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With an old friend at Jacob Wirth: Jim Resnick and I
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This was written for my late friend Jim Resnick. Jim passed away last week at the age of 54. Jim was instrumental in helping me put out the first issue of the literary magazine Ibbetson Street in 1998.

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November 26

Ah … love … loss and gain – and all that pain. Poet Julian Gallitano gives us his take on “the same old story.”

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A Hard Summation,  Afaa Michael Weaver
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It is always a pleasure to get a new book published by a new local press. A colleague of mine at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Enzo Silo Surin, the founder of the Central Square Press, has published a new book of poetry (A Hard Summation) by poet and Somerville resident Afaa Michael Weaver. Weaver is a professor at Simmons College in Boston, and recently won the prestigious Kingsley Tufts Award. He has penned a collection of 13 poems that cover the history of African- Americans from the Middle Passage to the present day. Weaver’s intention, according to Surin, is to give the reader, “an opportunity to listen, celebrate, commemorate, and appreciate the success and failures of the past in order to develop a current and contextual understanding of what it means to be an African-American.”

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November 19

Professor William Harney of Endicott College has the gimlet eye of a newspaper reporter and the sensibility of a poet. Look below and see why.

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The Somerville Poet Laureate – It is finally here!
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Harris Gardner (Tapestry of Voices) and myself (Doug Holder–Ibbetson Street Press) met with Gregory Jenkins,( The Director of the Somerville Arts Council), at the now defunct Sherman Cafe in Union Square this summer to discuss the prospects of getting a Somerville Poet Laureate. I have been pushing this for years, but to no avail. There were either vacant promises from local pols, the eye-rolling, the patronizing hand shake – slippery as a snake – well you know the drill. Jenkins was on board with the idea; so then we met with the mayor and he thought it was a good idea as well. Now we have an official announcement, and information about how to apply. We are forming a selection committee, so far it is Greg Jenkins, Doug Holder, Bert Stern, Harris Gardner, Linda Conte, Charles Coe, Ifeanyi Menkiti and others. So if you are a fine poet, community-minded, have a track record of promoting poetry, and have a strong vision for your possible tenure – apply!

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November 12

Somerville poet Afaa Michael Weaver has a new collection of verse out titled: “City of Eternal Spring.” Endicott College creative writing student Paige Shippie picked out her favorite poem from the collection and told us why.

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‘My Experience At Bunker Hill Community College’
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For the past five years I have taught a College Writing Seminar at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. Bunker Hill serves an inner-city, and multiethnic population. Many of the students are older than traditional college students; many of the students are working full and part time jobs, and many will go on to four year institutions to continue their education. The college even offers midnight classes to accommodate the needs of this student population, and provides technical, nursing, and traditional liberal arts courses. Here is an essay from one of my students describing her first weeks in college. — Doug Holder

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November 5

Lee Varon is a writer and social worker. Her poetry and short stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Artful Dodge, Blue Mesa Review, Euphony, Hawai’i Review, High Plains Literary Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pleiades, Permafrost, So To Speak, Soundings East, and Willow Review, among others.

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‘City of Eternal Spring’ by Afaa Michael Weaver
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Paige Shippie, one of our talented students at Endicott College, took on the challenging task to review poet Afaa Michael Weaver’s new collection of poetry City of Eternal Spring. Weaver recently won the Kingsley Tufts Award in Poetry.

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October 29

Bagel Bard Dona Stein writes: “After a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University and some years in California teaching, writing, and publishing, I lived in Colorado also teaching, writing, and publishing, but also producing and hosting a radio program, The Poetry Show on KRFC FM in Fort Collins, Colorado. My most recent poetry collection is Alice in Deutschland.”

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Parting Words from Somerville writer Nora Piehl
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I am including this interview with Nora Piehl because I am participating in the Boston Book Festival this month, and she is the Communications Director of the said festival and a former Somerville resident. Here is a description of the panel I am going to host:

McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, has been declared a national literary landmark because of the many creative geniuses who have been treated in its wards. This panel will discuss three noted McLean Hospital associated poets—Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath—through a poet’s and clinician’s perspective. Panelists Kathleen Spivack, author of With Robert Lowell and His Circle; Bob Clawson, Anne Sexton’s confidante and manager of her band; Wendy Ranan, a psychotherapist and author of the poetry collection The Quiet Room; and Alex Beam, author of Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America’s Premier Mental Hospital, will discuss each of these poets, their experiences as patients at McLean, how their experience is reflected in their work, and how and what they managed to create with such a heavy burden of psychiatric illness. The discussion will be moderated by Doug Holder, who has facilitated poetry groups at McLean for more than three decades.

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October 22

Our feature this week: Dianne Silvestri is a physician, mother of four grown children, and stem cell bone marrow transplant recipient for acute leukemia. While tapering her careers in medicine and motherhood, she has indulged her sweet spot—poetry. She participates in Boston’s PoemWorks Workshop for publishing poets. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Earth’s Daughters, The Comstock Review, The Pharos, The Somerville Times, Evening Street Review, Steam Ticket, and Boston Literary Magazine. Her chapbook Necessary Sentiments is scheduled for release soon from Finishing Line Press.

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