Thursday, July 05, 2018

Poets sprouting at the Somerville Community Growing Center

Monica Hileman

Poets sprouting at the Somerville Community Growing Center

By Doug Holder

Monica Hileman joined me at my table at Remnant Brewing in the new Bow St. Market in Union Square, Somerville.  The large wooden table, the view of the courtyard, the tasty brews—made a perfect spot for conversation. Like many artists that I have spoken to Hileman had to move from our city because of the rapid gentrification we experience here. She now lives in Medford— in  a section that borders on Somerville.  Hileman reflected, “ Somerville is a lot like Williamsburg, Brooklyn now—many people are being forced out because of the high rents. Still it has a lot of things going for it, and I still want to be part of it.”

Hileman has a long history in Somerville. She had worked years ago as an aide to the now State Senator Pat Jehlen, as well as working for the  Community Action Agency of Somerville in the 80s.

Hiileman, who has an MFA in Creative Writing, is primarily a fiction writer. And her stories have been in a host of topnotch literary magazines. She told me she completed a new novel that takes place in 1921 in Spain and Paris, after World War I.  She said, “It basically deals with the aftermath of war, and how people try to make sense of a world gone crazy.”

For a number of years Hileman has been a member of the Somerville Community Growing Center. According to the website of the organization they are "…much more than a green space, it is where community grows. Situated on a quarter of an acre of gently sloped hillside near Union Square…it hosts rich programming including environmental education, cultural performances, and offers unique volunteer opportunities.” Hileman’s brainchild was to host a “Poetry in the Garden”  reading series on these verdant grounds. I was interested why she chose poetry if she is  a dyed-in- the- wool fiction writer. She replied, “I find people have a taste for shorter pieces; and I love poetry-so…why not.”

I inquired about Hileman’s own taste in poetry. Her eyes lit up and she told me she is a big fan of Elizabeth Bishop. She reflected “She was a very visual poet, and I am a very visual writer. I loved her poem, 'Crusoe in England,'—it is heart- wrenching and beautiful.”

Hileman filled me in about the poetry series. She told me so far such accomplished poets like Jennifer Barber( founder of Salamander magazine), Scott Ruescher, Jacob Strautmann and others have read in the previous months.   During the summer of 2018 she will have such poets as Wyn Cooper, Ed Meek, Anna Warrock, Ralph Pennel, and others read from their work.

I encourage you all to attend the series. Experience the flora and fauna, not to mention the bards. For more information about the reading series go to:

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