UPDATED June 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings

Poetry and all that jazz

July and August are quiet months for just about everything in Boston, including poetry. So stock up now and avoid the rush later.

Of special note: Joan Houlihan and Kevin Prufer will be reading at Lesley University Monday, June 24 at 7pm. On Friday of that week, I will be one of the graduating students reading at 7pm. You can find the entire reading schedule for the Lesley MFA summer residency (and directions to the venue) here.

Sunday, June 2, 1 – 3:30 pm
Robert Knox and Joanna Zarkadas
Poetry: The Art Of Words
Plymouth Public Library/Otto Fehlow Room
132 South St
Plymouth, MA

Wednesday, June 5, 7 pm
Mar Ka
Brookline Booksmith
Harvard Street
Coolidge Corner
Brookline, MA

Thursday, June 6, 7 pm
David Ferry, Jennifer Clarvoe, Sabrina Sadique
Cary Library Reading Series
Cary Memorial Library, 1874 Massachusetts Ave
Lexington, MA

Friday, June 7, 7 pm
Wendy Drexler, Mark Pawlak, and Kyle Potvin
The Old Manse
269 Monument Street
Concord, MA

Friday, June 7, 7 pm
Steve Ablon and Xiaoly Li
and Open Mic
West Suburban YMCA
276 Church Street
Newton, MA

Friday, June 7, 7:30 pm
Natalie Shapero
Unearthed Song & Poetry
Homestead Bakery and Cafe
1448 Dorchester Ave.
Fields Corner
Dorchester, MA

Saturday, June 8, 2 pm
Jennifer Barber and Gloria Monaghan
Arts at the Armory
191 Highland Ave.
Somerville, MA

Saturday, June 8, 4 pm
Kristen Case, Karen Weiser, and Jennifer Firestone
MIT Press Bookstore
301 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA

Saturday, June 8, 6 – 7:30 pm
Victor Infante and Lizzie Wann
Bedlam Book Cafe
138 Green St.
Worcester, MA

Tuesday, June 11, 7 pm
Kate Colby, Cynthia Cruz, Joan Houlihan, and Daniel Tobin
Grolier Poetry Book Shop
6 Plympton St.
Cambridge, MA

Saturday, June 22, 3 pm
John Foy and Joan Kimball
Powow River Poets Reading Series
Newburyport Public Library
92 State Street
Newburyport, MA

Monday, June 24, 7 pm
Joan Houlihan and Kevin Prufer
Marran Theater
Lesley University
34 Mellen Street
Cambridge, MA

Tuesday, June 25, 5:30 pm
Catherine Stearns, Richard Wollman, and Susan Edmonds Richmond
Writers Read
Lee Library, 100 Main St.
Lee, MA

Saturday, June 29, 2 pm
Deborah Ogden and Melissa Silva
Cervena Barva Press
Art at the Armory
191 Highland Avenue
Somerville, MA

An Embarrassment of Riches

Silhouette of a woman with arms outspread and head thrown back. Photo credit: Jill Wellington via Pixabay.

The only thing you need to do to be a poet is to write poetry. But occasionally, if you do the footwork and let go of the results, you get rewarded with some accolades. I’ve had a string of successes recently and wanted to share:

