“On the Verge” Codhill Press Poets Read Selections from Personal Collections

Steve Clorfeine reading his poetry.

On Tuesday, April 10, poets of the Codhill Press gathered together to share their underlying daring and casual thoughts, relating to the theme “On the Verge.”

The event started with David Appelbaum, founder of the Codhill Press, who introduced each poet: Dennis Doherty, Bob Waugh, Larry Carr, Jan Schmidt, Steve Clorfeine, then Appelbaum himself.

“Codhill Press is one of the largest independent presses in the Hudson Valley, with over 200 books in print: poetry, fiction and books on a variety of spiritual journeys,” said Larry Carr, SUNY New Paltz professor of English and Codhill Press poet. “The Codhill poets at the Dorsky is a time when many poets published by Codhill can come together and share their work with the public.” 

Codhill Press was founded in 1998, which made this event special, given that 20 years have since passed. April has also been designated as National Poetry Month, so it was only right that this event be held in honor and celebration of both these remembrances.

These friendly coworkers and acquaintances were determined to dive off the deep end into a vast sea of their diverse writing to impact the engaged minds.

Appelbaum further expressed the importance of this press, in stating: “Codhill specializes in collections of individual poets, but as a sideline we have a number of different and vary ample anthologies that give this voice of the Mid-Hudson region an even louder volume. The six of us here tonight give a good cross-section of what this voice sounds like.”

Dennis Doherty, Professor of English at SUNY New Paltz, began his reading by sharing his perspective as to what the night’s theme, “On the Verge,” indicated: the idea of beginning and leaving through seasons.

“Poetry is an art-form as complex as any other. It rends music from and with words. Poetry and music are for me the most powerful aesthetic experiences,” Doherty said. “Steep yourself in the reading of [poetry]. Study poems that strike you or that you love, to see technically how the magic is made. Love language.”

Bob Waugh, Emeritus professor of English at SUNY New Paltz, incorporated both humor and meaning into his poems and transitions. Waugh also contributed to the nature element found within several poems, in his brief mentions of islands, skies, seasons, horse, and the sun.

“Poetry means the life and the truth,” Waugh said.

Larry Carr decided to produce an entrance that demanded proper attention with his poem “Training through America,” during which he listed several different national cities and discussed the dangerous habits of Americans, including the use of guns.

Carr shared that his first book of poems, “The Wytheport Tales,” was published through the Codhill Press, and he has worked as a poet of this publishing press ever since. Carr would advise aspiring poets to “keep writing and exploring your voice,” as well as to “read as wide a variety of work as you can.”

Jan Schmidt, professor of English at SUNY New Paltz, interpreted “on the verge” to be about discovery, an idea that is present in her poems about her parents and women.

Schmidt appreciates this particular publishing press for publishing her father’s poetry. She dedicated her first poem shared at this event to her father, which reflects on her life as a young girl and her relationship with him. She also strives to write many of her poems from the silenced perspectives of women in order to bring volume to their voices. 

“It feels wonderful to celebrate poetry and to be reading with my wonderful colleagues,” Schmidt said.

Steve Clorfeine, Codhill Press poet, researched the definition of “verge,” and in his doing so found an “incredible range of meanings” of the word, from borders and boundaries to his remarked most-familiar meaning “on the brink of.”

Clorfeine read his pieces with a soothing voice that changed tone with his words and focus. He not only emphasized his word choice, but on the emotion deeply found within his boundary-breaking written pieces.

David Appelbaum closed this event with his repeated thanks to the Dorsky Museum in their allowing Codhill Press poets to share their work. Appelbaum let listeners know that Codhill Press books are sold at “indie-book stores” and the “words of these very fine poets” are conveniently located in the New Paltz area.

“There were a lot of great works here tonight, and a lot of diverse voices as well. Since it’s April and a new season is upon us, I really thought the theme was fitting for most of the works that were presented here.” said third-year English major Travis Bederka. “If there were another poetry reading,” Beredka said. “Whether it’s sponsored by Codhill or the English department, I would suggest go right ahead and give them a listen.”