Boston Area Poetry Readings for May and Beyond

Light lights in air blossoms red
Like nothing on earth
Now the chains
Drag graves to lie in
This is May Day! May!
The poor’s armies are veining the earth!
Louis Zukofsky

Here’s the latest listing of poetry readings in Boston and eastern Massachusetts, just in time for Beltane and May Day. The Mass Poetry Festival is also taking place this weekend in Salem. It’s a weekend smorgasborg of readings, workshops, events, and exhibits that takes over the downtown Salem area, all for the cost of a movie. And parking is plentiful and cheap. Schedule and information here: http://masspoetry.org/category/2014-festival/ 

I also recommend the readings taking place on both sides of the river Monday, May 5 at Newtonville Books and the Blacksmith House in Harvard Square.

Thanks as always to my friend at MIT Press for compiling this list. Leave a comment if you would like instructions on how to be added to his mailing list.

Thursday, May 1, 2:30 pm
Arthur Sze
McCormack Family Theater
70 Brown St.
Providence

Thursday, May 1, 4:30 pm
Jessica Bozek, Christina Davis, Jill McDonough, Anna Ross and Rodney Wittwer
The Bookstore @ The New England Institute of Art
10 Brookline Place West
Brookline

Thursday, May 1, 7 pm
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub
Calamus Bookstore
92 South Street #B
Boston

Thursday, May 1, 7 pm
Susan Rich, Ann Easter Smith, and Rhina Espiallat
The Tannery Series
Jabberwocky Books
50 Water Street
Newburyport, MA

Thursday, May 1, 7 pm
Carrie Etter and Jennifer Militello
Grolier Poetry Book Shop
6 Plympton Street
Cambridge

May 2-4
2014 Massachusetts Poetry Festival
Salem
This event has many superb poets and the schedule is too lengthy for this email. Please find it online by using a search-engine “Massachusetts Poetry Festival” for detailed schedule

Friday, May 2, 11 am
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub
Reading and discussion with a seniors group
Sponsored by the Greater Boston area Jewish Community Center
Center Communities of Brookline, Hebrew Senior Life
1550 Beacon Street
Brookline
Open to public

Friday, May 2,7:30 pm
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub
Reading at Temple Sinai
50 Sewall Avenue
Brookline
Open to public

Friday, May 2, 8 pm
D. Foy, Robin Stratton, and Christopher Reilley
Dire Literary Series
Out of the Blue Art Gallery
106 Prospect St.
Cambridge

Sunday, May 4, 12:45 pm
Faye George and Dimitris Lyacos
Poetry: The Art of Words/Mike Amado Memorial Series
The Plymouth Center for the Arts
11 North St
Plymouth

Monday, May 5, 5:30 pm
Jill Walker Rettberg
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
East wing of Building 14
Room 14E-310
Cambridge

Monday, May 5, 7 pm
Linda Lamenza, Margie Flanders, and Margot Wizansky
Newtonville Books
10 Langley Road
Newton

Monday, May 5, 8 pm
James Arthur and Tung-Hui Hu
Blacksmith House Poetry Series
56 Brattle Street
Cambridge
$3

Tuesday, May 6, 7 pm
Renaltta Arluk
An evening of words, prose, and melodies featuring local poets sharing their personal stories about climate change and mourning mother Earth. Inspired by Inuit spoken word artist Taqralik Patridge, whose words are at the heart of SILA.
Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge
Free and Open to the Public

Tuesday, May 6, 6:30 pm
Seán Ó Coistealbha & Tomás O’Leary
Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway
Cambridge
(garage entrance is from Broadway, between playground and high school)

Tuesday, May 6, 7:30 pm
Lisa Starr and John Holgerson
For the Love of Words
Unity Church
13 Main Street
North Easton, MA

Thursday, May 8, 7 pm
Don Wellman and Tam Lin Neville
Cervena Barva Press Studio
At The Arts for the Armory
191 Highland Avenue
Somerville

Thursday, May 8, 7 pm
Mary Bonina
Flint Memorial Library
147 Park St.
North Reading

Friday, May 9, 7 pm
Frannie Lindsay, Barbara Crooker and Amy Hoffman
Chapter and Verse
Loring Greenough House
12 South Street
Jamaica Plain

Sunday, May 11, 3 pm
Cecily Parks
followed by Mothers’ Day Tea
Poetry at the Library Series
Concord Free Public Library
129 Main St.
Concord, MA

