Gloria Mindock Talks About the Cervena Barva Press Reading Series

Gloria Mindock has been a fixture of the Boston literary scene for decades. In addition to running Cervena Barva Press and The Lost Bookshelf, she offers multiple reading series throughout the year. An accomplished poet in her own right, she is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Ash from Glass Lyre Press. Gloria’s poetry has been translated into 10 languages, and has appeared in numerous literary journals including Poet Lore, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Nixes Mate Review. Among other accolades for her service to the poetry community, she was the Poet Laureate of Somerville, MA in 2017 and 2018.

Gloria took the time to speak with me about the readings she offers at the Cervena Barva’s space at Arts at the Armory in Somerville. Since the pandemic began, she has moved her series online.

Does your series happen on a regular schedule, such as the second Tuesday of the month? If so, what is it?

I started out having the Cervena Barva Press reading series on Wednesdays but since I have my own space (Arts at the Armory, Basement B8), I am flexible and schedule readings when the readers are available. It is wonderful to not depend on other places for scheduling.

Before I had my own space, I had the series at the Pierre Menard Gallery in Harvard Square. I loved having it there. It was such a beautiful space and easy for people to get to. John Wronoski and his staff were the best! The gallery is no longer there.

How did this reading series come about?

I wanted to give my authors a place to read as well as other writers in the community and the world.

Did you develop it on your own, or do you collaborate with others?

I developed it on my own. Renuka Raghavan designs the reading flyers and all the event flyers for me.

Are you affiliated with any organization such as a journal, a press, a school, or a bookstore?

I have had many interns from Lesley University and other colleges such as Simmons, Emerson, Connecticut College, and Bennington. They have been a big help with Cervena Barva Press and The Lost Bookshelf.

What makes your reading series different from others?

I do not compare my reading series to others. I think we all have our own personal vision of what we want our series to be. I love attending other reading series and try to be supportive of them. We have an amazing community here in the area. I have readers who are fiction writers as well as poets. Last year for our 15th anniversary, I had 57 readings for July and August with only a few nights off. It was so much fun! Writers read from our community and many of my authors took part.

You can watch videos of many of our readings and events on YouTube. R. J. Jeffreys set up the Cervena Barva Press channel does everything on YouTube for us. I am so grateful.

Every other year, we have a series called, “Cervena Barva Press Reads All Over the World.”

Many of my authors schedule readings where they are from and invite others to read with them.

This happens from October through December.

Who comes to your series?

Mostly other writers attend the readings. Translations are my favorite to publish. Since the pandemic, readings have been virtual, and it has made it easier for having international readings. R. J. Jeffreys has been my co-host for the virtual readings.

What upcoming featured poets are you really excited about?

I am excited about anyone who reads for my series. I am in the process of scheduling for the summer, fall, and next year. Usually, the schedule is packed but I decided to slow down and concentrate more on my writing, and launching my new book, Ash, published by Glass Lyre Press.

One writer I am excited about is Paul Sohar. His new book, In Sun’s Shadow, is incredible. I look forward to having him join our series.

Can you describe your venue? Is it wheelchair accessible?

Yes, we are wheelchair accessible. There is an elevator on the main level which will take you to the basement. The venue is cozy. Everyone is surrounded by books with chairs in the middle. I have the overhead lights off and have a lamp and stringed lights on to make the readings feel more intimate.

What can your guests expect when they arrive? Things like a cover charge, lines, or other helpful tips.

In my studio space, there is a charge of $5.00 to attend events. Since I pay rent, I needed to do this. Cervena Barva Press is not a non-profit organization so there is no funding.

If a person cannot pay, they are never turned away.

At every event, I serve white and red wine, bottled water, cheese and crackers, and other snacks. I try to make each event special.

Renuka Raghavan, Karen Friedland, and William J. Kelle have helped me with the readings in the Armory, collecting the money at the door, setting up the room, breaking it down afterward, and whatever else needs to be done. They are incredible. They all are part of the press and help me with so many things.

How does it work now that the series is online? 

I do not charge anything for the online readings. Zoom has been a great experience.  It is easy to have writers from all over the world be a part of the series. I love bringing different readers to the series that normally could not travel here.

Are you aiming for a particular aesthetic or vibe with your featured poets?

I am open to all types of work providing it is good. I look forward to hosting more international readers.

Does your series include an open mic? If so, is there anything poets should know before signing up for it?

I do not have an open mic at my series.

If someone would like to be considered as a featured poet for your series, how should they go about inquiring?

Email me at editor@cervenabarvapress.com.  I would love a sample of work. It is ok to send a bio but that does not determine who I ask. I am more interested in the writing than how many books you have published or publications.

Do you have a mailing list or other way people can learn about your future readings? How can people sign up?

