review by Mala Rai: These Are the People in Your Neighbourhood by Jordan Trethewey

review of THESE ARE THE PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD by Jordan Trethewey, originally published in Miramichi Reader at

These Are the People In Your Neighbourhood by Jordan Trethewey

Jordan Trethewey’s tribute to the people of Fredericton, a city I have never been to,  travelled nearly 5400km westward for a curious read. Civic poetry is a unique way of getting the scoop on what to really pay attention to in an unfamiliar space: the people. In reading about people from away (from me, at least), we get to learn something pretty nifty: Frederictonians! They are just like us! Strip away the named location, and these poems may as well be familiar and relatable to those living in many west coast cities and towns. The beauty of this 2021 – 2024 poet laureate’s work is that it is accessible to all — not just a love letter to Fredericton, but a gift for anyone to pick up and feel seen. Intimate themes of family, grief, immigrant loneliness, relationships requited and unrequited, obstacles overcome and succumbed to are just a few which echo throughout this collection. What makes this work even more special is that each poem is a tribute to a real person, living or dead, or to Fredericton itself.

To turn these strangers into neighbours, Trethewey crafts each poem with a unique voice to represent the recipient of its dedication. In “Passion Begets (for Matt Carter)”, we can hear Matt listening to CBC’s Brave New Waves in the 80s, making that first perhaps grudging realization when we notice a bit of our parents in our teenage selves. In “Sitting Outside a Bank Kiosk, Embarrassing Money in My Hand (for Keegan Burgess)”, we feel Keegan’s  guilt as he puts his own worries aside and acknowledges a street busker and addict with the gift of attention. We see Caelia Sutton in “Twin Flames from Dying Embers”, an abusive relationship survivor making meaningful reconnection on a new path to love.

Many of these works are delivered with engaging storytelling. There is no need for deep analysis and interpretation of what the poet is trying to convey. Each poem is someone’s personal story, and they are shared generously. In “Adversity Builds (For Bob Dewar)”:


In hospital that day, one floor below,


Bob’s son is born. Prompts his mantra;


be calm in the face of adversity,


and there’s a lot of adversity.


The stanzas capture scenes from an episode in the life of someone you could know. We don’t need to know THEE Bob, but we might encounter someone like him rather easily. Maybe we are Bob.

After every few poems, there are vivid cityscape and neighbourhood scenes depicted in watercolour artwork inserts by Eva Christensen. And much like Trethewey’s poems, these images reflect something very inviting and charming. At times, there is an an aesthetic familiarity of one’s local cafe or pub. When we travel, it’s natural to seek out such places offering community. If you’re lucky, you may not need to travel all that far. Hopefully it’s in your neighbourhood.


Fredericton Poet Laureate Jordan Trethewey (2021-2024) lives in Nashwaaksis, with his wife, son, and daughter. Jordan writes poetry, drama, children’s literature, historical and short fiction. His writing appears in national and international journals…and on the right shoulder blade of a fan. He is an editor at the on-line literary journal Open Arts Forum. Some of his work is also translated in Vietnamese, Farsi, and French.

Publisher: Roadside Press (December 2023)
Watercolour Illustrations: Eva Christensen
Paperback 6″ x 9″ | 200 pages
ISBN: 979-8865775249

Gregory Corso: Ten Times a Poet

Gregory Corso: Ten Times a Poet book coverThe much-anticipated Corso book can now be ordered at


GREGORY CORSO: TEN TIMES A POET (Roadside Press, 2024) Cover Art by Jonathan Collins. Compiled & Edited by Leon Horton. Co-Editor: Michele McDannold. Contributions by Raymond Foye, Kurt Hemmer, Gregory Stephenson, Ryan Mathews, Jay Jeff Jones, Westley Heine, A. Robert Lee, Ed Sanders, Miriam Sanders, Michael Limnios, Leon Horton, Dan Richter, Kaarina Hollo, Kirby Olson, Gerald Nicosia, Kaye McDonough, Robert Yarra, Neeli Cherkovski, Francis Kuipers, Nina Zivancevic, Ron Whitehead, Kyle Roderick, Dick Ellis, Hugo Frey, Anne Waldman, Rosemary Manno, Chris Felver, Dario Bellini, George Scrivani and William Lessard.


268 pages
7.5 x 9.25 in.
ISBN 979-8-9902309-0-3

After Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, Gregory Corso (1930-2001) was the fourth “Daddy” of the socio-literary movement they called the Beat Generation. Those “angel-headed hipsters” who came to prominence in the 1950s were the voice of a disaffected generation of renegades, rebels, and rabble-rousers in the post-war conservative years of President Eisenhower. They’d had enough of conformity, they weren’t going to take it anymore, and they blew just as loud and as deep as their beloved jazz music.

