Artist Archive

Thursday, May 21

Featured Musician: Megan Sesma, harp, with Special Guests, Robert Hoyle, French horn, and Charlie Suriyakham, clarinet
7 p.m.


A versatile performer in the mediums of orchestral and harp chamber music and as a film session musician, Megan Sesma has performed in venues that range from Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Carnegie Hall, and numerous concert halls in South America. Her experience has placed her under the batons of some of music's greatest luminaries, including conductors ranging from Neeme Jarvi and Yuri Termirkanov to John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith. No less an innovator when it comes to the harp's expressive and stylistic possibilities, Ms. Sesma has also shared the stage with such legends of contemporary and popular music as Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, and Dianne Reeves.

In 2003, Ms. Sesma became the United States Coast Guard Band’s first enlisted principal harpist after the band added a harp position for the first time since its creation in 1925. In addition, she substitutes with the New Haven Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Hartford Symphony, and Bridgeport, Manchester, New Britain and Eastern Connecticut Symphonies. Ms. Sesma holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the Eastman School of Music, where she served as the harp studio teaching assistant. She started her master's degree in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California and finished her studies at New York University.

Ms. Sesma is a faculty member at the Centerbrook Music School in Connecticut. She is also a harp instructor for Wesleyan University in Middletown and an adjunct instructor of harp at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. In addition, she is president emeritus of the Shoreline Chapter of the American Harp Society.

Ms. Sesma’s also composes harp chamber works and teaches harp in Guatemala in support of the Guatemala Harp Project, through the Harping for Harmony program. She is available as a soloist, chamber, orchestral, or recording musician, as well as for harp demonstrations, harp lessons and private events. "Una arpista profesional para todo sus ocasiones especiales."

More information on Ms. Sesma can be found at:


Robert Hoyle

Originally from the Philadelphia area, Robert Hoyle earned his master’s degree at the Hartt School of Music. Having spent 24 seasons as principal horn with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, he was frequently called upon to act as soloist.  In the past few seasons, he has performed solo repertoire by Bach, Barsanti, Britten, Mozart, Strauss, Telemann, and Vivaldi with not only the Hartford Symphony, but also with the Connecticut Orchestra, the Hartford Chamber Orchestra, the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, and others. In the commercial arena, he has performed with a virtual “who’s who” in the music business, appearing on stage with Julie Andrews, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Beach Boys, Andrea Bocelli, Dave Brubeck, Judy Collins, Peter Frampton, Lena Horne, Johnny Mathis, Henry Mancini, Joni Mitchell, Ann Murray, Luciano Pavarotti, Leann Rymes, Frank Sinatra Jr., Rod Stewart, and many others.  Equally comfortable with chamber music, he has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe, and has collaborated with the renowned Emerson String Quartet.  As a teacher, Mr. Hoyle has served on the faculties of the Hartt School of Music, the University of Akron, Trinity College, Central Connecticut State University, and the Hartford-Camerata Conservatory.  He is currently a horn instructor at the University of Connecticut and Wesleyan University. 


Charlie Suriyakham

Charlie Suriyakham, clarinet, was born in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He began his formal clarinet studies in 1993 with Debbie Kanter at California State University in Northridge. In 1995 he transferred to Chicago College of the Performing Arts of Roosevelt University, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s of music degrees and a professional diploma in orchestral studies, as well as winning a concerto competition. Suriyakham’s clarinet teachers include Thomas LeGrand, Jeffrey Lerner, Larry Combs, Randall Griffin, and others. He has performed with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Classical Symphony Orchestra, the Encore Chamber Orchestra, and the American Youth Symphony in California. He has performed at many music festivals, including the Texas Music Festival, the Rome Summer Music Festival, and the Las Vegas Music Festival. He joined the United States Coast Guard Band in February 2005. Charlie is currently a clarinet instructor at Wesleyan University. 

Featured Poets: Lisa C. Taylor and David Cappella
8 p.m.


Lisa C. Taylor holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Program and is the author of three books of poetry: the chapbook, Talking to Trees (Finishing Line Press, 2007), which was nominated for the L.L. Winship PEN New England Award); Safe Love and Other Political Acts (Plumeria Press, 1995); and Falling Open (Alpha Beat Press, 1993). Her work has appeared in several anthologies and literary magazines and journals, including Healing Muse, Cape Rock, Icarus, Midwest Review, Hawai'i Pacific Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Kimera, and Connecticut River Review. Her poetry has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

In addition, Lisa has been collaborating with a musician and writing song lyrics; to hear a sample of her lyrics put to music, go to and go to the "World of Small Moons" selections.

Lisa presently teaches writing at both Eastern Connecticut State University and Arts at the Capitol Theater, an arts magnet high school. She also works as a writer-in-residence conducting writing workshops for teachers and students of all ages.

More information on Lisa can be found at:

Sample Poem


The tail protrudes from the wheel well
of my Toyota.  I think it is a twig
until I see its utter pinkness, glimpse
of matted fur, dark with blood.

I’ve been unconsciously spinning away life.

I’m afraid of the small corpse,
can’t stand its weightlessness.
And I wonder what to do with it.
Bury it in the backyard
or let it soften under leaves.  What
about the cat?  I can’t bear
small bones snapping.

I pretend I’m not a part
of this drama.
“I was only doing thirty.”

Harsh, vital world.
Lives catch under wheels.
I have to stop my rushing,
these continuous murders.

---Lisa C. Taylor


David Cappella is an associate professor in English at Central Connecticut State University. He is the co-author (with Baron Wormser) of two poetry textbooks: Teaching the Art of the Poetry: The Moves (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999)and A Surge of Language: Teaching Poetry Day to Day (Heinemann, 2004).

