Worcester has long been a hotbed of poetry, and Mapping Worcester in Poetry (MWiP) is literally putting the city’s poems on the map!
Below you’ll find events and do-it-yourself tours to follow in the footsteps of some of Worcester’s best-known poets, including Stanley Kunitz, Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Olson, Mary Fell, Etheridge Knight, and Christopher Gilbert. MWiP identifies, documents, and marks sites in the city related to these poets while nurturing brand-new poetry about Worcester and Central Massachusetts.
POEMS IN AND OUT OF PLACES
We are seeking brand-new poems about Worcester’s public spaces by June 1, 2023. Selected poems will be displayed, recorded, published, and awarded an honorarium of $75. During the year before the deadline, we’re hosting free workshops on writing about place. To learn more about the workshops and the context, visit the Poems in and Out of Places page.
Thursday, April 27, 7-9:30 pm, Salisbury House, 61 Harvard Street. Join us to draft a poem for the contest or get feedback on it before the deadline.
Saturday, May 20, 2-4 pm, Salisbury House, 61 Harvard Street. Join us to draft a poem for the contest or get feedback on it before the deadline.
- A Closer Look: Worcester’s Three Deckers
Wednesday, May 3, 5:30 pm, Park View Room, 230 Park Avenue. Preservation Worcester, a community partner with MWiP, is presenting an illustrated talk on Worcester’s famous triple deckers, with special attention to buildings associated with poets Stanley Kunitz, Charles Olson, Christopher Gilbert, and Mary Fell. For more information, visit their calendar of events for Jane Week.
NEW POEMS ABOUT WORCESTER PLACES
Read Susan Roney-O’Brien’s poem “Elizabeth Bishop’s Birthday Bash, Hope Cemetery, Worcester, Massachusetts,” in which she imagines attending the annual celebration.
Elizabeth Bishop Birthday Graveside Reading
Tuesday, February 8, 2023, at 10 noon in Hope Cemetery
We were joined by Bishop scholar Heather Treseler and Worcester Poet Laureate Oliver de la Paz. Claire Golding baked a delicious birthday cake, complete with sprinkles and animal candles!
Writing about Worcester’s Changing Neighborhoods
Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, 2-5 pm at the White Room, Crompton Building
Tony Brown, founder of the Duende Project and 2022 Kunitz Medal recipient, led a workshop at which we wrote a collaborative poem, heard from a few Rain Poets, conducted field research around the Canal District, and shared our feelings about the old and new Worcester.
Laura Menides and Elizabeth Bishop Memorial Reading
Tuesday, October 10, 2022, at 10 am in Hope Cemetery
We gathered to read poems in conversation with each other by Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) and Bishop scholar, WPI professor, and former WCPA president Laura Menides (1937-2022).
Stanley Kunitz Medal Ceremony
Thursday, July 28, 2022, 6:30 pm, Worcester Historical Museum
As part of the annual Kunitz Medal Ceremony, we released a new brochure that surveys Kunitz’s career, his home at 4 Woodford Street, and his relationship with Gregory and Carol Stockmal. MWiP produced the brochure in collaboration with the Stanley Kunitz Boyhood Home.
Writing about History in Place
Saturday, May 7, 2022, 2-5 pm, Worcester Pop-Up
In a lively workshop facilitated by Susan Edwards Richmond, author of Purgatory Chasm and Increase, we discussed evoking the past in poems about a present place and conducted field research in and around historic Worcester Common.
Poems in and out of Places: The City in Motion
Thursday, April 21, 7-8:30 pm at TidePool Bookshop, 372 Chandler Street
A large audience listened to poems set all over Worcester – Plantation Street, Coes Pond, Vernon Hill, Main South, Tatnuck Square, downtown—at an open mic and a reading of featured poems about our city by Wootown poets past and present. This special event launched the Poems in and out of Places workshops and contest.
Elizabeth Bishop Birthday Graveside Reading
Tuesday, February 8, 2022, at 12 noon in Hope Cemetery
Poetry appeared for the first time on the front page of the Worcester Telegram with a photographic essay about the event.
Installation Ceremony for Holy Cross President Vincent Rougeau
Friday, October 22, 2021, Hart Center, College of the Holy Cross
The director of MWiP recited Stanley Kunitz’s poem “My Mother’s Pears,” accompanied by a montage of images of Kunitz, 4 Woodford Street, and Worcester, as part of the inauguration of Holy Cross’s first Black and first lay president.
Download one of our free driving or walking tours!
“In Worcester, Massachusetts”: Elizabeth Bishop Tour, revised March 2022
(a 20-minute drive or 85-minute walk along Main Street, from City Hall Plaza to Hope Cemetery)
The Home Run: Stanley Kunitz Tour 1, revised July 2022
(a 20-minute drive or 40-minute walk from Polar Park to Green Street and up Vernon Hill to 4 Woodford Street)
- Mary Fell (from Kelley Square to Main South and beyond)
- Chris Gilbert (from Pleasant Street to Park Avenue and beyond)
- Etheridge Knight (Free People’s Poetry Workshop venues and beyond)
- Stanley Kunitz 2 (from Elm Park to Hope Cemetery)
- Frank O’Hara 1 (Grafton)
- Frank O’Hara 2 (Downtown Worcester)
- Charles Olson (from Norman Avenue and Newton Square to the Blackstone River)
Mapping Worcester in Poetry is a project supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, developed in collaboration with the Worcester County Poetry Association (WCPA), and directed by Susan Elizabeth Sweeney under the auspices of Scholarship in Action at the College of the Holy Cross. Kate Gregoire coordinates related programming with WCPA. Other stakeholders include Main IDEA, Pow! Wow! Worcester, Preservation Worcester, Stanley Kunitz Boyhood Home, Worcester Historical Museum, and The Worcester Review. For more information, read a profile of student research associate Katie Knippler, an announcement of the Mellon grant, or a news story about the project. To get involved or ask a question, contact us here.