With contributions from such Beat luminaries as Anne Waldman, Gerald Nicosia, Ed Sanders, Rosemary Manno, Neeli Cherkovski, Ron Whitehead, Kaye McDonough, Chris Felver, and many others, Gregory Corso: Ten Times a Poet is a visual and literary feast in celebration of the life and work of the legendary poet. From his traumatic childhood in New York, to his incarceration in Clinton Prison, from his adventures in Greece to his escapades in Rome, from the cradle to the crypt, from his own lips, Gregory Corso didn’t just write poetry – he lived it, with every fiber of his being.

“Composed of memoir, poems, biography, interviews, and literary criticism, Gregory Corso: Ten Times a Poet celebrates and explores the contradictions and brilliance of a misunderstood street bard and visual artist. This fresh appraisal of Corso, which fills in biographical gaps, tells new stories, and appraises his verse, is a reminder that he never stopped being a poet even when his reputation preceded his artistry. As the writers gathered here attest, Corso’s description of poetry as “risked and fevered thinking” belies his mastery of form. His poems were a “refinement of beauty out of a destructive atmosphere,” as Allen Ginsberg put it, in which death, humor, truth, and beauty, love, laugh and brawl.”—Douglas Field, author of Walking in the Dark: James Baldwin, My Father, and me.

“I love this book so much I read it three times. The great thing about Gregory Corso: Ten Times a Poet is the brilliant reminiscences, literary essays, explication of childhood, photographs, interviews, and obituaries that unite the wild man running through his life and the deep poet delivering his final book, The Golden Dot. Read it. Then read it again.”—Victor Bockris, author of The Burroughs-Warhol Connection and With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker.

“Reading the essays, memoirs, and other material in Gregory Corso: Ten Times a Poet widened my awareness of who he was. It’s a warts and all portrait that is painted, and I’m glad about that. It would have been wrong to try to show him as perfect in any form, poet or person. The main point is that the best work will survive, as it ought to do.”—Jim Burns, contributor to Beat Scene / author of Modernists, Bohemians, Mavericks.

“I am telling everyone that it is without doubt the most important book published on Corso thus far.”—Gerald Nicosia, author of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac.

“Finally, the tribute Corso deserves. Over the past few decades we have witnessed a surge of interest in the Beat writers, with Beat studies growing into a vibrant literary field, but as he was in life, Corso remains an outsider even in death. Gregory Corso is not an easy man to write about, but thankfully, we now have Ten Times a Poet, a wonderful collection of essays and poems and interviews in celebration of this most remarkable of men.”—David S. Wills, editor of Beatdom / author of High White Notes: The Rise and Fall of Gonzo Journalism.

by Neeli Cherkovski. from Gregory Corso: Ten Times a Poet

Gregory Corso: An Elder Scamp

by Neeli Cherkovski

Gregory Corso. There are days where I miss him terribly. It is difficult not to think of him as an elder scamp, yes, right out of some topsy-turvy Huckleberry Finn-like American night folded around the streets on both the East and West coast. He was a child of New York and a blessed hellcat of San Francisco. I first met him in front of City Lights bookstore, introduced by poet Andy Clausen.  He had his baby son Max in tow. We went up to my apartment on Harwood Alley where I read him my poem, “Oh to Coit Tower“. It had been inspired by his own ode to the same monument in his book Gasoline.

Gregory listened well, but I was so nervous as to his reaction. Suddenly he rose from his chair and said, “Man, I like it a lot.”  The next evening, he asked me to babysit for Max. When he came back to get him, he said, “Mr Cherkovski, thank you for taking care of my son.” It would be the first of many times that I would take care of him.

On one notable evening, Gregory sat in my cramped kitchen and extolled the virtues of François Villon. It was obvious that his knowledge of the Medieval French poet was extensive. He relished the idea of Villon as an underground figure. “He’s one of the daddies,” Gregory said, emphasizing the rebellious nature of Villon’s poetry. There were other great evenings like one when Gregory read a poem he never finished—“Epistle to San Francisco”—in which he wrote, “Here are your poets but where is your poesy?”

