Paul Hecht’s Happy Birthdays

March 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Tonight in the underground, Paul Hecht, Anglo-Canadian stalwart of stage, screen and old-media airwaves, brings us the latest in his series of commemorative birthday celebrations for lovingly deceased authors. This evening’s show celebrates the life of yiddish author Sholem Aleichem, who lived and wrote in turn-of-the-century Eastern Europe, and from whose stories the musical Fiddler on the Roof is derived. Hecht, a longtime friend of Robin’s since post-war English JCC, began his series over four years ago with a reading and early music performances in honor of John Donne and has celebrated the lives of the writerly dead over a dozen times on the Cornelia stage. He has already begun preparation for April 26th’s celebration in honor of William Shakespeare.

Hecht is joined tonight by Isaiah Sheffer, co-founder and artistic director of Symphony Space, also a longtime devotee of Yiddish music and culture. Also appearing will be voice actor George Guidall, pianist Art Bailey, violinist Tanya Kalmanovich, and actress Bel Kaufman.


Adieu, SpeakEasy

March 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Photo courtesy of Julie Staub; taken in our own basement.

On Tuesday night, SpeakEasy, one of Cornelia’s most beloved spoken word series, came to an end after five years. The series’ creator and helmsman, Sherry Weaver, was reached for reflection on the occassion. Unsurprisingly, she was not at a loss.

Weaver’s life on stage began as a storyteller with the now-acclaimed multimedia series The Moth. “Nine years ago I was sitting in the audience, and the executive director then [who was a friend] asked me if I had a story to tell. The theme was sex and money, and I had never been employed, so she thought it would be fun for me to try it. So I told stories with prostitutes and dominatrices and how I met the man I that I live with for now 17 years, and how he was a feminist and wanted me to get a job and our ongoing battle, and how I won.” Weaver’s tales were a hit and she became a regular on the Moth stage. Then, after a two year hiatus, she returned to find it was a scene different from the one she’d left. “When I came back to the Moth, they had changed directors and changed directions. They were going for corporate sponsors and famous people. In truth, The Moth really started the storytelling scene, and they started with nuns and firemen…regular people.  I saw then that there was this huge gap emerging. So I started SpeakEasy.”

Weaver began with five shows at Park Slope’s now-defunct Spoken Words before crossing paths with our magnet, Robin. She did a night at Cornelia’s old sister venue on 5th and President, Night and Day. As the night grew, Weaver moved her sights to Manhattan. “I went over to Cornelia Street one day and as soon as I saw the downstairs space I thought, I have to have a show here.” At first Robin demurred; they were booked up for the month, he insisted. “I don’t hear no,” says Weaver, “only ‘maybe, ask again soon. I don’t say no, either; that’s why I’ve told 700 stories on stage”.

Sure enough, longtime regular David Amram ended up canceling that month, and a spot emerged. “It’s Rosh Hashannah,” Robin insisted. “You’ll get no one.” Weaver, determined, tapped her vast network for support for SpeakEasy’s new venue, and, on October 4th, served apples and honey to a full house Downstairs. When Amram canceled again the following month and Weaver once again filled the space, she was given the permanent spot she came to hold for over five years, up until last night’s finale performance. “I call Robin and Angelo the guardian angels of SpeakEasy because they made everything so easy. And it’s wonderful. In New York, where it’s so hard to do everything–it’s not hard there.”

“I have no vision of my future,” Weaver said of her plans after SpeakEasy. “I’m very happy. I don’t need a project, I don’t need to do anything. I just want to enjoy myself.” She added, with some whimsy, “I hope nothing interesting ever happens to me, so that I will have no need to tell a story.”

Poetry & Spoken Word Outlook: Bob Quatrone, 5 Spices and Jon Curley.

February 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

[All performances begin at 6pm unless otherwise noted]

Tuesday, February 16th: Pitchers, Catchers and Hitters, featuring Pete Kearney, Frank Messina and Greg Prince. On this first day of spring training, we celebrate baseball, and for good measure we also celebrate boxing. Playboy calls Frank Messina “One of the most widely recognized young poets in America.” He’s also a die-hard Mets fan who authored four books including the critically acclaimed Full Count: The Book of Mets Poetry (Lyons Press).

Greg Prince is the co-author, along with Jason Fry, of the very popular blog, Faith and Fear in Flushing, which was recently featured in the January 27th Village Voice cover story as one of “Gotham’s Best” blogs. He’s also the author of the book, Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets (Skyhorse Press). Greg will be reading from his book as well as sharing insights into what’s in store for the Mets in 2010.

