We Want to Hear from You about Common Threads

A special message from our Program Director, Laurin Macios:

 Common Threads 142015 will mark the 5-year anniversary of Common Threads, and we see the milestone as not only a means for celebration, but for the re-invigoration of our Common Threads programming. If you signed up to receive Common Threads in past years, we want to hear from you. If you could take a moment to help us improve our programming by filling out this brief survey, we’d be grateful.

We are looking forward to bringing you a great Common Threads publication and program in 2015! Stay tuned for details in the next few months.

Thanks and best,

Laurin's signature



Laurin Macios
Program Director, Mass Poetry

Only $1,580 Left to Raise to Keep Poetry on the T All Summer!

 Donate now to replace ads with poems on the MBTA.

A word from Michael Ansara, Co-founder of Mass Poetry.

Campaign update:

Click to see a Poetry on the T video.

Click to see a Poetry on the T video.

We’ve raised $7,420 of our $9,000 goal with 6 days to go. Thank you to the 158 funders who have made that happen. Check them out on our Funder Wall of Fame below, and consider becoming a funder of this exciting program. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of something big and inspiring for Boston! [Read more...]

January O’Neil on WBUR’s Blog Remembers Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou2Cognoscenti, WBUR’s blog with the watch words “Thinking That Matters,” presents  our own Festival Executive Director, January O’Neil, as she remembers Maya Angelou:   A Fellow Poet On The Life And Legacy Of Maya Angelou.

January explains why all six of Angelou’s memoirs sit proudly on her bookshelf.



Indiegogo Update: $4,815 Raised; $4,185 Left to Go!

SloganReplace ads with poems on the MBTA.

“Poetry on the T is a way to get words off the page, out of classrooms, and into the world. It’s a twenty minute trip to falling in love with a poem. It’s some kid whose teacher has spent the year thrashing (or, maybe even worse, ignoring) poetry finding a line of verse to follow him home.” -Danielle Jones-Pruett

Today, with 15 days left to go, we have raised 51% of the funds needed to keep Poetry on the T all summer. Don’t miss the chance to be a funder of this inspiring program. And remember: we will be using the momentum of this successful campaign to show large, long-term sponsors that the public wants Poetry on the T! Together, we can turn this project into a lasting program. [Read more...]

“The Elk” by J. Lorraine Brown

Coffee ice cream was his favorite,
tomato soup with a pat of butter,
smooth peanut butter out of the jar.
He loved big band music—
Glenn Miller’s Poinciana.
The Red Sox drove him crazy.

Sundays, he sat on the bench
in our breakfast nook,
invoices sorted into jerky piles,
adding machine arched like a dragon.

He wore work pants ironed
by my mother, a tan shirt
with a Mobil patch on the pocket
(silver tire gauge tucked in the corner).
Cold weather cracked his hands.

But he astonished as an Elk
when he wore his black tuxedo
and a jeweled medallion on a chain—
the “Tiler” who stood by the door
to introduce the other Elks
like a butler at a fancy ball.

They met in the old church basement
where he introduced the “Exalted Ruler.”
Exhausted Rooster, he told me,
and the medallion was real,
not some cheap little trinket.

J. Lorraine Brown

J. Lorraine Brown

J. Lorraine Brown is the recipient ofa MA Professional Development Grant and a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship. She has been published in such literary journals as the Cumberland Poetry Review and the North American Review. She received a PNWA Zola Award, and Poet Laureate Ted Kooser selected one of her poems for his nationwide newspaper column. Her chapbook, Skating on Bones, was a 2012 “Must-Read” Book of Poetry. Her 2nd and 3rd chapbooks were nominated for this award as well. Her poetry is part of Broadsides on the Bus, 2014, a collaborative effort celebrating Cape Cod poets and artists.

This Weekend: The Newburyport Literary Festival


Newburyport Poetry FestivalThe ninth annual Newburyport Literary Festival (NLF), The Curious Mind, will take place April 25-26 in various venues throughout downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts. This year the Festival will honor renowned local author Andre Dubus III. [Read more...]

Poet and Translator Nina Cassian Has Died


Nina Cassian by Jim O'Connor

Nina Cassian by Jim O’Connor

Nina Cassian, the exiled Romanian poet who sought refuge in the United States after her poems satirizing the regime of President Nicolae Ceausescu fell into the hands of his secret police, died last week at the age of 89.

Cassian published more than 50 books of poetry, at least two of which were in English after she settled here.  [Read more...]

Meet our April Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Janae Johnson

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry.

Highlighted by The Lizard Lounge Poetry Jam

Janae JohnsonJanae Johnson is a queer, black, Stevie Wonder-loving, Jamba Juice-sipping, slam poet, educator, and activist in the Boston area. With a jock’s mentality and a poet’s heart, Janae brings all sports and no games to poetry slam. Inspired by uncomfortable silences and midnight bus rides, Janae uses her poetry to shed light on issues of racial inequality, homophobia, and the nuances of love. Truly believing that language is power, she wishes to inspire others to find and embrace the strength in their voices. Janae ranked 5th at the Women of the World Poetry Slam (2014), was the grand slam champion of the 2014 Boston Poetry Slam Team and the 2013 Lizard Lounge Poetry Slam Team. She is currently working on a CD entitled “Black in the Sun,” as well as a chapbook, and she is the coach and adviser for the nationally ranked Simmons College (Speaks) Poetry Slam team. [Read more...]

Why We Chose a New Platform for the Festival Scheduling

DSCN0701This year we chose a new platform for exploring offerings at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival on May 2-4. It took us a lot of work – at least it took January O’Neil and our interns a lot of work! And it will take you one more step than last year’s scheduler. You will have to request an invitation to the site. No problem! You’ll be granted that invitation right away, and if you created a profile last year, you’ll see it in the new system.

Why did we go to this trouble and put you through one more step? The first reason is that this platform is not an open public site; it does not make you more susceptible to spam or invasion of your privacy by the world at large. You can safely include your biography to a community of poets and talk behind the closed doors of this software system to your friends. Another reason is that Pathable, the new system, provides a robust service system in case we run into technical problems. [Read more...]

“An Evening of Inspired Leadership” Is an Inspired Success!

Gov Patrick“An Evening of Inspired Leadership” lived up to its adjective — and it was the audience that was inspired by an amazing array of dignitaries and their selection of favorite poems.

And what a wonderful array of poems it was — Governor Deval Patrick reading the poem at the base of the Statute of Liberty –“Give me your tired, your poor. . . ” Michael Maso, Managing Director of the Huntington Theatre Company,  reading Lawrence Raab’s tribute to the science fiction monster movie “Attack of the Crab Monsters.” And who can forget Ed Davis, former Boston Police Commissioner,  reciting from memory his — and his mother’s — favorite poem, “The Wreck of the Hesperus.” Robert Pinsky, former poet laureate and founder of the Favorite Poem Project, began the evening with the poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden. [Read more...]


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