I attended today’s Parker Lecture at the Lowell National Park Visitor Center and very much enjoyed listening along with about 50 others to Tom Sexton read many of his Lowell poems. The topics, characters, and language involved transported me back to younger days making the room sound much like a Sunday night dinner with my extended family. Tom, a 1958 graduate of Lowell High who was selected as one of the school’s Distinguished Alumni several years ago, may have physically moved out of the city but big parts of his heart and his mind are still here. I purchased a copy of “A Clock With No Hands”, Tom’s most recent book of Lowell poems (he said he’s at work on another) and was delighted to find titles such as Mike Rynne, Lucy Larcom Park, Harry Bass and Hoare’s Fish Market inside.
Tom said many of his poems are about boxing because “boxing was always an integral part of Lowell.” He speculated that his own reclusive personality is what helped make him a poet. He still takes pride in his Irish ethnic heritage and for that reason doesn’t think much of Henry David Thoreau who didn’t think much of the Irish. To aspiring writers, Tom said “when you start writing, you don’t have much to write about; but if you keep writing, you soon have too much to write about.” Tom had many other interesting and poignant things to say (including a kind shout-out to this website which he apparently reads from time to time).
Tom Sexton will do another reading of his poetry tomorrow (Monday, April 4) at 3 pm at the top floor of Coburn Hall on UMass Lowell’s South Campus at the corner of Wilder and Broadway.