First Mother’s Day w/out Mother

On Mother’s Day I called my brother, then my sister.  I got myself together.  I went to Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope.  The day was startling  beautiy.  Sky cloudless.  Air warm.  Many people carrying flowers–mostly men and children.

I have not always appreciated the solemnity of Mother’s Day.  I am one to send cards and when flush, bouquets and such.  But this is the first one in which I am not carrying the red carnations–a custom known in the South and I think in many places: red for living; white for dead.  I took the white carnation.  I felt a great deal of heaviness.  I saw many other white carnations. Much mother loss in the church.

I did not carry my white carnation from church, but left it in the garden because I think that is where it belonged. many of my fellow parishioners were also carrying white carnations. but there were new moms there too with their chubby legged children making noise during service the circle opens and closes. opens and closes.

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photo by Patricia Spears Jones

 

Black tulle and brilliant hued gems–thanks Sandra Payne brief update

Cover art by Sandra Payne

Cover art by Sandra Payne

THANKS TO SANDRA PAYNE for making work even while facing many personal and family challenges–through it all she focused on beauty and some of that became the cover for my poetry collection.  I am blessed with brilliant, talented, dedicated friends.

0508141659 Today started gloomy-as if Spring wanted to show that yes it can get chilly and gray and oh so not fun again.  So what to do-well I had an appointment to see work by Sandra Payne.  www.sandrapayne.com.  I’ve known Sandra since the late 1970s’s/early 1980s and we’ve both seen NYC change in some ways for the good/in some ways for the bad.  C’est la vie!  One thing we have in common w/ a number of Black American and African Diasporic artists is Just Above Midtown Gallery run by the incomparable Linda Bryant, at one time the only contemporary art space devoted to Blacks and other people of color in Tribeca.  David Hammons, Senga Nengundi, Lorraine O’Grady, all manner of later to be famous folk got their first major gallery shows there.  There were sightings of DeNiro (never saw him), et al.  But mostly there was a powerful committed to conceptualism by Blacks and installation work and stuff that wasn’t seen as “Black” i.e. THE AVANT GARDE.  As someone who had been in the East Village from day one of my journey in NYC, I was used to Bohemia, to conceptualism, to installation, performance art–it was simply refreshing to see the artists be pretty much the same color as me!

So back to Sandra–she’s an artist who has been working in a combination of the accretted–elaborate manipulated sculpture pieces made of colored aluminum or collages that explore our fascination w/ luxery items: pearls, jewels in patterns and colors that seem like an explosion of displays from Cartier, Tiffany’s or DeBeers.  And then there are the items from the natural world-driftwood and minerals and feathers–what she does with peacock feathers is magical.  This in an apartment the size of a NYC EV studio, but one w/ high ceilings (thank God for height) so there are cabinets of wonders–each time she opened a drawer, it was a surprise.  And she has collections of mid-century Americana; Black memorabilia; copper utensils; and beautiful boxes with items that will one day find a way to be exhibited in just the way she wants them to be.  Years ago, I saw a work of hers which alas could not be reproduced for a book cover, but it was of a circle of black tulle with different hued gems–a kind of storm of desire.   Her capacity to organize all of these materials and make a space that is comfortable and full of delight is why she is so very special to we who are her friends and admirers.

My visit was to see work that may (hopefully) adorn the cover of my new and selected which may be called The Perfect Lipstick or The City Proper or  At the Fringe of Town–don’t know just yet.  So today’s outside gloom was met with explosions of beauty, radiance, commentary on African American history–didn’t talk about her use of Black memoriabilia–and I am so grateful that she is one of the artists that were part of that unruly band that started out at Just Above Midtown.  She may not be as known as many of her compadres from back in the day, but she is deeply committed to making work of intense beauty and wit.  I am really looking forward to what is on that cover for my White Pine Press volume.

