Saturday, April 11, 2020

Warrior Writers NJ Salute to Perry Rosenstein

"Back to Nature" by Jan Barry
Puffin Cultural Forum Calendar Feb. 2018

Week three of Warrior Writers NJ’s coronavirus-quarantine, online workshops on Zoom, on Sunday, April 5, reunited several veterans and military family members peering into laptops and cell phones at their homes and, in one case, sitting beside a spring-showered river. The main focus of this gathering was the grievous loss of a major supporter of progressive artists, writers and musicians, including our veterans’ arts programs: Perry Rosenstein, the founder of Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck, NJ.

A World War II veteran, Perry provided a welcoming place for O wow! sorts of thought-provoking art about the horrendous consequences of war and survivors’ and supporters’ on-going struggles for peace and community harmony. Perry and his wife Gladys Miller-Rosenstein supported with Puffin Foundation grants a wide range of progressive groups, including The Nation magazine; instituted the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, awarded to Americans who do conspicuously courageous social justice work; and founded the Teaneck Creek Conservancy, a local environmental jewel they and scores of enthusiastic volunteers crafted from a trash dump.

This is a selection of our writing workshop meditations.


By Jan Barry

The first time I saw a Puffin
Was a painting on a chunk of concrete
In a wooded former dump site
That somebody had turned into a
Nature preserve off I-95 in Teaneck—
That somebody was a retired business guy
Named Perry Rosenstein
Who turned his corporate offices
Into a community culture center
And spread his transformational actions
Across Teaneck, New York City, and the world—
Perry died the other day, at 94
Struck down by coronavirus,
As it has ravaged places he loved

RIP, Mr. Rosenstein

By Tara Kraus

RIP, Mr. Rosenstein
I thank you for your creation,
your precious vibrant container,
Puffin Cultural Foundation
petri-dish artist skunkworx
of duende and social justice.
Where creativity Sparked, Forged, Trussed,
buttressed soaring truths
for our imaginal human rights futures, manifests in real time.
Your container called us forth, our Frontline Arts
brothers and sisters’ Armistice show on Veterans Day 2018,
I created my large
Trump nuclear abolition pop-up.
You called us
To go large as artists to stretch our craft
To raise our voices from a strangled whisper through a gasp of possibility
to full throated reverberating.
You call us forth to create the undeniable.

The Puffin

By JoAnn Drozd

A place for all to gather
Memories of an endearing evening of art, writing, and music by a multitude of artists
My son’s emotional poem about the war machine & his girlfriend at the time, now wife’s
heart-wrenching rendition of Pink’s, ‘Dear Mr. President’
Bob was there beaming with pride & awe.
A beautiful night filled with solidarity & gratitude.
Thank you, Perry, for your everlasting donation to the Arts!
Such moving & historical subject matter to preserve with the community.
And how crucial a place it is, especially now, to record & keep alive
the bizarre days the world is experiencing today.
Rest in Peace, Perry, knowing what a legacy you left behind.
Thank you….


By Sarah Mess

Perry, he gave us time, space,
And let our stories and our voices
Echo off walls of the Puffin
I read my first poem out loud there
When Jan Barry made a poet out of me
Perry was my butterfly in the wind
Who changed the trajectory of my life
And my regret is that I never got to tell him
May he rest in the peace
That he left behind in so many compromised
And marginalized voices
Peace that for some of us
Took a lifetime to find

A Salute to Perry Rosenstein

By Paula Rogovin

The puffin
a bird almost extinct
Pollution, overfishing, climate change
Diminishing food supplies –
They’re tasty
Perry Rosenstein - what a tasty choice
to name, to house your dream, Puffin Cultural Forum here in Teaneck, NJ,
to give voice to
Progressive artists, musicians, pets, veterans and military families, news media, nature lovers,
and filmmakers
Perry Rosenstein - your vision will never go extinct.
Perry Rosenstein - Present

Monday, April 6, 2020

Warrior Writers NJ Online Writing Continued

"Spring Flowers" by Jan Barry

Week two of Warrior Writers NJ’s coronavirus-quarantine, online workshops on Zoom, on Sunday, March 29, featured literary call and response between and among five veterans and three military family members. The prompts included military medical call up—one of the latest government actions to assist beleaguered community hospitals overflowing with covid-19 patients—music, spring, and anything else one wanted to write about. It led to a lot of what Tara Krause called “spontaneous poetry” and spirited discussion.

