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An interview with  Somerville, Mass. author Pagan Kennedy, concerning her life and work

This is an interview I conducted with Pagan Kennedy for The Somerville Times back in 2002.

Pagan Kennedy, a critically acclaimed Somerville, Massachusets novelist, once described the city she calls home as, ” a rock and roll, Vietnamese student neighborhood part of Boston…” Much like Somerville itself, Kennedy has changed a bit since then. This writer, who has written about everything from Rock musicians in the hardscrabble hoods of Boston, to two eccentric spinsters who hit the road, has taken a new direction in her writing. Kennedy has just completed an accomplished work of nonfiction entitled: BLACK LIVINGSTONE: A TRUE TALE OF ADVENTURE IN THE NINETEENTH- CENTURY CONGO .This book concerns the experiences of a black American missionary, William Sheppard, who traveled to the Congo in the late 19th century.

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June 24

Poet Mary Buchinger reminded me recently that the first poem she published was in Somerville’s literary magazine Ibbetson Street that I founded with Dianne Robitaille, and Richard Wilhelm in 1998. So it is a pleasure to have her here in the LYRICAL, in celebration of a new collection of poetry she released: Aerialist.

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Esther Hanig: The New Executive Director of Union Square Main Streets talks about changing the face of Union Square

I met Esther Hanig, the new Executive Director of Union Square Main Streets at my usual comfortable perch at the Bloc11 Café in Union Square, Somerville. As head of Main Streets, Hanig will oversee the continued advocacy and promotion of the Union Square business district and neighborhood. The organization’s mission is to preserve the vibrancy of Union Square and promote dialogue between business owners, landlords and residents.

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June 17

Have you ever opened up an old photo album? Have you wrestled with the details of the ancient pictures? Have you realized no matter how foggy your memory is, you hold on to these snapshots for dear life? Michael Todd Steffen opens an album with his poem Generation Y.

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Somerville writer Lan Samantha Chang to become Iowa Writers Workshop director

The summer is a time to look back at my archives and pull up some interesting interviews I have conducted over the years. Lan Samantha Chang is the head of the Iowa Writers Workshop, but before that she taught at Harvard and lived in Somerville. Here is an interview I conducted with her in the offices of The Somerville Times when we were based in Davis Square.

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June 10

Who would think of a drone as a subject for a poem? Bagel Bard Dennis Daly fits the bill. Daly is the author of several poetry collections, as well as a book of translation. He has an eclectic history as a journalist, union organizer, and a troublemaker.

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Somerville’s Actors’ Shakespeare Project: Henry the Vl, Part 2

After having a beer at my old haunt Jacob Wirth in the theatre district of Boston, I chased it down with excellent seafood Chou Fun at some Vietnamese joint on the edge of Chinatown. But I still had a hunger, and that was for theatre. So with my press ticket in hand I walked down Washington Street to Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre to take in a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry Vl, Part 2, as presented by Somerville’s Actors’ Shakespeare Project.

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June 3

Somerville poet Mary Alexandra Agner has a poem dedicated to the late astronomer Brian Marsden.

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Somerville’s Mary Alexandra Agner: A Potent Mix of the Poetic and Scientific

Mary Alexandra Agner met me at my usual corner at the Bloc 11 Café in Union Square to discuss her career in science, writing and poetry. Agner moved to Somerville in 1997, and told me that her first poetry publication was in Somerville’s Ibbetson Street magazine. Agner earned a degree from MIT and an MFA at Emerson College in Boston. At Emerson she studied with the late, great, and very eccentric poet Bill Knott. Agner said of Knott: “He was very influential and was very willing to work with me and other students. In fact Knott blurbed her first collection of poetry: “Doors of the Body.”

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May 27

I have had a love affair with the great jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong ever since I heard him sing the line (in that wonderful, worldly rasping voice of his his), “Take your shoes off Lucy, and let’s get juicy,” from Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Poet Matthew Sisson does a riff on this late Jazz great. Matthew Sisson’s poetry has appeared in magazines and journals ranging from the Harvard Review Online, to JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and he is the former poetry editor of the trade journal Modern Steel Construction. His first book, Please, Call Me Moby, was published by the Pecan Grove Press, St. Mary’s University, San Antonio Texas in March of 2015, and is available at his website, matthewsissonpoetry.com, and on Amazon.

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Off the Shelf – May 20

State Rep. Denise Provost is a Somerville Bagel Bard,  an excellent poet and reviewer. She has also been involved in the effort to create a Massachusetts Poet Laureate position.  Here is a review she sent to Off the Shelf:

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May 20

Ellen Maas is a voice in and for the wilderness. She is a member of  Somerville’s Bagel Bards, and is well-known for her ecological activism in our community.

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Interview with Christopher Busa: Founder of the Provincetown Arts magazine

Christopher Busa, founder and editor of Provincetown Arts magazine, was born in New York City in 1946, the son of a painter who participated in the formative years of Abstract Expressionism. Spending part of every year in Provincetown since infancy, he slowly absorbed its mythology as a place where artists and writers gather to work and live. After graduation from the University of Minnesota, he studied for a year in Paris at the Sorbonne, and then pursued a Ph.D. for ten years while teaching English at Rutgers University. His interviews and profiles of artists and writers have appeared in the Paris Review, Arts, Partisan Review, Garden Design, and other magazines. Two published pieces were reprinted in Interviews and Encounters with Stanley Kunitz, edited by Stanley Moss (Sheep Meadow Press). Another essay, “Being a Great Man Is a Thesis Invented by Others,” appeared in Such Desperate Joy: Imagining Jackson Pollock (Thunder’s Mouth Press). He has curated exhibitions and written catalog introductions for many artists. He co-edited and introduced the Erotic Works of D.H. Lawrence (Crown, 1989), the subject of his dissertation. He is the author of The Provincetown Artists Cookbook, with Written Sketches of the Artists Creating a Contemporary Portrait of the Town as an Art Colony (Abingdon, 1988).

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May 13

Salvatore Ghamo is a poet in search for answers. He writes The Times:

My name is Salvatore Ghamo, and I’m an English Major at Endicott College. I’ve enjoyed writing short stories and poems since I was a boy. I plan to keep putting together these pieces throughout my college career. I hope my craft continues to reflect my love for this art form.

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