Pete Kearney has boxed for the Floral Park Boy’s Club, the U.S. Navy -McMurdo Sound Antarctica- the New York Daily News Golden Gloves and the Echo Park Boxing Club of West Hempstead. His writing addresses a lifelong interest in getting punched in the face.”

Also on Tuesday at 8:30pm, Sherry Weaver’s Speakeasy: Stories from the Back Room, featuring Greg Walloch, Martin Dockery, Leslie Goshko, Gabrielle Selz, William Mullin and John Flynn.

Wednesday, February 17th it’s the George Wallace Poetry Explosion, an open mic event this week featuring poet Clarity.

Friday, February 19th is the latest installment of the legendary Son of Pony open mic series, hosted by Kat Georges. This week we welcome Bob Quatrone, who has written poetry since the late 1960s at Columbia, where his Master’s study on the creative process in Yeats earned him a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. His poetry has been published in the Aquarian, Passaic Review, Lips and the literary ezine, The 4 Horsemen, where he is editor-in-chief. You can peep the Facebook invite here.

Saturday, February 20th, the Greek-American Writers Association convenes.

Sunday, February 21st, four writers arrive from 5 Spice Press. Lois Adams spent part of her early childhood in the Middle East, in Beirut and in Saudi Arabia, and part of her adolescence in South Korea. She has lived since then in and around New York City, where she works as an editor in the field of children’s book publishing. She is the author of the chapbook Body and Soul, published by 5 Spice Press, and is one of the coauthors of To Genesis, a collection of poems also by 5 Spice Press. Patricia Markert was born and grew up in Syracuse, New York. While she was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, she edited Me Too, a literary magazine, with Mary Swanson. Since moving to New York City, she has worked in the publishing industry and is now a librarian. Constance Norgren is the author of the chapbook Same Boat and co-author (with Lois Adams, Barbara Elovic and Patricia Markert) of To Genesis, both from 5 Spice Press. She has poems published in West Branch, Common Ground Review and Yankee – as well as in other journals. She has been a teacher of young children for over thirty years and lives with her family in Brooklyn. Pui Ying Wong is a native of Hong Kong and is bilingual in English and Chinese. She is the author of two chapbooks: Mementos (Finishing Line Press, 2007), Sonnet for a New Country (Pudding House Press, 2008). Her poems have appeared in The Asian Pacific American Journal, Blue Fifth Review, DMQ Review, 5 AM, New York Quarterly, Poetz. An interview with her at Southern Bookman can be seen here.

Monday, February 21st, readings by…Jon Curley, a poet from the Garden State. His new book is New Shadows (Dos Madres Press), and he is originally from New England. Despite all the Newness, he is an Old Soul. Poet Fanny Howe describes his work as having “an aura of homesickness, both Gnostic and New Englandy.” How(e) right she is. Burt Kimmelman has published six collections of poetry and for over a decade was Senior Editor of Poetry New York: A Journal of Poetry and Translation. He is a professor of English at New Jersey Institute of Technology and the author of two book-length literary studies. Michael Heller’s latest volume is Eschaton, published by Talisman House Press. Uncertain Poetries: Essays on Poets, Poetry and Poetics appeared in 2005. He is an award-winning author of many books of poetry and criticism.

See you next week!

Weekly Poetry & Spoken Word Outlook

January 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

[All performance times are at 6pm unless otherwise noted]

Monday, February 1st, Tulis McCall hosts Monologues & Madness. Actors, time limits, laughter, tears, and our floorboards are used to perfection. No slamming, no judges, just great material, excellent actors and YOU. Come See These Amazing Daredevils Perform Without a Net!!!

Tuesday, February 2nd, at 8:30pm, Sherry Weaver hosts Speakeasy: Stories From the Backroom. No scripts. No crib notes. No rehearsals. SpeakEasy has a dynamic and constantly changing cast of storytellers that include such greats as Mike Daisey, Jonathan Ames, and Reno, along with homemakers, lawyers, dog walkers, street magicians and writers.

Wednesday, February 3rd, Mira Ptacin hosts Free Range Readings, featuring Meera Nair, Janice Erlbaum, and Kyle Minor. Janice Erlbaum is the author of HAVE YOU FOUND HER: A Memoir (Villard, Feb. ‘08), and GIRLBOMB: A Halfway Homeless Memoir (Villard, March ‘06). Kyle Minor is the author of In the Devil’s Territory, a collection of short fiction, and co-editor of The Other Chekhov. Meera Nair grew up in India and came to the United States in 1997. She is the author of VIDEO: Stories, and a forthcoming novel from Pantheon, tentatively titled HARVEST.

Thursday, February 4th, it’s our monthly Artists’ Salon. Food’s on us, drinks on you, joke’s on everybody. Come rub elbows with new faces.

