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Main Street Rag – Winter 2008/2009

I sit down to read and suddenly I have company. There are a few dozen people I’ve never met in my living room telling me how they do their work (interviews with Cathy Smith Bowers and Robert Boisvert); who they are; what they think; and entertaining me with stories. I even know where they are from (which is listed with their names at the top of the page). Their voices are casual, direct, unadorned. Some angry, some wistful, some yearning. It’s almost as if I can feel them tugging at my elbow for my attention.

I sit down to read and suddenly I have company. There are a few dozen people I’ve never met in my living room telling me how they do their work (interviews with Cathy Smith Bowers and Robert Boisvert); who they are; what they think; and entertaining me with stories. I even know where they are from (which is listed with their names at the top of the page). Their voices are casual, direct, unadorned. Some angry, some wistful, some yearning. It’s almost as if I can feel them tugging at my elbow for my attention.

Llyn Clague from Hastings-on-Hudson wants me to know, in fact, that the woman in her poem doesn’t care what I think: “I worried so much about what everybody thought, / father mother, sisters, co-workers, friends – the bigger the circle, the tighter the net got. / I was taking care of everybody / but myself.” Eric Greenwell from Carbondale, Illinois wants me to know he’s over our love affair (“I Don’t Like Spaghetti Anymore”). Lisa Latourette from Highlands, New Jersey feels pretty much the same way (“your hands in your pockets made my throat hurt”). Judy Longley of Charlottesville, Virginia is not so much angry, as yearning (“My Longing for You is Your Message to Me”). Chris Kursel of Boston, Massacusetts tells me, too, about loneliness: “One empty brown chair against the wall / at the end of the corridor / There are lights on in there. These are the lights / pointed at the flowers in their vases. / They are still, they amend winter.” John Grockhalski of Brooklyn is angry about life’s incongruities (“ave maria / being played in the atlantic avenue station, / amidst the assholes / coming home / from work / with their newspapers / and electronic / gadgets”).

There are other voices, too, longer stories – three pieces of fiction, but it would take too much time to repeat these tales here, though they are re-tellable in the same fashion as these poems.

I am glad that publisher and editor M. Scott Douglass is here with us because he brings some levity into the room with his musings on the world of writing and publishing in his regular feature “The Back Seat.” This is not to say that he is not deadly serious or sincere, but he is also sarcastic, rather than sentimental or just plain mad. He argues for print over cyberspace (hooray! I want to argue with him about some of his points, but I’m glad for the defense of the printed and bound), recommends an out-of-print find, extols the virtues of POD (print on demand), and complains about amazon.com’s “Kindle.” I like it that he knows I care about these things and that he’s sharing an insider’s perspective.
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