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Gloria Mindock, Editor   Issue No. 116   February, 2024




Welcome to the February Newsletter.

Hi Everyone!
Last year, we published 21 books. It was a busy year. We expect this year to be very busy too. Please be patient. Books will be coming out. We will contact you when we are going to start working on your book.

In December, 2023, the book, "Here's Plenty" by David Radavich was published.

We just released PILLARS OF MAGYAR POETRY: Hungarian poems selected and translated by Paul Sohar. Paul Sohar recently passed away due to Pancreatic Cancer. Some of you know him from coming to my poetry round tables and readings. He was an amazing writer and translator. There will be a book launch for his book March 20th at 7PM/ZOOM. Email me for the link. I will be coordinating this with Paul's wife Eva.

Another book just released is "I Tell You This Now" by Daniel Lawless. A book launch will be announced soom.

We have many books in the works with just the covers needing to be done. Exciting!

We did not go to AWP this year but will be in LA to celebrate 20 years next year. We are turning 19 in April. You can look for many celebrations when we turn 20.

I am just starting to schedule readings. Look for a great year of readings with writers from all over the world. It was exciting last year to bring you readings from many different countries. We will be doing the same this year. Due to time differences, some readings will be early in the day.

You can purchase these books at:


Here's Plenty
by David Radavich

Hungarian poems selected and translated by Paul Sohar

I Tell You This Now
by Daniel Lawless

Interview with Steven Ostrowski by John Wisniewski

When did you begin writing, Steven?

As a homework assignment at St. Adalbert's in Staten Island, every week we were asked to use each of our ten vocabulary words for that week in a sentence. I used to like to use as many of those words in a single sentence as I could. Instead of getting yelled at, the nuns encouraged my creativity.

Any favorite poets and fiction writers?

Where to begin? Poets: TS Eliot, Louise Gluck, Michael Dickman, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman. Fiction writers: Breece D'J' Pancake, Alice Munro, Richard Ford, Flannery O'Connor, Faulkner, Chekov.

In your latest "Highways of Spirit and Bone," what do the main characters discover during their road trip?

Many things. Probably the one discovery that they all have in common is that when it comes to love/hate relationships, love is much stronger than hate, and quite a bit more complicated.

Do you see your painting differently than your writing? Is painting a different process for you?

In some ways, I feel like writing and painting are very similar for me: make something that didn't exist before, make it compelling, and hope that it is somewhat accessible to a viewer/reader while at the same time remaining genuinely mysterious. "Genuine" is crucial.

What inspires you to write?

I'm driven to write by a need to create works that are, for better or worse, distinctly mine. I don't want to sound or look like somebody else. I want my reader to feel like my works speak very personally to her.

Any future plans and projects?

I'm 12,000 words into a new novel (working title: Yo.) I'm days away from the publication of a full-length volume of poems called Life Field. I think it contains some of the best poetry I've written so far. I'm always making paintings and occasionally write songs.

Do you have a unique way of viewing life?

My Catholic upbringing has given me a strong and abiding sense that, at bottom, we are spiritual beings. I'm not settled on anything, metaphysically-speaking, but I'm always looking to settle.

Gary Whited's Being, There Review

Review of Gary Whited's Being, There
By Rich Borofsky

Gary Whited's second book of poems, Being, There, more than lives up to its title. The 40 poems and 18 translations are an in-depth, intimate experience of Being-in and Being-with the world—in this case, the vivid world of his boyhood on a family farm in eastern Montana. The book is also a teaching on what Being is—spoken in the 2600 year-old voice of pre-Socratic philosopher, Parmenides, sensitively translated here. His versions of Parmenides are interspersed among his poems creating what is an extraordinary lecture-demonstration about what Being, there means and what it feels like when Being is embodied in the particularity of one's own lived experience in a particular place.

Parmenides' entire surviving corpus is just a few fragments. Despite their brevity, they create an exquisitely succinct statement of what he was teaching. Parmenides' view is a no-frills view of the philosophy of being, called ontology. Unlike Heidegger's Being and Time or Sartre's Being and Nothingness, which seem absurdly prolix and abstruse by comparison, Parmenides' ontology is nothing if not concise:
The name for what, alone, is fully untroubled is to be. (Fragment XX)

This is the epigraph for the whole book and, in a sense, these poems are an explication de texte of this one line. But also they are much more than that. They are a virtuoso demonstration of what Parmenides' teaching looks, sounds, and feels like in a particular place, in a particular life, at a particular time.

