Monday, September 10, 2007

Poet Linda Lerner on Jack Powers

It was the mid 80’s; I only had a few publications and even fewer readings to my credit when I went to First Night hosted by Jack Powers. Leo Connellan, my unofficial mentor, introduced me
to Jack before then with stories of when they slept under bridges in San Francisco, living a kind of road-life as struggling poets; I was really curious about this man who already loomed up as a legend for me.

Jack didn’t disappoint. On the contrary, from the beginning I was awed by how compassionate and open he was to each person who got up on the stage, exerting control by his non judgmental presence. And presence is what Jack has in abundance. The one criteria he transmitted as being important in a poem is honesty.

I didn’t read that night--even in the open. Maybe I was more than a little awed by it all and just being a participant was exciting enough. Eventually, with Leo Connellan’s recommendation, Andrew Gettler and I went on to feature at TT the Bear (where Stone Soup readings were held in the early 90’s.) Jack offered us hs apartment on Joy Street to stay (where he lived at the time) and, to give us some privacy, spent the night at his girlfriend’s place. That was the kind of thing Jack would do over and over for people.

Going to Boston to read at Stone Soup became an annual ritual for us during the next few years. I can’t begin to enumerate how many readings I’ve given since, how many hosts--some quite good--I’ve met, different places I’ve read in, since those magical times. And none quite compare. None have quite that magic. It wasn’t the place, but Jack, who transformed another weekly poetry event to the level of something more. Of Poetry. Jack is the real thing. I feel very fortunate for starting out there. Something I will always treasure.

Thank you Jack,
Happy Birthday!

Linda Lerner


Photo Credit: Andrew Gettler

Ten collections of Ms. Lerner's work have been published: the most recent Because You Can’t I will (Pudding House, 2005) and The Bowery and Other Poems (March Street Press, 2004) which was selected as Small Press Reviews’ Pick of the Month.

Her essay on the present state of American poetry, "Poems From The Crypt Don't Speak to Living People" appears in the Summer 2005 issue of New York Quarterly.

In 1995, Linda Lerner and her life partner, Andrew Gettler founded "POETS on the line", the first poetry anthology available on the Internet. For the Vietnam Veterans issue, Nos. 6/7 (1997-98), "POETS on the line" received a Puffin Foundations Grant and a Ludwig Vogelstein Grant. The online journal ceased publication with its Millennium, Nos. 9/10 (1999-2000), but its back issues will be be kept permanently up in online archive.

Ms. Lerner's poems have recently appeared in The New York Quarterly, Louisiana Review, Paterson Literary Review, Onthebus, Home Planet News, South Boston Literary Review (“Bullies” won its Spring 2002 poetry prize), Ragged Lion Anthology and Big Hammer.

She has read widely across the United states including The Knitting Factory, Bowery Poetry Club, The Cornelia Street Cafe and The Back Fence in New York City; the Cherry Valley Arts Festival (1998) in Cherry Valley, NY; Stone Soup Poets in Boston,Mass.; Arkore's Welcomed Words Spoken Word Series in Hoboken, NJ and The Barron Arts Center, also in New Jersey. On the West Coast, Ms. Lerner has read at Beyond Baroque in Los Angeles, CA.

Bookmark this page and check back often for updates such as new chapbook availability date and upcoming readings.

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