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‘A People’s History of the New Boston’
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Our guest reviewer this week is Tom Miller. Miller is a Somerville Bagel Bard a history graduate student at Salem State University, and a retired auto industry executive.

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September 10

Philip Burnham, Jr. writes of the Ukraine – the carnage – the pain, and yet perhaps a hint of beauty and transcendence.

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Miranda Aisling: Portrait of an Artist as an Idea Machine
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On Miranda Aisling’s website she describes herself as an “idea machine.” And indeed, Aisling is chock-full of ideas for different creative projects. Aisling, who lives on the Somerville/Arlington line, loves the area. She said: “I love all the artists, and young creative people that are running art-based businesses.” Aisling, who holds an advanced degree in Community Arts from Lesley University, has recently written a book “Don’t Make Art, Make Something.” In a nutshell the book deals with the creative block most people encounter in their lives. Aisling said: “Once people create, just the act of creating opens things up. I want people to recognize their creativity. Not everyone is going to be an accomplished artist but everyone has their own degree of creativity.”

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September 3

The Sherman Cafe in Union Square is where I write poems and eat scones. Although– I miss the classic oatmeal/ cherry scone, I have done perfectly well with the morning glory muffin, and other assorted delicacies– one must move on afterall. Anyway, while sitting at the cafe, a young man came up to me and asked me if I am a poet. I said : “Yes.” And one thing lead to the other, and well… he is published. He sent me his bio:

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Marjorie Nichols: A Family Photographer with a Sense of History
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I met Marjorie Nichols on a crowded morning at the Sherman Café in Union Square, Somerville. The place was buzzing. At the table across from me was Greg Jenkins of the Somerville Arts Council conferring with some other artists, and on hand throughout the café was the usual band of businessmen, young bohemians, students, earnest non-profit types pontificating about foundation grants, mothers with screaming kids, etc.

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August 27

Why is it that a duck has all the luck? Poet J. C. Foritano has the answer.

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Somerville Artist Bridget Galway: A Provincetown Artist Makes a Home in the Paris of New England
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One of the first things I noticed while talking with Bridget Galway was the tattoo flowers that tangled their way up the sides of her expressive hands. And then there was the silver hoop earrings with yellow stones—in some ways she is a living piece of installation art. And no wonder… Bridget Galway has always been involved with the arts. She grew up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and later moved to Provincetown, Mass. In P-Town her mom owned a sandal shop and was a model for the artist Hans Hoffman, and her father was a writer. As a young artist Galway was intimately involved in the arts scene. Later she founded a free arts center in Holyoke, Mass. There she developed innovative art programs for city youth and others. She has designed book covers for a number of poets including Eating Grief at 3A.M. (Muddy River Books) by yours truly and the upcoming On the Wings of Song (Ibbetson Street Press) by Molly Lynn Watt, a memoir in verse that deals with the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s.

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August 20

Local poet Patrick Lennon had a vision of beauty. And as we all know beauty is truth and truth is beauty.

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Somerville’s K. Gretchen Greene: An artist happy with soot in her face and steel at her feet
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In Gretchen Greene’s artist statement she writes: “ I am a sculptor; and in that work I see all the other things I am, all the other things I have done. As I carve and twist steel, face covered in soot, scraps of golden steel at my feet, I know I’m home.”

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August 13

The LYRICAL got this letter from poet Jennifer Freed:I haven’t lived in Somerville for years (if that matters) – I live now with my family just outside of Worcester. But I wrote the following after reading your July 19 issue. I kept wondering why a person might end up spending the time and money to cremate bodies, and then not return the remains to the families. I came up with the following invention. (The voice, by the way, comes from a man I met in Cambridge years ago, when we both volunteered at a shelter).”

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Singer/Songwriter Jennifer Matthews: An artist of the road, heart and life
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Jennifer Matthews doesn’t walk into a room; it is more like she drifts in like some stray, haunting riff from a distant, deep, deep blue guitar. Matthews, formerly a Somerville resident is an accomplished musician who defies categorization. She told me at the Sherman Cafe as we consumed some tea and scones that she considers herself “A singer, songwriter and roots/ rock&roll musician.” By “roots” Matthews means she use an acoustic mandolin, foot stomps, hand claps, and her signature acoustic blue guitar. She and her guitar are in a committed and monogamous relationship for the past 12 years. She was shown the guitar at a music store and was not impressed with it at first. She told the clerk, “But it is a Blue guitar!” He told her: “Play it.” And like many affairs of the heart, she reluctantly, but hopelessly fell in love. And this guitar is a perfect conduit for her brand of music.

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August 6

We all answer to some higher power. Poet Elizabeth McCormack wrote a poem to him, her, or it.

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A Walk Through The City: My changing landscape
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There is something that I used to do frequently but now hardly at all, and that is walking through the streets of Boston. I had a dinner I had to go to recently, so I decided to leave early from my home in Somerville, grab the Red Line to Park Street, and got my dogs on the hot pavement. I have been around Boston since 1973, from the time I entered Boston University as a freshman. One of the things I noticed some 40 years later is the change in Boston and the change in me. I am no longer looking at the city as an adventure; I am looking at it nostalgically. While walking down the street in Downtown Crossing I saw the ghost of the Barnes and Noble store that I used to frequent and picked up, by mere chance, “On the Road,” simply because the book cover looked cool. That started me on a Kerouac reading binge that had me devouring everything he ever wrote, and made me realize how exciting life and literature can truly be.

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July 30

Hopefully by the time you read this poem the crisis at Market Basket will be over. I pulled this up from my archives — thought it would be germane.

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Review of ‘Reckoning’ by Rusty Barnes
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Our guest columnist this week is Somerville writer Ralph Pennel. Ralph is the fiction editor at the Midway Journal (Online) and teaches at Bunker Hill Community College. Here he reviews Reckoning, a novel by local writer Rusty Barnes.

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