Friday, December 11, 2009

Poets in Residence in “The Somerville Home”

Poets in Residence in “The Somerville Home”

By Doug Holder

Now—you would expect to find poets in the new Arts Amory in Somerville, or amidst the din of the Bagel Bards in Davis Square, or at a high-toned literary retreat like Yaddo…or its ilk. But you might be surprised to find a couple of practicing bards at “The Somerville Home,” on Highland Ave—a five minute walks from the poet residency of my apartment on School St. According to a pamphlet I was given by the energetic Activity Director Lori Verrecchia, The Somerville Home is “… a private, non-profit corporation providing residential services for over 100 years. We are a 59 bed Level 4 Residential Care Facility incorporated in 1898, licensed by the Mass. Department of Public Health. The Home provides protective supervision in addition to the minimum basic care and services required for residents who do not routinely require nursing or medically related services…”

The Somerville Home is immaculate and the residents are evidently well taken care of, and seem to be content, and yes, (a rarity I know), happy. On a stormy, wind-swept morning in December I met the two poets in a private room, along with the officious and official house cat “Princess”

Poet Helene King told me she has been a resident of the home for 12 years, and a poet all her life. She originally hails from South Boston, and used to run a haberdashery shop in Boston. Elena Lowry, her fellow bard, hails from Arlington, Mass, and has been a resident for 6 years. She worked for 25 years at the Boston Stock Exchange. Both poets said they were influenced by Longfellow, and Emily Dickinson, but weren’t crazy about Robert Frost.

King told me her poetry has a very strong religious bent as evidenced by this poem:


Jesus is born on this day.
He is the rock of all nations.
Given to us by the Father,
He is for us the savior
For salvation.
And may his flock
Continue to serve Him,
With prayer and praise we
Will be saved and bring
Others to kneel before Him, With love and fervor,
We adore Him, bare our souls.
Praise Jesus, help us live
For you.
And keep the Christ in Christmas.

King told me, with her signature modest manner, that her poetry has been published in The Pilot, an influential Catholic paper. King writes poetry to celebrate nature, express her feelings, and hopefully to move people.

Lowry, like yours truly, has a fondness for the harsher elements of New England like: wind, rain and even snow (as long as she doesn’t have to shovel it). She has kept journals for many years, and is well-practiced at her craft. Here is a very germane poem for the season, titled: “Snow”

Swirls of mystical crystal
Falling everywhere
Essence of wonder,
The children’s laughter
As they play,
Throwing snowballs at you.

It’s a release of pure enjoyment,
Fills the air mingled
With the sound
Of falling snow.

Gentle kisses on your brow
Trickling droplets as
The snow descends,
A world of white & glisten,
Sparkles fill us with wonder
Permeates every care.

These two poets talked about their life at the Home, which consists of a lot more than Bingo on weekend nights. They have a writing group run by an accomplished wordsmith Cam Terwilliger; they make frequent field trips, and are given numerous “freebies” by many Somerville businesses. They said Somerville is a great place to be old. “ Everyone is supportive, and the City really takes care of their seniors,” they chimed in.

I was told that The Somerville home is open to community groups who want to use their space for events. They welcome the opportunity for residents and community members to interact. Before we left, both poets invited me to their annual Christmas Gala on Dec. 21. My mouth watered as they described the succulent scallops wrapped in bacon, and other epicurean delights that are served. It is good to know there is a place like this that treat people with dignity and respect—something our older citizens richly deserve.

1 comment:

  1. Susan Tepper2:31 PM

    this piece on the Somerville Home and its poets was very uplifting. anything about decency amongst humans is a good topic for writing. thanks, Doug.