Join Mass Poetry, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Phillips Library as Jennifer Martelli, Eleni Sikelianos, Lucía Hinojosa, Jack Giaour, and Kirun Kapur provide basic tools and exercises to get you started composing your own poetry and seeing the exhibits on view at the PEM through a new lens. These two-hour, virtual workshops will focus on various exhibits, includingThe Salem Witch Trials 1692, Alexis Rockman: Shipwrecks, Salem Stories, and South Asian Art. Come prepared to write! Workshop participants will virtually look at art, objects, and documents; examining them closely to engage in a group discussion. Once the ideas are flowing, participants will begin to draft poems and the workshop will end with a chance to share what you’ve written or observed. Each two-hour workshop will be hosted virtually and capped at 30 participants.

In May 2021, everyone who participated in a PEM Gallery Residency will be invited to submit to a digital anthology, co-published by Mass Poetry & the Peabody Essex Museum. One winning poem will be selected from the anthology and installed in a Raining Poetry site that will be displayed outside of our new Seaport office location.

Jennifer Martelli

Sundry Acts of Witchcraft: Youth Writing Workshop with Jennifer Martelli Tuesday, February 16th, 2:30pm – 3:30pm

In this generative workshop, participants will create poems utilizing the heart-breaking and chilling artifacts from The Salem Witch Trials 1692. We’ll try to answer, through our own writing, how we identify with the cruelty and superstition of that time? How can this horror move us to create our personal language and art? How can the Salem Witch Trials give us language to write about our political climate?

Along with the collection at the Peabody Essex Museum, participants will also look at examples from contemporary poets who respond to witch hunts, witchcraft, and other “sundry acts” of sorcery. 

**Note: This Gallery Residency is only open to Salem High School students.

Jennifer Martelli is the author of My Tarantella (Bordighera Press), selected as a 2019 “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book and named as a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. Her chapbook, After Bird, was the winner of the Grey Book Press open reading, 2016. Most recently, her work has appeared in Poetry, The Sycamore Review, and Iron Horse Review (winner, Photo Finish contest). Jennifer Martelli has twice received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review and co-curates the Italian- American Writers Series at I AM Books in Boston.


What the [Waters] Have Made Us: Workshop with Eleni Sikelianos and Lucía Hinojosa Gaxiola
Tuesday, March 23rd, 7:00pm – 9:00pmREGISTER

“We are what the seas/have made us,” writes poet Lorine Niedecker. Where is the memory of water and what is its future? How can we think of ourselves as a body of water in the midst of a climate catastrophe? Where in water does knowing reside? In this workshop, we will engage in the poetics of fluidity, movement, impermanence and water’s changing condition as entity and multiplicity. Water as voice and interspecies archive. Using Alexis Rockman’s paintings and poets such as Niedecker and NourbeSe Philip as inspiration, we will create liquid explorations and manifestos, poetic experiments outside the page, and small-scale visual poems with watercolors, addressing our interconnection with human and non-human beings, as well as our relation to history, migration, ecological disasters, and to each other, as bodies of water. Even if you don’t usually paint, please bring watercolors, a bowl of water, a glass (preferably clear) of water, pen, and paper to this workshop. If you don’t have watercolors handy, some ink, coffee, tea, or wine will do.

**Note: This workshop is produced as part of our Poetry Coalition project on the theme of Poetry and Environmental Justice. Learn more about the series and our partners.

Eleni Sikelianos is the author of nine books of poetry (including Make Yourself Happy and What I Knew) and two hybrid (anti)memoirs. She has received many awards for her poetry, nonfiction, and translations, including two National Endowment for the Arts awards, a Fulbright, and the National Poetry Series, and her work has been translated into many languages. Her lifelong devotion to ecopoetics, Animalia, and the intersections of human and non-human worlds can be felt in much of her work. Dedicated to the many ways poetry can manifest in communities (in public schools and prisons or in collaboration with other artists), she joined the Literary Art faculty at Brown University in 2017.

Lucía Hinojosa Gaxiola (Mexico City, 1987) is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and editor whose time-based practice develops through ephemeral and conceptual gestures that result in a corpus of visual, sonic, and text-based works. She studied Visual & Critical Studies and completed the Independent Arts Program at SOMA in Mexico City. She has exhibited, performed and collaborated with Centro de la Imagen (Mexico City); Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (Mexico City); Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (Boulder, CO); The Brooklyn Rail (NYC); Poetry Project (NYC); Anthology Film Archives (NYC); among others. She co-founded the experimental editorial platform diSONARE, and recently co-founded RIZOMA, a series of poetry and performance workshops led by a group of artists for imprisoned women in Mexico. Her book “Elements of Language” (Open Sky / Cielo Abierto) is forthcoming.


Salem’s Stories, Salem’s Words: Workshop with Jack Giaour Tuesday, April 13th, 7:00pm – 9:00pm REGISTER

Using documents from the Peabody Essex Museum’s Salem Storiesexhibit, students will explore two different types of text based poetic forms – erasure and collage. Students will interact with documents from Salem’s past and present to explore the language of the Witch City. We will view some examples of both poetic types to begin exploring the relationship between words and the physical texts they belong to, and then create our own text-based poems.  

In this workshop, we will explore the relationship between language and place. Just as architecture, landscape, and industry all combine to create the unique cultures of our cities, towns, and nations, so too do words. We will also ask ourselves some fundamental questions: What role do words play in creating a space? How do the words we do (or don’t) speak contribute to our experience of a place and its history?

Jack Giaour pays his rent as a freelance ghostwriter. He completed his MFA from Chapman University in 2016, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming from Manis, Cardinal Sins, and [PANK], among other journals.


Write to Me: Workshop with Kirun Kapur Tuesday, May 4th, 7:00pm – 9:00pmREGISTER

The world is full of paper, write to me—Agha Shahid Ali

This workshop explores the epistolary tradition. Taking inspiration from PEM’s collection of illustrated letters by South Asian artists, we’ll write our own poems-as-letters, considering the form as a vehicle for private meditation, public protest, humorous complaint, scholarly rumination and declarations of love. We’ll write to ourselves and to others, to the living and the dead, as well as to objects, places and ideas. Our goal will be to generate avenues for new poems as we experiment with this intimate, versatile and playful form.

Using documents and artworks from the museum’s South Asian Collection, as well as a selection of epistolary poems, we’ll consider some of the questions the epistolary form highlights: who are we writing to when we write a poem? What magic can pronouns perform on the page? How can writing a “letter” help us strengthen and define our voice? How can our poems be both intimate and universal, reaching across time and space?  Come ready to write! 

Kirun Kapur’s latest collection, Women in the Waiting Room, was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and is out now from Black Lawrence Press (2020). She was the winner of the Arts & Letters Rumi Prize in Poetry and the Antivenom Poetry Award for her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist (Elixir Press, 2015). Named an “Asian-American poet to watch” by NBC News, her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry International, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares and many other journals. She has taught creative writing at Boston University and Brandeis University, and has been granted fellowships from The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Vermont Studio Center and MacDowell Colony. Kirun serves as Poetry Editor at The Drum Literary Magazine and currently teaches at Amherst College. She grew up between Honolulu and New Delhi and now lives north of Boston.

Gallery Residencies