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Brookline Poetry Series

The Brookline Poetry Series meets once a month on Sunday afternoons, September through May, normally in Hunneman Hall at the Public Library of Brookline Main Branch (361 Washington St., Brookline, MA 02445). Usually, one or two established poets read, followed by an open mike. You may contact the organizers via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Please do not send written correspondence in care of the Library.

    Timing of performances:
  • 1:30 PM • Doors open
  • 1:45 PM • Open mike sign-up
  • 2 – 4 PM • Poetry readings

N.B. Usually the third Sunday of the month. On rare occasions, this may vary to accommodate holidays or special Library events, so be sure to check the Library Calendar or this page before attending. (Also, all meetings are held at the Main Library if possible, but on very rare occasions we have had to move to the Coolidge Corner Branch because of a scheduling conflict.)

Featured Readers


Oct 20, 2013 • Cleopatra Mathis

Cleopatra Mathis was born and raised in Ruston, Louisiana, of Greek and Cherokee descent. Her first five books of poems were published by Sheep Meadow Press. A sixth collection of poems, White Sea, was published by Sarabande Books in 2005. 

Her work has appeared widely in anthologies, textbooks, magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Tri-Quarterly, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry, The Extraordinary Tide: Poetry by American Women, The Practice of Poetry, and Best American Poetry, 2009.

Various prizes for her work include two National Endowment for the Arts grants, in 1984 and 2003; the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poems in 2001; the Peter Lavin Award for Younger Poets from the Academy of American Poets; two Pushcart Prizes: 1980 and 2006; The Robert Frost Resident Poet Award; a 1981-82 Fellowship in Poetry at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts; The May Sarton Award; and Individual Artist Fellowships in Poetry from both the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey State Arts Council.

Most recently, she was the Poetry Fellow at the Dora Maar House in Menerbes, Provence, France, sponsored by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.

 She is the Frederick Sessions Beebe ’35 Professor of the Art of Writing at Dartmouth College, where she has directed the Creative Writing Program since 1982.


Nov 17, 2013 • Lee Sharkey

In 1974, Lee Sharkey bought a hundred-year-old Pearl platen press, taught herself to set type and print, and produced over the course of a long Maine winter her first poetry chapbook. Over the next four years, under the imprint South Solon Press, she produced two more chapbooks of her own poetry, portfolios of other poets’ work, and ephemera such as poems on paper lunch bags.

Since then, she has continued to work both on and off the grid as a writer, teacher, and editor. Her publications include six chapbooks and four full-length volumes, Calendars of Fire (Tupelo Press, 2013); A Darker, Sweeter String (Off the Grid Press, 2008); To A Vanished World (Puckerbrush, 1995), a poem sequence in response to Roman Vishniac’s photographs of Eastern European Jewry in the years just preceding the Nazi Holocaust; and Farmwife (Puckerbrush Press, 1977).

She is the recipient of the Abraham Sutzkever Centennial Award in Translation (2013), the 2010 Maine Arts Commission's Individual Artist Fellowship in Literary Arts and the 1997 Rainmaker Award in Poetry, judged by Carolyn Forché. Her poems have appeared in Ancora Imparo, Cerise Press, Crazyhorse, Drunken Boat, FIELD, Kenyon Review, Nimrod, The Pinch, Prairie Schooner, Seattle Review, and many other literary magazines. Since 2003 she has co-edited the Beloit Poetry Journal, one of the country’s oldest and most respected poetry journals.


Dec 15, 2013 • Afaa Michael Weaver - CANCELLED

Cancelled because of bad weather and treacherous conditions.

Afaa Michael Weaver, formerly known as Michael S. Weaver, was born to working class parents in Baltimore. He attended public schools and graduated as a National Merit finalist at the age of sixteen. After two years at the University of Maryland, he entered the world of factory life alongside his father and uncles and remained a factory worker for fifteen years. These years were a literary apprenticeship during which he wrote and published poetry, short fiction, and freelance journalism. During that time he also started 7th Son Press and Blind Alleys, a literary journal.

His first book of poetry, Water Song, was published in 1985 as part of the Callaloo series. He received a NEA fellowship for poetry six months after signing the contract for the collections and left factory life to accept admission into Brown University’s graduate writing program on a full university fellowship, where he completed the MA with a focus on theater and playwriting. Concurrently, he completed his BA in Literature in English through Excelsior College.

