Interview with Poet Franco D’Alessandro (LEOPARD CLUB LOVE)

1) What is the theme of your poem?

That transformative power of -what the Greeks called- Storge/Philia love, especially when found in an unlikely place and between unlikely people.

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

My relationship with a student who has become a son to me. A rather tricky thing as I am a gay man and many people would find the relationship, which, of course, says so much more about their prejudice and homophobia than my capacity to love another human being as my own child.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

Since age 17; 35 years

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

Tennessee Williams

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a
professional actor?

I work with actors all the time; I am a playwright. I love actors!
It is always nice to see how someone else reads a poem.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

I am a professional playwright for 26 years; I also, occasionally, write screenplays.

7) What is your passion in life?

Writing and teaching and traveling; in my world -all three happen together!

Watch the Poetry Reading: 

 

Interview with Poet Janelle Barker (9/11 ATTACKS)

1) What is the theme of your poem?

the theme of my poem is finding your strength to stay strong

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

this event changed the world and affected all of us deep into our heart, whether we were there or not.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

I have been writing for several years but really got into it more in the last 2 years, its my biggest passion.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

Dinner. Haha. WOW! Oprah Winfrey, I have a poem that I dedicated to her. I would love for her to read it.

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a
professional actor?

I did not know this could be done. It was nice to hear some else read what I wrote. I would love to know if the reader connected to my writing?

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

Yes! Thriller Novels, pitch it to become a Movie, Ghost Stories Novel , Biographies, 4 poetry books, the hits just keep on coming. LOL.

7) What is your passion in life?

My passion is obviously writing, and being with my family & friends in the great outdoors.

Watch the Poetry Reading: 

Performed by Allison Kampf

9/11 Attacks, by Janelle Barker

The day began like any other r
The sun rose, scattering to work,
Settling into their day, with a smirk.
8.46am thousands of lives, would change,
North Twin Tower was hit by a plane,
People thought, NO, that’s insane.
News came to those, yes it was true,
Some knew and others didn’t have a clue.
Terror attacks was announced
Disbelief from civilians, on the ground.
9.03am, no, not again
The South Tower was hit, oh Amen.
Survivors running for their lives,
Passing the dead, that, they did dread.
Parts of bodies everywhere,
We had no time, to stop to care.
We had to get out, as fast as we could,
Everyone knew, that was understood.

People jumping from the towers,
Things happened in minutes,
Which seem liked hours.
Flights hijacked, 93,77 and 175
All the passengers, tried their best
To stay alive.
Life that day, was out of control,
When the buildings were demolished
It left, a great big hole.
90 countries, lost loved ones,
Firefighters, military
And police,
are many of the rescue Workers,
that now rest in peace.
Estimated up to 19,000
In the towers upon attack,
So hard to believe
That this maybe fact.
Years later, people still dying,
To the families, related this
Is terrifying.
Exposed toxins from ground zero,
Pregnancy losses, cancers
No one can find answers.
A memorial was made
For all to see,
A reminder of life,
No one would disagree.
Pay your respect, for those we lost,
And say a prayer,
For no extra cost.
This moment in history,
the world will remember,
Let’s come together,
United we stand,
Hand in hand,
Let’s show the world what we can withstand

Interview with Poet James Morgan-Jones (Demoiselle)

Matthew Toffolo: What is the theme of your poem?

James Morgan-Jones: The beauty of the natural world, of difference and of the individual.

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

A visitation by the demoiselle as I sat in the garden on a beautiful spring day.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

15 years.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

D H Lawrence.

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a
professional actor?

It’s great to have one’s work showcased on such a platform.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

Yes, I write novels (The Glasswater Quintet) and short stories and have recently written a one-act play.

Home

7) What is your passion in life?

The power of language. The many beautiful things that we imperil each day.
 

Watch the Poetry Reading: 

Performed by Allison Kampf

Demoiselle, by James Morgan-Jones

Let’s be direct: Beautiful Demoiselle.
What naming could be apter? In noon-light
a sliver of midnight blue comes spinning
from Hades’ palette, frailly fluttering,
a butterfly blue from the underworld.
Yet not quite: no sheer lepidopteran
makes this skittery, whirligig descent,
achieves in repose such sleek elegance.

He rests like a svelte blue pin, superbly
singular, wings deep-dipped in indigo:
pure concept lodged brilliant in spinel.
Such exquisite difference brings profound
gratification, a joy extinguished
in the homogenised world we fashion.

When I dream I’ll drink some of his lustre,
bask in the resplendence of my colours –
what flagrant beauty then in dynamism,
such glory mirrored in heaven’s dark glass.

Interview with Poet Paul O’Donnell (PASSING)

Matthew Toffolo: What is the theme of your poem?

