Posts Tagged ‘Brockport


In Pursuit of the Juiciest Water: Day One (Brockport Tap Water Through Brita Filter)

The last dream I had before waking up this morning went something like this:

I was in a writing workshop in a PhD program somewhere. There were at least four people in the class. There was an invisible but obviously present student, who may have been Silas H. He sat to my left. There was a professor to the right. All I could see was his chest and his right arm. I think it was David Kirby, which would put me at Florida State University. And then there was another student. She may have been a TA or just a student that had been there for at least a year. She said we were going to do a creative writing exercise. She handed me a plastic cup of water. Translucent Plastic CupIt was one of those semi-transparent plastic cups that are gray in color. They have those ridges in the middle for grips, and the plastic is really thin. If you press to hard, you get those white fault lines in the cup. She said, “We are going to do a tasting. The first thing I want you to do is to smell its bouquet. What does the side of the water smell like to you, Tom?” I really enjoyed that she asked what the side of the water smelled like because I think the edge of the wine smells different from the inner part of the wine. I responded, “The edge of the water has a bouquet of air. I also pick up a hint of dryness or dustiness that reminds me of my second-grade classroom.”

Then the dream kinda evaporated. I think the point of the dream was to tell me that I was thirsty and I should get up and get a glass of water. My dreams do that sometimes. They give me clues to get up and get something to drink when I’m dehydrated, or they will give me clues to get up and go to the bathroom or to remember to breathe.

Then I thought, “Hey, I do wine tastings. Why not do a water tasting. And in the spirit of ‘In Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine,’ I’ll do ‘In Pursuit of the Juiciest Water’.” I wonder if water can be juicy? Anyway, here we go.

Orange Brita Water PitcherToday’s water will be Brockport tap water that was chilled in an orange Brita water pitcher.

I’m serving this water in a white wine glass. It’s been breathing for about 15 minutes. The nose has a slight hint of wood or mustiness to it. It smells like the outdoors. There’s also an underlying layer of salt. It’s very, very faint. When I smell it, I think of a dirty glacier in northern Montana.

The texture at first is crisp, but that could be because it is cold, for as it warms it become more malleable and thick. It has a long finish that brightens in the mouth. My teeth feel like glass or cheap crystal. And there is a bit of a dryness on the side of the tongues. I wonder if this is what dirty glacier water tastes like. I mean, it tastes good, and it feels good, but I keep thinking of a glacier in Montana, but not the Glacier National Park. There’s another one, and it actually may be in northwest Washington. I think that’s what I’m thinking of. But I’m not thinking of the main glacier. I’m thinking of the snow on the top of the mountain that is slightly browned and is dripping off as it melts.

I like this morning’s water. I hope you do to.//


The Godfathers of Rochester Poetry – The Huff Black Reading (11-19-11)

That’s right ladies and gentlemen. The Godfathers of the Rochester, NY, poetry scene will be reading together at the heart of where the whole Rochester poetry scene really began – Brockport, NY.

Come one. Come all. Come to the November 19th reading at A Different Path Gallery on 27 Market Street. The event starts at 7:30 p.m., and it’s free.

Steve Huff Ralph Black Reading Flier(To see the poster full size, click it. To download a printable copy, click Huff Black Reading Flier PDF.)

There’ll be wine, food, and maybe cannolis.

So who are these fine readers? And why are they the Godfathers of Rochester Poetry? That’s because Steve Huff does significant work at the epicenter of the Rochester literary scene – Writers & Books. And Ralph Black co-runs the long running (if not longest running in the United States) reading series – The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport. So all poetry in the Rochester area must first go through them. Or else!

Here’s more about them.

Ralph BlackBefore Ralph Black became a respectable citizen of Western New York: he delivered The Washington Post to Spiro Agnew (after Agnew resigned from office). He cleaned carpets in government buildings in the nation’s capital. He was Fritz in the Nutcracker. He painted houses in Maine. He waited tables at a swank Italian restaurant that turned out to be a front for a Mafia-led cocaine operation. He hitchhiked to Williamsburg, VA, on a school day, to interview a craftsman who made miniature replicas of Viking ships. He ate peyote buttons while sitting in a cave in the Shenandoahs. He was bounced on Isaac Stern’s knee. He stole a 20 lb. tin of cashews from the deli where he worked. He fought fires for the Forest Service in Idaho. He nearly fell off a mountain in the backcountry in the Olympics. Ditto for a cliff in Maine. Ditto for a cliff in Virginia. Presently, he lives in Monroe Co., NY, where cliffs are few and far between.

