thomas devaney

Bicentennial City – Tonight July 3rd at 9 p.m.

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BICENTENNIAL CITY
Though the city ultimately hosted over two million people, the 1976 Bicentennial in Philadelphia suffered from overblown expectations. In the wake of the Vietnam War and complicated by the provincial policies of a controversial mayor Frank Rizzo, the celebrations represented the promise of redeeming the economically troubled city. But it laid bare some pressing questions of America’s national identity. This essay film charts the struggles behind years of planning as it also spotlights the city as a place of resilient communal activity.

Directed by Thomas Devaney, Matthew Suib, and Aaron Igler. Produced by Haverford College’s Hurford Center/VCAM DocuLab Program and Hilary Brashear, Julia Coletti, Jixin Jia, Teddy Ogborn, Cole Sansom, and Grace Sue

Bicentennial City airs on WHYY TV12 Saturday, July 3rd at 9 PM EST. The film streams in July at: https://video.whyy.org/video/bicentennial-city-ggdm5m/ 
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New From Our Book Review Editor

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Poems of the Pennypack – (Moonstone Press)

g emil reutter’s Poems of the Pennypack has just been released by Moonstone Press. The chapbook captures the respite the park provides to residents from the bustle of city life, reutter’s affinity for the park and the nature that thrives in it.

What Others Say:

Poems of the Pennypack is a forthright book, which reflects a lifetime of exploring a place and one’s self in relation to that place. The poems have a quiet clarity as the book becomes both guide and map. g emil reutter writes, “Beauty and violence of nature in plain view / in this nature sanctuary of Philadelphia / called Pennypack.” Reading the poems now in the spring of 2020 readers may find some of the solace they have been seeking and noticing again in nature. As reutter writes, “nature has reclaimed it, meadows, forest and wildlife are abundant.” There is always more to explore, but there are no pyrotechnics. The book is direct and unselfconscious and the poems keep hitting closer and closer to home. -Thomas Devaney

On Line at : https://moonstone-arts-center.square.site/product/g-emil-reutter-poems-of-the-pennypack/221?cs=true%20

Now available: The Pennypack Environmental Center, 8600A Verree Road, Philadelphia, Pa. 19115.

https://gereutter.wordpress.com/books/

Getting to Philadelphia: New and Selected Poems by Thomas Devaney

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By Charles Rammelkamp
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In his Preface, Thomas Devaney references W.C. Fields’ snarky comment, “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” Urban legend has it that this is the epitaph on Fields’ gravestone, though that’s not actually so. But the comment highlights Devaney’s own relation to the City of Brotherly Love, where he grew up and currently lives (he teaches at Haverford College). In other words, “It’s complicated.” And yet, Getting to Philadelphia might easily be described as a love song to his native city. He writes in one of the new poems, “The Home Book”:
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The Quaker City, City of Brotherly Love, Home of the Lenni-Lenape, City of
Neighborhoods, Bicentennial City, Death Headquarters, the Hidden City.
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Not only a city of hard-luck and History, but how the heart and the fist
beat together as echoing impulse.
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Five of the poems are new, The other thirty-eight come from five previous volumes. So this is truly a selection based on a lifetime, on an idea, on a theme.  What is that theme? Beyond a catchall “Philadelphia,” which might be a copout, the theme is no less “À la recherche du temps perdu” than is Marcel Proust’s masterwork.  Only, as the title one of the poems tells us, “Memory Corkscrews So You Can’t Remember It”: “Philly makes, Philly breaks.”  More generally, though, he notes in “The Blue Stoop,” “They say, Don’t forget where you’re from, /  but I don’t have to, I never left.” Not forgetting isn’t exactly the same as remembering, though, we learn.
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So many of these poems take place in transit. The scenery flashes by , either from car or train or simply from the perspective of a Baudelairean flaneur strolling through the city. The title poem, from 1999’s The American Pragmatist Fell in Love, describes a train trip on Thanksgiving Day from New York to Philadelphia, the year a strong wind created havoc and caused injury during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. From Penn Station to Trenton, Trenton to the SEPTA train, and
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Finally Aunt Sharon’s for dinner. Everyone there
and you say hello
and you say you were at the parade
and they ask, touching your arm, if you’re all right
because you’re told and will see footage
one of those gigantic balloons, Cat in the Hat, got loose
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In other poems, the narrator is in a car, noticing: a “hobbled ’74 Pinto” in “Memory Corkscrews,” driving in circles; a Ford Focus in “OREGON AVE”; a Buick Special in “The Picture that Remains,” that “clicks, starts and goes.” In “Saturday Night Special” it’s a “’64 Caddie,” which may reappear in “Don Cook’s Brother’s Cadillac.” In “Rear Window” Devaney laments “The collapse of tenderness / and no place to park,” gazing through the rear window of his car.  In “River Song,” one of the new poems, the narrator is driving through New Jersey, which jumps past the window “like a hand-held film.”
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Other poems are from street view, the perspective of the flaneur strolling through the neighborhoods of his youth: “Algon Avenue,” “Mr. Uska and His Dog, 1973,” “That Old Block,” “Heads Up,” “Sessler’s or Hibberd’s Bookstore?” “The Legend of Cornbread,” one of the new poems, details the search for an elusive graffiti artist.
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I remember most the piece between the Schuylkill Expressway and 30th Street
Station. A very tall, long-lettered piece. Who knows, a self-portrait? How the
flat red-fade and the dusty Krylon yellow disappear into each other.
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In “The Home Book” we encounter Cornbread again.
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Remembering a lunch cart at 19th and the Parkway. The guy ahead of me
says, “All right, Cornbread, see you tomorrow.” And there I am, next. Place
my order and work-up the courage, and, finally: “Are you Cornbread?”
“Yes I am,” he almost smiles. “That’s me,” he says. “Cornbread the writer?”
“Hell no,” Cornbread laughs. “That’s the North Philly Cornbread. I’m the
West Philly Cornbread!”
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So many of Devaney’s lines and images seem like camera snapshots, and indeed, photography is an important element in his work. Not only are there photographs by Zoe Strauss, Will Brown and Léki Dago, but there’s also a poem entitled “Darkroom Diaries” (from Runaway Goat Cart), which we are told in a note was “found in a darkroom at Moore College of Art dated 1972. In “Pete Rose Meets Zoe Strauss” the poet talks baseball and the glory of the 1980 Phillies with his photographer friend.  Devaney collaborated with Will Brown on The Picture that Remains, his book of poems based on Brown’s photographs of Philadelphia in the 1970’s, from which nearly a dozen of these poems are collected.
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Devaney gives a shout-out to a number of other Philadelphia poets and artists as well. In “The Home Book” he gives a nod to Kevin Varrone and his wife, Pattie McCarthy, prize-winning poets who teach at Temple University.  Getting to Philadelphia is dedicated to poet Francis Ryan.
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In its detail, does Getting to Philadelphia succeed in recovering the past, corkscrewed though memory is?  The “wild marching band of memory” he mentions in “Morning in Runnemede”? The answer is, well, yes, I guess so, to the extent anybody ever can. As Devaney writes in “That Old Block,”
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Everyone knows and nobody does.
Even back then it was far away;
Even to the blocks not far off,
It was another world. It always was.
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Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, was recently published by Future Cycle Press.
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Night Sweat by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

