Mass Poetry believes that words matter. We support poets and poetry in Massachusetts, 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?
I first encountered poetry as I imagine most people do: in nursery rhymes and songs. It gets under your skin, into your blood—by whatever metaphoric process you prefer, poetry becomes part of us all, even those who aren’t conscious of it.
But my earliest memory of poetry as “poetry” was when we studied it in middle school. As part of the lesson, we were each asked to go home and write a sonnet. It was a painful experience and so probably more of a damper than a spark. Luckily, my grandparents loved poetry, and they performed some literary CPR. Each of them had written verse when they were young—my grandmother, for instance, told vivid stories of waking up each morning as a teenager in Istanbul, eager to write, and of hiding herself in the pasha’s garden next door where she could spend hour after hour with her poems.
I’d almost forgotten the interview I did with a young Romanian journalist in Sibiu two years ago. So it was a pleasant surprise to have it turn up on YouTube—just a short excerpt from the full-length interview, but surely the best part. Being part of that international festival, in that enchanting Transylvanian city in the center of Romania, was one of the happiest experiences of my life. And the interviewer got me to articulate things I’ve thought for many years without perhaps ever actually putting into words.
Join us on December 7 for the Western MA Student Day of Poetry Festival at UMass Amherst or on December 14 for the Statewide Student Day of Poetry Festival at UMass Boston. Experience a day of reading, writing and performing poetry with established poet educators.
The way numbers shift, dates, data: weather,
the skies, currents of air, of feeling: patterns,
possibilities, trends. I’m thinking this morning
about Greece, where protests are turning violent,
realize I have no sense of what shapes those
people’s lives, the lived causes of their actions
Listening to acorns falling, watching the pattern
of light and shadow fluctuating on the curtains,
I am in Athens and in Boston, on Tonawanda
Street, where there’s been another shooting.
The local paper’s report doesn’t name the dead
boy; the memorial at the corner does: “Sonny.”