Thursday, March 27, 2008


(Ed Meek center)


Poet Ed Meek is a new transplant to Davis Square, Somerville, and damn glad of it. Meek, an accomplished writer in both the fiction and non-fiction genre, moved from the staid and tony suburbs of Belmont, Mass. to the hotbed of cultural activity: Somerville, Mass. Belmont, once labeled the “most boring” town in the state by The Boston Globe, was a bit rarefied for the writer in the man. Meek, the author of a new poetry collection “What We Love” (First World Publishing) said of Davis Square and Somerville: “Somerville is a great community. It makes you feel like writing.”

Like many writers Meek has held a host of jobs, mostly in teaching. In the 70’s Meek had a job as a wine steward at Locke Ober in Boston, a bastion of the cold roast Brahmin crowd. Meek told me he has a working knowledge of fine wines, but he said: “I have tastes that I can longer afford.”

Meek, who was born in Quincy, Mass. holds two Master Degrees, one in Creative Writing from the University of Montana, and the other in English Composition from U/Mass Boston. His work has appeared in such journals as the Paris Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Yankee, and Ibbetson Street, to name a few.

Meek has taught at Curry College in Milton, Mass, as well as overseas in Tehran, Iran. Meek now hangs his hat at Austin Prep in Reading, Mass. He likes the steadiness of teaching on the secondary level. The colleges he has taught at offered temporary one-year contracts, adjunct position, and the uncertainty wore on Meek. He also feels teaching high school has its advantages: “In high schools you can build relationships with students at an age when they have completely new ways of looking at things.”

Meek’s poems in “What We Love” are on the surface deceptively simple, but underneath are layers of meaning. Case-in-point: in Meek’s poem: “Divorce” he uses the conceit of divorcing the tired image of oneself, at say fifty years old.

“Move to a new city. Leave behind/ that fat lazy fool who returns your hopeful gaze/ in cruel mirrors every morning/ as you brush your caffeine-stained teeth/…This is the year to take a train into tomorrow/ one-way ticket in hand/ where no one knows your name/ and you can be someone else…”

Meek said as he grows older his writing” Just keeps getting better.” As a Baby Boomer, he is more aware of his limitations now as a writer and a man.. He feels at this point in his life he has a better grasp of what he wants.

About his own writing process Meek said that he does a great deal of revising. After he writes a poem he has to sit with it for two weeks or so to see if it works.

Meek said his major poetic mentor was Richard Hugo at the University of Montana. Meek said Hugo was a master of writing about place, with attention to concrete details, and he had a great ear. Meek smiled: “ He combines sound and metaphor, something I appreciate.” Meek also admires Robert Frost and John Ashbury who he heard read recently in Concord, Mass.

Meek said that we all have an aesthetic impulse that needs expression. “It is part of who we are,” he opined. Meek is a man who writes for the sake of writing not publishing. Although he is widely published he assured me that he would still be writing if nothing was published. He smiled: “Hey, not everything I write today is published, but I am still going at it!”

--Doug Holder

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