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Somerville’s Julie Ann Otis: A Poet Who Feeds the Mind, Body and Spirit

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There is something to be said about my unofficial office in the back of the Bloc 11 Café in Union Square in Somerville. There is a nice brick wall where I can rest my glasses, books and papers, and a fireplace rests on top of the brick, a perfect pick for a winter’s day. My space also provides a sense of intimacy where I can probe the minds of my subjects for my column in The Somerville Times. My subject in this week’s column is Julie Ann Otis, a poet, a writer, a personal coach, a motivational speaker, to name just a few roles she plays.

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August 26

Local poet Julia Carlson writes The Times: “As a clinical social worker, my training cautioned me to pay close attention to ‘my own stuff’ and how that can unconsciously influence the direction of therapy. When this poem happened, I wasn’t 100% sure of where it was going. Reading it now, the poem reminds me that human relationships, as well as therapeutic ones, can be one-sided, and maybe for the best!”

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Interview with Louisa Solano

Former owner of the Grolier Poetry Bookshop tells it all
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This is an interview I conducted with Louisa Solano on my Somerville Community Access TV show Poet to Poet/Writer to Writer shortly after she sold the Grolier. It appeared in Circle Magazine. Many a Somerville poet has visited this store to buy books, attend readings, etc.

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August 19

A friend of mine, Keith Tornheim, is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the Boston University School of Medicine, and a fine poet as well. Keith sent me this poem about a departing secretary at his office.

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Somerville Writer Sarah Ignatius: Remembering the Armenian Genocide

Somerville’s Sarah Ignatius met me on a warm spring morning, at my unofficial office in the backroom of the Bloc 11 Café in Union Square. Ignatius is the Executive Director of the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project in Boston, and also a Somerville Arts Council Grant Fellow, who presented a talk and visual presentation at the Somerville Public Library entitled Remembering 1915: The 100-Year Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. She is also the author of a young adult novel (not yet published) The Devil’s Kaleidoscope. The novel concerns a 14-year-old Armenian boy caught up in the genocide.

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August 12

Our poet this week is Mary Schroth.   She sent us her bio statement: “Mary Schroth is a 19-year old college sophomore at Worcester State University. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English due to her love of the written word. She is passionate about literature, writing, and humanitarian efforts such as women’s rights, hunger awareness, and the LGBTQ community. Her poetic style is generally lyrical in nature, and she prefers to write about abstract concepts that have a visceral, introspective origin. Schroth is fascinated by the concept of human emotions and relations, which is a common theme that she likes to explore in her poetry.”

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‘Laughing Wild’ by Christopher Durang / Hub Theatre Company of Boston

Have you ever had a significant encounter with someone at Market Basket– in– say, the frozen food section? I can’t say that I have…but while fondling a yam—I had an idea for a poem, but I digress. In playwright Christopher Durang’s play “ Laughing Wild,”presented by the Hub Theatre Company of Boston, at the Club Cafe in the South End of the city, something significant happens between two conflicted characters in the tuna fish aisle at Gristede’s in New York City. The play ( set in the 1980s)  directed by former Somerville resident Margaret Ann Brady, uses this encounter between an unnamed man and woman as a conduit for an exploration of ontological questions like: why can’t I find love? a job? meaningful work? spiritual fulfillment? etc…

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August 5

Lisa Kaufman is  a visual artist, a yoga teacher and a poet. Her  poems have been published in several print and online publications, including “Lyrical Somerville” column ( Nov 5, 2008 Lisa Kaufman “His House”)  of The Somerville News, Somerville, MA., Bagels with the Bards: Anthology Number 4/Number 5/Number 6, and Wilderness House Literary Review.  Kaufman is a Somerville resident and wrote, “Follies” after catching the local Memorial Day Parade passing through into Davis Square. Each moment was recreated with run-on sentences, pressed unrelenting into a cavalcade of memories.

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Kevin Carey: A Poet of Revere and the Working Stiff

Kevin Carey has the rugged and weathered appearance of someone who has worked with his hands and knows the mean streets, not a man who teaches poetry under the shade of the academy. And indeed Carey came to writing and teaching late in life. He writes what he knows, and that is himself, and the environs he grew up in– the scruffy seaside city of Revere, Mass.

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July 29

This week we have poems in Spanish by Sergio Inestrosa, a professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Endicott College, with English translations by Max Sklar. Max Sklar is an actor and a translator based in Salem, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of McGill University, and works as the Foreign Language tour coordinator for Cambridge Historical Tours.

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Interview with Donald Norton: Managing Editor of The Somerville Times

Donald Norton has lived in Somerville all of his 68 years. And if there is one thing that most people can agree on about this important figure in our city, it is that he has an unabashed love for Somerville. Norton, once the owner of The Somerville Times, is now the managing editor. The ownership of the paper is now in the hands of his longtime friend Ross Blouin. I met with Norton at my usual spot at the Bloc 11 Café in Union Square. Norton is a fount of information about the “Paris of New England,” and he had a plethora of anecdotes about the old city, and his view of things to come.

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July 22

Poet Dan Demarse writes the LYRICAL: “The aim of the poem is simple enough, that, is, a celebration of having an aim towards which to journey, perhaps as TS Eliot said, ‘Having to construct something / Upon which to rejoice.’ In this case, we dive straight into metaphor: the small amount of warmth given from a fire constructed by a man, or figure, limping through his nameless tundra. In a similar way do we scale the poet, as readers, to the light of her meanings, and leave all else a frigid plain, unknowing. I like to think that there is a sense of, if not futility, then the odd sort of Stevensian dominant blank here. A desperate crisis to convey the imagination. Some place where from one cannot escape but must, by doing the thing, making, and warming oneself by the fire of creative impulse.”

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