Chapter & Verse, a reading series sponsored by The Jamaica Pond Poets, is held each month during the academic year at the historic Loring-Greenough House in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. The co-organizers of the series, Dorothy Derifield and Sandee Storey, invited members of The Writers’ Room of Boston, both poets and prose writers, to read at their December 9th, 2016 event.
Founded in 1988, The Writers’ Room of Boston (WROB) is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the creation of new literature by providing a secure, affordable work space and an engaged community to established writers in downtown Boston. In addition to sharing a writing space, the members also choose to gather for readings, community gatherings and literary events.
WROB Members submitted samples of their work for the Chapter & Verse event to a Board of Directors Selection Committee. I was honored to be chosen as one of seven participants. Bios (in alphabetical order) of the readers follow:
Ari Belathar is a Mexican poet and playwright in exile. After being kidnapped and tortured by the Mexican National Army in 2001 due to her work as a student activist and independent journalist, she escaped to Canada as a political refugee. Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies around the world. Ari has been awarded residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, The Arctic Circle, and Blue Mountain Center. She relocated to the U.S. in 2014 and is the current Writers’ Room of Boston Poetry Fellow.
Liz Breen writes television commercials for clients like Progressive Insurance and the National Association of Realtors. At night, she focuses on short stories and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in the Columbia Journal, CHEAP POP and Cleaver Magazine, among others. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Debka Colson writes fiction, poetry and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in North American Review, Slab, Folio, Roar, and The Rumpus, among others, and in two anthologies. Debka completed her MFA at Lesley University and is the Program Director for the Writers’ Room of Boston, where she was awarded the Ivan Gold Fellowship in 2013. In her home base of Jamaica Plain, she serves as the Flash Fiction Contest Coordinator for JP Reads.
Eric Hyett is a poet, linguist and translator from Cambridge. His poetry, as well as his co-translations of contemporary Japanese poet Kiriu Minashita, appear frequently in major literary journals including, most recently, the Cincinnati Review, The Hudson Review, Barrow Street, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and Antioch Review. Eric is presently finishing two poetry manuscripts and a memoir. He is the first “legacy” member of The Writers’ Room of Boston (his mother, Barbara Helfgott Hyett was a founder) and serves on the Board.
Aaron Krol has received poetry fellowships from the Massachusetts Culutral Council and the Saint Botolph Club Foundation, and has been published in 32 Poems, Mississippi Review, KROnline, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. He grew up in Baltimore, and now lives in Watertown with his wife Shannon Wagner, a fellow alum of the MFA creative writing program at Emerson College.
Ellin Sarot is a poet and editor. She was the inaugural 2014 Gish Jen Fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston and now serves on the Board. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Paterson Literary Review, String Poet, Main Street Rag, and Deronda Review, among others, and in anthologies, including Veils, Halos, and Shackles; International Poetry on the Abuse and Oppression of Women; and Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence. Ellin grew up in NYC but now lives in Cambridge where street trees are everywhere and, lately, also wild turkeys.
Brent Whelan retired recently after many years of teaching high school English at Commonwealth School in Boston in order to devote himself to writing fiction. He joined the WROB in the fall of 2015, and has completed a very rough draft of a novel there, along with a number of short stories. He is married with three grown children. He also writes blogs on various political and cultural matters.