Jack Scully is the co-founder with the late Mike Amado of two ongoing poetry venues in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Poetry: The Art of Words a monthly poetry series and The Poetry Showcase a yearly poetry reading held in conjunction with the Plymouth Guild for the Arts yearly juried art show. In 2012 Scully organized Visual Inverse a joint effort between poets’ and visual artists at the Plymouth Center for the Arts.
Mike Amado published three books of poetry during his short time on this earth. Scully and poet Nancy Brady Cunningham have edited his fourth book. Scully, who currently serves as the literary executor of Mike’s work has read Mike’s poetry as a feature reader at Greater Brockton Poetry and Arts Society, Boston National Poetry Month Festival, Main Street Café, Poetry in the Village, Stone Soup Poetry, Poets Pathway, Poetry at O’Sheas’ and Salem Literary Festival 2010. He also serves as the unofficial photographer of numerous poetry venues.
Rene Schwiesow is the co-host for the South Shore Poetry venue The Art of Words. A Somerville Bagel Bard, her publishing credits include Muddy River Poetry Review, the Waterhouse Review, and Ibbetson Street Press. Rene’s work has been aired on the Talking Information Network, a non-profit service for the visually impaired. April, 2012, she was a guest on WGDH, Vermont, along with New York/Vermont poet Michael Palma. In recent news, her work, “Shades,” has been chosen as Poem of the Week by the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and will appear beginning January 25, 2013. Rene is a reviewer for Boston Area Small Press, writes a column for the arts in The Old Colony Memorial newspaper, Plymouth, MA, and is currently working on a third poetry manuscript slated for a 2014 publication date by Cervena Barva Press.
I had the pleasure to talk to these two on my Somerville Community Access Community TV show Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.
Doug Holder: The late poet Mike Amado was special to you both. What was it about him that inspired you?
Renee Schwiesow: He was accepting of everyone. So he made it very comfortable to open up to and discuss things. He was inspired by his Native American and Portuguese background. I have always had an interest in many different cultures. So that inspired me.
Jack Scully: Mike was basically a builder. Mike’s great idea was to build a bridge between the South Shore area and the Boston area. Originally I got Mike involved with the Somerville literary group the Bagel Bards. I read about the group in a column by Ellen Steinbaum in The Boston Globe, and I asked Mike if he would be interested in attending. So I took him to a meeting. At that time the meetings took place at Finagle-A-Bagel in Harvard Square. As a result Mike had two of his books of poetry published by the Ibbetson Street Press and the Cervena Barva Press of Somerville.
At that time, back in 2004, there was really not much going on in the Plymouth area poetically speaking. They had open mics but that was basically for music. Mike was looking for a place to start something for poetry.
In April 2008 we had our first poetry reading. David Surrette was our featured reader. We had a small audience. Now we average 30 to 50 people. We have a great open mic. So Mike and I founded two ongoing poetry venues in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Poetry: The Art of Words a monthly poetry series and The Poetry Showcase a yearly poetry reading held in conjunction with the Plymouth Guild for the Arts yearly juried art show. Our mission was and is to basically to give poets a place to meet other poets, and a place for poets to read their work. We hope to come out with an anthology in a couple of years.
We also started a new program connected with the Plymouth Center for the Arts where we match poets and artists, and have a public reading.
DH: Renee you are a well-respected book reviewer. How do you attack a review?
RS: I thoroughly enjoy reviewing because it has given me an interesting viewpoint on poetry and fiction. I generally read a book cover to cover. And then I do research on the author and the book. I make sure I include a few excerpts. But I try to highlight the good points, and then delicately discuss the not too good things. It is a ballet of sorts—a delicate dance.
DH: Jack you are editing the late Mike Amado’s 4th book of poems.
JS: In October of 2008 Mike knew he was going to die of kidney failure. So he gathered all his poems and put them into what he called books. And so Nancy and I went to his computer and basically put the Book of Arrows together. The book is in three parts and deals with his childhood in Plymouth, the plight of the Native American, and poems he wrote 3 or 4 weeks before he died. He has several poems about the National Day of Mourning, a Native American holiday that takes place at Thanksgiving. He attended this event shortly before his death.
DH: Jack do you have any ambitions for your own poetry?
JS: I attempt to write poetry. I have dabbled. I have scribbled on pieces of paper in my drawer at home.
DH: Renee any young talents you have discovered on the South Shore?
RS: We have a 12 year old Alicia Reed. She has a lot of promise. But it has been to attract poets under 30, but we are trying.