Labor Day Art Show at Glen Echo Park

For the past 46 years, Glen Echo Park, an arts and cultural center in neighboring Glen Echo, Maryland, has hosted an art show over the Labor Day weekend.  This year’s show, Number 47, runs Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, September 2-4, from 12 to 6 p.m. each day.  The show includes two-dimensional artwork (paintings and drawings), three-dimensional pieces (pottery, sculpture, works in glass), jewelry, sleeved prints (linocuts, woodblocks, and prints of two-dimensional works), and all works are for sale.  I’ve entered pieces in several previous shows, and even sold a drawing a few years ago.

In the past, the show accepted every work submitted, but the number of submitting artists has grown to such an extent that the show is now at least partially curated, and artists must send in digital images of their works before they are accepted.  I submitted images of two abstract acrylic paintings, each 24″ by 30″, both reflecting the influence of the late Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-Ki, whose work I mentioned in an earlier post.  I learned a few days ago that both works were accepted, each priced at $350.  Images of both appear below.  We’ll soon see if anyone is interested in buying.

After Zao: Ascending

After Zao: Beanstalk

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The Takoma Park Reading — The Video

The video of the March 16 reading at the Takoma Park Community Center is now available.  Just Google “Third Thursday Poetry (March 16, 2017).”  The video is almost an hour long.  As I noted in the first post, Mary Beth Hatem introduces the program, and reads the slightly modified John O’Donohue poem in the process.  Nancy Arbuthnot begins to read from her poetry at about the 8:00 minute mark.  I come on at the 29:00 minute mark and read until about the 51:00 minute mark.  Mary Beth comes back and ends the program with the George Saunders poem.  I hope that you’ll have a chance to view the video and will enjoy it when you see it.

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The Takoma Park Reading

Thursday night’s reading at the Takoma Park Community Center Auditorium was most enjoyable.  Nancy Arbuthnot, Professor Emerita of English at the United States Naval Academy, read several of her poems first, and then I read four poems from Food for a Journey, “Cloistered Life,” “Visiting Saint-Sulpice,” “Tribute,” and the book’s title poem.  (A late-arising family matter prevented Nicole Bresner, the third poet scheduled to read, from participating in the program.)  In light of the current political situation, my wife Ann had suggested that I be sure to read “Cloistered Life”; the poem is based on my memories of the immigrant Italian grandmothers of my elementary school classmates.

Though not large, the audience was attentive and enthusiastic.  My daughter Kate attended the reading along with Ann, and all three of us appreciated the opportunity to chat with members of the audience at the reception that followed.  I am very grateful to Sara Daines and Marilyn Sklar, who arranged the reading for the Takoma Park Arts and Humanities Commission, and to moderator and Takoma Park poet Mary Beth Hatem, who enriched the evening by reading two topical poems, one at the beginning of the event and  the second at its conclusion.  The first poem was an amended version of “A Blessing for a Friend on the Arrival of Illness,” by John O’Donohue, with “these days” substituted for “illness”; the second was “Trump L’Oeil” by George Saunders.  If you are not familiar with “Trump L’Oeil,” it is worth Googling.

The reading was taped for Takoma Park’s CityTV, but the video is not yet available on YouTube.  I will update this post once it does appear.

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Progress Report, March 2017

Once again, I’m playing catch-up.  My last post here was in October of last year, but that should not be taken to mean that nothing has happened since then.  A lot has.

There have been several developments on the art front.  I’ve taken multiple watercolor classes over the years from Bonny Lundy, one of the founding teachers at the Yellow Barn Studio.  Last fall I took her class in Experimental Watercolor at the Artists and Makers Studio in Rockville, MD.  We focused on the work of artists Helen Frankenthaler, Gerhard Richter, Sean Scully, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and Virginia Cobb.  Currently I am in the midst of another Experimental Watercolor class with Bonny, again at Artists and Makers.  This time we are focusing on the work of Henri Matisse, Richard Diebenkorn, John Marin, Arthur Dove, and a Chinese-French artist named Zao Wou-Ki.  I had never heard of Zao Wou-Ki before the class, but I found his abstract expressionist work very impressive.  It’s worth checking out on Google.  Some of the watercolors I’ve done in both of these classes seem to merit preserving, and once I’ve sorted them out, I’ll post them on the website in the Prints & Paintings section.

Still on the art front, I’ll be participating next month in another abstract acrylic workshop with Carol Jason at the Yellow Barn Studio.  I’ve done two workshops with Carol in the past, and several of the paintings from those workshops are on display in the Prints & Paintings section.  In the upcoming workshop I hope to produce some paintings that reflect Zao Wou-Ki’s influence and can be added to the other works on the website.

