Worcester County Poetry Association /1 Ekman Street, Worcester, MA 01607 / 508-797-4770 / wcpaboard@yahoo.com

Thursday, June 21, 2007
Grafton Public Library
35 Grafton Common
featuring the work of Frank O'Hara
Francine D'Alessandro & Heather Macpherson
Frank O’Hara (1926-1966) grew up in Grafton, Massachusetts.  After serving in the navy during World War II, he studied music at Harvard College, then changed his major and graduated with a degree in English in 1950.  He received a M.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1951, moved to New York and took a job at the Museum of Modern Art.  O’Hara began publishing poetry while at Harvard.  His first book, A City in Winter,was published in 1951.

O’Hara's poetry was influenced by his great love of the arts, along with an intimate and exuberant relationship with life in New York.  His poems often reference his love for contemporary music and also reflect the vibrant New York art scene of the period.  He is also known for his essays on painting and sculpture, written for ArtNews,

Frank O’Hara’s poetry frequently mirrors the energy of abstract painting, the rhythms of jazz, and the immediacy of a brisk walk down a busy city street.  And yet, O’Hara is a great observer of detail - whether the precise character of the smile of a passerby, the quality of light from the windows of the stationary office towers and speeding taxis, the intensity of longing conveyed by a jazz riff.

Frank O'Hara web site - Poetry, photos, links: a very lively site!

Academy of American Poets - Includes a detailed biography, poetry, prose, essays about O'Hara.

Phil Levine reads "The Day Lady Died" - This is a rare treat!

Excerpt from Marjorie Perloff's biography, Frank O'Hara: Poet Among Painters.

Poetry Foundation - Poems, brief biography.

Modern American Poetry - Poems, essays, biography, bibliography.

Poetry Society of America - Frank O'Hara tribute site includes essays by contemporaries.

O'Hara site - This is a new site which has poetry, but also many areas still under construction.

O'Hara site - Poetry and links and an extensive bibliography.

WPI Worcester Area Writers - Biography, photos - page created by WPI students.

If you come across any additional sites we should add, please let us know!
The Worcester Review
Volume XXII, Number 1
Frank O'Hara Special Issue, 2001
Cover by Larry Rivers
Grafton Public Library
June 21, 2007

above: Dave Macpherson reads "Ave Maria"
right: O'Hara books on display, from the collection of Mary Wray
below: Poetry for the joy of it!
left: click on thumbnail to enlarge image
Thanks to the Grafton Public Library and the many participants who came to celebrate the life and work of Frank O'Hara.  Our discussion was greatly enhanced by the Grafton residents who shared their knowledge of O'Hara's poetry and their own memories of growing up in Grafton.
Robert Frost
Frank O'Hara
Elizabeth Bishop
Mary Oliver
Stanley Kunitz
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - 7:00pm
Richard Sugden Public Library
8 Pleasant Street, Spencer
featuring the work of Robert Frost
Carle Johnson
Introduction by Carle Johnson:

A study of the sonnets by Robert Frost is quite a lesson in living and in writing poetry. Don't assume a poem is or isn't a sonnet until you've counted those 14 lines. You'll be surprised at how many 13 and 15 line poems Frost wrote, too. My belief is Frost often started with a sonnet as his goal, but the poem demanded an early close, so he stopped at 13 lines, or the development really needed 15 lines, so he wrote a "supersonnet" of 15 lines, if you will.

An often anthologized sonnet, "The Silken Tent," is one complete sentence. But look at the forms he used. Either these 14 line poems are 'just" 14 line poems - or Frost was having fun breaking up the classic form. "The Oven Bird" octave starts with a couplet and at the "volta," the sestet begins with a couplet. This is not traditional sonnet form.

A Frost Quiz

1.  Where was Robert Frost born?
           A. San Francisco, CA             
           B. Rochester, NY
           C. Lawrence, MA                   
           D. Derry, NH

2.  Which famous Robert was he named for?
           A. Robert Burns
           B. Robert E. Lee
           C. Robert Baden-Powell
           D. Robert Zimmerman

3.  Frost received many honorary degrees over the years. While he
    never actually earned a degree, which two colleges did he attend?
           A. Dartmouth and Harvard
           B. Williams and Amherst
           C. Dartmouth and Bowdoin
           D. Bennington and Middlebury

4. Frost read a poem at the inauguration of which president?
           A. Calvin Coolidge
           B. Franklin D. Roosevelt
           C. Harry S. Truman
           D. John F. Kennedy

5.  Where is Robert Frost buried?
           A. Franconia, NH           
           B. Amherst, MA
           C. Bowdoin, ME                
           D. Bennington, VT

How did you do? Frost expert or can't see the poet for the woods?
Click here for the answers or go here for a bio that reveals all!

There are many excellent Robert Frost resources on the web.  Here are a few to get you started.



