Category Archives: general

Remember the Contest!

I do hope that many of you are writing your poems and planning which ones you will submit to the North Shore Poets’ Forum annual Naomi Cherkofsky Contest. The deadline is March 15 — less than two months! See rules under the tab “Poetry Contests” above.

The winners are invited to read their poems, and a few more, during our annual celebration  of National Poetry Month, this year to be held on April 22 at the Beverlly Public Library be, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

The Forum has been hosting this contest for, I don’t know, maybe 25 years. Naomi was one of the original members of the Forum who had a wonderful spirit and was generous in her encouragement of fellow poets, particularly the less confident (me!).

So, please sharpen your pencils and join us for a wonderful celebration of poetry.

To conclude this post, I am including a poem that I hope you will enjoy.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of  childhood
storming out to play through the broken dike.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should  consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to  sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear:  the darkness around us is deep.


NS Poets’ Forum Meets Saturday!

HI folks,

The new season at the North Shore Poets’ Forum gets started on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 11 a.m., in the Sohier Room of the Beverly Public Library, Essex Street, Beverly. Our eminent founder, Jeanette Maes, will present a program about the renowned poet Donald Hall. He is an elder statesman of poetry, at this point in his life, but still active. We look forward to Jeanette’s presentation.

Fall beckons, and next month will be filled with cooler air and traditional tales of ghostly spirits. Maryanne Anderson will present a program entitled “Hauntings,” on Oct. 22.

Please see Meetings and Events tab for our plans for the following months.

End of summer now, so I will leave you with some end of summer poems.

End of Summer



An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.

I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.

Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.

Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.



XXXIX (from Last Poems)

A.E. Housman

When summer’s end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.

The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.

From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.

And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.

The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.

They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.

So here’s an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer’s parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.


Today, May 12, is Limerick Day!

Our next Forum meeting is Saturday, May 21, and Jeanette Maes is presenting a program on Ella Wheeler Wilcox. We will meet in the Barnet Gallery, and we have been given special permission to have food. However, the library is having trouble with its water so we are advised to bring our own.

As usual, you are encouraged to bring copies of any poems for which you would appreciate gentle critiques.

In the meantime, I came across this in the New York Times today and thought you might enjoy it!

Back Story

(Stolen from the New York Times, 5/12/2016)

There was an old man in a tree, Whose whiskers were lovely to see; But the birds of the air, Pluck’d them perfectly bare, To make themselves nests on that tree.

That might sound a bit like Dr. Seuss, but it was written by the British painter and poet Edward Lear, who popularized limerick poems in his “Book of Nonsense” (1846).

He was born on this day in 1812, which is why today is Limerick Day. (CKO’s emphasis)

The limerick’s name has been traced to France, where an 18th-century Irish Brigade was serving.

The men returned with a song, “Will You Come Up to Limerick?” — an Irish city and county. The chorus may have developed into what became the limerick form, some scholars say.

Lear had been hired to paint an aristocrat’s private menagerie and he came up with his poems to amuse the children in the household. He said he got the idea from an old nursery rhyme.

The five-line poems have an AABBA rhyme scheme, meaning the first, second, and last lines rhyme, as do the third and fourth lines.

The first and second lines introduce a character, activity or setting, while the third and fourth lines are generally shorter to intensify the punch line.

So, just for fun, why not try one?


2016 Open Mic!

Wow, it has been a year since I’ve posted anything! Well, that’s life! Some years just run away from you.

But, onward! It is time to spring into Spring with another annual Open Mic and announcement of the Naomi Cherkofsky Poetry Contest winners. If we are lucky, one or two of the winners will be able to come to the Open Mic, too. In any case, we certainly hope you will join us for this lovely celebration of National Poetry Month with a few poems to share.

Date: Saturday, April 16th

Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Beverly Public Library, Essex Street, Beverly, Program Room

Light refreshments served.

Most importantly, bring poems!

The May meeting of the North Shore Poets’ Forum will be on the 21st, again at the Beverly  Public Library, at 11 a.m., but this time in the Barnett Gallery, which is lovely. Jeanette Maes will give a program on Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Please join us. After the program and some refreshments, we love to share our own poetry. For gentle critique, please provide 6 to 10 copies of your poem.

The Massachusetts State Poetry Society will meet May 7 at the West Branch of the Peabody Institute Library, 603 Lowell St., Peabody. Contact Jeanette Maes for more information,, or Roberta Hung,

Now, for a little poem to  get you in the mood for even more great poetry! This one is by Eamon Grennan, who lives in New York state. I found this in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry column begun when he was Poet Laureate. It continues today and is available free online.

Up Against It
by Eamon Grennan

It’s the way they cannot understand the window
they buzz and buzz against, the bees that take
a wrong turn at my door and end up thus
in a drift at first of almost idle curiosity,
cruising the room until they find themselves
smack up against it and they cannot fathom how
the air has hardened and the world they know
with their eyes keeps out of reach as, stuck there
with all they want just in front of them, they must
fling their bodies against the one unalterable law
of things—this fact of glass—and can only go on
making the sound that tethers their electric
fury to what’s impossible, feeling the sting in it.