I have a mailing list. If anyone wishes to be on it, please email me and I will add you to our list.

At readings, I have a sign-up sheet. I have not done this with Zoom but in the future, they can put their email in chat.

Small Press Love in Massachusetts

Erica Charis-Molling at Mass Poetry has published a wonderful series of interviews with local small presses that publish poetry. Small presses are the lifeblood of the poetry world, and poets who publish with them often receive more support and creative control than with nationally known publishing houses. Also, buying local is good for so many reasons. Follow the links below to read about these vibrant, innovative organizations.

Perugia Press
Editor and Director Rebecca Hart Olander

Human Error Publishing
Founder Paul Richmond

Aforementioned
Co-founder Randolph Pfaff

Rose Metal Press
Co-founders Abigail Beckel (Publisher) and Kathleen Rooney (Editor)

Ibbetson Street Press
Director Doug Holder

Central Square Press
Editor Enzo Silon Surin

Grid Books
Editor Elizabeth Murphy

Broadsided Press
Editor Elizabeth Bradfield

Cervena Barva Press
Founder and Editor Gloria Mindock

An Embarrassment of Riches

Silhouette of a woman with arms outspread and head thrown back. Photo credit: Jill Wellington via Pixabay.

The only thing you need to do to be a poet is to write poetry. But occasionally, if you do the footwork and let go of the results, you get rewarded with some accolades. I’ve had a string of successes recently and wanted to share:

  • In March, the Lambda Literary Awards selected my chapbook Mad Quick Hand of the Seashore as a finalist in the bisexual poetry category.
  • On April 24, Athena Dixon interviewed me for the New Books in Poetry podcast. We had a great conversation about the writer’s journey, how things have improved (or not) for marginalized voices, and how writing practice can change over time.
  • On April 29, new Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola selected my work, along with that of 17 other poets, to be displayed at Boston City Hall as part of the Mayor’s Poetry Program.
  • On April 27, I performed alongside a slew of talented poets, musicians, and actors in the Solidarity Salon, an event started and organized by fellow Lesley poet Lisa DeSiro. The crowd that showed up to Third Life Studios in Union Square, Somerville was wonderfully warm and appreciative, and True Story Theater brought three poems to life–including one of mine!
  • On May 10, three of my poems appeared in the Heavy Feather Review #NoMorePresidents online feature.
  • On May 13, The Rumpus published my interview with Kwoya Fagin Maples about her moving book of historical persona poetry Mend (University Press of Kentucky, 2018).
  • On May 15, the Harriet blog on the Poetry Foundation website picked up the article, thus causing something rather unlikely: my name on the Poetry Foundation website. It’s a far cry from having my poems up there, but it’s still pretty cool.
  • On May 18, I walked in the Lesley University commencement ceremony with a brown hood to signify Master of Fine Arts. Lesley won’t award me the degree itself until I complete my graduating seminar at the June residency, but taking part in the ceremony was quite moving. My mother, brother, and sort-of-mother-in-law all traveled from out of town to celebrate with me and Mark, my partner and biggest fan.

Yes, Dispatches from an MFA are not up-to-the-minute coverage. More to come.

The interesting thing about po-biz success is how short-lived the good feelings can be. Lesley faculty member Tracey Baptiste has talked about the moving goalposts, and others seem to agree with her. I’m sure I’ll be eyeballs deep in existential angst soon, but for the moment, anyway, I feel like the Poetry Gods are smiling upon me.

Thanks to you, dear reader, for supporting me in these endeavors.

May 2019 and June 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings

Poetry and all that jazz

All that energy from National Poetry Month seems to have spilled into May and June this year. Of special note:

  • U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith reading at Harvard TODAY, May 2
  • Rafael Campo in Cambridge Monday, May 6
  • Gabrielle Calvocoressi in Belmont Thursday, May 23
  • New Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola in Roslindale Thursday, May 23
  • Cervena Barva’s monthly readings at the Somerville Arts at the Amory

Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling these listings.

Thursday, May 2, 4 – 5:30 pm
Tracy K. Smith
Harvard Arts Medal Ceremony
Agassiz Theatre
5 James St.
Cambridge, MA
free ticket required
617-496-2222

Thursday, May 2, 5:30 pm
Dawn Lundy Martin
Brown University
McCormack Family Theater
70 Brown St.
Providence, RI

Continue reading “May 2019 and June 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings”

Boston-Area Readings for February and March 2019

Image of candle lanterns with the caption "Poetry like a candle in the darkness" Photo credit: Jill111 via Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/lights-christmas-luminaries-night-1088141/

February 1, also known as Candlemas, marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Attend a reading to light your way from winter to National Poetry Month in April. Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling these listings.

