Thursday, January 29, 2009

Harris Gardner makes a home for Bagels and Bards at the Au Bon Pain Cafe in Davis Square, Somerville

(Gardner at the Au Bon Pain cafe in Davis Sq.,
Somerville home of the Bagel Bards)

Article about Harris Gardner ( co-founder of Bagel Bards) in the Northeastern Alumni Magazine

The People's Poet

“It brings community together—a common ground, you might say,” says poet-about-town Harris Gardner, LA’69, reflecting on the unifying power of verse.

Gardner expresses his enthusiasm for his craft by writing prolifically—a collection of his poems, Among Us, was published last year. He also hosts regular poetry events around the Greater Boston area.

He recalls being introduced to poetry at age fifteen by his tenth-grade teacher: “She gave us an assignment to write a poem. And I said, ‘This is fine; I’ll try another one.’ Just because I wanted to, not because anyone told me I had to.”

To share the vitality he’s found in poetry, Gardner, who lives in Boston, organizes the city’s National Poetry Month Festival, featuring both established and emerging poets. The eighth annual fest was held this April at the Boston Public Library. Writers read from their works in a six-hour marathon.

Three years ago, with friend and fellow poetry enthusiast Doug Holder, Gardner founded a weekly poets group called Breaking Bagels with the Bards. The name came from the group’s original meeting place, the Finagle a Bagel in Harvard Square. When that eatery closed, the Bards switched to alternating meetings at the Au Bon Pain outposts in Davis Square and Central Square. High school graduates to PhDs, the Bards run a wide socioeconomic gamut. Anthologies of members’ poems attract applause outside the cafĂ© walls.

When he’s not schmoozing with the Bards, Gardner can be found at Borders Books in Downtown Crossing, where another organization he emcees, Tapestry of Voices, invites poets to read each month.

This busy artist, who also finds the time to run his own real estate business, believes the literary arts fill a basic need. “Poetry is very learnable,” he says. “At the community level, people can learn to appreciate poetry, to enjoy poetry, to indulge in poetry, and even to write poetry.

“Even if they’ve never done it before.”

— Nancy Rabinowitz, MA’90

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"I Want" by Ingerid White

Ingerid White is a new Bagel Bard and she sent me this poem in response to an article she read about the late Mike Amado in The Somerville News.


I want to feel

that life isn't a black sky

I want to know in the marrow of my bones

that there really is a place called home

I want to fly

in my mind

like I did in my dreams as a child

I want this bitterness to leave me

I want to smile


I want to feel the grass under my feet

soft and pliant against my skin

I want to gaze at the white-streaked-blue afternoon sky

and feel content

I want you and I to know what we mean

when we say what we do

I simply want

me and you


About Ingerid White:

I am a 1972 graduate of The Ohio State University, where I earned a bachelor of arts degree in Journalism, with the concentration being in News/Editorial.

After graduating from college, I worked for a summer as a tour guide in my home town of Tampa for Busch Gardens, and then traveled to Tokyo to see if I wanted to marry my fiance - a Japanese exchange student I'd met my sophomore year. I started off teaching American Conversation at a language school, and segued into editing the house organ for Canon, Inc. for the remainder of my two-year stay in Japan.

I returned to the 'States late in 1974, moving soon after to NYC where I worked in advertising and publishing primarily for seven years.

I divide my time currently between Norway and the Boston area, where my son lives. I am currently looking for work here in order to be able to stay. At the moment I am representing a Norwegian author who has recently published a translation of his latest book into English and is marketing it here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bagel Bard Pam Rosenblatt's "On How to Read The Manual" Reviewed

By Pam Rosenblatt
2009; 26pp; Pa; Ibbetson Street Press,
25 School Street, Somerville, MA 02143
to order

What we have is a poeticized study of how to existentialistically understand reality: paintings, books, friends, lovers, TV, even sandwiches, cats, dogs and, by extension, anything and everything that surrounds us. And ironically, for all its non-poetic-game-playing simplicity, the poetry itself is a real psychic-door opener: “Harris, you asked, How do you read a painting?..../ Look wide-eyed at the work./Close your eyes and open them,/And hope what you see and derive/Are what the artist wants our mind’s eye/To see and derive Let the images/Abstract, realistic, surrealistic/Take meaning in your eyes....//A smile between you and the canvus,/As though you’re best friends,/Understanding each other, /Understanding that the artist/Allowed this to happen....” (“On How to Read a Painting,” pp. 10-11).
Rosenblatt is a veritable reality-transformer, taking the ambiguous and difficult, the almost-impossible, and giving you some rule-games to play to turn everything into acceptably understandable.
The core-secret is passivity, getting rid of all the usual babblings and scrabblings of the psyche that interfere with direct perception, and allowing The Real is stream in on your inner psyche: “View view stars stars stars/In the night’s sky sky/Sky and imagine the amount/ Of time time time it takes/For you to view that star/That may have exploded/Years years years before.../Time/is time...until time is gone/Is gone like youth like seasons/Like nature...” (“On How to Read Time,” pp.3-4.).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

THE HOLY FOOL (for Mike Amado, 1975 - 2009)

Beloved Bagel Bard Mike Amado passed is a poem from his friend poet Carolyn Gregory:

THE HOLY FOOL (for Mike Amado, 1975 - 2009)

Tapping congas in a red shirt,
he brought music to all of us
from ordinary life
where magic does not rule.

Non-listeners did not challenge him
when he uttered his poems
directly from an open heart.
He was wiser than his years.

A transplant failed
and years in dialysis taught him
how to blur out time
when needed,
how to fly like an eagle
above his body.

He brought me back to youth
when animals and gypsies caught fire
and those who witnessed
became Holy Fools.

He was one, too,
turning ruin to beauty,
his mortal pain soaring
on careful wings.

--Carolyn Gregory, 1/3/09