Monday, February 20, 2012

Helen Ruggieri Reading

The white roosters are crowing Good Morning. Earlier, Peter saw a skunk scuttle into the barn. Hopefully ( s/he) hasn't moved in . . . It's another beautiful morning. Crisp blue skies. Looks/feels more like March than mid-February.

Went to Rochester Poets monthly poetry reading yesterday afternoon (2/19) at St. John Fisher. The featured reader was Helen Ruggeri.

Here's her bio:

Helen Ruggieri earned an MFA in Poetry Writing and taught at the creative writing and literature at University of Pittsburgh, Bradford campus. In 2000, she spent a semester at Yokohama College in Japan and became interested in the literature of early Japan. When she returned, she became a member of the East Asian Studies program, teaching Japanese literature
and in the Summer Intensive English Program for Japanese students on the Pitt-Bradford Campus. She retired from Pitt in 2009.

She has also worked as a visiting poet in area schools and currently teaches a poetry workshop at the Cattaraugus County Mental Health Association.

Helen been writing for thirty years and her work has been published widely in magazines and anthologies in the US and abroad. She has several books and chapbooks, among them "The Poetess" (Allegany Mt. Press); "Glimmer Girls" (Mayapple Press); "Concrete Madonna" (S & S Press); and "Rock City Hill Exercises" (Allegany Mt. Press). Her book of short prose pieces in the Japanese haibun form is titled "The Character for Woman" (Foothills Publishing), and is about living in Japan. Her Pulitzer-nominated collection was published in December by Kitsune Books.

She has published haiku in the Manichi Daily News, Yomiuri Daily, and has won awards from the International Kusamakura Haiku Competition and the Suruga Baika literary festival, Oshiro Matsuri Festival, Kumamoto, Japan prize; Hoshino Takashi Award (sponsored by the World Haiku Club). Her poem, “A Japanese Fable” won 1st prize in Icon’s (Kent State) annual

The reading was wonderful. Over the years, the Rochester poetry community has spoken of Helen with great affection, but I've never met her. Come to find out that Helen and I nearly match in age and grace. Both of us attended St. Bonaventure University. She graduated in 1972. If I had stayed, I would have graduated in '74. We have a landscape in common. She has a wonderful wit. I wondered if I had known her back in the day. She said she worked in the Library. I spent hours in the library, especially in the fine arts room in the basement, looking at all the gorgeous Art books with friends who had the same interest. We were actually a seminar class, teaching each other. Sometimes a Franciscan brother would join our discussions. So I must have seen her, right?

Doesn't matter. I'm going to be spending some time with her this upcoming May. I'm going to be giving a workshop at the Olean Library . This is a program she coordinates, and I'm so grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to return to Olean. It makes me very nostalgic.

There were things that she talked about at her reading that piqued my interest. Hope that we get a chance to discuss her discoveries of Japan bit more.

Her collection butterflies under a japanese moon is truly lovely-- filled with wit and distilled beauty. So much to be admired here. Will enjoy reading this collection slowly.
I really liked the work that is about teenage angst. Glimmer Girls will have to look for this collection later, or maybe she has a copy I can buy from her in May. I'm ready to learn a lot from Helen.

I'm so glad I saw the advert for the reading and was able to break away from the mountain of papers I have. Slowly, I've been clearing those stacks--should be done by this morning--only to have more this afternoon.

Interesting too, at this reading there was an open mic and I heard some exquisite Tanka and Haiku. Hopefully I will see these poets again, too.

Bea O'Brien was at this reading and I cherished the opportunity to talk to her a bit.
She's going to be the featured reading next month and I hope to have the opportunity to hear her too. Bea is nearly 92 (she must have Ponce deLeon's elixir) and is still driving and is an inspiration in every way.

It was a wonderful Sunday salon.

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