and the kindest, gentlest heart.
Wine should be sipped he taught us,
a knife respected, the truth told.
And the first kiss after shaving was a gift
only our daddy could bestow.

I remember how our father didn’t have time to stop
to close the driver’s side truck door as he dashed around
loading mowers, filling tanks, changing blades
before hustling out for the next job
but did have time to stop to steal our basketball, show off
footwork in work boots: fake one way, spin, drop
to the other, a beautiful hook shot arcing, falling, kissing
the net, my brother and I cheering in the sun.

I remember my father taking me to Pathmark,
reading all the labels, and teaching me how to shop.
I remember my father teaching me jazz—
asking me to tape five variations of Monk’s Misterioso.
Listening to that tape over and over with Dad,
we were both smiling.

I remember my father—there could be no other—
black-and-white-suited on the train that he commuted.
I remember him on bended knees at his bedside at night,
his familiar plea to the divine above “Please help
us raise the seven children in our family”.

I remember my father for his worthless words,
but also watchful eyes and softest touch,
that he always remembered all my favorites… 
Everything. Every time. My father’s love
seldom spoken, always certain.
I remember my father telling me 
I didn’t owe him anything. I didn’t believe him
until I had a child of my own, long after he had passed.

All these combined memories, the stories of our families
(our interactions intertwined) becomes the braid
we make down through time (father to son or daughter),
the rope we lower or climb that keeps us together.

Compiled by Paul Szlosek with contributions from Tom Ewart, Mishelle Goodwin, Howard J Kogan, Jonathan Andersen, Carla Schwartz, Rob Jaret, Patricia O’Connor, Dee O’Connor, Susan O. Nedd, and Natasha S. Garnett

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The Bios of Contributing Poets

Jonathan Andersen’s most recent book of poems is Augur (Red Dragonfly Press, 2017), winner of the David Martinson-Meadowhawk Prize and a finalist for the Connecticut Book Award. He teaches English at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson and Willimantic, Connecticut. www.jonathanandersenpoet.com.

Wayne-Daniel Berard teaches English and Humanities at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. Wayne-Daniel is a Peace Chaplain, an interfaith clergy person, and a member of B’nai Or of Boston. He has published widely in both poetry and prose, and is the co-founding editor of Soul-Lit, an online journal of spiritual poetry. He lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, The Lovely Christine.

Curt Curtin is a lifelong poet with two full-length poetry collections published by Kelsay Books: Kerry Dancers (2020) and For Art’s Sake (2019). He also has three chapbooks: Embers Carried Across A River In A Gourd (2015), Elusive Music (2005), and Pacing The Floor (1979), along with many individual poems appearing in journals and other publications. In 2010 he received the Frank O’Hara award for poetry from the Worcester County Poetry Association, and in 2019 he won second place in the annual contest of the Connecticut Poetry Society. Curt has been a featured reader in many poetry venues in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and twice in Ireland. He taught college English and creative writing at Westfield State University for 20 years. For more information, follow him on Facebook or through his website, www.curtcurtinpoet.com.

Tom Ewart is old enough to know better, and generally doesn’t; that’s why he writes: how will he know what he thinks until he sees what he says? Originally from Virginia, now he isn’t.

Natasha S. Garnett has a BA in English from Dartmouth College and writes fiction, poetry, and letters to friends. Her work has appeared in River Walk Journal, Oak Bend Review,Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Here: a poetry journal, McNeese Review, and DASH Literary Journal. Given more time and space she would share happy words about Jeffrey, rugby, Bolivia, daughters, cats, dogs, picturebooks, bicycling, and chocolate. San Francisco is her birthplace, but Connecticut is home.

Jennifer Glick is a poet and veteran of the Army Nurse Corps living in Wethersfield, CT, who served in Vietnam at the 67th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon and at the 6th Convalescent Hospital in Cam Ranh Bay.  She is an active member of two writing groups, the Back Room Poets and the Veterans’ Writing Group.

Mishelle Goodwin, a frequent contributor to the Virtual Poetorium, is a poet and writer living in Worcester, MA.

