Mark Schorr’s Review: A Whitman Alive as You and Me

The following review is by Mark Schorr.

Whitman 1
Poets Theater (hold the apostrophe)  can happen anywhere: on a subway platform, in a storefront, or as it did last weekend when the four walls of the Salem Athenaeum opened out into a production in their summer backyard. Ably conceived and directed by Imbroglio (the  g is silent), Salem State Professor Peter Sampieri’s new production company,  the premise is simple: the poetry of Walt Whitman still has important truths for us. [Read more…]

Mark Schorr’s Review of “Only Human”

Cast of "Only Human"

Cast of “Only Human”

The following is Mark Schorr’s review of the musical “Only Human”  with book by J.D. Scrimgeour and music by Aidan and Guthrie Scrimgeour. See J.D.’s earlier essay “A Poet Writes a Musical.”

Poetic Crossover

Oh, happy pair!

Oh, happy we!

It’s very rare

How we agree.
— Richard Wilbur’s lyrics for
Leonard Bernstein’s music in Candide

At their best, the lyrics of American musical theater form a rare agreement with the music by making a special kind of crossover from idea to poetry to music. [Read more…]

Richard Hoffman on Writing in Several Genres

This is the first of a series of postings on poets who write prose. We’ll be exploring how the prose mind can be beneficial to the poetic mind. Richard Hoffman, who has just published a memoir titled Love & Fury , is the author of three volumes of poetry.

Richard Hoffman

Richard Hoffman

I have been writing in several genres for a long time now, and I cannot for the life of me see the point in privileging one over another.

Mostly I write whatever I can on a given day. Later, I gather things together. Whenever I try to plan more than that, whenever I set myself a project, I’m in danger of seeing it as homework. I always hated homework. So if I’m supposed to be writing prose (as I was until recently, with a book under contract and with a deadline) then all I want to do is write poems and/or stories. I am ever the rebellious schoolboy. [Read more…]

President John F. Kennedy on Poetry and Robert Frost

Kennedy and FrostAs the nation acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, we look back on what he meant to poetry and the arts. When he drew up plans for his inauguration, he was the first president-elect to  invite a poet to the ceremony. Those old enough remember Robert Frost on that snow-blinding January day as he stumbled again and again in trying to read his newly written poem in the glare of the sun. The intense awkwardness of the moment was broken when he gave up the attempt and recited from memory another poem,  “The Gift Outright.”  Huge applause followed the amazing recovery by the aging poet — an indelible moment in the ceremony. See a snippet  of the moment here.

Setting the precedent for a poet at the inauguration wasn’t Kennedy’s only salute to poetry and the arts.  [Read more…]

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Nicole Terez Dutton

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each
month we will be shining the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, 
one of our poetry partners. If you are a partner with a poet to nominate, email

Highlighted by Grub Street

Nicole Terez Dutton

Nicole Terez Dutton’s work has appeared in Callaloo, Ploughshares, 32 Poems, Indiana Review and Salt Hill Journal.  Nicole earned an MFA from Brown University and has received fellowships from the Frost Place, the Fine Arts Work Center, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her collection of poems, If One Of Us Should Fall, was selected as the winner of the 2011 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts and teaches in the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program, as well as Boston University and Grub Street.

[Read more…]

With Ifeanyi Menkiti at the Grolier Poetry Bookshop

Ifeanyi Menkiti

Ifeanyi Menkiti

On a side street not far from the center of Harvard Square stands a small bookshop you could pass without noticing. If you did, you would be passing an outstanding monument to 20th Century poetry, a monument that poetry aficionados from across the country and around the world hurry to Cambridge to visit. At 85 years the Grolier Bookshop is not only the oldest bookstore dedicated to poetry in the nation, but the fact that it is dedicated solely to poetry probably does amaze you.

Yet historic as it may be, the Grolier almost didn’t survive.

[Read more…]

Memories of Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

from a painting of Seamus Heaney by M. A. Schorr

from a painting of Seamus Heaney by M. A. Schorr

Since the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney spent two and a half decades at Harvard, we decided to celebrate the poet by inviting those who knew him to share their memories of the man. In an interview on the NPR program Here and Now, Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laurette,  commented on his personal experiences with Seamus Heaney:

He was a great artist who’s also a great spirit. He’s a really decent person. As I used to enjoy calling him, Seamus was a mensch.

[Read more…]