33 Ibbetson Street: The Orange House Down the Block

On August 9, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times


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I sent this small piece to the Somerville 175th Birthday History Project and it will be on display with many others at the Somerville Public Library, and possibly on their website…

Back in 1994 I decided to give up my small, rent-controlled flat in the Republic of Cambridge, to get married. My wife, Dianne, said, “I am convinced you loved me, because you gave up a rent-controlled apartment for me.”

City of Poets Anthology, produced at 33 Ibbetson St. (Don DiVecchio, Richard Wilhem and Doug Holder editors 1998)

As it turns out, rent control was soon to be abolished, and there was a mass exodus to Somerville, where – if you can believe it – rents were cheap.

But moving to Ibbetson Street and Somerville proved to be the best move we made. At 33 Ibbetson Street, we had a huge apartment with a parlor, dining room, large kitchen, a bedroom and a study. It was there that the idea of idea of the Ibbetson Street Press was birthed.

We started this press in 1998, and threw a party where many people from the community and small literary presses gathered. We got coverage in the Boston Globe and other local papers.

That unassuming, orange house will always have special meaning to me… the heated editorial meetings, the documentary that was filmed there, the late night sessions getting the books and magazines ready for print, the City of Poets Anthology we put out with a diverse group of poets like the late Jack Powers, Don DiVecchio, Aldo Tambellini, Linda Conte, Richard Cambridge, Askia Toure, Harris Gardner and many others. I wrote my first book introduction, and helped mediate the many differences that these talented folks had with the anthology and each other.

In 2001, we moved to 25 School Street, just outside Union Square. These were the most productive years. We produced books, and we are releasing our 41st issue of the Ibbetson Street magazine.

We couldn’t have done it without our great landlords David Myers and Patricia Wild, who are supporters of the arts and have given us a break on the rent so we can still afford to live in Somerville.

During this time, I was able to help get the Poet Laureate position up and running in Somerville, I have an arts column in The Somerville Times, and for years have had a TV show, Poet to Poet/Writer to Writer on Somerville Community Access TV.

I think this all happened because I moved to Somerville, where all these opportunities are available. On the rare occasion that I pass that unassuming, orange house on Ibbetson Street, I can picture that group of Ibbetson poets sitting on the front steps, gazing out into the street, probably contemplating another poem.

 

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