Names of Newtown

Names of Newtown


“Don’t mourn; organize.”

— Joe Hill


Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel and Josephine Gay –

Names that beat like raindrops on the city cold and gray –


Ana Marquez-Greene in pigtails, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu:

The bitter day you died, I promised: I am now your mother, too.


Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, this I know:

Season after season says it. In the melting of the snow,


In the turning leaves of autumn, in the burning grains of sand,

In each morning shaft of sunlight – James Mattioli, take my hand –


I am with you, Grace McDonnell; Noah Pozner, here am I;

Jessica Rekos and Avielle Richman, cowgirls riding to the sky;


Emilie Parker and oh, Jack Pinto, at last we hear the morning bell

And we must turn our tears to action; there are many truths to tell.


Caroline Previdi, six years old:  By your sacred name I swear

Not to quit the job we face – a broken country to repair.


Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt, now the task in earnest starts:

May God guide us as we work to fix our nation, mend our hearts.


© Genie Abrams, 2013


Get Your Read-Hot Poetry Here!

All are invited to experience “Epiphanous Poetry in a Victorian Solarium.” The readings will be presented by the Hudson River Poets at 2 p.m on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 297 Grand St. in Newburgh.

Many of the Hudson River Poets are published, performing, and award-winning writers. Ages range from 13-80; educational attainment, from high school to Ph.D. On Jan. 6, the poets will be sharing their original poetry of awakening, in conjunction with the twelfth day of Christmas – the Epiphany. This will be the first public community presentation by the Hudson River Poets in many years.

Admission at the door is $5, which will support HRP’s participation in Newburgh Illuminated, a festival slated for June 2013. There, the poets will present a literary and visual-art exhibit at the Newburgh Free Library. Some of the Hudson River Poets, such as Clay Buchanan, Eve Hinderer and Rosolinda McGovern, are also visual artists. Other well-known poets in the group include Lou O’Neil, Mona Toscano, Sharon Butler, John Fitzpatrick and Jamaican Raga poet Ras Negus.

For more information on the Jan. 6 poetry reading or the Hudson River Poets, contact Laura Lamica at 568-7334 or

Field Trip: Let’s Check Out Hide’s Goddard College Exhibit

In the 1920s, Tokyo High School student Hide Oshiro was moved by a haiku in which 17th-century poet Matsuo Basho described coming across the subtle beauty of a wildflower during a walk in the mountains.

“I wanted to make this kind of haiku once in my life,” 101-year-old Oshiro told Kyodo News in a recent interview.

“Nothing else; just one haiku.”

Hide Oshiro, the 101-year-old poet laureate of Newburghwho has written one haiku every morning of his life since then, in November donated his life’s work, totaling several volumes of poetry and about 750 other pieces of art, to Goddard College in Plainfield,Vermont. On Wednesday, the college held an opening reception for the exhibit, at which Oshiro regaled attendees with stories of his life and his wishes for young artists and writers.

The works he donated represent different phases of his artistic development, covering his entire career. They include paintings, drawings, calligraphy work, prints, handmade books, poems, haiku, stories, sketches and scrolls.

In presenting the work to the college on Nov. 3, “He said that the product is only important in how it uncovers for the viewer the process,” Goddard President Barbara Vacarr told Kyodo News, Japan’s largest news agency. “Most artists focus on the product of their work. What (Oshiro) talked about was the process, or development, of the work.”

Born in 1910 in what was then the U.S. territory of Hawaii to Japanese parents who had come to work in the pineapple plantations, Oshiro was sent to Japan at the age of 3 to live with his grandparents and receive a Japanese education. Oshiro learned etching, woodcuts, gold carving, sculpture and brushwork in high school and at SophiaUniversity.

Having spent his formative years in a country of diverse religions, he was exposed to Japanese Shinto, Chinese Confucianism, Indian Buddhism and Western Christianity. His knowledge of such varied religions and philosophies profoundly influenced the convergence of East and West found in his creative process.

He returned toHawaiiin the 1930s, where he taught Japanese at a school on Oahu.

He still clearly recalls the Sunday morning in December 1941 when a group of students came running to him saying, “JapanattackedHawaii!”

At first, he told Kyodo News, he did not believe it and told the children, “No, it’s only war games,” but soon realized that the bombs falling and fires erupting on the school fields were real.

“I couldn’t think about anything, only darkness and doom,” he said, adding that the 2001 film “Pearl Harbor,” with all of its Hollywood“imagination,” did not come close to the horror of the actual event.

Along with other Americans of Japanese descent at that time, Oshiro spent three months in an internment camp. Despite that, he joined and worked for six years as an army translator. He then left to pursue art at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere inParis. Eventually he settled inNew York City, inspired by the vitality of the bustling metropolis. He studied at theBrooklynMuseumArtSchooland set up his own studio inGreenwich Village.

InNew York, Oshiro met his French wife, Catherine Bullier; they married in 1969 and settled inNewburgh, he said, because of its vital arts community. While Oshiro never formally exhibited his art, his wife collected his work all along the way.

In the sixty years of work represented by the 45 pieces now on display at Goddard, one can witness the vast reaches of the mind of this artist, writer and philosopher.

When asked to comment about his work, Oshiro was quoted in the Kyodo News as replying, “Our minds can conceive any form, from a galaxy to an atom, from the blue sky to a minnow.” In his work we are able to share with him his vision of the magnificence of this universe.

“It really strikes me how much of the process was preserved,” Goddard Library Assistant Dustin Byerly told Kyodo News. “I think we owe that to his wife — her handwriting is on everything.”

Oshiro’s lifelong dream has been that his work be housed in an educational institution so that future generations of students could learn from it. Carol Curri of Newburgh, an artist and Goddard College graduate, organized the donation to her alma mater.

Oshiro’s work is far from finished. He continues to write a haiku every morning and to inspire other poets, such as the members of the Hudson River Poets, who meet monthly at the Newburgh Free Library, a few blocks from his Grand Streetapartment.

The cheerful artist hopes that his donation will encourage students to explore the totality of life and fully express their experience through art.

“It’s not art, it’s just an expression of yourself,” he told the news agency. “The mind is fantastic; it doesn’t want to be oppressed. Let it be free.”

To Jesus on His Birthday

Funny for a Jewish kid to say, but the commercialization of the holiday season makes me want to run to the nearest shopping mall, commandeer the audio system, silence “Jingle Bell Rock” and instead broadcast Edna St. Vincent Millay’s great sonnet, “To Jesus on His Birthday.” (Dare me? Dare me?) It goes:

For this your mother sweated in the cold,
For this you bled upon the bitter tree:
A yard of tinsel ribbon bought and sold;
A paper wreath; a day at home for me.
The merry bells ring out, the people kneel;
Up goes the man of God before the crowd;
With voice of honey and with eyes of steel
He drones your humble gospel to the proud.
Nobody listens. Less than the wind that blows
Are all your words to us you died to save.
O Prince of Peace! O Sharon’s dewy Rose!
How mute you lie within your vaulted grave.
The stone the angel rolled away with tears
Is back upon your mouth these thousand years.