The Brookline Poetry Series Weblog

March 17, 2008

Old friends, dear friends

Filed under: Uncategorized — brooklinepoetry @ 4:45 pm

The wonderful earth mother Eva Bourke was in Boston last week with her amazingly accomplished artist son, Benji. It was a grand reunion. She read with Rosanna Warren at Suffolk University on Tuesday, and on Thursday Molly Lynn and Dan Watt hosted a gathering over at Cambridge co-housing where Eva showed some of her daughter Miriam’s documentary work and we all read poems with a political content.

I first worked with Eva at the Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass-Boston. Host of a wonderful two-week writing workshop each summer.

Although I’d been writing poems since childhood, it was with Eva’s kind and thoughtful tutelage that I began to believe I could write seriously, be taken seriously as a poet. Her criticism was astute but empathetic. I learned a great deal from her about how to guide a beginning writer. One of my favorite of Eva’s remarks was that the workshop was a place where we work on “lifting the hem and adjusting the cuffs, not remaking the whole garment.”

It was exactly what I needed and it put me on a steady path. Seeing Eva reminded me of the precious poetry community we’ve built together through the Brookline Poetry Series, which was truly a satellite community of the Joiner workshop. All of us founders met either in Eva or Fred Marchant’s workshop; we are still writing together, encouraging each other’s progress and development.

Poets do not write in solitary garrets in isolation. My students continue to believe that the whiskey-drinking loner is the epitome of creative expression. Not true! Every poet I study and teach was a part of a community: Shakespeare had Marlowe and his fellow sonnet-makers and playwright colleagues. Where would Wordsworth be without Coleridge? And the Harlem Renaissance? Not much of a rebirth without that vibrant group of painters, playwrights, poets, musicians all engaged in art-making, political action and argument.

We are always in dialogue. That’s what keeps the work alive.

— SR


March 8, 2008

Spring can’t come soon enough…

Filed under: Uncategorized — brooklinepoetry @ 3:57 pm

I’ve been urged by my soul brother John Anderson to keep up the blog, so, one more post today. I’m turning my thoughts to Spring, as we all are after this rigorous New England winter.

I speak frequently with my mother, who lives in central Vermont (scene of the crimes, as it were) and they’ve had more than 100 feet of snow this winter; broken every record since anyone began to keep them. Last time I was there, the plowman had driven the snow up into 12-foot banks along the icy drive.

They keep the car in a garage, but it’s still a lot to ask of a person in her seventies to navigate the back steps to the car and try to back out of that snow pass.

So, I’m thinking Spring. I can hear the birds this morning, joyous as usual. Just little sparrows that light upon the wires crisscrossing the alley, but they sound a call for change. They’re here all winter, little dears. I’m constantly surprised by them, especially after a heavy snow or bitter cold snap. How do they survive? Makes me want to research sparrows.

What most surprised me when I moved to Boston in the mid-80’s was how different here the climate from the one I knew up north: I could ride my bike in February! Geese, ducks, sparrows, and probably others, didn’t migrate!

I come now to the close of my own Spring Break, having done little of the paid labor, but laboring in other ways, and listening to the birds outside the window, hopeful as I see the hardy crocus shoots emerge from the little plot next to the front stoop. Warm weather to follow.

Here’s something from grandpappy Virgil to keep us all going.

— SR

News You Can Use

Filed under: Uncategorized — brooklinepoetry @ 3:22 pm

First, congratulations to our own dear Ann Killough, who has just won the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award for her amazing first full-length collection, Beloved Idea.

I told Ann I think it will win the Pulitzer as well and she doesn’t believe me.  We’ll see…

I also want to give a free plug to Bert Stern and Tam Lin Neville’s Off the Grid Press.  What a wonderful venture–a place for poets over age 60 to publish their work.  The inagural title, Loyalty: New and Selected Poems, by Henry Braun, has just won a 2008 Maine Literary Award.

Bert and Tam are true believers.  They work tirelessly for poets.  We love them.

— SR

Smooth Move

Filed under: Uncategorized — brooklinepoetry @ 3:08 pm

It couldn’t have gone better, frankly, and we are amazed.

We held our series reading in new quarters last night, and with resounding success. I told the assembled that it felt a little like moving into the Four Seasons after having lived at Motel Six.

Gail Mazur was absolutely remarkable, and “lovely” Liam Powell, a Boston College senior and prodigy, opened. We had about 75 people in attendance and poems flowed deliciously all night. Gail read two baseball poems, Margo read another in the open mic. It feels perfectly timed. I also loved a poem of Gail’s which adapted a title from (I think it was) Borges: History of My Stupidity. Hers was History of My Timidity. Lovely, lovely. Other possibilities we came up with at dinner: History of My Cupidity (me); History of My Humidity (Katie Moulton).

The Turkish food at The Family Restaurant in Brookline Village was also sublime. Vicki Murray came after her own reading in town (yey!); and here’s a plug for her wonderful poetry series, Poetribe. She took pictures:johnandkathrine.jpgJim Henle, Aimee Sands, Michael MackKatie Moulton, Sue, Liam Powellprabakarandstephanieandann.jpg

We’re off to a great start in the new space. Berred Ouellette read one of his wife Dianne’s poems; Dianne started the series seven years ago. I think, and hope, she would be proud of what we’ve achieved. She remains the guiding spirit for what we do.

Next month: Kevin Bowen and Sue Standing. Hope everyone can come!

— SR

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