May is here, but April was amazing

Before April–I had the great pleasure of reading from my new book, Living in the Love Economy at Berl’s Poetry Shop with Erica Hunt and Anselm Berrigan, two great poets and very good friends.  Joey Infante, et al brought my vision for this collection to a bright fruition.  I am so very proud of it  and the chapbook Swimming to America, from Red Glass Books  both serves as a platform to my New & Selected coming out in 2015 from White Pine Press.

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As I’ve often said, April is Cruel to Poets Month–there were so many readings and so little time esp if you are a poet!  So I did my best. Heard Cyrus Cassells in conversation with Charif Shanahan at NYU. It was a lively and reflective dialogue after a fine reading by Cyrus.  It was great to hear him talk about finding his voice after early and high praise. His new poems are taking even more lyric leaps.

Earlier in the month, went to the CUNY housed Chapbook Festival.  My new chapbook, Living in the Love Economy was on display and sold!  Song Cave, CUNY’s brilliant Lost & Found series-a must have for serious poetry scholars and readers–and of course Overpass Books were there.   Amiel Alcalay, et al read and discussed the latest Lost & Found series including 2 booklets of Adrienne Rich’s writing about teaching at CUNY in the SEEK program.

Brenda Hillman was in town and I got to hear her read at Berl’s Poetry Shop with Evelyn Reilly–a great evening brought to us by Belladonna Collaborative.

And finally, it was really wonderful to attend A Painter and His Poets: The Art of George Schneeman at Poets House on April 26.  Maureen Owen was in town from Denver; Bill Berkson, co-curator from Boston, Alice Notley in from Paris, and Ron Padgett, Anne Waldman, Larry Fagin, et al from NYC.  Padgett who was the other c0-curator was an affable presenter and the readings and comments conjured a world where spontaneity and chance were as much a part of collaboration as talent and the ability to take risks.  In an era where folks are waiting for funding for . . . these poets worked with a painter who was open to words as they were open to his artistic vision.

 

Maureen Owen & Bob Holman, Poets House

Maureen Owen & Bob Holman, Poets House

I read in very disperate events:  the Ruth Malaczech Art & Impact event at the Martin E. Segal Theater Center at CUNY Grad Center where the living members of Mabou Mines and other avant garde theater people discussed the life and art of the great actress and founding member of Mabou.  The Reading of the Inferno by Dante at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Maundy Thursday organized by Marilyn Nelson–saw some wonderful friends and it ended before midnight!   And  an Alice Notley  tribute reading for the Downtown Literary Festival; and finally for Nita Noveno and Sara Lippman’s fine series, the Sunday Salon with Terence Degnan, et al.  They posted a video. http://www.sundaysalon.com/video

And now it’s May–the sun is shining FINALLY and on May1, I saw photographs from The Birmingham Project by Dawoud Bey at The Mary Boone Gallery on Fifth Avenue.  Bey has grown as an articulate and fierce documentary photographer of the Black Experience.  His artistry is at its best in these works that were done in Birmingham in response to the legacy of the Black Alabamans who struggled for civil and human rights and the children who now live in the city.  It is a major work and should be seen and housed in a major museum and soon.

Carrie Mae Weems and Sandra Payne at Dawoud Bey's exhibition.

Carrie Mae Weems and Sandra Payne at Dawoud Bey’s exhibition.

Tribute to Amiri Baraka, April 5, St. Mark’s Church, Manhattan

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photograph by Patricia Spears Jones

