Category Archives: Lowell

Another Lowell Poet Whom We Should Know

(re-posted from Sept. 14, 2008)

“Thomas Fitzsimmons was born in Lowell in October 1926. He entered WWII as a young merchant mariner following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and left the US Army Air Force after the bombing of Hiroshima. He taught for many years at Oakland University in Michigan and is now professor emeritus of literature. He has received several Fulbright fellowships to travel in Asia and Europe and was awarded three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (in the categories of poetry, translation, and belles lettres). He worked as a writer and editor for the New Republic magazine in Washington, DC, and the Asahi Daily News in Tokyo. He has written, edited or translated 60 books. As of 2003, he was editing two book series published by the University of Hawaii Press: Asian Poetry in Translation: Japan and Reflections. His books from the past ten years include Build Me Ruins: The One-Eyed Boy Grows Another Eye(2002),  Iron Harp: The Birth of the One-Eyed Boy (1999), Planet Forces (1999), Fencing the Sky (1998), and The Poetry and Poetics of Ancient Japan [a translation] (1997). With his wife, Karen Hargreaves-Fitzsimmons, he publishes Katydid Books (distributed by Univ of Hawaii Press), from their home near Santa Fe, NM (www.katydidbooks.com).” [I reprinted this biography from the website.]

In 1981, I published one of Tom’s poem in a broadside form in a series from Loom Press. The original has slightly different spacing for the lines, but I can’t find the original broadside at the moment. Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, then of Billerica and now a book artist in Newburyport, did the poem in calligraphy as a nod to Tom’s interest in Asian poetry. Here is the poem:

Rainbow Poem

by Tom Fitzsimmons

When I was a kid

Playing hooky

Spending my dime on a loaf of Greek bread

To eat dry

High on a hillside above the Merrimack River

Outside Lowell, Massachusetts,

I did not think I

Would be sitting on Parnassus slope

Above Delphi

Eating my loaf of Greek bread

With feta, black olives,

& retsina

Looking down thru temple valley and time

To when I was a kid

Playing hooky eating my bread

Dry on the hills above the Merrimack River

Outside Lowell, Massachusetts

(written at Delphi, 1976)

Lucy Larcom ~ Author, Poet, Lowell Mill Girl

 

MassMoments reminds us that writer Lucy Larcom – one of Lowell’s iconic Mill Girls in her youth, died on this day April 17, 1893.  In her autobiography A New England Girlhood, Lucy Larcom wrote: “From the beginning Lowell had a high reputation for good order, morality, piety, and all that was dear to the old-fashioned New Englander’s heart.”  Larcom  not only tells her story but the story of Lowell – of those who funded, founded, built and worked the factories – the story of the “Lowell experiment.” Lucy Larcom  also reflected on the role of women ~ “We  might all place ourselves in one of two ranks the women who do something, and the women who do nothing; the first being of course the only creditable place to  occupy.”

On This Day...

      …in 1893, Lucy Larcom died. A popular poet during her lifetime, she would be forgotten today except for a work of prose that she wrote in 1889. Her autobiography, A New England Girlhood, tells the story of her early childhood in the coastal village of Beverly and her move to Lowell, the mill town on the Merrimack River, where she lived and worked for more than a decade. She was a regular contributor to the Lowell Offering. The magazine was published by a group of “mill girls,” as the young women who made up the great majority of workers in Massachusetts textile factories were called. Larcom’s reputation as a poet soon faded, but A New England Girlhood remains an American classic.
Learn more here at MassMoments.org:  http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=116

Dismantle the South Common? Hands Off.

640px-Lowell_MA_South_Common_Historic_District
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.

 

Local Businessman John McDonough Honored with Elizabeth Seton Award for Community Service

Congratulations to our friend John McDonough – local businessman  and owner of the McDonough Funeral Home – where five generations of McDonough’s have served the Lowell community since the late 1880′s.  John was recently honored by the Sisters of Charity of Halifax with the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for Community Service. Honorees  are selected as individuals who exemplify the spirit and values of Elizabeth Ann Seton, and who have made a significant contribution to the community. John was recognized for his involvement with community and service organizations throughout  Lowell and for his embrace of modern communications systems as valuable tools in the funeral service industry. John produces and co-hosts “City Life” – a local, live week-day cable access community program broadcast by Lowell Telecommunications Corp.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Dr. Ellen McDonough and honoree John McDonough at Lantana’s in Randolph (photo  from J. McDonough’s Facebook page)

The Sisters of Charity of Halifax – founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – taught for many years at St. Peter’s school in Lowell – founded in 1913. John was raised next door to their convent on Highland Street. John has supported the work of the Sisters of Charity since he himself was a student at St. Peter’s School in Lowell. The parking lot of McDonough’s Funeral home was the former site of the sisters’ convent. It’s clearly recognized surrounded by the Stations of the Cross.

Dick Howe and I are regular guests of John and George Anthes on “City Life” and will return on Tuesday April 22 from 6am – 8am. Catch the show on LTC ~ http://www.ltc.org/content/ltc-8. There is a re-broadcast from 4-6pm.