If you’re looking to take advantage of the many used bookstores in the Boston area, I’m delighted to let you know that many of these venues offer not only books, but all manner of events as well.
Coming to Tufts, one aspect of campus life that I was most excited for was getting to engage in literary events throughout Boston. I’ve always been an avid reader and writer of poetry, a passion I’ve been able to pursue as an International Relations and English major. I’ve attended my fair share of open mics throughout Alexandria, VA and Washington D.C., but I had never been to a poetry reading while at Tufts. A couple weeks ago, I finally got to change that when I signed up for a poetry reading by Joshua Bennett. The event was hosted by Grolier Poetry Book Shop. Founded in 1927, Grolier has been a center for poetry books and readings in the Boston area for 95 years. With covid ebbing and more in-person events becoming available throughout the city, I was excited to jump into the literary world in whatever way I could.
My friends and I assembled at my off-campus house that Friday night. We had been planning for this event all week and I couldn’t stop gushing about how excited I was. We set out walking to Davis Square towards the closest red line T station, a ten minute walk away. One aspect of being a Tufts student that I’ve been particularly grateful for is how accessible the city of Boston has been to me. Having a T stop nearby has absolutely opened my schedule up to events like this reading. We stepped onto the train line and got off at Harvard, a quick two stops away. It had already grown dark, and I wished I had worn more layers as we hurried from the station toward the store, a few minutes late. We slid into the cozy shop during the introduction by Jesse Mccarthy, finding the few remaining available seats throughout the room.
It may have been biting and windy outside, but inside, we all sat listening to Joshua Bennett reading from his newest poetry collection, The Study of Human Life. Bookshelves lined the walls, stuffed with slim collections of poetry. Bennett read various poems from his collection aloud, including his series of “Dad Poems,” pieces adapted from journal entries he had written throughout 2020. I listened, rapt, as he read poetry describing how he became a new father in the midst of the pandemic. He spoke about “the beauty that circumscribes our lives,” and how that beauty took unexpected forms during the pandemic. I felt revitalized in my own efforts as a poet, inspired by Bennett and the subsequent Q&A. He urged us to consider the stakes of writing as life and death. If they’re not, he said, then “maybe that’s where they need to be.”
When it was over, my friends and I left the bookstore and excitedly exchanged our thoughts on the event. We stopped into a burger shop in Harvard square, conveniently located on our way back to the T station. Over burgers and fries, we talked about the most memorable moments of the evening and collectively agreed that we’d gladly go to another poetry reading sometime soon. We headed back to Tufts on the red line train, and I couldn’t wait to begin looking up other literary events in the Boston area. Most of all, I was excited to return home and get back to writing poetry.
Photo credit to James Fraser.