IN THE BEGINNING…

Cover

“The power of the extracted image and the power of a timeless story…” says Simon Pettet, author of Lyrical Poetry. Mary Lou Taylor’s newest publication, In the Beginning, brings you biblical tales—a combination of the poet’s precise meditations on David Park’s delicately sinuous artistry, titled “Genesis Suite.”

This slender publication, put together by Frog on the Moon, a small press, consists of “fourteen stencil prints making a perfect thematic language to tell Bible stories,” as Grace Cavalieri from the Library of Congress puts it. She says, “I love Taylor’s In The Beginning, colorful and meaningful—complete with stunning worlds and visuals; it seems neither poem nor picture could live without the other.” Furthermore, Cavalieri says, “this is bright speech invested in lyric; with sheer lingual strength to make old legends new.”

In this new publication, you will find new poems by Mary Lou Taylor, who was inspired by David Park’s “Genesis Suite“, and as Grace Cavalieri mentions, “has formed a legacy you’ll come back to, for enlightenment and delight. You’ll want to reread, savor, and share this work of art…for the purest pleasure.”

In addition, here are comments from our First Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, (2009-2011) Nils Peterson, Professor Emeritus, San José State University. “To the exquisite prints created by David Park out of stories from Genesis, Mary Lou Taylor adds poems that give context and commentary. Sometimes she even speaks the imagined voices of the actors in that great drama. Together they make a remarkable book, a beautiful book, one that you will want on your shelf to look at and read again and again.”

SOME POEMS FROM IN THE BEGINNING, by Mary Lou Taylor.

Shape 

THE CURSE OF CAIN

Cain tilled the earth. Abel kept sheep.

Lord, I bring you fruits from the fertile ground.
Accept them with my respect and love. Cain knelt
before his God in reverential pose.

God refused his offering. I see your brother’s
blood in your mouth. You are a man of wrath.
I accept only Abel’s sheep. Cain became enraged.

Meeting Abel, blood in his eye, Cain lifted a stone.
I am bleeding, brother. Leave me enough to live.
But Cain no longer listened.

God questioned Cain. Where is your brother Abel?
Cain replied, I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?
Cain the first murderer; Able the first to die.

The Lord cursed Cain, saying, You have contaminated
the earth with your brother’s blood. It will no longer
be fruitful in your hands.

Cain left the Lord, banished now to wander, traveling
to the land of Nod, east of Eden.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

DAVID PARK (March 17, 1911-September 20, 1960) was an American painter and a pioneer of the Bay Area Figurative Movement in painting during the 1950’s. A Park retrospective opens later this year at the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art. It comes to SFMOMA in 2020.

Check out other paintings by this artist on the video in this blog.

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SAIL ALONG PAPER “MOON”

THE THIRD THURSDAY JANUARY 21 READING AT WILLOW GLEN was a full house. Many of my friends, both personal and poet friends, attended the reading. Several copies of my new book, Bringing Home the Moon were sold that evening. Here are a couple of videos from that reading.

FROM THE PENNY CANDY STORE BEHIND THE EL

Walk down three steps to the mom-and-pop store
near Hayte School and enter a Hansel-and-Gretel land

of striped peppermint sticks, gumballs, jawbreakers
and, best of all, bubblegum. I could blow the biggest,

most unladylike bubbles in the second grade,
huge pink balloons that bloomed until I ran out of air.

What didn’t seem right, though, were the bubblegum wrappers,
like tiny cartoon strips, five sections of off-center print.

All in color, red meant blood. Severed legs and heads flew
through the air. Children, little arms stiff, lay in broken heaps.

My father explained new words to me: behead, disembowel.
From a Dubble Bubble wrapper at the penny candy store

I found out about the Sino-Japanese war. I could hardly wait
to open more gum, blocked out in green and black and blood.

MORNING WALK

We heard them before we saw them.
Two jays fluttering, screeching.
Then a swoosh so close we could
almost touch the hawk sailing past,
wings outspread, something
in its beak. Something small
with feathers. With only a quick look
still we knew. High above us the jays
squawked and flapped in disbelief,
their just-hatched baby out of sight
in little more than an instant. The jays
might not know its end, a beautiful
death come quickly
. We walked on,
hoping that was so, knowing they knew.

POETRY WITH MARY LOU TAYLOR at the Montalvo Writer Series: Sunday, November 8, 2015

Join me on Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 4:30 p.m.at the Historic Villa at Montalvo Arts Center, where I’ll be reading from my new book, Bringing Home the Moon, published Aldrich Press, 2015. This event is FREE! Books will be available for purchase; beer and wine will be for sale, and light refreshments will be served. But first—please RSVP at the Montalvo site. All MUST RSVP at the Montalvo site. You can click the button to reach the Montalvo website.
ClickHere

Hope all of you can attend. See what some of my poet friends have to say about my new book, Bringing Home the Moon: Cover Art: Chuck Drew.

Bringing Home

“Mary Lou is one of my favorite poets,” raves Grace Cavalieri, radio host of The Poet and the Poem. “In Bringing Home the Moon, we have her past experience turned into poems boldly planned and implemented through the prism of memory….These are beautifully proportioned recollections you will read and then revisit.”

