Posts Tagged ‘Sort of Gone

03
Sep
11

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. //

27
Mar
11

Footage from the Three Bad-Ass Poets Reading

The night started with a buzz, and then we got drunker.

Well, that’s not completely true, but there was definitely some drinking. It was actually one of the funnest readings I have ever been to. And it definitely was BAD-ASS.

The night of March 26th began as a party at A Different Path Gallery with the wonderful curator Katherine Weston. The party was then interrupted by some poetry for an hour and then party continued.

The poetry reading began with Charles Coté, author of Flying for the Window.

One of the first poems he read was called “April.”

During his reading, Charlie was caught texting.

Charlie then closed his read with the concluding poem from his book Flying for the Window, “After a Storm.”

Charlie was followed by Sarah Freligh, author of Sort of Gone.

Sarah Freligh reading

Of course, before she read there was a brief intermission so everyone (about 20+ of us) could refill their wine glasses. One of the first poems Sarah read was “Birthday,” I think, or “Happy Birthday.”

A bit later she read “Halfway House.”

Then there was another intermission to fill more wine glasses. Then I (Tom Holmes) read. The first part of what I was read was from my recently released collection of poems, The Oldest Stone in the World (Amsterdam Press, 12:00:01, 1-1-11). I gave a brief introduction to the book.

Tom Holmes Gesticulating

Then I commenced with the first part of my reading. (In case you’re curious, we all read about 15-20 minutes.) I devoted the first part of my reading to the book, and the second part to some of new investigative poems of Paleolithic cave art. But first excerpts from The Oldest Stone in the World.

Then some of the new poems: “Paleolithic Person Discovers Fear,” “Paleolithic Possession,” “The First Painting,” “The Invention of the Ellipsis,” “Paleolithic Person Tells of the Invention of Harmony and Melody,” and “Paleolithic Person Learns to Sing.”

Then we returned to the party where the poets words, along with the audience’s words, slowly became more and more slurred. Luckily there was a limo to drive most people home, and the rest of us walked home.

It really was a bad-ass reading by poets and attendees. Thank you everyone for coming.//

27
Feb
11

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 (www.redactions.com). 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: http://www.differentpathgallery.com/.

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

28
Aug
10

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day forty-four

I’m taking a break from designing the cover for Redactions: Poetry & Poetics issue 13 with the wonderful guest editor Sarah Freligh, author of Sort of Gone. She wrote baseball poems!

Justin Cabernet Sauvignon 2007Tonight’s wine on the Californian Cabernet Sauvignon mini tour is Justin Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Paso Robles. I’ve had previous vintages of this vineyard, and it’s typically very good. Actually, what I usually have, and I just realized this while looking for images of the wine, is the Isosceles. Now, that is some good wine.

I just looked at this wine and wished I had a decanter. Sigh. I don’t have one, so I did something bizarre and hopefully smart. I poured the glass of wine into another glass and then back again. And I did that like 10 or 12 times to get some air in there quick so it would open. I seem to remember this wine needing some air. So I hope this worked.

Plus, by now, it’s been open for about 40 minutes.

It’s a very dark purple color. The meniscus is short. And it has legs that keep appearing from nowhere. So, yeah, it’s a cab with some alcohol. Yay.

That’s a big, earthy, dark nose. A nose of blackberries, vanilla, nutmeg, leather, and maybe some cherries.

My girlfriend gets Freesia on its nose. I don’t know what that smells like or looks like. Below are pictures of purple and white freesia, so try to imagine what that smells like.

Freesia

Purple and white freesia

Oh, I smell it now?!

I like the juicy body. It seems a a hair too thin for a cab, but I’m cool with it.

On the palate, I definitely get plums. A bit juicy. There are some bing cherries and black berries  in the background. I think I pick up the freesia, too. And it comes with a peppery finish.

You know what? This would go good with brie cheese. For sure.

This a good Cabernet Sauvignon. I say approaching 89 points, and it’s getting better the longer it’s open, which is now one hour. So let’s say 89 points.

However, it’s over priced at the sale price of $20. It shouldn’t be over $15.//




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

The Cave

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

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