All posts by PaulM

Dismantle the South Common? Hands Off.

The South Common was created for the enjoyment of all the residents of the city. The South Common is not an empty lot waiting for a better use. The South Common is functioning well for its designated purpose, thank you. The South Common is scheduled for a major renovation, based on a thoughtful plan put together for the City of Lowell by a well respected landscape architecture firm—and with significant community input. We have been waiting for years for a major investment in this park. The South Common is part of the South Common Historic District, and the Lowell Historic Board has a say in the razing of existing structures and design of new structures in the district. The South Common is not a good location for a new high school. I live on Highland Street. No secret. The idea of injecting many hundreds of additional cars of teachers and students into already highly congested Thorndike, Gorham, and Highland streets is not a good idea. In addition to contributing to the quality of life of current neighbors and recreational users, as a marvelous and active green space the South Common can be an asset for Sal Lupoli’s planned innovation-commercial-residential development at the former Comfort Furniture/Hood Co. complex and for the future Judicial Center, not to mention the whole Hamilton Canal District. Who speaks for open space in the city? Who speaks for Nature? Who speaks for the current users of the South Common? Who speaks for this important part of Lowell’s heritage?


Poetry at the Parker (4/12/14)

We had more than 50 people at the Whistler House Museum yesterday for the poetry reading with Joe Donahue and me offering work angled toward the Acre neighborhood and Aegean Sea in honor of our hosts, Lowell’s Hellenic Culture & Heritage Society. We ranged through tragedy and memory and mystical union, bringing into the room Aeschylus, JFK, Gorky, Tsongas, Warhol, Ellen Goodman, Larry King, Eros, Cavafy, Seferis, Sappho, Kerouac, Troy (not Troy Donahue, no relation), and elite Kenyan marathoners, among other figures and configurations and loaded locations. Joe sold out his pile of books and exited the painter’s birthplace through the Parker Gallery, past tables of baklava, koulourakia, and green grapes. In a review of Joe’s 2003 book “Incidental Eclipse,” John Ashbery wrote that Joe is “one of the major American poets of this time.” So, there you go—an assessment from an author with a roomful of prizes. The reading was taped by Lowell Telecommunications Corp. and will be broadcast soon on local cable TV. Catch it if you can.

Donahue & Marion Reading Today (Older Than They Once Were)


donahue  younger

Joe Donahue, c. 2000

marion younger

Paul Marion, c. 1986 (photo by James Higgins)

At 2 p.m. today, there’s a poetry reading with these young guys pictured above at the Whistler House Museum of Art, Parker Gallery, 243 Worthen St., downtown Lowell. The program is called “The Cultural Lines of Poetry, IV.” Sponsored by the Hellenic Culture and Heritage Society, the event will feature readings of new and older poems plus commentary about the influence of Greek writers and Hellenic culture on the authors’ literary efforts. Free and open to the public. Special thanks to Marina Sampas Schell and Charles Nikitopoulos for organizing the program. The HCHS has been a great friend to poets and poetry for more than 20 years. And thanks to the Whistler House and Director Sara Bogosian for hosting the program—a longtime friendly location for poets.


Today at 11 am: Announcing Nelson Mandela Tribute at Tsongas Center

Everyone is invited to attended the public announcement today of the plan to create the Nelson Mandela Overlook on the grounds of the Tsongas Center of Lowell. The African American Alliance of Lowell, organized by community leaders including Bowa George Tucker, Janet B. Johnson, and Gordon Halm, in partnership with UMass Lowell, will launch the effort to create a permanent tribute to the acclaimed Nelson Mandela as a gesture from the city’s growing community of peoples of African origin. The event will include remarks by human-rights champion Albie Sachs of South Africa, a friend and colleague of Mandela’s who together with countless others struggled to end the injustices of apartheid. Also speaking will be Chancellor Marty Meehan and Bowa G. Tucker of the African American Alliance. Albie Sachs, former Constitutional Judge, is the 2014 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies at UMass Lowell. The program begins at 11 a.m. in the Sage Bank Pavilion of the Tsongas Center and will conclude with a symbolic groundbreaking and placement of a ceremonial wreath at the future site of the Nelson Mandela Overlook along the Western Canal on the grounds of the Tsongas.


Lawrence Immigration Symposium, 4/5

Forrant Lawrence symposium

Such an incredible day at the Everett Mill today! The Lawrence History Center welcomed nearly 200 people for a full day of scholarship and dialogue about the new immigration into Lawrence and similar communities. We’ll report out with more photos and stories from the day, but here’s one of our wonderful Lawrence focused roundtable discussion after lunch with panelists (l to r): Professor Llana Barber, SUNY at Old Westbury; Atty. Zoila Gomez, Eliana Martinez, Lawrence International High School; Victor Martinez, Lawrence CommunityWorks; Professor Robert Forrant, UMass Lowell/Lawrence History Center board of directors (moderator). More soon! (Photo and caption , 4/5/14, courtesy of Lawrence History Center on Facebook and Bob Forrant)

UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies

Next week is a big one for the UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies Program. Not only will the 2014 Scholar be here, Justice Albie Sachs of South Africa, but three past Scholars will be at events for a reunion—including 2011 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Leymah Gbowee of Liberia. Albie Sachs fought against apartheid along side Nelson Mandela, who appointed Sachs to South Africa’s Constitution (or Supreme) Court after being elected President of South Africa. For a schedule of events, most of which are free and open to the public, visit and click on events for the schedule.




Cambodian Arts Celebrated at UMass Lowell


Angkor Dance Troupe at UMass Lowell  (photo by Rosemary Noon)

Last night, more than 500 people attended an extraordinary performance of dance and music in UMass Lowell’s Durgin Concert Hall by the Angkor Dance Troupe, Flying Orb Productions, and UMass Lowell’s World Music Ensemble. The one-day festival included sculptor Yary Livan, who displayed ceramics and sculpture in the lobby of Durgin Hall, as well as a poetry reading and a panel discussion about post-traumatic stress in refugee communities.