Boston Area Poetry Readings for Late February and All of March 2017

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
Blacksmith House
56 Brattle Street
Cambridge

Tuesday, February 28, 6 pm
Kirun Kapur, Open Mic
Amesbury Public Library Poetry Series
149 Main St.
Amesbury, MA

Tuesday, February 28, 7 pm
Oswald Egger and Laura Mullen
McCormack Family Theater
70 Brown St.
Providence, RI

Wednesday, March 1, 5 pm
Arthur Sze
Morris Gray Poetry Reading
Forum Room, Lamont Library
Harvard University
Cambridge

Continue reading “Boston Area Poetry Readings for Late February and All of March 2017”

UPDATED: Boston Area Poetry Readings for Late January and All of February 2017

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
Boston

Sunday, January 22, 2 pm
Kathleen Ossip and Geraldine Zetzel
Brookline Poetry Series
Brookline Public Library Main Branch in Brookline Village
361 Washington St.
Brookline
Continue reading “UPDATED: Boston Area Poetry Readings for Late January and All of February 2017”

Interview with Wendy Mnookin, Author of Dinner with Emerson

Close-up from the cover of Wendy Mnookin's Dinner with Emerson
Photograph of poet Wendy Mnookin
Poet Wendy Mnookin, author of Dinner with Emerson

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 EmersonA 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.

Continue reading “Interview with Wendy Mnookin, Author of Dinner with Emerson”

Boston Area Poetry Readings for December 2016 and January 2017

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
449 Broadway
Cambridge
Free parking available in garage accessed from Broadway

Continue reading “Boston Area Poetry Readings for December 2016 and January 2017”

Back to School: Boston Area Poetry Readings for September and October, 2016

In August, I lean and loaf at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass. In September we stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store / and the gas station and the green market and

then we make time for poetry.

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”

Dispatches From an MFA Program: The First Packet

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.

I came to Lesley with a certain amount of emotional baggage.  Continue reading “Dispatches From an MFA Program: The First Packet”

April 2016 Poetry Readings in Boston MA and Environs

NOTE: You can find an updated version of these listings here.

April is National Poetry Month, which means that readings and classes abound. Here are my top picks:

Listings follow. All venues are in Massachusetts (USA) unless otherwise noted: Continue reading “April 2016 Poetry Readings in Boston MA and Environs”

Boston Area Poetry Readings for January and February 2016

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.

My poetry workshop in Roslindale, MA also reconvenes in February. Priced for starving poets, focused on generating new work.

Friday, January 8, 7:30 pm
Dan Johnson, Deborah Melone, and Jan Schreiber
Chapter and Verse
Loring-Greenough House
12 South Street
Jamaica Plain Centre

Saturday January 9, 3 pm
Elizabeth J. Coleman and David Berman
Powow River Poets Reading Series
Newburyport Public Library
94 State Street
Newburyport, MA
Free and open to the public

Continue reading “Boston Area Poetry Readings for January and February 2016”

"The Kitchen Poem" in the Summer 2015 Issue of Dirty Chai

This spring I was delighted to learn that “The Kitchen Poem” had found a home at Dirty Chai Magazine. I missed the issue when it came out, so here it is now. Here’s a PDF download of the Summer 2015 Issue of Dirty Chai.

And since it’s more 90 days since it appeared there, here’s a reprint:

The Kitchen Poem
for Adrienne Rich

A kitchen is where a woman belongs sometimes
not because I should cook for you

but because here when one sits at the table
with a bowl of something one realizes
what it is to slow down

Because here there is always food
and yet I can go hungry

Because there is a smell of things cooking,
and the smell is good.

Because I can spread tablecloths
and be unmolested.

Because God loves a kitchen
and I feel powerful here.

Because a kitchen is where civilization began.

Because some men are shy of the kitchen
and those men I can do without.

Because kitchens come in many shapes and sizes.

Because Allen Ginsberg never wrote a poem about a kitchen.

Because in a kitchen, a woman can take what has been
dismembered,
                        forgotten
                                             and remember it.

Because in a kitchen we put things together
that have been cut apart
and call it food.

Interview with Poet Lesley Wheeler, Author of Radioland

Photograph of poet Lesley Wheeler

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.

Cover image of Lesley Wheeler's third book of poetry, Radioland
Radioland, Lesley Wheeler’s third book of poetry

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.

Continue reading “Interview with Poet Lesley Wheeler, Author of Radioland”