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.
I was inching into poetry in the summer of 1966, reading everything in the Grolier poetry bookshop’s messy nest, losing and finding myself in the amber light of Plympton Street. One hot July afternoon, a baby-faced boy was there, chatting with old Gordon Cairnie, the proprietor, on the scratchy green sofa. Jim Tate. Soon, he and I walked out past the headshops and coffee shops and the twenty other bookstores, along the Charles (not the hotel, the river), talking and laughing, and he reciting his poems for me, poems from the book that was to appear the next year, The Lost Pilot.
The first poets I read and felt I understood were the English Cavaliers. It was senior year in high school and I was about to meet the girl who would later become my wife, though I didn't know it at that time, just as I had no serious inkling of the Vietnam era draft lurking around the corner. The Cavalier poets had a flair, a style and even themes that appealed to my seventeen year old self. “To Althea from Prison” was the first poem I memorized. I wrote imitation after imitation of Suckling and Lovelace’s verses and enjoyed counting the beats and making the rhymes.