A second-floor reading room at the Red Bank Public Library is the setting for this Saturday’s River Read poetry-‘n-whatnot jam.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

In true hermit crab fashion, it’s a native offering that’s skittered from venue to venue around town – with past homes having included the Dublin House Pub, No Joe’s Café and the now-defunct Frank Talk on Shrewsbury Avenue.

But when the poetry event known as River Read: Words by the Navesink sets up shop this Saturday morning at the Red Bank Public Library, it will mark a welcome return for the monthly series that was unfortunately evicted from that riverview roost when the library was temporarily forced to cancel its Saturday programming.

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Press release from Congregation B’nai Israel

National Poetry Month is just around the corner in April, and the library committee at Congregation B’nai Israel (CBI) will once again be hosting Café Pinsky 2015: The Poet Next Door, an evening of readings by local Jewish poets.

Named for Long Branch native Robert Pinsky, who served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 1997-2000, the free event will take place on Monday, April 27, 2015 at 7 pm.  In addition to poetry, the evening will feature music, light refreshments, coffee and tea. All are welcome to attend.

Published and unpublished local Jewish poets are invited to enter up to two poems each to the Library Committee by  Monday, March 30, 2015. There is no entry fee.

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KatieCoyleAuthor and Fair Haven native Katie Coyle makes a homecoming sojourn to River Road Books this Thursday for a reading and signing keyed to her novel ‘Vivian Apple at the End of the World.’

When the debut young-adult novel by Katie Coyle first saw print, it was in the United Kingdom under the title Vivian Versus the Apocalypse.

For its stateside publication, though, the young-adult adventure tale has been rebranded as Vivian Apple at the End of the World — a situation not unlike Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which the Fair Haven native cites as the book that supercharged her own literary ambitions into being.

The 2004 graduate of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School — since transplanted to San Francisco — makes a homecoming appearance here on the Green Thursday night when she stops in at River Road Books for a 7 p.m. reading and signing session timed to the book’s appearance under the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint.

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A snippet of a 2008 interview with the author Victor LaValle.

It’s a place where a literal monster roams the long, institutional, fluorescent-lit halls — a buffalo-headed beast that stalks the overly medicated residents of a state mental hospital, and just one of many challenges faced by Pepper, the “one sane man” protagonist of The Devil in Silver.

The 2012 novel by Victor LaValle is one of several acclaimed works — including the American Book Award winner Big Machine — that will be read and discussed by the Queens-born author when the monthly series of Visiting Writers resumes at Brookdale Community College Wednesday evening.

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rbpl bird 071414 4rbpl bird 071414 1A vigilant pair of northern mockingbirds have set up house for their chirping newborns hidden in a bush near the entrance to the Red Bank Public Library. Though library staffers cordoned off the bush with yellow tape, the adult birds – which the National Audubon Society describes as “strongly territorial” occasionally swoop down on  visitors.

“You might experience a flutter of wings on your shoulder or back as they try to protect the nest,” a note taped to the library door explains. “They have startled people, but not harmed them.”

The note includes this passage from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird:”

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Where_061214Do you know Where this week’s photo was shot? Take a guess! Please send your answer to

Last week’s Where? It showed… well, it may have been hard to make out at first because of the odd angle. But it was a view down a stairwell through a metal railing to a multicolored floor of bright hues.

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brandon zenner 2 052114Brandon Zenner at his basement writing table. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


For 11 sunlight-deprived years, he’s slung drinks and traded banter with customers at the Dublin House in Red Bank. And for a good chunk of that time, he’s spent his free time in a dim, prosaic Red Bank basement, typing away at a windowless desk near a clothes dryer.

But until earlier this year, when he self-published a 294-page novel titled “The Experiment of Dreams,” Brandon Zenner kept his literary ambitions to himself.

“I never told anybody I was a writer,” Zenner told redbankgreen recently. For one thing, “sports is big in a bar. Writing is not,” he said.