Paul O’Donnell: Despair, frustration, poor decisions and their consequences, hope

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

All my poetry is prompted by what I feel or see. It’s my way of thinking about social change and doing something about it with the power of poetry.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

50 years

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a
professional actor?

To really enjoy poetry it has to be heard. It can’t just be in your head.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

Short stories and I’m currently collaborating on a book on Entrepreneurship called “Humble Crumbles”

7) What is your passion in life?

Making my imagination happen.

Watch the Poetry Reading: 

Performed by Allison Kampf

Passing, by Paul O’Donnell

So much is broken
I despair
he says passing out from lack of air
It was no more than a passing dream to think
the passing of a law could mean passing through the past
The inciting incident, the protagonist’s resolve to repair
ignorance fear and anger living side by side in liminal space stretched.
Searching for the prophylactic fountain to wash away despair
Farfetched
But passing laws passed through the fragile membrane made of the
dreams of gilded fossils giving
no more than a passing glance
with few words passing between them.
How could it not be broken?
Only the words Black Lives Matter, matter
No forgiveness can be asked. Forgiving is an act of power bestowed
granted by the weak with feelings of remorse
Atone is at and one
there the difference lies.

Interview with Poet Kirsten Warner (GRITTY, DANGEROUS DOLL)

 1) What is the theme of your poem?

The theme of this poem is how to turn disappointment into something useful for myself, how to transform that deadly blow into art.

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

I was not long-listed for the New Zealand book awards which I expected, although I later won best first novel. It seemed that all my work and hopes and dreams were for nothing.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

I have seriously been writing poetry for about 15 years.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

Michael Ondaatje. He’s such a wonderful writer, he comforts and inspires me.

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a
professional actor?

I want to take my poetry out into the world beyond the confines of my small country, New Zealand. I perform my poetry, I can always hear it. This seemed a wonderful opportunity.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

My novel called “The Sound of Breaking Glass” won best first book at the New Zealand book awards in 2019, and the Hubert Church Prize for Fiction. I am working on getting an e-book up and a book trailer. I have written short stories and television programmes.

http://www.nzbookawards.nz/new-zealand-book-awards/2019-awards/winners/

7) What is your passion in life?

Writing was my passion but only poetry remains a passion now. Music is my other passion. I play and sing in a folk-blues band called Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men.

https://www.google.com/search?q=bernie+griffen+and+the+thin+men&oq=bernie+griffen+and+the+thin+men&aqs=chrome..69i57j0j69i64.3991j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

Watch the Poetry Reading: 

Performed by Allison Kampf

GRITTY, DANGEROUS DOLL, by Kirsten Warner

I forage for her, the doll of my disappointment

a spray of brittle twigs
a faggot of fallen fronds
crusty sticks with lesions of lichen

crouched over, calling up my ancient sister.

Then it is only a matter of seeing and she takes shape.

A forked branch and spindly legs start running,
over-wide arm-span
shock of invisible fingers
guts hanging out
circulation unspooled
half a skirt of flax flowers,
all bundled together
leaving a strong stick where her head will go.

Overnight she stands sentinel,
my doll of disappointment,
through my sleepless 4 AM and discarded novels.
My insides agitate like giant kelp in a blowhole.
Somewhere a strange crying
but each time I get up the whimpering stops.

In the morning the pillow is wet.
I’m flimsy yet my ache weighs heavy on the bathroom scales.
I count my losses in the vanity’s distorting mirror.
It feels like something died. Like I never had a chance.

I craft her head from crumpled cellophane
and glinting, spooky transparency,
attach a savage halo
consider lengths of yarn the violent red of secobarbital
but she’s done. I nurse the day

while she fossicks in the underneaths
grubbing out contagion,
cursing humbug and sideshow
drowning out the comfort of friends
muttering spells to turn my gaze away
daubing herself with horse manure
full of grass seed that will eventually sprout green.

Interview with Poet David Cook (A LAST LOOK BEFORE LEAVING)

 1) What is the theme of your poem?

A woman admitting to herself that her relationship is abusive

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

An anecdote told me which I thought was instructive and had a twist

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

35 years

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

William Shakespeare

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a professional actor?

A good offer coupled with enjoyment of much on YouTube

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

Mostly poetry

7) What is your passion in life?

Writing complex things with clarity and economy

Performed by Allison Kampf

POEM:

Suddenly she hadn’t the heart to quarrel.
‘He’s faithless and won’t change’
and with that thought was freed.
After he had gone out, she packed
and put her suitcase by the door.
A last look before leaving.
The rug chosen together in Istanbul,
chess set lovingly given him.
‘Three years and nothing.’

She walked towards the traffic and hailed a taxi,
in her raised hand the black queen.

Interview with Poet Bill Mumford (THE KEENING CURLEW)

1) What is the theme of your poem?

