All posts tagged: Massachusetts

My Life as a Sardine

By BENIGNO TRIGO 

My grandfather, Luis A. Ferré (1904-2003), was the third governor of Puerto Rico and the founder of the Pro-Statehood Party. When I was little, he used to say it is better to be a big fish in a little pond than a sardine in the big blue sea. It was a reminder of how good we had it on our little island, and a warning against leaving it in pursuit of a bigger and impossible dream.

My Life as a Sardine
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Dread

By JULIA PIKE 

I lived on Dread—
To Those who know

                        Emily Dickinson

In Emily Dickinson’s bedroom, a white house dress hangs on a headless mannequin in front of the tiny writing table where she penned 1,789 poems.

Dread
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That Awkward Unbalance that Becomes the Beautiful: an Interview with Archibald MacLeish

TOM FELS interviews ARCHIBALD MACLEISH

Photo courtesy of Amherst College Archives

In May 1965, Amherst College student Tom Fels ’67 interviewed three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Archibald MacLeish. The below interview, conducted at MacLeish’s home in Conway, Mass., is adapted from their conversation, a portion of which originally appeared in the town newspaper the Amherst Record.

Archibald MacLeish, one of the best-known American poets, playwrights, and public intellectuals, was born in Illinois, and educated at Hotchkiss and Yale, later taking a law degree at Harvard. After participating in World War I, he forsook the life of an attorney to focus on poetry, making his living for several years as an editor of Fortune magazine. Under President Franklin Roosevelt, he was for five years the Librarian of Congress, and later, during World War II, an assistant Secretary of State. After the war he taught at Harvard for thirteen years before taking the position of Simpson Lecturer at Amherst College (1963-67). MacLeish was the author more than fifty works of poetry, nonfiction, and drama.

Tom Fels is a curator and writer based in southern Vermont. His work in the arts includes exhibitions at the Getty Museum in Malibu, CA, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, as well as numerous articles and books. He is the author of two books on the 1960s, Farm Friends and Buying the Farm. Fels met Archibald MacLeish after the poet’s delivery of his convocation speech at Amherst College’s Frost Library in 1963. This interview was the first of many that have played a part in Fels’s writing and research. Among the latest is a conversation with MacLeish’s fellow former Harvard faculty member Daniel Aaron in The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture (June 2013).

Listen to a recording of the interview here, or scroll down to read.

 

 

That Awkward Unbalance that Becomes the Beautiful: an Interview with Archibald MacLeish
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Looking for Ice

By RALPH SNEEDEN

I.

At the boarding school where I teach, my campus residence bears a plaque with the name of an English teacher who drowned after falling through ice. He had been skating on the river after the year’s first deep freeze, which had been followed by a snowstorm. I was told that once his pickup hockey game had ended and the players dispersed, he made the choice to remain behind, to skate upriver, enticed, perhaps, by the beauty of new snow, to explore the transformed hemlock-banked waterway alone. This happened the winter I was hired, before I started teaching the following fall. Our paths had crossed briefly during a fellowship in New York City and at a cookout in New Hampshire with friends we had in common. I didn’t know him well, but liked him immediately, and afterward I felt as if I’d lost a friend, a kindred spirit. I appreciate what he might have felt. The power that could have drawn him onward along that white, unblemished path until it betrayed him.

Looking for Ice
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The Company of Strangers

By NAILA MOREIRA 

Two men scrape blue paint from the wall of the building across the street. They sit cross-legged, each plying his scraper with energy. The one on the right is thickset, wearing a gray t-shirt stained with sweat. The one on the left is more striking. His tight white t-shirt rides up his torso, baring his muscular lower back and the crest of black underpants. His long army-green shorts droop, exposing still more of that black arc. His hair is black and spiky, sideburns visible when he turns his head.

The Company of Strangers
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The Common Statement

1.

The sidewalk in front of my house unfurls enticingly to the north and south. Though its seams have buckled after months of gravel and salt, the walk still leads me to my neighbor’s porch, where I pull eggs and goat cheese from the fridge, take honey from the shelf, and leave cash in an unlocked box. The snow- and ice-narrowed path also still ferries a friend and me to the Bookmill, where we drink wine in the afternoon and squeeze up tight next to the stacks to peer down on the rushing creek below. If the walk’s covered overnight by a hard snow, Don blasts his snowblower through, the cranking assault of the motor a reasonable price to pay for the favor. For the magic of having one’s way into the world restored. That I have a sidewalk outside my door is a fairy-tale luxury, an enchantment.

The Common Statement
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Alaska, Massachusetts

By NAILA MOREIRA

Beyond the bridge of Highway 91, beyond the levee and the last line of houses at the outskirts of town, civilization goes to rural scenes. First you pass a patch of low trees; then a small paddock and barn where two horses live; and then you come to the cornfields — wide, flat, golden and stubbly by the riparian woodland of the Connecticut River. I’ve always wanted to come to these fields to see the stars, but the landscape is lonely, and I would be afraid to come alone at night.

Alaska, Massachusetts
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What Diamonds Can Do

By CLAIRE KEYES

 

Some can write poetry
on glass windows like Sophia Hawthorne
at the Old Manse with her wedding ring.
I’m told this was common in the 19th century.
But, for me, reading it was like finding a note in a bottle
picked up on the beach.  I felt a kind of awe.

What Diamonds Can Do
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First Apartment Near St. Mary’s T Stop

By BRETT FOSTER

I recollect at last those first few weeks
on Beacon Street: broke newlyweds, we hid
our finite riches in a little room,
a basement studio whose cost seemed gruesome.
Fresh from Corpus Christi, you learned to speak
a northern language, talk of “quarters” wide-
mouthed like a Chowdahead’s wicked idiom.

First Apartment Near St. Mary’s T Stop
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The Writing Room

By SUSAN STINSON

Watson Room

Photo by Jeep Wheat

I write twice a week in the Watson Room at Forbes, the public library in Northampton, Massachusetts. It’s a simple space, dedicated, according to a brass plaque, to the memory of Julia and Rosa Watson, who made generous bequests. There are built-in cabinets with locked glass doors, full of old books, all bound in the same black with gold letters on their spines. Statistics of Coal. Geology for Beginners. Select British Poets, Hazlitt. Don Juan, Byron. Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Scott, volumes 1, 2 and 3. There are six long, wide windows with green blinds, which look out over the library parking lot. The cars and the people seem vivid but far away.

The Writing Room
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