GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 7, 2012

Growing up in America

Poets, discussion to focus on history, color and civics

By Gail McCarthy Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The Gloucester Writers Center presents three celebrated poets, including Boston’s poet laureate, in an event next Wednesday that explores the connections between poetry and current issues that affect society.

The center organized an evening of poetry readings and reflection in a program titled “Let Nothing Slip By...,” which will be held at the Cultural Center of Rocky Neck in East Gloucester on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m.

The Gloucester Writers Center, which has hosted 85 writers since it opened its door in the summer of 2010 and is sponsoring the event, seeks to present writers of all genres — poetry, fiction, nonfiction, experimental and more.

The three featured poets are Martha Collins, Afaa M. Weaver and Sam Cornish, all whom have achieved recognition for the connections they have made between poetry and the civic record. Some of the discussion will likely cover what it means to grow up white in American society and what it means to be a person of color in America, in particular times and places.

“Hearing the voices and experience of these three poets will cause us to reflect upon our history as well as the current situation,” said Dorothy Shubow Nelson, board member of the Gloucester Writers Center. “I find their work to be deeply moving, illuminating. I would even say that listening to these poets, and reflecting on their words, could result in heightened awareness and the healing of wounds. That could be the meaning of art.”

Nelson said another thread these poets share is their engagement with the community and the ability to confront difficult issues.

“They are not hesitant to grapple with history and difficult times in this country. They are extremely compassionate people and we are very fortunate to have them share their work with us,” said Nelson.

Collins is founder of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She will read from her latest book, “White Papers” (Pitt, 2012), described as “a captivating and disturbing series of poems about being white in a multiracial society.” Collins served as professor of creative writing at Oberlin College and is editor at large for Field Magazine.

Weaver is professor of English at Simmons College. His relationship to nature, his family, music and history permeates much of his work. Born in 1951 in Baltimore, Weaver is the author of numerous poetry collections including the “Plum Flower Dance,” “Water Song” and “Multitudes.” Though his career began in the factories of Maryland, he found the time to write and publish poetry and short fiction. After working in factories for 15 years, he left just two days after he received a full scholarship to Brown University.

Cornish, Boston’s poet laureate, was a former faculty member at Emerson College. Born in Baltimore in 1935, Cornish grew up in poverty. In the late 1950s, Cornish was drafted by the Army and was sent to Texas and Alabama, where he faced segregation. His work, “Folks Like Me” (Zoland, 1993), reveals the history of American lives — individual figures from his family, their extended communities and history.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

If you go What and who: "Let Nothing Slip By …," featuring readings and reflections by three celebrated poets, including Boston's poet laureate. When: Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Where: The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck, 6 Wonson St., Gloucester. How much: Suggested donation is $10; $5 for students.