Despite the sense of desolation the poem is about hope- the curlew’s call sounds like a mourning lament but actually it is a love song to attract a mate. The poem finishes with the observation that people who are very sick in hospital will smile and feel more hopeful when they hear the chimes celebrating the birth of a baby.

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

The poem is based on a real event- a hike in the local hills in The Lake District, England just before lockdown. The emerging news of Covid-19 had created a sense of foreboding and sheltering from the mountain storm seemed like a metaphor. The curlew’s song brought hope- just like the birth of an infant.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

I am a relative novice- inspired by the likes of Seamus Heaney I decided to give it a go a couple of years ago.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

Seamus Heaney!

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a
professional actor?

Although I love the written word poetry is all about sound and I have never heard one of my poems read aloud before- such a treat. Also it is interesting to hear how another person interprets the flow and where they put pauses and stresses- it is like a fresh interpreation.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

No sticking with poetry for now and even then find myself hooked on the sonnet form- 14 lines. Not too daunting!

7) What is your passion in life?

Mountains

Performed by Allison Kampf

POEM:

Hail, blown by Artic Maritime wind
Stings. Westmorland whitens, all sound freezes.
I take shelter in a silent lime kiln
Stone cold. No fire here, all warmth has been mined.
Pulled my dog close- wary with unease
Numbed. Quiet, waiting as the cold seeps in.

Steam of light cuts through an icy veil
Glimpses of a silhouette, then the lament
As a curlew keens his incantation.
His lovelorn song tells such a sad tale
Memories of moors filled with enchantment-
His thoughts turn- for hope and expectation.

They say: birth chimes bring the sick belief
Moment of joy in a landscape of grief

Interview with Poet Iuliana Pașca

Matthew Toffolo: What is the theme of your poem?

As the title “Cosmogony” suggests, the theme is the creation of the cosmos, the poetic-self being the generator of this entire universe. Additionally, the poet’s coming into the world is akin to the birth of an entire universe.

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

I have always been curious about where we come from, what we truly are, and why we are here. When I was 5 years old, I started a journey of discovering the “end of the world”, but my quest was interrupted by a neighbour that found me wandering around and brought me home. Ha-ha. Since then, I continue my “expeditions” towards such discoveries, but, obviously, in a less physical manner.

I think I wrote this poem out of a desire to understand and express the joy of being part of something as great as this universe.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

Do love letters to an imaginary friend count? 🙂

I wrote the first text, that can be defined poetic by the literary canons, about 10 years ago.

But, from my point of view, poetry is more than a correctly written text that may be generally accepted by the critics as such, it is a beautifully expressed emotion, so, my lost love letters to that imaginary friend could be considered poetry as well and then I should say I have been writing poetry since I knew how to write.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

My grandmother that passed away too many years ago.

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a professional actor?

I didn’t think twice when you sent me the invitation. I appreciate the work you’re putting in promoting poetry and connecting poets around the world.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

I write poetry, as, in this period of my life, it is the best way I can use to express myself. But I enjoy literature a lot and I also like doing translations of short stories and other poems. Besides, I wrote a few literary articles (such as: Madness in literature – Diary of a madman story) and I published editorials or interviews in local literary magazines.

7) What is your passion in life?

I enjoy many things in life, but I am especially passionate about those things/ places/ ideas etc. that I have yet to discover.

 
Watch the Poetry Reading: 

Performed by Allison Kampf

I would like to tell you about my birth
but how to start with no beginning?

Mother said I was born
ahead of my time;
I don’t remember,
but I know I was there when
I also gave birth to my mother.

I saw when from the heart
the galaxies
gushed streamingly,
suns were smiling on the spine
rasing satellites
from the tireless breath.
Neurons formed stars
in the rainbow hair,
while Mars was preparing
for the fight.

From the fingers of the left hand
it detached,
together with the rings, Saturn
then, as lightning,
Jupiter came out of nowhere,
and to my feet
was lying down
the Earth.

Interview with Poet Darell Philip

Matthew Toffolo: What is the theme of your poem?

Darell Philip: Inspirational and rememberance

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

26th March 2020, 8pm, would be an evening which would go down in history as millions of people across the UK would clap for our brave NHS workers putting their lives on the line for the country during the global Coronavirus pandemic. I wanted to document this moment in British history.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

Since childhood – writing has been my life.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

In light of the current Covid-19 crisis I’d say Mary Seacole – a pioneer in nursing who put her own life at risk by going to the battlefield where she treated wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War which took place from 1853-1856.

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a professional actor?

I thought it would be really cool to bring the poem to life and so decided to have a professional actor do that and I was not disappointed!

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

I’m also a freelance journalist and have written for a few various newspapers, magazines and websites.

7) What is your passion in life?

Writing is my passion. The great reformer, Martin Luther once said, “If you want to change the world, then pick up your pen and write,” which is what I hope to achieve each time I write.