To be with Gregory Corso on any given day in North Beach or elsewhere could be a very exciting experience. He might appear sullen and uncommunicative but he was aware of everything that was going on. It was quite phenomenal. He might be sitting at the table, his eyes cast downward, you talking to somebody about one subject or another. Corso could appear disinterested… then all of a sudden come awake and make a point. I wrote a story once about how he spent other people’s money. He had a knack of draining their pocketbooks. I witnessed him do this to a middle-aged beat sycophant who showed up at the Caffe Trieste. Gregory and I spent 12 hours with him as he took us out to a fancy dinner and bought drinks in various cocktail lounges around the city. Money was spent on cabs and money was spent on cigars, and finally the poor guy had nothing left and we abandoned him on a cold street corner. Gregory felt the guy had gotten his money’s worth spending all that time with one of the legendary poets of the Beat Generation. Read his poems, as they shine now as much as he did in the wild days.

For Lisa Brinker

when Gregory dies
there is a white butterfly
in the yard taking notes
and talking to the lemon tree
in a low and antique voice

when Gregory dies
the piano players take a bow
in the yard next door
on the day of graduation
and a lone piccolo preaches
to anyone passing

he was born in 1930
in time for the Great Depression
and was passed from
one strange hand to another
he did not know his mother


I met Gregory on Columbus Avenue
with the poet Andy Clausen
the hod-carrier, they came to my apartment
and I read my Coit Tower poem in which
the tower is a shadow folded
over a bed of flowers while the sky leaks
and the streets turn into Chinese laundries

he had his own Coit poem
in a book called GASOLINE
an anti vertiginous tower
which struck me as defiance


he may have been one of the last bohemian poets
no MFA, no university job, no job at all
except poesy, and the labor of being a drug addict

while he lived and worked
snow fell over his words,
sunlight bore
into his poems, wolves leapt
every chance they had
when he’d turn his neck a moment
to the skylarks escaping
the grip of Shelley,
his master, the always young poet
who wept for the dead


when Gregory was
a demonic Huck Finn
he learned how to
proceed down a
zigzag path, in prison
he was handed poetry
and illuminated prose

when he was freed
everything moved poetically
on Greenwich Village’s
hometown morning streets and
in the Harvard neighborhoods
where he made his
first book of poems


when I met Gregory
he was already a famous poet
of the Beat Generation, he could
quote Poe’s “To Helen” and
celebrate “the agate lamp”

Gregory wrote “Marriage”
and “Bomb,” he stole my
stereo for drug money,
he left baby Max under my
care for weeks at a time

he spoke of Francois Villon
as if he were a brother, not
a medieval poet of the
dark Parisian colonnades


when Gregory lives
a marching band
rises from the garden
and assumes control
of all that is neat

he kept us writhing
for his light, he thought
our country oversimplified
and found a complete
complex of simplicity
in a few well-chosen lines

Neeli Cherkovski was an internationally renowned poet, biographer and memoirist. He
published 14 books of poetry, including Animal (1996), Elegy for Bob Kaufman
(1996) and Elegy for My Beat Generation (2018). He wrote biographies on his
friends Charles Bukowski and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, taught literature and philosophy
at the New College of California, and produced the first San Francisco Poetry
Festival. In 1989, he published Whitman’s Wild Children, a collection of essays on
the poets he has known, including Philip Lamantia, Gregory Corso, Jack Micheline
and Harold Norse.

The much-anticipated Corso book can now be pre-ordered at

Todd Cirillo reading March 9, 2024

Francine Witte reading March 9, 2024

Susan Ward Mickelberry reading March 9, 2024

Dan Provost reading. March 9, 2024

Review by Aleathia Drehmer: PRYING by Jack Micheline, Charles Bukowski and Catfish McDaris

Prying is a collection of work from Jack Micheline, Charles Bukowski, and Catfish McDaris, which was originally published by Four-Sep Publications in 1997. The book has since fallen out of print and Four-Sep Publications is defunct. Michele McDannold, editor of Roadside Press, is bringing this long-lost collection back in a new light with an updated cover and new artwork by Scott Aicher, which really compliments the 1960s feel of the work inside. Roadside Press received express permission from the Micheline Foundation to reprint Jack’s work and that of Bukowski, since he gave the poems to Micheline. McDaris gave his permission as well, as he is the only one of the three still circling the planet.

The collection starts with five poems by Jack Micheline and they are truly the crowning jewel of Prying. His poems range from the late 60s to late 70s and capture the beat generation in a very musical and eloquent way. His poem “The Song of Kid Willie” from 1968 is the epitome of freedom of that time when youth were trying to break away from the indoctrinated identity given to them by their parents and society of the 40s and 50s. It is a classic struggle to find oneself in an era of upheaval. It is in this poem that Micheline gives us the thrumming beat like wheels on the highway and that feeling of noticing everything and nothing at the same time.

