Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Somerville Poets Go to Cambridge in new anthology “ On the River: The Cambridge Community Poem.”
By Doug Holder
“On the River”: The Cambridge Community Poem.” By the People of Cambridge. Edited by Peter Payack.
Well, I guess since Somerville doesn’t have a Poet Laureate, Somerville poets have to go elsewhere, and indeed a number of them have been included in the innovative new poetry anthology “On the River..” edited by the first Poet Populist of Cambridge Peter Payack. Since Somerville and Cambridge adjoin each other,there are exchanges of vital poetry fluids between the two promiscuous citizen bodies. In his introduction to the collection Payack writes:
“As Cambridge’s first Populist Poet, one of my first initiatives was to create a poem, by the people of Cambridge. Instead of me writing about Cambridge, my idea was to let the many voices of Cambridge write a poem about their city. The result is in your hand.”
This is an unique anthology in that all the contributors here are not just poets. Yes--there is former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, and Blacksmith House Poetry Series founder Gail Mazur, but there are also school children, comedians, nurses, pharmacists, carpenters and others all contributing their lyricism. And also: the book is Print on Demand and can be printed out by the famed book machine at the Harvard Book Store in Harvard Square. Ah! Brave New World!
Ifeany Menkiti, a longtime resident of Somerville and the owner of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, has a spartan line in the said collection about his Cambridge experience:
" I found my first grey hair. So What?" So What indeed! By now Menkiti has a whole host of the white buggers all over his dignified face.
Lloyd Schwartz, a poet, Somerville resident and Pulitzer Prize winner writes: "It's like a dream, you get up it's forgotten. Then it all comes back." What does he mean... ? Ah! sweet mystery of life!
Now even though Jimmy Tingle is a Cambridge native and a current resident he ran the Jimmy Tingle Theater in Davis Square for a number of years. Tingle writes a short anecdote about his first experience with stand up comedy on the streets of Harvard Square. A woman who witnessed his seminal and decidedly offbeat performance told him in a haughty manner that his performance (Some shtick about a nude beach) was interesting but did not think "... everyone should be subject to it." Now you know why Tingle had his theater in Somerville...we appreciate a good joke!
And of course yours truly, Doug Holder, a resident of Union Square has to put his two cents in, with my brilliant piece " Like Life" ( I am not above self-promotion-surprised?)
" I dove into a swimming pool
and I came out dry.
What else can I do,
I will give it another try"
Of course a project like this would be perfect for a Poet Laureate of Somerville...well, if we had one. Until then our rich mother lode of poets will have to look to other cities for those proverbial greener pastures.