Specifically, the ground of being which Parmenides describes—the beginningless, endless, infinite, omnipresent, and abundant Beingness that is immanent in everything—is in these poems literally the ground, the earth, the dirt, stones and dust of a small family farm on the east Montana prairie, with a creek running through it. The farm is a place of magic—revealed by the miracle of intimate listening that hears the silent voices of stones, and cherishing attention that sees the "clear water catch the light as it spills," and loving touch that can palpate the inner mysteries of fenceposts.

This prairie homeplace is the poet's Locus Amoenus—a Latin phrase meaning an idealized place of safety or comfort, with connotations of Elysium. He uses this phrase as the title of a poem with these lines:
I had no name for this delight that leapt from my eyes,
went out to meet things of the prairie I loved as a child.

But this is not an idealized place. It is a place of
...earthly things
that give themselves fully, not spent in their giving,
but some way added to.

We are transported to a place inhabited by many beings—"a barn, home to the unseen ghosts I feared, "along with spiders, flies, feral cats, cows, and horses named "Goldie, Red, Lighting, Lucky, Blue, Babe, and Spike"—each fed in its own way:

Bucket of oats
To the horses. Dusty, ground grain
To the cow. Fresh milk to feral
Cats. Hay to all the four-leggeds.
Water, always water, to us all.

Especially vivid is a poem which describes his assisting for the first time the birth of a calf:

One foot appears, not two;
naked to the shoulder, between contractions
I reach in...fingers swimming upstream,
       as if entering a dream....
I've become part of her,
       smell of winter's straw, manure,
dirt and wet cow's tail—all of it so close to my face
       there is no room to doubt this world.

An unexpected peace enters my body.

Likewise, we are invited into the landscape of his prairie homestead, where we are introduced to places like Bull Butte,
Standing still as long as always
It spoke legends from up high.
Always there. North and west
Of our barn. Looking over us.
How I knew I was there.
Not not-there.

On this farm, there are wheat fields that sing:
...the young green shoots
Of wheat making their way to August, ripening
Into bone white, when the softest breeze sets
The dry heads to singing, to singing their
Shimmering harvest song

There are big-picture images, like the "drunken lights" of the Aurora Borealis, that
"Dance wild over the prairie night sky,"

and close-ups:
Someplace a grasshopper nibbles on the tender wheat
Stops to spit, chews, leaps to the next stalk.

What I admire so much in reading these poems is how completely the poet is anchored to "my part of earth / What North Star was to my slice of sky."
These poems teach us that when a place is thoroughly inhabited by our sensory presence—seeing, listening, and touching—it becomes a sacred space, a spiritual home and forever memorable. These poems are memorable precisely because they are so completely rooted in this one place and so deeply felt. Indeed, you could say this book is a poetic memoir. It is actually the most beautiful and touching memoir of a boyhood I have ever read.

These poems are suffused with all the hallmarks of authentic being—a wakeful attentiveness, a sacredness, an alive stillness, omnipresence, connectedness, empathy, love and wisdom.

This attentiveness is evident in the opening poem, "First Astonishments:"
I cannot name what carries itself
In the curl of the pigs' tails trembling
As they arrive at the V-shaped feed trough

When I come near, bucket full of ground oats
Heavy against one leg, bucket of kitchen slop
Splashes at the other. Oats first, slop on top.
And later in the same poem, these lines:
...the soft,
Steady voice of wind sings above this slurping,
Presses its shoulder against the windmill's blades.

Reading this, I have the vivid feeling of Being, There. I feel, in e.e. cummings' words,
       now the ears of my ears awake and
              now the eyes of my eyes are opened.
These poems teach us that true Being is ever awake, unblinking wakefulness, not clouded by thought. Each of these marvelous poems creates an awakening—roused by startling images like "glistening spittle from cows' mouths as they walk to water", or surprising metaphors like "harvesting your delight" and "this thin sip of light," or by delicious phrases like, "Wind against the weight of things," or the poignant vulnerability of lines like, "So many things /we could not know from here, /though what we knew / kept us faithful to our task, waiting for the light /to return."

How wonderful to be awakened into this intimate, attentive, ever-present experience of Being and Being-with. The flashes of awakened Being in each of these poems are surprising and delightful-like the flashes of fireflies on a dark summer night.

Also, we can see in these poems how pure Being consecrates and sanctifies. Being is both the simplest and the most essential element of all spirituality. Simone Weil wrote, "Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer." I take this to mean that attention that is sustained and patient, that is undiluted, undistracted and wholly devoted to the object of attention sanctifies it—irrespective of whether it is God or a fly:
on the edge of the milk bucket
when I was learning to milk the cow,

and I watched her walk
all around the pail's edge

feeling intimate with this creature
as she made her way around the rim held tight

between my knees, the milk hissing
and foaming into itself.
This intense seeing is a kind of salvation. It is life saving:
your gaze fixed there, /As though your life depends on it.