In 2003, David was the resident teacher/poet for the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching. He is a former co-chairperson for the National Council of Teachers of English’s Commission on Poetry. He has presented workshops on the teaching of poetry in public schools in Connecticut and throughout the United States, including for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

David’s poems have appeared in The Connecticut Review, Diner, The Bryant Literary Review, The Bradford Review, The Providence Journal, and other journals. He is the winner of the 2004 Bright Hill Press Poetry Chapbook Competition for Gobbo: A Solitaire’s Opera, which wasinspired by the great 19th-century Italian poet, Leopardi and the first poem of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He was also the featured poet in the Winter 2006 issue of Diner. The complete manuscript of Gobbo: A Solitaire’s Opera was a finalist for the 2006 Bordighera Prize and a 2008 finalist for The Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Competition.

A link to David’s poetry can be found at:

Sample Poem


The library was a monastery;
its books a deathless sanctuary.
As a closeted monk thirsts for heaven,
I drank words, and beside dying candles
I knelt shivering in the cold, my eyes
aching. I came to discover Beauty.
I wrote poems, whispering words to the sky.
I heard the angelic voices of youths
singing “amore.” Truly, I was happy.
Yet, during these long years with books I died.
My spine wrinkled up and I couldn’t run
with my brother. A girl called me crooked.
Invisible, the cathedral of my inner beauty.
Rage crawled, a rodent in my mind.

---David Cappella

Gobbo is an Italian word for “hunchback”


Thursday, April 16

Featured Poet: Sam Cornish
In Celebration of National Poetry Month
8 p.m.

Deborah Simmons

Sam Cornish is the City of Boston’s first Poet Laureate. Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced at the 2008 State of the City Address: "The task force succeeded in honoring Boston's fine literary tradition by selecting [Mr. Cornish], an ideal first Poet Laureate.” The announcement was the result of months of work by the Mayor's Poet Laureate Task Force, which also served as a jury during the selection process and was comprised of members from the local poetry scene, publishing world, academia, and Boston Public Schools.

Cornish’s new book of poems is An Apron Full of Beans (CavanKerry Press, 2008), which is described as an African-American sequel to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Written with influences from the blues, spirituals, and the language of writers such as Langston Hughes and Margaret Walker, the poems grow out of the historical and personal reminiscences of these artists and their traditions. The poems are both biographical and autobiographical, as they revisit American history through the art forms of film noir, science fiction, the blues, jazz, and other aspects of American history and popular culture.

His previous books include: Generations (Beacon Press, 1970), Sam's World (Decatur House Press, 1978); Songs of Jubilee (Unicorn Press, 1986), 1935 (Ploughshares Books, 1990), Folks Like Me (Zoland Books, 1993), and Cross a Parted Sea (Zoland Books, 1996)
Cornish received a St. Botolph Society Foundation Award in 1992 from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a NEA Fellow in 1967. He is listed in the Oxford Encyclopedia of African-American Literature and Contemporary American Literature.
When asked about his poetic process recently, Cornish responded: “For me it is a choice of language. How do you describe something? How do you create a poem? How do you communicate? I would say that it is the influence of the hard world or the naturalistic writer, where you use the language that's employed in common speech. At the same time you recognize the lyric possibilities in this language.”
There will be a book signing and sales following the reading.

Featured Musicians: C-, The Band
7 p.m.

Charles Coe
C- The Band performing at the MCC Farmer’s Market on August 19, 2008.
The MCC-based group also played at the College last September 7th
at the Sixth Annual Nikki’s Run, Walk and Roll for children with cancer.

From left to right: Ken Klucznik, Holly June Jacobs,
Dr. Andy Paterna, Patrick Sullivan, and Mike Stefanowicz.

If you have attended a benefit event in central Connecticut over the past five years, there is a good chance that you’ve heard the sounds of “C- The Band,” who have been playing the loop since their inception in 2003.

C- is made up of four MCC faculty members, English professors Ken Klucznik and Patrick Sullivan, who both sing and share the lead on guitars; Mike Stefanowicz, director of Transitional Programs, on bass; and Dr. Andy Paterna, guitar and vocals, who is a professor in the Health Department, as well as an MCC graduate, singer Holly June Jacobs.

Like most bands, C- originated in a basement and grew from there. Colleagues Klucznik and Sullivan started with a few jam sessions in Klucznik’s Glastonbury basement, and before long, Jacobs was added to the mix. Stefanowicz is the newcomer, and Paterna has been a special guest-turned-regular.

Along the way C-, who does not charge for its services, has become known for its charitable shows. They will, however, sell you a copy of their CD (visit for a donation of $10 or more to one of the charities the band supports. Klucznik said, “We don’t turn down other types of gigs, but our focus is on benefits and the community.” Klucznik, who grew up in the province of Quebec, plays well in tandem with Sullivan while trading leads and sounds a lot like his fellow Canadian, Neil Young.

The band’s sets mix original songs from their debut recording, C-, The Band - 10 Track Long Playing Album, with some not-so-common covers like Hank Williams' "You Win Again" (which was later covered by the Grateful Dead), "Folsom Prison," the somewhat autobiographical Johnny Cash tune he actually wrote before his days behind bars, some Beatles songs including "Act Naturally" and Revolution", and "Sky Blue Sky" by Wilco, the champion of the Indy recording artists.

By title, C- The Band is tough on grading itself, but when it comes to donating time for community and other worthy causes, it would be hard to give them anything lower than an A+.

Information taken from an article written by Paul Ofria, assistant athletic director at MCC


Thursday, March 19

Featured Musicians: Kangho Lee, cello, and Theodore Arm, violin
7 p.m.

