Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anne Elizabeth Tom: A Bagel Bard is the New Head of the Cape Cod Writers Center

Anne Elizabeth Tom: Bagel Bard New Head of the Cape Cod Writers Center

Anne Elizabeth Tom, among other things, is a member of the “Bagel Bards,” a writers group that meets every Saturday at the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square, Somerville. Late in 2007 Tom was appointed the new executive director of the Cape Cod Writers Center. Anne who lives on the Cape with her husband Steve grew up in Boston but remembers her summers on the Cape with great affection. Tom got an MFA from Tufts University, worked as a writer/editor for the MITRE Corp., started a family, lived around the country, but wound up back on the Cape.

For several seasons she produced the Grange Hall Poetry Series, the Cape Cod Winter Poetry Series, and produced original plays of Cape Cod playwrights. She is no stranger to the small press, and has published in such literary journals as the Aurorean, Ibbetson Street, Poesy, Out of the Blue Writers Unite (anthology), and Bagel with the Bards ll. Tom also established Cape Cod Cultural Tours which specialized in custom excursions focused on local history, and architecture. I spoke with Tom on my Somerville Community Access TV show “ Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.”

Doug Holder: Anne you have lived a number of places and traveled the world. Why have you chosen the Cape to hang your hat?

Anne Elizabeth Tom: The Cape got under my skin at a very young age. To me it is a nostalgic place. Once you go over the Sagamore Bridge it is all Cape Cod and you don’t have to leave it to get from town to town. Especially in the off-season.

D H: That divide--- does it cut you off from the Boston poetry community?

AT: Unfortunately I don’t get up to Boston as much I would like to. But I try to get together with Boston poets also.

DH: There have always been a lot of writers residing on the Cape from Norman Mailer, on…

AT: I know. It is just amazing. The poet May Oliver lived there. Marge Piercy, and the list goes on. We have a lot of great theatre too. We have a new theatre the: Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre. There is a tremendous amount of talent. So there is plenty to do. I could be out a few nights a week.

DH: Can you tell us a bit about the history of the Cape Cod Writers’ Center, and your mission statement, etc…

AT: The Cape Cod Writers Center is almost fifty years old. It was started by a small group of writers to support one another. And that’s really still the mission to support one another. We have an annual conference that really is the core work of the center. One of the ways we expanded our mission statement is to include more readers, and that includes poets. We also have a breakfast with the authors series at the Hyannis Golf Club. We have hosted such writers as Jan Shapiro, Shelia Connolly, Scott Withiam, and others. So many people come around from the Cape. It helps to have things happening on a regular basis.

We have an annual conference in August. It’s held in a wonderful retreat, overlooking, the Nantucket Sound. It’s right next to a charming, little Victorian town.

DH: You have published in such small press magazines and anthologies as: Poesy , Ibbetson Street, Out of the Blue Writers Unite, and Bagel Bards ll to name a few. What’s your view of the small press?

AT: I feel it is very important. It is important to publish. After I left my position as a museum director and moved to the Cape, I said I didn’t care if I ever published anything. I just wanted to write. But it didn’t take long before I wanted to share, and be taken seriously. It was the Aurorean and Ibbetson Street that published me for the first time. It was in the fall of 2002-I think. It was such an affirmation of my work. The small press brings poets together. I don’t think it is a good idea for poets just to write about by themselves, and never show their work. The small press is a wonderful way to meet other poets and get your work out there. Fred Marchant, one of our poets-in-residence at the Center, encouraged us to send our work to the small press.

DH: Who were your other poets-in-residence

AT: Afaa Michael Weaver, Wes McNair, to name a couple.

DH: What is the young writers workshop you offer about?

AT: We have a lot of summer people from other cities and other states that send their kids here. This year it’s going to be taught by David Surette. It is for talented writers between the ages of 12 to 16. It is held from Aug. 18 to Aug. 22 during our summer conference.

DH: You have done different types of writing. Why is poetry your favored genre?

AT: I’ve done business writing, and public relations writing. My favorite non-poetry writing is research and writing about history. I feel things very deeply, and I find poetry as the best way to express this.

for more information go to http://capecodwriterscenter.com

--Doug Holder

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