Monday, May 12, 8 pm
Peter Campion and Tomás Morin
Blacksmith House Poetry Series
56 Brattle Street
Cambridge
$3

TuesdayMay 13, 7 – 9 pm
DAY ONE: readings, remarks, and riffs in honor of Professor Emeritus Fred Marchant and to support The Suffolk University Poetry Project
C. Walsh Theatre
Suffolk University
55 Temple Street
Boston
$25

Wednesday, May 14, 6:30 pm
Louise Callaghan and Mairide Woods
Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway
Cambridge
(garage entrance is from Broadway, between playground and high school)

Wednesday, May 14, 7 pm
Jan Schreiber & Wayne Clifford
Powow River Poets Reading Series
Jabberwocky Books
50 Water Street (in the Tannery Mall)
Newburyport, MA

Thursday, May 15, 7 – 9 pm
Ken Lee and Debora Pfeiffer
Rozzie Reads
Roslindale House
120 Poplar St.
Roslindale

Saturday, May 17, 10:30 am
Elizabeth Doran, Carla Schwartz and Tara Greenblatt
Wake up and Smell the Poetry
77 Main Street
Hopkinton, MA

Saturday, May 17, 3:45 pm
Mary Bonina
Tony Brown and the Duende Project
Brockton Arts
Fuller Craft Museum
45 Oak Street
Brockton, MA

Saturday, May 17, 6 pm
Peter Shippy, Rosebud Ben-Oni, and others
Mr. Hip Presents: Reading Series at the UFORGE Gallery
767 Centre Street
Jamaica Plain
$7

SundayMay 18, 2 to 4 pm (note earlier start time)
James Arthur, Audrey Henderson, and Sheile Whitehouse
Calliope Poetry Readings at West Falmouth Library
575 West Falmouth Highway
Falmouth, MA
Donation: $5. Refreshments provided

Tuesday, May 20, 7 pm
Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, Preston Hood, Lamont B. Steptoe
Grolier Poetry Book Shop
6 Plympton Street
Cambridge

Thursday, May 22, 7 – 8:30 pm
Haiku Reading by members of the Alewife Brook Haiku Group
Community Room, Robbins Library
700 Massachusetts Avenue
Arlington

Monday, June 2, 7 pm
Margaux Novak, Robin Pelzman, and Lani Scozzari
Newtonville Books
10 Langley Road
Newton

Sunday, June 8, 12:45 pm
Jacquline Maloney and Molly Lynn Watt
Poetry: The Art of Words/Mike Amado Memorial Series
The Plymouth Center for the Arts
11 North St
Plymouth

Thursday, June 19, 7 pm
Hanna Andrews, Eryn Green, Stefania Heim
Small Animal Project
Lorem Ipsum Books (note new location)
1299 Cambridge St
Cambridge

Saturday, June 21, 10:30 am
Teresa Mei Chuc, Elijah Imlay and Ergo Canto
Wake up and Smell the Poetry
77 Main Street
Hopkinton, MA

 

November: National Guilt Month

Fallen leaves against grass and asphalt
The colors of November always surprise me — fading glory, but still glorious.

November is many things: my least favorite month of the year, one long sugar hangover between Halloween and Thanksgiving, the void into which the long evenings of autumn light become the sudden dusk of winter nights. It’s Movember, when men, women, and cars sprout moustaches to remind us that men should have shower cards too. It’s National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for those of us too hip to pronounce entire words). It’s Grateful November. In 2010, it was my own NaPoWriMo for about four days.

All of these 30-day, month-long commitments, all of these mutually supported do-good movements are great. They’re wonderful. They’re a sign of the in-gathering that is winter in the northern hemisphere: after the expansive summer and the exhausting harvest, the drawing together of the tribe around the fire to tell stories and… tweet about how many words they’ve written.

And for a perfectionist like me, they can also be a huge set-up for over-commitment and failure. Historically, November has been the worst month for me to do just about anything but plod along and show up day by day. The body knows this very well, but the mind forgets on a regular basis.

So this November, I resolve to do everything imperfectly. I will get my ass out of bed on a daily basis — imperfectly. I will express gratitude imperfectly, sometimes with mere gestures and sometimes with more sincerity. I will write haiku and journal imperfectly. I will update this blog imperfectly–perhaps weekly, perhaps less. I will join in the Dverse Poets community when it’s reasonable for me to do so, not each and every week, no matter how many times my calendar reminds me to.