Tess Onwueme, the Nigerian playwright, gave him the Ibo name "Afaa," meaning "oracle," while Dr. Perng Ching-hsi, of National Taiwan University has given him the Chinese name "Wei Yafeng," derived from "Wei" for flourishing or blossoming, and "Yafeng," the title of a section of poems from The Book of Songs, the oldest anthology of Chinese poetry.

Since Water Song, he has published several more collections of poetry, most recently The Government of Nature (Pitt Poetry Series, 2013), as well as The Plum Flower Dance: Poems 1985 to 2005 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007); Multitudes; Sandy Point; and The Ten Lights of God, all of which appeared in 2000. His full-length play Rosa was produced in 1993 at Venture Theater in Philadelphia under a small-Equity contract. His short fiction appears in Gloria Naylor’s Children of the Night and in Maria Gillan’s Identity Lessons.

He has been a Pew fellow in poetry and taught in National Taiwan University and Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar. At Simmons College in Boston, he is the Alumnae Professor of English and director of the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Center and Chairman of the Simmons International Chinese Poetry Conference.


Jan 19, 2014 • Susan Nisenbaum Becker and Gary Whited

SUSAN NISENBAUM BECKER’s poetry has appeared in Avatar, Phoebe, Salamander, Comstock Review, Poetry East, Wilderness House Literary Review, Consequence, Lumina, Slipstream, and Calyx, among others. She is a playwright, actor, and arts organizer for which she has received several Massachusetts Cultural Council arts grants. She has been awarded residencies at the Banff Center for the Arts; Yaddo, where she held the Martha Pulver Walsh Residency; and the MacDowell Colony. Her work was nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize. Her first book, Little Architects of Time and Space, was published in October 2013 by WordTech.


GARY WHITED is a poet, philosopher, and psychotherapist. He grew up on the plains of eastern Montana. His poems have appeared in Salamander; Plainsongs, where he received an editor’s prize; The Aurorean; Atlanta Review, where he received and International Merit Award; and Comstock Review. He is a member of the Jamaica Pond Poets and a contributing author of their first anthology, titled This Great Gift, collected poems of grief and healing. He is also a contributing author to a collection of essays in honor of his philosophy teacher, Henry Bugbee, titled Wilderness and the Heart: Henry Bugbee’s Philosophy of Place, Presence and Memory.

His manuscript, Having Listened, was selected as the winner of the Homebound Publications 2013 Poetry Contest. Having Listened offers a collection of poems that speak from the confluence of a childhood on the prairie remembered and an encounter with the haunting voice of 5th century BCE Greek thinker Parmenides echoing across 2500 years. He is currently at work on a new translation of the poems of Parmenides.


Feb 16, 2014 • Paul Nemser

Paul Nemser’s book Taurus, which won the New American Poetry Prize, was published in November, 2013 by New American Press. His chapbookTales of the Tetragrammaton will be published in summer 2014. His poems recently appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Blackbird, Raritan, Third Coast Fulcrum, Poetry, Raritan, TriQuarterly, and Tupelo Quarterly. In the 1970's, he co-translated two books of Ukrainian poetry: B.I. Antonych, Square of Angels (Ardis Press 1977) and I. Drach, Orchard Lamps (Sheep Meadow Press 1978). The Drach book edited by Stanley Kunitz, won a PEN Translation Award. He lives in Cambridge, MA.


Mar 16, 2014 • Vivek Narayanan

VIVEK NARAYANAN’s two books of poems are Universal Beach (Harbour Line Press 2006/In Girum Books, 2011) and Life and Times of Mr. S (HarperCollins India, 2012). He is a coeditor of the literary magazine Almost Island and its press and has worked at Sarai, a program of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, which focuses on experimental and interdisciplinary theory and practice in New Delhi.

His work has been included in several recent anthologies, such as The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (HarperCollins India, 2012), 60 Indian Poets (Penguin Books India, 2008), and The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poetry and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (W.W. Norton, 2008).

In addition to publishing poetry, he has conducted experiments with technology, performance, physical space, movement, site-specific poetry, and audience interaction through a series of collaborations with other artists. He earned a Master’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. He is currently a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.

