Gloria Mindock has lived, written, and created in Somerville, Mass for many years. Not only does she have the respect of the local and national poetry community but she has quite a following abroad. She edits the Istanbul Literary Review from her home in the Union Square section of our city, as well as running her Cervena Barva Press , an independent press that has published numerous titles from poets domestic and foreign. Mindock’s own work has resonated with the poetry community in Eastern Europe, and she has been published in a number of literary journal there, most notably in Rumania. Mindock is a substance abuse social worker, had her own theater company, and for a decade co- edited the Boston Literary Review. I spoke to her on my Somerville Community Access TV Show Poet to Poet : Writer to Writer.
Doug Holder: How and when did the Cervena Barva Press start?
Gloria Mindock: I started the Cervena Barva Press in 2005. I have an interest in Eastern European writing thus the name Cervena Barva, which in Czech means “red.”
We have published over 60 chapbooks and 31 full lengths. Our new focus will be on translations but we still will be involved with traditional publishing.
DH: Your work is very popular in Eastern Europe, and has appeared in prominent Romanian journals. What’s your ethnic background?
GM: I’m French, Italian, Polish and German. A real mutt. I think Eastern European folks are attracted to my poems for their emotion, and the risks they take. I write about death, a lot of dark imagery. I deal with atrocities–Eastern Europe has had their share of them.
DH: Tell me about this Eastern European Writing Conference you are planning.
GM: It is a very exciting project. It’s going to be a weekend long conference next year. I know a lot of writers in this part of the world so I know I can swing it. I will bring some over from Europe, and invite area writers like Andrey Gritsman as well. I am also interested in inviting Jim Kates of the Zephyr Press based in New Hampshire-they do a wonderful job with translations.
DH: Tell us about your latest collection The Whiteness of Bone.
GM: It is about the atrocities in El Salvador years back and it is about El Salvador today. It also deals with atrocities around the world.
DH: The writer’s life has been a labor of love for many of us. You pursued it-and probably sacrificed financial stability etc… Has it been worth it?
GM: Yes. Definitely. My partner Bill sacrificed a lot-we certainly don’t live a fancy lifestyle. I work as a social worker here in Somerville. I am glad I do what I do-my artistic pursuits. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Sure–I wish I made more money–who doesn’t? It would be easier. It is very expensive to live around here. But I couldn’t leave. I have made many friends over the years and through the Bagel Bards- a Somerville, Mass. based literary group.
DH: Tell us about the reading series you started at the Arts Armory here in Somerville.
GM: I started the First and Last Word Poetry Series with Harris Gardner. It meets once-a-month–every third Tuesday. Three poets read and there is an open mic. We have had great audiences and have hosted poets like Ben Mazer, Lloyd Schwartz, Richard Cambridge, X. J. Kennedy and many others. The cafe is great–and they recently got a beer and wine license–so come on down!
Oscar Romero, poem by Gloria Mindock
Sin has formed on their mouths, and they
We are silenced into a void.
Souls singled out for torture.
Oscar Romero created a Heaven.
Carried us in his arms of prayer.
In church, we drink Christ to free ourselves.
Decapitation was not a devotion to believe in.
The soldiers will burn in a red sky.
When Oscar gave his life to the Lord,
he made a bed of blood and bones, turned it
into a path of purity so white that only the people
of El Salvador can use it. Sometimes we flee
on horseback to get away from the visible.
Those soldiers are the ones in battle with themselves.
Like Lions, they roar, sooner or later,
they will be tamed.
This persecution will turn back on them.
We learned to deliver our ashes. We rise
up and bury ourselves in this white
church with a bullet to our bone.
Scorched from the hot sun, our sandals
fall apart. We carry ourselves like a surge, proud
and capable of waiting for our execution.
Oscar was married to the church.
Life was only his bride for awhile.
He is our altar we pray at diligently.
We pray our dreams are received as they
assassinate us kneeling in prayer.
Better to die this way than clinging
to the wrong light. The soldiers are like wild animals.
A bite that shows such commotion that we laugh.
***** From Arabesque-editions.