Friday, January 18, 2019

The Grolier Poetry Foundation and Forums Trust to Host the First in a Series of Events in 2019 to Raise Financial Support

The Grolier Poetry Foundation and Forums Trust to Host the First in a Series of Events in 2019 to Raise Financial Support
This Event will be Held on January 25 at the Historic Sheraton Commander

by Francine C. LaChance

2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the Grolier Poetry Foundation and Forums Trust. The first in a series of events, planned to raise financial support and celebrate the Grolier legacy, features Peter Balakian, Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet and Grolier Board Member, and Susan Barba, Poet and Senior Editor for New York Review Books. They will read from their poetry, discuss their work, sign books, and take questions from the audience. This event will be held on Friday, January 25, at 7pm, at the historic Sheraton Commander, coincidentally, also established in 1927, the same year as the Groler. Afterwards, there will be a reception with generous amounts of delicious hors doeuvres and a cash bar. Although the reading starts at 7pm, doors will open at 6:15pm to welcome guests who would like to enjoy food and a drink before the reading.

Trustee and  landlord of the famed Bloc11  in Somerville,  Ifeanyi Menkiti said he “very much looks forward to this event, which honors the now 91 year old Grolier tradition of bringing poets and those who love poetry together.” The guest list of poets, so far, includes: Kathleen Spivack, Frank Bidart, David Ferry, Robert Pinsky, Lloyd Schwartz, George Kalogeris, Fred Marchant, Martha Collins and Askold Melnyczuk. Poets Balakian and Barba gave us a preview of their discussion, stating: “We will reflect on poetry and its relationship to trauma, collective memory and the poems engagement with history.” Menkiti remarked “The focus of this reading aligns beautifully with the Grolier mission. Hosting these types of events is exactly what led me to save the Grolier from closing in 2006, and continues to excite me about our future.”

Poets Peter Balakian and Susan Barba shared their reflections on the Grolier, along with a request for support:

For us, as for so many poets, the Grolier has been a vital location, and, for nearly a hundred years, a temple to poetry and the most historically important bookstore of its kind. Because poetry is the cutting edge of language and a singular force in probing human experience, the Grolier remains essential to American life. Please come out and support the Grolier and its future.” 

Another reason to come out and support the Grolier is that they are now transitioning from a private operating foundation to a public charity. Menkiti’s intention has always been to shepherd this legendary cultural institution, and thereby to prevent any possibility of its ever closing, as almost happened in 2006. Menkiti is working closely with Francine C. LaChance, Consultant for the Grolier, to develop a broader range of funding opportunities in order to shift the financial burden from himself to some other sources, which include: donors, grants, and events, including the upcoming evening at the Sheraton.

The Grolier is and has been a beloved icon of culture and poetry for near a century, while also preserving the historic quality of Harvard Square. With many friends who want to support us, this shift to a public charity makes sense,” said Menkiti. While Menkiti will continue to lead the cultural work of the Grolier, he also noted that he did not intend his role as the primary source of financial support to continue indefinitely.
The Grolier expresses gratitude for the following support, for the January 25th event:

Venue Sponsor, discounted rates:
Michael Guleserian, General Manager of the Sheraton Commander

Book Sponsors, donated books:
Randolph Petilos, Poetry and Medieval Studies Editor, University of Chicago Press
Sue Berger Ramin, Associate Publisher, David R. Godine

Event Supporter:
Askold Melnyczuk, Arrowsmith Press.

The Grolier, owned by longtime Somerville resident Ifeanyi Menkiti, also acknowledges long standing support and generosity from our friends, with special thanks and gratitude at this time to Kathleen Spivack, David Ferry, and Emily Nammacher.

Tickets and select books by featured poets are available for purchase online. If you are not able to attend this event, you may still purchase these featured books online, for pick up at the Grolier, or for shipping, after the event. If you would like to have your books signed, please email:

What can you expect from the Grolier in 2019? Menkiti remains fully engaged in continuing and advancing the cultural work of the Grolier. He appears to be ramping up more events, more publishing projects with the Grolier Poetry Press, and some new and exciting special projects, including, potentially, a fascinating event that would be of great interest to our local friends, and currently under consideration with the Cambridge Historical Society.

Additional 2019 events and readings include: an event featuring Robert Pinsky and his book length poem An Explanation of America, now celebrating 40 years; a re-issue and celebration of David Ferry’s Grolier Poetry Press book Ellery Street; and the Arrowsmith Press Book Launch. Readings in the Book Shop will feature poets Ben Mazer and A.E. Stallings, George Kalogeris, and Raul Zurita and William Rowe translator.

Please visit our website for more information about the Grolier, including upcoming events.

If you can't attend the upcoming event at the Sheraton, but would like to support the Grolier, please consider making a donation.

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