Deborah Simmons

Kangho Lee

Cellist Kangho Lee has been a sought-after soloist and chamber musician worldwide since his orchestral debut with the Seoul Philharmonic at the age of twelve. He has performed in Korea, the United States, and Europe with leading orchestras, such as the Korean Broadcast System (KBS) Symphony, the Korean Symphony, the Euro-Asia Symphony, the Sofia National Academy Orchestra, and the Halle Philharmonic. In 2001, he was a featured soloist for the New Year’s Eve Gala Concert with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. He has given solo recitals in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, New Haven, and Seoul. In 2004, Lee was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Korea to be its cultural representative and gave recitals in Paris, Milan, Rome, Lyon, and for the United Nations in Geneva. In 2007, at the invitation of the Moscow Conservatory, he performed in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as in Poland.

An active chamber musician, Lee has collaborated with world-renowned musicians, including Lorand Fenyves, Ida Kavifian, Joan Panetti, Steven Dann, Eric Rosenblith, and members of the Cleveland, Vermeer and Orion string quartets. Lee is a member of the Kumho Chamber Music Society, the Tonus Piano Trio, and the New England Piano Trio.

As a highly respected pedagogue, Lee has presented master classes at the universities of Texas–Austin, Iowa, Delaware, New Mexico, Missouri–Kansas City, and the University of Illinois–Urbana. He received his master of music degree from the Yale School of Music and doctor of musical arts degree from the New England Conservatory. Lee is associate professor of music (cello) and coordinator of applied music at the University of Connecticut, as well as director of the UConn Cello Festival and UConn Chamber Music Festival.

Deborah Simmons

Theodore Arm

Audiences throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan have responded with warmth and excitement to the artistry of violinist Theodore Arm. He has appeared as soloist, recitalist, and guest artist with such well known organizations as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, The Group for Contemporary Music, and Bargemusic, Ltd. Arm has been a member of the highly acclaimed chamber group TASHI since 1976 and has performed with Lukas Foss, Chick Corea, and Gary Burton, among others. He has had works written for him, most recently a violin concerto by Allan Leichtling, as well as a suite for violin and piano by David Schiff.

Arm performs on an Andreas Guarneri violin dated 1652. He is a favorite of summer chamber music festival audiences, and has performed with Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon, Music from Angel Fire in New Mexico, and the "Bravo" Festival in Vail, Colorado. He has also taught and performed at the renowned Kneisel Hall Chamber Music School of Blue Hill, Maine.

In 1992 Arm participated in performances and chamber music coaching at the Moon Beach Festival in Okinawa and in Tokyo with artists from Europe and Asia. He has recorded for RCA, Delos, Musical Heritage Society, and EMC, and can be heard on a University of Connecticut recording project in a work by Sidney Hodkinson, with Paul Phillips conducting the UConn Orchestra. Arm holds a doctorate in performance from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Christine Dethier and Joseph Fuchs and is professor of music (violin) at the University of Connecticut.

Featured Poets: Elizabeth Thomas and Brian Johnson
8 p.m.

Charles Coe

Elizabeth Thomas

Elizabeth Thomas is a widely published poet, performer, advocate of the arts, and teacher. Her most recent book of poetry is From the Front of the Classroom (Antrim House Books, 2008). She has also published two previous poetry collections. She has read her work throughout the United States and has been a member of three Connecticut National Poetry Slam teams. Much of her energy and time is devoted to designing and teaching writing programs for schools and organizations in many parts of the country. These programs promote literacy and the power of the written and spoken word. As an advocate of youth in the arts, Elizabeth is a coach and organizer with Brave New Voices: International Youth Poetry Slam and Festival. She is also the founder of UpWords Poetry, a company dedicated to promoting programs for young writers and educators, based on the belief that poetry is meant to be heard out loud and in person. She hosts a website at Elizabeth also teaches poetry courses for MCC’s Credit-Free Programs.


If you keep eating raw spaghetti
you’ll get pinworms,
then I’ll have to make
a necklace of garlic for you to wear
each night while you sleep,
until they go away.
If you’re mean to your younger brother, I’ll know
because I have a special eye
that spies on you when I’m not home.
You cannot hide from it,
so don’t try.
If you touch your “down there”
any time other than when using the toilet,
your hand will turn green and fall off.
If you keep crossing your eyes
they will stay that way
until the wind
changes direction.
It is bad luck to kill a moth. Moths are
the souls of our ancestors and it just
might be Papa paying a visit.
If you kiss a boy on the mouth
your lips will stick together
and he’ll use the opportunity
to suck out your brains.
If you ever lie to me
God will know
and rat you out.
And sometimes
God exaggerates.
Trust me –
you don’t want that
to happen.

--Elizabeth Thomas

Deborah Simmons

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is the author of Torch Lake and Other Poems (Web del Sol, 2008) and a chapbook of prose poems, Self- Portrait (Quale Press, 2000). His poems have appeared in American Letters and Commentary, The Prose Poem: An International Journal, Quarter after Eight, Sentence, Drunken Boat, West Branch, and many other journals. He is the recipient of a CT Commission on the Arts Fellowship and two Pushcart Prize nominations. Brian received an M.F.A. in Rhetoric and Composition Studies from Brown University and is associate professor of English at Southern Connecticut State University.


My unheavenly body moves toward the water, but it takes the whole day.

I’m different from the winged insects and the loud, bounding mammals that populate the earth. My father told me, “A reptile is a post. The world is a horsetail. Hold your ground.”

And I do. My years are numbered; my mornings without incident; my afternoons long, hot, and solitary.

A dog guards the vast boneyard. I see it.

--Brian Johnson



Thursday, February 19

A Special Celebration of Black History Month

Featured Musician: Deborah Simmons
7 p.m.