Rob Jaret is a Brooklyn-bred composer whose passion lies in using his talent and sensibilities to help tell stories. He has contributed music and/or orchestrations to over 15 PBS productions including Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive (2017), Henry Ford, and episodes of American Experience. Films he’s scored include the feature documentary Touchdown Israel!, about the Israeli American-rules football league, which has played at 20+ film festivals including the Sarasota Film Festival and the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (the “Sundance of Jewish film festivals”), The Way Home: Tibet in Exile, about three generations of Tibetan women confronting the future of their culture, the black comedy AimPoint, Shoot and the award-winning short film Morocco to Israel, about a family of Berber Jews’ migration to Israel in the 1950s. Rob has also created music and sound design for video games for Earplay, Inc. and Lantana Games, and is a recurring collaborator with Urbanity Dance (Best of Boston, 2015). He has also composed music for commercials for Nationwide Insurance and the Independent Film Festival of Boston. Rob has worked as an assistant to veteran, award-winning composer John Kusiak since 2008, a role he began while finishing his studies in film scoring and jazz piano at Berklee College of Music. He has also studied composition at Longy School of Music and through private study, and has a BS in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Diane Kane is an author dabbling in all genres and explores every aspect of writing and publishing. She measures her success by the friends she has made along the way. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in numerous publications including Red Penguin Press and Written Tales Magazine. Kane is one of the founding members of Quabbin Quill’s non-profit writers’ group. She is the publisher and coauthor of Flash in the Can Number One and Number Two, short stories to read wherever you go. Kane writes public interest articles for Uniquely Quabbin Magazine and professional reviews for Readers’ Favorite. She published her first children’s book, Don Gateau the Three-Legged Cat of Seborga, in 2020, in English, Spanish, French and Italian. She just released her second children’s book, Brayden the Brave, in April 2021.

Howard J Kogan is a retired psychotherapist, poet and writer. He and his wife Libby moved to Ashland, MA in 2018 after spending thirty years in the Taconic Mountains of rural upstate New York. His poems have appeared in Still CrazyOccu-PoetryNaugatuck River ReviewUp the RiverPoetry ArkWriter’s HavenFarming MagazinePathways, and Award-Winning Poems from Smith’s Tavern Poet Laureate Contest (2010 and 2011 Editions) )as well as many other publications. His book of poems, Indian Summer, was published in 2011 by Square Circle Press and is available from the publisher or Amazon. His chapbook, General Store Poems, published in 2014 by Benevolent Bird Press, is available from the author. His latest book of poems, A Chill in the Air, was published in 2016 and is also available from the publisher, Square Circle Press or from Amazon. (Please buy it from Square Circle Press! http://www.squarecirclepress.com). His first (and last) novel, No View, was self-published in 2016 is available from Amazon as a paperback or on Kindle.

Sotirios (Sam) Evangelos Lalos is an artist, painter, musician, poet, and playwright who resides in Worcester, MA.

David M. May lives in Newington, Connecticut and hails as an alumnus of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania and Kean University of New Jersey. He is a teacher of English and has taught at many local area public schools as well as Central Connecticut State University where he taught as an adjunct instructor of College Writing and the Introduction to Fiction since the early 1990’s. He has published in “Perspectives” produced by The Faxon Poets, the Newington Town Crier and many local poetryjournals. He gathers inspiration from the classics as well as Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison. David finds his voice in the themes of family, history, and faith.

Susan O Nedd resides in Glastonbury, CT with her husband/artist, Don Nedd. In recent years, she has returned to creative expression and exploration through poetry. Her background is in Fine Arts/Advertising Design, Rhode Island College/Hartford Art School. Susan furthered her education (Lesley U) and changed into a mid-life career of education. She is a member of The Wit & Wisdom Poetry Group and the CT Poetry Society. “Words matter. Finding the right words matters.”

Dee O’Connor has been married to poet Curt Curtin for over 40 years and currently serves as his publicist, reader, and events manager. She hired herself in that capacity in 2019 upon retiring from a long career in management, teaching and research related to aging, disability and long-term support services. She also wrote and produced a one-act play, “Talking with Dolores,” about aging and suicide that has been performed in many venues in English and Spanish.

