Interviewer vs. Interviewer

Interviewer vs. Interviewer
( Click on picture to view) Elizabeth Lund--Host of Poetic Lines interviews Host of Poet to Poet-- Doug Holder

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

March 1, 2011 Poet Ruth Kramer Baden author of "East of the Moon"

Review of EAST OF THE MOON by Ruth Kramer Baden, Ibbetson Street Press, 25 School Street, Somerville, MA 02143, 2010.
Book design by Steve Glines (

Review By Barbara Bialick

The poetry collection, East of the Moon, is at once mythic, narrative, story telling and bursting with flavor beads of some great stand-alone poems. As she takes the reader through the lifecycles of a mature woman, age 70, we see the span of a full first collection, which has obviously been writing itself in the back of her mind for a long time. It may be a first book, but not a first-time writer. The work echoes with the awful meanings behind fairy tales, the things that the original tellers didn’t dare to say but to imply. It also seems influenced by William Blake’s voices of innocence and experience.

The cover design and inside black and white ink drawings add a lot to the fairy tale theme. But the royal blue cover and its own painting quoting “Schoen ve de le vune”—you are lovely like the moon.—makes its own stamp on the collection as it literally feels like nubuck leather boots, which mimic the boots of the Cossacks and others roaring through history, using and abusing women and everyone else.

Some examples from the book:

“She was the clever one,/Hansel had always been slow./She knew they could not go back/their stepmother would break them/their father would betray them…”(“Gretel Ever After”).“She told the prince, If I married you/I would become a frostbitter woman/who could not hear my children/sing or cry/…Touch me and I will kill you…He ran… /She made her lonely way over roots and rocks…(to where) a rosewood piano stood/Her hands spanned octaves./She played a Bach prelude.” (“The Sleeping Princess”)Compare this narrative style to poetry later into the life cycle—a grandmother’s poetry:In “Consider the Trees,” she writes sheer lyric poetry: “how I have grown like the cypress/crouched on a cliff/sentinel searching/the inhospitable sea/…all that grows/…must find a way to live.” Or “Rachel’s Birthday Poem”: “You sail into your second year/wobbling and yawing in front/I in your wake/You are the music language makes,/you are the golden heart of the plum.”

Ruth Kramer Baden has been a 1950s married mother, a creator of a local chapter of the National Organization of Women, a journalist, a consultant on children for Wellesley College, and at age 50, she graduated law school! (She practiced elder law). She’s currently working on her retirement dream of becoming a poet. Give her book a try.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mike Ansara and January O'Neil of the Mass. Poetry Festival

My guest Tuesday Feb. 15, 2011 will be Mike Ansara founder of the Mass. Poetry Festival, and January O'Neil award-winning poet and board member of MPF. is a new program to connect poets and poetry with larger audiences. The project grew out of roundtables with poets in every part of the state to explore that condition of poetry in Massachusetts. Those roundtables were a collaborative effort between, the Mass Cultural Council and MassHumanities.

The purpose of is to create resources to aid and support the Massachusetts poetry community, to reconnect poetry to more mainstream culture, to create new audiences for poetry and to organize the poetry community throughout the state. works to support poets and poetry in a number of ways:

•The Massachusetts Poetry Festival – a unique 2 day gathering of poets and poetry lovers from across the Commonwealth for readings, workshops, panels, concerts, a small press fair and more
•Taking poetry to people: we sponsor poets to work in schools, senior centers, prisons and communities.
•Assisting more readers to read and reconnect with poetry
•Working with teachers to assist them to work with poetry in the classroom
•Creating a central information center for poets and poetry readers and lovers to find reading series, workshops, MFA programs, and other resources
•Building a robust website to support all of these activities
•Linking together all the dispirit strands of the Massachusetts poetry community to promote more collaboration, respect and communication also has a few core principles that inform and guide our work. First, we insist on supporting and giving voice to the full range of poetry across the Commonwealth. This means we work with and support poets of all different styles, schools and approaches, from academic poets at major universities to performance poets in clubs. We work with the full range of ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity, from poets writing exclusively in English to those writing in Creole, Portuguese, and Cambodian. It means we are committed to working with poets from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, from Newburyport to Fall River, in Worcester and the Merrimack Valley, in Chelsea as well as Cambridge. We are committed to expanding the audience for poetry in all those communities and not just in the universities and private prep schools.

Finally we are committed whenever and wherever possible to actually pay our poets for their creative time. Far, far too often poets are asked to donate their time and the results of hours and hours of hard creative work. We value poetry and we value poets. And so whenever possible we pay them for their work. is proud of the start we have made. The Festival has been created and two successful Festivals have been held. We have started pilot programs in schools, in the community and with teachers. We have 59 partner organizations, schools, and institutions across the state. We have a broad, diverse and talented Advisory Board. But as much as we have been able to do, far more remains to be done.