Monday, October 27, 2014

Congratulations to BILiNE Nominees!

Congratulations to the following contributors whom The Worcester Review has nominated for inclusion in Best Indie Literature in New England (BILiNE), Volume 2.


Nominees had to be published between July 2012 and June 2014, which for us means from volumes 33 and 34. The nominees are:

Poetry:
Dmitry Berenson -- "The Fishing Village, Vol 34
Colin Dekeersgieter -- "Gutting," Vol 34
Judy Ireland -- "My Pillow, a Stone," Vol 33
Phillip Lloyd -- "Big Tom," Vol 33
Brian Simoneau -- "From Too Much Dwelling on What Has Been," Vol 34
Lisa C. Taylor -- "Cathedral of Shadows," Vol 34

Fiction:
Timothy Mudie -- "When the Aliens Come Back," Vol 33
Douglas Margeson -- "Barton's Pipe," Vol 33
Karen Nunley -- "Thirteenth Summer," Vol 34

Best of luck to all the nominees! We hope to see your works republished in BILiNE in early 2015.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Press Release: The Worcester Review announces Volume 35

For Immediate Release
Contact: Diane Mulligan, twr.diane@gmail.com
October 16, 2014


WORCESTER, MA. Please join us on November 16 to celebrate the release of the newest issue of The Worcester Review, Volume XXXV: Michael Harper Sacred Geometries. Celebrations will begin with a reading of Michael Harper’s poetry, followed by a Q&A and panel discussion. Come meet the editors and contributors to our feature section. The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served. 

When: Sunday, November 16, 2:00 – 4:00 PM
Where: Salisbury Labs 104, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Road

Issues of The Worcester Review are available through the website at www.theworcesterreview.org. Copies will also be sold at the event.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

from Volume 34: A poem by Jennifer Freed


Jennifer Freed

 

Lessons

 

 

If you were that woman, sitting

every Friday in the public library, one week working

through the who and how and why

of simple questions whispering from your tutor’s lips,

the next week learning price and pay and sale and save

and How much does it cost?—

if you were that woman,

then you, too,

would ask for repetition of bag and back and bank,

of leave and leaf and left and live,

and you would struggle to produce the English sounds

that held the meanings you still held

inside your head: the dappled murmuring of leaves

outside your childhood home, the trees

full of sweet yellow fruit you could not name in this new life,

the lives you left so you could live,

and as you moved your lips in all the unfamiliar ways

to make the sounds your tutor made, she would nod

and you would smile, but you would never

write, for you’d not yet know how

to form or read those fast, firm letters you watched pouring from her hand,

and so you’d have no way to store what you had learned

except in memory and hope,

alongside memories of why you’d never needed written words

in your native world, where your mother had taught you all the skills

of planting and harvesting and weaving and singing that you would ever need

for living in a lush, good place,

and alongside memories

of gunfire echoing beyond the trees,

of rebels begging for or stealing food,

of soldiers from some distant city standing in your

village, barking about loyalty

and able-bodied men,

and then the memories

of jungle paths for five long nights,

of sharing food and whispered hope with others who had dared

to flee,

and the memories of the daughter and the son, both

born and grown high as your eye in the refugee camp on the border.

The English words would nestle in amidst

all this,

get lost, be found again, and you would have to try

to pull them out but leave the rest behind, try

to let the new sounds tell you 

not only the hard-edged names and places

of this brick and concrete life, 

but also how to live in it:

how to take

a city bus, how to

pay for

light, 

and you would sit again, again, again

in a mauve chair at a round table in the library, 

amidst the shelves and worlds

of words,

struggling with your who and how and why,

and you would not allow yourself

to figure how much it had cost

or how much you still had to pay.

You would just smile and thank your tutor,

and come back

next Friday.

In the Spotlight: Jennifer L. Freed, poet

Photo credit: Sharon Freed
As an English Second Language teacher and teacher-trainer, Jennifer L. Freed currently volunteers her time to help resettled refugees in the Worcester area learn English. Her poem, "Lessons," which appears in The Worcester Review Volume XXXIV, is at first glance a response to those who wonder why it takes so "long" for someone to learn the English language, but ultimately, it is to get into the mindset of a person who struggles to overcome the language barrier.  




Was “Lessons” based on a personal experience?

Before having children, I worked as an ESL teacher not only here in the U.S. but also in China and the Czech Republic. Since 2010 I've been volunteering as an English tutor for refugees who've been resettled in the Worcester area. The poem comes from all that background. More specifically, though, it was inspired by a few of those refugees. I didn't want to name them or their country because I didn't want to limit the poem to those specific women only, or even to people from their country only; the many difficulties of learning a new language, especially when you do not come from a culture that allowed you much of an education, would be the same for all of us. Add culture shock and the burden of past traumatic experiences, and the task is far harder than many people in the U.S. might imagine.

How did you decide that the subject of learning a language was something you wanted to write about for your poem?