I will conduct the next two sessions of my writing workshop imperfectly, doing my best to inspire and be inspired, enjoying the unfolding relationships developing among us all– and feeling lucky to be teaching writing, something so near and so dear and so close to my heart.

Imperfectly, I will accept the blessings and the gifts each day has to give me. And I will forgive myself for my own imperfections, give myself as many breaks and second chances as I need, and relax about whether I’m doing my imperfect November as imperfectly as I would like.

In Memoriam: Trayvon Martin

I’ve been largely silent regarding the issue of Trayvon Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal. As a white woman living in Boston, I don’t see the ongoing effects of racism in the same way that I did when I was living on the north side of Poughkeepsie, or growing up in a housing project in Stamford. But racism still affects me and those I love. I’d like to take a moment to honor the friends and loved ones whom I know deal with racism on a daily basis — and the friends and loved ones I never met or never got to know well because of the racist and segregated society in which I live.

From a New York Times editorial published July 14, 2013:

While Mr. Zimmerman’s conviction might have provided an emotional catharsis, we would still be a country plagued by racism, which persists in ever more insidious forms despite the Supreme Court’s sanguine assessment that “things have changed dramatically,” as it said in last month’s ruling striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act.

Mailbox

This is the sort of memoir piece I aspire to write. It’s also a wonderful reminder of a few of the advantages I took for granted growing up. Compassion grows from an understanding that we are more alike than we are different.

I shall be a toad

MailboxI was 20 or 21. He couldn’t have been more than a few years older. I can’t remember his name. Once a week, we would meet at the Trenton soup kitchen. I was volunteering. He was forced to be there. One of the conditions of his probation was that he would work toward his GED. We had a long way to go. He didn’t know how to read.

I had heard of people who went through life not knowing how to read, but the concept was completely foreign to me. I struggled with reading in 1st and 2nd grade. They even held me back a year. But I had a great teacher the second time I was in 2nd grade. I had an incredible mom who worked with me at home and read with me every night. And I loved books. I loved books so much I…

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Gratitude Day 25: Cranberry, Turkey, Pumpkin, Pecan, Peace

To do something imperfectly is better than to not do it at all. I wish I believed this axiom. I was raised in the school of do it perfectly and then check to make sure it’s really perfect. I was raised in the school of what do you mean you didn’t know that. I was raised in the key of G Minor.

I don’t remember how I learned to cook a turkey. It’s possible my Mom was involved, but the story I tell myself is that she never cooked. She cooked, of course, in between working long shifts at the light company, practicing piano, teaching piano, driving us to and fro, imagining we were being followed. Upon I reflection, I remember the following:

  • corn tortillas warmed on the gas burners (flip flip quick, until they were tinged with fire)
  • minestrone with the beans too hard
  • bread. lots of bread. she once said that the thing she missed the most when we left California was her sourdough

My brother and I learned to cook from osmosis, trial and error, and the encyclopedic Rodale’s Natural Foods Cookbook. It includes instructions for roasting, braising, broiling, frying, et-cetera-ing every kind of meat one could find in the grocery store. I started with chickens. I can’t remember the first turkey.

The last turkey before this one I shared with my roommate from mainland China and his girlfriend. Mom was supposed to come, but she called in sick — as she has done for more than one holiday since I hit my majority and started paying my own rent consistently.

This year, M’s family came to our house. I cooked the turkey, the stuffing (stuffing is my favorite), the green beans, the broccoli, the butternut squash. His sister brought her own delicious interpretation of mashed potatoes. His mother came early, made the cranberry sauce and the gravy, brought her graceful maternal presence into our home and negated all my mother-in-law fears.

Of course, technically, she is not my mother in law. She’s not even my mother in common-law — I believe it would take another seven years for that to take effect.

For most of my twenties and thirties, I scoffed at the traditional family model, bristled at the term “family values” with the rest of the queer feminist pagans. But to have eight or more warm animals gathered in my living room, brought together not by choice but by the accident of birth, people who in spite of the slings and arrows of outrageous genetics have gelled into a cranberry sauce of a family — bitter and sweet, whole cranberries suspended in a pudding made of the simplest ingredients — to have that in my living room, which is his living room, to be a part of that, was really quite an experience.

One that I wouldn’t mind to have again.

Also: she who cooks the turkey keeps the leftovers.

