Archives for posts with tag: New York City

Roig_front door
by Kerfe Roig

I have known
so many doorways–
of home–so
many entrances always
followed by exits,
portals to
moving on. They say
each door is
a fresh start, but I long for
extended middles,
that tell me to stay.
Here I am,
still behind one of hundreds
of plain white metal
along corridors
guarded by
locks. The world comes in through my
window—subways, sea
gulls calling
and Venus and the
moon fading
into dawn.
The playground below listens:
abandoned, forlorn.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Having just moved (again), the familiarity of my world has been entirely upended.  I feel lucky that I am able to turn to creating words and images to ease the unknowns of my enforced solitude.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerfe Roig currently lives behind the door of her thirteenth residence since arriving in New York City at age 19.  She hopes to move one final time, a goal currently derailed by the uncertainty of the times.  She likes to play with words and images and sends them out to the world at

We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments. Author Anne Borne provided this portrait of herself and the collection from the ever-wonderful New York City. Anne contributed the story “It’s Not the Books, It’s the Library” (featured below)  to the 212-page anthology.

It’s Not the Books, It’s the Library
by Anne Born

It’s easy to identify the Nancy Drew and Dana Girls mysteries as my favorite children’s adventure stories. When I read those little books, I wanted to be the one with the answer, the one to solve the crime, the one to show the grownups that this teen could do it. These girls were resourceful and clever. What’s interesting to me now is that, for the life of me, I cannot recall a single episode, and I couldn’t name more than one title. I do not remember just exactly what these plucky heroines accomplished. What I do remember is my cousin Diane.

Diane was much older than me. She was a child of the 1940s whose father served in WWII. She spent countless hours with my grandparents and her aunt and uncle, laying a foundation of trust and love for all of the cousins to follow. We all knew that we were important, and we knew that our family had something special—and a good bit of that came from the first cousin on the scene: Diane.

I came to know Nancy Drew because Diane collected the books. As far as I can remember, it was a complete set. I could borrow them, read them one at a time or a couple at a go, and return them to her collection. But it was never about the plot of the books, it was that Diane could read and when she did, she did it up in style. I could take books out of the town public library certainly, and I did that nearly every week I was in school. But Diane had a library and that was exciting to me.

Because my family did not have a budget line for book buying or the means to get to bookstores very often, and because I spent so much time at the library, I have only a dozen or so books from my childhood. I do not have all the great pirate books that I loved. I don’t have the stories of Pompeii that I remember so clearly. And I don’t have the Nancy Drew books. I vowed that when I had my own children, I would buy them books instead of just taking them to the library. I wanted them to know what Diane must have known, that there is tremendous comfort in being in a library, but there is something so much more powerful in owning a library.

Diane left us a few years ago. She had a heart ailment that would take her from us way too soon. In writing this, I am sad she doesn’t know the lifelong impact her choice in teen fiction had on me. I want her to know that her collecting Nancy Drew and Dana Girl mysteries, and sharing them the way she did, instilled in me a love of libraries as well as a love of a great mystery story. My library has books about everything!

I’m reading my own copy of The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey now with my book club and even though it does not feature a boyfriend with a slick convertible or helpful aunts and uncles, it does remind me of the debt I owe to my cousin Diane. It’s great to have a library card, but it’s even better to have a library.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Born is the author of A Marshmallow on the Bus (2014), Prayer Beads on the Train (2015), and Waiting on a Platform (2016). She is the editor of the award-winning anthology of stories from The Late Orphan Project —  These Winter Months.  (2016). Anne is a regular contributor on The Broad Side, and her essay on Hillary Clinton’s religious faith was included in Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox  (2015), edited by Joanne Bamberger. Her work has been published in the Newtown Literary Journal and in “Me, as a Child,” “All About My Name,” and “My Prized Possession,” Poetry & Prose Series published by Silver Birch Press. Anne’s essay on her cousin’s collection of Nancy Drew novels was published in the Silver Birch Press Nancy Drew Anthology (2016). Her poetry has been featured in New York at Boundless Tales, Word Up Community Bookstore, and the Queens Council on the Arts. She has been a featured performer in several venues with Inspired Word NYC, at the New York Transit Museum, on Queens Public TV in “The World of Arts,” and with the International Women’s Salon on Salon Radio. Anne divides her time between New York and Michigan, and the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Follow Anne Born and The Late Orphan Project at The Backpack Press, and on TwitterRedbubbleWattpad, andInstagram @nilesite. Listen to her in the Bronx podcasts on Our Salon Radio.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is me at the subway station in my neighborhood, the beautiful South Bronx. Snapped by a girl walking by who saw me balancing my cell phone and the book. She says, “Wow! I love Nancy Drew!” So I gave her the book.

