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.

Will There Be Music? A New Book by GPG Poet Sharon Olson

Will There Be Music?
poems by Sharon Olson

In Sharon Olson’s book Will There Be Music? the poet employs a sharp eye to illuminate scenes from a fifties childhood, and during her journey seeks testimony from an array of disparate voices: a Swedish grandmother, a band of prostitutes, a waitress in a Fellini film. Her investigations into the lives of artists and writers, among them John Sloan, Emil Nolde, Sartre and Stendhal, unfold with lyric intensity, deepening and darkening her report from an America where “gun cases beckon,” an earth that “would never be scrubbed clean.”

Cincinnati, Ohio, Cherry Grove Collections, 2019

ISBN: 978-1625493026, 106 pages, $19.00
Order from Amazon, from Barnes and Noble, or from your local bookseller


The loose ends of lives and generations are expertly bundled in these alert, meditative poems. Part of a poet’s task is to catch the resonances of time and Sharon Olson has done that. —Baron Wormser

‘Will there be music?’ asks the poet in her title poem. This collection definitively answers that question: we cannot live without it. —Fred Marchant


Sharon Olson is a retired librarian, a Stanford graduate, with an M.L.S. from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Oregon. Her chapbook Clouds Brushed in Later (1987) won the Abby Niebauer Memorial Chapbook Award. A previous full-length book of poems, The Long Night of Flying, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. She has published (with co-author Chris Schopfer) numerous articles about the Sandford family of New Jersey in The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey. After retiring from the Palo Alto City Library she and her husband moved initially to Guilford, Connecticut, and presently live in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. She is a member of Cool Women, a poetry performance ensemble based in Princeton, New Jersey. See author’s blog at slopoet.blogspot.com.

A Celebration of the Poetry of Charlotte Currier

Presented by the Guilford Poets Guild, in collaboration with the Friends of the Library

The Guilford Poets Guild, in collaboration with the Friends of the Library, presents A Celebration of the Poetry of Charlotte Currier. This special Valentine’s Day Second Thursday poetry reading will be held on Thursday, February 14 at the Guilford Free Library, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Charlotte Currier was an early member of the Guilford Poets Guild and a long-time participant in organizing the poetry book sales for the Friends of the Library. She published three books of her work, Shadow and Light: A Retrospective (2008), Poem Box (1993) and Presences (1977), and her poems appeared in numerous publications including Poetry Magazine, Southern Humanities Review, and the Southern Review. Charlotte was a greatly admired teacher of poetry at Wesleyan University before her death two years ago. Students, friends, and associates are encouraged to come and read aloud a poem from her books of published poetry which we will have on display at this event.

Remember to bring your own poem to share during the Open Mic which is open to accomplished and aspiring poets of all ages wishing to present one original composition to a live audience.

The Guilford Free Library is located at 67 Park Street in Guilford. This program is free and open to all. Refreshments will be served. Please register by phone, in person, or online (203) 453-8282, guilfordfreelibrary.org.

Poetry at Florence Griswold: Jac Lahav

Poetry at Florence Griswold
Sunday, April 28 at 2 p.m.
Great Americans: Portraits by Jac Lahav

What do Benjamin Franklin, Oprah Winfrey, and Albert Einstein have in common? Each is represented in the exhibition The Great Americans: Portraits by Jac Lahav, on view at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut, February 9 through May 12, 2019. Organized by the artist and the Museum’s Curator Amy Kurtz Lansing, the 30+, larger-than-life works explore the ideas of who we consider “great” and the cultural underpinnings of our perceptions (whether fact or fiction). Lahav’s nearly seven-foot-tall images of famous figures are layered with references to history, lore, and imagery that have shaped our understanding of that person. Through his cheeky, psychologically complex treatment of iconic figures from politicians to celebrities, Lahav explores the nature of cultural identity, pushing us to contemplate the very notion of “greatness” among American historical figures and exploring the concept of fame itself. Lahav created several new works for his series to reflect the evolving canon of American heroes.

Poets from CT. River Poets, Guilford Poets Guild, and students from the Old Saybrook Creative Writing Class will be presenting the poems they’ve written in response to works in the Jac Lahav’s exhibition. Please join them on Sunday, April 28 at 2 p.m. at the Florence Griswold Museum. The program is included with admission to the museum. Light refreshments will be served. Please call the museum with questions: 860-434-5542.

New Haven Bioregional Group POTLUCK & POETRY

On Saturday, January 26, the New Haven Bioregional Group will host Guilford Poets Guild member Jen Payne for a poetry reading and book signing featuring her book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind. The event, held at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of New Haven (608 Whitney Avenue, New Haven), begins with a potluck supper at 6PM, followed by the reading at 7PM.

Come listen to a selection of poems that are, at their heart, love poems to the something greater within all of us. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Mary Oliver, they explore the human condition juxtaposed to the natural world and the possibility of divine connection.

CLICK HERE for more information.

20th Anniversary Anthology Cover Contest Winner Announced

The Guilford Poets Guild is pleased to announce photographer Carin Roaldset as the winner of our 20th Anniversary Anthology Cover Contest. Carin’s photo Footprint, pictured above, was a favorite among Anthology Committee members.

Many of you might know Carin from her work on such books as A Measure of Joy – Opening to the Energy of Reiki by Gay Stinnett, Letters from Cornfield Point by Sally Ann D’Aquila, and Here After by poet Mary Volk.

Carin belongs to the CT Valley Camera Club and the Essex Art Association. Her art has been displayed in a number of juried shows and she had several solo and group exhibits on the Shoreline. She lives in Old Saybrook with her husband Stein.

The GPG’s 20th Anniversary Anthology will be published later this year. Watch for details coming soon!

IMAGE: Footprint, ©2018, Carin Roaldset, Rocky Neck State Park, East Lyme, Connecticut, November 24, 2018.

Holiday Roundtable Poetry Reading: The Seasons – Fall Into Winter

Please join the Guilford Poets Guild for its annual Holiday Round Table Poetry Reading on Thursday, December 13. Members of the Guild will read poems around the theme of “The Seasons – Fall Into Winter.” The evening, presented by the Guild and the Guilford Free Library, will be held from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the library. It begins with an Open Mic from 6:30 – 7:00 p.m. Guests are asked to bring an unwrapped children’s book, new or gently used, to be donated to the Branford Community Dining Room.

The Guilford Poets Guild is a group of shoreline poets who meet regularly to share poems and promote appreciation of poetry in the community. Its current members are Carol Altieri, Evelyn Atreya, David Cundy, Gwen Gunn, Juliana Harris, Margaret Iacobellis, Karen Gronback Johnson, Norman Marshall, Nancy F. Meneely, Jane Muir, Patricia H. O’Brien, Sharon Olson, Jen Payne, Elizabeth Possidente, Jane Ulrich, Edward Walker, and Gordy Whiteman.

Remember to bring your own poem to share during the Open Mic which is open to accomplished and aspiring poets of all ages wishing to present one original composition to a live audience.

The Guilford Free Library is located at 67 Park Street in Guilford. This program is free and open to all. Refreshments will be served. Please register by phone, in person, or online (203) 453-8282, guilfordfreelibrary.org.