Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 14
 
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
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U.S. 1 Poets Celebrate Latest Edition Of “Worksheets” at Library Gathering

Ellen Gilbert

The U.S. 1 Poets’ cooperative held a launch party for volume 54 of its journal, U.S. 1 Worksheets, on Sunday. The members of the 36-year old association of writers celebrated by doing — what else? — reading poetry.

One by one, over the course of two hours, many of the 98 poets who contributed to this year’s volume rose to read their work to the standing-room only audience in the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room. They also pinch-hit by reading the poems of those contributors, from New Jersey and beyond, who were not able to be there. Contributor Winifred Hughes described this style of reading-as-the-spirit-moves-you as having been fashioned after a Quaker meeting. Recalling earlier programs that drew outsiders who simply walked in to recite their own poetry, she emphasized the fact that Sunday’s event was definitely not an “open mike” opportunity.

This year’s 110-page edition of Worksheets was dedicated to the recently-deceased Canadian poet John Falk, a former member of U.S. 1 Poets. In her opening remarks, Poetry Editor Linda Arntzenius, who wrote a Worksheets tribute to Mr. Falk, described him as “a lively, lusty man,” whose “poetry resonates with that of his countryman, Leonard Cohen.”

The noted poet Elizabeth Anne Socolow was among the afternoon’s earliest readers, offering her poem “Evolution,” a meditation on a robin who “does not know how to build a nest.” Happily for the robin and its mate, the author is there for them, as well as for her 87-year old neighbor, Pete. She supplies the birds with a hanging lobelia plant in which they roost, and plants ferns and yellow irises in Pete’s garden.

In addition to a moving reading of her own poem about an empathetic pet, “Mojo,” Lois Marie Harrod played the good sport as she participated with Judith McNally in an “unrehearsed reading” of Ms. McNally’s dialogue, “Bringing the Wine.” Reader A’s suggestion that “Each person could bring a list of what to celebrate,” led Reader B to respond “Now it’s sounding like a workshop instead of a party,” eliciting much laughter from the audience. Jill Stein also made an amusing verbal leap in her poem, “Cautionary Tales” as she segued from thoughts on Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt, to a discussion of her “miserable” relative, Lottie Saltman.

Worksheets Managing Editor Nancy Scott declared the Sunday event a success, noting that “everyone has a hand in it at some level. It was an afternoon well-spent, with many new faces.” Among the new faces was Madeleine Dussau, who came all the way from Pittsburgh to read her first published poem, “The House and Its Song.”

Ms. Scott also expressed satisfaction with the nearly 400 copies of Worksheets sold before and during the event. With no outside funding, the organization relies on volunteers who work year-round on producing the journal, which has been published continuously since 1972. Its name derives from the “worksheet” format in which it originally appeared: twice folded, like a newspaper. It has been in a stapled, or perfect format since the 1980s.

The U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative is a group of poets based in central New Jersey who meet weekly to share and critique each other’s work on Tuesday evenings. They also hold occasional events, like the U.S. 1 Invites at the Princeton Public Library. To purchase copies of the journal, or for further information about the cooperative, see http://US1poets.com, or contact Kathe Palka at k-jpalka@comcast.net.

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