As a result of the notes about Food for a Journey that appeared in Notre Dame Magazine last fall, a couple of my classmates were kind enough to purchase copies of the book.  One of them, Terry O’Loughlin, inquired about the availability of prints of two of the paintings on the website, “DeKooning Colors” and “After Diebenkorn.”  My answer was in the negative, for the simple reason that I had never looked into having prints made.  Spurred by Terry’s question, I asked Jerry and Sandy Miller, the brother and sister team which manages the Minuteman Press office here in Bethesda, for their help.  They agreed to give the project a try, and a few weeks later they provided me with attractive, reasonably-priced, 22″ by 28″ prints (the original paintings measure 24″ by 30″) of both paintings.  I sent the prints along to Terry and his artist wife Mary Kay, and now, after suitable matting and framing, the prints grace the walls of the O’Loughlin home in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.  If anyone else should be interested in having one or more prints of art work from the Prints & Paintings section of the website, just send me an e-mail at, and we’ll see what we can work out.

On the book front, I recently sent review copies of Food for a Journey to the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, and to Commonweal and America magazines.  Given the flood of books for review that inundate those publications on a regular basis, it is at best unlikely that they would bother to review a first book of poetry by an unknown author.  Still, the multiple mailings seemed worth a try.  Aside from the postage, I didn’t have much to lose.

One last item on the book front.  I have another poetry reading coming up, this one at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, at the Takoma Park Community Center Auditorium, 7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, MD.  The reading is part of a series of Third Thursday Poetry Readings sponsored by the Takoma Park Arts and Humanities Commission.  I’ll be reading with two other poets, Nancy Arbuthnot and Nicole Bresner.  The reading will be broadcast live on City TV (a local access network, I think) and can be viewed online at a later date.  Should be fun.  And that’s all for now.

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An Award and Some Recognition

A Canadian arts organization, Book Excellence Awards, has informed me that Food for a Journey has been chosen as the winner of the organization’s 2016 Book Excellence Award for Poetry.  A year ago, when the book first appeared, my publisher at Antrim House, Rennie McQuilkin, told me that he thought the book might win a prize or tow.   It turns out that he was right.  The prize package that accompanies the award includes access to a variety of promotional and marketing resources, and I look forward to using those resources in the weeks and months ahead.

In addition, three magazines published by universities that have awarded me degrees along the way have taken note of Food for a Journey.  The Spring 2016 issue of Fordham Magazine focuses on the title poem, which deals with, among other things, my 1970 encounter with the late Vince Lombardi, famed football coach and a Fordham alumnus.  The Class Notes section of the Fall 2016 issue of the New York University Alumni Magazine mentions not only the book but my last job before retirement, with the Appellate Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  Finally, the Creative Works section of the Autumn 2016 issue of Notre Dame Magazine contains brief descriptions of three of the book’s poems — “Cloistered Life,” “Food for a Journey,” and “Bargain Hunters” — and in the Class Notes section of the magazine, the Class of 1960’s redoubtable secretary, Joe Jansen, not only mentions the book but recommends a visit to this very website.

As one can imagine, I am extremely grateful to the folks at Book Excellence Awards and to the staffs at all three magazines.

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The Writer’s Center Reading

The summer has sped by, and I find myself playing catch-up with this post about my joint poetry reading with Carol Jennings on July 10 at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda.  The reading went well, although on a smaller scale than our joint May 22 reading at Politics and Prose, which attracted a standing-room-only crowd.  Carol and I read from our books to an audience of about thirty people who listened closely, as audiences at poetry readings usually do.  Carol read several of her poems first, then I read five of mine, three of which I had read in May, “Visiting Saint-Sulpice,” “Tribute,” and “Food for a Journey,” and two I had not read publicly before, “Metaphor” and “Gun Return.”

One of the rewarding features of poetry readings is that often people whom you don’t know come up to you afterwards to talk about poetry in general and your poetry in particular.  That happened to me with two different people after the Writer’s Center reading.  I was grateful for their interest.  I am grateful as well to Sunil Freeman, the assistant director of the Writer’s Center, who arranged the joint reading and seemed very  pleased with the way it worked out.

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The Politics and Prose Reading

The May 22 reading with Carol Jennings at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C., was a great success.  We had a standing-room-only crowd of approximately 100 that included family members, personal friends, and friends of poetry generally.  Carol and I were introduced to the audience by Barbara Meade, retired co-owner of P&P, who told us afterwards that it was the largest crowd for a poetry reading that she had seen in her 35-year association with the bookstore.  Carol read about a dozen of her poems; I read four somewhat longer poems of mine, “Cloistered Life,” “Visiting Saint-Sulpice,” “Tribute,” and the book’s title poem, “Food for a Journey.”  By the end of the afternoon, the store had sold all of the copies of our books that it had on hand. Afterwards, Ann and I had about 40 people back to the house for a little reception.  Ann deserves all the credit for putting that event together.

A related note.  Two weeks later, Ann and I were at a poetry event where several poets were reading.  We had to leave before the event ended, and as we were walking to our car, a woman came running after us.  She said that she had been at the P&P reading, and just wanted to tell us how much she had enjoyed “Tribute” when I read it at the bookstore.  It was nice to hear that from someone we had never met before.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Carol and I have another joint reading coming up on Sunday, July 10, at 2:00 p.m. at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda.  I’m hoping that it works out as well as the P&P reading.

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