The Black Seed Writers Group returns to Brookline Booksmith

Brookline Booksmith (Photo by Sasha Ray/BU News Service)

Sasha Ray
Boston University News Service

The Black Seed Writers Group — composed of homeless or newly-housed Boston residents —presented their work at a gathering at Brookline Booksmith on March 3, after the reading was postponed twice. Writers shared their creative works with one another after months of cultivating them. 

Headed by James Parker, editor of The Atlantic, the Black Seed Writers Group meets every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in the basement of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul on Tremont St., to share their work and write poetry, prose and stories from personal experience. Since the last meeting, members of the Black Seed Writers Group have compiled a healthy collection of their own work and were eager to share. 

“We’ve got a lot of pent-up, backed-up, revved-up energy here, and a lot of important things to share with you,” said Parker, met by eager acclaim from the audience. 

The anticipation and excitement of an in-person performance attracted a crowd to the basement of the Brookline Booksmith. “It is such a delight to be able to have you all back again,” said Bonnie Atterstrom, the assistant events director of Brookline Booksmith. “Thank you for being here.” 

The first poet, Kevin, read a piece titled “The Nature of Homelessness” described his own struggles in losing his possessions while surviving alone and outside over the course of three years.

“I slowly walked away, to get an orange juice,” the reader said, while brandishing a handheld size bottle of Tropicana from his pocket, “and think things through.” 

Themes of the night included memories of better times, grief, homelessness and complaints about Boston and those in positions of power. Poet Richard Berman referred to government maintenance of city sidewalks as “a Mickey Mouse job.” Several of the shared poems referenced biblical passages, psalms or one-on-one conversations with God. 

“I say it every week, and I mean it: on Tuesday mornings, I’m in the most interesting room in the city, with the best writers,” said Parker. Through their continuous dedication to their literary craft, the Black Seed Writers Group has also put out their own literary magazine: The Pilgrim. The magazine’s newest edition was for sale at the time of the event, and the crowd was hungry for its return. Five copies of every published poet’s book were sold, as were 25 copies of The Pilgrim. 

“Tonight was a roaring success,” said cashier Molly Minnerath in light of The Pilgrim sales. 

The writers, coordinators, and audience members attending for the first time are inclined to agree.

“This is the most active writers’ salon in all of Boston. I would put us up there with any graduate school, any writers’ consortium in the area,” said John Lane, who had shared some of his own work at the reading. “We write about it, mainly because we’ve lived it.” 

Some of the poets were introduced by their first names only for the sake of confidentiality.

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