Besides, “it’s just easier not to have to talk about it” and instead just do it, he said.

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Nicole_diner_1Poet and Slam Master Nicole Homer coordinates the regular series of Loser Slam poetry events at Two River Theater, the latest edition of which returns to the upstairs Mastrobuono Library on Monday, May 5.   

According to Nicole Homer, a live-action Loser Slam poetry event is a thing that’s “louder, more uproarious” than an oh-so-civilized, lectern-and-water-pitcher reading — but if you’re expecting maybe a contentious crowd of hipster hecklers and mic-hogging Me-Firsters, the poet, teacher and Slam Master assures one and all that the twice-monthly Monday events in Red Bank foster “a friendly vibe…we go out of our way to establish a community feeling, to make every new person feel at home.”

Formed in 2006 at Brookdale Community College, the Loser Slam collective bounced around to various venues in Monmouth County before being invited by Two River Theater Company to bring their popular spoken word/ performance poetry competitions to the Two River building’s Victoria J. Mastrobuono Library — the recently refurbished second-floor space equipped with a fireplace, coffee/ snack bar, wood bookshelves, and room for 30 to 40 attendees. It’s there that Nicole and her partners return on the evening of May 5, for three rounds of creative competition, audience interaction, and a traditional open mic for aspiring performance poets.

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TROUBLE_press_1It’s opening weekend for the Two River Theater Company production of TROUBLE IN MIND, above. Below, the kids from Rockit! polish Janis Joplin’s PEARL as part of the annual Brookdale Guitar Festival. (TRTC photo by T. Charles Erickson) 

Friday, April 11 – Sunday, April 13: 

view_image.aspRED BANK: Although the late Alice Childress is known these days primarily as author of the young adult novel A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich, among her many firsts and foremosts was becoming the first African-American woman to have one of her plays produced in New York. She also became the first female playwright to win an Obie Award, for a 1955 play entitled Trouble in Mind.

On Friday night at 8 pm, Two River Theater Company opens a new production of the comedy-drama directed by the acclaimed Jade King Carroll, associate director for the recent Broadway Streetcar Named Desire. It’s a “backstage” portrait of a multi-racial theatrical troupe, a play-within-a-play about a Southern lynching, and the fireworks that fly when the show’s black leading lady (Brenda Pressley of TRTC’s In This House) questions the inaccuracies and stereotypes being perpetuated by her white director (fellow Two River returnee Steven Skybell).

Surprisingly resonant today, the oft-overlooked play costars Tony winner Roger Robinson (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone), with McKinley Belcher III, Jonathan David Martin, Brian Russell, Hayley Treider, Amirah Vann — and Robert Hogan, the octogenarian character ace of stage and screen interviewed here on redbankgreen, when he starred in Two River’s recent On Borrowed Time. The show continues with performances at 3 pm and 8 pm Saturday, as well as 3 pm Sunday; take it here for schedule details and tickets ($20-$65). Then stick around after Sunday’s matinee show (or drop in free of charge at 5:30 pm), when director Carroll is joined by Pressley, TRTC Artistic Director John Dias, and her longtime associate, Tony winning actor-director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, for a panel discussion on “Modern African American Theater (1950s to Today),” presented as part of Two River’s “Exploration of Justice” slate of special events.

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barbara withers 032714Barbara Withers, a resident of the Atrium at Navesink senior complex, implores the board to preserve a book-delivery service for its residents. Below, board president John Grandits, left, with Mayor Pasquale Menna outside the library meeting room. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


grandits menna 032714A plan by the Menna administration to rewrite the proposed Red Bank Public Library budget and undo the recent layoff of half its staff got a cold reception from the library trustees Thursday night.

One or two of the suggested changes, such as leaving the soon-to-be-vacated job of the library director unfunded, appear to be “illegal,” trustee Brigid McCarthy told a packed meeting of library supporters.

Still, Mayor Pasquale Menna, displaying obvious frustration with what he called “drama” surrounding the borough’s recommendations, said the standoff can and will be quickly resolved, even if he has to take unilateral action.

