Mass Poetry supports poets and poetry in Massachusetts. We help to broaden the audience of poetry readers, bring poetry to readers of all ages and transform people’s lives through inspiring verse. We are a 501(c)(3) organization.
When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover you wanted to write poems?
Ever since I was a young child, I’ve kept a notebook in which to record poems, stories, songs, or musings. I’ve been a naturalist all my life, as well as a huge reader, and my early work was filled with animal stories and observations of nature. I loved Beatrix Potter and the poems of A.A. Milne and Robert Louis Stevenson. When I was in elementary school, I wrote my first poem sequence featuringwoodland animals—a raccoon, an otter, a fox! It wasn’t until I was an undergraduate at Williams College studying with Lawrence Raab, however, that I chose poetry as a focus, and completed a thesis under his direction.
Gwendolyn Brooks cemented her legacy through her efforts as a poet, feminist, and activist. In honor of her centennial this year, we're celebrating OMB100 by paying tribute to that influence. This month we have another essay by Quraysh Ali Lansana. For more information regarding OMB100, you can visit the website here.
The following essay, The Weight of the Word, was originally published in the anthology, Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks, ed. with Sandra Jackson-Opoku, Curbside Splendor, January 2017.
We invite middle and high school students to submit a poem on the subject of John F. Kennedy. Entries will be judged by MFA candidates and finalists selected by Robert Pinsky. Winners and runners up will receive stipends.
The contest will run until October 6, 2017, and finalists will be announced in late November, after which the JFK Library Foundation will host an event honoring all entrants, their teachers and their families in early December.
and it happens that I am tired
of beauty shops. The smell of hair dye
makes me break into hives, a sort of hysteria.
Hysteria is an old-fashioned,
Freudian word. Freud is out-of-fashion,
and that is a relief. I want fashion
to be out-of-fashion. I want to lie
in uncut grass with uncut hair
in the world of Whitman. His extravagant world
of ecstatic words. I do not want
plastic surgery, lotions, wrinkle removers.