Patricia O’Connor is a former special educator, administrator, and behavior analyst for kids with autism. A mother of two and grandmother of four,  she loves dancing, singing, playing and listening to music in general, writing, walking in the woods, nature, genealogy, etc. Patricia lives in Central Massachusetts.   

Carla Schwartz is a poet, filmmaker, photographer, and blogger, as well as a professional writer with a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University. Her poems have appeared in Aurorean, ArLiJo, Eyedrum Periodically, Fourth River, Fulcrum, Bluefifth, Cardiff, Common Ground, Cactus Heart, Gyroscope, Leveler, Long Island Review, Lost River, Mom Egg, Mojave River, Naugatuck River, Oyster River, Paddock, SHARKPACK, Solstice, Submittable, Sweet Tree, Switched-on Gutenberg, Triggerfish, Varnish, Weatherbeaten, and Ibbetson Street, among others. Her poem, Wormageddon, appears as a model poem in “The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics”, edited by Diane Lockward. Her poem “Gum Surgery” was anthologized in City of Notions, A Boston Poetry Anthology. Her second collection of poetry, “Intimacy with the Wind“, is available from Finishing Line Press or Amazon.com. Find her debut collection, “Mother, One More Thing (Turning Point, 2014) on Amazon.com.  Her CB99videos youtube channel has 1,900,000+ views. Learn more at carlapoet.com, or wakewiththesun.blogspot.com or find her on twitter or instagram @cb99videos.

James R. Scrimgeour is Professor Emeritus at Western Connecticut State University. He has served as Editor of Connecticut Review and has published ten books of poetry and a critical biography of Sean O’Casey. He is now Poet Laureate of New Milford CT, and his most recent book, Voices of Dogtown: Poems Arising Out of a Ghost Town Landscape (Loom Press, 2019), was listed as a “must read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.

Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, dancer and events producer living in Lowell, Mass. In addition to previously featuring in the Starlite Virtual Poetorium, her poetry has appeared recently in The Cafe Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Beliveau Review, Raven Cage, and many more. She is author of five poetry books and a short fiction collection, The Plague Confessor. She welcomes visits to megsmithwriter.comTwitter @MegSmith_Writer and Facebook.com/megsmithwriter.

Tom Smith’s songs are in turns humorous, touching, thought provoking, and inspiring. Deeply rooted in the old-school folk tradition, his timeless stories are told with a voice that is honest and sincere with melodies that you will remember forever. In the words of noted singer/songwriter Barbara Kessler, “Tom Smith will make you laugh and cry (maybe even in the same song) – a very captivating songwriter and performer.” Tom grew up in rural Pennsylvania in a family where music was part of the fabric of everyday life. As a young man living at the epicenter of the folk-quake that was Cambridge, MA in the 1960’s, Tom solidified what has become a life-long love of self-made music. Now a folk veteran of over forty years, Tom performs at festivals, coffeehouses, schools, and concerts throughout the Northeastern United States to audiences large and small, young and old. Tom’s monthly folk music blog, “The Kitchen Musician” can be viewed at TomSmithMusic.com.

Paul Szlosek is a poet residing in Worcester, Massachusetts, and co-founder and co-host of The Poetorium at Starlite Featured Poetry Reading Series & Open Mic in the nearby town of Southbridge (which during the recent pandemic metamorphosed into the Virtual Poetorium which he edits). A past recipient of the Jacob Knight Award for Poetry, his poems have appeared in numerous publications including the Worcester Review, Worcester Magazine, Sahara, Concrete Wolf, and Diner. He’s probably best known in the Worcester poetry community for his fanatical obsession with obscure poetry forms, and has invented his own including the ziggurat, the streetbeatina, and the hodgenelle which he shares on his blog Paul’s Poetry Playground @ https://playground.poetry.blog. Paul also, in the last two years, has had the privilege of compiling and editing over twenty group poems from contributions from the very talented members of the Poetorium.