Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Somerville poet/publishers for the senior set.

( Bert Stern and Tam Lin Neville)

Somerville poet/publishers for the senior set.

In the 60’s the saying was: “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” To Union Square residents and publishers Tam Lin Neville and Bert Stern it might be said: “Don’t trust anyone under sixty.” No, Stern and Neville don’t have anything against us younger folks; in fact some of their best friends are under sixty. But it just so happens they have a three year old press “Off the Grid” that caters to the sixty-plus literary crowd. I asked Stern why he chose this graying demographic. He replied: “We’re old. Why not stick with your own.” And it seems to this publishing duo that the “older crowd” is overlooked to a great degree in the publishing world. Stern reflected: “The kids coming out of the Iowa Writers Workshop” just don’t have the experience and experiences we have. The writing is vastly different.”

Stern and Neville are both accomplished poets and writers. Stern was a professor of English at Wabash College in Indiana for many years, and has published scholarly articles and poetry. His first poetry publication was in a sort of mini-book or chap titled:
“Glass Hill” Gene Magner, the late curator of the University of Buffalo Poetry and Rare Books Archive published it. The poet Robert Creeley read it and wrote Stern and praised his work

Neville has also taught on the college level, and has a host of publication credits in prestigious journals. She has a collection of poetry out “Journey Cake” that deals with her experiences in China some years ago.

Both Stern and Neville moved to Somerville eight years ago after Stern retired from teaching. Stern said: “It is hard to be a retired academic in a small college town. You shrink. You sit around in a coffee shop and wait for someone to talk to you. I wanted to be in a different place.”

The couple looked in several locations like Brooklyn, N.Y. and the Republic of Cambridge, but settled in Somerville. They are happily living in a large house on Quincy Street in Union Square. They frequent Sherman’s Café and Bloc 11.

Stern and Neville started Off the Grid Press with Stern’s childhood friend Henry Braun (they met as cub scouts) In fact the Press’s first poetry collection was penned by Braun titled “Loyalty.” The next book out is Lee Sharkey’s: “A Darker, Sweeter String.” The book was recently featured by Poetry Daily and Verse Daily online.

Stern said the Press looks for poetry that goes beyond the personal, that goes beyond the “poet’s nose.” So in these days of navel-gazing Off the Grid is a welcome addition to our literary scene. To find out more about the press go to:


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