NYC Driving
by Lourdes A. Gautier

Hot sun, summer in the city and we were headed for Jones Beach.
Car windows rolled down, hair flapping in the breeze
Barbra Streisand letting us know via the radio that people who need           people
Are the luckiest people in the world.

Every time my cousin shifted gears, stepping on the clutch
Expertly moving from first to second and on to third in his Renault
I wanted to be able to do that too!
But fourteen-year-olds were not allowed to drive in New York City.

Fast forward six years, still cruising in New York
This time rush hour traffic filled with homeward bound drivers.
Jockeying for space on West 28th Street, the heart of Chelsea
Boyfriend stops car, walks to passenger side so I have to scoot over.

You said you wanted to learn how to drive, right?
Thirty feet from Eighth Avenue and bumper to bumper traffic?
Are you crazy? No. But I was and off we went around the corner,
Then around the block as I slid into a spot in front of my building.

I might just as well have driven cross country based on the satisfaction
Of not crashing the car or having anyone honk their horn at me in           exasperation.
A natural, that’s what I was or so I secretly thought
Though it would be four more years before I’d actually get my license to           drive.

Thanks to that experience, I can drive anything, anywhere, anytime.

PHOTO: New York City, Mulberry and Broome Streets, 1960s. Posted by Daniel Stroh at Hemmings Daily.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The 14-year-old going on 30 who fancied herself driving a foreign car eventually became the 20-year-old whose reality was driving an automatic American-made sedan.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lourdes A. Gautier is a poet and writer of short fiction and nonfiction. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in New York City, she earned a Masters degree in Theatre and post graduate credits in a doctoral program at the City University of New York (CUNY) focusing on Latin American Theatre. She taught courses in acting and theatre history and criticism at CUNY, Drew University, and Jersey City State University and language arts in a special grant funded program at Rutgers University. Most recently, her short story, “1952,” was published in the May issue of Acentos Review. Her poems have appeared in Calliope and in the Silver Birch Press All About My Name, My Perfect Vacation, and My Metamorphosis Series. Currently an administrator at Columbia University, she is working on a collection of poems and stories.She has performed at the Inwood Local open mic night in New York City. Currently an administrator at Columbia University, she is working on a collection of poems and stories.

voss PHOTO: Poet Rachel Voss with her copy of The Great Gatsby Anthology in Astoria Park (Queens, New York) overlooking the East River/Triboro and Hell Gate bridges (not quite the Valley of Ashes and the Queensboro Bridge that Fitzgerald wrote about in The Great Gatsby — but not far).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher and lives in Queens, New York. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has appeared in Hanging Loose Magazine, WORK, Blast Furnace, The New Verse News, Newtown Literary, and Unsplendid, among others. She contributed her poem “Villanelle on a line from The Great Gatsby” to The Great Gatsby Anthology.

The Subway at the Lake
by Anne Born

The subway doors open at Columbus Circle
and the air on the platform is suddenly fresh.
Trees from Central Park, the dew of the morning,
the warming heat of August coming up from the damp grass.

And I am back at Indian Lake, at my grandpa’s place there,
playing with my cousins.
Sailboats at the dock, the pier stretching out like train tracks
into the blue-gray water around.

Me, terrified of the dull green grasses
that grow just off shore, hidden beneath the surface
of the water.

My dad, teaching me to swim so my face stay’d dry
and I could see where I was going without my glasses.

My mother, cool sipping from a fragile Martini glass
while she sits on a lawn chair, her feet up on a stool.

My grandmother in the house.
Fish caught by grandpa for supper,
Cards and dice played after coffee,
Marshmallows toasted over the fires on the beach.

Fireflies light up the night sky,
ducking in and out of the bushes.
Wet swimsuits hang on the line.
I can taste the icy too-sweet grape Nehi.

Then the double doors shut on the subway train,
and I am heading down to Seventh Avenue now.