Steve HuffSteven Huff is the author of two books of poems, most recently More Daring Escapes, and a collection of stories, A Pig in Paris. A Pushcart Prize winner in fiction, and an O.Henry Prize finalist, his poetry has been read on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, and been chosen by form US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser for his American Life in Poetry feature news column. He is Director of Adult Education and Programs at Writers & Books, and teaches writing at RIT, and in the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College in Boston. From 2002 through 2008 he was host of Fiction in Shorts, a regular feature on WXXI-FM and WJSL-FM.

This event is sponsored by A Different Path Gallery, Redactions: Poetry & Poetics, and Lift Bridge Book Shop.//


Poems for an Empty Church Has Been Released

If you believe in God or don’t believe in god, if you have a religion or need a religion, if you’re empty or spiritually full, Poems for an Empty Church will speak to you and help you experience the Other.

Poems for an Empty Church front cover

Poems for an Empty Church (from Palettes & Quills) is now on sale at Amazon here. Soon it will be available at other book stores including Lift Bridge Book Shop in the heart of downtown Brockport, NY.

Here’s what people are saying about it:

Of course, no church is ever really empty unless people let ritual and myth lapse into repetition and dogma. Even then it isn’t empty, just empty of awe. That’s when origin stories are most necessary, and that’s what Tom Holmes provides in abundance: Moons create amazement, then stones create reflection, then people come along creating words, aggression, fire, flutes, art, physics, and probably our destruction, everything progressing ’til it returns full circle. Along the way, “statues pry themselves from sides of buildings / and exit the city / clutching their plaques.” Along the way, a lot of fine poems unfold, one containing a curse: “you have succeeded / in being only what you thought / you should be.” It’s a curse because we ought to be more. In a century in need of a giant do-over, Poems for an Empty Church reminds us of that. Even better, it makes a good lever or spark.

– Rob Carney, author of Story Problems, Weather Report, and Boasts, Toasts, and Ghosts

In Poems for an Empty Church, Tom Holmes writes of birth and death and the life we live in between those two events in beautifully sculpted lines carved into the white space that surrounds them. “I dare say I can hear / muddy angels singing /the lines of God,” he writes in “The Calculus of a Tod Marshall Book of Poems.” There are plenty of angels in Tom Holmes’ poems too, but one must be still enough to hear and appreciate the whisk of wings hovering over these powerful meditations.

– Sarah Freligh, author of Sort of Gone

I think of Charles Olsen when I read Tom Holmes’ poems: open, investigative, prophetic, often with mystical implications. These are the elements of our best modernist poems, and Holmes is a modernist – or a pre-modernist, or a post-pre-modernist. And there lies the real interesting part of his poems, they are hard to fit into anyone anywhere. He sits us in an empty church and says listen. He knows “it was the moons talked first.” He knows the dreams we dream even when “we wheeze / asleep in our boxes of shadows.” In these poems and parables is our collective of fire and nightfall, origins and endings, monochromatics, rivers, and stretch marks. Sappho makes a rare presence, but this is a book more stone-carved than page-written and she too is an ancient muse. As this author’s I is an absent eye, scanning the world of caves and shadows to find clouds who feed themselves, ghosts like alphabets, and men who whittle bones into flutes.

– Sean Thomas Dougherty, author of Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line and Broken Hallelujahs

This book is dedicated to Rob Carney, William Heyen, and W. S. Merwin. Without them, this book could never have come into being. They have affected my poetry profoundly, which is evident in this book.

I began writing Poems for an Empty Church back in 1989 or 1990. I didn’t know that at the time, but the oldest poem in the book, “Three Voices of Creation,” was begun back then.  I then worked on it for 17 more years. Twenty-one or twenty-two years if you count some tiny edits I made before the book went to the printer.

The majority of the book, however, was written around 2005 and 2007 when Merwin’s sans-punctuation imagination and tonalities were in me along with Rob Carney’s mythic imagination and tonalities. This book is built from the mythic imagination, tonalities, long vowel sounds, and, to my surprise when I read it again for the first time in two years just before it went to publication, harmonic tonalities. But mostly, it’s in a simple language. A language of what I call The Language of Last Call. That is the language that people are using shortly before a bar closes. When you use a language that is most close and most honest to you. A language that is void of the pedantic and impressive. It’s a language of communication and images. And it’s clear.

