Born December 17, 1807, Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier was one of six poets who contributed to the 1877 collection, Poems of the Old South, published as a fundraiser for the Meeting House after it was narrowly saved from the wrecking ball in 1876. Experience poems from that collection as read by local writers and performers, along with works of African-American poet Phillis Wheatley, who gained international fame with publication of her 1773 poetry collection. Special guests will include January Gill O’Neil, executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and author of the 2016 poem “Old South Meeting House,” commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.
The 90-minute literary salon-style program will be educational and interactive. It will include a mini lecture on "Poets of the Old South Through the Centuries," then readings of selected poems from 18th, 19th, and 21st centuries by a bevy of local poets, plus an open mic audience participation opportunity with a poem from the 1877 collection Poems of the Old South. Following the readings, guest poets will lead small discussion sessions on featured poets of the evening - Just listen, or bring your questions and thoughts to a box-pew discussion. The program will culminate with a poem written on the spot for the event by Allison Adair of Poetry on Demand!
Bios of Poet-Participants:
Allison Adair teaches at Boston College and Grub Street, where she specializes in poetry, flash fiction, and digital humanities. As part of Poetry on Demand, she travels the city to type original on-the-spot poems for residents and visitors. Her poems appear in Best American Poetry 2018, Boston Review, North American Review, and ZYZZYVA, among other journals; and have won the Pushcart Prize, the Florida Review Editors’ Award, and the Orlando Prize.
Regie Gibson has lectured and performed widely in the U.S., Cuba and Europe. As a representative of the U.S., Regie competed for and received the Absolute Poetry Award in Monfalcone, Italy and the 2018 Europa in Versi Award in Laguardia di Como, Italy. He is a recent recipient of a 2017 Brother Thomas Fellowship for Artistic Excellence from The Boston Foundation and served as Poet-in-Residence at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
Serina Gousby serves as both Development Assistant and Boston Writers of Color Coordinator at Grub Street, where she works to engage members with the monthly BWOC newsletter, and provide opportunities and guidance to self-identifying writers of color. As a writer and poet, her work has been published in Venture Magazine, Paradise In Limbo Magazine, The Suffolk Journal, Necessary Fiction, and her blog, The Rina Collective.
January Gill O’Neil is the author of Misery Islands, winner of a 2015 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence, and Underlife. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. O'Neill is executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, serves on the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ board of directors, and teaches at Salem State University. O’Neil wrote the 2016 poem “Old South Meeting House,” a work commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.
Anna Ross is the author of If a Storm, winner of the Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry; Hawk Weather, winner of the New Women's Voices Prize; and Figuring, forthcoming. Her poetry, criticism, and essays have appeared in journals including Tupelo Quarterly, The Southern Review, The Paris Review, Guernica, VIDA, Boston Review, and Salamander Magazine. She has received scholarships and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Sewanee Writers' Conference, Squaw Valley Poetry Workshop, and Grub Street.
Lloyd Schwartz is the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English and teaches in the MFA program at UMass Boston. A Pulitzer Prize-winning arts critic who appears regularly on NPR’s Fresh Air, he is also a leading authority on the poet Elizabeth Bishop. His poems have been selected for the Pushcart Prize, The Best American Poetry, and The Best of the Best American Poetry. His latest poetry collection is Little Kisses.
Sandra Storey is the author of the poetry collection, Every State Has Its Own Light. Her poetry has appeared in New Millennium Writings, THEMA and the New York Quarterly, among other journals. She was founder, then editor and publisher of two bilingual Boston neighborhood newspapers, the Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill Gazettes. Now she is a columnist for the Jamaica Plain Gazette. She is a member of the collaborative workshop Jamaica Pond Poets and is co-director of Chapter and Verse Literary Reading Series in JP.
This program is made possible with support from the Lowell Institute.
Part of the Series Bibliophile Birthdays: Celebrating the Authors of OSMH
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, registration requested at http://osmhdec11-18.bpt.me