I wish I remembered how to play Pinochle.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a child in her green cowgirl outfit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote “The Subway by the Lake” on the downtown B train [in New York City] one morning in August 2014. The poem appears in my second collection of stories written on the MTA — Prayer Beads on the Train. It describes the memories prompted by the rush of fresh air into the train car as we pulled into the Columbus Circle station one morning on my way to work. The moment lasted only as long as the train car doors were open — roughly 15 seconds. But I felt refreshed by it and found myself quickly writing down the images on the way downtown.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Born is a New York writer whose blog posts have appeared on Red Room, Open Salon, Bubblews, and as a feature in Non-Fiction on Wattpad (as Nilesite). She is a regular contributing writer on The Broad Side. Her writing focuses on family and life in a big city after growing up in a small one in Michigan. Anne published her first collection of MTA stories, A Marshmallow on the Bus, in June 2014. Most of her writing is done on a city bus or train. Anne is a performing artist in the Platform Series at the New York Transit Museum and has featured as a Local Poet at Inwood Local, as an author at We Heart NYC Writers sponsored by Inspired Word, and as a poet and storyteller with No Name at Word Up Community Bookstore in Washington Heights. Her poetry has also been featured at Boundless Tales at the Astoria Bookshop in Queens, New York. She is a participating member of Poetry & Coffee. Anne is a photographer who specializes in photos of churches, cemeteries, and the Way of St. James in Spain. Her photos are sold on Redbubble (Nilesite). Follow Anne Born on Twitter and Instagram @nilesite and at and

by Victoria McGrath

I’m standing on the fifth floor balcony of my life and
you’d think that, from here, the view would knock your socks
off. I thought I’d see spectaculars: the Thames, Times Square,
the Sydney Opera House. At least the Eiffel Tower’s frilly

underpants. But the canopy hangs at just about my elevation,
dubious and loose, and not that easy to see through. I thought
there’d be some sense of accomplishment living at this height,
a particular felicity. But it pains me to say that all I really feel

is a little dizzy. Below, in the shadows, I can almost recognise
fragments of the sweepings that I’ve lost from the ramparts
over the years. Phone numbers, passwords, keys. Everything
to do with calculus, and some critical bits of the 12 times table.

Names. So many forgotten names. And purpose. Not-quite-born
babies. My father’s face. It’s terrible to hover over history
like this. It threatens to remove me. I find it hard to focus on
people anymore and I’m surprised when I realise this comes as

a relief. I once liked them better, liked their privacies, their
collective contradictions. These days I admit I can’t work them
out. They imitate each other. Their user-names congregate on
the lower storeys, where they fumble through their judgements

like a bum rummaging in a bin for crumbs, before desperately
trying to beat the Joneses up the back stairs. To be honest,
it’s all getting to be a bit of a slog now. The stairs are steep,
and perilous with slippery memories. I’d really like to settle in

to some comfortable armchair for a while, high-backed and
made of leather, indulgently polished by other backsides
that like to read and ruminate. But the joints get restless
and I can’t help wondering what might await me when

I emerge onto the roof at last. With my luck, I’ll stumble up
that final step only to be confronted with a cold metal slammer,
firmly bolted and embellished with the declaration:

Right now my framework feels ramshackle and remote, almost
empty, except for the faint drone of lonely poets, the gamy glow
of boasts and blundering, and the simple hum of an accountant
down the hall, who’s hard at work depreciating the high life,

busy totting up the cost of pots and black kettles.

IMAGE: “The Radiator Building” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1927).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Victoria McGrath is an emerging poet who lives in country New South Wales, Australia, and is a graduate of the Australian National University. She has won a number of poetry awards and was shortlisted in 2013 for the prestigious Newcastle Poetry Prize. She has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia and the U.S. and has performed in a range of events, including twice as featured poet at the Bundanoon Winterfest. A publisher has expressed interest in her first, not quite finished, manuscript.


Congratulations to Rachel Carey — author of the novel Debt (Silver Birch Press, 2013) — and her fellow playwrights Beth Jastroch and Bob Kolsby on the premiere of their collaborative play Cul-de-Sac at The Shelter in New York City. Directed by Michael Kingsbaker, the play runs from Thursday, June 5 through Sunday, June 8th and features Kelley Gates, Meghan E. Jones, Jordan Kenneth Kamp, C.J. Lindsey, Morgan McGuire, and Aaron Novak.

BACKGROUND:  In the summer of 2013, The Shelter tasked three writers with a unique, collaborative challenge: using a palette of assigned characters, meld individually written stories into a single, seamless play. Six characters, three writers, one narrative. Nine months later, Cul-de-Sac was born. Examining the lives of three couples living as neighbors on a suburban cul-de-sac, writers Rachel Carey, Beth Jastroch, and Bob Kolsby use marriage as a forum to examine the shifting gender norms, cultural expectations, and everyday realities faced by today’s young couples. They show us that what happens behind closed doors can often surprise us, challenging our beliefs about love, passion, and the fidelity of marriage.

WHEN: Thursday, June 5 – Sunday, June 8, 2014

WHERE: Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street, New York City 10014 (just below Bleecker in the West Village)

RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes with a 10-minute intermission


Equations of the Light
by Dana Gioia

Turning the corner, we discovered it
just as the old wrought-iron lamps went on—
a quiet, tree-lined street, only one block long
resting between the noisy avenues.