“We float through moments formative or formidable, touching or frightful, but all…lit with generous spirit and a graceful love of language” —Harry Lafnear

“This is THE poetry collection of the year!” —David Denny, first Poet Laureate of Cupertino

MLT at Montalvo

THE LIBRARY AT THE MARKHAM HOUSE

Plunge by Alice Jones, Open Book by Valerie Coulton, My Rice Tastes Like the Lake by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, and Equinox by Edward Smallfield, four of the featured titles from Apogee Press in Berkeley. These four just-released books are slated for the Naomi Clark Library upstairs in the Markham House at History San José, California.

NAOMI CLARK

Ed and wife Valerie Coulton are living in Barcelona, Spain, but we keep in touch. Ed was in on the founding of Apogee and my first poetry mentor. So Apogee graciously sends the library newly-published books from this innovative and experimental press. The featured books have good design, colorful covers, and promote diverse and original language. Worth a visit to the Markham House to check them out.

The Edwin Markham House contains a collection of poetry books, now over 700 donated, along with anthologies, reference books, and small press publications. The library is located on the second floor, which also has a reading/writing room equipped with a copier. Downstairs, a resource room contains Markham’s original bookcase, holding poetry books for children—classics, new publications and reference books for those interested in teaching poetry to their classes. This section has television, DVD’s, and magnetic boards for writing. For more information, check out the website for the Poetry Center San José.

At the moment, the entire library is cataloged online (except the just-donated poetry books from Pat Compton), and can be accessed by visiting the Naomi Clark Library through LibraryThing. Our goal is to have the house at History Park open, first on Tuesday afternoons, and later, two days a week.

The children’s library was made possible by a grant from Air Systems Foundation, Inc. Both libraries are open to book donations; we ask that you go through your own library and set aside what you can spare. We are looking for volunteers to man access to the library.

We could certainly use your help, and you’d have at least part of the docent time to read and write. Please give this some thought.

Markham House at History San José

ONLINE POETRY

I decided to try submitting poetry online to see if I could get more poems published faster. Kevin Arnold sent me Your Daily Poem and where to submit. And John Landry asked some of us if we wanted him to work with The Newport Review. Recently, both have worked out well for me.

The Newport Review has “An Appreciation of Madness” in its Summer Issue, Issue 7 that came out July 21, 2011.

And www.yourdailypoem.com published “Letter to a Longtime Friend” on July 23, 2011. They will publish “Footloose” next March 22, 2012 and “Winter Nights” on June 15, 2012. It appears that Jayne Jaudon Ferrer doesn’t use a poet more than once a quarter.

I will try for October-December. Why not? I’m having fun.

BRINGING BACK THE BROADSIDE

This past weekend I was part of the audience at the National League of American PEN Women’s scholarships presentation. Surrounding the fifty members and guests was art in every form from framed paintings to Fortune Magazine covers (framed) to bibelots ensconced in painted chests and curio cabinets. No poetry on the walls, though, and I thought of the Markham House, which holds several broadsides donated by Patricia Machmiller. They are carefully framed.

On my entry wall is a broadside by Littoral Press. Robert Pesich won their second annual broadside competition, printed by hand, and was awarded fifty for his collection.

An Evening Commute

At home, in my garden, I hear
the giant crushers of the cement factory
begin their nocturnal roar.

A crimson spider, smaller than a dewdrop,
casts her towline from a flaming rose
to my face, almost as good as a leaf.

I watch her cross the chasm.
She wanders in my hair.
Her shimmering line bellows

holding me briefly to the blossom.

The poem is decorated by a “flaming rose.” Such a beautiful poem and just the right length for a broadside. You might want to look up the competition. They are announcing the fourth annual Poetry Prize now. Go to New(s) and Noteworthy under the Littoral Press website. August 15th is the deadline.

I have several broadsides. It’s time I had them framed. One from Robert Bly. A friend did the background sketch, and Robert was not pleased. The sketch dominated the paper, and the poem was a little bit lost. As is the broadside. I wonder what became of it.

A signed broadside by Sherod Santos, “The Dairy Cows of Maria Cristina Cortes”, has seven stanzas and measures nearly a foot and a half by a foot. Leafy vines draped on a fence illustrates the title. More broadsides: Joseph Stroud’s “Spring in the Santa Cruz Mountains with Li Po” from the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival; Gary Snyder’s signed “Spilling the Wind” with a touch of small blue half-circles that could be clouds, could be wind, or could be the geese mentioned in his poem; and postscript by Seamus Heaney, who spent time talking with me about Ireland and County Cork and Midleton on the Youghal Road, where my ancestors lived. I myself have two of Heaney’s broadsides.

My visit to Copper Canyon Press after Naomi Clark died was a pilgrimage to her memory. Not only did I receive broadsides from Sam Hamill: “The Poet’s Heart” by Richard Jones and “The Art of Literary Translation” by Obaka-san the Pilgrim. He also gave me his translation of “Narrow Road to the Interior” by Matsuo Basho. It sits on my bedside table to this day.

One of the rituals that has gone out of fashion was the use of broadsides when a new publication was introduced. I have broadsides by Jean Emerson (“The Silent Women Who Raised Their Children Alone”) and Robert Pesich (“A Few Questions”). Lola Haskins, who graduated from Stanford with my walking partner, read at Capitola Book Café. I read with her. She had a broadside to pass out entitled “The Shoes”. I had none.

A custom that should be revived?