Overflowing Hospitals

By Jan Barry

The military has issued
An emergency call up for former medics
And other medical personnel
To help with the coronavirus crisis—
Things are getting serious—
Convention centers are being turned into
Field hospitals—
This war I can relate to—
If I were younger and able
I’d volunteer
Like Walt Whitman
To help the hospitalized

The Call-up

 By Paula Rogovin

I’d rather see veterans
Called back to service
To build makeshift hospitals or work on hospital ships
To supply test kits, ventilators, and
N95s not M-15’s
To meet the battle needs
For this war -
The great global war for LIFE!


By JoAnn Drozd

Music - is my life blood, a savior in the midst of great grief.

Listening to Kembo doing America the Beautiful & Hauser playing Can’t Help Falling in Love on Facebook & Instagram provided me with some clarity and humility.

After taking in too much news, Bob’s 3500 songs on his i-pod helps me get through the day. It helps remove the stress from the political craziness of the day. Brings me some sanity, a retreat of sorts.

The music and songs seem so much more meaningful. Listening & hearing them in a whole new way. Hope it brings all those impacted on the front lines of this crisis the feeling that things will resolve and return to some level of normalcy. I also hope we will all be changed for the better & remember the importance of human connection after this disconnection.

Funny how so many of us spent many moments of our days attached to our phones or other devices and now we crave each other’s company.

Music - the GREAT connector.

Hits of the Sixties

By Nancy Elkin Nygard

My father told me, if it's true it's not bragging.  This is true.
Walt Nygard is a AAA Star DJ !
At HIS right time he will get on youtube and boom!
I'm Blowin In The Wind to the Sounds of Silence.
And then, For What It's Worth, I wanna know
Who'll Stop The Rain?
His knowledge is amazing, a real student of
Rock n roll of the 60's.
So this Pretty Woman can Walk Like A Man and
This Wild Thing can Turn, Turn, Turn.
Can you Imagine going Downtown
But all you do is Wipeout!
Well, Don't Worry Baby it's Written On The Subway Walls
So Please Please Me Dear Prudence and stay home and dance!!


By JoAnn Drozd

Flowers to breathe in

Shrubs to admire

Trees to climb high

Soil to dig deep

Rain to boogie in

Sun to shine

Earth to save

What a stupendous gift we’ve been given. Let’s REJOICE in new growth and beauty. Let’s not waste another single precious moment. This world is ours to save….

Spring & Music:
Spontaneous poetry prompt’d

By Tara Krause

All complex systems in perturbation
Reach new states,
Equilibrium might be euphemistic,
But new states (un)certainly.

This week showed glimpses of
People’s hope in giving,
Across town, county, state, region, globe.

Our bioregions collapse into
Hot zones and faulty testing tracking scoreboards,
Wracking up bodies in the morgue.

Hope in giving as the mindful exhale
After the first reflexive intake of panic,
Triggers the neural cascade of altruism,
Solidarity and love in action.

The live streaming of jazz concerts, both
Unlocked from the archive vaults, and
Spontaneous jams streamed from bedrooms.

Notes and chord changes disaggregated into
pixels and bites, to meet our souls in
Neural new meanings.

My challenge, certainly trivial in the face of humanity,
Yet real to me at this moment:
Can hope in giving extend to self-love?

Can I allow my hope in giving to lead me into
The beauty of prepping new growth in the garden?
To the primal pleasure of thrusting
My hands into the thawing soil,
To give myself to life itself?


By James Yee

I reunited with an old friend this week. I hadn’t seen her for quite a while. I think the last time was when I was in elementary school. I saw her almost every day back then. It was like I couldn’t go a day without her. Interesting though, we parted ways, for the most part, once I graduated into junior high. And after that I never really thought much about her from then on out. But who would have guessed that it would be all the quarantine and shelter in-placed measures imposed on us that would bring us back together. I will admit, there was a direct action choice on my part. But to make a short story even shorter, once back in the seclusion of my own home, when I was ready and feeling very hungry, I whipped her up again and put her together. When we physically connected, now inside my kitchen, my tongue instantly told me that she was just as I remembered. She made me happy once again. I’m so glad I brought home the peanut butter, grape jelly and a loaf of bread. For her name is PB&J – or more formally, Peanut Butter and Jelly! Maybe you know her as well.
Thank You Coronavirus for bringing us back together.

A Haiku with Slattern Extra Syllables

By Tara Krause

James Yee rises, takes to the streets
To feed deep human need;
Cup cakes are indeed essential.