Friday, September 21, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Sarah Dickenson Snyder

                    Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has two poetry collections, The Human Contract and Notes from a Nomad, both published in 2017.

{yonder animalsfromtheneckdown}
after e. e. cummings
yonder animalsfromtheneckdown—
the scurriers on dried leaves seem yonder
no more—dead mouse in a slippery sink,
one sunk to the bottom of a toilet bowl,
all of their scant brown scat—dashes
of how close the wildness is, a ripening
unburdened through walls—we all scurry
in a world, gnaw our way to sweet,
camouflage the underbelly but know {not
for the first time} that every creature
is thirst stricken and will spill
upon the earth in the end.

© Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Somerville Poet Laureate: Call for Applicants for 2019

Nicole Terez Dutton
Gloria Mindock

We are coming to the end of the tenure of Gloria Mindock--Somerville's second  Poet Laureate. She has done a great job. We are looking for new candidates for the position--please read below...  Best, Doug Holder/ Poet Laureate Committee

Somerville Poet Laureate

Application and Overview

Statement of Purpose

The City of Somerville announces the creation of a Poet Laureate for Somerville. The City views the position as a means to further enhance the profile of poets and poetry in the city and beyond. The Poet Laureate is expected to bring poetry to segments of Somerville's community that have less access or exposure to poetry: senior citizens, youth, schools and communities. The Poet Laureate will be a person of vision with the ability to enact his/her vision.


The Poet Laureate will serve for a two-year term, 2019 & 2020, and will be provided an honorarium of $2,000 per year. A contract will be derived with expectations detailed as to the public benefit required of the position, which will be jointly determined with the final applicant and review committee. The expectation is that the position will support and expand poetry in the city. The Somerville Arts Council/City of Somerville will support the Laureate in networking within the community but actual work must be accomplished by the chosen candidate.

How to apply

Deadline: Postmarked by Monday, November 5, 2018

Candidates for Somerville Poet Laureate must provide the following:

  • One page contact info sheet with name, address, phone number, email, website (if applicable)

  • Proof of Somerville residence demonstrated by sending a copy of a utility bill, lease, phone bill. (a jpg image of a current bill or statement is fine if emailing application, or a photocopy of statement if mailing application)

  • Curriculum Vitae / Poetry-Related Bio

  • Up to 20 pages of original poetry

  • Provide a one to three page vision statement that is realistic in execution, which details how you will implement the public benefit component.

How to submit

  1. Either email PDFs of the above items to Gregory Jenkins at with Poet Laureate in the subject header:

  1. Or mail the following documents to: Somerville Poet Laureate, Somerville Arts Council, 50 Evergreen Ave., Somerville, MA 02145

Selection Process for Poet Laureate of Somerville

A committee, comprised of local poets, teachers, and arts administrators, will review the applications based on the evaluation criteria and select three finalists. Finalists will be interviewed in November with the expectation that they will further refine their proposed vision and public component for the position. The interview process will also provide the selection committee the ability to inquire more of the candidate. Based on the four criteria below, the committee will select a final candidate and alternate who will be presented to Mayor Joseph Curtatone for his approval.

Evaluation Process for Poet Laureate Nomination

The Poet Laureate will be reviewed and chosen on the basis of the four criteria (percentage weights included):

  • Excellence in craftsmanship, as demonstrated by submitted original poems (25%)

  • Providing a vision for the position. How will you work with the community, schools, nonprofit or municipal arts and service departments. Please convey your vision for the position with details of outreach and collaborations. (25%)

  • Professional achievement in the field of poetry. Merit shall be proven by publication credits either in small press or large press publications; at least one collection, full size or chapbook published by a small press or large press; also, awards or recognition such as grants, fellowships, prizes, and/or other recognition. (25%)

  • A history of actively promulgating the visibility of poetry in Somerville’s neighborhoods and literary communities through readings, publications, promotion of events, public presentations and/or workshops and other types of teaching and literary community involvement. (25%)

City of Somerville

Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone

The View from Flyover Country by Sarah Kendzior

The View from Flyover Country by Sarah Kendzior. Flatiron Books. 235 pages. $16.99.

Review by Ed Meek

Sarah Kendzior is a unique voice in journalism. She has a PhD in Anthropology. She studied authoritarian regimes. She is known for predicting Trump’s rise to power. The View From Flyover Country is a collection of essays written between 2012 and 2014. Many were penned for Al Jazeera. They were originally posted online and were just recently released as a book. She has a wide range of interests: the media, higher education, race, the economy. She is on the same page as Naomi Klein who wrote in The Shock Doctrine about the way those in power use a crisis in order to advance their own agenda. The essays taken together do a good job of explaining how we got into this fine mess.