Friday, February 5th, Kat Georges hosts Son of Pony. Arrive early to sign up for the open mic. Featured readers: Kahlil Almustafa & Eli McCarthy PLUS NYC’s Best Open POETRY Mike.

See you next week!

This Week’s Poetry & Spoken Word: NY Storytelling Exchange, Emotional Rescue & The Greek-American Writer’s Association…

January 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

Another week, another round of scheduled verbiage. Our latest offerings:

Tonight, Monday January 11th at 6:00PM: POETS. Hosted by our own Poet Laureate, Angelo Verga. Featuring Kate Greenstreet; Suzanne Heyd; Jack Lynch. Kate Greenstreet‘s second book, The Last 4 Things, is new from Ahsahta Press. Her first book, case sensitive, was published by Ahsahta in 2006. Her most recent chapbook is This is why I hurt you (Lame House Press). Find her poems in current or forthcoming issues of jubilat, VOLT, the Denver Quarterly, Court Green, Fence, and other journals. Suzanne Heyd is the author of Fascicles (Finishing Line, 2009) and Crawl Space (Phylum 2007). Recent poems appear in Ploughshares, Interim, Agni, and elsewhere. She received a 2009 Artist’s Fellowship from State of Connecticut. Jack Lynch received a BFA in Music Theater from the New School and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter College. His work has appeared in Ology, POZ Magazine, The Paterson Literary Review, The Bellevue Literary Review, and Diva Complex: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them.

On Tuesday, January 12th at 6:00pm we have the New York Storytelling Exchange, hosted by Barbara Aliprantis. Ring in the New Year with a gathering of gifted tellers who will prove once again that “serendipity reigns.” Format is 5-6 minute open mic followed by our featured tellers: JUDITH HEINEMAN, founder/producer of the annual Mohegan Colony Storytelling and Music Festival in Westchester County, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Saturday August 14th. JOY KELLY, actress, director, musician and storyteller, performs throughout the country in theatres, cabarets, museums and libraries. STEPHANIE PARELLO, a born storyteller, weaves an eclectic tapestry of stories and anecdotes from here and there and everywhere! Cover’s $7 and includes one house drink.

On Wednesday, January 13th at 6:00pm, more POETS, once again hosted by Angelo, featuring Estha Weiner (Transfiguration Begins at Home), Martin Walls (The Solvay Process), and Karen Swenson (A Pilgrim into Silence). Three diverse and powerful poets, the first offerings from one of the newest publishing houses on the literary scene.

Then on Thursday, January 14th at 6:00pm it’s EMOTIONAL RESCUE hosted by Jane Ormerod. Lust! Anger! Confusion! Four poets and performance artists face their audience in this interactive reading. The audience names an emotion, the performers react. Bliss, obsession or melancholy? You decide! With Jai Chakrabarti, Kat Georges, Jennifer L. Knox, and Richard Loranger

Donc Saturday, January 15th we are graced by the Dean Kostos and the GREEK-AMERICAN WRITERS ASSOCIATION, which celebrates its 20th anniversary! Readers appearing: Lili Bita, Dean Kostos, Stephanos Papadopoulos, Hilary Sideris, Marina Stenos & Robert Zaller. Cover of $7 includes one house drink.

A plus!

Rosh Hashanah / 21st Schizoid Music Presents Cheah + Chan

December 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Monday December 28th at 6:00pm In anticipation of the New Year, Robin Hirsch, our Minister of Culture performs ROSH HASHANAH from his much lauded seven-part performance cycle, MOSAIC: FRAGMENTS OF A JEWISH LIFE. Noted in the Village Voice as no less than “Completely glorious”; lauded by the Bennington Banner as “A reminder that the most radical departure of all is the risk taken by a single performer, wrapped in the language of his solitary soul.” No better moment to see our own spoken word maestro in action.


Might you have noticed this eye-catching (and rather large) photo from last week’s Time Out New York?


TONY knows a good show when they see it. Still reeling from their 2009 Bastille Day French recital on this stage, we’ve invited Baritone/male soprano Phillip Cheah and pianist Trudy Chan back to the Schizoid Series at the Cornelia Street Cafe on Monday, December 28, 2009 at 8:30 PM for a schizoid exploration of yet another country with great musical traditions… merry old England, since, afterall, ’tis the season of Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, etc. But don’t expect much British caroling. Instead keep your ears open for a program spanning art songs, piano solos and 4-hand pieces by the likes of Benjamin Britten, Roger Quilter, Howard Skempton, Noel Coward, Gilbert & Sullivan, and much much more…. Cover’s $10

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