Covid Spring

I’m really excited and honored to be included in Covid Spring,
an anthology of Covid pandemic themed poems
by New Hampshire poets from New Hampshire State poet laureate Alexandria Peary and published by Hobblebush Books.

“Fifty-four of the state’s poets are represented in this anthology, writing of job loss, loneliness and love, masks, social distancing, surreal visitors, uncertainty, graduations deferred, grief, neighborly and less-than-neighborly acts, observing the beginning of the pandemic and making projections about the future, recalibrating or confirming what it means to be human, to be a resident of this region. In a remarkable range of poetic form and style, these writers provide a thirty-day snapshot of what life was like in the Granite State in April of 2020.” NH State Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary

Below is my contribution to Covid Spring which can be purchased from Hobblebush Books


A corona is a halo of light:
ring of fire of solar explosions,
aura of a holy person,
steady burn of the only love we’ve ever known.

Quarantine is a lazy pattern
of slowly bouncing off the walls.
Now, I would trade a lifetime of hug-less safety
for one warm deadly embrace.

The virus erases all borders.
No wall can mitigate its migration.
Segregated just out of reach by six feet of air.
Confined to the cages of our own homes.

There’s no change without pressure.
As the crushing gravitational fusion of hydrogen lights our star
so does the gravity of our situation break our hearts
to forge some new element.

We can’t go back to the way it was.
That was the path that led us here.
Cleaner air and water around the world
shows us an answer we’ve been looking for.

The drama, thriller, horror, comedy of this moment
can’t be watched from the couch.
Re-enter the wild world, rubbing our eyes in the sun
like newborn bees emerging from the honeycomb.

The nurse and the grocery clerk are all of us.
Despite their masks, I see them more clearly:
the corona glow around their holy heads;
the steady burn of the only love that’s ever mattered.

Mike Nelson

Article – Beat Night turns 20


By Jeanné McCartin
Posted Apr 18, 2019 at 3:01 AM
On Thursday, April 18, Beat Night will celebrate its 20th anniversary of shared thoughts on love, angst, humor, an imaginary last will, et al, offered in tandem with a live band.

Over the decades, hundreds of poets have taken to the stage, commingling their words with the notes of the Beat Night Band. The monthly session has moved three times, had numerous hosts and experienced other changes along the way, but is still going strong, with a special year in the offing and possible additions on the way.

Beat Night was founded by Larry Simon, a New York City transplant. The idea of combining multiple arts into a single project was a longtime interest of Simon’s. So when the owner of the Crazy Cat Lounge asked if Simon’s band Groove Bacteria was interested in being its house band, he pitched the idea of a jazz and poetry night.

“I’ve always, as a musician, been involved and interested in doing more than music. Before I moved to Portsmouth, I worked with film-makers, dance companies and others,” he says. “So when I moved here in 1996, I thought, ‘Here I am in New England, which has this reputation for great poetry, I’m going to look into starting a music and poetry thing.’”

Crazy Cat, located in the old Elvis Room space on Congress Street in Portsmouth, went for the idea. (Fun fact: “The band played its first gig ever at the Elvis Room just before it closed,” Simon says. “That’s its roots.”) Simon reached out to poet Mimi White who directed him to interested poets. Things came together, and Beat Night was born. Before the year ended, the project moved to the Press Room and stayed there until it closed for renovations in 2017, which is when the sessions moved to the Book and Bar on Pleasant Street in Portsmouth.

Simon’s Beat Night tenure ran until about eight years ago when he returned to New York. He returns on occasion to perform, and plans to be in the band line-up for the 20th anniversary celebration.
“I put a lot of effort into Beat Night. I earned the nickname ‘The Emperor,’” Simon says. “We even had a tiny theme song the entire audience learned! The song was my email so future readers knew how to reach me to get booked. It was a kind of bogus Gregorian chant about 15 seconds long,” he adds. “It was really fun to have everyone sing it in two-part harmony.”

Typically, the place “was pretty packed,” he says. “I used to keep things exciting by working hard to keep it fresh and always get new people involved.” “Cool stuff” has happened at the event over the years, Simon says. Beat Night inspired people to write, and a few who met there went on to get married, “and who knows what else.”