The streetlamps splashed the shadows of the leaves
across the whitewashed brick, and each tall window
glowing through the ivy-decked facade
promised lives as perfect as the light.

Walking beneath the trees, we counted all
the high black doors of houses bolted shut.
And yet we could have opened any door,
entered any room the evening offered.

Or were we deluded by the strange
equations of the light, the vagrant wind
searching the trees, that we believed this brief
conjunction of our separate lives was real?

It seemed that moment lingered like a ghost,
a flicker in the air, smaller than a moth,
a curl of smoke flaring from a match,
haunting a world it could not touch or hear.

There should have been a greeting or a sign,
the smile of a stranger, something beyond
the soft refusals of the summer air
and children trading secrets on the steps.

Traffic bellowed from the avenue.
Our shadows moved across the street’s long wall,
and at the end what else could I have done
but turn the corner back into my life?

SOURCE: “Equations of the Light” appears in Dana Gioia’s collection The Gods of Winter (Graywolf Press, 1991).

PHOTO: “New York City street” by Bryan Gerlach. Visit the photographer at this link.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dana Gioia is a poet and writer who also served as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.  After attending Harvard and Stanford Universities, Gioia worked for 15 years at General Foods Corporation while writing at night and on the weekends. In 1992, he quit his job to write full-time. Gioia has published four books of poetry and three volumes of poetry criticism as well as opera libretti, translations, and over two dozen literary anthologies. His third poetry collection, Interrogations at Noon, won the 2002 American Book Award. Gioia’s poems have been reprinted in numerous anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of Poetry and The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Gioia, the first poet to chair the NEA, created a series of national arts initiatives, including Poetry Out Loud, Shakespeare in American Communities, and the Big Read, as well as programs that supported jazz, dance, visual arts, and international cultural exchanges. In August 2011, Gioia became Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. Visit him at

by Denise Levertov

As the stores close, a winter light
    opens air to iris blue,
    glint of frost through the smoke
    grains of mica, salt of the sidewalk.
As the buildings close, released autonomous   
    feet pattern the streets
    in hurry and stroll; balloon heads
    drift and dive above them; the bodies   
    aren’t really there.
As the lights brighten, as the sky darkens,
    a woman with crooked heels says to another woman   
    while they step along at a fair pace,
    ”You know, I’m telling you, what I love best   
    is life. I love life! Even if I ever get
    to be old and wheezy—or limp! You know?   
    Limping along?—I’d still … “ Out of hearing.   
To the multiple disordered tones
    of gears changing, a dance
    to the compass points, out, four-way river.   
    Prospect of sky
    wedged into avenues, left at the ends of streets,   
    west sky, east sky: more life tonight! A range   
    of open time at winter’s outskirts.

“February Evening in New York” appears in Denise Levertov‘s Collected Earlier Poems 1940-1960 (W.W. Norton, 1979) available at

Photo: “Chelsea, New York City” by Ludovic Betron, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

by Minnie Bruce Pratt

The woman across from me looks so familiar,
but when I turn, her look glances off. At the last
subway stop we rise. I know her, she gives manicures
at Vogue Nails. She has held my hands between hers
several times. She bows and smiles. There the women
wear white smocks like technicians, and plastic tags
with their Christian names. Susan. No, not Susan,
whose hair is cropped short, who is short and stocky.
This older lady does my hands while classical music,
often Mozart, plays. People passing by outside are
doubled in the wall mirror. Two of everyone walk
forward, backward, vanish at the edge of the shop.
Susan does pedicures, pumice on my heels as I sit
on the stainless-steel throne. She bends over, she
kneads my feet in the water like laundry. She pounds
my calves with her fists and her cupped palms slap
a working beat, p’ansori style. She talks to the others
without turning her head, a call in a language shouted
hoarse across fields where a swallow flew and flew
across the ocean, and then fetched back to Korea
a magic gourd seed, back to the farmer’s empty house
where the seed flew from its beak to sprout a green vine.
When the farmer’s wife cut open the ripe fruit, out spilled
seeds of gold. Choi Don Mee writes that some girls
in that country crush petals on their nails, at each tip
red flowers unfold. Yi Yon-ju writes that some women
there, as here, dream of blades, knives, a bowl of blood.
“Giving a Manicure” appears in Minnie Bruce Pratt’s collection The Dirt She Ate: New and Selected Poems (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), available at

PAINTING: “Diversity on New York City Subway” by Betsy Horn, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at