Watch the Poetry Reading: 

Performed by Allison Kampf

Windows opened
Mum and I screaming at the top of our…
You know, that organ which
Mr Corona makes the point of his attack
Our voices in unison with the carnival of faces
Hand clapping together among our block
For those brave front liners
Robed in white and blue
Their lives risking for Queen and Country
For me and you

A sign in a window reads
Hang in there Hackney
Locked down, stuck in isolation
Longing to be free
Hooting and beeping cars drive by
An outpouring of love filling the illuminous sky
Dethroning Mr Corona from his royal seat
His nasty legacy we will surely defeat

An unusual crescendo took place that night
The community together an awesome sight
It was to everyone’s most absolute delight
To see Mr Corona given a most chilling fright
For all the lives he’s cruelly taken away
For all those families we kneel and pray
Our frontline heroes – relics of the past
For you we clap knowing this too shall past

The morning after the night before
A bright smile beams across the sky
As a reminder of that glorious day soon to come
When from this earth with angel’s wings
We take off and fly.

Interview with Poet Jean Buschmann

1) What is the theme of your poem?

The title is a double-entendre. The real GIANT moment refers to the unforseen and unbelievably fortuitious kind gesture of a stranger. The experience stayed with me for all these years because the man was not a scalper, he just wound up with two extra tickets when friends had to cancel. So what were the chances that I’d oddly declare we’d get tickets once we turned the corner – and have it actually happen! Of course, what I didn’t mention in the poetic narraitive was that he didn’t try to pad the price. He simply charged me face value.

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

I love a creative challenge. So when it arrived in my email inbox, I couldn’t resist! – Especially since the stated goal was to share a positive and uplifting experience during these challenging quarantined times.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

Since I was a child. But not often, and mostly for assignments. The best of which was for an essay exam on Shakespeare’s MACBETH. The English Lit. professor offered the class the option of trying to write a poem instead. I dove right in! Later she confessed that she didn’t think anyone would dare risk their grade on a time-pressued longshot. – That was the proudest “A+” I ever received.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

A certain carpenter from Nazerth. I’m hoping it can be arranged.

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a professional actor?

It’s always fun to share work with fellow creatives.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

Yes. I do freelance marcom and copywriting for a living. (As well as video production and editing). I’m also an award-winning screenwriter hoping to have my most recent feature produced. It’s called LOVE THY NEIGHBOR and it’s both timely and socially-relevant.

7) What is your passion in life?

Making a difference in some tangible way. Creatively, I’d love to tell riveting and socially-relevant stories that pack a powerful punch. That would be a dream come true, for sure!

Watch the Poetry Reading:

Performed by Allison Kampf


POEM:

BORED in San Jose, our home in the South Bay, we ventured to The City that day.
– It wasn’t ordinary, no way!
Sunny and bright, not a cloud in sight.
– For the foggy City By The Bay, that’s rare for May, let alone April Fools’ Day!
But it was no joke, so we were seriously stoked at the thought of some fun in the sun.
The grand opening of PacBell Park was our mark – an exhibition game between the
Yankees and Giants. Otherwise known as “The Spankees,” to their defiants.
As a native New Yorker raised in Queens, it was The Mets for whom I placed all bets.
But as if to put our love to the test, my Nor-Cal man loved The Bronx Bombers best.
– And no, that’s not jest.
So that was the original aim of our quest, but before long we’d learn it might not be best.
– Since such seemed the goal of all the rest.
And so, with slightly deflated hearts, we parked by The Palace of Fine Arts.
– Far far away from where we’d hoped to spend that day.
We then began to stroll around, stopping at every fascinating sight we found.
– Talking and laughing along the way, we could hardly believe we’d walked to the Bay!
Not ’til we saw my blistered feet, were we finally ready to take a seat.
That’s when we noticed something funny – all the ATMs were out of money!
“Uh-oh” we said to one another, ‘cuz neither of us had stashed cash for the other.
Hungry, with nearly no money at all, there was not even a cab for us to call.
That’s when something inside me said, “It’s time to get up and keep moving ahead!”
To that, my hubby scratched his head, not at all sure how I’d endure.
But despite my feet, I wasn’t ready to admit defeat.
As we neared the revered new stadium, out of my mouth came a strange shout…
“When we turn the corner, we’ll get tickets to the game!” – To which my man jokingly retorted,
“Are you insane?”
Then to his shock, I locked eyes on a smiling stranger, who waved me over to his Range Rover.
“I’ve got two tickets, if you need ’em.” He said. “That’d be great…if you can wait.” And so, I explained
our twisted fate.
The stranger stepped right up to the plate. Without so much as a pause, as if completely compelled
by our cause.
When he jotted down his address, I knew that we’d been truly blessed. Then I noticed his wife was
stressed.
So I smiled reassuringly, as if to say – “The check will soon be on the way.”
…And that’s the true story of that April 1st day!

A poetic memory by