Kendzior traces the election of Trump back to the Bush administration. In an essay called “Iraq and the Reinvention of Reality” Kendzior reminds us that back in 2002, in what the white house called, “the roll-out” of the war, Karl Rove said, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” That reality included the “fake news” of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that did not actually exist. None other than Secretary of State Colin Powell made a presentation to the United Nations claiming such weapons did exist and were a threat to us and the world. Condoleezza Rice went on television warning of a mushroom cloud if we failed to act, and Dick Cheney leaked “proof” of such weapons to The New York Times.

In the years following the invasion and occupation of Iraq, we had reality television, Sarah Palin, and The Apprentice, a show that beamed the decisive boss, Donald Trump, into the homes of 20 million Americans. Then, in 2015, Trump the celebrity was able to find support for his populist message to make America great again because, as Kendzior, puts it, so many Americans never recovered from the Great Recession of 2008 and they needed to blame someone. Trump offered them Mexican immigrants, Muslims, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and her husband Bill. At the same time, he stoked their fears of terrorism. Like Palin he addressed them as the real Americans, the true patriots—those who were the victims of open borders, free trade and identity politics. And he addressed their concerns about the “Swamp” Washington had become. “I alone can fix it,” he claimed.

Sarah Kendzior is from St. Louis one of those forgotten cities in America. Do you remember the Judy Garland movie Meet Me in Saint Louis? It came out in 1944 and was set at the turn of the century when St. Louis hosted the World’s Fair. She sings “Easter Parade” at the end. It was an upbeat movie about the time when St. Louis, like many other cities in America, was thriving. Now St. Louis has high unemployment and underemployment and underfunded, racially-segregated schools. Kendzior connects the dots between Americans stuck in low wage jobs working for McDonalds and Walmart and Americans who used to be high income professionals who are now stuck in part time jobs in fields like journalism, academia, and publishing, in what she calls the post-employment economy.

From Kendzior’s perspective, most Americans, what Bernie would call the bottom 90 per cent, are not in good shape. Millennials are graduating from overpriced colleges saddled with debt. Mothers are forced to make impossible choices between taking care of their children and working to pay for daycare. College admissions are slanted toward the rich, as are internships, because the rich are the only ones who can afford to do them. Poor people are blamed for poverty and if they cannot afford to pay their water bill, the water in the richest country in the world is cut off, as it was in Detroit.

As someone who studied authoritarian regimes, Kendzior appreciates the fact that we in the United States have the ability to complain and to resist. She is hopeful that Trump will function as a cautionary tale we can tell our children about. She is concerned that the damage he is doing to the environment, the courts, our standing in the world, will take years to undo.

The View From Flyover Country is well worth reading. I would also encourage you to follow her on Twitter @sarahkendzior. Here’s a recent tweet: “I’m sick of rapists and liars and traitors and kleptocrats and warmongers and white supremacists and the fact that all the descriptors in this tweet can apply to one person and runs the USA.” If you want to understand what is going on in the United States today, Sarah Kendzior is a good resource.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Dorothy Shubow Nelson

Dorothy Shubow Nelson

Dorothy Shubow Nelson’s poems have appeared in: Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace, 2017; We Are The Port: Stories of Place, Perseverance and Pride in the Port/Area 4(Cambridge); Polis IV, 2014; Human Architecture VII, 2009; Consequence Vol. I, 2009; Atelier; CafĂ© Review; The Bridge; North Shore North; Rhythm Music Magazine; Sojourner; and various community newspapers. Her review of Viet Nam Veteran, Bruce Weigl’s collection, The Abundance of Nothing, was published in Consequence Magazine, Vol. V, 2013. Formerly a teacher of writing and literature for many years and Senior Lecturer in English at UMass/Boston, she has published The Dream of the Sea, Early Poems, 2008 and a chapbook, Something Near. She is the editor of The Inner Voice and The Outer World, Writings by Veterans and their Families, published in 2017. She has led the Cape Ann Veterans Writing Workshop since the fall of 2013. For this work she  received a Commendation Medal from Cape Ann Veterans Services. One of the early founding board members of the Gloucester Writers Center, she presently serves on the advisory board. 

Starting Over

I am broken
but to remember
how life is wrested
from each suffered child
each indignity borne
   by years of labor
each scraping of the
   iron skillet
each sharing of food
left over, thinned by
each worker’s  thirst
   and migrant’s
each desire for life stolen
   for everything stolen
each soul abandoned

praise the food of others 
each home with heat
each family well, free
   of disease
praise those who clean
house, discard, fix, persist

                        Dorothy Shubow Nelson
                        June, 2018