Big Night for Literature in Lowell

Paul Marion opening the program at Hypertext Bookstore Cafe

An overflow crowd packed Hypertext Bookstore Café this evening for the Loom Press Writers Reading event. Paul Marion, the proprietor of Loom Press which specializes in publishing poetry and prose from Lowell and the Merrimack Valley, recruited a great collection of writers to read from their work. The lineup included Eleni Zohdi, Jack Dacey, Steve O’Connor, Kate Hanson Foster, David Moloney, Walter Bacigalupo, and Kassie Dickinson Rubico.

Besides organizing the event, Paul also played Keith Lockhart to this literary orchestra and even shared some of his own poems, including one that transported us back forty years to the sidewalk right outside Hypertext (then Cherry & Webb) for a verbal reminder of what Lowell was like back then.

Steve O’Connor reading from his forthcoming (and as yet untitled) comic novel.

When Lowell arts and culture are considered, many of us think of the many visual artists, the great theatre, and the lively music scene, but we often forget the vibrant literary life that permeates the city. Tonight was a good reminder of that. If you were in the room, the spoken words of these talented writers really grabbed your attention and left you feeling upbeat and proud of your city.

And if you were not able to make it tonight and are still looking for your fix of Lowell literature, join us this Saturday morning at 10 am at the National Park Visitor Center (246 Market Street) for Sean Thibodeau’s “Literary Lowell” walk which is free and open to everyone.

3 Responses to Big Night for Literature in Lowell

  1. PaulM says:

    Susan: Yes, that’s right, and I told the story of how my mother would tell her clothing customers at Cherry’s to go across the street to Prince’s Books to buy my first poetry collection in 1976, when I was 22 years old—40 years ago. I was able to point through the plate glass window on Merrimack Street across the street to Prince’s where I had asked the manager if they would sell my pamphlet of poems (chapbook [from cheap-book in Olde England] in the poetry world). I sold about 60 copies of that book at Prince’s, which blew the mind of the owner, who at first was skeptical of the commercial appeal of my poems. When the first dozen sold, she said, What did you do send all your friends in the buy it? Kind of snarky. But she took another dozen, and they sold. I didn’t tell her that my mother was pushing the book across the street at Cherry & Webb. She was always a star sales clerk there.

    At the time, I didn’t know any other writers who had books, but I knew about the modern American poets and later the Beat writers who were publishing through alternative, independent presses, or publishing each other like Ferlinghetti at City Lights bookstore. I was fascinated by the DIY aspect of small press publishing (DIY wasn’t a term then, but people in the literary network spoke about small press publishing and independent publishing). I took my poems to a printer in Dracut, Mass. (Northern Printing), and asked if they would make up a pamphlet of poems for me. Happy to do it, they said. I worked with them on design and lay-out. The result was a simple tan pamphlet with about 25 poems. I titled it “Horsefeathers & Aquarius,” which sounded literary to me. I knew about the E. E. Cummings poetry book “Tulips & Chimneys,” probably an influence on my title choice. It was empowering to bring out the book myself, exercising the freedom of the press in my own way. I liked the cultural politics of it, taking charge of the means of production. Looking back, I would have benefited from an editor above me because the poems were not all ready for prime time—youthful indiscretion due to creative enthusiasm. But, hey, it got me started, and gave me the confidence to keep going.

  2. Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord says:

    Paul, Thanks for sharing this great story. I can picture your mother sending people across the street to buy your book. And absolutely. Better to start the process of sending one’s work out into the world too early than too late. Getting started is the hard part. Well, not just starting. Nothing is easy in the arts. But it is so worthwhile.