Deborah Simmons

A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Deborah Annette Simmons has spent the last 15 years in the New England area. She received a bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University and three degrees from Teachers College at Columbia University: a master of arts, master of education, and a doctorate of education respectively in the areas of music therapy, guitar instruction, and adult learning.

In 1987, she was employed by the Hartford school system and taught for seven years as a band director and general music teacher before accepting a tenured position in music at Manchester Community College, where she is currently associate professor. Since coming to MCC in 1995, she has more than doubled the size of the choral ensembles and created a jazz and chamber group. As a member of the Master Planning Committee for new facilities on campus, she had critical input in creating a building for music instruction on campus, including an electronic music lab and a 7-foot concert grand piano. Her input in the planning of the new Savings Bank of Manchester Auditorium at MCC ensured the creation of a space designed for music performance. The auditorium possesses state-of-the-art sound technology and has featured shows by internationally acclaimed performers.  

In 1997, Deborah became director, arranger and accompanist for the St. Monica’s Episcopal Church Gospel Choir.  The choir was featured at a gospel brunch sponsored by the Pond House Café at Elizabeth Park, West Hartford in 2003, and in the following year, she directed and accompanied the Choir and 25 other community participants in a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Belding Theater, Bushnell Performing Center for the Arts, in Hartford.  As part of the centennial celebration of St. Monica’s Episcopal Church, her gospel choir also opened for the Grammy nominated vocalist, Wintley Phepps, at First Cathedral in Bloomfield. The Choir continues to perform monthly at St. Monica’s.

In 1996, Deborah became a member of a woman’s contemporary fusion group, “Swivel Hips.” A blend of funk, jazz, Latin, R&B, pop and rock, the group has performed throughout the greater New England area. Noted performances include:

  • July 2004, Music Festival, Ottawa, Canada;
  • June 2001, Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Farmington, CT, which was broadcasted on National Public Radio (NPR);
  • October 2001, Mystic Connecticut Poetry Festival;
  • July 2001, Opened for the Neville Brothers;
  • July 2000, Millennium March on Washington, Washington, D.C. (Performed to more than 10,000 people)

In addition to her extensive musical involvement, Deborah maintains an interest and practice as a non-traditional fabric artist. Her quilts deviate from the traditional patterns to explore images representing cultural themes and societal issues. Her recent work extends beyond textiles to include ceramics, graphite and acrylics. Recent visual art projects include creating the text and illustrations for a children’s book targeting African American children with Type 2 diabetes. She also wrote and illustrated a children’s book, entitled “Little Deboo and her Big Sister Rose,” in 2005. 

In 2003, Deborah was featured among other Connecticut arts leaders in a series of commercials for CPTV to promote a new web site, “Culture Connect.”  The web site, inspired by the Connecticut Commission on Arts, Tourism, Culture, History and Film, and Connecticut Public Television, serves as an information resource for upcoming arts events throughout the state.

Since 1992, Deborah has participated in the Urban Artists Initiative (UAI) Program.  This program is a partnership between the Institute for Community Research and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.  The organization consists of more than 250 artists throughout the state who represent various visual and performing arts mediums. The purpose of this program is to support community artists not privy to mainstream art funding and exposure. It provides them with the tools to offer a more significant art contribution on the local, state and national level.

Deborah is a current member of the state and national organization of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC).  This organization is the professional association for music educators who provide primary, secondary and college level music instruction.

Featured Poet: Charles Coe
8 p.m.

Charles Coe

Poet and writer Charles Coe is a coordinator for the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Organizational Support Program, overseeing the grant programs for music and literature organizations. He also oversees the Music Composition Fellowship program, the Massachusetts Cultural Council Advisor Corps, and the Massachusetts Poetry Outreach Project. Before joining the Council, Charles was awarded the council’s Artists Fellowship in Poetry.

Charles’s poetry and prose has appeared in numerous newspapers and literary reviews and magazines. Picnic on the Moon, a volume of his poetry, was published in 1999 by Leapfrog Press of Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Charles is also featured on numerous spoken word CDs, including  "Get Ready for Boston," a collection of stories and songs about Boston neighborhoods, and "One Side of the River," an anthology of Cambridge and Somerville poets, including Robert Pinsky, Frank Bidart, Liam Rector, and Gail Mazur.

His poems have been set to music by composers Julia Carey, Beth Denisch, and Robert Moran. He also writes feature articles, book reviews, and interviews for Harvard Magazine, Northeastern University Law Review, and the Boston Phoenix. In addition, he writes humor and commentary columns for Boston Weekly Dig.

Charles is a long-time activist with the National Writers Union, a labor union of freelance writers. He has served on the union's National Executive Board, is co-chair of the Boston Chapter Steering Committee, and co-founded the union's National Diversity Committee. Charles has also designed, and frequently runs, “Reading in Public: a Workshop for Writers”, which helps writers become more confident and effective in their public appearances.

In addition to his work as a writer, Charles has an extensive background as a jazz vocalist and has performed and recorded with numerous musicians in the Boston area and throughout New England, including Stan Strickland, Ken Selcer, and Avery Sharpe.

Sample Poem


The young woman on the bus
wearing headphones
has a mole on her neck.

Perhaps the same mole
in the same place
on some ancient ancestor
itched with sweat
as she crawled on her knees
through the king’s garden,
back bent, pulling weeds.

I know someone whose husband died
a month after their baby’s birth.
Years later, she had to turn her face away
when her teenage son
brushed the hair from his girlfriend’s face
with exactly the same gesture
as the father he had never known.

Some mysteries are greater
than the birth of stars;
that sound you hear
the moment before sleep
is not the wind, but your own flesh,
in a timeless, whispered conversation
with itself.

