When Devon contacted us with interview questions, it was a pleasant and energizing surprise. Email messages and reminiscences flew among us. It was fun for those of us who are “originals” to fill in some of the history for people who have joined more recently.
It also highlighted the strength of being a collective in that we can retain our core identity while incorporating new members. At this fall’s residency, for the first time, “originals” will be in the minority. I admit to anticipatory sadness at missing seeing so many of my BHPC poet-friends, but I’m excited to add to our ranks as we continue to grow as artists and as community.
I hope you enjoy the article and want to explore more about BHPC. You can check out our inaugural reading in the Boiler House at MASS MoCA and more under the Collaborative Projects tab.
Spouse B, Daughter T, and I are in London, UK, visiting Daughter E, Son-in-law L, and Granddaughters ABC and JG. Yesterday, we made a trip to the Battersea Power Station.
Having grown up around power stations, I am geeky about them and would like to tour them, but the Battersea Power Station after decades of use as a coal-fired power station, designation as a historic landmark, and decades of disuse and deterioration, has been transformed into a shopping mall, apartments, offices, restaurant, and entertainment complex. The mall only opened a few months ago and more shops will be opening later this year.
On our way to the main entrance, we passed this sign. Of course, I had to take a photo of it as a shoutout to my friends of the Boiler House Poets Collective!
The main part of the old Art Deco-style power station that has been transformed into shops and restaurants is massive. Here is a view as you look down one of the main galleries that once housed multiple turbines:
The amount of detail that went into the restoration is staggering. Here you can see some of the Art Deco elements and part of one of the old control room through the windows.
There are lots of fun elements that play off the power station theme, such as the Control Room B cocktail bar, which features lots of dials and gauges as part of the decor.
I loved seeing the remnant of this safety helmet sign. When we used to go to the hydro stations with Paco, this would have been termed a “hard hat area.” (Yes, I am just that geeky about these things, as anyone who has heard me going on about the industrial roots of the MASS MoCA complex will know.)
There are, of course, many distinctly modern features. For example, one of the old smokestacks now houses an elevator to take people up to the top to look out over London and the Thames. Not being particular fans of heights, although it is glass encased at the top, we did not go up in Lift 109, so called because the top of the stack is 109 meters from the ground, but it’s there for those with the inclination and pounds to do so.
At the moment, there are a number of light installations scattered around the complex. JG was especially taken with these hearts and kept hopping from one to another, while saying “another heart” over and over in an enthusiastic, two-year-old voice. I suppose it’s possible that this was more of a valentine feature than part of the light installations, but it was fun, none the less.
So, Happy Valentine’s Day from London for those celebrating!
I’m thrilled to share the new issue of Portrait of New England, which includes my poem “State Line” and my very first published interview!
Those of you who are regular readers here at Top of JC’s Mind know that I usually post here about the story behind the writing of my published poems but the featured Q&A handles that, with shout-outs to the Boiler House Poets Collective and MASS MoCA.
Many thanks to editor Matthew Johnson for the honor of being chosen as featured writer for this amazing issue! In addition to sixteen poems, there are pieces of fiction and creative non-fiction to enjoy, all by writers who have a connection to New England. I also love the wintry cover art by Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
Comments are always welcome here. Please also feel free to share the issue with your friends and family. (The link in the first paragraph is permanent, so if you are visiting this post in 2023 or later, you should still have access.)
My apologies for the infrequent posts as of late. There has been a string of important events and I haven’t had much time/brain for posting, but I did want to get the word out that I am back at The Studios at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) for the annual reunion residency of the Boiler House Poets Collective.
We have three first-time members joining us this year and there have been some renovations at the Studios. With ever-evolving COVID protocols in addition, things feel somehow new as we make our way together, taking the opportunity to re-vamp our usual routine.
I’m very excited that we will be doing our first public reading in several years on Friday, October 14, 2022 at 4 PM at the Artist Book Foundation in North Adams. If you are in the area, come join us for a sampler of the work of eight members of the Boiler House Poets Collective!
I’m excited to share with you a newly published videopoem from the Boiler House Poets Collective! We worked on the poem itself during our residency last fall with the marvelous Marilyn McCabe designing and producing the video. Many thanks to Masque and Spectacle Journal for publishing it.
This is an exquisite corpse poem, which is a technique for composing a poem with a group. One poet writes a line. The second writes a line following it and folds the paper so that only that line is showing. Each subsequent poet follows suit, only seeing the last line added. With eight poets, we did two rounds, generating this 16 line poem. The visual element was taken from our beloved namesake, the Boiler House at MASS MoCA. Enjoy!
“Avalon” is an exquisite corpse composition from a group of poets in residency at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, where the video images were also taken.
*** The Boiler House Poets meet every fall at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art for a weeklong residency to develop work individually and as a group. They are: Joanne Corey, Marilyn McCabe, Ann Dernier, Gail DiMaggio, Jessica Dubey, Kyle Laws, Katherine Morgan, Erica Bodwell. All have published poems in literary magazines and/or as collections through a variety of poetry presses. Video producer Marilyn McCabe’s videos have appeared in literary magazines, film festivals, and galleries: MarilynOnaRoll.wordpress.com.
Today is the last full day of the Boiler House Poets Collective reunion residency for 2021. It’s always amazing to be back here at MASS MoCA together but the experience is heightened after having to cancel because of COVID last year.
I am in the same studio as I was in the Tupelo Press workshop/residency that first brought us together in 2015. As I was looking back at my blog to get the exact dates of that residency, I decided to re-visit all the posts from back then. I was surprised that I processed as much as I did at the time, while realizing how much I had downplayed the amount of confusion and fear I was feeling.
If anyone is so moved to join me in this walk down memory lane, the posts start here.
In late May, I spent a few days on a private writing retreat back in North Adams, Massachusetts. I grew up in the area and it is the subject of my poetry collection work-in-progress, so it is helpful to me to be back there to work on it. (I wrote about it here for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, so even more rambling than I am when I have the luxury of editing myself.)
Part of the reason it is helpful to be back there is that I’m relieved of most of the caretaking/errands/planning/phoning/corresponding that take up a lot of my brain when I am at home. As if to make up for my being away for a bit, my return was greeted with an avalanche of problems that I may, finally, be at the point of seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
I will not bore you with any details other than to say that anyone who has ever had to deal with a complex issue with a US insurance company has some inkling of what it has been like times three.
The update on the manuscript is that it is in the hands of my poet-friends with an eye toward doing a full review sometime in the next few weeks. I was fortunate that I had returned from North Adams with the poems basically done and ordered. I powered through writing the foreword and end notes before June hit so I was able to pivot to dealing with bureaucracy.
Fingers crossed that personal life will calm down in time for the manuscript review and for a couple of weeks for revision time so that I can send the manuscript out for July submission calls. Tupelo Press just helpfully reminded me that they will be having an open submission period for manuscripts in July. After attending the inaugural Tupelo Press/Studios at MASS MoCA residency week in 2015, I promised that I would send them work. I didn’t think it would be this many years before I would have the manuscript completed, but I am looking forward to finally keeping that promise. I feel especially obligated to send this to them because so many of the poems intersect with MASS MoCA, my time there, and the art.
I will, of course, be sending the manuscript to other publishers and contests because one needs to cast as wide a net as possible to find the right fit between the press and the poet.