Friday, April 17, 2020

The 73 Waverly Bus to McLean Hospital: The Blood of San Gennaro

From the introduction by Megan Marshall:
"Scott kept writing. In the early 80's, encouraged by the Somerville poet Doug Holder, a co-worker at McLean, he published three poems in the Somerville Community News, including "Somerville, Again," and "Somerville and Farther North," reprinted here. Denise Levertov, then living in Somerville, sent Scott a postcard saying she "really liked" the second of these; he saved the postcard. His only other publications were two music reviews of Suzanne Vega and Leonard Cohen for the Boston Phoenix"

 There is an interesting story around this. I knew Scott Harney back in the early to mid 80's. We were both mental health workers at McLean Hospital ( a psychiatric hospital outside of Boston, a literary landmark as it housed the likes of Anne Sexton, and Robert Lowell ,to name a few), interested in poetry, both of us were at the same program at Boston University for paralegal certification, and took the same advertising copy-writing class at the Boston Center for Adult Education. I remember the many conversations we had while taking the 73 bus to and from Harvard Square.  Harney was passionate about writing and poetry.  It seems that Harney was one of the last students of Robert Lowell, and I happened to have written a small intro to Lowell's poem " Waking in the Blue" for Robert Pinsky's America's Favorite Poem Project. A few years back he attended a reading series at the Newton Free Library that I curate. A relatively short time later I heard he died of a heart attack at 63.

Marc Goldfinger, a well-known poet in the Boston area wrote me and said in the introduction to the book by Megan Marshall,( the Pulitzer-Prize winning historian and Harney's wife)-- she mentioned that I encouraged him to publish his work. He did in the Somerville Community News--and it seems that the late poet Denise Levertoff ( who lived in Somerville at the time)--read the column-- and sent Scott a postcard praising his poems. Scott kept that postcard...

I am glad that this collection of poetry has finally seen the light of day.It took over 40 years. I am glad that I encouraged him in some small way.

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