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Laurette Folk: Through compassion and her own life journey, she finds portals for her writing*

Laurette Folk is a poet and novelist who founded The Compassion Project: An Anthology, an online collection of poetry and art that promotes compassionate thought and action through the arts. Through this project, her struggles with depression, the demands of being a wife, mother, teacher, and author, she has found portals for her creative work.

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February 10

Susan LaFortune’s work indulges us with gritty moments of everyday life and often illuminates them with traces of love and beauty. Her first chapbook, Talking in my Sleep, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013 and was nominated for a pushcart prize. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications including Muddy River Poetry Review and Ibbetson Street Magazine. She is an annual supporter of the Newburyport Literary Festival, Poets & Writers Magazine, and is associated with several poetry organizations in New England. She is a member of Somerville’s Bagel Bards.
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Carol – a movie*

Our Somerville guest reviewer-at-large William Falcetano chimes in with his latest take on the movies for Off the Shelf:

Carol is a film adaptation of a story by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) about a love affair between two women in the 1950s. One woman is a society wife, Carol Aird, played with her usual brilliance by the inimitable Cate Blanchett. The object of her affections is a young shop girl, Terez Belivet, played by Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), who bears an uncanny resemblance to Audrey Hepburn, with her bangs, wide eyes full of wonder, and a touch of innocence.

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February 3

Our poet this week is Linda Larson. Linda used to be editor of the Spare Change News, a newspaper sold by the homeless throughout the city. I used to be an arts reporter under her and the late Cindy Baron. They taught me a lot. Linda let me write a couple of feature stories in their All Poetry issues that they used to publish. Since then I have published a poetry collection by Linda, and she has appeared numerous times in Ibbetson Street magazine. She has long been an advocate for the homeless and mentally ill and has struggled with both of these demons throughout her life.
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P.A.’s Lounge gives it to you straight – no chaser*

So I am in Union Square, and the cold winter winds are whipping me like a frenzied sadist, when I entered P.A.’s Lounge. I needed a story and P.A.’s seemed to fit the bill. In one corner of the bar Jon Dorsett nursed a beer, and stared at a flat screen. He had the look of a guy who has seen and done that, and has no time for happy horseshit. The bartender and co-owner Tony Amaral, Jr. looked at me with world-weary eyes, as if to say, “So, what are you selling?” I told him I am Doug Holder from The Somerville Times – he was not impressed. But I sat down, and as the bar was basically empty this afternoon he agreed to chew the fat.

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January 27

Julie Ann Otis is Somerville’s Artistic Fellow of Interdisciplinary Arts. She composes and performs poetry on the fly and occasionally in mid-air. Julie Ann recently performed at the ICA Boston and at Aeronaut Brewery (Somerville), where she composed and projected poetry in real-time alongside an animation artist and an electronic music artist. She created an environmental poetry installation, “Answering Mara,” at The Art Farm (Nebraska) and “Incubus,” performance poetry choreographed with aerial dance in rope and harness. Her interactive poetry installation, “Free Verse,” combined vintage typewriters, public exchange of free writing, and live-time composition. Her performance installation of “The Complaint (& Catharsis) Department,” a re-imagining of the R.M.V., offered affirmation/consolation for attendees of Somerville’s Pity Party. Accolades include Opus Affair Artist of the Year in 2014 and exhibitions at Boston City Hall. Her most recent chapbook, Elastic Communion, is available at www.julieannotis.com.
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The Chintz Age: tales of love and loss for a new new york*

I was just having breakfast with an artist acquaintance at the Bloc 11 Cafe in Somerville, Mass, when the subject turned to where we would move to if we were forced out of our city. We thought of isolated burgs like North Adams, an old mill in Lawrence, far flung nowherevilles in the western part of the state. But of course none of these places are like our hometown of Somerville, where both of us have lived for many years. Across the country artists, low-income folks, and others are being forced out of their communities due to the hungry tendrils of gentrification.

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January 20

Wayne-Daniel Berard teaches English and Humanities at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. An adoptee and former Franciscan seminarian, his birth-search led him to find and embrace his Jewishness. Wayne-Daniel is a Peace Chaplain, an interfaith clergy person, and a member of B’nai Or of Boston. He has published widely in both poetry and prose, and is the co-founding editor of Soul-Lit, an online journal of spiritual poetry. He lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, The Lovely Christine.
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