October 11, 2008, a picturesque fall day in the town of Lowell, poets, writers and people with great artistic talents stud the town of a little over 100,000 people. With trolleys running through the town, gas stations reminiscent of the olden days, and trees assuming the brilliant colors of fall, the location of this year’s Mass Poetry Festival was perfect. Market Street was liven up with applause as poets read their works to customer at the local sandwich shop, Olive That. Poetry filled the atmosphere on that fall day.
At the LowellHigh School, two great writers, Marjorie Agosìn and Ed Sanders share their works with an eager audience. Marjorie Agosìn begins with a poem entitled Obedient Girl which speaks of the savagery of war and its impact through the point of view of a young girl victim. Her works show a clear Chilean influence as she reads her works that mocks the Chilean president and call out his “crimes against humanity” as he “parades among the dead”. With her soft voice, Agosìn also entrances the audience with her poems from her book Dear Anne Frank, which tributes the life of Anne Frank. Her poems are both touching and captivating, gaining one’s undivided attention with a song like flow of words. She brings culture to her readings as well, reciting some of her works in Spanish, forming a connection between her heritage and her works. Agosin’s readings demonstrated a wide range of her talents and clearly demonstrated her experiences and inspirations. From writing about serious issues that has impacted our society to writing about simple matters (I Don’t Do Lunch), Agosìn exhibits her great ability to write both seriously and humorously. As Agosin leaves the stage, with the audience still in awe, another great writer takes the stage. Ed Sanders. His voice contrasts that of Agosìn, where as hers was soft and lyrical, his was strong and enthusiastic. He opens his reading, telling the audience of the New Orleans influence on his writing especially that of Hurricane Katrina. He entitles the tragedy as Unearned Suffering. Sanders’ poem exuded a powerful message in which each line was short but to the point. He speaks of the many unearned poverties of society from secret poverty to religious poverty. He arouses the audience as he presents a comical reading named, Send George Bush to Jail. He encourages the audience to chant along with his satirical poem, bringing life into the small Lowell High auditorium. To end his presentation, Sanders continues to include the audience in singing along to William Blake’s laughing song, Innocence Song ending the poetry reading on a light note. As the applause ended, audicence members were able to take pictures and get autographs from the two talented poets.
The experience in Lowell, MA on a fall Saturday was really enjoyable from the 45 minute car ride there, navigating the highways with a TomTom to the car ride back with music audible to the next car over and everything in between, the Festival helps to bring great writers together to be appreciated under the brilliant fall sun.