Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Poetry – Into the Fire: A Poet’s Journey Through Hell’s Kitchen by Mary Clark

As the Meet the Author’s series comes to an end, time to catch up with recent releases by authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

Today a showcase for Mary Clark’s poetry collection Into the Fire: A Poet’s Journey Through Hell’s Kitchen

About the collection

A young, aspiring writer comes to St. Clement’s Church on West 46th Street in New York City looking for a job in the theater. Soon she is helping run the church’s poetry program. The New York Poetry Festival at St. Clement’s features many well-known poets of the 1970s and 80s as well as up-and-coming and marginalized poets. The poetry scene, occurring alongside Punk rock and the waning days of experimental dance and theater, is part of the last widespread grassroots artistic era in the United States.

Into The Fire: A Poet’s Journey takes place in the rough-and-tumble Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on Manhattan’s West Side. This story is set in a neighborhood that reflects the passion of the times. By 1980, both the arts scene and New York neighborhoods are on the verge of change. The author’s life in the arts weaves in and out of the neighborhood’s narratives. She must make a choice between two possible lives.

St. Clement’s Church has a storied history in the arts, beginning with the American Place Theater in the 1960s to the present day. Cameo appearances in this memoir are made by Robert Altman, Amiri Baraka, Daniel Berrigan, Karen Black, Raymond Carver, Cher, Abbie Hoffman, Spalding Gray, Al Pacino, and Paul Simon. Erick Hawkins, June Anderson, and Daniel Nagrin dance through.

Poets and writers include Carol Bergé, Ted Berrigan, Enid Dame, Cornelius Eady, Allen Ginsberg, Daniella Gioseffi, Barbara Holland, Bob Holman, Richard Howard, Maurice Kenny, Eve Merriam, Robin Morgan, Sharon Olds, Alicia Ostriker, Alice Notley, William Packard, Robert Peters, Rochelle Ratner, Grace Shulman, and Kurt Vonnegut, with mentions or discussions of Gregory Corso, Emily Dickinson, Dana Gioia, David Ignatow, Joy Harjo, Rashid Hussein, Kim Chi Ha, Denise Levertov, Audre Lorde, Anais Nin, Ron Padgett, Pedro Pietro, Muriel Rukeyser, and Anne Sexton, among others.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Monica Brinkman 5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing Look at a Time Past   Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2021

I truly didn’t know what to expect when I began reading Into the Fire. Simply thought it was a tale of poetry and prose. I am so please to say it was much, much more!

Hell’s KItchen was a place and time I heard about, yet knew little of what it entailed. I thank Mary Clark for writing such an exceptional story of what it was like to live, perform, produce and create in those early days, and the challenges that seemed, at times, unsurmountable.

You will meet celebrities; many not so famous back in the day and you will find great works and such talent.

Go behind the scenes and get to know those who dedicated their lives to keeping the arts alive while battling confrontations of both religion and humanity.

This is a book worth reading as it not only entertains but gives the reader an inside look of what it took and takes to keep arts alive

You won’t put this book down; it is that entertaining Bravo Mary Clark. You show the greatness as well as the sadness of the era.

Also by Mary Clark


Thanks for dropping by and I hope you will be leaving with some books..thanks Sally.

30 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Poetry – Into the Fire: A Poet’s Journey Through Hell’s Kitchen by Mary Clark

  1. So interesting seeing who performed there. I have been, spent some time in NYC, and have walked all around the area. It is fascinating. A great aunt of my husband was a movie actress, started on the stage in the UK, then in NYC, before moving into the Silent era and later movies as we know them today. She did a lot of Broadway, not sure if she appeared where your story is set, would love to know. I hope your book is a huge success. I know the church too.

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  2. Thanks for this amazing page about my book. It was fun to go back and revisit some of the poets I met and the goings on in the theater at that fertile time. The church made it possible, until it changed its mission. In the meantime we made the world shine a little bit more, I think. HK will always be in my heart, although I don’t live there anymore. Friends who do tell me there are problems again. It’s a constant battle to keep equal opportunities for creativity alive.

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  5. Sally, thank you for showcasing Mary’s book! I’m thoroughly intrigued by the Hell’s Kitchen and have never heard of it before … I love the sound of the melting pot of artistic personalities and must learn more! Off to check out the book. Congratulations to Mary for the terrific review, hugely informative!

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