---Charles Coe


January 15, 2009

Featured Poets: Jeff Cannon and Gray Jacobik

Wild Dreams

Jeff Cannon, M.Div., MSW, former Vernon-Rockville resident, happily returns to visit his old stomping grounds. During his 15 year residency, he worked not only as a pastoral minister but also as a therapist in various clinical settings. In addition, he enjoyed being what he called a “Guest Teacher” in the Vernon-Rockville school system. Presently, he works at his residence in Massachusetts as a research consultant, exploring the fascinating phenomenon of human existence. This work feeds Jeff’s search to more fully live the healthy interaction of spirit, body and mind. He not only appreciates being able to work at home, but more so the fact that by integrating this work with his past experience, he feels, “Maybe I have a chance to wake up and die right!”

Jeff has written poetry for most of his life. The work of not only Bly, Lorca, Neruda, Paz, and Mary Oliver, among others, but also Heidegger and Camus daily challenge, encourage and motivate his writing. Consequently, the past 15 years of writing poetry has become a more full-time response to a deeply felt call to mine the potentials of human and humane living.

Such a challenge not only holds Jeff to task but also invites his readers to celebrate being “a witness, emptied of all self-centered preoccupation [to] bring care into the world … through the felt awareness of deep and intimate connections … with ourselves, others, and the earth.” (from “The Poet as Witness”, Traces of Passionate Leaves, 2008)

Thus, it is fair to say that Jeff’s poetry echoes the voice of our primal body searching for its authentic life ever questioning to respond to Life and our human situation more intuitively, creatively and with heartfelt intelligence.

Jeff was published in the 2004 release of Jennifer Graf Groneberg’s anthology celebrating parenthood, My Heart’s First Steps. In May 2008, he self-published a sampling of his work entitled, Traces of Passionate Leaves. He is pleased to announce the impending release of Intimate Witness: The Carol Poems through Goose River Press. This volume of poetry is a testimony to his wife’s journey with cancer and the family who walked with her every step of the way. Jeff is also seeking publishers for two other manuscripts of poetry: Eros: Faces of Love, Consciousness & Consequences and Finding the Father at Table. More information on Jeff’s poetry recordings, shows, and publications are available at the author’s web site:  His email address is:

Wild Dreams

Gray Jacobik is on the graduate faculty of the Stonecoast M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Maine. She earned her Ph.D. in American and British Literature from Brandeis University and for many years served as a professor of literature at Eastern Connecticut State University. A widely-published poet, and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing and an Artist’s Fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Jacobik’s work has appeared in Best American Poetry 1997 & 1999, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Ontario Review, The Georgia Review, Connecticut Review and Ploughshares, amongother publications.She is the 1997 winner of The Yeats Prize given by The Yeats Society of New York, and of The Emily Dickinson Prize sponsored by Universities West Press.  Her book, The Double Task, University of Massachusetts Press (1998), received The Juniper Prize and was nominated for The James Laughlin Award and The Poet’s Prize. The Surface of Last Scattering, published by Texas Review Press (1999) was selected by X. J. Kennedy as the winner of the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. Brave Disguises received the AWP Poetry Series Award for 2001 and is published by the University of Pittsburgh Press (2002). She served as the Robert Frost Poet-in-Residence at The Frost Place in the summer of 2002. Gray is a painter as well as a poet, working in oils and pastels and exhibiting her work at various galleries along the south shore of Connecticut. She lives with her husband, Bruce Gregory, in Deep River, Connecticut. 

Sample Poem

Do I Wake Or Dream?

Down Essex Street, and before lunch, the children,
Making tails and trunks of their linked hands,
In Halloween gear and teacher-guided, call on
Shopkeepers, charming the passersby who flaunt
A conspiratorial kindliness toward Tinkerbell,
Spiderman, Scooby-Do, and another dozen
Short pranksters and enchanters. I feel treated
Too by the willowiness of another warm October
Day––the bright yellows, oranges, reds and limes
Of leaves hocketing from tree tip to street––
Mesmers strutting beyond public measures
Of dread in this time of tsunami, hurricane,
Earthquake, war.  I would stay on this village
Bench, mind bleached sunlight bright, unafraid
Of whatever next calamity will slap me hard
From this revelry of place, fuel more alarm for
Little ones––and all who spin on our orbiting rock.

---Gray Jacobik


Featured musicians: Lydia Fortune, with special guest, Miguel Melendez


You can expect to hear an eclectic blend of music---from ballads, blues and spirituals to country, pop and subtle jazz---when you're listening to Lydia Fortune. In fact, it’s hard to pin her down to one musical genre, given her ability to find expression in all types of music. Her interpretive vocals reflect a unique singing style that has been honed through more than 35 years of performance. With an aptitude for collaboration and strong sense of adventure, she has kept her approach straightforward, vibrant and alive.

Fortune began public performance as a folk singer in the early 70’s, and in the 80's, helped form a local R&B band, Broken Ground. In the early 90's, she was a featured vocalist for the Crown Hill Jazz Sextet.  Later she joined Worcester pianist, Jim Heffernan, in forming the Heffernan/Fortune Trio for a 3-year stint.  Eventually worn down by clubs and regional travel in the late 90's, she concentrated on appearances at local community and private events, redesigning herself as an independent artist.  Having a background of theater performance and workshop presentation skills affords Fortune an ease on stage.

In 2000, she teamed up with husband and wife team, Dan and Gail Hunt. That connection, which remains strong today, gave her an opportunity to develop and refine her own acoustic/eclectic style. In 2001, they backed her as Lydia Fortune & Company on her first recording, Songs from the Road, which earned her Best New Artist in the 2001 Worcester Wormtown Sound Awards. The CD featured 10 original songs and established her as a singer/songwriter. Her second CD, All Over the Map (2003), succeeds in further blurring defining musical lines. The nine cover tunes highlighted her ability to create fresh new approaches to old tunes, while the four originals served to sharpen her songwriting skills.

