Past Interviews at North of Oxford

chimera frank

An Interview with Frank Wilson

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/an-interview-with-frank-wilson/

Lynn Lifshin 2

An Interview with Lyn Lifshin

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/an-interview-with-lyn-lifshin/

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An Interview with Bradley D. Snow

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/an-interview-with-bradley-d-snow-living-with-lead-an-environmental-history-of-idahos-coeur-dalenes-1885-2011/

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©  Martin Desht 1995-2018

An Interview with Martin Desht

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/an-interview-with-martin-desht/

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Summer Reading Recommendations 2018

The following books were reviewed at North of Oxford between January and June 2018. They are listed according to total views by the readers of North of Oxford. A link to the review appears below each title and links to where to purchase the book appears in the review.

 

Gessner

 

The Conduit and other Visionary Tales of Morphing Whimsy by Richard Gessner

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/the-conduit-and-other-visionary-tales-of-morphing-whimsy-by-richard-gessner/

appearances

Appearances by Michael Collins

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/appearances-by-michael-collins/

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A Fire Without Light by Darren Demaree Demaree

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/a-fire-without-light-by-darren-demarre/

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Monte Carlo Days & Nights by Susan Tepper

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/03/01/monte-carlo-days-nights-by-susan-tepper/

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The Gates of Pearl by Jill Hoffman

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/the-gates-of-pearl-by-jill-hoffman/

journey

Journey to the Beloved by nur alima schieBeare

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/journey-to-the-beloved-by-nur-alima-schiebeare/

 

ornaments

Ornaments by David Daniel

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/ornaments-by-david-daniel/

hap

Hap & Hazard and the End of the World by Diane DeSanders

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/hap-hazard-and-the-end-of-the-world-by-diane-desanders/

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the labors of our fingertips: poems from manufacturing history in berks county – Vol. 3 by Jennifer Hetrick

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/the-labors-of-our-fingertips-poems-from-manufacturing-history-in-berks-county-vol-3-by-jennifer-hetrick/

attic

A Look Back- Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/a-look-back-antic-hay-by-aldous-huxley/

2 Poems by Carl Kaucher

Carl

Photograph by Carl Kaucher

.

 X

Indelible the stars tonight.
Radiant, they shine
burn holes in my mind
like alcoholic buzz.
I once had a special one named X
and living below his astral radial glow,
his blue ice crystal fingers would
shimmer and spike electromagnetic diamonds
through a billion astronomical units.
The interstellar wind
just brushing the treetop shadows
of Irish Mountain.
The memory of X is following me tonight
I can still feel his faint shivering shine
tripping a gamma ray
his frail vaporous breath still
rustles the leaves on 7th Avenue
tingling cold medicinal quivers
up my spine – all quasar like
You see, it was his frigid points of clarity
that resonated internal light into my night
and passing by, I followed inspirit
down desolate streets and desperate alleys
past cheap motels and dismal diners
miserable mini markets and dying malls
crumbling churches and graffiti fried factories
Then X went off the edge
he’d disappear for nights on end
he started playing around with particle physics.
and fumbling for fun in the fractional dimension
the blistering sugar of his titanium white twinkle
burned up the solar cells sorrowfully
going from a Red Giant to a White Dwarf
and in the end I finally lost him
to a heroin supernova
as he was gone to a black hole
.
.
Diner
.
Late night at the diner of discontent
now serving six packs of imperfection…
The booths and tables are empty
except for some stragglers
a tired waitress and kitchen staff on break,
the ceiling fans spinning silence.
Half drunk lonely guy sitting at the counter
with a mug of coffee, gone cold.
.
 He is staring off distant
contemplating pie.
The young waitress warms his eye
with a tear
as the smell of pot luck, out of luck
and yesterdays burnt meat loaf
lingers in the air and out the door,
hovers over the empty parking lot
on a mist soaked night.
A foggy parable of light
dimly articulates a deserted street.
Across the street
a young girl sits in a broken plastic chair
outside room 9 of Klein’s motel
where they rent poverty by the week.
She’s hoping the cops don’t come this time
as a late night traveler passes,
tail lights fading to eternity.
.
Drunk guy’s got the sniffles and the shakes,
never got used to the headaches
nor the romance gone.
A bit of drool drips
from the corner of his mouth
as he nods off to dream
of a dark street strewn with French fries,
soda cup and a tattered McDonald’s bag;
where head lights dance off damp piles of leaves
near a dark creek rippling over unseen rocks
by a wooden fence where I lean to write
as cars slow to ponder
the sight of this strange night writer.
The waitress warms his coffee
as the pie has turned to crumb.
.
carl
Carl Kaucher has been previously published in “Big Hammer”- “Street Value” – “Mad Poets Review” – “Wavelength 14” – “Blue Collar Review” – ” Old Red Kimono” – “Tight” and others.  He has performed his poetry widely throughout the SE Pennsylvania region. He pursues his passion for photography and writing as an Urban Wanderer. sighdways.55@gmail.com and view his photographs at:
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2 poems by Tim Suermondt

