New Bedford Poetry Scene Hotbed of Diversity

The New Bedford literary scene is a hotbed of diversity. An interview with Maggie Cleveland, local poet and long time reading coordinator revealed the dynamics of the area: there are upcoming writers working with in styles ranging from hip-hop poetry to more traditional, formal styles, and long time veterans, such as Everett Hoagland.

Cleveland began organizing readings over 15 years ago due to a lack of local events. The New Bedford area has been highly receptive since then and rewarding to work with. When asked if she believes there is a specific purpose behind the readings, Cleveland answered, “They are driven by the ever-evolving purpose of bringing together local poetry lovers and getting people excited about what the New Bedford literary community has to offer.”

Cleveland then described the astounding diversity of the community itself. John Landry, local poet laureate, ran a previous incarnation of Cleveland’s website, Whaling City Review. Landry is a passionate poet who has read at venues across the United States, including the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco and the Library of Congress. He’s also a proud participant in the New Bedford scene. See more information and samples of Landry’s work,

Hip-hop poetry is popular among the high school and younger crowd in the New Bedford area. One up-and-comer is Tem Blessed, a poet and musician (check out Blessed’s work). On the more traditional side, preferred by older members of the community, is Marybeth Rua-Larsen. Here is an example of Rua-Larsen’s work.

As for veteran writers, New Bedford is home to the previously mentioned Everett Hoagland. Hoagland has been publishing work since the 60s. Cleveland described his work as “vivid” and “honest.” He’s also known for his powerful readings. Caroline Knox, who resides in nearby Westport, is another longtime poet. Cleveland described her work as “quirky,” and “intellectual.” Here is more information on Hoagland  and on Knox.  

Cleveland recently read at her own series, announcing her new book, ATOM FISH. Also present at Saturday’s reading was Jake John, described by Cleveland as a post-Beat poet. ATOM FISH itself is one long, unusual meditation on life through personal and historical relationships. One Time Press, ATOM FISH’s publisher, puts out photocopied and stapled chapbooks and indie journals. One Time Press has connections to indie publishers throughout the nation.

More info on events in the New Bedford community can be found at Cleveland’s website.