The Poetry Project and Cave Canem did a great job of paying homage to Amiri Baraka/Leroi Jones poetic roots and branches this afternoon. Poets and musicians performed Baraka’s works and/or paid tribute in poems to him. Quincy Troupe’s “Avalanche” had us thinking of Baraka’s welcome to that “unknown country” that he has now gone to. Julie Patton deconstructed his name melody collaborating with a bassist. David Henderson read his work/a Baraka poem and also a fine poem from Diane DiPrima. Cornelius Eady and Rough Music (Poetry’s house band) did a gorgeous multi-vocal arrangementl. I was also moved by Tracie Morris and Vijay Iyer’s deconstruction of “My Favorite Things”.
Bob Holman’s exegesis on Baraka’s most famous poem, you know the one about 9-11, the one that got the New Jersey legislature to remove the Poet Laureate position, which as Bob pointed out leads Baraka to be New Jersey Poet Laureate in perpetuity. It was a masterful critique of the poem, poet and situation. Thank you Bob Holman.
Steve Dalachinsky almost matched his wonderful performance at Jayne Cortez’ memorial last year w/ a wonderful piece in collaboration Matthew Shipp. Greg Tate brought some of Baraka’s prose from Black Music (me thinks “The Changing Same” is one of the great essays of the 20th century, just saying) reading a short riff on Wayne Shorter. And Martha and Basil King who met “Leroi” in the 1950s, Latasha Diggs, Toi Dericotte and James Brandon Lewis added to a generous and diverse group of poetic and musical voices in the tribute.
I almost left and then I realized I had to stay for Anne Waldman, who along with Henderson, Troupe, the Kings was a long time friend of Baraka and so her perspective had to be heard. She read a lovely elegy from Hettie Jones, Baraka’s first wife. Anne also discussed Baraka’s connection to Naropa. and the she and her band Ambrose Bye, Steven Taylor, and Devin Waldman served the material well. Because Anne did a fiery version of “BLACK DADA NIHILISMUS from “The Dead Lecturer”. I remembered how fascinated I am by the readings of poems across genders and Baraka was very much the enraged hetero male and Anne brought out her masculine side and worked those words. And then she ended with a kind of blessing on Baraka’s spirit and for all of us from her own summoning of female power.

I agree with Ammiel Alcalay who remarked that there are more works to unearth from Amiri Baraka and that he was extremely generous to the scholars and poets at CUNY Grad Center. Baraka, indeed all of the poets, Black and White who created the downtown literary scene deserve more scrutiny, to be read, wrestled with. They were not all Beats or Buddhists. They were as diverse as the neighborhood they lived and worked in. I am a huge O’Hara fan as many of my friends know, but I am also glad to have been part of the downtown scene in it’s third iteration in the 1970s w/ Anne and Lewis Warsh and Bernadette Mayer and Ted Greenwald and dear dear Lorenzo Thomas as my mentors, teachers, friends. It is good to see Bernadette and Ted begin to get their due and Lewis is now carving out more poets at LIU. As Steve Cannon told me, “Roi” always came back”. In many ways Baraka went back to Newark but Leroi/Amiri came to New York for friends, fun, the chance to wear his boogie shoes. And finally, Oliver Lake’s solo was extraordinary and his tribute poem a thing of great joy and admiration. Plus, he wore the most beautiful garment-truly a shirt of many colors. Where ever Baraka is he was tapping his feet.
I thank all the poets/ musicians and all the great people who made their way to the Sanctuary to pay tribute.

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photograph by Patricia Spears Jones

 

April Events

April 7,  RUTH MALECZECH ART + IMPACT

Tribute to Ruth Malaczech

w/ Lee Breuer, Joanne Akalits, Sharon Fogarty, et al

Co-curated by Dr. Jessica Silsby Brater

6:30 p.m.

Segal Theater, CUNY Graduate Center

34th & Fifth Avenue

Manhattan

 

 

April 13 Housing Works Downtown Literary Festival

Tribute to Alice Notley

Group Reading organized by Alice Whitwam

2-3 p.m.

Bowery Poetry Club

308 Bowery

Manhattan

 

 

April 17,  Dante Alghieri’s Inferno Reading

9-midnight after Maundy Thursday Service

Group Reading organized by Marilyn Nelson, et al

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street

Manhattan

 

April 22, Brownstone Poets

Organized by Patricia Carragon

w/ Yuyutsu Sharma, et al

7:30 p.m.