Currently, Fortune is occasionally a featured guest vocalist with the Paul Combs Pocket Big Band and can often be found at local Open Mic venues, such as The Folk’n A in Worcester, MA and at Borders Books & Music in Shrewsbury, MA.

For more information on Fortune, including her CDs and upcoming appearances, please visit her website: You may also contact her through her email address:



Miguel Melendez, Venezuelan-born, began playing guitar as a self-taught musician in the mid-1960’s and progressed to formal lessons in the 80s.  In 1988, he switched instruments and began playing bass in a classic rock band.  The guitar would take a back seat until many years later when he wanted his son to learn to read and play music for the guitar.  In order to encourage his son, Miguel began taking classical guitar lessons himself and he the guitar has returned as his instrument of choice. 

Currently, Miguel performs at various local venues in Worcester, MA and other areas in Massachusetts.  He is also a ‘regular’ at the Shrewsbury, MA Borders Books & Music Store Open Mic events and periodically visits the Webster House Restaurant’s Folk’n A Open Mics in Worcester.


Thursday, November 20

A Celebration of Curbstone Press and the Life of Alexander “Sandy” Taylor
with Featured Writers and Speakers: Judith Doyle, Raouf Mama, and Paul Pines
8 p.m.

Alexander "Sandy" Taylor (1931-2007)

Wild Dreams
Judy Doyle & Sandy Taylor

Sandy was the co-founder and co-director of Curbstone Press in Willimantic and a leading light in the world of independent publishing. Born in Rumford, ME, and raised in Glens Falls, NY, Sandy graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from Skidmore College. He later earned both an M.A. and Ph.D in Literature from the University of Connecticut. While working on his graduate degrees, he taught English at E.O. Smith High School from 1958 to 1968. In 1965 Sandy received a Fulbright Fellowship to Denmark, where he became fluent in Danish and established relationships with many Danish writers and editors. During the 1960s and early 70s, he was active in both the anti-war and civil rights movements. From 1969 to 1990, he taught English literature and creative writing at Eastern Connecticut State College. Sandy and his wife, Judith Ayer Doyle, founded Curbstone Press in 1975, a non-profit literary publishing house focusing on works expressing a commitment to social awareness, human rights, and peace. With an emphasis on contemporary writing from Latino, Latin American, and Vietnamese cultures, the works produced by this small, nonprofit publishing firm have garnered an international reputation. To writers, readers, and his friends, Sandy was, as fellow poet Sam Hamill put it, "a workhorse for peace, for engaged poetry of non-violence, for human dignity." Sandy’s own poetry has been published in English, Danish, Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian, and his final book of poems, Dreaming at the Gates of Fury, was published by Azul Editions in 2006.

Sample Poem

Goodbye, Body

on which I’ve carved
a few victories
and a thousand defeats,  

old map,
scar on my leg
long as Chile,
broken knuckle
that shortened a finger,
city of distress
etched on my face
and forehead
like scratches on birch bark—  

Thank you for your
kind shelter,
your hilarious jokes,
your nerve-endings
where pain warned me
of your reasonable
What a pal you’ve been!  

If you forgive my excesses,
my wild longings,
the way I’ve let life
beat you
like some dumb animal,
then I’ll forgive you
the thousand tight spots
you put me in  

with your excess
of hormones, your
abundance of
kinetic energy,
your mad dreams
that propelled me
through the night.

- Alexander Taylor
Wild Dreams

Judith Doyle

Judith Doyle is executive director and publisher of Curbstone Press in Willimantic, CT. She received her B.A. in literature from the University of Connecticut and worked as a photographer (freelance and teaching) between 1970 and 1975, during which time she also started working with Alexander Taylor on establishing Curbstone Press. She worked in the photography department of M.S. Chambers & Co., a photo-engraving company, from 1976 to 1979, when she left a position as department supervisor to devote all her time to Curbstone. Doyle has received grants from the CT Commission on the Arts and the Danish Ministry of Culture, and awards for her photographs and her work in publishing (with Alexander Taylor), including the 1995 Academy of Hispanic Arts & Sciences Award for Publishing, the 1996 American Book Award for Editing and Publishing, the Ed Hogan Award for Literary Editing and Publishing in 2000, and in 2002, the Connecticut Center for the Book Award for Lifetime Achievement for Service to the Literary Community. She has also served on grant review panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Council on the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Judith is responsible for Curbstone’s activities in the areas of production and design, financial management, and fundraising/development.

Wild Dreams

Raouf Mama

Dr. Raouf Mama, teacher, storyteller, orator, and CT Master Teaching Artist, is a native of Benin in West Africa, a country gifted with one of the greatest folktale traditions in Africa. Educated both in the French and the American educational systems, Raouf holds a B.A. in TESOL from the National University of Benin, as well as an M.A. in English and a Ph.D in English and education from the University of Michigan. The recipient of numerous awards, including a Storytelling World Award, two Connecticut University System Excellence awards, and most recently the 2008 Multicultural Children's Publication Award (NAME), Dr. Mama has published three books of stories: Why Goats Smell Bad, The Barefoot Book Of Tropical Tales, Pearls Of Wisdom, and Why Monkeys Live in Trees and Other Stories from Benin. He teaches English at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic.