It produced “Beat Nights at the Electric Cave” 15 years ago, with some of the top regional writers at the time. Some things have changed, he says. But one thing remains the same: The arts intertwine.
The evening is unrehearsed, always has been. What makes it come together is listening, Simon says.
“The best (poets) actually feel like a member of the band. We work off of each other’s energy. When they crescendo, we react, and so forth. It is really like jazz, it works best when everyone is really listening and checks their ego at the door,” Simon says. “One of the biggest reasons I think my guys in the band work so well with poets is that they aren’t egotistical. The ‘art’ comes first, not themselves.”

Musician Frank Laurino has been with the band since shortly after Beat Night began. Today, he’s joined by Mike Barron (drums) and Scip Gallant (keys) from the original lineup, Dave Tonkin (guitar) and Chris Stambaugh (bass). Laurino handle’s percussion including the bongos which he picked up after joining 19 years ago. The regular “guests” are Cynthia Chatis on flute; Don Davis on horns and Scott Solsky on guitar.

There are no rehearsals between spoken word and musical artist. They’re all out there without a net, Laurino says. “It’s all one, two, three play,” he says. What makes it work is trust, he says.
“The best performances are when the poet feels comfortable that these guys behind them are amplifying what they say,” Laurino says. “We’ve worked at this so long – 20 years now – we can turn on a dime, read each other’s minds. So, I think they’re generally surprised that there is this soundtrack to their work.”
The band listens and tunes into the poet’s words, changes and intent. “The trust goes three ways. Poet, band and audience are equal partners in this.” Laurino says. “I think everyone comes together with the hope that something amazing is going to happen and nine times out of 10, it does.”

After Simon moved back to New York, Bruce Pingree, who was involved and had been supportive since year two, took over for a time. Pingree was followed by a number of different hosts and organizers over the course of a few years. In 2014, Mike Nelson, who served as Portsmouth’s Poet Laureate for 2017-18, stepped in to take over the duties.

The project experienced a few other changes over time. Only two featured poets present these days, and the Book and Bar is now its permanent home. Nelson says attendance was up in the new location, and grew quickly. He contributes it to an influx in the under 21 patron, who no longer required adult accompaniment. “We thought the move was temporary, but the renovations took longer than expected,” Nelson explains. “We were there so long and it was going so well, and the fact younger people could come was a deciding factor. We couldn’t imagine going back to the Press Room and losing that younger audience. I don’t know that Beat Night would survive into the future without a young crowd.”
Sticking with tradition, the second half of the night is an open mic. People interested in performing sign up during the break, after the feature poets perform. As many as 20 artists are packed into the second half.

This month’s Beat Night will present an all-female featured artist lineup. The idea is an extension of Nelson’s laureate program which focused on the under-heard voices of the community.
“When you look at publishing statistics women are still less heard from than men,” he says. “I wanted to extend the all-women theme to Beat Night for its 20th year.”

Ayanna Gallant and Maya Williams will do the honors for the 20th anniversary Beat Night on April 18. Both poets appear in “Lunation: A Good Fat Anthology of 114 Women Poets.” The collection, co-edited by Nelson and Wendy Cannella, is Nelson’s last Portsmouth Poet Laureate project, and was published in March by Bee Monk Press.

Over the years, Beat Night added a number of “big” annual events, Nelson says. In February, it holds the Erotic Poetry Night, “one of the biggest of the year.” There’s the popular “Undead Beat Night,” equally as well attended. ″‘Undead Beat Night’ was started by Bruce Pingree, and he still hosts it,” Nelson says.
These special theme events have proven so popular, organizers are considering additional ones in the future. First is the big anniversary session, Nelson says, with a seven-piece band for the gala, and Simon, “The Godfather,” in the house.

“I’m hosting Beat Night now, but it’s not mine. It’s the result of a lot of people over the years,” he says. “I stick with it because it’s an amazing community. Because it would be a shame to let it go and let it die. Some people have their religion and go to church on Sunday. This is my religion, this is my church.”