baker pool

stock photo

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JOSEPHINE BAKER SWIMMING POOL
 .
My wife and the others plunge in,
     sluice the water like the most elegant of porpoises.
Even my land–lubber heart feels the charm,
     the elemental power of water, wishing
I had the ability to join the swimmers,
     if only to scissor back and forth once.
Through the ceiling dome, a Paris rain,
     a band of crows circle in the dart-blue sky,
Josephine Baker’s spirit among them—I believe
     in such things, despite the world’s admonishment
and every evidence to the contrary.
     My wife is out of the pool, toweling herself off,
slowly swaying her hips, her own Banana Dance
.    cool among the marble and the immortality.
.
 ON THE HORIZON

.

Along the shore,
  still in love with the terra firma,
I set my sights on the future.
   The array of lights in the distance
gives me a sense of calm, of promise,
   a journey one can take with pride.
That boat floating like a blossom—
   I think I’m on it, blowing kisses
to the past, where I stood to receive them.
 .
tim
Tim Suermondt is the author of four full-length collections of poems: Trying To Help The Elephant Man Dance (The Backwaters Press, 2007), Just Beautiful (New York Quarterly Books, 2010), Election Night And The Five Satins (Glass Lyre Press, 2016) and The World Doesn’t Know You published by Pinyon Publishing in late 2017. His fifth book Josephine Baker Swimming Pool will be released in 2018 by MadHat Press. He has poems published in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, North Dakota Quarterly, december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal, Poetry East and Stand Magazine (England), among others. He is a book reviewer for Cervena Barva Press and a poetry reviewer for Bellevue Literary Review. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

 

One Cat’s Dream by Joy Ueno

door 2

.
One Cat’s Dream
.
is to lean into
the lion
in the mirror
and not trust
the sun again
.
he watches the
world wide-eyed
from inside the
rescue center where
he avoids teens
with plastic
bags and
duct tape
cleans the angry sores
paws the king-sized cage
hisses god’s name
then curls in a
ball for days
he hides under
a thirdhand mexican blanket
then rises on
unsteady legs
to chow down
on grilled steak
at last he licks the chubby hands
his love at last like water escaping
purring he
leans into
the lion
in the mirror
and begins to trust
the sun again
.
joy
Joy Ueno has grown up in southern California, where she currently resides. In her spare time, she enjoys watching roller derby, reading literature of all shapes and sizes, and trying out recipes on her friends and family.

 

Closure by Mac Gay

cow
.
Closure
.
That’s what Dad always wanted.
“Close the door behind you,” he’d snap,
or “Did you take out the trash?” The man
hated loose ends, any task dragging
from one day into the next. “You
finish your algebra?” he’d fling at me
blind from behind his newspaper.
Or “Let’s finish trimming these hedges
before darkness takes us over.”
(Nothing was worse than uneven
Red-tip Photinias.) But the thing
he hated most was getting old:
“Old men are like broken tools
or leaky buckets,” he said,
“or the invisible man in the movies,
just fading and fading until he’d
have to wrap himself with rolls of gauze
just so folks would know he was still there.”
So Mom took some comfort later
from his bad good luck. That
Sunday morning he left with Bo
to put a neck yoke on the crazy cow
that kept jumping over the fence.
He aimed to be through before church,
and he was, almost: unconscious
as a stone by noon, but                             
his dawdling heart kept           
beating till half past five.  
.
mac
Mac Gay is the author of 3 collections: Dearests, Federal Poets, Physical Science, winner of the Tennessee Poetry Prize, and Pluto’s Despair, out this past November from Kattywompus Press. My poems have appeared in many journals, including Atlanta Review, Cutbank, Ironwood, Loose Change, and Snake Nation Review. My poems have been anthologized in the Southern Poetry Anthology: Georgia, from Texas Review Press. He teaches English and lit at Perimeter College of Georgia State University.
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An Interview with Martin Desht