Of special note: Regie Gibson Feb. 13 at the newly opened Bedlam Books in Worcester; Morgan Parker (one of my poetry crushes) Feb. 12 at Brookline Booksmith; Martha Collins Feb. 27 at Suffolk University; Gloria Mindock Feb. 28 at Rozzi Reads; Layli Long Soldier March 5 at Smith College.

Friday, February 1, 7 pm
Linda Lamenza and Francis Lunney, Open Mic
Workshop for Publishing Poets
West Suburban YMCA
276 Church Street
Newton, MA

Friday, February 1, 7:30 pm
Kevin McLellan
Unearthed Song & Poetry
Home.stead Bakery and Cafe
1448 Dorchester Ave.
Fields Corner
Dorchester, MA

Sunday, February 3, 1 -3:30 pm
Lisa Sullivan and Iain Haley Pollack
Poetry: The Art Of Words
Plymouth Public Library/Otto Fehlow Room
132 South St
Plymouth, MA

February 3, 2 – 4 pm
Zvi A. Sesling
followed by open mic
Temple Sinai
50 Sewall Ave.
Brookline, MA

Continue reading “Boston-Area Readings for February and March 2019”

Reading at HUBweek next Sunday, October 14 at 10am

Flyer for Improbable Places Poetry Tour

I’m excited to be reading my long poem “On the Ferry to Spectacle Island” with the Improbable Places Poetry Tour at the Boston HUBweek festival next Sunday, October 14. The reading runs from 10am to 11:30am.

You need to register for the event in advance but you can get in for free if you do soon enough. Here’s the description from the HUBweek website:

The Improbable Places Poetry Tour, hosted by Colleen Michaels of Montserrat College of Art, has been bringing poetry to unlikely venues north of Boston since 2010. The tour began in a bicycle shop and has made stops at a laundromat, tattoo shop, power plant, Viking ship, and the YMCA – in the swimming pool.  For this tour stop, poets will excavate down to Scollay Square. They will look in windows and wait in lines at government offices. Watch them work the concrete and slants of City Hall Plaza.

Register here: https://2018.hubweek.org/agenda/session/30883

On Celebrating National Poetry Month While Earning an MFA

National Poetry Month is April, the cruelest month according to T.S. Eliot. And I get where he’s coming from, especially in Boston, where lilacs may or may not be breeding out of the dead ground. This month, everything bloomed late because the Weather Gods decided to send us temps in the 40s for most of March and April, and then bust directly into summer on May 2 with a high of 87. I should be used to this by now, seeing as I’ve lived in Boston for 18 years. But California spoiled me in my toddler years, and on some level I’ll always mourn weeks and weeks of room-temperature weather. The temperamental temperatures affect my mood as well, leading to unpredictable amounts of spoons.

The good thing about National Poetry Month is also the bad thing about National Poetry Month: everyone is celebrating poetry. As anyone perusing the listings I post can see, Boston has a thriving po-scene. There are open mics and slams and performances and launch parties and panels and exclusive hoity-toity readings every week and twice on Sundays. In April the listings just explode. And those are just the ones I know about–I hear about other ones all the time that don’t make my list. And then there are the informal writing groups, as secret and desirable as lesbian potlucks.

Continue reading “On Celebrating National Poetry Month While Earning an MFA”

UPDATED Boston Area Readings for April and May 2018

National Poetry Month (image with flowers)

National Poetry Month continues at fever pitch. Updated listings below.

New in this posting:

Lainie Senechal, Neil Silberblatt and Anna M. Warrock in Somerville (4/17)
Matthew Dickman and Jenny Xie in Brookline (4/19)
Krysten Hill, Bruce Willard, Kathleen Hill and Michael Stein in Boston (4/23)
Tommy Pico, Joseph Osmundson, and Dorothea Lasky in Brookline (4/23)
The Writers Room of Boston Annual Reading in Jamaica Plain (4/26)
Newburyport Literary Festival (4/28)
Kevin McLellan book launch and reading in Cambridge (5/4)
Luljeta Lleshanaku in conversation with Ani Gjika in Brookline (5/4)
Beth Castrodale, Peter Cherches, Mark Saba, Julia Carlson, and Lee Varon in Cambridge (5/5)
Kevin McLellan, Steven Riel, Quintin Collins, Eileen Cleary in Cambridge (5/14)

Thursday, April 19, 7 pm
Tom Laaser and Joe Kebartas
and open mic
Midnight Voices sponsored by Veterans for Peace
Friends Service Center
5 Longfellow Park (across from Longfellow House)
Cambridge, MA

Thursday, April 19, 7 pm
Ellendra Proffer Teasley
Grolier Poetry Book Shop
Plympton Street
Cambridge, MA

Continue reading “UPDATED Boston Area Readings for April and May 2018”