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rbpl sale 2 020213The fate of jobs for three full-time librarians is still up in the air. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank officials said they are working toward a budget fix that might undo the layoff of half the staff at the borough library two weeks ago.

At Wednesday night’s borough council meeting, administrator Stanley Sickels said he and borough CFO Eugenia Poulos had developed an alternative to the library’s budget that might “maintain the full-time staff.”

Now, attention turns to the eight-member library board of trustees, which gathers Thursday night in what may be its best-attended meeting in history.

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rbpl board 022714 1The library board of the trustees at a meeting in February. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


HOT-TOPIC_03Responding to “misinformation” and “half-truths… stretched beyond their limits” surrounding layoffs of half the staff at the Red Bank Public Library last week, the library’s board of trustees is pushing back.

In a question-and-answer document prepared by six of eight board members and obtained by redbankgreen, the trustees say that personnel costs accounted for 95 percent of the library budget before the layoffs, which affected six of the 11 staff members.

The layoffs were part of a library “reorganization” that “eliminates our deficit, allows us to right-size the Library for the budget, and sustains the Library for the future,” the trustees say in the Q&A. “The solution implemented [at a board meeting following the layoffs] on March 13 was just one step in a much larger process that began in 2013 when it became clear that even with stringent cuts in expenditures last year, the Library was living beyond its means.”

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lacombe_jacques2Above: Conductor Jacques Lacombe carries the baton to the Basie for the year’s first visit by the NJ Symphony Orchestra, with the internationally acclaimed cellist Daniel Müller-Schott along for the ride…while below, Judith Krall-Russo brings the Downton-y delights of the Edwardian Manor to the MTPL. 

Friday, January 10:

krallrussoLINCROFT: You say you’re feeling cabin feverish after being housebound throughout much of our recent epic weather wackiness? You say you’re still unsure about how best to re-assimilate into mainstream society? Fortunately there’s a way to “stay home” while venturing beyond the garden gate, as the 24th annual winter edition of the Jersey Shore Home Show commandeers the Robert J. Collins Arena at Brookdale Community College for the Shore area’s premier expo of home improvement contractors, vendors and manufacturers. Kicking off Friday between the hours of 4 and 8 pm, the event offers up a strolling smorgasbord of product showcases and demos — a brick ‘n mortar bazaar of everything from spas to sponges, bath stalls to burglar alarms, flagpoles to floor coverings, stonework to solar panels, windows to water treatments, and every helpful/ healthful thing between. Whether you’re a diehard DIY’er or a domestic dilettante, you can get pleasantly lost in this midway of merch and services, checking out the latest super-absorbent shammy or water-repellant shingle. You could even get a back rub — and for the first time, you can get your tickets ($8 adults, $6 seniors, free for age 17 and under) online. The Home Show continues Saturday (11 am – 8 pm) and Sunday (11 am – 5 pm), with free parking in BCC’s parking lots 6 and 7.

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Mayor Bob Neff delivers his state-of-the-borough remarks in verse, above. Below, Pete Giblin is sworn as fire chief as his wife, Liz, who heads the EMS, holds the Bible. (Photo and video by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge photo.)


LSFD 010614 2It’s unlikely to make it into the Norton Anthology of Poetry, unless there’s a municipal edition.

But Little Silver Mayor Bob Neff’s versified annual reflection on the year just ended manages to inject a touch of cornball mirth and meter into the town’s government reorganization ceremony, as it did Monday night.

Another homey touch: for the first time in the borough’s history, the volunteer fire department and first aid squads are headed, simultaneously, by a husband and wife.

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Danu.ColmHenryjpegAbove: Celtic combo Danú brings “An Nollag in Éirinnis” to Santa Basie’s workshop on Friday…while below, young adult novelist Julie Milillo comes home to Middletown for a Saturday discussion of Immortal Sin.

