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


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