Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish and Doug Holder to Read in Brighton June 5, 2009.

(Sam Cornish)

( Doug Holder)

Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish and Ibbetson Street Press founder Doug Holder will be reading from their work at Cafenation June 5 2009 at 7PM 380 Washington St.
Brighton, Mass.

Poet, educator Sam Cornish

An underappreciated figure of the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s, poet Sam Cornish wrote about the urban African-American experience in a voice just as tough and realistic as that of any other black poet of the time. His poems, however, replace the enthusiastic self-expression and the experimental African-American idioms of much modern black poetry with a terse, precise style that at times found more admirers among white readers and publishers than among blacks. In a poem about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King ("Death of Dr. King," 1971), Cornish depicted rage not in mounting cascades of language but in a devastating quick brushstroke: "we are mourning // our hands filled with bricks // a brother is dead."

Samuel James Cornish was born on December 22, 1935, in Baltimore, Maryland. He spent much of his life in the city, returning there even after beginning to find work and publication opportunities in the Boston area. After his father's death, he and his brother Herman Jr. were raised by his mother and grandmother. "These women raised us on two things: chicken and God," Cornish wrote in his autobiographical prose poem "Winters" (included in Generations, 1971). After one semester at Baltimore's Douglass High School, he dropped out. He later attended Booker T. Washington High School in Baltimore and took courses at Goddard College in Vermont and Northeastern University in Boston. For the most part, however, he was self-educated.

From 1958 to 1960 Cornish served in the United Stated Army Medical Corps. He returned to Baltimore and began to get acquainted with other creatively inclined people and to write poetry seriously himself, issuing his first small collection of poems, In This Corner, around 1961. His best-known publication, Generations, began life as a single poem in the early 1960s, grew to a 16-page pamphlet that Cornish published himself in 1964 (using the publisher name Beanbag Press), and finally became a full-length book. In 1965 Cornish began working at Baltimore's public library, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, as a writing specialist. He worked with children in that job, co-editing a magazine of children's writing called Chicory and compiling an anthology called Chicory: Young Voices from the Black Ghetto that the library issued through its 1960s-era Community Action Program.

Cornish continued to have a strong interest in the creative lives of children and wrote several children's books, including Your Hand in Mine (1970), which Black World called "a gem," noting that "the book is about a little boy who might have been Sam himself." By that time, Cornish had issued several more small volumes of poetry, known as chapbooks, under his Beanbag Press imprint. Traveling frequently between Baltimore and Boston, Cornish worked in several bookstores and at an insurance office in the Boston area and did editorial work for what was then the U.S. Office of Education in Washington. After marrying Jean Faxon (who had edited the first edition of Generations) in 1967, he returned to the Enoch Pratt Free Library for a year in 1968-69. In 1969 he took a post as a creative writing instructor at the Highland Park Free School in the Boston ghetto of Roxbury.

Although his poetry had attracted national attention as early as 1967, when he won a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Cornish's breakthrough occurred with the publication of the full-length Generations in 1971. The mostly short poems in that volume were organized into five sections ("Generations," "Slaves," "Family," "Malcolm," and "Others") that interwove Cornish's own family experiences with those of figures from African-American history. "Cornish shows that America has always been a land of crisis and social chaos," noted Jon Woodson in a Dictionary of Literary Biography essay. "His work is an individual's record of tragic events."

Doug Holder

Doug Holder was born in Manhattan, N.Y. on July 5, 1955. A small press activist, he founded the Ibbetson Street Press in the winter of 1998 in Somerville, Mass. He has published over 50 books of poetry of local and national poets and 25 issues of the literary journal Ibbetson Street. Holder is the arts/editor for The Somerville News, a co-founder of "The Somerville News Writers Festival," and is the curator of the "Newton Free Library Poetry Series" in Newton, Mass. His recorderd interviews with contemporary poets are archived at the Harvard and the University of Buffalo libraries, as well as Poet's House in NYC. In Dec. of 2007 he was a guest of the Voices Israel Literary organization and lead workshops and gave readings in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. Holder's own articles and poetry have appeared in several anthologies including: Inside the Outside: An Anthology of Avant-Garde American Poets (Presa Press) Greatest Hits: twelve years of Compost Magazine (Zephyr Press) and America's Favorite Poems edited by Robert Pinsky. His work has also appeared in such magazines as: Rattle, Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics and Poetry, The Home Planet News, Hazmat, The Boston Globe Magazine, Caesura, Sahara, Raintown Review, Poesy, Small Press Review, Artword Quarterly, Manifold (U.K.), Microbe ( Belguim),The Café Review, the new renaissance, Quercus Review, Northeast Corridor, and many others. His two recent poetry collections are: "Of All The Meals I Had Before..." ( Cervena Barva Press- 2007 ) and "No One Dies at the Au Bon Pain" ( sunyoutside-2007). His collection "THE MAN IN THE BOOTH IN THE MIDTOWN TUNNEL" was released in the summer of 2008 by the Cervena Barva Press. It was a pick of the month in the Small Press Review (July/August 2008). In 2009 he released a collection of interviews: " From the Paris of New England: Interviews with Poets and Writers." It was selected for a New and Noteworthy Book on NEW PAGES. His poetry and prose has been translated into French and Spanish. He holds an M.A. in Literature from Harvard University.

No comments:

Post a Comment