Feature: The Camberville Canon

OddballSelected verse from some of our finest poets, selected by some more of our finest poets

By J. Patrick Brown @ResentfulTweet
Photos by Shane Godfrey
Special Thanks to Poets Toni Bee, Lo Galluccio, Sophia Holtz, Gloria Mindock, Jade Sylvan and Jason Wright

With a pedigree of innovation that has brought us everything from back-flipping robots to sippy-cup lids for mason jars, if there’s anything this side of the river has proven, it’s that it has nothing to prove when it comes to all things science and technology.

But, rather than just handing over the tools to a better tomorrow and leaving us to fumble around in the dark, the cities of Cambridge and Somerville put just as much of an emphasis on illumination as they do on innovation – for every wind tunnel or warehouse-sized maker space, you’ll find a small press or open-mic slam. For every study or report, there’s a chapbook or ‘zine. Heck, you couldn’t swing a metaphysical conceit around Davis or Inman without hitting a half-dozen poets, published or soon to be. That airy nothing might still be in need of a name, but it’s found a local habitation, and it’s here.

In the spirit of collaboration – between creative-types, between the two cities, between all things left brain and right that make our world liveable and worth living in – we asked poets from both burgs to pick a fellow verse-ist from their neighboring city that they felt was deserving of more attention. Get your hands on a copy of both Scout Cambridge and Scout Somerville for the complete set.

SOMERVILLE POET: JASON WRIGHT

Jason Wright is the editor and founder of Oddball Magazine! a Somerville based online poetry and arts magazine. His column “Jagged Thoughts” appears every Tuesday. Jason has been writing for 15 years, and was awarded the English Award of Achievement at Bunker Hill Community College. A graduate of Umass Boston, he has been published in Somerville News, Brooklyn Village Voice, and all over the web and has appeared at many poetry events around the city of Boston. He resides in Somerville. Check out his online poetry and art collective oddballmagazine.com daily for fresh poetry and art from around Boston and beyond.

ROSES ARE RED, VIOLETS ARE BLUE
By Jason Wright

So a lot of people don’t get poetry
this poem is for them…

Roses are red, Violets are blue

This is the beginning of a poem
You’ve known since childhood
This is the beginning of a poem
When people used to say
That poetry began with this lame phrase
So confused are people about who
poets are and what they do
And only know Poe and Dr. Seuss
Some people need a new introduction
To the written word
Welcome to the warmth of the earth
You’ve known poetry
since the day of your birth
And continue to know it
Listen to the words on the radio
Flowing from a hi-fi stereo
Each word was scribbled down
first
On pad from paper from papyrus
And you listen to it,

That’s another notion about
poetry
That its only for boring intellectuals
who use difficult verse to describe
a mundane universe
Of words
Then there is the difference
between snapping and clapping
There’s really no difference
Both showing love
One sounds a little too pretentious
And the other is the human
response
To words that move you and
make you feel something
Different then your used to
Then there is the classics
Everyone was forced to learn in
school
To be or not to be, do not go
gentle into that good night, the
pledge of allegiance
All words all poems
All have different meanings
But I don’t want to lose the
audience
back to the beginning
Roses are red, Violets are blue
But before I go
Let me tell you
poetry is for everyone who has
words or worse to worry with
Everyone has this talent to do this
So when someone says poetry is
for pretentious idiots
It is, but it is also for
the spiritualist
The activist
The hip hop kids
The linguist
The wordsmith
The worse for wear
And the neverdids
The headbangers
The wallflowers
The muscle head
And brain dead
Potheads
The patriot
And the anarchist
The tame and the loud
The free
The shackled
The ashamed
And proud
The lover
The martyr
The show stoppers
And the ticket takers

Poetry is for you listening
And me writing this
Little list
Of people id like to see join
me
The community needs you

F**k roses are red violets are blue
If you think that poetry is that
Then you might want to read this
one again

Or pick up the pen
I guarantee you’ll feel something
And if you don’t
Well that’s your opinion
However stupid

you’re entitled to it
And I’m entitled to write a
thousand poems
To disprove it
All you need to do is write down
a sentence or two
And then two more
Then let your mind go
And damn
You’ll be looking at a poem

And you can thank me when I
see you again.

Or Email me.
Email is good too.

Oddballmagazine@gmail.com

SOMERVILLE’S PICK FOR CAMBRIDGE: TONI BEE

toniOur Somerville poet, Jason Wright had this to say on his choice for Cambridge poet: “Toni Bee is a dynamic and soulful writer, who as Poet Populist, embraced community activism. I was lucky enough to befriend Toni after a chance meeting at the Cambridge River Festival. As Poet Populist, Toni organized and gave new life to the poetry movement in Cambridge. Through mash-ups and community-based events, she united the people of Cambridge. She is the voice of many in the Cambridge area and is a true poet of the people. Community-based and homegrown in Boston, she is the buzzing bee of Central Square. I chose her poem ‘The Walk’”

THE WALK
By Toni Bee

Stroll thru C-Square
whaddya see
big money banks
staring back at thee
Chain stores on the right
small biz owners over left
one bus stop on the edge
gotcha runnin’, losin’ ya breath
Are rents goin’ up?
for lease signs all around
layaway for toys and clothes?
HA, jump on the Red, Go down to BeanTown
Sit in the ButterFly
muse about the biz slump
warm (chill outside) wait
CONSTRUCTION, grab the asthma pump
Stoll thru C-Square
what should you see
ask the people – where they at?
GONE, can’t afford the fee…

SOMERVILLE POET: SOPHIA HOLTZ

SophiaCambridge’s Jade Sylvan says “Sophia’s poetry is dark, wise and simply intricate. She writes perfect
encapsulations of human moments that speak to larger human themes.
Follow her. She’s going places.”

CALL IN SHOW
By Sophia Holtz

Your Moscow girlfriend’s voice
sounds like watered down coffee.
It’s a quarter to 5. You called her
because every time you roll
over, the springs
heave in a way that reminds you
the bed is empty.
You’ve been noticing your back
is sore,
and the woman in the apartment
next to yours
has left her television on again.
It’s a talk show
this time, volume up, echoing
through the wall
directly behind your pillow.

You and your girlfriend have
been quiet
for several minutes, now. You
wonder
if she is alone too, a dingy hostel
hallway
you imagine empty but for old
smoke,
or else hundreds of headboards
pressed up against those thin walls,
with tourists inside each bed,
tourists like her
listening to your static.

You realized this morning
that you could not even point
out Moscow
on a map of the Soviet Union,
ugly American that you are,
but this is something you cannot
tell her.
Then you remember that place
has not existed
since before you were born. You
cannot tell her this either.

Desperate, you ask if there is snow,
because that is how you picture
Russia,
even in July. She sounds annoyed.
Tells you
about the weather, has to go,
hangs up.
A burst of studio laughter from
next door.

Now there’s an advertisement on,
or perhaps the woman has
woken up:
the channel changed, the music
peppy,
a woman speaking, but you can’t
understand
what she is saying. It must be
something about one
of those old wooden churches,
like in the postcard she sent you
months ago. It was her first week
there.
She’d sounded so happy in that
letter.

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