Author: Christina Davis

Jane Wong installation

Announcing the 2021-2022 WPR Creative Fellowship and Grant

The Woodberry Poetry Room is pleased to announce that the recipients of this year’s WPR Creative Fellowship are Diana Khoi Nguyen and Jane Wong for their collaborative project, “Radical Altars to Alter.” It also gives us immense pleasure to announce that Jonathan C. Creasy has been selected as the recipient of this year’s WPR Creative Grant for his documentary-film project, “A Library of Voices: A Living History of Modern Poetry.” The Poetry Room’s fellowship and grants program offers stipends to poets, artists, and scholars to undertake creative projects that would benefit from the resources available at the WPR archive, as well as from time spent at Harvard University as a whole. Past fellowship recipients have included Jared Stanley, Sameer Farooq, Sawako Nakayasu, Tracie Morris, Kate Colby, Dan Beachy-Quick, Erin Moure, Eileen Myles, and Fanny Howe. Past grant recipients have included: Harmony Holiday, Lindsay Turner, Tess Gallagher, and Tongo Eisen-Martin. About the Project: This project focuses on altar spaces as a speculative means to ‘alter’ the entangled past, present, and future. In this project, we endeavor to create radical altars as …

Ninetieth Anniversary

NUMBER NINE: The Woodberry Poetry Room at Ninety

Ninety years ago, in May 1931, the Woodberry Poetry Room first opened its doors. When the library was founded, it represented the convergence of many technological, cultural, and socio-political movements, which we will explore (in articles and oral histories) throughout the coming year. Just as the Poetry Room did not come into being in an historical vacuum, this anniversary be considered apart from the time in which we find ourselves—in the midst of a global pandemic and of a renewed outcry for social justice (what Harvard professor Vincent Brown has called “America’s everlasting not-yet”). During this unusual anniversary year, the Poetry Room is committed to finding ways to engage and uplift our audiences, through a range of virtual events that continue our mission to “live the questions now…..” Our 90th anniversary season of events will begin in March-April 2021 with online readings by Sonia Sanchez, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Anne Boyer, Lyn Hejinian, and Claudia Rankine (with an introduction by Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.) and will culminate in 2022—pending permission to host large in-person events again—with an …

COLLABORATIVE POEM PROJECT: A Living Anthology

In June 2020, during the early months of social-distancing, the Poetry Room sought to counteract the isolation and to generate creative engagement by inviting local poets to participate in a collaborative poem project, called “Boston Renaissance.” Over 75 poets responded from Boston (and beyond), agreeing to be randomly paired with a poetry pen-pal. Once introduced, we left the rest up to them…. This Fall, we reached out to see what had come of our experiment. Several poets responded with enthusiastic accounts of their experiences in communing with other aesthetics, rhythms, languages, histories, modes and mindsets. Some undertook erasures, some translations, some the surrealist form of the exquisite corpse. We have published some wonderful examples here, and (to honor the diversity of each vision) we have retained the original layout and font of each collaborative poem. José (Jodie) Edmundo Reyes and I (Ros Zimmerman) have found it to be a meaningful, generative exchange, regardless of outcome or intention.  We did not know one another before this exchange began, nor did we know where or how our …

FESTSCHRIFT FOR FANNY HOWE: On the Occasion of Her 80th Birthday

If you caught a glimpse of Fanny Howe’s calendar for Thursday, October 15th, 2020, you’d find the simple word: “B-O-R-N.” It’s as though the word were not simply a rote noun (“birthday”) but an urgent verb, a continuous commandment. “I seem to be a Verb,” as fellow New Englander Buckminster Fuller famously observed. And, in truth, it’s hard to imagine anyone more born than Fanny Howe, more wholly emerged, more naked, or a poet whose multi-dimensional knowledge and hard-earned experience have been so cloaked in humility and accompanied by such impish good humor, searing insight, and unfailing generosity. Over the course of the last eight decades Fanny has only continued to grow, to be born, to “accumulate the human….” As her 80th birthday approached, and the pandemic didn’t relent, I decided to reach out to a few friends from different parts of her life to see if they might contribute some words and photos by way of a little Festschrift. But please don’t let this limit the festivities: I encourage you to share your own fanfare …

Triptych of Fall 2020 authors

Fall 2020 Calendar of Virtual Events

“It’s time to live in all the rooms….”  We are proud to present our Fall 2020 season of virtual events, featuring readings, talks, and performances by Cathy Park Hong (in conversation with Maggie Nelson), Etel Adnan, Alice Notley, M. NourbeSe Philip, Cecilia Vicuña, a roundtable on “Ralph Ellison at Harvard,” and more. All events are free and open to the public (with a maximum capacity of 500 attendees). To attend, all you need to do is register by following the link under each event on our Website (a Zoom link and password will be emailed to you). And, in an effort to foster the same warm and welcoming environment as our in-person programs, we will be dedicating the first 10 minutes of each event to an informal, friendly Meet-and-Greet, which will allow audience members to say “hello” before the official program begins.  To be added to our Mailing List, email us at poetryrm@fas.harvard.edu. Upcoming events are also publicized via Facebook and Twitter.

HARVARD SQUARE LITERARY MAP: A Walk-in-Progress

The Harvard Square Lit Map is an invitation to explore the literary history of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and to experience “the presence of a plurality of times.” The Lit Map is a collaborative atlas created by Lynn Sayers and Chris Lenney (of Lamont Library), in conjunction with the Woodberry Poetry Room. We also wish to thank the countless poets, scholars, and members of the general public, who contributed immensely to our knowledge of historic venues and creative locales: their names are listed below the map-in-progress. The map represents only a small portion of the total artistic activity in the vicinity and is in no way indicative of the breadth and depth of what has been created here. It is simply “the mooring of starting out,” as John Ashbery would say, a way for you to begin your literary exploration…. In creating this map, we also wish to acknowledge the Massachusett, Pequot, Wampanoag, and other Indigenous peoples, who have long inhabited this land—with their profound histories, cultures, and voices. Please assist us in expanding our understanding of the area by notifying us …

Boston Renaissance

BOSTON RENAISSANCE: A Creative For(u)m

“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 poetryrm@fas.harvard.edu, 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 …

Handing reaching toward Dickinson book

THE LAYING ON OF HANDS: On “Physical Distancing” as an Ethics of the Archive

In these intangible, at times untenable days—the duration of which keeps extending its parenthesis—days in which we’re instructed not to touch, or greet within six feet, in which we’re made increasingly cognizant of what Amichai called “the circumference of the bomb,” or at the very least the consequential perimeter of our being, days of the necessarily distant and of griefs behind glass, days of the digital (though digital has its very root in “hands”), I’ve begun to reflect on what I, as a curator, have most longed to touch, materials I’m privileged to work among but must necessarily refrain from—a kind of “discipline of vicinity.” It’s a strange favor the fingers do by being far, the noli me tangere of an archivist’s career.   But, somewhere in the molecules of Massachusetts what I haven’t handled persists because I—and others—have cared enough not to touch it. ______ Over the past few weeks, removed from the physical archives, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the fact that I have never in my entire time at Houghton …