The Wellfleet Public Library in Massachusetts will host an exhibit of Martin Desht’s, Capes and Poets ,seascapes and portraits of poets from June 16th to July 6th. On June 20th at 7 p.m. Martin will present, Voices of Conscience, Then and Now, a reading from the works of 24 poets.  Capes and Poets, front (1)   Capes and Poets, back

Interview by g emil reutter

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©  Martin Desht 1995-2018

MARTIN DESHT’S interest in photography began in 1985 when he signed-on as an unpaid deckhand aboard the SV Harvey Gamage, a two-masted schooner out of Southampton, Maine. In 1989, after publishing photographs of the Canadian Arctic’s Baffin Island, he started photographing post-industrial Pennsylvania, a project that would occupy him for the next twenty-six years. Faces From An American Dream® was first exhibited in 1992 and has been on tour ever since. The book Photosonata, was birthed from this project. Harvard University, Dartmouth College, New York University’s Stern School of Business, United States Department of Labor, have all exhibited his work. In 2006, Desht accepted a teaching residency at Queen’s Univeristy, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His exhibit A Certain Peace: Acceptance and Defiance in Northern Ireland concerns post-sectarian war/ post-industrial neighborhoods of Belfast. He has also taught fine-art photographic printing at Cape Cod’s Truro Center for the Arts. Desht lived in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley for many years before moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1980 to 2002, he lived on an island in a renovated summer cabin along the Delaware River, in Raubsville, Pennsylvania. Martin Desht continues to work in black-and-white film and still operates a traditional photography darkroom. Along with portraits of American poets, his social documentary work is represented in collections at Harvard University, Lafayette College, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and in numerous private collections.

The Interview: 

GER: As a young man working at the Electric Furnace of Bethlehem Steel reading the work of poets in between steel pours did you have any idea that love of photography and poetry would lead you away from Raubsville, Pennsylvania to documenting postindustrial Pennsylvania and into the world of poets and poetry?

MD: Well, in a very subconscious way, yes I did have an idea that I wasn’t going to spend thirty years in a mill. I was bird in a cage back then (1970s), and reading Faulkner and Blake during night-shifts was a way out of the mills and into the larger world. That I would one day photograph Phil Levine, Gerald Stern, and Jean Valentine, who were among the stars of American poetry—no, that never occurred to me. My grandparents were Czech immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island and found work in Pennsylvania’s coal country. My father was a miner and a factory worker, my stepmother a nurse, and my job as a crane electrician at the Steel was the best they ever hoped for me. To them poetry was a foreign word. Art was useless. Even college for me was as far from their minds as the moon.

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Former industrial workers. Southeastern Pa.
©  Martin Desht 1995-2018

 

GER: You began documenting the decline of Pennsylvania’s industrial economy in 1989. What led you to this project?

MD: In two words, reading and photography. First, books such as Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams and Stern’s Lucky Life; then Robert Frank and Lewis Hine who, I later learned, may have photographed my father as a nine-year-old kid working in the mines. Not sure, of course, but the dates and locations are right. Anyway, books have always taken me places and inspired me to act. I read Arctic Dreams and then took off for Baffin Island. After publishing some Arctic photographs, Lafayette College’s History Department asked me about documenting the decline of Lehigh Valley’s industrial economy. In essence, what I was documenting was the decline of the American dream for skilled and unskilled workers as America’s industrial economy was being displaced by overseas manufacturing. Obviously, as you and Diane well know since you’re both poets of conscience, this economic transition would later have enormous social and political consequences.

GER: The results of the project, Faces From An American Dream®, an exhibit that has been on tour for a few decades and continues as well as the book, Photosonata, that was birthed from the project have been widely praised. How did the exhibit and the book come about?

MD: Lafayette College exhibited some of the early photographs in January, 1992, and newspaper and magazine articles followed, as were exhibit requests from Harvard, Dartmouth, New York University, Philadelphia, Washington DC. And so it went, with eventually a book based on the work. I was lucky. But, then, I wasn’t.

