Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Stockbridge Redux


In the age of Zoom, some things seem more possible. For example, Steiny (a.k.a. Karren Alenier) was invited to give a second reading for the Stockbridge Library. The recording had failed to render for the first reading, but the producers of this series that gives laser focus to the poet with a generous introduction, a 30-minute reading, and a Q&A, thought enough of her reading to want to capture what had been missed.


John Gillespie said it would just be Wendy Pearson, himself and Karren Alenier. However, Karren asked if it would be ok to invite a few people and so she did. The advantage of having some outside people in the audience was that Karren had audience reaction as she read and the Q&A became more intense. Barbara Goldberg asked about poems that depict family members and likened them to a cannibalistic action—“You eat them up.” (them being family members.) Karren said poems help her process things on her mind and said, “it’s not like they are revenge poems, but yes, it does lend to chewing on the actions of the family.”


The reading includes 10 poems and can be seen at:


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Tips for a Successful Reading: Stockbridge Library Reading

 On April 28, 2021, Stockbridge Library featured Karren Alenier in a solo program that included interview, 30-minute reading and a Q&A.



The interview included questions about current themes—she said she was writing about breakables, everything from a plaster ceiling falling to the mental health of Marilyn Monroe; the influence of the pandemic on your themes—love and loss were already themes Karren had been writing about but it made her stop and think about her great grandfather who died during the 1918 pandemic; and poetic process—she described writing right out of sleep into her daily journal the poetic letters to her great grandfather, which are published in her new book how we hold on.


Poets rarely get 30 minutes to read. The assumption is that the audience better tolerates half that time. So longer readings need to be carefully planned and practiced. Karren’s rules for a successful reading includes picking a poem to start that is fairly short and memorable either for its sonority or levity. “the funny guy and his origins” has a fair amount of rhyme and dark humor. Introducing the poems helps orient the listener to the reader’s voice and gives breathing space around the poems. Karren read ten poems, making sure to include only one long poem and that opening and closing poems were on the short side. Pacing is also important. Rushing through poems shows nervousness and hints that the reader might not have practiced enough or that the poet chose too many poems for the allotted amount of time.


After the reading, it’s helpful to find out from attending friends if they thought the reading was rushed or whether it dragged. Additionally, it’s good to know what poems stood out in the listener’s memory. That can help with planning the next reading.


Many questions were asked after Karren finished the reading. The one that stands out is how does the poet decide to use a form. Karren read a villanelle entitled “all America girl,” which deals with a cousin who was dying and who told her son she didn’t want to be buried or cremated. Karren said she picks a form when the subject is hard to handle and can benefit from some limitations. In the villanelle, there are a set number of stanzas and a fixed pattern of repetition and rhyme. The form concentrates how many details can be told.


Part of the success of any reading is the audience. Karren managed to attract over 20 people to this afternoon reading done in the Eastern time zone. She was thrilled to have three European-based friends attend. They came from Paris, Berlin and Athens. Moreover, the hosts for this reading John Gillespie and Wendy Pearson were located in Massachusettes, while Karren was located in the Washington, DC area. Other friends and colleagues attending were hearing this program from their locations in New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Florida, Texas and Karren’s tri-state area known as the DMV. Of course this was a virtual reading done on Zoom. While it was disappointing that the recording of this event failed to render properly, the good news is that Karren has a 30-minute reading at the ready should another opportunity like this arise.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Telephone Project Debuts: Pass It Along!



Remember the game Telephone where you whispered something to the person next to you and that person whispered the “same” thing on down the line to see what came out after a long line of people passed it along?


A group of artists headed by poet Nathan Langston got together at the beginning of the Covid pandemic in 2020 to plan a massive artistic game involving 900 artists from 72 countries. The game shows all the connections which began with a short quotation about banyan trees.


The Steiny Road Poet a.k.a. Karren Alenier was sent a painting by Jackie Avery. Avery’s painting inspired Alenier to write “letting the backdoor slam.” In this poem, Alenier talks to her maternal grandmother about school, learning, failed dreams, fear of a nuclear attack as well as how public schools began as an aid to groom factory workers. The poem is published on the Telephone website  and in her new book how we hold on.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Yes! Author Has Copies of New Book



Karren Alenier is ready to sign a copy of how we hold on for you! She got her box of books.

She will give you the best discount, go to her new website and contact her.

 In the world of poetry, it is the poet who has to sell her own books. The author gets very few complimentary copies . Those copies have to go to the people who blurbed the book, provided artwork and might review the book. So buying the book from the author helps keep poetry alive.



Friday, March 26, 2021

Karren Alenier’s Website Is Up!


As of March 25, 2021, the Steiny Road Poet’s (a.k.a. Karren Alenier) website——is up and functioning with email.


The email was the last sticking point, but the website itself had only gone online the day before.


I know I’m going to be asked… If you are thinking of bringing up a personal website, know what you are going to use it for before you launch into building one. For me, it serves a dual purpose—news about my book publications and news about What Price Paradise, the opera I am working on with composer Janet Peachey and Encompass New Opera Theatre Director/Dramaturg Nancy Rhodes.


So on this website, you can also find out how to purchase my poetry and opera books, what events I am doing, and how to contact me.


The bonus is that each month, I will be featuring a guess artist. The inaugural artist is someone very special to me—Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica. Ms. Goodison read my work and gave me a blurb for my book. She has a new book coming out this year.


And yes, building a website, even in WIX, is challenging. I built mine from scratch in two weeks’ time with certain elements plucked from the WIX library of resources. I hear if you use a ready-made template, you can bring up a website lickety split. One other word of advice, the principles of design need to be learned and appreciated. That’s why hiring a website design artist might be a good idea. Final word, my website isn’t perfect but at least, I can improve it as I move along.