Highlighted by The Boston Literary District
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Meet Our February Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Joe Bergin

Highlighted by The Boston Literary District

Joe Bergin is a founding member of the Carpenter Poets of Jamaica Plain, which has been meeting and writing and sharing poems (and okay, chest pounding and drinking) for more than 10 years. Every year, the Monday after Thanksgiving is the annual Carpenter Poet Night at Puddingstone’s Tavern in Mission Hill, which was started on a dare; the public is invited to come and hear readings. 

Joe was also instrumental in the appointment of the first poet laureate of Boston. He wrote the measure for the appointment in verse, and it was subsequently passed unanimously by the City Council. Joe and his work have been featured in The Boston Globe, USA Today, NPR’s Here and Now and recently on Chronicle. His first book of verse, The Boston Seasons Quartet, was published in 2005. A new volume, Summer Motifs – from Venice to Vermont, is scheduled for a spring release.
Poetic Profession  

I remember when I was working as a carpenter and my physical attention, in a way, was focused on, say, planing a board in a repetitive motion, soothing, calming, achieving toward an end, and my thoughts would incline toward some higher, airy sphere, aloft, for a time, of blessed contemplation.

On occasion, if some verses came and were good, and about the house and job at hand, I would pencil them on a board and leave it for the customer on the saw.

This, to me, was the joy of carpenter poetry.
I Did That Job Three Times
              
What the dickens was I thinking
Good thing no one saw it until it was finished
And I finished it good
Tore it out twice
Git ‘er done
Keeps you humble I guess
Though being cocky’s kind of fun.

Too many worries and concerns that day
And of course the vagrant thoughts
Indulged in
With a dash of stupidity thrown into the mix.

Took three times, dammit
Not like some blip
On the computer screen
You can just retype.

Took three times dammit
But it came out nice.
 

It should come as no surprise that Boston enjoys the distinction of having become the first city in the country to host an official Literary District. Not only does “the Hub” have an unparalleled literary heritage, with a broad and diverse set of writers through the centuries ranging from enslaved poet Phillis Wheatley to Henry David Thoreau, Khalil Gibran, Sylvia Plath, Eugene O’Neill, and many, many more but also it boasts an unparalleled literary present.

Along with literary giants like David McCullough living in our midst, we enjoy a vibrant community of contemporary writers — and, just as important, readers! — who partake of Boston’s rich literary life via conferences, writing and editing courses, lectures, readings, poetry slams, book fairs, book signings, performances of literary works, discussion groups, and other programs and events.

There are also occasional pop-up writing workshops; people like the governor reading a favorite poem at a poetry fest; the Boston Book Festival; superb programming at some of the country’s finest libraries… You get the drift. Check it all out at www.bostonlitdistrict.org

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each month we shine the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, one of our poetry partners.
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