Friday, December 14, 2018

Spotlight on Gloria Mindock, Outgoing Poet Laureate of Somerville

Outgoing Somerville Poet Laureate Gloria Mindock

Spotlight on Gloria Mindock, Outgoing Poet Laureate of Somerville

ARTICLE BY   Karen Friedland

Union Square resident Gloria Mindock has long had a mission of bringing poetry to the people.  

This month, she’s wrapping up a successful two-year stint as Somerville’s second Poet Laureate, having brought poetry and music to elders at the Little Sisters of the Poor, puppet shows to children at two Somerville libraries, and a bi-monthly poetry round table, poetry readings and how-to workshops at the Arts at the Armory on Highland Avenue, as well as outdoor poetry readings at Union and Davis SquaresHer last event, on December 14, was a tribute to Claribel Alegria and other Salvadoran Poets, reflecting the sizable Salvadoran community in Somerville. To top it all offshe gave away 500 books of poetry all over town.

Explains Gloria, “the mission of a Poet Laureate is primarily to reach out to the community—to get poetry known…and read!” She adds: “Giving books away was so satisfying—people were very happy with the books they took. This is a great way for poetry to reach the community, because many people won’t go out and buy them.” Gloria was especially pleased to give away a book of poems by a Russian poet to one of the nuns at the Little Sisters of the Poor, who had admired a poem of his Gloria had read out loud. She also loved the questions the children asked after the puppet shows. Her only regret: not bringing a mike and amp to the outdoor readings, so poets could be heard over the sound of traffic.

 A long-time poet and theater impresario, Gloria is the founding editor, in 2005, of Cervena Barva Press, which publishes cutting-edge poetry, fiction, and plays from writers around the world. The press provides one to two readings each month, and Gloria co-facilitates the “First and Last Word Poetry Series,” which was founded by poet Harris Gardner, on the third Tuesday of the month. Gloria also founded Read America Read, which leaves free books throughout the country to get America reading again. Learn more about the press and Gloria’s related projects, at

Widely published in the US and abroad, Gloria’s Pushcart Prize-nominated poetry has been translated and published into Romanian, Serbian, Spanish, Estonian, and French. Recent publications include I Wish Francisco Franco Would Love Me (Nixes Mate Books) and Whiteness of Bone (Glass Lyre Press). In 2014, Gloria was awarded the Ibbetson Street Press Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2016, she was the recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Award for community service by the Newton Writing and Publishing Center.

Since 2013, Gloria has used her own funds to rent a cozy, brick-walled space in the basement of the Arts at the Armory, at 191 Highland Avenue. The space acts as a venue for poetry readings and workshops and houses a bookstore called The Lost Bookshelf, which sells new and used books. It was in this space that Gloria provided many of the poetry readings, workshops and round tables during her two years as Poet Laureate.
Energized by her experiences as Poet Laureate, Gloria is excited to stay involved with the poetry community via her space at the Armory. In addition to her Cervena Barva Press readings, she will also provide a once-a-month poetry round table—a forum for local poets to read their work
aloud—as well as writing exercises and workshops like the “Get that Pen Out” and “How to Read Your Poetry Aloud—workshops she provided as Poet Laureate.

Recently retired from 30+ years as a social worker, Gloria is thrilled to be expanding her offerings at the Armory in 2019 to include an Open Mic Night on the third Friday of every month and “Monologue Mondays” on the first Monday of the month, in addition to continuing the bi-monthly round table. She’s also started an exciting, new “Pastry with Poets” workshop, recently debuting with a workshop on the villanelle delivered by area poet and professor Richard Hoffman. Learn more about upcoming readings, workshops and events at
Gloria recommends that the new Poet Laureate—who will be named shortly by the Somerville Arts Council—“have fun” in the position. She says that, during her tenure, “I met a lot of wonderful people who are now part of my life—we plan to keep working together to enrich the community.” Gloria believes strongly in keeping poetry readings and workshops affordable, and will be charging $10 for intensive workshops. “You should not have to break the bank to take a workshop,” she explains. Area poets and writers are also strongly encouraged to contact Gloria about presenting workshops.

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