The Release of Lunation!

photo by Crystal Paradis

The release event for Lunation: A Good Fat Anthology of 114 Women Poets in South Church on International Women’s Day was amazing. We heard from eighteen poets from the book as well as local songwriting duo River Sister and the books sponsor Feminist Oasis

I believe that women are taking over the world and I want to help them do it. Because men can’t just stand by and watch women fight for equality and women’s rights and a better world. Because the problems that men have created will not be solved by men.

Some might say, that’s a lot to put on a book of poetry, but I don’t think so. Because there’s a revolution going on and poetry has always been part of the revolution. Poetry provides the very personal individual stories of that revolution. Poetry holds up a magnifying glass to all the granular feelings of the moment and poetry steps back and shows us the big picture. Poetry is the mythology of the moment. 

There is pain and suffering and anger in this book, and there is peace and joy and love; often, all in the same poem. This book is filled with the voices of women as they are in their lives right now. 

Brenna lilly, who’s in the book, in a post about this book and the event said, “WOMEN OWN POETRY – we are the story-tellers, the lineage-keepers, the ones who remember.” And history will remember these storytellers, these lineage keepers, at this moment, this lunation, as they cycle on and on into future.

Another more personal reason I wanted to make this book and do this event, I need to show my 16-year-old son, this is how you behave, this is how you listen, this is how you can participate in the revolution for a better world.

All my life, my best friends, my heroes, the ones that have taught me the most, have been women. And every one of the women in this book have become my friends and heroes and teachers as well, and I feel so lucky and grateful for that

Thank you Lauren WB Vermette for the title of the book. Thank you Taylore Dawn Kelly for allowing her incredible artwork to be on the cover. Thank you Crystal Paradis and her organization Feminist Oasis for putting her stamp of approval on this book and being its sponsor. And thank you Wendy Cannella for editing this book with me, for the beautiful foreword, and for putting up with me throughout the process. I had many insecure questions about how to put this book together. Some stuff she talked me into, some stuff she talked me out of. Nothing was done without her input. It would not be what it is without her. 

Also, thank you to the Portsmouth poet laureate program for supporting this project in every way including monetarily.

And thank you, most of all, to every woman in the book for trusting me and being a part of Lunation. 

You can purchase a copy of the book at Book and Bar in Portsmouth, NH or read for free online at Bee Monk Press. The book is 14 dollars, which includes shipping, and don’t forget to leave your address. Lunation is part of the not-for-profit  Good Fat series of poetry publications and all money from the sale of the book goes to the PPLP to pay for the cost of production and printing and for future community building projects. 

Lunation: A Good Fat Anthology of 114 Women Poets and Book Release Celebration

Celebrate International Women’s Day with the Book Release of Lunation: A Good Fat Anthology of 114 Women Poets. Lunation is an epic gathering of women poets from the seacoast and beyond in one fierce and fiery publication six months in the making and culminating with a free and open to the public book release at South Church Portsmouth.

Along with readings of poems from the book by the poets who wrote them, amazing local band River Sister will be there as well as our incredible sponsor Feminist Oasis as part of the celebration. Books are free for the poets in the book and on sale to the public for 10 dollars.

The incredible artwork on the cover is by the brilliant Taylore Dawn Kelly

It’s more important than ever to listen to women and I’m so humbled and excited to release Lunation. Let’s fill South Church on March 8th with a community of love and support to revel in the voices of women and get inspired to create and take action. See you there!

Lunation, edited and assembled with help from Wendy Cannella, is my last project as Portsmouth poet laureate and is being published under The Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program and my label Bee Monk Press. Lunation is a not for profit community project and any money made from the public sale of the book goes back to the PPLP to cover printing costs and costs associated with the event. Any money left over after that is kept by the PPLP for future community building projects.