Along with this, there is a pure and reassuring stillness in these poems, which deepens the sense of sacredness and offers a glimpse of deep mysteries. Here is part of a poem about the stillness of fenceposts:

Wind whistled through the narrow slits between
The fencepost's long splinters, where there was nothing
That I could see, only a flute's sound of nature's making

From the long standing in dry prairie air of any
Wooden post and a farmer's need to have the post
Stand still long enough that, to my young boy sense

Of things, seemed to be forever. It delighted my eyes
And my fingers to touch something that lived
Right there inside where forever might arrive,

And there I'd go on many days to touch,
To listen, to see that very nothing and hear
That single forever, and on days when I needed to

That were many, I'd hold my cheek right there
Where nothing and forever mingled....
Or in another poem,
I stand still
As a stone, look for where it all begins or ends.

Further, we learn that anything seen or heard or felt in the light of Being becomes omnipresent in time and space. In Fragment VIII Parmenides says:

Being is birthless and indestructible,
For it is whole-limbed and unmoved and without
End; not ever was it or will it be, since
It is now all at once, one, continuous.

In other words, Being is eternal and forever. It can neither be created or destroyed. It has no past or future—only a timeless present. Most of the poems here are written in this timeless present tense. Indeed, there is hardly any mention of past or future in these poems at all. (One lovely exception is a poem about a fly who would likely spend her entire life in the barn, "while I had not yet begun /to imagine mine.")

Likewise, in the light of Being everything is connected, Parmenides in Fragment IV says,
       ...the Being
Of things is never far off, nor is it separate
From the things themselves, but always
Everywhere, here, now.
He is saying that no place or thing is separate from any other place. Everything connects to everything else in a great chain of Being. Because we all share this Being-presence we, too, are all connected. We are all Being blood relatives, part of the vast Being Family. Being is everyone's and everything's last name—Bird Being, Mountain Being, Fencepost Being, Stone Being, and, of course, Human Being. And we are all, to use Thich Nhat Hahn's beautiful neologism, "Interbeings" who are ceaselessly interbeing with each other, connected through a single nervous system—so that even the lifting of one tiny twig sends ripples into the entire universe and back:

One step at a time amidst the sun-warmed everything,
my gaze, by chance or not, catches on that place
where my one hand one twig lifts,

riles the dirt dried mud has made, sends tiny tremors
I cannot not imagine to a nearby tree, whose roots so slight
a shift might feel through the shared dirt,

then shiver up her roughened bark, and into each inner ring
that shudders just a bit 'til each high leaf in every vein
receives the unexpected tremor....

and by that one act maybe change everything for as far as anything
touches what next by it lay, which I imagine never stops
'til China and on beyond all our gravity

and back around to where I stand, not anyplace,
but this place, where, by this one touch it all
begins again to move.

This sense of interconnection inevitably creates a profound sense of empathy. The boy in these poems is not a separate observer or admirer of what he sees, but rather he becomes everything he sees. He is, like Walt Whitman, a gifted empath, as described in Whitman's poem, "There was a Child Went Forth:"
There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he looked upon and received with wonder or pity or love or dread, that object he became, And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day...or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phœbe-bird, And the March-born lambs, and the sow's pink-faint litter, and the mare's foal, and the cow's calf, and the noisy brood of the barn-yard or by the mire of the pond-side....
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.
Just so, the boy in these poems, by becoming each thing he sees, is
not separate and not
Part of everything,
But everything.
He is the allness that has no opposite—because it includes everything. He is the "I" who is "Us."

If love is the capacity to create a larger Us, then these poems are surely love poems. They are full of love's delight and love's plenitude and generosity, love's open-hearted kindness, as well as exposing love's most intense vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities include seeing his father beat his older brother with a thick piece of firewood for not wearing an extra flannel shirt to walk a mile and half to school in a blizzard. There is the heartbreak of having his mother sent to a mental hospital in Denver, whose infrequent letters made her "feel farther away than the sound of the word, Denver." (I can't help thinking that to a small boy this might have sounded like "never.")

Yet alongside this there are so many comforts and delights—the soothing sound of his mother playing the accordion, the sounds and sights of the farm which are "astonishments" for this boy, who has the sensibility of a poet-philosopher and the attentiveness of a zen monk. This mix is precisely what makes me fall in love with this boy. I expect that when you read these poems you, too, will fall in love with him.

