Book Review...THE MUSES AROUND US

Ghost Dreams: Poems by Trudy Stern

2013, 33 pages

Local Color Editions/Buffalo

 Local Color Editions designs and publishes artful broadsides that feature poems by the Buffalo literary community. Last March, a 33-page chapbook of 13 poems by Trudy Stern was introduced at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair.

A frequent contributor to poetry anthologies and a known reader at local events, her “Ghost Dreams” opens to a memoir of verse that paints a picture of family, friends, and the seasons of domestic life. A few classic mid-century childhood snapshots of the poet add a visual sense of the girl behind the words happily engaging with her world—playing cowgirl, walking on Elmwood, carrying a pink purse while pedaling a tricycle.

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Each of the 100 limited edition copies is signed and numbered by the author. I finally purchased a copy at a recent afternoon reading in Indigo Gallery during the Infringement Festival and asked a friend to read it aloud to me during one sitting. I heard the language of the poet filtered through the ghosts and dreams of memory, heart, and time as the details of loss and gain stand whole.

Western New York is rich with family, place, and history. Many weave their lives in and out of parental homes, rooted in the various neighborhoods that give our city character. Ms. Stern’s storied decades capture this tradition in reflections about growing up in North Buffalo. The influence of her expressive family comes alive in the fine points of celebratory gatherings in the pink kitchen, piano lessons, show business, and spaghetti picnics.  

The ghostly muse is everywhere–in the garden, the wind, and all the intersections of daily life. Featured in the book is “Karen Neuberger,” the first poem I ever heard her read a few years ago at Hallwalls. The humorous rant poses curious questions about an unknown woman whose name appears on the white satin label of cotton underwear once purchased at Marshall’s discount store.  

The book dedication reads “For MM, My True Love.” The author has collaborated with Michael Morgulis since the 1970s when she was known as Trudy Dreamer. The pair illustrated and published folios of broadsides for the inaugural Just Buffalo readings. Some of the early works were included last winter in the Albright Knox exhibition,“Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-garde in the 1970s.”

Hand-bound with red thread, the beautifully-crafted artist book was designed and printed on creamy textured paper by Morgulis in his Hertel Avenue shop. The cover features one of his colorful prints suggestive of a female figure. The pages are delightful. Don’t miss the hidden photo under the cover’s back flap, a shot of the poet and her collaborator taken in 1975.


August 2013


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