AND here are all the amazing women in the book!: Alice B. Fogel, Alice Lee Timmins, Alice Radin, Alicia Fisher, Alison Frisella, Alison Harville, Allie Fitzgerald, Amanda Giles, Angela Whiting, Ann Diller, Anne Mikusinski, Ayanna Gallant, Barbara Bald, Belle Ritzo, Beth Fox, Brenna Lilly, Briana Fischella, Cara Losier Chanoine, Carand Burnet, Carla Desrosiers, Carolyn Krieter-Foronda, Cate Dixson, Charlotte Cox, Chelsea Paolini, Cheryl Lang, Christine Kelly, Claire Ann Garand, Cleone T. Graham, Crystal Paradis, Elizabeth Carmer, Elizabeth Knies, Ella McGrail, Elly Guzikowski, Elsbeth Willis, Elyse Gallo, Erica Sousa, Felicia Nadel, Genevieve Aichele, Heather Dupont, Heather Tobin, Heidi Therrien, Hollie Hawk, Jaclyn Goddette, Jade Goulet, Jane Kaufmann, Jane Vacante, Jennifer Ryan Onken, Jenna Dion, Jess Waters, Jessica Purdy, Julie A. Dickson, Kate Leigh, Katherine Towler, Kathleen Clancy, Kayla Cash, Kelley White, Kimberly Cloutier Green, Kristen Ringman, L.J. Elitharp, Laila Ruffin, Laura Pope, Lauren WB Vermette, Lee Ann Dalton, Lesley Kimball, Lillian Zagorites, Linda M. Crate, Linda S. Betof, Lindsey Coombs, Liz Ahl, M. Petersen, Maren Tirabassi, Margo Harvey, Marie Harris, Marilynn Carter, Mary Anker, Mary Beth Hines, Mary Lewis Sheehan, Mary Lou Bagley, Marybeth McNamara, Maya Campbell, Maya Williams, Meg Smith, Mercy Carbonell, Mia Isabelle, Mimi White, Minta Ann Carlson, Monica Nagle, MP Kingsbury, Nancy Donovan, Nancy Jean Hill, Nancy Wheaton, Nicole Fortune, Pamela Marks, Patricia Callan, Patricia Frisella, Priscilla Cookson, Rachel Sicari, Regina Merullo, Rena Mosteirin, Rosemary Staples, S Stephanie, S. J. Whitehouse, Samantha Hayford, Sarah Anderson, Sue Repko, Susan LaFortune, Sylvia Olson, Tamara J. Collins, Tammi J.Truax, Taygra Longstaff, Terry Karnan, Theresa Monteiro, Trina Daigle, and Wendy Cannella

Poets in the Park 2018

Another Summer with Poets in the Park comes to a close. Thank you to our poets (clockwise from top left)  Ellie Guzikowski, Lauren WB Vermette, Alice Lee Timmins, Mercy Carbonell, Felicia Nadel, Myles Burr, Chelsea Paolini, Jess Waters, Brenna Lilly, Lillian Zagorites, Ezra Schrader, Matt Jasper, Claire Garand, John-Michael Albert and Nancy Modern.

Thank you Ben Anderson, President of Prescott Park Arts Festival for supporting local artists and sharing the big stage with us.

It was an honor to host this event for eight Thursdays in a row getting the poets and the audiences out of their comfort zones with work representing the LGBTQ experience.  And it was an honor for all of us to represent Seacoast Outright and all the incredible work they do to recognize and support the LGBTQ community on the seacoast.

There’s no Hive without Intersectionality

I’ve attempted to practice my own values of hive oneness and love for some time, but I’ve also come to understand those things as vague and useless and another form of privilege without a way to apply them to how I live, work, speak and spend my money and time. Intersectionality is the bridge that’s helping me to continue to remove the blinders of privilege and to define and apply my beliefs to everything I do.

Crystal Paradisrecent article in the Portsmouth Herald evenly and compassionately explains the values of intersectionality as applied to the movement of feminism.  And through her organization Feminist Oasis, she exemplifies those values by showing us how we need to communicate these ideas and put them into practice for a world that works for everyone and not just the privileged.

Read Crystal’s article Feminism is Empty without Intersectionality and Action at Seacoast Online

Good Fat Volume 3!