Apr 6, 2014 • Katie Peterson and Elaine Terranova

Note that this event will be held on April 6 , 2014, which is the first Sunday of the month. This is because the Library is closed on the third Sunday of April 2014 for Easter, and the first Sunday worked best for the organizers and the featured poets.


KATIE PETERSON is the author of two new collections of poetry published in 2013, Permission (New Issues) and The Accounts (University of Chicago Press). Her first book, This One Tree, was selected by William Olsen for the New Issues Poetry Prize and published in 2006. She has reviewed poetry for the Chicago Tribune, the New Orleans Review, and the Boston Review. She earned a B.A. at Stanford University and a doctorate in English and American Literature and Language at Harvard, where her dissertation on Emily Dickinson won the Howard Mumford Jones Prize.

She has taught at Deep Springs College and Bennington College and is a recipient of fellowships from the Bread Load Writers’ Conference, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Summer Literary Seminars, and Yaddo. She lives in Somerville and teaches at Tufts University.


ELAINE TERRANOVA is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently, Dollhouse, winner of the Off the Grid Press 2013 Poetry Award. Not To, New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2006) was a runner-up for the Poetry Society’s William Carlos Williams Award. She received the 1990 Walt Whitman Award for her first book, The Cult of the Right Hand (Doubleday, 1991). Her chapbook Elegiac: Footnotes to Rilke's Duino Elegies was published by Cervena Barva Press in 2010. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Virginia Quarterly Review and other magazines, and in such anthologies as, A Gift of Tongues, Blood to Remember: American Poets write about the Holocaust, and Articulations: The Body and Illness in Poetry. She has published prose in Boulevard, South Loop Review, Yaakov Murchada, Per Contra, and Frigate. Her work has been part of The Poetry Society’s Poetry in Motion project. Her translation of Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press (1998). She has received a Pushcart Prize, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and a National Endowment in the Arts Fellowship in Literature.


May 18, 2014 • Pablo Medina

PABLO MEDINA was born in Havana, Cuba and moved to New York City at the age of 12. He has published 13 books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and translation, including most recently the poetry collections, Cubop City Blues (Grove Press, 2012), and The Man Who Wrote on Water (Hanging Loose Press, 2011). His work has appeared in magazines and journals worldwide and has been translated into several languages. He has received fellowships from the Oscar B. Cintas Foundation, the state arts councils of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He currently lives in Boston and is professor in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College.

Sep 21, 2014 • Jeffrey Harrison

Jeffrey Harrisonr is the author of five books of poetry, including The Singing Underneath, selected by James Merrill for the National Poetry Series in 1987, Feeding the Fire, winner of Sheila Motton Award from the New England Poetry Club in 2002, Incomplete Knowledge, which was runner-up for the Poets’ Prize in 2008, and Into Daylight, published in 2014 by Tupelo Press as the winner of the Dorset Prize. A selected poems, The Names of Things, was published in 2006 by the Waywiser Press in the U.K.

A recipient of Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, as well as other honors, Harrison has published poems in The New Republic, The New Yorker, Poetry, AGNI, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, The Kenyon Review, The Twentieth Century in Poetry, and in many other magazines and anthologies. Garrison Keillor has read over a dozen of his poems on his radio show The Writer's Almanac. He has taught at George Washington University, Phillips Academy, where he was Writer-in-Residence, College of the Holy Cross, Framingham State, the Stonecoast MFA Program, and at various summer programs and schools as a visiting writer.

History of the Brookline Poetry Series

The Brookline Poetry Series was founded in the spring and summer of 2001 by our friend and fellow poet Diane Collins Ouellette. Diane died of cancer several months into the series, and, with her husband Berred's support, we continued. We are guided by her original mission: a quality venue for local poets, both published and yet-to-be published; a place for a multiplicity of poetic voices; a series particularly dedicated to featuring the work of Brookline poets.

In the years since, we have featured the best contemporary voices in American poetry, as well as many fine local poets.

We are dedicated to providing a forum for poets of all experience to listen and read their work. In 2005, the Boston Globe named us the Best in Boston for our open mike.

We welcome all Boston-area poets to our series.

Since March 2008, the series has been held at the Public Library of Brookline.

Ann Killough
Tam Lin Neville
Susana Roberts
Aimee Sands

Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Please do not send written correspondence in care of the Library.