Jersey Tour

August 5, 2012

I will be reading from Soutine at the following events in New Jersey in the days and weeks ahead. Hope to see you!

Friday Aug. 10, GainVille Cafe, 17 Ames Ave., Rutherford NJ. 7:00 pm

Thursday, August 16th, Gallery U, 179 Glenridge Ave., Montclair. 8:00 pm

Saturday, September 22,  Red Bank Public Library, 84 West Front Street, Red Bank. 2:30 pm (with Diane Lockward)


Milestones on the Road to Minsk

August 4, 2012

This morning, I finished the month-long project of recording the poem. I now know that a particularly driven, if slow, reader can read Soutine in under 4-and-a-half hours. If anyone is actually interested in hearing, say, me do just that, let me know. I can burn it onto discs.

And this month marks the one-year anniversary of another metrical experiment—the sonic/volumetric manuscript drop test (see above).

Thanks again to Dos Madres Press who produced such a physically beautiful book within six months of the manuscript hitting the floor. I am also thankful to those of you who have read the book, to those who bought the book, to everyone who helped me complete it, and to the serious fans who have attended readings. And there are more readings to come! Watch this space.


Pictures of Harari

July 25, 2012

I’ve been thinking about Hanaiah Harari today, my instructor at the Art Students’ League of New York in the 1990s (see Book Two, Chapter 4 of Soutine). He was more of a chameleon than Picasso was, working in styles ranging from Trompelœil to flat-out abstract expressionism. Most of his work was figurative. Here are some pictures of and by the man.

“Self Portrait” 1931

“Self Portrait” 1935

“Mine” circa 1984

Photograph, circa 1935

Akiba Emanuel, Hananiah Harari, and Herzl Emanuel in Tel Aviv, 1935.

Meredith Bergmann Launches Soutine

May 2, 2012

Meredith Bergmann introduces me at the NYC launch of Soutine at Swift Hibernian Lounge, March 22, 2012.

“Soutine” at the Cornelia Street Cafe

April 28, 2012

April 27, 2012

Book I, Chapter 1, Portrait of the Village Idiot

Book I, Chapter 2, The Eye that Looks

Book II, Chapter 4, La Cité Falguière, pt. 1

Painting’s Akhmatova

April 15, 2012

On some days, I wake up thinking Paula Modersohn-Becker is my favorite painter. There is something so truly beautiful, deep and touching in her work. Her life story is interesting—I don’t feel like typing it because you can find it here. Notable points include her marriage to the painter Oscar Modersohn and her friendship with Rainer Maria Rilke. Modersohn-Becker died of an embolism in November of 1907, days after giving birth. Rilke wrote Requiem for a Friend for her.

There is no mention of Paula Modersohn-Becker in Soutine, but in many ways I think of her as painting’s Anna Akhmatova, who is mentioned in my poem. Had Modersohn-Becker lived, I think the analogy would extend beyond her marriage to a lesser painter and her friendship with a genius on the other side of the painting/poetry line (the reverse vis painting and poetry of Akhmatova and Amadeo Modigliani).

I consider her a master of the still life, but there are very few good ones easily found online. Luckily, she was also a master of the portrait. Here are some of those. And look up her landscapes. Get to know her if you don’t already.

Portrait of Rilke

Portrait of Clara Rilke Westhoff

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Zborowski’s Door

April 4, 2012

Léopold Zborowski, the long-suffering dealer of Amedeo Modigliani and Chaïm Soutine (his portrait, above, by Modigliani), tolerated much strange behavior on the part of his clients. He put up, for instance, with Modigliani’s painting a portrait of Soutine on the door of his apartment while he was away. The door painting is below, along with a photo of Zborowski sitting in front of it and one of Soutine in the country, wearing the strange hat he is wearing on the door.

Book II
Chapter Four
La Cité Falguière

Part V

And nothing lasts forever. Now Chaïm is sitting
for a portrait. Modigliani’s bellowing off-key.
The mock bravura here is altogether fitting.

“Let’s do another one.” “On what?” “Zborowski’s
door!” “Oh no, Zborowski thinks I’m lousy.”
“Nonsense. Léopold runs on-and-off.

He’s like that. But he’d never count you out.”
Modigliani tosses back his hair
and lifts the finished portrait of his mousey

protégé, the dealer’s pied-à-terre
a ready studio now that Jeanne and baby
have moved in at la Cité Falguère.

And he’s not kidding about the door—if maybe
about the dealer. Sketching Chaïm, he sings
an aria. He looks like he has rabies….

eyes alight upon the palette knife
and on Zborowski’s door. “Soutine, she’s pregnant.”
“What? Again?” “We bring another life

into this world, Soutine. Another remnant
of our own.” “But isn’t one enough?”
Modigliani is disheveled, silent

as he works. He finally answers, “No.”
Soutine, convinced his mentor’s finally had it,
slumps. The months ahead are very rough,

the door of little consequence. “I’ll add it
to the pile,” Zborowski says the night
he kneels beside the deathbed of the addict.

Charcoal shadows in an amber light
attend the death of Amedeo Modigliani.
“Everything’s in order, it’s all right.

Berthe’s taking several portraits, and I
have the rest secured. There’s noting due …”
“Léo. Thank you. Thanks for everything,” he

answers. “And I leave everything to you.”
There is no question he himself will vanish
with the dawn. Zborowski whispers, “What am I to do?”

“The work is finished. All that’s passed between us
is accomplishment, for good or ill.
Beyond that, I will leave you with a genius.”

Zborowski’s eyes run over all the still-
wet canvases, Modigliani’s last,
and settle on a door torn from his sill.

By Tuesday morning there’s a death mask cast
in plaster and a wind-blown curtain through
which Jeanne, with child, a suicide, has passed.

Soutine and Zborowski, some time later,
in the South of France

Cycle of Portraits

March 26, 2012

“Soutine” by Kikoïne

“Zborowski” by Modigliani

“Modigliani” by Hébuterne

“Jourdain” by Soutine

March Launches

March 24, 2012

I’ve had two launch readings this month, one in New Jersey at [words] bookstore in Maplewood, and another at Swift Hibernian Lounge in New York City. One featured a lot of room to move. The other featured a pulpit from which Jonathan Swift purportedly delivered sermons. Clips from both!

Launch Clip One:

Launch Clip Two:

Thanks to [words] and Swift. Two generous venues. Book them!

New Jersey Launch

March 3, 2012

The New Jersey book launch will happen on Saturday, March 10 at Words Bookstore in Maplewood at 7:30 pm. The event will be introduced by Paul Weingarten.

Words is located at 179 Maplewood Ave., Maplewood, NJ, across the street from New Jersey Transit’s Maplewood train station.

We will adjourn to St. James’s Gate, the Irish pub a few doors down.

[Above: Maplewood, the painting on my easel in Book III, Chapter 4, Memorial Park, Part I in Soutine]