Donation

Café Dada

57 Seventh Avenue

Brooklyn NY

 

April 27, Sunday Salon

Organized by Nita Noveno

w/ Terence Degnan, Kim Friedman & Sweta Vikram

7 p.m.

Free

Jimmy’s No. 43

43 E. 7th Street

Manhattan

www.sundaysalon.com

Poems for humans’ use

I have always said that April is cruel to poets month.  Poets are reading everywhere. Some are writing a new poem each day–oh you productive ones.  Sometimes, we just post each others’ work on Facebook elsewhere.  It is that feast more than famine moment month.  But as a poet, I am pleased for the feast.   It is good to hear poets as diverse as Cyrus Cassells, , Scott Hightower, Julie Patton, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Anne Waldman, Simone White and that’s just the first two weeks in New York City.  At the end of March, I was pleased to launch my new chapbook Living in the Love Economy Berl’s Poetry Shop, a wonderful space for poetry books and all who read them in DUMBO, beneath the Manhattan Bridge and to attend the Center for Black Literature’s National Black Writers Conference.  I look forward to readings and events in April.  

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photograph by John Casquerelli

This past week I led a Master Class at the 12th National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College and I used “Mourning the Queen of Sunday” by Robert Hayden as the prompt. It is Hayden’s centenary and I envy Tony Medina and others who attended a conference in Detroit at Wayne State University.  Whether it Academy of American Poets poem-a-day; your local library’s Poem in a pocket Day or if in NYC, you visit the luminous as in daylight Poets House in Tribeca, open your mind and heart to the efforts of we would be bards.  You never know what you find there.  Some time powerful, forceful, feelingforce, thinkingforce, beingforce. Poems can generate great light or deep darkness.  That is good.  Poems are human made for humans’ use.

 

2014 Readings and Events

MARCH 2014

March 16  Bowery Women Anniversary Reading

Organized by Marjorie AltmanTesser, co-editor

w/ Fay Chiang, Nancy Mercado, Jan Heller Levi, et al

308 Bowery

1-3 p.m.

$5.00 Donation

Manhattan, NY

 

March 26   Solo Reading  SUNY  Stony Brook

Organized by Rowan Ricardo Philips

Dedicated to Kofi Awonoor

SUNY English Department

4 p.m.

Stony Brook, NY

 

March 28   Reading/Book Party

Living in the Love Economy

Organized by Overpass Books

w/ Anselm Berrigan and Erica Hunt

Berl’s Poetry Shop

126A Front Street

Brooklyn, NY

Free

347-687-2375

 

March 30, NBWC Poetry Talk Shop

National Black Writers Conference

Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College

Noon-1:30 p.m.

Free

Brooklyn, NY

www.centerforblackliterature.org

 

APRIL EVENTS

 April 7,  RUTH MALECZECH ART + IMPACT

Tribute to Ruth Malaczech

w/ Lee Breuer, Joanne Akalits, Sharon Fogarty, et al

Co-curated by Dr. Jessica Silsby Brater

6:30 p.m.

Segal Theater, CUNY Graduate Center

34th & Fifth Avenue

Manhattan

 

 

April 13 Housing Works Downtown Literary Festival

Tribute to Alice Notley

Group Reading organized by Alice Whitwam

2-3 p.m.

Bowery Poetry Club

308 Bowery

Manhattan

 

 

April 17,  Dante Alghieri’s Inferno Reading

9-midnight after Maundy Thursday Service

Group Reading organized by Marilyn Nelson, et al

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street

Manhattan

 

April 22, Brownstone Poets

Organized by Patricia Carragon

w/ Yuyutsu Sharma, et al

7:30 p.m.

Donation

Café Dada

57 Seventh Avenue

Brooklyn NY

 

April 27, Sunday Salon

Organized by Nita Noveno

w/ Terence Degnan, Kim Friedman & Sweta Vikram

7 p.m.