The refugees I have been tutoring know how to weave their own clothes, how to build a home out of bamboo, how to grow their own food. But none of those skills serve them here in their new lives. Upon arriving in this country, they not only had to find a way to support themselves in what is to them an alien place, but also to learn an entirely new language.

Yet I've met people who, in spite of having sympathy and good will toward immigrants, nevertheless don’t understand why it may take so “long” to become proficient in English. The poem was my response to that.

You've written about your experiences in China and The Czech Republic. Did living in other countries influence the poem?

Yes, especially my time in China. When we English teachers arrived there, none of us had any ability to speak Chinese. We were told we would have a chance to learn the language when we arrived at the university where we were to work, but our promised Chinese instructors never materialized.

In addition, we were fairly isolated from Chinese people, presumably for political reasons. We were in a separate dorm for foreigners only, and visitors had to sign in at a guard’s desk, which may be why we had very few visitors. We had our meals separately too, just the five of us in a little dining hall set across the campus from the student cafeteria. We never got to mingle with or even meet the rest of the university faculty. So, for most of a year, we mainly interacted only with each other—and, in a very formal, controlled way, using English only, with our students during class. We had to ask how to say various useful phrases—“I want...,” “I don’t understand…,” “how much…,” and so we learned how to do practical things—how to count money, to order our favorite soup from a street vendor, to mail a letter home—but other than that, we had little opportunity to deal with Chinese people, and they didn't seek us out.

So I had the experience, right out of college, of hearing the sound of foreign speech all around me, and yet of having no entry into it. You don’t just “pick it up” by being in its midst. If you do not have a community of people who can interact with you in the new language in any kind of patient, daily, sustained way—as immigrants often do not—then the sound of that language becomes like traffic sounds. We all tune out what is unintelligible to us. So in the right (or wrong) circumstances, it is surprisingly natural to live in a foreign place and yet not learn its speech.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

From Volume 34: A poem by Jaydn DeWald


Jaydn DeWald            

 

The One Time I Saw Monk Playing at Minton’s

 

 

He looked like a drunk hammering on a typewriter. Me and Corwell in gray silk suits, black-on-black shirts, and Butcher Boys shoes. Cigars and whiskies and little hotties on our shoulders. Did his “angular rhythms clash like gods in the smoke overhead”? Come on, kid, I wasn’t even listening.

In the Spotlight: Jaydn DeWald, poet


Jazz. The theme for Volume XXXIV of The Worcester Review. Jaydn DeWald titles his poem after the famous jazz pianist and composer, Thelonious Monk who played at Minton's Playhouse in New York.


The Worcester Review: Why did you decide to write "The One Time I Saw Monk Playing at Minton's" in open form rather than something else?

Jaydn DeWald: Because [it] is the product of an assignment—Write a piece of prose in 50 words or less—put to me by my terrific friend and fellow writer Kyle Bilinski (whose work can be found here: http://kylebilinski.weebly.com). There was far less freedom, less openness, involved than one might expect. But I feel impelled to mention that, for me, “open form” poetry, or “free verse,” tends to produce too many choices, too many possible (and equally alluring) paths. Preferring my choices to be fewer and more susceptible to the vagaries of chance, I almost always adhere to some self-imposed requirement(s), whether traditional (rhyme, meter, syllabics) or non- (lipogram, found poetry, N+7).

Furthermore, since we’re on the subject of jazz, I find it somewhat odd that “free jazz”—the music equivalent of free verse, one might argue—should be reserved for our most virtuosic and most eccentric musicians (the Ornette Colemans and Cecil Taylors among us), while verse libre should be so ubiquitous and, in general, dull.

TWR: Did you actually see Monk perform live himself at Minton’s? Or was the inspiration for the poem the desire to experience the music from a perspective of that time period?

JD: Monk died in ’82, the year before I was born, so I never had the opportunity to see him perform live at all, much less at Minton’s Playhouse—the club Miles dubbed “the bebop laboratory”—where he (Monk) served as house pianist during most of World War II.

For better or worse, I also think it’s impossible for me to “experience the music from a perspective of that time period.” While I can appreciate the historical freshness of the bebop vocabulary, for instance, I would struggle to hear its historical freshness; it even strikes me, in certain moods, as quaint.

More precisely, “The One Time I Saw Monk Playing at Minton’s” is a quick exploration of conflicting interests and temperaments: the juxtaposition of a jazz enthusiast (“Did [Monk’s] ‘angular rhythms clash like gods in the smoke overhead?’”) and a stereotypical club-goer (“Cigars and whiskies and little hotties on our shoulders”).

TWR: Do you enjoy writing about the small moments in life as you did with “The One Time I Saw Monk Playing at Minton’s?” If so, is there a particular reason as to why that is?

JD: I do like to write about small moments, particularly moments of fantastic, life-altering interiority in which nothing, outside of a person’s mind, happens. Lyric poetry often seems to have been created for, or to have arisen out of, these moments, and though it’s unfashionable to admit it, I tend to think of myself as writing old-fashioned lyric poems.