nigh-sweat

A poetry collection by Contributing Editor Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

Now available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Sweat-Diane-Sahms-Guarnieri/dp/1519197888/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451867499&sr=1-1

What others say about Night Sweat:

Wherever Diane Sahms-Guarnieri takes you, she takes you all the way there, soul and senses rendered high-definition cameras, taking in history, loss, family, humor, and eros in a world brought alive. Night Sweat, her new book, moves among her beloved Philadelphia and environs, Old City, Christ Church, where “the present belongs and does not belong,” even the drug dealers at Frankford Terminal — then we’re in a bed of fire and fondly remembered love, then “friendship, the hinge of a calm shell,” then a flower field, with “seductive” tulips and “slightly badass” dandelions, then ancestors, relationship, descent from Lenape settlers and from the stars alike (“Stars connect us: they are lineage”). This poet is a singer, of car accident, graffiti artist, or the marriage (told in a hilarious poem) of William Carlos Williams and Flossie. After reading Night Sweat, you will live in a different world — or, rather, thanks to Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, the world you always lived in, all aching beauties laid bare.

John Timpane- Assistant Books Editor/Media Editor Writer – Philadelphia Inquirer                                                                       

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri’s Night Sweat is a moving collection of poems. In Sahms-Guarnieri’s poem “Sunset” she writes: “Everything has its own way of entering into night.” Many of her most memorable poems are intimate and unprecious portraits of people and urban landscapes and the psychic interplay of each in the other. Here people and places live inside each other and vice versa. In the poem “Delaware River” she describes the river as “a snake/ who has swallowed a mouse/ it carries it through night/ like a dark and dirty secret.” There is also much flora and fauna in the book, but Sahms-Guarnieri’s edge remains. She writes “I have come to mistrust the wisdom of trees/ their disguises.” Sahms-Guarnieri is a tough and tender poet. Her poems bridge time and memory in ways that unexpectedly reveal our present.

Thomas Devaney, poet and author of The Picture that Remains and A Series of Small Boxes.

In Night Sweat, Diane Sahms-Guarnieri explores the physical and emotional landscapes of the places and people she loves. She knows these places. She knows these people. And she writes with both the authority and humility of a poet fully engaged with these worlds.

Jim Daniels- Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of English- Carnegie Mellon University

In a city that looks back, reflective as the moon, Diane Sahms-Guarnieri hangs life on the line from clothespin to clothespin to clothespin, billowing in the night breeze, a breeze that chills but does not cool.  The light Night Sweat sheds on the city is not the glare of sun but the haunting vision of moonlight that touches at once the subliminal and the sublime.  In a striking array of poetic images, reflecting together Ash Can Art and Georgia O’Keefe, haunting and dazzling at once, as moonlight illuminations provide tantalizing glimpses in a landscape revealed only to the exquisite extent that moonlight allows.

Mike Cohen
Host of Poetry Aloud and Alive
Contributing Editor, Schuylkill Valley Journal