Paul Pines

Wild Dreams

Paul Pines grew up in Brooklyn around the corner from Ebbet's Field and spent the early 60's on the Lower East Side of New York. He later shipped out as a merchant seaman, spending 1965-66 in Vietnam, after which he supported himself by driving a taxi and tending bar, until he opened his own jazz club, The Tin Palace in 1970, on the corner of 2nd Street and Bowery. A cultural watering hole for the better part of the 70's, it hosted figures like Kurt Vonnegut, Martin Scorsese, Charles Mingus, Eddie Jefferson, Joan Mitchell (the painter), and Larry Rivers. It also provided the setting for his first novel, The Tin Angel (William Morrow, 1983). During this period Pines lived and traveled in Central America, where he became aware of the genocidal policy targeting the Guatemalan Mayans—the basis for his second novel, Redemption (Editions Rocher, 1997). His recent memoir, My Brother's Madness (Curbstone Press, 2008) is based on his relationship to his brother who had a psychotic break in his late 40's and which explores the unfolding of two intertwined lives and the nature of delusion. He has also recently completed a libretto based on The Tin Angel, music to be composed by Daniel Asia, who is currently setting poems by Pines in a symphony commissioned by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra scheduled to premier in 2008. In addition to his fiction and nonfiction, Pines has published six books of poetry: Onion, Hotel Madden Poems, Pines Songs, Breath, Adrift On Blinding Light, and most recently, Taxidancing. Selections from the last two books have also been set to music by composer Daniel Asia and appear on his two CDs, Songs from the Page of Swords and Breath in a Ram's Horn, on the Summit Label. Pines’s poems have appeared in New Directions #37, First Intensity, Cafe Review, Pequod, Ironwood, IKON, Prarie Schooner, Mulch, Contact II. Tmafyhr Mountain Poetry, an online poetry site, has published four books of poems, Songs from the Page of Swords, New Orleans Variations, Voyage and Taxidancing. These can be accessed at:, and where you may also find more information about the author. Pines presently lives in Glens Falls, NY, with his wife, Carol and daughter, Charlotte. He teaches American literature and creative writing at Adirondack Community College, practices as a psychotherapist at Glens Falls Hospital, and hosts the annual Lake George Jazz Weekend.    

Featured Musician: Ken Cormier
7:00 p.m.


Ken Cormier is a singer/songwriter who has released two CDs of original music, God Damn Doghouse in 2000 and Radio-Bueno in 2002, with Elis Eil Records. Critics have described Ken's music as "whacked-out indie pop" and likened his live performance to "a William Burroughs exorcism through a Karaoke machine." Ken is also the author of Balance Act, a collection of poems and short stories from Insomniac Press, and he edits and produces The Lumberyard (, a radio magazine of poetry, prose, and music broadcast on WHUS, 91.7FM, in Connecticut. You can hear some of Ken's latest recordings at


Thursday, October 16

Featured Writers: A Publication Celebration of Wild Dreams – The Best of 25 Years of Italian Americana with Carol Bonomo Albright and Dennis Barone
8 p.m.

Wild Dreams

Carol Bonomo Albright has been editor-in-chief of Italian Americana for almost twenty years. She is active in literary and historical associations and was a two-term vice-president of the American Italian Historical Association. She teaches Italian American Studies at Harvard University Extension School and has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard University as well. Her publications include: co-editor of Wild Dreams (Fordham University Press, 2008); co-editor in 2004 of an annotated edition of two of Joseph Rocchietti’s works, written in 1835 and 1845, making these some of  the first Italian-American novels ever written, and work which she discovered; and series editor of Italian American Autobiographies. A section of her memoir, “Washington Square,” was published in Our Roots Are Deep with Passion (which Iacobelli Publishers in Italy will translate and publish as part of a book) and another section appeared in Harvard University Journal of Italian American Studies. Her essays have appeared in The Dream Book: Writings by Italian American Women; Voices of the Daughters; Social Pluralism and Literary History; and Don’t Tell Mama. Her articles and reviews have appeared in the Journal of American Ethnic History, PMLA, LIT, and MELUS. Most recently Carol initiated a web site supplement to Italian Americana at The first issue is “Foods of Affection,” brief stories about food and love, along with Italian recipes. She has received numerous grants and awards, including being named an Associate Fellow of the Danforth Foundation of Higher Education and receiving grants from RI Arts Council and the National Science Foundation, among others. Carol was also a recipient of the I Migliori Award from the Pirandello Lyceum.

Sample Work

From “Definitions of Womanhood: Class, Acculturation, and Feminism,” The Dream Book: An Anthology of Writing by Italian American Women (Schocken Books, 1987)
I intend to use two novels, Mario Puzo’s The Fortunate Pilgrim and Helen Barolini’s Umbertina to trace definitions of Italian-American womanhood from the perspective of class, acculturation,  and feminism…. I have devised a construct of four dominant stages in the acculturation process. They are by no means definitive or rigid, allow for some fluidity, and are certainly open to refinement. The first stage is the immigrant stage of trust and hope--- trust in one’s cultural values---and hope for a better life in a material sense; the second stage gives way to shame and doubt about one’s heritage and a vague desire for new goals in life. This stage gives rise to the third stage of role confusion, where the goals of one’s heritage … and the goals of the new culture (in this case, America) all seem to be irrevocably at odds with each other; and the last stage [is what] I call integrated autonomy, in which [class, acculturation, and feminism] are resolved in a personal manner satisfactory to the specific individual.

