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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

“Secret Cords” is Public Success

Cal Rambler & Mark Beyer at a poetry/prose reading in Prague

On Feb 15th, Lucien Zell hosted his monthly poetry/prose & musical series, SECRET CORDS, at Přátelé Stepního vlka in Prague to an audience of 25 or so. I think the five writers and four musicians made everyone happy with good verbal and musical entertaining for that cold Friday night in the dead of Prague’s winter.

Lucien Zell

Lucien opened the performances with his trademarked harmonizing number, set to the sounds of box concertina. When he croons he looks like a lone wolf in the forest, or the midnight crier from a far-off village. The song is a wonderful lead-in to readings. A tone of seriousness has been delivered; a bell has been tolled.


Cal Rambler led off the reading with several of his poems, linked by the theme of love, anguish, lost friendship, the potential for lust.

Jan Bičovský played guitar and sang folk tunes with an energy symbolic of the street-musician.


Elise Klein entertained us all with a stirring accordion song, and later played an unbelievably temperamental piano.

We also had a poet from Canada, whose short poems captured couplet-ed themes.

Mark Beyer reading from THE VILLAGE WIT

And then there was yours truly reading from my first novel, THE VILLAGE WIT.

Lucien read a few poems as well, naturally. One strong poem I recall is a villanelle, whose linking lines are strong on light & darkness, and the desire to write. (he’ll have to comment on this post and treat us to the entire poem (if he dares) or those two scintillating lines)

What is unique about SECRET CORDS is the blending of music and the spoken word. Art comes at us in different places under various forms. To have two of those forms together, in one evening at a single venue, places us in a position not used so often these years. Actually, it reminds me of something one reads about in the diaries of a Bloomsbury Set, or Gertrude Stein’s Paris salon, maybe NYC West Village in the ’50s (or the Bowery!).


What Beauty is my newest novel, a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available as an ebook, too.

The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.



  Lucien Zell wrote @ March 28th, 2013 at 12:31 am

A Certain Kind of Darkness

To read it takes a certain kind of light Flashing out between the page and the mind. It takes a certain kind of darkness to write.

Wings are not wings till they’re in flight. The ground they lose is the sky they find. To read it takes a certain kind of light.

Some truths appear only when there’s a fight, Spiritual spools demand force to unwind. It takes a certain kind of darkness to write.

In the sky of the mind, a thought’s a kite Soaring as one unleashes its line. To read it takes a certain kind of light.

Some beauties emerge only at twilight— Without muting, their fierce flames would blind. It takes a certain kind of darkness to write.

We need all that is, both dark and bright: The deep, the shallow, the cruel and the kind. To read it takes a certain kind of light— And a certain kind of darkness in which to write.

  MarkBeyer wrote @ March 28th, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Thanks, Lucien … a thoughtful, beautiful poem.

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