Friday, December 13:

JulieMililloRED BANK: It’s opening weekend for the annual holiday-season family show at Two River Theater, a newly revamped production of the original musical A Wind in the Willows Christmas that mixes Kenneth Grahame’s classic animal characters with “a lot more holiday spirit,” and redesigned costumes that highlight “ears and tails and fur.” Tonight’s 7 p.m. opening is preceded by a special noontime Scout Day preview that allows scout troops a behind-the-scenes look at the production, with games, snacks, photo ops and more. Performances continue at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday; take it here for tickets (adults $20 – $55; ages 18 and under $25) — and keep it tuned to redbankgreen for more on Mr. Toad and friends.

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anime 1Librarian Stephanie Chadwick with participants in last month’s meeting of the anime club. Below, details of some mangas. (Photos by Isabel Halloran. Click to enlarge)

Red Bank Charter School Intern

anime 3Four teenagers – Angela, Monteleone, Sam, and Alberto –  gather in a small room at the Red Bank Public Library and sit at a long table.

Across from this table is another lined with manga (pronounced MAHN-guh), Japanese comic books that often have a fantasy or sci-fi theme to them. These books are read from what we in the United States consider back-to-front.

Stephanie Chadwick, teen services librarian and group leader, welcomes the participants to the monthly meeting of the Anime Club and introduces the activity for the day: playing a game she calls “anime-opoly.”

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DaveCicirelliAuthor and Middletown native Dave Cicirelli kicks off the campaign for his just-released ‘Fakebook’ Thursday at River Road Books. 


His adventures include an attack by a rabid coyote, abduction by an obscure doomsday cult and forced labor on an Amish farm, as a result of his having toilet-papered the farmer’s buggy (he also managed to impregnate and run off with the farmer’s daughter).

He’s Fake Dave Cicirelli, and beginning three years ago, the real Dave Cicirelli chronicled his ersatz odyssey in an epic series of Facebook posts, keynoted by the sudden announcement that he was quitting his job as a successful and award-winning art director in New York in order to embark upon a soul-searching, westbound walking sojourn.

By the time that the Facebook version of Dave returned to Intercourse, Pennsylvania, “to adopt the Amish way of life… leaving the world of Facebook with a heart full of sadness,” he had amassed hundreds of new friends and even a stalker or two — while an increasingly isolated Real Dave was lying low from the world in his former family home.

The River Plaza, Middletown native tells his double-life story with double-edged candor and humor in the memoir Fakebook: A True Story. Based on Actual Lies, to be released Tuesday by Sourcebooks. On Thursday, the first-time author comes to River Road Books in Fair Haven for a 7:30 pm reading and signing appearance that promises to reunite the real-world Dave with several of the Facebook friends who played a part, consciously or not, in the social media saga.

The Local Literary Desk at redbankgreen talked with Cicirelli about playful lies and rippling repercussions, before Oprah or Jon could get to him. Read on…

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Katie Coyle, whose novel, ‘Vivian Versus the Apocalypse,’   (Click to enlarge)

RFHRHS Public Relations

vivian versus the apocalypse“Someday I’ll read a book by Katie Coyle” reads the inscription in a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School yearbook.

“It was written by my Advanced Placement (AP) English Teacher Jack Shea when I was about to graduate in 2004,” said Ms. Coyle. “I held Mr. Shea in high regard, and that comment really meant a lot to me.”

As it turns out, Mr. Shea was right. And “someday” came about very quickly.

Ms. Coyle’s first book, “Vivian Versus the Apocalypse,” will be published on September 5 by Hot Key Books. The book and its 25-year-old author have already earned high praise from the literary world.

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Local farmers and craftspeople fill the parking lot at the Galleria every Sunday morning this time of year. Steven Jacobson, the 17-year-old author of “One Last Season,” below, reads from his novel Saturday. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, July 12:

LINCROFT: Royalty graces Lincroft when Shakespeare’s witty early comedy, “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” comes to the Great Lawn at Brookdale Community College.  Bring blankets, lawn chairs, and picnic baskets (rain site: Performing Arts Center). The performance begins at 7 p.m. Park in lot 2. Lawn outside PAC building/Newman Springs Road/Route 520.