Free

Jimmy’s No. 43

43 E. 7th Street

Manhattan

www.sundaysalon.com

POEMS/REVIEWS/REPORTS/INTERVIEWS LINKS LINKS LINKS

FEATURES/COMMENTARY/INTERVIEWS/VIDEOS/AUDIOS

http://www.villagevoice.com/arts/the-poetry-project-s-half-century-of-dissent-9453827

http://www.aroundaboutproject.com/purple.html  podcast on the color Purple

https://soundcloud.com/brooklynpoets/yawpcast-8816 https://www.poetryproject.org/publications/246/

http://chrisricecoohttps://soundcloud.com/brooklynpoets/yawpcast-8816per.blogspot.com/2016/08/poet-

patricia-spears-jones-on-lucent.html http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/patricia-spears-jones#poet

http://newsreel.org/guides/Furious-Flower-III-Index.pdf*  https://vimeo.com/136651928

http://ottermagazine.com/article/interview-with-patricia-spears-jones-by-lewis-warsh/

http://www.gwarlingo.com/2013/the-sunday-poem-patricia-spears-jones/

http://www.litbridge.com/2013/03/06/patricia-spears-jones-next-big-thing-interview/

http://poetry.about.com/od/poetryhistory/a/yearreview2006_3.htm

http://www.newpages.com/magazinestand/litmags/default.htm

http://womensvoicesforchange.org/poetry-friday-interview-with-patricia-spears- jones.htm

*California Newsreel documentary for Furious Flower Conference, 2014

POETRY BLOGS/ARTIST COLLABORATIONS/COMMISSIONS

http://eepurl.com/cfETxj http://www.92y.org/wordswelivein/featured/week-7

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/author/psjones

http://www.boscarol.com/nina/html/manual/poesia.html www.sandrapayne.com

REVIEWS OF MY WORK

http://arkreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/47.3-Dec-2016-br-color.pdf

http://labloga.blogspot.com/2016/01/a-lucent-fire-new-selected-poems-book.html

http://bombmagazine.org/article/3524121/patricia-spears-jones-s-em-a-lucent-fire-em https://www.poetryproject.org/publications/246/

http://galatearesurrection3.blogspot.com/ http://galatearesurrection3.blogspot.com/2006/08/femme-du-monde-by-patricia- spears.html

http://www.backstage.com/bso/news_reviews/nyc/review_display.jspvnu_content_id=1003637080&imw=Y http://tinycatpants.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/the-true-treat-of-the-new-oa.

http://foggedclarity.com/2011/01/review-patricia-spears-jones-painkiller/. http://my3000lovingarms.blogspot.com/2010/11/patricia-spears-jones- painkiller.html

POEMS

Firsts: A blessing, a question

http://www.brooklynrail.org/2013/05/poetry/two-jones

http://www.poets.org/ http://eoagh.com/?p=1770

http://www.connotationpress.com/a-poetry-congeries-with-john-hoppenthaler/october- 2012/1569-patricia-spears-jones-poetry

http://blogthisrock.blogspot.com/2010/12/poem-of-week-patricia-spears-jones.html http://womensvoicesforchange.org/poetry-friday-patricia-spears-jones.htm

http://www.naropa.edu/notenoughnight/ http://jacketmagazine.com/32/holiday-album.shtml http://www.prezidentka.cz/prezidentky.php? article=379&PHPSESSID=96f432d97182df94150159b62e697599 www.brooklynrail.org/2007/10/poetry/the-brooklyn-song

http://www.poems.com/femmejon.htm

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~library/ris/archive2008.html http://www.poetz.com/2003/psjones.htm

ESSAYS/REVIEWS http://www.rhondaschaller.com/articles-2.php http://www.tribes.org/cgi-bin/form.pl?kauthor=719 http://www.tribes.org/web/2009/01/01/review-of-toni-morrisons-a-mercy http://www.tribes.org/web/2014/04/28/carrie-mae-weems-review-via-patricia-spears-jones/

PSJ Part of Cutthroat Mentorship Program

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