Monday, March 29, 2010



I have known poet Jade Sylvan casually over the years. I had the good fortune to publish her poetry in “Ibbetson Street” and the ” Lyrical Somerville” in The Somerville News. She is a dynamic reader and an arresting presence on stage. I have seen her strut her poetic stuff at Stone Soup Poetry at the Out of the Blue Gallery in Cambridge, and other venues. I have also followed her blog “The Broken Watch”, which traces the life of this young, "boheme" artist, as she makes her way in our city.

Sylvan, 27, (who has a new book of poetry out “The Spark Singer,”) is a corn-fed Midwesterner, but for the past three years she has lived in the Allston section of Boston, (which she said she outgrew), and most recently in Union Square and Davis Square in our beloved burg. She is a patron and a performer at many venues in Somerville, including the P.A Lounge., The Burren, Bloc 11, to name just a few. She finds that Somerville with its rich mother lode of artists feeds her creative fire.

Sylvan recently emailed me to tell me she has landed a plum job with Somerville’s “Book of Hope” program. The “ Books of Hope” project is a joint operation of the Somerville Arts Council and the Mystic Learning Center (Housed at the Mystic River Housing Project) The program was started in 1999 by Anika Nailah, who I had the privilege to interview on my Somerville Community Access TV show “Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.” Its mission is to allow young people to be involved in the writing, publishing, and marketing of their own books. They also have readings in area venues, and Sylvan and BOH have plans to expand that component. The current director Soul Brown writes of the organization:

“BOH has experienced an expansion this year with more youth involved. At one point the program peaked at 18 teens, ranging from high school freshman to college sophomores, representing Somerville and the neighboring communities of Medford, Malden and Everett.”

Sylvan told me over coffee at the Bloc 11 Café in Union Square that the kids in the program will be participating in a book tour starting May 13, at the main Branch of The Somerville Public Library. Brown and Sylvan have ambitions to have the BOH known statewide and nationally. The reading tour will take their young charges from Porter Square Books in Cambridge, to Providence, Rhode Island and as far away as Manchester, New Hampshire.

Sylvan told me that many of these young bards she works with are dealing with many issues that affect urban youth. Their poetry reflects their hardscrabble environs, but also more traditional teenage concerns: popularity, love, music, etc…

Sylvan has experience with adolescents, and brings empathy and creativity to the table.

Sylvan flashed a smile when I asked her if she plans to stay in Somerville, stating “As long as I am in Boston, I’m happy on this side.” Well, it’s good to have her on our side!

For more info on Books of Hope or to make a donation go to:

For more info on Jade go to

Books of Hope
Book Tour 2010 Dates

Thursday, May 13 6:00 pm
Somerville Library (main)
Tour Kick Off / Release Party
Featuring BOH Founder & Author Anika Nailah,
Bestselling BOH Author RJL & BOH Alum

Thursday, May 20 7:00 pm
Art Is Life Itself
Haley House Bakery Café (Roxbury)
Reading & Book Signing
Hosted by Nina LaNegra

Friday, May 21 0:00 pm
More Than Words Bookstore (Waltham)
Reading & Book Signing
Youth-run bookstore

Saturday, June 5 6:00 pm
Porter Square Books (Cambridge)
Reading & Book Signing

Tuesday, June 8 0:00 pm
Got Poetry Live (Providence RI)
Reading & Book Signing

Friday, June 11 7:00 pm
Slam Free or Die (Manchester NH)
Reading & Book Signing

Monday, June 21 0:00 pm
Stone Soup Poetry
Out of the Blue Cafe (Cambridge)
Reading & Book Signing

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