, Gloucester, MA

March 28, 2013

Writers Center hosting 12 writers in 13 days

Workshops ranging from poetry salons to Portuguese writers' showcase

By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer

---- — The Gloucester Writers Center, a fountainhead for local literary efforts, has a cascade of programs over the next 13 days, featuring a dozen writers, starting with a new “Mug Up” Workshop Series that begins on Saturday.

The offerings range from a poetry salon with two noted poets to an event featuring writers of Portuguese heritage. The Writers Center, about to complete its third year, has brought to the community more than a 100 writers, many award-winning writers, in both fiction and nonfiction, in events both large and small.

Henry Ferrini, one of the founders, said the directors are thrilled at the growth of the center.

“We’re kind of amazed that there is so much going on and the programs have been well received. The center is not only bringing writers to Gloucester but it is also holding classes, like the ones offered at the Mug Up series.”

The first in the upcoming group of events will be the Mug Up Workshop series, comprised of six workshops, on a variety of subjects, which will meet on Saturday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m. at the center in East Gloucester. The center is based in the house of the late Gloucester poet, Vincent Ferrini.

The series kicks off with a poetry workshop, led by local teacher and writer James Cook. The program is titled “From Blank Verse to Projective Verse: responding to Gloucester’s literary diversity and richness through poetry.”

“In this seminar we will write poems in response to writers as diverse as William Vaughn Moody and Vincent Ferrini, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Linda Crane, T.S. Eliot and Charles Olson,” according to Cook. “We will use traditional and experimental forms to shape our Gloucester experiences, observations, and visions.”

The next five Mug Up workshops are as follows:

April 6, Amanda Cook with “Screaming to the Editor,” a program focused on constructing a poem for the public;

April 13, Ann McArdle with “Elements of Story: Dialog” focused on writing dialog;

April 20, Ann McArdle with “Elements of Story: Character” focused on fully imagining characters and looking at examples in literature;

April 27, James Cook with “Adaptations,” a seminar looking at how to adapt traditional forms, prose texts, and other people’s poems to create new works;

May 4, Ann McArdle with “Elements of Story: Plot, Time and Sequence.”

The cost is $30 per workshop (or $20 each if registered for the full series) but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Register by emailing:

Poetry salon and 11 more writers

Later on Saturday, a poetry salon featuring Gerrit Lansing and Fanny Howe takes place at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center.

That event, curated by Kate Colby, starts at 7 p.m. with the serving of desserts, followed by the salon that starts at 7:30 p.m. This is the fifth poetry salon at the center.

Howe has written numerous books of fiction and poetry and two collections of essays called “The Wedding Dress” and “The Winter Sun.” She won the Lenore Marshall Award, the Commonwealth of California Award, and in 2009 she won the Ruth Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award for poetry. She lives in Massachusetts.

Lansing, a longtime Gloucester resident, has written many books of poetry and has taught at Bard College. In the 1960s, he edited SET, a literary journal focusing on the intersection of metaphysics and modernist poetics.

Next Wednesday, the center presents a group of North American writers of Portuguese heritage when three members of Presence/Presença present their readings. This group was founded by 16 Portuguese-American writers who met in Lisbon, Portugal, for the first Dzanc Books “Disquiet” International Literary Program in June 2011.

A Provincetown novelist and poet, Frank Gaspar, gave the group its name, which refers to a Portuguese literary journal Presença. The group’s goal is to address the relative absence of “Luso-American voices” in contemporary American letters.

The readers are: Sarah Chaves of Revere, who is an emerging memoirist who has won several awards for her nonfiction. Her parents emigrated to the Boston area from the island of São Jorge in the Azores; Oona Patrick, a Provincetown native who lives in Brooklyn, and whose ancestors were whalers and fishermen from the Azores; and Brian Sousa, of Boston and who teaches at Boston College, who has been called a “leading member of a new generation of Portuguese-American writers.”

Other scheduled events are:

Monday — Amanda Cook leads an open mic at the Gloucester Writers Center at 126 East Main St. at 7:30 p.m.

April 6 — Paul Marion, Chuck Levenstein and Ryan Gallagher lead a program “Lowell Poets” at the Writers Center at 1 p.m.

April 10 — Steve Almond and Dan Crouse hold readings at the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck at 7:30 p.m.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at