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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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A Newton, Mass. Writing and Publishing Center for the Diehard Somervillian

Somerville offers many opportunities for writers and other creative types. There are a plethora of writing groups and organizations where the aspiring poet and writer can hone their skills and network. But just beyond our borders, I found yet another place, the Newton Writing and Publishing Center. This nascent Center, has many writers  on its board that I have worked with and know, such as Somerville’s Timothy Gager, a stalwart of the literary community. Robin Stratton, whose poetry has appeared in the Lyrical Somerville column in The Somerville Times, is the founder of the said organization, and is a force of nature in the local writing community. In addition to publishing my new lyrical memoir Portrait of an Artist as a Young Poseur… through her affiliated Big Table Publishing  press, the center will be awarding me their first Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, with a ceremony this August.

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May 6

The poet David Lombino looks beyond the happy horse…. (well you know what I mean), to what he sees as a rotten underbelly to this new vision of Somerville that is taking place under our noses.  There is always two sides of the coin–and you got to look carefully at both. Lombino writes The Times:

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Elizabeth Gordon McKim: A Poet of the poem. A poet of the people

Interview by Doug Holder

Elizabeth Gordon McKim is not just about getting her own work out there. A respected educator, poet and influential member of the Expressive Arts Movement, McKim engages the community and other artists and students so they too can realize their creative potential. As the poet, and McKim’s late partner Etheridge Knight said:”You must be a poet of the poem, and the people”. McKim is the embodiment of this.

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April 29

Sometimes a man has got to do, what a man has got to do.

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