RED BANK: The Summer Jazz Café returns to Two River Theatre’s “black box” performance space Friday and Saturday nights. Joe Muccioli and the Jazz Arts Project present jazz innovator, trombonist and seashellist Steve Turre. The night promises a big city club vibe with coffee and refreshments served throughout the performance. Tickets are $22 and the show begins at 8 p.m. 21 Bridge Avenue.

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A video spotlights some of the detail work that went into staging the Two River Theater‘s season-wrapping play, a production of Noel Coward’s ‘Present Laughter.’ The show, now in previews, opens at the illustrious Red Bank showcase Friday night and runs through June 23. Tickets here. (Click to enlarge)


Tony nominee Michael Cumpsty, Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey, and Jade King Carroll make their Two River Theater directorial debuts during the just-announced 2013-2014 season.


As John Dias tells it, “We want to make sure we’re doing work that you want to see.”

The nationally renowned producer and artistic director of Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company was at the podium Sunday night, addressing an audience of supporters during an event that’s become a highly anticipated rite of spring: the announcement of TRTC’s next season of mainstage presentations.

The 2013-2014 schedule that begins on September 14 marks a genuine milestone, as it represents the 20th anniversary season for the troupe founded by Robert M. and Joan Rechnitz, a company that staged its first productions at Monmouth University before spending several years at Manasquan’s Algonquin Arts Theatre and eventually moving into its own branded Bridge Avenue building in May of 2005.

Introducing his third season’s selection of classic comedies, modern American dramas and original musicals, Dias praised the slate as one that meets three crucial criteria: honoring the theater’s mission, bringing in “some of the exciting artists working in the theater today,” and reflecting the two-decade history of TRTC. The 20th Anniversary season, for which subscriptions will soon be made available, unfolds just around the corner.

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Images of 20th century Red Bank and other Monmouth County locales are featured in a show of photos from the Dorn’s Collection beginning Saturday at Red Bank Frameworks. (Click to enlarge)


Friday, May 10:

RED BANKSandy Hackett’s Rat Pack infests Count Basie Theater. Join faux Frank, Sammy and Dino for performances produced by the legendary Buddy Hackett. Tickets are $19.50, $29.50 and $39.50. 99 Monmouth Street.

RUMSON: The third annual “Gayla!” prom, a fun and safe evening with food and DJ takes place at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School. The Rumson Fair Haven Gay-Straight Alliance partners with Make it Better for Youth to provide support kids ages 13-19 in middle, high, or home school. The prom runs from 7 to 10 p.m. tickets are $20; parental permission required. 74 Ridge Road.

RUMSON: The boys from Madison Avenue are back and will perform at Molly Maguire’s Black Point Inn. The show begins at 9 p.m.132 East River Road.

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At the Basie Saturday afternoon: dogs and cats rescued from shelters and given a new, ahem, leash on life as circus performers. Matt O’Ree, below, brings his guitar chops to Jamian’s tonight.  (Click to enlarge)

Friday, May 3:

RED BANK: The high-energy Marty and the Martians make their debut in a series of Friday night appearances at the Walt Street Pub, playing an upbeat set including hits by Neon Trees, U2, Foo Fighters and more. The show begins at 8 p.m. 180 Monmouth Street.

RUMSON:  Join the electro-acoustic/pop/rock singer Brian Bisbee at Molly Maguire’s Black Point Inn, 132 East River Road, at 9 p.m.

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More than 100 homes participated in the annual event. (PhotoS by Alexis Orlacchio.)


Shoppers searched the yards of their neighbor’s collectible-littered lawns in pursuit of their perfect possessions Saturday during the sixth annual Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale.

“It is a beautiful day, and people love a good bargain,” said Friends of the Red Bank Public Library President Beth Hanratty.

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