Here’s the opening poem:

     Twelve Years with Heyen’s “The Poem is Smarter Than You”
        For William Heyen

     I know what this poem means
     I know everything about it
     I know why the oak is in the poem
     to evoke sturdiness longevity & tone
     The poem is smarter than you

     I know this poem in part
     is meaning to talk
     about the expensive oak desk
     & how it was made
     a symbol of civilization
     The poem is smarter than you

     I think the oak poem
     I will write will speak
     of a forest being clear cut
     The poem is smarter than you

     Dear Poem what do you need
     I can’t see from staring at you
     my imagination is not
     connecting to you or the oak
     The poem is separate from you

     Dear writer remove time
     from your poem then space
     then see where you stand
     see where the oak walks
     or has walked or if it will move
     The poem is separate from you

     There is nothing here
     but an old movie projector
     with an absent light bulb
     & now a star whose light
     has not yet arrived
     What are you hinting
     The poem is smarter than you

     Poem you’ve turned your back
     to me you’re walking without me
     you’ve stolen my pencil
     The poem is smarter than you

     Dear Poem I’m tired of this
     thinking I’ve lowered my hands
     I’ve stopped my attempt to write
     What do you want

     That surrender & your ego 
     clear cut from the page 
     & a mountain for me to stand on 
     & a sunrise for my shadow 
     which you will trace 
     listening to night’s echoes 
     I am smarter than you 
     Nature is smarter than me

This is like the opening door poem. The book really begins with the first section “Beginnings,” when the other poems become more grounded, more body- and soul-centric, and able to fill, live, and resonate within an empty church. //


A Different Path Gallery Reading Series: May 2011

On Saturday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. at A Different Path Gallery (27 Market St., Brockport, NY), John Roche and Kitty Jospé will read their poetry.

Roche Jospé Poetry Reading Poster

Kitty Jospé – Teacher with a passion for languages and the arts. Music and poetry both require a precision in elements of craft applied to the endless possibilities of personality.  This line from her poem, “Rumbled in the Street,” sums up her ars poetica: “I want to land a helicopter – stop the massacre of what it means to be human.” Her book, Cadences, will be available. Proceeds go to Women Helping Girls.

John Roche  earned his PhD from SUNY Buffalo, studying with Robert Creeley and John C. Clarke. His first two full-length poetry collections are Topicalities (2008) and On Conesus (2005), both from FootHills Publishing. His latest book of poems, Road Ghosts, is available from theenk Books. He also edited the collection Uncensored Songs for Sam Abrams (Spuyten Duyvil, 2008), co-edited with Patricia Roth Schwartz an anthology of poetry by inmates at Auburn Prison called Doing Time to Cleanse My Mind (FootHills, 2009), and edited Martha Rittenhouse Treichler’s Black Mountain to Crooked Lake: Poems 1948-2010, with a Memoir of Black Mountain College (FootHills, 2010). Roche is an Associate Professor of English at RIT.

To download a printable post, click Roche Jospé Poetry Reading Poster PDF.

Schedule it on your Facebook calendar by clicking here.//


Three Bad-Ass Poets Reading

Poets shouldn’t jingle jangle jingle. They should be tough like cowboys.

No. Tougher than that.

They should be rough as sandpaper and tough as nails. They should be:

Three Bad-Ass Poets Reading Poster

Who are these Bad-Ass Poets?

The Doc (Charles Coté) is the author of the chapbook Flying for the Window (Finishing Line Press, 2008) and is working on a full-length book of persona poems called Shrink, which is  about a man in search of himself amidst the patients he tries to help. Publication credits include: Upstreet, Salamander, The Cortland Review, Redactions, Free Lunch, Identity Theory, Blueline, Modern Haiku, Connecticut River Review, and HazMat Review. He is a psychotherapist in private practice and teaches poetry at Writers & Books in Rochester, NY.

The Babe (Sarah Freligh) is the author of Sort of Gone (WordTech Communications, 2008), a book of poems that follows the rise and fall of a fictional pitcher named Al Stepansky. Her work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac and in the upcoming anthology Good Poems: American Places. Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a poetry grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in 2006, and a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts in 1997. Sarah was born and raised in Michigan, and she currently teaches at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.

The Wino (Tom Holmes) is the editor of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics ( He is also author of After Malagueña (FootHills Publishing, 2005), Negative Time (Pudding House, 2007), Pre-Dew Poems (FootHills Publishing, 2008), Henri, Sophie, & the Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex (BlazeVOX Books, 2009), The Oldest Stone in the World (Amsterdam Press, 2011), and Poetry Assignments: The Book (Sage Hill Press, forthcoming 2011). He has thrice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared on Verse Daily and has also appeared in Blue Earth Review, Chiron Review, Crab Creek Review, The Delmarva Review, The G. W. Review, Mississippi Review, Mid-American Review, New Delta Review, New Zoo Poetry Review, Orange Coast Review, Rockhurst Review, San Pedro River Review, Santa Clara Review, South Carolina Review, Sugar House Review, Swarthmore Review, and many other journals that don’t have “Review” in their name. He also maintains this blog and makes posters.

For more information about A Different Path Gallery and their other events, visit their website:

To download the poster as a PDF, click Three Bad-Ass Poets Reading Poster PDF.//

The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Material Matters

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Line Break and receive email notifications of new posts.

Join 3,267 other subscribers
February 2023


The Line Break Tweets

%d bloggers like this: