At Lit Crawl, A Poem Made Just for You

Boston Book Festival is excited to have Mass Poetry presenting at Lit Crawl 2021! The organization supports the poets of Massachusetts by both providing resources to poets and educating the public. You can learn more about Mass Poetry’s “Poems To Go” session here and by reading our Q&A with Erica Charis-Molling, Mass Poetry’s education director. 

BBF: Could you tell us a little about your presenters for “Poems To Go”?

Erica: Cassandra de Alba is a poet living in Massachusetts. Her chapbooks are habitats (Horse Less Press, 2016), Ugly/Sad (Glass Poetry Press, 2020) and Cryptids (Ginger Bug Press, 2020). Her work has appeared in The Shallow Ends, Big Lucks, and Wax Nine, among other publications. She is a poetry reader for Underblong and an instructor at the Redbud Writing Project.

Julia Story is the author of Post Moxie (Sarabande Books) and the chapbooks The Trapdoor (dancing girl press) and Julie the Astonishing (Sixth Finch Books). She is a 2016 recipient of a Pushcart Prize and her recent work can be read in Sixth Finch, Tinderbox, and Tupelo Quarterly. She is a Midwesterner who now lives in Massachusetts.

Together they form two-thirds of the Traveling Poetry Emporium. [The Traveling Poetry Emporium types original poems on the spot at museums, festivals, and parties on any subject the guests have in mind.]

What do you hope attendees and viewers at Lit Crawl Boston 2021 will take away from your “Poems To Go” session?

Erica: A personalized, one-of-a-kind poem written on a topic of their choice! I hope they’ll also come away with a sense of the living, breathing, every-day-ness of poetry—that it’s not just something tucked away in some dusty book on the top shelf, but rather something you might encounter anywhere and can intersect your life at any moment if you’re open to it.

Could you suggest chapbooks for our BBF readers by Boston poets?

Erica: Our Traveling Poetry Emporium poets have several books and chapbooks that I would recommend! In particular, Cassandra de Alba’s Ugly/Sad and Julia Story’s The Trapdoor would be great chapbooks to check out. Folks wanting further reading recommendations are welcome to check out our series here.

Lastly, what is it about Massachusetts that makes the state such fertile ground for poetry?

Erica: Man, this question is a doozy! I think Massachusetts is a place with a lot of poetic history, which in many ways has primed the soil. I also think it’s a place with a whole web of supports and opportunities for new and experienced poets—through institutions like the Mass Cultural Council [also a funder for Lit Crawl Boston], local cultural councils and governments (many of whom have expanded or started poet programs across the state), academic institutions, really vibrant grass-roots open mic communities, and literary nonprofits like Mass Poetry. There’s been a well-documented rise in poetry readership in the United States and all of that helps Massachusetts capitalize on that climbing desire for poetry. (There may also be something in the water. I haven’t tested it recently to be sure.)

We hope Lit Crawl Boston 2021 attendees appreciate the wealth of poetry in the state of Massachusetts, and take the opportunity to acquire new poems at Lit Crawl Boston 2021! More information on dates, time slots, and presenters can be found here. We can’t wait to see you June 10!

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