And many nights he wrote his poem on the thigh bone of hearts

Sky, tree, wind, rain, clear skies ahead

His song the open road

His song of love

Jack Micheline also gives a great post-war poem in “My Philosophy” that would have us always choosing the pen over guns. The poem shows how disgruntled he was with the way the world was being governed. His short but darling poem “The City” is a tender look at life unfolding on the edges of a city, including both rich and poor in its makeup.

But the highlight of Micheline’s offering in this collection is “Walking in Kerouac’s Shadow.” It is a poem that works as a summation of any artist’s life in any generation. It expresses the feeling of being disconnected from mainstream society while still having to be mired in it. Having to function within a machine that you hate, being this reluctant cog, but having the eyes of a wolf instead of the blinders of sheep. This poem sees the world for what it is—both the importance and the things disregarded by the masses. It is a timeless poem for a writer who is a junkie for words.

The second section of Prying features Charles Bukowski. In my lifetime, I have had a love-hate relationship with his work. At times, it is both thoughtful and vulnerable, and these moments have always been his best. His fallibility moves me more so than his ability to shock with the recollection of conquering women and being drunk. In my estimation, there will always be two camps of Bukowski that identify with either his brashness or his vulnerability. The four poems in this collection have a little of both.

Bukowski’s poem “extant” has a beat feel to it. I don’t remember coming up much in his work. It uses a lot of sound movement and is erratic. The content of the poem isn’t my cup of tea, but it was exciting to read a poem from him that felt experimental and playful. If you love his horse betting poems, then you won’t be disappointed with the inclusion of “d.n.f.”

For me personally, Bukowski’s best poem in Prying is “to weep in her hair” which is a poem that encompasses mid-life when our bodies fail us and fall apart. He sees himself in this light, examines the dark seed of imposter syndrome that haunts all writers, and how fear can keep us ignorant from the truth. He reaches, lightly, for his youth, imagining he can take the soprano who is the subject of the poem. Bukowski often portrays himself as a lover who takes more than he ever gives.

The difference in the factories was

We all felt our pain


In his poem “help wanted” we see more of the classic subject of women that Bukowski seems to hold on to. He has a love/hate relationship with women. He has a helplessness in their presence that comes out on the page where women seem to be objects who can both save and destroy a man.

I need somebody to pull the

Knife out.

The last section of the book features three pieces of short fiction from Catfish McDaris. He often feels like a bit of a shock value writer putting sexuality front and center in a no nonsense sort of way. Though it often isn’t my sensibility to enjoy this type of writing, I have to hand it to him that goals are achieved. In writing, if you get a reaction, either way, you’ve done your job as a writer. His work can create arguments for or against.

In “Splinter for the Winter,” McDaris starts and ends with a youthful sexcapade that has some elements of humor. I felt the best writing of this story came in the sections that he was describing a young girl’s redneck father. He has a good way of capturing the essence of people, especially when there isn’t any sexual overtone to it. But if you are one that likes stories about sexual escapades and the things that can go wrong when you date three women named Carol, simultaneously, then you’ll love “If This is Love I’m Not Happy.” It has a bit of adventure and definitely some humor.

For me, the shining star of Catfish’s collection is his story “Cobalt” which speaks about his time as a bricklayer, working with his grandfather and his uncle. He really crafts a wonderful short story filled with camaraderie and standing up for people he believes in, even if he might be the underdog in the fight.

A sickening crunch came from his breaking ribs. His nose exploded as I hit him in the face. Standing over him, I held the shovel ready to chop his head off like a rattler. The entire earth was trembling in slow motion.

This reissued collection, Prying, featuring Micheline, Bukowski, and McDaris is a must have for your collection. It is a time capsule of a time capsule to an era that feels so different from the one we are living in today. This is the power of books. It allows us to revisit times we lived before or to imagine ourselves there if we didn’t experience them firsthand. Add Prying to your shelves and go on a journey filled with Beat ideas, women, and mayhem.