  • In March, the Lambda Literary Awards selected my chapbook Mad Quick Hand of the Seashore as a finalist in the bisexual poetry category.
  • On April 24, Athena Dixon interviewed me for the New Books in Poetry podcast. We had a great conversation about the writer’s journey, how things have improved (or not) for marginalized voices, and how writing practice can change over time.
  • On April 29, new Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola selected my work, along with that of 17 other poets, to be displayed at Boston City Hall as part of the Mayor’s Poetry Program.
  • On April 27, I performed alongside a slew of talented poets, musicians, and actors in the Solidarity Salon, an event started and organized by fellow Lesley poet Lisa DeSiro. The crowd that showed up to Third Life Studios in Union Square, Somerville was wonderfully warm and appreciative, and True Story Theater brought three poems to life–including one of mine!
  • On May 10, three of my poems appeared in the Heavy Feather Review #NoMorePresidents online feature.
  • On May 13, The Rumpus published my interview with Kwoya Fagin Maples about her moving book of historical persona poetry Mend (University Press of Kentucky, 2018).
  • On May 15, the Harriet blog on the Poetry Foundation website picked up the article, thus causing something rather unlikely: my name on the Poetry Foundation website. It’s a far cry from having my poems up there, but it’s still pretty cool.
  • On May 18, I walked in the Lesley University commencement ceremony with a brown hood to signify Master of Fine Arts. Lesley won’t award me the degree itself until I complete my graduating seminar at the June residency, but taking part in the ceremony was quite moving. My mother, brother, and sort-of-mother-in-law all traveled from out of town to celebrate with me and Mark, my partner and biggest fan.

Yes, Dispatches from an MFA are not up-to-the-minute coverage. More to come.

The interesting thing about po-biz success is how short-lived the good feelings can be. Lesley faculty member Tracey Baptiste has talked about the moving goalposts, and others seem to agree with her. I’m sure I’ll be eyeballs deep in existential angst soon, but for the moment, anyway, I feel like the Poetry Gods are smiling upon me.

Thanks to you, dear reader, for supporting me in these endeavors.

May 2019 and June 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings

Poetry and all that jazz

All that energy from National Poetry Month seems to have spilled into May and June this year. Of special note:

  • U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith reading at Harvard TODAY, May 2
  • Rafael Campo in Cambridge Monday, May 6
  • Gabrielle Calvocoressi in Belmont Thursday, May 23
  • New Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola in Roslindale Thursday, May 23
  • Cervena Barva’s monthly readings at the Somerville Arts at the Amory

Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling these listings.

Thursday, May 2, 4 – 5:30 pm
Tracy K. Smith
Harvard Arts Medal Ceremony
Agassiz Theatre
5 James St.
Cambridge, MA
free ticket required
617-496-2222

Thursday, May 2, 5:30 pm
Dawn Lundy Martin
Brown University
McCormack Family Theater
70 Brown St.
Providence, RI

Continue reading “May 2019 and June 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings”

Come See Me Read at the Solidarity Salon, Saturday April 27, 2019

Flyer for Solidarity Salon, April 27, 7pm at Third Life Studios in Somerville MA

Thanks to Lisa DeSiro for organizing this event.

Solidarity Salon
Saturday, April 27, 2019
7:00–9:00pm (doors open 6:45pm)
Third Life Studio
33 Union Square, Somerville MA

Featuring:
Paintings by Andrea Lynne
Poetry by Robert Carr, Frances Donovan, and Kelly DuMar (with members of Playback Theatre)
Music by Robin Ginenthal (soprano) and Lisa DeSiro (piano)
Hard Stones, a song cycle written by Griffin Candey with texts by Lisa DeSiro,
performed by Ann Moss (soprano) and Lois Shapiro (piano)

Admission $5.00
Reception afterward including refreshments
Books, CDs, and art available to purchase

Directions and parking information: https://www.thirdlifestudio.com/directions

April 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings

National Poetry Month means an explosion of poetry readings in Boston and environs. The Mass Poetry Festival is on hiatus this year as they work with Grub Street and the Harvard Bookstore to open the new Narrative Arts Center in South Boston’s Seaport District. The Boston Public Library is holding its own festival April 3-7 though–details below.

Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling these listings. Check out his new book Spider Drop from Subpress Collective.

Of special note:

Continue reading “April 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings”

March and April 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings

Poetry and all that jazz

Expect lots more listings to arrive before National Poetry Month begins in April. March’s reading listings are rather rich as it is. Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling these listings. Feel free to comment with your own announcements below, or submit your event for listing on the Mass Poetry website.