Next meeting coming up

The North Shore Poets’ Forum will meet on Saturday, Sept. 20, in the Barnett Room of the Beverly Public Library, 11 a.m. to 1 ish. Because no food or beverage is allowed in this room, we won’t have any goodies this time. So sorry!

I found my notes from the last meeting, and it turns out I am the one responsible for the program this time. So, since I haven’t decided what it will be, you’ll just have to come to find out.  (Maybe poems about food?!)

My notes also state that Jeanette will present a program on Dorothy Parker in October. Again, we can’t have the Program Room, so no food again. And, we can’t have the Program Room or Barnett Room in November.

I think we should revisit where we meet. So, put your thinking caps on.

See you Saturday.

Trying to publicize the contest

So, newspapers these days make you, the subscriber and would-be reader, do all the work of trying to get something published. I have been on my little computer here for hours and hours, trying to add the Naomi Cherkofsky contest to the calendars of Boston Globe, Boston.Com, Salem News, Lynn Item, and possibly, although not necessarily, to all their affiliates. (See here, Poetry Contests, for details.) I also tried to add the announcement to the North Shore Sunday calendar, which would, presumably, add it to all the Wicked Local papers. This proved beyond my capabilities. So, I am relying on an old friend and former coworker to do the job for me. Here’s hoping she is allowed to do it!

Now, will anyone read those? I’m not sure. Therefore, I beg you, my fellow poets in the North Shore Poets Forum and those of you who aren’t but occasionally drop into this blog for a bit of news, to enter the contest, to tell your friends to enter the contest, to tell them to tell everyone to enter the contest. If they aren’t poets, please encourage them to join us on April 26 for our National Poetry Month celebration, during which the winners of the contest read their winning entries. An Open Mic follows, during which we have always had very talented people show up to share their work. After all, most people don’t write, but they do enjoy. Here’s to those wonderful enjoyers!

And, here’s another little poem to get you in mind of warm breezes and Spring.

More Than Enough

By Marge Piercy

The first lily of June opens its red mouth.
All over the sand road where we walk
multiflora rose climbs trees cascading
white or pink blossoms, simple, intense
the scene drifting like colored mist.

The arrowhead is spreading its creamy
clumps of flower and the blackberries
are blooming in the thickets. Season of
joy for the bee. The green will never
again be so green, so purely and lushly

new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads
into the wind. Rich fresh wine
of June, we stagger into you smeared
with pollen, overcome as the turtle
laying her eggs in roadside sand.
Note: Marge Piercy is one of the featured poets at this year’s Massachusetts State Poetry Festival.

Share your favorite poet

Bring along some poems by your favorite poet to share with the group at our meeting Saturday, Oct. 19, 11 a.m., at the Beverly Public Library. Add a few words about the poet and the reasons you think he/she is so terrific. We had intended this agenda for last month, but then changed it to a Seamus Heaney retrospective given his recent demise. It was a great meeting, and I expect the next one will be, too.

I will bring Mary Oliver (I think) and Roberta said she was going to bring Elizabeth Bishop. Of course, I mean their poems, not their bodies, although that would be a kick. One (quiz time: which one?) is not with us anymore, but given the onset of the Halloween season (it is a season in Salem), it might work. (Just kidding.)

At our September meeting we also outlined an agenda for the rest of the formal Forum year.

November 16: Write a poem about thankfulness. If you can’t write one, bring one by another poet to share.

December 7: Joint meeting with Mass State Poetry Society. This year we will have a special Tribute to Althea Adelheim, one of our founding members who died this year. As usual, we will have lots of good food. We will also have a Yankee Swap, gifts in the $5 range, with the Most Apt Poem contest sponsored by the North Shore Poets’ Forum. To participate, you simply write a poem to describe the swap gift you are bringing. You do not sign the poem or swap gift package. A judge will determine which poem was the best description of the swap gift, and the winner gets $10. It’s always fun!

January 18: We are stretching our poetic muscles and writing poems in forms. In addition, bring another form poem by an established poet to share.

February 15: Mary Miceli will lead a program on rhythm, using the rhythm of music as an easy route to understanding. You might consider bringing in the sheet music, or simply the words, to one of your own favorite songs.

March 15: Even though St. Patrick’s day is right around the corner, Melissa and I (Cathryn) are ignoring that great day and presenting a program on the Imagist poets.

April 26:  Annual National Poetry Month celebration with readings by the winners of the Naomi Cherkofsky contest followed by an Open Mic.

May17: Poems of Place. Bring, write, explain.

Anyone who was at the September meeting who has a different recollection of the decisions made regarding the agenda, please let me know.