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Person of the Week: David Cundy

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Photo of David Cundy by Pam Johnson.

Article Published February 20, 2019
Carrying On the Craft and Community Contributions: Cundy Helps Guilford Poets Guild Celebrate 20 Years
Pam Johnson, Senior Staff Writer

Finding a way to both recognize 20 years of Guilford Poets Guild (GPG) and carry on the craft and cause of GPG’s founders is no small effort. Throughout 2019, GPG members will take on that weighty task, led by GPG President David Lawrence Cundy, aka Wild Cave Redundancy (more on that later).

“I’m very excited about the guild. This is our 20th anniversary year, so we’re going to be celebrating that in a number of ways,” says David. “It’s a year of celebration of what I believe is the guild’s service to our community.”

One of the ways GPG serves the community is through its free, public Second Thursday Poetry Series at Guilford Free Library (GFL). The open mic portion gives citizens the chance to share their poetry, while the second half of the evening brings in well-known poets to read their work.

GPG kicked off its 20th anniversary on Feb. 14 with the guild’s first event of the year: a special Second Thursday at GFL held in collaboration with Friends of the Library that honored the late Charlotte Currier, one of the early members of the guild.

“It was wonderful. We had really great attendance, and…the attendees included one of the founders of the guild, Maureen Corcoran,” says David.

David was also delighted that the night’s appreciation was led by two very early GPG members, Gwenn Gunn and Gordy Whiteman. Whiteman is past president of the guild.

GPG Second Thursday events run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at GFL, 67 Park Street. Spring events are set for March 14 (Rayon Lennon), April 11 (Margaret Gibson), May 9 (Guilford High School Poetry Contest Winners). Fall events are scheduled for Sept. 12 (Norman Thomas Marshall and Gemma Mathewson) and Oct. 10 (Elizabeth Possidente and David Cundy).

Ahead of GPG’s annual Second Thursday Holiday Roundtable set for Dec. 12, the series will present a special night of readings from the GPG’s 20th Anniversary Anthology at GFL on Thursday, Nov. 14. It will be a full-circle moment for many, says David.

“The GPG was founded by Maureen Corcoran and Katrina Van Tassel as well as a number of other people [in] 1999 to publish an anthology of the work of Guilford poets,” he says. “So that’s how the GPG actually began. And now, we’re finishing up our third anthology.”

While the Second Thursday Poetry Series is rolling out a full roster of events in 2019, “that’s only one aspect of our service,” David says. “Another area in which we serve the community, and for which I’m really proud of the guild, is for our high school poetry competition, which includes cash prizes.”

In another form of community service, on Sunday, March 3, GPG will be part of an interesting collaboration with Guilford Art Center (GAC), as part of GAC’s annual Faculty Exhibition in the center’s Mill Gallery. GAC’s Faculty Exhibition opened Feb. 1 and runs through Sunday, March 10 as a free public event (find more information at http://www.guilfordartcenter.org). The exhibit features varied works created by the center’s teaching artists. On March 3, from 2 to 4 p.m., GPG members will read poems inspired by art in the exhibit. Such art-inspired poems are known as ekphrastic poetry, David explains. The event is free, open to the public, and also encourages attendees to bring their own poem to share.

Another community contribution made by GPG members is sharing their original work through changing poems posted by GPG at Guilford Town Hall.

“And although everyone thinks, ‘Well, it’s just something you walk by,’ I’ve been told by at least one colleague that she was approached by one of our fellow residents here in Guilford and told how much the poem that she has up right now in Town Hall touched that person,” says David. “So we know that poetry touches people”

The Creative Life

An author, artist, and poet, David says his participation in GPG inspired his most recent book, Inappropriate Anagrams. Available at http://www.davidcundyauthor.com (or on the new author shelves at GFL), the book pairs David’s original, entertaining anagrammatic poems and collage portraits of 40 historical luminaries to expose their “secret alter egos,” as David quips.

“I’d written a biographical poem in a format which I realized was in iambic tetrameter, and I realized that it could be applied to anyone. And so then, when I was exploring one of my favorite artists, Agnes Martin…I decided that I would explore anagrams. And I found out that her anagrams included Magnets Rain and Saint Engram and Mantas Reign. And I said, ‘You know, I can work with this.’”

David’s anagrammatic poems and collage portraits are laid out side-by-side on the pages of the book. David’s portrait of Martin as Magnet Rains depicts her as a pair of piercing eyes set within her silhouette, as ink-etched horseshoe magnets rain past. His collage of Gertrude Stein plays with a famous photo of the artist taken by Man Ray to illustrate the anagram “Tiger Dentures.”

David, who was amused to find his own anagrammed name becomes Wild Cave Redundancy, has also creatively skewered/paid homage to the likes of Charles Darwin (Narwhals Cried), Cleopatra (Cat Parole), Sigmund Freud (Guru’s Mind Fed), and others. He coined the book’s literary art form “shenanagrams” and created a list of text-constraining rules by which these poems can be developed (he includes those rules in the book).

David has lived in New York and taught media at universities in that state, as well as being engaged as a cultural journalist covering some of America’s leading poets (he’s also reviewed books by Ursula Le Guin). He first came to the shoreline in 1978 and lived in Madison for a time, where he has family. David grew up in Iowa.