If you’ll pardon a digression here, I feel a need to explain something about my view of art. First, You have to want to work—all day, all night, all ever, if that’s what it needs. It’s Want and Will. For me, art isn’t something one just learns in school. It’s a way of life. It’s how I live. It’s living on levels of consciousness—personal, social, political, and artistic, if that’s your calling. There’s no other way for me. Put simply: You can not ask someone else to do your breathing for you.

GER: In 2006 you accepted a teaching residency at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. What was your experience like in Belfast and what led to your exhibit, A Certain Peace: Acceptance and Defiance in Northern Ireland?

MD: Belfast is a very artistically alive city, considering all the bombs and blood. To academically understand Northern Ireland one should read The Irish Troubles, by J. Bower Bell. Then sit in a pub with a few artists—poets and painters, photographers and filmmakers—to grasp somewhat the human experience of living in a war zone; to understand the consequences of racism and blind religion. Blind religion here means both Protestant and Catholic, each of which chooses to remain obstinately ignorant of the surrounding bleeding world.

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Honest Lou’s. Philadelphia
©  Martin Desht 1995-2018

GER: Your poem, Because You Want To Love, is full of imagery and passion about Philadelphia. The poem covers large swaths of a city that was then in decline and love for Philadelphia explodes throughout the poem with all its grittiness and suffering. Tell us of the inspiration and the time period of the poem.

MD: I think it was spring, 1997, when Gerald Stern had scheduled a reading at Temple University and asked if I would drive down Route 611 with him from Easton. (We were neighbors then.) Once in the city, we toured his old neighborhoods—North Broad from the Oak Lane Diner to Girard Avenue, then to the Liberties, Marvin Street, Fishtown, etc. All along the way, he’d point and say This used to be a laundry. That was stinky Sammy’s, the fish man. Here was Harry’s Grill, where the drunks used to piss and puke after hours while waiting for the bus. That used to be a synagogue. God. What the fuck happened here. Schmidt’s Brewery. Breyer’s Ice Cream. Mid-Vale Steel. Now all roof-less piles of brick half-burned to the ground. Who’d believe it. How, at the snap of a few corporate fingers, you could brutalize and impoverish an entire city.

You can read the poem here: _Because You Want To Love

well

GER: The Wellfleet Public Library in Massachusetts will host an exhibit of yours, Capes and Poets, June 16th to July 6th. The exhibit will feature your photographs of seascapes and poets and will be the first exhibit of these portraits and seascapes. In addition you will read the works of 24 poets on June 20th at 7 p.m. in a presentation, Voices of Conscience, Then and Now. How did the project come about and how did you select the works of the poets your are going to present?

MD: When I lived east I vacationed on Cape Cod, and still do. Last October the Library asked if I’d like to show anything I haven’t yet shown—they have a large exhibit area and I have two rules about exhibiting: 1. Never refuse an opportunity to exhibit. And, 2, love your audience. How I selected what to memorize for the recitation is … Hard to say. The poem has to reach me on a deep personal level, like Sekou Sundiata’s “Harlem, A Letter Home,” because it expresses his deep love for a fallen city; Levine’s “What Work Is,” because I do know what work is. Stern’s “Lucky Life,” for its compassion; Alicia Ostriker’s “Listening to Public Radio,” because its so pertinent today. Then there’s Neruda’s “Poetry” for its dream of relativity that I think even Einstein would envy.

http://wellfleetlibrary.org/index.php/general-event-list/event/3125-poetry-recital

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Office Workers – Easton, Pa.
©  Martin Desht 1995-2018

GER: Since your days at Bethlehem Steel you have defined yourself as an artist, a writer of poems and essays.. It is an amazing story. What does the future hold for Martin Desht?

MD: More words and more pictures. I have a digital camera for fun work. But still use film and darkroom for love. There’s a project that’s long been on my mind. I’ve written some about my orphanage years, a rough-and-tumble place that had once been a cattle breeding farm and later donated to the Roman Catholic Church. I need to put all those words and old photographs together and then publish, if not the entire thing all at once then pieces of it, here and there. The whole of it is mystery, in a way. How I got there. Why. Who. Strange, and memory getting more remote everyday. Thanks for asking.

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You can visit Martin Desht here: https://martindesht.wixsite.com/martindesht

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g emil reutter can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/