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 changed to 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 it took you last year if you signed up for the Festival. 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...]

The Globe on Pinsky, Mass Poetry, and “Inspired Leadership” Readings

Globe photo

Globe photo

The Boston Globe has a story that celebrates poetry and poetry happenings, “Poetry is in the air.”  The story reports a wide variety of events and activities, including a Robert Pinsky reading to jazz and the Mass Poetry and Favorite Poems program entitled “An Evening of Inspired Leadership,” which is a benefit for Mass Poetry programs.

Nearly a dozen prominent leaders will read their favorite poems at the Huntington Theatre at 7:00 on March 31st.

You can still get your tickets for the Monday evening program.

The Florence Poets Society Welcomes Poets of All Backgrounds

fps logo In 2004, after a chance meeting at a poetry reading, longtime friends Tom Clark and Carl Russo founded the Florence Poets Society.  Their kids were friends from kindergarten, yet in all the years they’d known each other, neither man had ever mentioned his passion for poetry.  But Tom, a captain at the fire department, and Carl, an attorney, put an ad in the local newspaper, rented a room at an old schoolhouse turned community center for eight dollars a night, and began hosting readings of original works and discussions about writing poetry. [Read more...]

For a Limited Time, Special Offer on Hotel Rates for May Festival

Book your festival hotel now!

hotelFestival hotel rooms book quickly. Please make your reservations before April 1 to ensure you are a part of these room blocks:

Hawthorne Hotel 
18 Washington Square West
Salem, MA 01970

$149 Single Rate
$159 Double Rate
Use code: MPF501

Salem Waterfront Hotel and Suites
225 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970
1-888-337-2536 for reservations

$179 Double Rate
Use Mass Poetry Festival when making your reservation

A Special Invitation from Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky on An Evening of Inspired Leadership

(Read more about An Evening of Inspired Leadership here.)

Robert Pinsky color shotAt first, I underestimated that power of an art to bring together people of different ages, occupations, regional accents, kinds of education.  At the FPP readings in Washington, we heard readings by President Clinton, students from the Duke Ellington School, a disabled war veteran, an African American police officer, an Indian cab driver. Here in Boston, a fourth grader participated in a reading along with a university president, a leader of the legislature, a community organizer, a construction worker. In New York, Mike Wallace and Geraldine Ferraro took part in a reading along with an adult literacy student and a Dominican immigrant. [Read more...]

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Grey Held

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

Highlighted by PoemWorks

Grey HeldGrey Held is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing, and is the author of Two-Star General (Brick Road Poetry Press), and Spilled Milk (Word Press). He holds a BS from MIT and an MFA from Temple University. He has been a lecturer in art and design at Ohio State University, a computer programmer, an international marketing manager, a research director, and has led poetry writing workshops for prisoners in the Northeastern Correctional Center in Concord. His poem “Vending Machine” was set to music by Paul Carey and has been performed by a cappella groups all over the country. He is currently a director at a research firm in Cambridge. He and his wife live in Newton, where they have raised two sons. [Read more...]

Phil Kaye: To Be Featured at the Student Day of Poetry

Phil KayeThe year’s Student Day of Poetry, which will be held at UMass Boston on March 21, is set to continue a trend noted several times on this site in the last few months — young people are rediscovering the excitement of poetry. One of those who ignites enthusiasm in students across the country is Phil Kaye, a featured poet at this year’s SDOP.  (Teachers, register here to bring your classes.)  [Read more...]

“Iatrogenic” by Rafael Campo

You say, “I do this to myself.” Outside,
my other patients wait. Maybe snow falls;
we’re all just waiting for our deaths to come,
we’re all just hoping it won’t hurt too much.
You say, “It makes it seem less lonely here.”
I study them, as if the deep red cuts
were only wounds, as if they didn’t hurt
so much. The way you hold your upturned arms,
the cuts seem aimed at your unshaven face.
Outside, my other patients wait their turns.
I run gloved fingertips along their course,
as if I could touch pain itself, as if
by touching pain I might alleviate
my own despair. You say, “It’s snowing, Doc.”
The snow, instead of howling, soundlessly
comes down. I think you think it’s beautiful;
I say, “This isn’t all about the snow,
is it?” The way you hold your upturned arms,
I think about embracing you, but don’t.
I think, “We do this to ourselves.” I think
the falling snow explains itself to us,
blinding, faceless, and so deeply wounding.

 (This poem appears here courtesy of Rafael Campo’s website.)


rafael campoCampo is a prolific poet and essayist who is also a practicing physician. He currently teaches at Harvard Medical School, practices internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and instructs in the Lesley University Creative Writing MFA program. He has published five books of poetry: The Other Man Was Me, What the Body Told in1996, Diva (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Awards) in 1999, Landscape with Human Figure in 2002, and The Enemy in 2007. He has also contributed to several poetry collections, as well as the author of two prose collections: The Healing Art: A Doctor’s Black Bag of Poetry and The Poetry of Healing (winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Memoir).


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