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATED LIST OF APRIL 2019 READINGS

Friday, March 1, 7 pm
Paula Bonnell, David Miller, Steve Rapp
The Old Manse
Concord, MA

Sunday, March 3, 1 – 3:30 pm
Tony Brown and Dzvinia Orlowsky
Poetry: The Art Of Words
Plymouth Public Library/Otto Fehlow Room
132 South St
Plymouth, MA

Monday, March 4, 8 pm
Mark Halliday and Adrian Blevins
Blacksmith House Poetry Series
56 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA
$3

Continue reading “March and April 2019 Boston Area Poetry Readings”

Song and Compression in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry

Photograph of poet Emily Dickinson

Last semester I wrote a craft annotation on the subject of poetic structure and nonlinear time. Now I can see that this is very much an element of lyric poetry. Where narrative poetry moves like a road, lyric poetry unfolds like a flower, spiraling out from a single image or moment into a flurry of associations and other moments.

In The Flexible Lyric, Ellen Bryant Voigt calls out compression and song as two characteristics of lyric poetry. Emily Dickinson’s poems feature both of these qualities prominently. Her poems have a basic pattern: quatrains with alternating iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter lines. But the thing that set her apart from the dominant aesthetic of her time was the way she broke from the pattern. What her contemporaries might have called spasmodic, imperfectly rhymed, and lacking in form, we today consider a masterful interplay of meaning and music. Some of her poems adhered more closely to convention than others. Consider “Because I could not stop for Death” (poem 712):
Continue reading “Song and Compression in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry”

A Close Reading of “Elegy for My Father,” by Annie Finch

Detail of the cover of Spells: New and Selected Poems, by Annie Finch

Annie Finch titled her 2013 volume of selected poems Spells for good reason. A Wiccan as well as a poet, she recognizes the power of incantation in creating an altered consciousness, a state in which a strongly held vision can move from the realm of possibility into reality. Not all of Finch’s poems are visionary or transformative in intention, but they do share a powerfully persuasive incantatory quality.

Finch relies on a number of poetic techniques to create these incantations, most notably repetition of words and phrases and the use of iambs—the thump-THUMP of a heartbeat that calls up instinctive memories of the womb. But her repertory far exceeds the basic iamb, as we see in “Elegy for My Father.” While the poem definitely meets the criteria of an elegy – it recounts the vigil at her father’s deathbed – its complex dactylic meter runs counterpoint to the somber subject matter. Lines alternate between pure dactylic tetrameter and dactylic trimeter with a final, stressed syllable at the end, as in this example:

Continue reading “A Close Reading of “Elegy for My Father,” by Annie Finch”

Boston-Area Readings for February and March 2019

Image of candle lanterns with the caption "Poetry like a candle in the darkness" Photo credit: Jill111 via Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/lights-christmas-luminaries-night-1088141/

February 1, also known as Candlemas, marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Attend a reading to light your way from winter to National Poetry Month in April. Thanks as always to Daniel Bouchard for compiling these listings.

Of special note: Regie Gibson Feb. 13 at the newly opened Bedlam Books in Worcester; Morgan Parker (one of my poetry crushes) Feb. 12 at Brookline Booksmith; Martha Collins Feb. 27 at Suffolk University; Gloria Mindock Feb. 28 at Rozzi Reads; Layli Long Soldier March 5 at Smith College.

Friday, February 1, 7 pm
Linda Lamenza and Francis Lunney, Open Mic
Workshop for Publishing Poets
West Suburban YMCA
276 Church Street
Newton, MA

Friday, February 1, 7:30 pm
Kevin McLellan
Unearthed Song & Poetry
Home.stead Bakery and Cafe
1448 Dorchester Ave.
Fields Corner
Dorchester, MA

Sunday, February 3, 1 -3:30 pm
Lisa Sullivan and Iain Haley Pollack
Poetry: The Art Of Words
Plymouth Public Library/Otto Fehlow Room
132 South St
Plymouth, MA

February 3, 2 – 4 pm
Zvi A. Sesling
followed by open mic
Temple Sinai
50 Sewall Ave.
Brookline, MA

Continue reading “Boston-Area Readings for February and March 2019”