30 Days of Thanks

Gratitude Day 15: Moment in the Sun

This morning on my daily walk, the woods were bare, barren, still in disarray after Sandy. Branches and whole trees strewn across the trails, the trails themselves obscured under a carpet of rust-colored oak and beech leaves. I’m fortunate enough to live next to not one but two different pieces of conservation land. On the opposite end of our townhouse complex, past a grove of eastern hemlock, is a circuit through a wetlands, boardwalk in spots, bare earth, rock, and mud in others. Closer to our house are the woods. Maintained by a different municipality, they’re the local stomping grounds of all the discontented youth in the area. We regularly come across the vestiges of bonfires and parties: carcasses of beer cases, crushed and empty cans, glass sparkling among the mica on the granite outcroppings. Once, an entire couch, or rather what remained after most of it was consumed by flame.

This morning, the woods were fully Novembered, bare branches and trunks rising over that russet-brown carpet, and the sky above marshallowed with clouds. The cold nipped along the edges of my fleece and I was glad I’d thought to bring gloves. Underneath though, legs swinging through the empty crunch of the bare woods, I felt myself opening, enlivening, made vital in the way that only the cold air can make one vital. Sweat ran down my stomach, cooled when I stopped to stretch against a boulder at the top of the hill, drove me on to greater exertion to bring my body temperature up again.

On the way back, I picked around the edges of a red oak, its entire crown fallen over a pathway as wide as a street. Someone had already visited the swamp’s pathway, taken a chainsaw to the trunks that had fallen. Who will come to tidy these woods, one small island of wildness in the city of Boston?

Later today, I drove from an off-site meeting to my office under skies still glowering and chill, skies that seemed to promise snow. Instead, at 11:00am, just as I pulled up to parking spot, the sun came slanting through my sun roof. I opened it, and basked for a moment in the November sun.

Day 13: Nothing Lasts Forever, Not Even Guns & Roses

Five things I’m grateful for today:

  1. The guys who called to request “November Rain” by Guns & Roses after a day installing sheet rock.
  2. The DJ on 100.7 who played it during a particularly hellish commute home this evening — through cold November rain, early November dark, and crosstown Boston rush hour traffic.
  3. The excellent speakers in my car so I could blast Slash’s solo in the last two minutes of the song.
  4. The peculiarly layered sensation of hearing the song in my car now, the memory of the first time I saw the music video on MTV, and reliving in an instant the twenty-plus years between the release of Appetite for Destruction, their brief stardom, their decline into obscurity, and their return as retro metal stars. The whole concept of retro metal still boggles my mind. Those years in the late 80s when hair metal ruled seem preserved in amber, out of time.
  5. I will never have to live through the winter of 1989 again.

It Gets Better

I got my 1.5 seconds of Youtube fame in this video put together by the Harvard Medical School community for the It Gets Better project.

Link in case the embed fails: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOOo7ZtjKBI

Living well is often the best revenge. Every GLBT person who lives through the hell of childhood and adolescence in a homophobic society is a hero in my eyes.

If you have the time, the resources, and the intestinal fortitude, I also encourage you to take more direct action to improve the lives of young people currently living through that hell. Things have gotten better than they were when I was a child and a young woman. And in many places there is still plenty of room for improvement. The Make it Better Project is one way you can make a difference in the lives of GLBT, questioning, and allied youth today.

Open Letter to Senator Scott Brown Regarding SOPA

Dear Senator Brown:

I’ve been watching your first term in office with interest. I’ve also been a web developer since the early days of the web. The entire course of my life has been affected by its tides. So I have a personal stake in the passage of the SOPA bill.

This new piece of legislation promoted by powerful industry groups like the RIAA and the MPAA would stifle the free exchange and flow of ideas that has allowed many people — myself included — to change the course of their lives. It is essentially unenforceable and flies in the face of the spirit of collaboration that allowed nerds, geeks, hackers, designers, writers, and artists to make the Internet the thriving, global, decentralized entity that it is today.

There’s a lot of talk in the media these days about how large corporations are using their money to shape policy and legislation to benefit themselves instead of the American people as a whole. In your newsletters, you often talk about bringing jobs to Massachusetts. As you well know, the Boston metro is a hub for innovation in technology. Its residents even helped to develop the technology that made the Internet as we know it today. SOPA would kill the ability for thousands of small companies and individuals to express themselves freely and even make their fortunes on the web — all so that a few greedy corporations could keep even more money for themselves.

I know that you receive a great deal of funding from the lobbying groups promoting this bill. I and people like me — and there are a great many people like me in the state of Massachusetts — will be watching closely to see how you vote on this issue.

Sincerely,

Me