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Virtual Series to Focus on Poetry and Humanities


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Brian Boyles, Executive Director of Mass Humanities.

Poet laureates from Massachusetts and Mississippi will meet up this month to read poems and discuss the role of poetry in public life. The event is the latest installment in “MS+MA,” a collaboration of Massachusetts Humanities and Mississippi Humanities to facilitate conversation and connection between residents of both states.

The two organizations will host,“Verses and Voices,” by bringing together Mississippi poet laureate Beth Ann Fennelly and her student, Michael Martella, with Worcester poet laureate Juan Matos and Amina Mohammed, Worcester’s youth poet laureate.

With the words of presidential inauguration poet Amanda Gorman still resounding across the nation, the poets will talk about the ways in which their work reflects the places where they live and write. The event takes place virtually on Thursday, March 18 at 7 p.m. Guests can register at MassHumanities.org.

“Massachusetts and Mississippi each have long traditions of poets who fueled the public’s imagination,” said Brian Boyles, Executive Director of Mass Humanities. “Poetry allows us as a community to open up the vulnerable side of human beings. MS+MA is dedicated to creating opportunities for people to relate to each other a little better, so we look forward to introducing Worcester to Mississippi, and vice versa.”

MS+MA began in December 2020 as a partnership between the two organizations, which serve as state affiliates of the National Endowment for the Humanities. At a time when the pandemic has created a greater sense of isolation, the organizations hope to forge connections.

Each event includes breakout sessions where residents meet each other and reflect on the work of the featured humanists. Last month’s session, presented in partnership with the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center, focused on the lives of fishing families making their livings on the Gulf of Mexico and the northeastern Atlantic and exploring how they meet the challenges of changing economics, climate, and populations, sharing fish tales, and why they chose life by the sea.

For more information, please contact Sara Seng at [email protected]