All posts tagged: featured

Boston Renaissance


“Ones all speaking together….”—Alice Notley In an effort to foster community at a time of social-distancing, the Woodberry Poetry Room is launching an informal poetry exchange that will randomly pair poets from the Greater Boston area to create collaborative works. This is the first event in our “Boston Renaissance” series, which will also include a collaborative Zoom forum about the literary history—and future—of Boston and the crowd-sourced creation of a series of literary maps (or, so we hope)! How to Participate: Please send us an email at, with your name and preferred contact information & “Boston Renaissance” in the subject header. Registration Deadline: June 1, 2020. How Do We Define “Boston-Area”: We don’t…. ! As you can tell from our Boston Originals series, we include poets from as far afield as Providence and Amherst under this moniker (as well as MFA and grad students who reside here for several years). Perhaps you might say: poets for whom the Boston area is either a dwelling-place or serves as a literary forum and cultural/educational nexus in …

Terma installation by Stanley and Farooq

WPR CREATIVE FELLOWSHIP & GRANTS: Announcing the 2020-2021 Recipients

The Woodberry Poetry Room is pleased to announce that the recipients of this year’s WPR Creative Fellowship are Jared Stanley and Sameer Farooq for their collaborative project, “A Lip Smack, Laughter, Paper Rustles.” It also gives us great pleasure to announce that Harmony Holiday has been selected as the recipient of this year’s WPR Creative Grant for her project, “Griot : Ghost” The Poetry Room’s fellowship and grants program offers stipends to poets,artists, and scholars to undertake creative projects that would benefit fromthe resources available at the WPR archive, as well as from time spent atHarvard University as a whole. Past fellowship recipients have included Sawako Nakayasu, Tracie Morris, Kate Colby, Dan Beachy-Quick, Erin Moure, Eileen Myles, and Fanny Howe. Poet Jared Stanley and interdisciplinary artist Sameer Farooq‘s project explores the incidental, non-poetic sounds an archive of literary readings collects—the rustling of paper, the clearing of a throat, authors’ ad-libbed banter, um‘s and pauses, intermittent laughter, and sounds and sirens from the outside world—all of which work in concert with the writer’s voice to create …

POETRY’S NOBLE PAUSE: On Patti Smith’s Nobel Prize Performance & Poetic Rupture

Poet and singer-songwriter Patti Smith’s recent magisterial performance at the Nobel Prize ceremony—in which she interrupts her own rendition of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and takes a moment to apologize for her nerves—offers us a chance to reflect upon and celebrate poetry’s role in an increasingly mechanistic society.

AIR RAID: Archibald MacLeish and the Radio as Literary Device

On October 19th, 1938, a year and a half after the Columbia Workshop debut of his first (and what is largely considered the first) verse play for radio, The Fall of the City, Archibald MacLeish sat down at a microphone in Holden Chapel at Harvard University to record (and more importantly to inform the reading of) his most ambitious verse drama to date: Air Raid.


I hear the “noise” and “skips”—products of a one-off experiment in digital playback and recording—as felicitous deformations of both the text and Stevens’ reading. They open up a way of listening to the poem’s own difficult re-reading of the substance of experience. In other words, in this recording I hear IRENE practicing a kind of unconscious deformative criticism.

A CONCERT OF WORLDS: On Ed Roberson & Joseph Donahue

It is a profound honor to introduce Ed Roberson and Joe Donahue, two poets who have enormously enabled my own writing and thinking, influencing me in ways I am still trying happily to discover. They are poets for me, and I trust for many here this evening, whose work is of such an astonishing, acute clarity and force that reading them is to learn how to inhabit the world, our world, more wholly; it is to learn, as Donahue’s most recent collection suggests, how to have our “ear turned to the earth / hearing the roots, / the rocks, the layers / of sediment, the residue / of oceans and heat / torn off from a star” (Dark Church, 151).

OUR SKILL SOMETIMES TO RECORD IT: On W.C. Williams’ Debut of “The Desert Music”

When William Carlos Williams first agreed to speak at Harvard’s Phi Beta Kappa Literary Exercises in 1951, he did not realize that the delivery of the poem would truly require exercise. He could not have foreseen at the time of commission the stroke he would suffer the following month, and the toll it would take on his capacity to perform it.

MAGPIETY: An Interview with Melissa Green

Poetry is Melissa Green’s landbridge, her strongest connection to the wider world—though it would be more accurate to say that, through poetry, the rest of the world gains access to Green’s “tremendous intensity and tremendous intelligence,” as Joseph Brodsky put it. Marie Howe has written that “Melissa Green might well be a 21st century version of Emily Dickinson, poet of ecstatic states and extremity.” Like Dickinson, a careful repose allows Green to sustain the sensitivity that the machinery of modern life erodes.