Answers to the Frost Quiz: 1.A, 2.B, 3.A, 4.D, 5.D
Thursday, October 4, 2007 - 7:00pm
Frances Perkins Branch
Worcester Public Library
470 West Boylston Street, Worcester
featuring the work of Elizabeth Bishop
Laura Menides
Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on February 8, 1911. Her father, William Thomas Bishop, was vice-president of his father’s firm, the J.W. Bishop Company, which built landmarks such as the Boston Public Library.  Her mother, Gertrude Bulmer, came from a prominent yet provincial family in Nova Scotia, Canada. After her father’s death when she was eight months old and her mother’s subsequent mental collapse, Bishop moved to Nova Scotia to live with her maternal grandparents. She returned to Worcester only for brief periods, but they were marked ones for Bishop. Tied to no one place, she made note of Worcester in some of her finest works.

“The Country Mouse,” a long prose memoir, details her eight-month stay with her grandparents at 1212 Main Street:
The old white house had long ago been a farmhouse out
in the country. The city had crept out and past it; now there
were houses all around and a trolley line went past the front
lawn with its white picket fence…. The Catholics had been
trying to buy the house for years; they wanted to build
a church there. All the time I was there the subject was
under debate – to sell or not to sell.
The Bishop estate is now the site of Our Lady of the Angels Church at 1222 Main Street (current numbering).

“In the Waiting Room,” one of her most famous poems, begins:
In Worcester, Massachusetts,
I went with Aunt Consuelo
to keep her dentist’s appointment
and describes a crucial moment of self-identity. These are two examples highlighting the significance of Worcester to Bishop.

Bishop attended Walnut Hill School in Natick, Massachusetts, then Vassar College, where she helped found a literary magazine, Con Spirito. She focused increasingly on literature in her senior year there, partly due to the prompting of Marianne Moore, Bishop’s lifetime friend, who was also the impetus behind the publication of Bishop’s first book, North and South. After college, Bishop traveled to Europe and Mexico and lived in New York and Florida. From 1951 to 1967, she resided in Brazil with her fraid Lota de Macedo Soares. After Lota’s death, Bishop continued her life of travel. She visited the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu, and owned a house in Ouro Preto. She returned to the US to teach at Harvard, New York University, and MIT. Elizabeth Bishop died on October 6, 1979, at Lewis Wharf, Boston; her ashes are buried in the Bishop Family plot in Hope Cemetery, Worcester.

Much of Bishop’s poetry is filled with detail and imagery which allow the reader to live the event described. She is noted for her unique style and innovative technique, placing her outside defined literary schools, and bringing distinction to her works. Bishop received many major literary awards, most notably the Pulitzer Prize for Poems: North and South: A Cold Spring, the National Book Award for Complete Poems, and the Books Abroad/Neustadt Prize, the first woman and the first American to do so. She has become an important and influential literary figure, leaving in her works evidence of the significance of her birthplace, Worcester.

Historic marker dedication at Our Lady of the Angels Church,
site of the Bishop estate in Worcester.
Laura Menides, Angela Dorenkamp, Carle Johnson
at the Bishop gravesite at Hope Cemetery.
The brief Elizabeth Bishop biography is taken from "A Literary Tour of Worcester: A closer look at Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz and Charles Olson," a brochure published by WCPA and WPI.
Gathered at Hope Cemetery, Worcester - October 6, 2007
Monica, Lynda, Laura, Dan, Judy, John, Beth, Carle, and Angela -
in the red shoes! 
Some members of the Bishop discussion group on October 4, 2007,
at WPL Perkins Branch.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 7:30pm
Shrewsbury Public Library
609 Main Street, Shrewsbury
featuring the work of Mary Oliver
Heather Macpherson
About Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1935.  During her teen years, Oliver spent time living at Steepletop, the estate of poet Edna St. Vincent Milllay.  During this period she assisted Millay’s family with “sorting through papers the poet left behind.” Millay’s work would be a great influence on Oliver as she began writing her own poetry.

After attending Ohio State University for one year, she continued her education at Vassar College –Millay’s alma mater- in New York, but never graduated.  Her first collection, No Voyage, and Other Poems, was published in 1963. Since then she has published many volumes of work several have won prestigious awards including the National Book Award, the Christopher Award, L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award, among others, including the esteemed Pulitzer Prize. Her work centers on the natural world.

Our World , a collection of photos by Molly Malone Cook with words by Oliver is due out in October 2007, and her next poetry collection, Red Bird, is scheduled for release in April 2008 by Beacon Press. Mary Oliver resides in Provincetown, Massachusetts.


Poems to read, share and discuss at Traveling Poetry

After Arguing Against the Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent

Climbing the Chagrin River

Cold Poem

Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard

When Death Comes

available online at http://www.poemhunter.com/mary-oliver/

Worcester County Poetry Association
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