“My interest in poetry began when I was a child,” says David, who pored over volumes of the mid-century publication, Childcraft Poems of Early Childhood. David and his sister were introduced to the books by his mother, an elementary school teacher.

“We were reading all these wonderful poems,” says David. “Robert Frost’s ‘The Pasture’…and Carl Sandburg’s ‘Fog’ and nonsense poems like Edward Lear’s ‘The Jumblies.’”

A graphic artist, David has designed type at Linotype in New York as well as with the renowned type designer Matthew Carter in London, and has his own firm, Design Trust.

In 2016, David debuted his first children’s book, for which he is the author and illustrator, Animals Spell Love. The book emphasizes diversity, using illustrations of animals to spell the word “love” in 16 languages.

David says finding the perfect work studio for his writing and illustrating is one of the reasons he moved to Guilford in 2017. At the time, he was looking for an inspiring workspace to develop his second children’s book, Animals Spell Peace. Currently, it’s also where he’s working on his second book of anagrams and collage.

“I’ve got a wonderful atelier on the corner of the green in Guilford. I tell everyone that Guilford is utopia,” says David. “It’s utopia for many reasons. I think the main reason, although the Guilford Green is wonderful, is the people here. I’ve met so many wonderful people since moving into Guilford.”

David is one of several GPG presidents who had a fairly short tenure as a member of the group before taking on the presidency.

“I think the guild really does appreciate new blood, and we’re always looking for new voices and appreciate new voices,” he says, adding, “I am a peer among equals as president, and I am really honored to be serving both the guild and the Guilford community.”

For more information about the Guilford Poets Guild and upcoming events, visit http://www.guilfordpoetsguild.org.

Jen Payne our very own Person of the Week

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Jen Payne; photo by Christine Chiocchio

In case you missed it, Jen was featured in the October 25, 2017 Guilford Courier as Person of the Week. Pam Johnson’s introduction tells us:

No doubt about it, Jen Payne has a way with words. From her place among invitation-only Guilford Poets Guild to her newest book, Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, the shoreline author and artist brings together words and images to champion the natural world and remind us of what she terms “our divine and innate connection with nature.” The book also provides telling social commentary and photos showing “evidence,” warning of a growing disregard for nature’s gifts and for each other.

Here’s a link so you can read the entire article. Congratulations Jen!

GPG Member Jen Payne is Person of the Week

Jen Payne; photo by Christine Chiocchio

Guilford Poets Guild member Jen Payne is the current Shoreline Publishing Person of the Week. Her book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind will be featured at a book launch celebration on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 3 to 6 p.m., and then again at an artist talk/book reading on Oct. 15 from noon to 2 p.m., both events at the Martha Link Walsh Gallery, 188 North Main Street, Branford (and the events are free and open to the public). Her book is available online at www.3chairspublishing.com, at local booksellers, at the Martha Link Walsh Gallery, and at Rock Garden LLC in Branford; also online at Indiebound.org, Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Here is a link to the article in the newspaper.

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Guilford Poets Guild to Read at Scranton Library

Also see article in Shoreline Times April 27, 2017

scranton library reading

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Guilford High School Poetry Contest Winners to Read

Youth Poets 2017-001

Gray Jacobik on April 13

Gray 2017Poet Gray Jacobik will be featured at the Guilford Poets Guild’s April poetry reading. The reading will be held on Thursday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. (open mike from 6:30 to 7) at the Guilford Free Library, 67 Park Street, Guilford (203-453-8282).

Gray Jacobik received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in creative writing and an artist’s fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. Her poems have won the Yeats Prize, the Emily Dickinson Prize, and the Third Coast Poetry Prize, among others. Jacobik’s collection The Double Task was selected by James Tate for the Juniper Prize and nominated for the James Laughlin Award and the Poet’s Prize. The Surface of Last Scattering received the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, and Brave Disguises received the AWP Poetry Series Award.  She’s served as poet-in-residence at the Frost Place, taught literature at ECSU and mentored graduate students through the Stonecoast MFA Program (Univ. of Southern Maine). Jacobik is the author of Little Boy Blue: A Memoir in Verse (CavanKerry Press) and received the 2016 William Meredith Award in Poetry for The Banquet: New & Selected Poems, which was nominated for both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer. She is a painter as well as a poet. 

Refreshments will be served. See library flyer here.

A Poetry Reading with Sharon Olson

img_0232Poet Sharon Olson will be featured at the Guilford Poets Guild’s March poetry reading. The reading will be held on Thursday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. (open mike from 6:30 to 7) at the Guilford Free Library, 67 Park Street, Guilford (203-453-8282). Olson is a retired librarian, a graduate of Stanford, with an MLS from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Oregon. Her book The Long Night of Flying was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Off the Coast, String Poet, Arroyo Literary Review, The Curator, and others. Two of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

While living in Guilford, Olson helped direct the publication of the Guilford Poets Guild’s Tenth Anniversary Anthology. She currently lives in Lawrenceville, New Jersey where she is a member of the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative, and since 2015 has been part of the Cool Women Poets critique and performance group.

Refreshments will be served.