Lastly, there is something equally as essential as love in these poems—which is wisdom. In Fragment IX Parmenides tells us:

So, when all things are named day and night,
And all things according to their powers are
Assigned to one or the other, then all is full
At once of bright day and lightless night,
Of both in equal measure, since nothing
Is left over from either.

He is saying that night and day are equal. Of course, this is literally true. No matter where you live on the earth, over the course of a year, day and night will be equal. But I think Parmenides is saying something much more than this. We tend to think of day and night as mutually exclusive. Except at dawn and dusk, it is either day or night. But from the right angle in space we now can see from astronauts' photographs that day and night are always occurring at the same time. This is Parmenides' perspective. He is saying, I believe, that day and night, light and dark, positive and negative appearances and experiences peacefully coexist as equals and balance each other—if we are connected to Being. Being is the balance point, the center of life's see-saw. Being creates a perfect balance of positive and negative, without preference for one or the other.

This is the Buddhist view of wisdom and compassion and the prescribed path to freedom from suffering—which is caused by the ceaseless reaching for more positive experiences while trying to avoid unavoidable negative ones. The experience of simply Being enables one to free oneself from this futile struggle. ("The name for what, alone, is fully untroubled is to be.")

Included among these poems about the joy of pure Being, there are also poems expressing the boy's deep longing for this sense of balance that only pure Being can provide:
It seemed maybe only to me...
That if I longed for what was far away
My longing could soothe me, starting at my

Cheek where it touched a body that knew to stand
Still and to wait and to sing, and singing, to weave
Nothing and forever into dancing somewhere

That was nowhere but in that longing.
Rather than feeling this longing as frustrating or futile, I understand the longing in this poem as the very evidence of his connection to Being (there would be no longing if there was no Being) and it is the very thing that pulls him more closely towards it.

I really love these poems. Among many reasons, I love them because they illustrate the truth of psychologist Carl Rogers' statement, "what is most personal is what is most universal." These poems are very personal. In each poem the poet speaks to the reader as a trusted confidant. At the same time, I feel I am privileged to witness something universal and essential here.

I love these poems also because they beautifully illustrate Ralph Waldo Emerson's advice to writers: "Let the writing be the thing itself. Every sentence should be its own evidence." Every poem in this book manifests and transmits through the sound and sense of each line the experience and the evidence of Being. The poems brilliantly illustrate Archibald MacLeish's dictum in his Ars Poetica:
        "A poem should not mean / But be."

I have now read Gary Whited's Being, There several times. Each time I come to the last page, I feel overflowing love for the boy in these poems and a vast gratitude to the man who wrote them. I feel just what Rilke wrote at the end of his Ninth Duino Elegy:

Exuberant, bountiful Being
wells up in my heart.



Poetry By Elizabeth Morse
Reviewed by Susan Isla Tepper

There are certainly poets who can deconstruct a thought or sequence, and then there are very talented poets who can do this like a fan trick. Elizabeth Morse lands in the second category. Her poems are immersive. The reader is inside and looking in from the outside at the same moment. In a sense Morse has created the color between the hours- an apt title for this book. She fully understands beautiful language and how to form gorgeous, often deadly landscapes in the same stanza. Don't look for straight lines here because you won't find them. Take this first stanza:


Neon signs explode the night
with come-ons pointing to needs
I don't want to have.
I dream of highways to reach you,
maps of interweaving lines
leading to a paradise of gingerbread houses
that never belonged anywhere near here. / ... / (continued)

The poems in the collection express an urgency that mostly goes unfulfilled. I felt turned around while reading, which is what the best books will do to the reader. I wanted to grasp everything on the page but of course that is impossible. As with all surreal art, the one who looks can only look and be transported with more questions than answers.

The first 2 stanzas from another striking poem:


the streets were flooded.
Someone paddled a canoe down Wall Street.
Dead newspapers flew against windows.
Beggars collected piles of cans and shook
them while sitting in life preservers.
Was anything worth saving?

When you left, I went back to the old house,
the inescapable rooms with ceaseless melodies
woven by piano and clarinet.
Haunted houses never leave me, especially at night.
The walls leak ancient
fluids, dripping into cisterns of the too-early morning.

I'll finish up the review with a few opening lines from this next poem:


Shadows on your face
tell me you have other lives,
lottery tickets bought in haste,
hidden in drawers never checked.

Elizabeth Morse is a poet who lives in New York's East Village.

Her book can be purchased direct from the publisher...