—Aleathia Drehmer, author of Running Red Lights and others

a limited number of PRYING copies are available at

Disposable Darlings Anything but Disposable: a review by Julie Valin

Disposable Darlings Anything but Disposable

Todd Cirillo’s new collection of poems, Disposable Darlings, is like a “cosmic jukebox” of the human condition, playing all our favorite songs, depending on our mood. You want a love song? Go to the very first poem, “Magnolias,” and move to the sounds and scents of Spring—a new love blooming. Or flip through the raw mornings-after and cracked sidewalks to get to “A Romantic Gesture,” and feel like its your own heart you’re stepping over. You want to drink with the regulars at your favorite neighborhood bar? Drop a dollar for some Waylon and sit like saints on your chosen “barstool thrones,” admiring the liquor bottles that stand “like Gods under Christmas lights,” drinking down those gifts at the bottom of every glass. Sometimes you’re feeling introspective, and in that case you might shuffle over to “Luckenbach, Texas,” where your life matches your ripped jeans, busted heart, and a country song. Or turn to “The Poet Vs. The Artists,” where all you hope for is to “crawl off” with a free beer and a few lines to craft a poem alone. Feel like thrashing? Move to “Natural Disaster” and “Kick Out the Jams, Motherfucker.” After that, you will want nothing more than to sit on the back porch, humming the Blues. True rock ‘n roll comes through in the poem, “The Deal.” This poem rages against mediocrity and always walks away the cool guy without even trying, a cigarette pack rolled in its sleeve. “Skeletons” might as well be the collection’s theme song. It is everything portrayed in these poems, whether it be Cirillo’s broken bones and loves, self-deprecating wit, places and things he left behind, souvenirs and pirate treasure he collected along the way, bartenders who know his name, or subtle longing for someone to come home to—we all come out asking the question of ourselves: Didn’t you want it to be better?

The poems in Disposable Darlings are anything but disposable, but that’s not what Cirillo means. He is talking about moments. Moments he perpetually seeks that blink the word LOVE in neon lights. These moments are collected and captured for as long as the poem is written. They live by us coming back to the page, like playing our favorite songs.

—Julie Valin, author of Songs For Ghosts


Independent Book Review: Radio Water by Francine Witte

Radio Water
By Francine Witte
Genre: Literary Fiction / Short Stories
Reviewed by Nick Rees Gardner

Francine Witte evokes the sorrow of separation, the fear of alienation, and a
snippet of hope in this flash fiction collection.

All under 1000 words, most of the 44 stories in Francine Witte’s Radio Water have appeared separately before in literary journals and anthologies. Individually each story impresses its emotion on the reader, from the fear of a possible unplanned pregnancy to the denial of a partner’s abuse.

Witte’s collection builds on itself, drawing the reader into various worlds filled with physical and emotional danger and sometimes relief. Whether the reader only has two minutes to speed through a single story or a few hours to power through the entire book, they will walk away still reeling from Witte’s carefully chosen words.

Radio Water begins with four short gestures, all leaning toward the domestic.
“Fishsweat” deals with a mother fileting fish, “thwacking the heads off one by one
and tossing them in the bucket like they were somebody’s father, somebody’s
husband.” It’s a hint at missing husbands, at men who drift away from family.

But these very brief stories merge seamlessly into the more straightforward four-page
narrative of “Mimi Comes to the Door and No One Can Stop Her,” a story about
unwanted pregnancy and a woman who lays claim to a married man. While the under
one-page stories focus on an image or a moment and spiral out from there, “Mimi…”
takes a similar tact before merging seamlessly into the future tense, however dark and
rather hopeless that future may be.

While Witte’s stories often tackle similar subjects of unhappy relationships, second
families, abortions, abuse, and trauma, the collection is far from monochromatic as
each story is a unique case, specifically and artfully handled. Witte’s prose is tight and
lyrical, filled with fresh descriptions like a father’s “snoozy chest” or “The salt lip of
the surf.” Some stories are told in disparately-titled sections like “Then, Thenner,
Thennest,” or “How to Answer a Door” which is split up into sections titled “Slowly,”
“Quickly,” “Asking,” “Not Asking,” etcetera.

With fresh language and unique patterns and forms, Witte explores many aspects of
her characters’ fears and traumas, encompassing a wide range of experiences for the
reader to dive headlong into and come away with a deeper understanding.
Witte tackles the toughest of personal issues, and though, at times, the writing borders
on the bleak, the stories, with all their weight, also offer hope. The ten-line “Middle of
the Night” ends with “the cloud of my father in someone else’s sky.” And “This is a
Secret, So Shhhhh” comes to the conclusion: “we slip secret out the door and into the
world.” Escape, independence, and freedom hover over the page and beyond it. The
very act of writing, and then reading these stories hints at life beyond the trauma, an
externalization of the trouble within. All the tough subjects of life and love and family
are laid bare, treated with beautiful language and reformed into a heartfelt wish.

Radio Water isn’t a guide to healing trauma. It is an acceptance of that trauma, an
owning of fear and uncertainty, and a reminder that we are not alone.

Purchase a copy of Radio Water at  or wherever books are sold online.