Good Fat 3 summer edition is out and available at Portsmouth Book and Bar! Another great collection of poets from the seacoast and New England area. But this time there’s a twist. I started receiving submissions from around the country and thought it would be fun to include some of those. So when you read through this issue you’ll see some poets from outside New England sprinkled about.

In this issue we have poems from Amanda Giles, Steph Whitehouse, Laura Pope, John Perrault, Nancy Jean Hill, Alice Lee Timmins, Jeffery Zable, Jaclyn Goddette, Robert Minicucci, Linda Chestney, Adrian Slonaker, Ali Harville, Bill Burtis, Bob Moore, William Doreski, Maren Tirabassi, R. Gerry Fabian, Meg Smith, Dennis C Johnson, Pricilla Cookson, Jonah Hackett, Craig Sipe, Jim Zola, Robert Beveridge, Trina Daigle, Jonathan Neske, Kathleen Clancy, Nancy Donavan, Mark Jackey, John Ferguson, Ann Burghardt, Pat Parnell and two poems from two young women that participated in The Chase Home for Children poetry class.

Thank you Trina Daigle for providing the beautiful artwork on the cover.

Thank you Portsmouth Book and Bar for once again sponsoring the zine and their continued support of this community project.

Thank you Southport Printing Company in Portsmouth for another great print job with a nice non-profit discount.

and thank you Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program for all your support of me and this project as well as twenty years of building community with poetry!

Poets in the Park 2018

Poets In the Park is happening again and this year thanks to the amazing partnership with the Prescott Park Arts Festival the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program is getting its Pride on with Seacoast Outright in support of our fantastic LGBTQ+ community.

The following Thursday, June 28 after the Portsmouth PRIDE 2018 and every Thursday after that until August 9th we will have three poets from the LGBTQ+ community read their poems for the audience before the showing of Seussical the Musical at Prescott Park.

We need 21 poets in all who need to prepare 10 minutes or three to four poems each and if you’re interested in participating please email me at Sign up is for members of the LGBTQ+ community only. Thank you and see you all at Poets in the Park!

The Beat Festival thank you’s and fundraiser results

The Beat Festival was amazing! and there are so many people to thank. Thank you to the presenters Jonathan Stoker, Alicia Fisher, Rebecca Allsop, Angela Whiting, Scott Plante, Amanda Whitworth, Shannon St. Pierre, Binod Rai, JerriAnne Boggis, Kristen Ringman, Alice B. Fogel and Catherine Stewart.

Thank you to the musicians Larry Simon, Scott Solsky, Scip Gallant, Mike Barron, Chris Stambaugh, Cynthia Chatis, Frank Laurino, Don Davis and also Michael Zalenski and Josef Crosby.

Thank you, Jason Johnson and Angela Whiting and Binod Rai for lending us your art for the evening.

Thank you to the volunteers Lauren Wb Vermette, Crystal Paradis and Megan Stelzer.

For donations to the raffle Thanks you’s go to Steffanie AntonioPortsmouth Book and BarThe Friendly ToastBull MooseMegan Stelzer of Stelzer Metalworks, Amanda Whitworth and Silver Center for the ArtsThe Hotel PortsmouthThe Music HallAlicia Fisher and Papercut Designs: custom collage artRochester Opera House and the Seacoast Rep.

Thank you Flatbread Portsmouth for feeding our presenters and musicians and thank you The Kitchen NH for feeding our audience.

Thank you, Mike Teixeira, of Deck Presentations for designing the poster.

Thank you 3S Artspace for being awesome and easy to work with.

Thank you to The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for the generous sponsorship. and Thank you to the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program for supporting me and this event and this amazing community of artists.

In total, we raised 2,514 dollars (838 each) for the International Institute of New EnglandSafe Harbor Recovery Center and The Chase Home for Children. Thank you to almost 200 people that bought tickets and came out to show and participated in the raffle because that’s where all that money came from.

I’m so grateful to this incredible community of artists, organizations and businesses that made The Beat Festival one for the books. Check out the pics mostly taken by Denise Wheeler and a few by Todd Dowey and Crystal Paradis.

To watch Binod Rai, a refugee from Nepal, read his poem that he wrote in the IINE poetry class on stage click here.