One Community – 3,000 Miles Away

On April 26th, I attended a poetry reading by Kristine Doll and Peter Thabit Jones. Kristine Doll is the author of the poetry collection Speak to Me Again. Twice now, she has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in poetry. One of Doll’s most noteworthy works is her translation of Catalan Poetry. Doll’s work has been published internationally and is a Professor of World Languages and Cultures at Salem State University in Salem, MA.

Peter Thabit Jones is a Welsh poet who currently lives in Swansea, United Kingdom. His work has been translated into 22 languages, and is the recipient of many awards, among them is the Eric Gregory Award for Poetry. In addition, Thabit Jones is also a former Professor at the University of Swansea.

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Grolier Poetry Book Shop – Cambridge, MA

The reading was held at the Grolter Poetry Book Shop in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. This bookshop is small, intimate, and quiet, but once it filled up with poetry-lovers, it came to life with ideas. Its small size makes for a quiet atmosphere, except for the rolling Red Line trains beneath our feet.

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Grolier Poetry Book Shop

As soon as I walked through the door (that I finally was able to close on the third try), the walls came to life because of the passionate writers who had come from as far as Gloucester, MA to share their love for poetry. Once I sat down, I realized as soon as I was offered a glass of wine that this wasn’t a lecture, but a group of poets sharing and appreciating each other’s work. (I declined the wine offer, for obvious reasons.)

Doll’s poetry that she shared had two main foci: translations, and the love she has for her deceased parents. The work Doll shared about her parents were the ones that I enjoyed the most, because although she shared just a few words, the passion and love that she has for her parents was evident. Doll shared a piece titled My Aunt, which tells the story of Doll’s belief that her Aunt came down from heaven to retrieve her mother.

Thabit Jones’ showed his passion for poetry through his relaxed persona, which really invited those in the audience to really become engaged. Thabit Jones began his readings by telling the audience that he felt “drunk” due to the extreme jet-lag he was experiencing. Thabit Jones shared that his humble beginnings of living in the “ugly” part of Swansea still inspire his work today.

The most noteworthy piece of Thabit Jones’ incorporates humor with a message, which was a great technique for him to employ, as it pulled in the audience. Stones is about a stone wall that Thabit Jones attempted to build, but failed, however, he still never viewed it as a waste of time as he got to make a poem about it, and that is “all that matters to a poet.”

This poetry reading was far more than people gathering to listen; it was a small community within Boston where people share their work with one another. The bookshop where the reading is held is the vehicle, the people are the drivers, and the poetry is the fuel that ignites the engine, which inspires and pushes writers to keep writing.

-Mitchell O’Connor, Class of 2019

 

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Becoming a Disney princess in “Havahd Yahd”

The beautiful thing about Boston is that it’s a city with 20th century innovations, circulated by urban veins, filled with the latest trends, fueled by technological advancements, and yet has somehow held on to it’s old soul. Boston is very unique from other cities around the United States, and a majority of the reason comes from the fact that Boston holds the key to American roots.

“Pahk the Cah in Havahd Yahd.” Arguably one of the more popular phrases that gets tossed around with us Bostonians. It’s our stereotypical calling. Technically, Harvard is in the city of Cambridge, but nevertheless, tourists and locals claim it as our own.

This week, I went to explore Harvard Square as part of a project for my personal blog, ” A Cup of T”. Around the evening, fueled with a sugar high from Zinneken’s  Belgian waffles, my friends and I decided to get lost in Harvard’s book store.

 

Front of store

 

The first thing I noticed while walking into the book store, was the amount of ladders the store had on several shelves. (Yes, tall, wooden ladders, that were in absolute perfect condition.) In my lifetime, I hadn’t ever come across a bookstore that included traditional ladders, like the ones you’d see in movies like Beauty and the Beast. I couldn’t resist the urge to climb one for no apparent reason, and ran my fingers across the spines of the books that were touched far less than all the others. The store was buzzing with people from all over the world. There was a couple flipping through cuisine books and a hunched over old man grumbling his way through clusters of people, and a man reading a children’s book to his son in French. It made me feel like a 20th century Belle, up there on the ladder. Harvard’s book store is such a small space with so much room for the diverse population of tourists, locals, authors and one particular resident, Paige.

 

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Paige is Harvard’s espresso book machine. If something could look like it belonged in both history and the future, it would be Paige. After interviewing some of the employees at the information center, I discovered that Paige can produce an acid-free paperback books in nearly four minutes. Customers could print existing pieces from the internet, or even create their very own books!

 

 

Paige presents many benefits to authors who choose to custom print at the Harvard Book Store. Books are “library-quality, perfect bound, acid-free paperbacks, indistinguishable from books produced by major publishing houses.” Authors can avoid the expensive investments that are sometimes required by self publishing programs. Authors also experience the benefit of owning total rights to their printed work, including the layout, design, the price of the book, and even the option to display it at the Harvard Book Store. For information regarding book pricing and the simple submission guidelines, go to http://www.harvard.com/bookmachine. Paige can also print books that are out of print, such as Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript of Alice and Wonderland, or books that are online accessible.

The Harvard Book store also sells misprinted books for $2.00, just behind their espresso book machine. I thought this was very interesting, knowingly buying a book that is indeed one of a kind, special, and of course, cheap!

 

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Right next to Paige, is a staircase that leads to Harvard’s Used Book Department. There are thousands of used books, comics and magazines all placed at a lower price. The Used Book Department is plastered with antique stickers, news clippings, baseball cards and book covers on the poles and shelves. I spent a good 20 minutes looking through all of the in-store collages.

 

 

Tourists, locals, authors, non-authors, students and beautifully curious people should come and take advantage at what the Harvard Book Store has to offer. It’s an inexpensive way to explore unique works of literature, pick up a misprinted book, or learn something new. It’s a new an exciting way to get up close and personal with the literature we love.

 

By Jade Cruz