The City of Yonkers recently announced its first-ever Poet Laureate, Golda Solomon. This position aims to enhance the presence of poetry in Yonkers and engage the community with poetry through activities that inspire writing and poetry programming.
Solomon, a published poet and Yonkers resident, is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Manhattan College and CUNY. She has spent decades perfecting and sharing her craft, as well as teaching others, from children as young as five to adults as old as 85.
Solomon says she looks forward to “working with the community by unifying the diverse voices of our City through poetry,” adding that “we are all artists, we are all writers, we are all poets.”
According to Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, “Solomon’s combined passion for the written and spoken word, and for [this] City, will prove to be a great asset in nurturing Yonkers’ flourishing arts.”
Solomon shared the following gogyohka (“five lines”) poem with ArtsNews. The poem, which she says took on new meaning during the pandemic, was written for Mike Longo, who passed away due to COVID-19. Longo, who was once “Dizzy” Gillespie’s musical director, ran a long-running East Village jazz series in which Solomon often participated.
blow dizzie blow
spit out hosannas
blast ’til heaven
busts wide open
Westchester Poet Laureate BK Fischer Nominated for Prestigious Award
Westchester Poet Laureate BK Fischer was named as one of five finalists in this year’s National Book Critics Circle Poetry award. The prestigious awards, founded in 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel, honor “the finest books published in English” in six categories. These are the only national literary awards that are chosen by critics themselves. Fischer was nominated for her novella-in-verse, Ceive, which was published in September. Ceive is a poetic retelling of Noah’s Ark set in the near future. Says Fischer: “It’s been very exciting to be a part of this. Being a finalist has been an unexpected and thrilling thing for my book, and the winning book, frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss, is marvelous.”
N 41° 5´ / W 73° 52´
from Ceive by B.K. Fischer
Gather your wits, girlie. You sit up on a pile of towels by the defunct sump pump—dead quiet, no hum. The basement is smeared with mud—in one corner, feces and mud—and someone is up there, in the kitchen. You hear a man’s weight on the floorboards, footsteps that fade toward the north corner then stop. For a moment there is no sound and you watch the space inside the picture frame swell up to fill it. The frame leans against the foundation—that’s the empty story, gray stones wedged in prickly cement, wet with groundwater, and you have been watching it. Then you hear the high pitch of a hinge and boots clomp down the stairs and he is there, a man, standing four feet away with his hands behind his back. Unarmed. Or his weapon concealed. He pushes a piece of candy toward you, which you eat. Who he is takes a long time to rise to the top of your mind: brown sleeves, canvas vest with pockets, shaking rain off his hat—Roy, the UPS man. Get up, he says, there’s a ship that’s getting out. — copyright 2021 BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.
More National Poetry Month Events
Hudson Valley Writers Center: In-Person and Virtual Poet Readings (April 6-27)
Hudson Valley Writers Center will host a series of poetry readings on Wednesday evenings throughout the month of April: Kaveh Akbar, Elizabeth Metzger and L Lamar Wilson (April 6 via Zoom); Ossining poet Sean Singer, Adrian Matejka and Roger Reeves (April 13 via Zoom); a celebration of a new anthology by two of the Center’s Slapering Hol Press editors, Susana H. Case and Margo Taft Stever, including readings by several poets published in the anthology (in person on April 20); and Patricia Smith, Erika Meitner and Victoria Redel (in person on April 27).
Bethany Arts Community: Poets-in-Residence Poetry Reading (April 8)
This month, Bethany Arts Community will present an event that features all eight of its current poetry residents. Each poet is at BAC to develop and perfect their own projects. For instance, some of Emily Hockaday’s works examine chronic illness and its effect on the body and spirit, while Matthew Guenette’s manuscript discovers the political and ecological crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other poets explore the loss of friends, cultural and historical perceptions of marriage, climate collapse and more.
Peekskill Artist Association: Painting, Poetry and Music (April 23)
The Peekskill Arts Alliance will host an outdoor event at the Beanrunner Café in Peekskill. During this multidisciplinary event, painters will respond on canvases to the work of poets. Likewise, musicians will respond to both poets and painters with works of their own. Three combined art forms will collide in a collaborative creative effort as audiences observe.
Blue Door Art Center: ArtSpeak/From Page to Performance (April 23)
Yonkers Poet Laureate Golda Solomon is co-host of Blue Door Art Center’s in-person and virtual “ArtSpeak/From Page to Performance” program with Robert Gibbons, which hosts local writers as well as writers from as far as England. As April is both National Poetry Month and National Jazz Appreciation Month, this workshop will incorporate jazz into its discussion. During the two-and-a-half hour workshop, participants will take part in writing prompt exercises before sharing, and giving feedback before an evening event during which writers are encouraged to read their works aloud.
Greenburgh Arts and Culture Committee: Poetry is for Everyone! (April 23)
This event will feature Westchester County Poet Laureate BK Fischer and Westchester County Youth Poet Laureate Danielle Kohn, who will each talk about their tenure as the first in these literary positions. In addition, a dozen established poets from the Greenburgh Poetry Caravan will share their original poetry.
Pocantico Center: An Earth Day Poetry Reading (April 27)
In celebration of Earth Day and Poetry Month, Pocantico Center will feature an event with three renowned Westchester poets – Iain Haley Pollock, Silvina López Medin, and Westchester County Poet Laureate BK Fischer – in its Abeyton Lodge building. Each poet will read work that explores what it means to inhabit human and natural landscapes in a time of environmental reckoning while grounding us in a sense of place. The event, which will also be livestreamed, concludes with a Q&A and reception.
Greenburgh Arts and Culture Committee: Teen Poets Celebrate National Poetry Month (April 30)
Teen poets will gather to share their original poetry and winners in the Greenburgh Library’s 2022 poetry contest will be announced. Additionally, attendees will be invited to participate in a pop-up poetry workshop.
Hudson Valley Writers Center and Masters School: 11th Annual Westchester Poetry Festival (April 30)
This in-person outdoor festival, taking place on the campus of The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, will feature seven poets who will read from their most recent works: Keynote poet Afaa Michael Weaver, Westchester Poet Laureate BK Fischer, Iain Haley Pollock, Mark Wunderlich, Brian Tierney, Yerra Sugarman and John Okrent.
A version of this article first appeared in the April 2022 issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.
Other articles you may enjoy:
Our National Poetry Month coverage includes the Rye Poetry Path, a public art installation of poem excerpts throughout the City of Rye.