Thursday, October 20, 2005


Hymns and rants
By Clara Silverstein, Globe Correspondent October 19, 2005
If you think poets tramp around with their noses pointed up toward their black berets, then you haven’t read ‘‘Formaggio,’’ by Louise Gluck. The Pulitzer Prize winner and former national poet laureate found inspiration ‘‘in the flats of cherries, clementines’’ at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. The poem, originally published in The New Yorker, is still posted at the store.

From produce displays to elegant parlors at Harvard, poetry cuts a wide swath through Greater Boston. On any given night, you can find a slam at a cafĂ©, a reading at a bookstore, or any number of adult-ed poetry workshops. ‘‘There is a great need for people to go out and express themselves,’’ says Doug Holder, a Somerville poet who runs the Ibbetson Street Press and organizes readings at the Newton Free Library and other venues. ‘‘There is a free market in poetry here, with a vibrant community on both sides of the river.’’

That free market offers poetry consumers a lot of choices in the coming days and weeks, starting Friday night with a reading by Waltham resident and Pulitzer Prize winner Franz Wright, sponsored by the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge. A longtime gathering spot for poets in Boston, the Grolier is the area’s sole poetry-only bookstore; proprietor Louisa Solano stocks nearly 15,000 volumes. Among them is Wright’s book ‘‘Walking to Martha’s Vineyard,’’ wherein he ponders a variety of existential matters, using an ocean that ‘‘smells like lilacs’’ as a catalyst for the collection’s title poem.

On Sunday, a trio of Boston-area poets share the stage at the Concord Library’s Evening of Poetry. The three address an unusual array of subjects in their recent books: Kevin Young explores the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat in ‘‘To Repel Ghosts,’’ MIT lecturer Erica Funkhouser uses moments of domestic life to reach larger truths in ‘‘Pursuit,’’ and work by Pliny the Elder inspires Dan Chiasson’s ‘‘Natural History.’’ (Chiasson also has a poem called ‘‘Mosaic of a Hare, Corinium’’ in the current New Yorker magazine.) Young reads again Oct. 24 at the Blacksmith House Poetry Series at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, accompanied by Jacquelyn Pope reading from her first collection of poems, ‘‘Watermark.’’

Fans of Allen Ginsberg will want to draw a big pink circle around Nov. 14 on their calendars, which is when Frank Bidart, William Corbett, Gail Mazur, Maureen McLane, David Rivard, Lloyd Schwartz, and Joseph Torra read as part of ‘‘The Poems of Allen Ginsberg’’ at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, another Blacksmith series event.

Ongoing reading series in Boston give other award-winning poets, up-and-comers, and wannabes a chance to be heard. Chapter and Verse, founded 12 years ago by rector and poet Anne Fowler at St. John’s Church in Jamaica Plain, features a mix of neighborhood poets and prose writers, as well as more well-known readers, at its monthly readings; the next event is Nov. 2. The monthly Tapestry of Voices series at Borders bookstore in Boston usually features three to four readers, followed by a freewheeling open mic. (Tapestry of Voices also sponsors the two-day Boston National Poetry Festival each April.) A relative newcomer to the literary scene, the Concord Poetry Center pairs established and emerging poets (often students at local schools and universities) at its occasional Sunday readings. Its next event, slated for Nov. 13, features Steven Cramer and Susan Edwards Richmond, and will introduce Diane Randolph, a graduate of the writing program at Lesley University. !

!Oct. 21 Franz Wright
Harvard University, Adams House, Entry C, 26 Plympton St., Cambridge. 617-547-4648. 8 p.m. Free.!!Oct. 23 An Evening of Poetry with Kevin Young, Erica Funkhouser, and Dan Chiasson
Concord Library, 129 Main St., Concord. 978-318-3347. 7:30 p.m. Free. Part of the Concord Festival of Authors, which runs through Nov. 5.
Oct. 24 Kevin Young and Jacquelyn Pope
Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 56 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge. 617-547-6789. 8 p.m. Tickets $3.
Nov. 2 Chapter and Verse reading
St. John’s Church, 1 Roanoke Ave., Jamiaca Jamaica Plain. 617-325-8388. 7:30 p.m. Free. Readers include Roslindale poet Peter Bates and the poet Sandee Storey, along with Doug Most, editor of the Boston Globe Magazine.
Nov. 3 Tapestry of Voices reading
Borders bookstore, 10-24 School St., Boston. 617-306-9484. Readings are usually the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m., followed by an open mic at 7:30 p.m. Free. The Nov. 3 reading, a variation on the series’ usual schedule, includes Sarah Getty, Irene Koronas, Preston Hood III, and Lamont Steptoe.
Nov. 13 Steven Cramer, Susan Edwards Richmond, and Diane Randolph!Concord Poetry Center at the Emerson Umbrella, 40 Stow St., Concord. 978-371-0820. 3 p.m. $6, $3 students.!!
Nov. 14 The Poems of Allen Ginsberg
Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 56 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge. 617-547-6789. 8 p.m. $10, $7 students and seniors. Readers include Frank Bidart, William Corbett, Gail Mazur, Maureen McLane, David Rivard, Lloyd Schwartz, and Joseph Torra. Event benefits the Blacksmith House Poetry Series.!

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