Or from Amazon...


by Lee Slonimsky,
(New York City: Spuyten Duyvil, 2016)

In his recent book of poems, "CONSULTING WITH THE SWIFTS, NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 1982-2016." Lee Slonimsky puts together poems that span across three decades. These are poems about nature, trees and lights but also atoms and electrons, city workers and Pythagoras, the great mathematician who inspires many of these poems. Slonimsky writes superbly in form, many sonnets, yet is not stifled by it. The poems all feel immediate, warm and inviting. I particularly like how he engages the reader on both the intellectual and emotional levels, sometimes playfully. Here is the poem "The Way to Exorcise Demons" from an early collection "Ghost Along the Hudson:"

         "Some say
         the only way
         to exorcise demons
         is to let them leave the body in sleep.

         I ate a steak
         that still had the soul of a steer inside
         trapped and howling,
         frightened and lost.
         He never stopped screaming a second
         once caught inside me.

         I had to sleep for several days
         until that steer disappeared,
         and even now I can feel his hooves
         pounding inside my legs.
         Sometimes when I wash my hands
         I have to clean him off."

How the poem tantalizes in its psychological tension, man, beast and spirit are joined in the act of eating a steak! The relationship between man and nature plays out in many of these poems. Consider an excerpt from the recent collection "Consulting with the Swift/," the poem "The Buried Birthplace of all Whales:"

                           "Walk, then swim:

         you could become a species too!
         if only you had countless years
         to shrink your limbs, to grow a fin
         or two.

         But you've got just this afternoon
         to gaze and think. Revere. And stare
         at lofty peaks' magnificence
         that many here see as divine;
         and what you'll cherish is the sense
         that here's a place beyond all time."

His reverence for fellow species are not so much political but in recognizing that in nature
we are all bound together. To the poet nature is not only a backdrop, it is filled with dramas
closely linked to the human. Slonimsky writes about nature with deep feeling as only a nature
lover could. In the poem "The Craft of Wind" from the collection "Wandering Electron" he begins:

         "I have a name, a face, a date of birth,
         but all I really have is molecules,
         the craft of wind and atoms: art of earth."

And ends with:

                           "Someday I'll rearrange
         my atoms into fish or bird, a change
         of course, but not entirely my ruin."

Slonimsky suggests in his way of seeing that nature is our spiritual guide. It consoles and
renews our spirit, it understands life's challenges and shows us possibilities. With passionate
meditation and great imagination, the poet also gives us Pythagoras who always inspires.
He is like the poet's confidant and by extension, ours as well. In some critical moments
Pythagoras speaks with clarity and empathy. If man is boiled down to molecules and electron
he nevertheless is free. And roaming around he may hear a voice like this:

         My moment came: I dashed. I whirred as free
         as any hawk who coasts on gust of wind;
         Pythagoras then whispered this to me,
         as I soared in the flesh and glee of sun:
         "You've dared the new, a different kind of flight.
         Your orbit's jail is gone. Go charge the light."

In this digital age, it seems like every day we are too wrapped up with our devises to pay attention. We pay more heed to our phones than to one another, let alone nature. Individuals can feel small in the face of all this, but the yearning for nature never falters in Slonimsky's poems. In a poem called "Pythagoras's Meaning," he writes:

         And that's the core of it; he's not here to
         make history, discover the unknown,
         but rather to connect until he's gone.

         Mere notice makes the ancient live, brand new.

Lee Slonimsky's poems make us see our close common bond with nature. His poems are both modern and classic, insistent on the poet's affinity for tradition but aware of his own time and place. In reading, these poems refresh the mind and spirit, and we may be inspired to pause and look around.

In closing...

I would like to welcome Alyssa Barile and Miina Raag-Schmidt, our two interns, to the press. They are from Lesley University. They are doing wonderful things for the press.

In March, we will be announcing a subscription plan for our books and workshops this year. The subscription plan will include what we published so far this year as well as what is to come. We are very excited about this!

Looking ahead, Červená Barva Press will have another summit in the fall. We will be bringing you a wide range of workshops this year. I am already in the process of starting to plan it. I am working on a new contract for it.

See you in March!

Červená Barva Press Staff

Gloria Mindock, Editor & Publisher
Renuka Raghavan, Assistant Editor, Publicity
Flavia Cosma, International Editor
Helene Cardona, Contributing Editor
Andrey Gritsman, Contributing Editor
Juri Talvet, Contributing Editor
John Wisniewski, Interviewer
Karen Friedland, Interviewer
Miriam O' Neal, Poetry Reviewer
Annie Pluto, Poetry Reviewer
Christopher Reilley, Poetry Reviewer
Susan Tepper, Poetry Reviewer
Neil Leadbeater, Poetry Reviewer
John Riley, Poetry and Fiction Reviewer
William J. Kelle: Webmaster

Gene Barry (In Memoriam)

See you next month!


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