Some photos from prior events:
Monday, October 16, 2023
Saturday, October 7, 2023
Story & Bone, by Deborah Leipziger, from Lily Poetry Review Books
In her newest collection of poems (Story & Bone, Lily Poetry Review Books, 2022), Deborah Leipziger explores all the ways in which she intersects with her world, and thus helps us all understand the ways in which we intersect with our own. She reveals herself as daughter, mother, lover, friend; as baker, gardener, poet; as Brazilian, American, Jew; but most of all as human.
Skillfully reusing phrases and images from one poem to the next, so that one page seems to echo the ones before, Leipziger reminds us of the rhythms and patterns in every life. The most notable example of this is when she speaks of her family’s story of ancestors concealing valuables as they escaped from tyranny: in one poem, “gems into the hems”; in another “gems sewn in hems”; in a third: “gems faceted by stone hidden in garments”. She then calls the very story into question: “Or is it legend / I sing the fiction and non-fiction”.
Or again with multiple references to her own dangerous birth: “I celebrate my survival / from the umbilical cord / wrapped around my neck”; and then, “the umbilical cord coiled around my neck”. She then multiplies the echo through the umbilical connection between herself and her twin daughters…and further by drawing the comparison between her own blue complexion at birth and the color of the walls in the room where she gives birth. Echoes upon echoes.
There is an almost breathtaking sense of intimacy in this work, a fearless willingness to share herself with the reader, body and soul, as in:
“I celebrate my nimbus of curls
nipples neck navel”
“I open myself and claim my
I transform and sing
“I enter with offerings –
Pomegranates and honey dates,
All that I will be is here.
There is an earth-mother-like quality in the way she shows us a day of making lemonade with her daughters (Lemonade), or compares the act of picking apples in an orchard to that of motherhood itself (Apple Orchard), or when she provides the most spiritual and open-hearted recipe I’ve ever seen anywhere (How to Make a Challah).
Every page seems to glimmer with its own light, but for me the most sublimely luminescent moment comes in How to Help a Friend Mourn, which opens “For this you will need lemons” and then explains:
“Maybe you won’t have time to grow a lemon tree
but you have planned for this moment,
this is why you’ve grown a lemon tree.”
As in her earlier work, there are many floral images here, and when she puts the phrase “A half truth / to say I painted flowers” into Georgia O’Keefe’s mouth it’s clear she’s speaking of her own poetry as well. Sometimes a calyx or a spadix are more than the parts of a flower.
All artists strive to make their audience feel something. Leipziger succeeds triumphantly. You will feel her warmth and her wisdom; her strength and her vulnerability; her love of life and her deep understanding of both its pain and its beauty. This is a truly lovely book.
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Sunday, September 17, 2023
Another poem about the moon
Another song about what you mean to me
I have so much I need to say
About the moon and you and me
You and the moon and me
Side by side by side
Just the way it pulls the sea
Creating the rising and falling tide
It pulls on you and it pulls on me
Until we’re side by side by side
Another verse about the stars
The ones that hang in the midnight sky
And the ones I see shining
There in your eyes
You and the stars are my guiding lights
Hanging in the sky or hanging from your ears
Keep me on my path, day and night
I see you both always, far or near
Shining with a pure silver light
And I feel no fear
Just another song of you
Or another part of the same sweet song
I’ve sung since our love was new
And still my heart beats strong
And still my heart stays true
And still I sing the same sweet song
Of me and the moon and you
Sunday, May 21, 2023
its immediacy, its relevance.
Yes, eternity must be jealous
when a lover smiles and sighs,
when she removes the clip
which had held back her hair,
freeing it and allowing me
to slip my hand between the strands
as if it were a bolt of priceless silk
which she offers to me
as a queen might offer
alms to a beggar.
My fingers luxuriate gratefully.
This gratitude and luxury
exist only in the present,
and so, eternity is jealous.
Eternity is full of
Full of happenstances
and miscellaneous occurrences.
But only the present contains life.
Only the present contains love.
Only the present contains potentiality and value.
Only the present contains her sweet kiss.
And so, eternity is jealous.
Sunday, May 14, 2023
what remains will rise, float, free of time,
free of gravity, free of greed and desire
floating on whatever current it encounters
bumping against whatever obstacles there may be
a conscious dream-state
an exploration of the unknown, unknowable,
uncountable selves which you contain
(for, as Whitman, you contain multitudes)
that which is hidden
that which you will never find
that which feeds your ego-driven, day-to-day
existence as decaying compost feeds your garden
Sunday, May 7, 2023
“Why are we here?” is as interesting and relevant
as “what’s your star sign?”.
There is no “why”, there is only IS.
We were not sent here on a mission,
or with a purpose or a function.
There is no celestial Headmaster
handing down life lessons to be studied.
There is no final exam to be passed or failed.
There is no spiritual scorecard to be reviewed when we die.
And there is no eternal reward or punishment awaiting.
We simply live,
in this world,
alongside all the other
people and animals and plants.
The question is not “why?”, but “how?”.
How best to live a life,
how best to carry on,
How best to simply BE in the world?