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Rebels and Admirers – Poets of the Old South, 1700s to Today

December 11, 2018 | 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, registration requested at http://osmhdec11-18.bpt.me

Doors at 5:45; Light refreshments will be served.

Born December 17, 1807, Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier was one of six poets who contributed to the 1877 collection,Poems of the Old South, published as a fundraiser for the Meeting House after it was narrowly saved from the wrecking ball in 1876. Experience poems from that collection as read by local writers and performers, along with works of African-American poet Phillis Wheatley, who gained international fame with publication of her 1773 poetry collection. Special guests will include January Gill O’Neil, executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and author of the 2016 poem “Old South Meeting House,” commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

The 90-minute literary salon-style program will be educational and interactive. It will include a mini lecture on “Poets of the Old South Through the Centuries,” then readings of selected poems from 18th, 19th, and 21st centuries by a bevy of local poets, plus an open mic audience participation opportunity with a poem from the 1877 collection Poems of the Old South. Following the readings, guest poets will lead small discussion sessions on featured poets of the evening – Just listen, or bring your questions and thoughts to a box-pew discussion. The program will culminate with a poem written on the spot for the event by Allison Adair of Poetry on Demand!

Bios of Poet-Participants:

Allison Adair teaches at Boston College and Grub Street, where she specializes in poetry, flash fiction, and digital humanities. She is one half of Poetry on Demand – a typewriter-toting duo bringing free poems to the Boston masses. Her writing has appeared in Boston Review, National Poetry Review, and North American Review among many others.

Serina Gousby serves as both Development Assistant and Boston Writers of Color Coordinator at Grub Street, where she works to engage members with the monthly BWOC newsletter, and provide opportunities and guidance to self-identifying writers of color. As a writer and poet, her work has been published in Venture Magazine, Paradise In Limbo Magazine, The Suffolk Journal, Necessary Fiction, and her blog, The Rina Collective.

January Gill O’Neil is the author of Misery Islands, winner of a 2015 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence, and Underlife. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. O’Neill is executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, serves on the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ board of directors, and teaches at Salem State University.  O’Neil wrote the 2016 poem “Old South Meeting House,” a work commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

Anna Ross is the author of If a Storm, winner of the Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry; Hawk Weather, winner of the New Women’s Voices Prize; and Figuring, forthcoming. Her poetry, criticism, and essays have appeared in journals including Tupelo QuarterlyThe Southern ReviewThe Paris Review, Guernica, VIDA, Boston Review, and Salamander Magazine. She has received scholarships and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Squaw Valley Poetry Workshop, and Grub Street.

Lloyd Schwartz is the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English and teaches in the MFA program at UMass Boston. A Pulitzer Prize-winning arts critic who appears regularly on NPR’s Fresh Air, he is also a leading authority on the poet Elizabeth Bishop. His poems have been selected for the Pushcart Prize, The Best American Poetry, and The Best of the Best American Poetry. His latest poetry collection is Little Kisses.

Sandra Storey is the author of the poetry collection, Every State Has Its Own Light. Her poetry has appeared in New Millennium WritingsTHEMA and the New York Quarterly, among other journals. She was founder, then editor and publisher of two bilingual Boston neighborhood newspapers, the Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill Gazettes. Now she is a columnist for the Jamaica Plain Gazette. She is a member of the collaborative workshop Jamaica Pond Poets and is co-director of Chapter and Verse Literary Reading Series in JP.


This program is made possible with support from the Lowell Institute.


Part of the Series Bibliophile Birthdays: Celebrating the Authors of OSMH


December 11, 2018
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Categories:


Old South Meeting House


Old South Meeting House
310 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States
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617 482-4376

Did You Know?

Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.