Dennis Barone

Dennis Barone is a Professor of English and Director of the American Studies Program at Saint Joseph College in West Hartford. He is the author of three books of short fiction: Abusing the Telephone (Drogue Press, 1994), The Returns (Sun & Moon Press, 1996), and Echoes (Potes & Poets Press, 1997).  Echoes received the 1997 America Award for most outstanding book of fiction by a living American writer.  He is also the author of two novellas, Temple of the Rat (Left Hand Books, 2000) and God’s Whisper (Spuyten Duyvil, 2005).  Precise Machine, a hybrid-work of memoir, prose poetry, and short fiction, has been published recently by Quale Press, and a second mixed-genre work, North Arrow, is forthcoming in 2008.  He is the editor of Beyond the Red Notebook: Essays on Paul Auster (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995) and author of the collection of short prose pieces, The Walls of Circumstance (Avec Books, 2004).  Left Hand Books published his selected poems, entitled Separate Objects, in 1998.  His essays on American literature and culture have appeared in journals such as American Studies, Critique, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Review of Contemporary Fiction, and Voices in Italian Americana.  A graduate of Bard College, he received his Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984, and in 1992 he held the Thomas Jefferson Chair, a distinguished Fulbright lecturing award, in the Netherlands.


Sample Work

From Separate Objects (Left Hand Books, 1998)
the notebook
as camera.
not the world
but the thought
a record
a re /cording of
has preceded a
re / chording,
the instrument
the instrument scrapes
at the surface of language
a vessel
neither full nor sailing
emptied of all it held
to be read            

Featured Musicians: Norman Johnson Jazz Duo, with Don Wallace, bass
7:00 p.m.


Norman Johnson

Norman has been a performing jazz guitarist in the Connecticut area for more than 30 years. He has performed with such notables as Dave Brubeck, Chris Brubeck, George Coleman, Jerry Bergonzi, Harvie Swartz, Bill Mays, Phil Wilson, and Houston Person. Norman was the Dean at the Hartford Conservatory in the 1990s, and is presently a faculty member at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. He also owns his own recording studio, and has engineered, produced and performed on numerous CDs for local and national artists.


Don Wallace

Don grew up in a home that listened to all styles of music, fostering a broad background from which to later call upon in his writing and playing career. His early formal training was as a classical player. His dream from pre-school years was to play the tuba, and the dream led eventually to a performance degree from Hartt College of Music. Don developed a taste for jazz when he began studying the bass in high school, and he continued playing through his college years. To help pay for his schooling, he played the electric bass in area bands, and found in that instrument what proved to be his most personal voice. After graduating from Hartt, Don worked for more than 10 years as a studio bass player and singer doing jingle work in New York and Connecticut. He continues to play in jazz clubs throughout Connecticut, in addition to his work as a music copyist.


September 18, 2008

Featured Poet: Bessy Reyna
8:00 p.m.

Bessy Reyna

Bessy Reyna is an award-winning Latina poet. Her latest book, The Battlefield of Your Body a bilingual poetry collection, was released in June, 2005 by the Hill-Stead Museum. Her first poetry collection in English is She Remembers, published in 1997 by Andrew Mountain Press.  Ms. Reyna’s Spanish language writing, published in Latin America, includes a poetry chapbook, Terrarium, and a collection of short stories, Ab Ovo. Reyna's poems and stories are found in U.S. and Latin American literary magazines, including the Connecticut Review and the online journal Global Media Journal, as well as the anthologies, El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry;  In Other Words: Literature by Latinas of the United States; The Arc of Love: Lesbian Poems; and The Wild Good.

Ms. Reyna's awards include First Prize in the Joseph E. Brodine Poetry Competition and artist award grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and the Greater Hartford Arts Council. In 2001 she was named Latina Citizen of the Year by the State of Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission. In 2006 she received the Pioneer Award at the Inaugural Diversity Awards presented by the Vice Provost for Multicultural and International Affairs at the University of Connecticut and a Living Legend Award from Saint Joseph College Department of Social Work.  In 2007 she received the One Woman Makes A Difference Award from the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund.

She is a monthly opinion columnist for The Hartford Courant and contributed to "Northeast," the Sunday Magazine of The Hartford Courant. She also writes an arts and culture page for the Hispanic newspaper, Identidad Latina.

For three summers she conducted radio interviews with the poets appearing at the nationally renowned Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in Farmington, CT.  A frequent lecturer and guest artist at colleges, libraries and museums, Reyna is also a Master Teaching artist for the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and an artist in the Partners' Program in Education.  She has also judged the national poetry competition sponsored by the Astraea Foundation and the poetry section of the annual Connecticut Book Award.

Ms. Reyna performs in solo and group poetry readings and presents writing workshops in high schools, colleges, libraries, arts organizations, and at conferences throughout New England.

Born in Cuba and raised in Panama, Ms. Reyna is a graduate of Mt Holyoke College and earned her Master's and Law degrees from the University of Connecticut. More information on the writer can be found at:

If you don’t have poetry in your soul, you can’t make peace
          Hanan Ashrawi


The last time we used
silence as bullets
we were mortally wounded
in the conflict.
Now, we have scarcely begun
to recuperate
and our rifles are already
cocked for battle.
Incapable of admitting defeat
we confront each other
on the battlefield
of your body.

In the shadows,
hiding between your hands,
I forget to be afraid.
With you I cross the frontiers of desire,
penetrate the territory
where life and death dissolve.
but still thirsty for adventure
I submerge myself
in the turbulence of your waters,
ambushed again.

Featured Musician: Jim Mercik
7:00 p.m.

Jim Mercik

For more than 20 years, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter Jim Mercik has performed both as a soloist and as an accompanist with a multitude of artists, including Eric Andersen, Eric Von Schmidt, and Grammy Award winners Bonnie Raitt and Ramblin' Jack Elliot. Jim is also a founding member of the band, The Roadbirds, for which he has provided his skills as an instrumentalist, a vocalist, and an arranger. His composition, Is This Enough, is included in the Smithsonian's Permanent Collection of Folk Music in Washington, DC. A former student of the legendary performer, Dave Van Ronk, Jim’s many radio and lecture appearances have brought the news and blues of American roots music to listeners and students across the Northeast USA.

Last Update: December 14 2011
For additional information, contact: Stephen Campiglio