Once a month for about twenty years, the Greek-American Writers Association has been meeting at the Cornelia Street Cafe. This month’s reading–held last Saturday, May 21–happened to fall on host Dean Kostos’ birthday so we were in for a special treat. Normally, Dean doesn’t read his own poetry but to mark the occasion he read in addition to guests Vasiliki Katsarou, Sharon Olinka, and Angelo Verga.
New Jersey poet Vasiliki Katsarou was nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize. She curates the Panoply Books Reading Series, a monthly poetry event in Lambertville, NJ. She co-edited, along with Ellen Foos and Ruth O’Toole, Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems (Ragged Sky Press). She studied comparative literature at Harvard. She received her MFA in filmmaking at Boston University and studied philosophy and film at the Sorbonne so it’s no surprise that on Saturday night she said, “For me, film is a rich source of material for poetry.” She went on to read a selection of poems about film.
Sharon Olinka is a New York City poet and literary critic. Her first book of poems was A Face Not My Own (West End Press) and her most recent book is The Good City (Marsh Hawk Press). Her poetry has also appeared in Colorado Review, Long Shot, and Luna, among other publications. Sharon read on Saturday about “angry punishing writers of ever hue” and “those writers with voices like whips.”
Bronx poet Angelo Verga won a Bronx Council on the Arts BRIO award. He curates poetry and performance at Cornelia Street Cafe. He penned several collections of poems: cross The Street From Lincoln Hospital (New School), The Six O’clock News (Wind Publications), and A Hurricane Is (Jane Street Press). His poetry has also appeared in The Village Voice, Mudfish, The Massachusetts Literary Review, among other journals. He graduated from Iona College. Like Charles Bukowski, Verga worked for the US Postal Service. Since May 21 was supposed to be Judgment Day, according to one sect, Verga joked on Saturday, “I wanted to read an end of the world poem” before launching into a section from A Hurricane Is.
Dean Kostos is Pushcart Prize nominee and a recipient of a Yaddo fellowship. He wrote Last Supper of the Senses (Spuyten Duyvil), The Sentence That Ends with a Comma (Painted Leaf Press), and Celestial Rust (Red Dust Books). He is also the editor of the seminal anthology Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry and co-edited the anthology Mama’s Boy: Gay Men Write About Their Mothers. His work has also appeared in Barrow Street, The Dos Passos Review, Rattapallax, Red Rock Review, Southwest Review, Vanitas, and on Oprah Winfrey’s Web site Oxygen.com. Normally stoic, Dean gave a heartrending reading that testified to the power of poetry.
The next Greek-American Writers Association event will take place on Saturday, June 18, at 6pm, at Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia Street; NYC). Hosted by Dean Kostos; featured poets include Kosta Anagnopoulos, Catherine Fletcher, Elizabeth Haukaas, & George Wallace. Admission is $7.