Resources for Poetry Lovers During COVID-19

Are you a poetry lover feeling the sting of canceled readings and open mics? Or just looking for another way to spend some new found free time? We at Mass Poetry are feeling both of those things, so we put together this list of virtual resources to hopefully make these uncertain times a little easier to weather. If you know of any resources we missed, please send them along to [email protected]


Video series & Virtual readings:

The Boston Poetry Slam: Extremely Online Edition

The mission of the Boston Poetry Slam is to foster new work and new voices in performance poetry, to drive the evolution of the genre, and to promote poetry to the widest and most diverse audience possible using the nurturing environment of the open mic, the appeal of compelling featured poets, and the competition of poetry slam.

During this time of social distancing, BPS is moving from it’s home of over twenty years (the Cantab Lounge in Central Square) and into the webosphere! Catch poems every Wednesday night through the magic of Zoom. For more details, check out their Facebook page.

 

Favorite Poem Project Videos

The Favorite Poem Project, founded by Robert Pinsky, is dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry’s role in our lives. Their series of 50 short documentaries feature individual Americans reading & discussing their favorite poems.

 

From On Being:

A Listening Care Package for Uncertain Times: A collection of podcasts and poetry for however you’re processing or experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poetry for Tumultuous Times: Poets are always prophets in unsettled times and places, and they are here for us now.

 

Ours Poetica

A video series dedicated to making poetry personal, in the hands of people who love it. New episodes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, produced by Complexly, the Poetry Foundation, and the poet Paige Lewis.

 


Poets in Pajamas

Poets in Pajamas is a free, online reading series run through Facebook Live that connects readers and writers across the world from the comforts of your own pajamas. Readings take place twice per month at 7PM ET.

 

Smith College Poetry Center Digital Care Packages

With Smith College going remote, the Poetry Center is going mobile! If they can’t bring you to readings at Smith, they’ll bring poetry to you. Sign up to receive their digital care packages via email here.


Virtual courses:

From GrubStreet:

Poetry for Social Justice: This class is for poets who want to join the long tradition of poetry as a force for social change. Over the course of six weeks, we will explore and write poetry that engages with the social and political issues that we are most passionate about: be it digging into personal histories and identities, writing about lesser-voiced stories and people, or directly engaging in political and social movements.

6 Weeks, 6 Poems: Poetic Lineage: Are you ready to experiment with new forms of poetry, but aren’t sure quite where to begin? Or, do you simply have too many ideas to commit to just one of them? Whatever the case, if you want to produce new work, this class is for you! Over six weeks, we’ll explore six different poetry prompts to inspire your writing and expand your understanding of what a poem can be, and how poems persist across time.

The Art of Poetry

An archive of all the mini-lectures and conversations from Robert Pinsky’s Massive Open Online Course, The Art of Poetry, courtesy of Boston University.

Poetry Foundation: Poetry & Practice


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During National Poetry Month and beyond, The Poetry Foundation Library will feature an activity each weekday for those who want to discover new poets and poems, connect with others through poetry, and compose original poems. They invite you to read and write with them as we weather this extraordinary time. Share your work, in part or in whole, with the hashtag #poetrypractice. To read, discuss, and write poems together, join them for an online Book Club or a Forms & Features workshop.

 

Poetry in America

This series of three courses from Harvard is available for free via edX (who also offer many more classes from Harvard and beyond on their site).

Poetry in America: Modernism: Reading works by Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens, among others, learn how American Modernist poetry departed from past traditions and past forms.

Poetry in America: Whitman: Focuses on the poetry of Walt Whitman, a quintessentially American writer whose work continues to bear heavily upon the American poetic tradition. We will explore Whitman’s relationship to the City, the Self, and the Body through his life and poetry.

Poetry in America: The Civil War and Its Aftermath: Examine the language of patriotism, pride, justice, violence, loss, and memory inspired by the Nation’s greatest conflict.


POdcasts:

Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People)

A series of intimate and captivating interviews by Rachel Zucker with poets and artists about quotidian objects, experiences or obsessions, Commonplace conversations explore the recipes, advice, lists, anecdotes, quotes, politics, phobias, spiritual practices, and other non-Literary forms of knowledge that are vital to an artist’s life and work. Features poets such as Ilya Kaminsky & TC Tolbert.

 


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Lit!Pop!Bang!

A literary podcast that feels like happy hour with your favorite literati. Hosts Cece and Anthony Moll discuss all things books, including awards, festivals, and new trends in the publishing industry. They’ll talk about the poetry, fiction, and memoir on their shelves. And just like your Twitter fed, they will inject a dose of #popculture in every podcast. Think of it as a scholarly critique gumbo with a dash of ratchet. Tune in with a cup of coffee or some whiskey neat.

 

MoMA Poetry Project

Ok, so this one isn’t exactly a podcast. But there are 11 audio recordings of poems written in response to the art exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art available online, alongside high quality images of the art that inspired them.

 


The New Yorker: Poetry Podcast

Monthly readings and conversation with The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Kevin Young, featuring guests including Shane McCrae and Natasha Trethewey.

 

The Poet Salon

A podcast where poets talk over drinks prepared especially for them. Hosted by Gabrielle Bates, Dujie Tahat, and Luther Hughes, featuring guests such as Danez Smith, Hanif Abdurraqib, and Ross Gay.

 

Slowdown

Every weekday, Tracy K. Smith delivers a different way to see the world – through poetry. Produced in partnership with the Poetry Foundation.

Tracy K. Smith is one of the most celebrated poets of our time. She served as the 22nd United States Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2019, and is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light and several books of poetry, including her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Life on Mars. She is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University, and hosts The Slowdown.

 

The VS Podcast

A bi-weekly series where poets confront the ideas that move them. Hosted by poets Danez Smith and Franny Choi, produced by Daniel Kisslinger, and presented by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.


local bookstores:

It is so important in this time to not forget the businesses that are so often the lifeblood of our literary communities: independent bookstores. Many small bookstores are currently offering online ordering to keep you well stocked with words. Here are a few of our favorites, but check with the bookstore in your community and see what they are offering as well!


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Brookline Booksmith

Brookline Booksmith is a family owned bookstore, founded in 1961. Since then, they’ve fostered connection and community with every kind of reader in Brookline, Boston, and beyond. They remain staffed and open for phone inquiries at 617.566.6660 from 9am to 6pm, Monday-Saturday, and will continue to ship, using media or priority mail, all phone orders and orders placed online.

 


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Porter Square Books

Porter Square Books is a fiercely independent, general bookstore in Cambridge, MA. While they are closed, they are still accepting online orders, though there may be a shipping delay for some items. Find their full statement on how they’re dealing with the pandemic and how to support them here.

 


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Trident Booksellers & Café

Since 1984, Trident Booksellers & Cafe has been providing Back Bay residents, students, and tourists with sustenance for the mind and body. While their in store browsing and dine-in café is currently closed, they are still offering online ordering & take-out/delivery options.