The Poetry Project


Lydia Cortés

An Invitation for Inclusion, always and always with love
For Lewis Warsh

And so ended the question
Whatever it might be
Current events politics war genocide
And so began the talk
The exploration
The searching
The beginning
Of two marvelous hours
On a Saturday afternoon bimonthly
In a marvelous place
Be’s place -- no Be’s Salon -- on Park Ave So.

Be’s gone too now -- a magical woman with a magical place --
Since last summer

Large windows with glass beads from top to bottom
That crystallized into notes if the windows were cracked open
If we brushed up against them accidentally, yes?

Two hours of almost magic because i don’t believe in magic
But i learned so much in those hours learned to love the poetry
My fellow poets... those we studied... those i studied with...

We were 8, 10, usually, yes? Or more?...
Be, Ruth, Lilla, Phyllis, Michelle, Donna, KB, Dennis?, Valerie, Karin,
Joe, Peter? Billy? Merry? Noam, Whom I’m leaving out?

Do you consider yourself an intellectual, yes?

No i thought
I come from the working class
Though i’d hardly done any work
To be part of the duly class that works
Not like my father toiling in sugar fields
In cafeteria fields on Delancey washing pots pans
Short order cooking for Jewish deli’s
Or Mami working in the dixie cup factory making dixie cups
But i wasn’t an intellectually how
Could i be if i’d not come from the class of the intellects
You have to come from a class, yes, and stick to it, no?

Lewis that day went around the salon, Be’s salon and asked each
One, yes, are you an intellectual, yes...or no...and why so, yes?
Lewis went around the group always so expertly, so interested in whatever
We had, we gave, we had to say he always made us know we were poets
What we said could say might say was important to say to hear…
There were 8 of us, yes? We’d met at the
Poetry Project workshop and at the end of the 10 sessions, Phyllis Wat came
Around and asked if any of us had any interest in studying with

Lewis Warsh privately...we’d meet at Be Laroe’s apartment on Park Ave So.
And so a group out of the Poetry Project group was formed and so we met
At Be’s and we paid Lewis 3 dollars apiece, yes? After a while, did it go up
To 5, 8 even, yes?...
So little for so much
So much kindness
So much love
So much learning

Lewis never asked for a was one of us who seriously
Knowing how little we paid how much he, Lewis, gave made the suggestion

And so i found out, yes, after weeks, months, years, yes, i was an intellectual
And yes i was I am a poet and I dedicated my second book, Whose Place,
To Mami y Papi, who started it all...

And Lewis Warsh,

In Memoriam: Lewis Warsh (1944–2020)