It’s easy to get cereal-aisle paralysis in Boston, especially in the spring, when the already robust list of events swells. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I rarely get to more than one or two events in any given month. But the longer days and unseasonably warm weather gave me the energy to go to not one but two poetry events in the past week. I feel refreshed and revitalized. Leave off your mind of winter and brave the mud this month. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.
Thanks to Daniel Bouchard for the bulk of the listings and to Sandee Story of the Jamaica Pond Poets for the extra listings in Suffolk County. All events are in Massachusetts unless otherwise noted.
Monday, February 27, 8 pm
Martha Rhodes and Josh Bell
56 Brattle Street
Tuesday, February 28, 6 pm
Kirun Kapur, Open Mic
Amesbury Public Library Poetry Series
149 Main St.
Tuesday, February 28, 7 pm
Oswald Egger and Laura Mullen
McCormack Family Theater
70 Brown St.
Wednesday, March 1, 5 pm
Morris Gray Poetry Reading
Forum Room, Lamont Library
All readings are located in Massachusetts unless otherwise noted. Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling many of the items listed below. For additional readings and events, check out the Mass Poetry statewide calendar.
(NOTE: New dates added Feb. 1)
Sunday, January 22, 2 pm
“River Weep” Poets Speak
Sammy Greenspan, Deborah Schwartz and Lee Sharkey
Boston Sculptors Gallery
486 Harrison Avenue
Poet Wendy Mnookin and I travel in similar orbits in the Boston poetry scene, but our paths have never intersected in person. I was happy to be able to speak with her via email about her most recent book Dinner with Emerson. A veteran poet with five books to her name, Mnookin has taught poetry at Emerson College, Boston College, Grub Street, and at workshops around the country. Her honors include an NEA Fellowship, a book prize from the New England Poetry Club, and several Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac and Poetry Daily. We spoke about the difference between tone and voice, the choices she made while compiling each of her manuscripts, and the relationship between her teaching and her writing practice.
What first brought you to poetry?
I have always been a reader, and, in my own way, a writer, mostly scribbling in journals. By the time my third child started kindergarten and I could see blocks of free time appearing in my life, I took a plunge into more dedicated writing and signed up for a poetry course at the Radcliffe Seminars Program. Ruth Whitman was teaching the course and I fell in love–with the reading, the discussion, and most of all, with the regular writing. I took courses there for several years and then attended the low-residency program at Vermont College, where I got my MFA. Although I don’t think courses are necessary for someone starting out in poetry, the structure helped me explore, build confidence, and establish a network of other writers who were serious about their work.
Without further ado I present the latest missive from poet Daniel Bouchard: a listing of most of the poetry happenings in Boston and environs. All towns are in Massachusetts except where noted. Give the gift that keeps on giving, and help a starving poet or two and buy their book. They make great holiday presents and the Muse will love you.
Wednesday, December 7, 6:30 pm
Adam Scheffler and Clint Smith
Cambridge Public Library
Free parking available in garage accessed from Broadway
The listings below will bring you right through to Halloween. As always, thanks to my informant Daniel Bouchard for compiling this list.
Sunday, September 11, 2 pm
Plein Air Poetry Walk
Ellie Coolidge-Behrstock, Zachary Bos, Lucinda Bowen, Polly Brown, Helen Marie Casey, David Davis , Linda Fialkoff, Lynn Horsky, Terry House, William Lenderking, Moira Linehan, Franny Osman, Dawn Paul, Mary Pinard, Joanne DeSimone Reynolds, Susan Edwards Richmond, Hilary Sallick, Georgia Sassen, bg Thurston
Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio
Harvard, MA Continue reading “Back to School: Boston Area Poetry Readings for September and October, 2016”
Creating my very first packet for the Lesley low-residency MFA program was both easier and more difficult than I thought it would be. It’s difficult to get over that voice of self-doubt in the back of my head, the one that says both “your work must be perfect” and “your work will never be perfect.” In one of her seminars, Erin Belieu observed that the voice of self-doubt is just as much ego as the voice of complacency and overconfidence. And it’s impossible to get into the flow state so necessary for writing when the ego is up.
Listening to the program’s professors reflect on their own practices as writers was a tremendous help to me. In a getting-to-know-you session with our mentors, I asked “what was the most difficult poem you wrote?” Their thoughtful answers led to some wonderfully deep discussions about the very reasons for writing. My mentor Sharon Bryan made a comment about a poem’s emotional truth that resonated with me. Even though poetry is a powerful tool that uses words in semi-rational ways to appeal to that emotional mind, it’s not something I’d ever heard talked about in previous workshops.
April is National Poetry Month, which means that readings and classes abound. Here are my top picks:
If you’re in Cambridge/Somerville (aka Camberville), I recommend checking out a reading with Cervena Barva Press and First and Last Word Poetry at Arts at the Armory. Gloria Mindock’s press is a Boston institution.
January always feels like a holiday hangover to me. So far, the temperatures are bracing cold and the skies clear — two good signs after last February’s record snowfalls. Please Skadi, send us enough snow for snowshoeing and not enough for epic shoveling. Daniel Bouchard sets us back on the path of poetry with the listings below. All locations are in Massachusetts (USA) unless otherwise noted.
A much-decorated poet and academic, Lesley Wheeler’s accolades include a Fulbright scholarship, an NEH grant, the Barrow Street Poetry Prize, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award Honor List, and publication in many prestigious journals, including Poetry and Slate. She teaches English at Washington and Lee University and is an active member of the WOM-PO Listserv, an email discussion group for women poets that’s been around since before blogging and social media overtook online community platforms like Listservs. Her third book of poetry, Radioland, came out in October 2015. In spite of her rise to fame in recent years, Lesley remains a warm and generous correspondent. She took the time to answer some questions about her latest book, the po-biz, and the difference between writing and publishing.
You’ve gotten a lot of recognition for your work in the past few years. How have these changes in your career affected your writing?
It’s funny how happiness works—successes don’t warm you for long but difficulties worry you constantly. The life change came with my first two books, Heathen in 2009 and Heterotopia in 2010. Suddenly I felt able to call myself a poet. After the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize, people seemed to take my work more seriously. The judge, David Wojahn, is highly respected by other writers, and that made a difference. “Fulbright” is a magic word—as well as representing an amazing opportunity—but I won that for scholarly, not poetic, research. My scholarly credentials remain fancier than my poetic ones and the two networks have surprisingly little overlap. In fact, having a foot in both worlds invites suspicion from both sides.