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August 16, 2013

Poems for Boston, after the Marathon bombing

Deborah Finkelstein believes poetry can heal, so she edited an anthology, “Like One, Poems for Boston,” in response to April’s bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Finkelstein teaches creative writing at Endicott and North Shore Community colleges and leads a seminar at Endicott called “Literature and Disaster,” where students discuss Hurricane Katrina, the Chernobyl nuclear accident and the sinking of the Titanic.

“It’s a very heavy class,” she said. “I’d seen how the effect of something positive in class can change their mood.”

That’s why Finkelstein, who feels it is too early for poets or readers to address the bombings directly, sought poems that were humorous or uplifting.

“It actually was a major challenge,” she said. “A lot of poets I contacted said, ‘I’d love to be involved, but I don’t have anything uplifting.’”

Eventually, however, she received 36 poems, including one from former poet laureate of the United States Robert Pinsky, which express a variety of playful, thoughtful and generous moods.

Several poets from the North Shore participated, including Kevin Carey and Jennifer Jean from Salem State, and Dan Sklar, Margaret Young, Doug Holder and Finkelstein from Endicott.

Contributor Emily Pineau is a student at Endicott, and Alfred Nicol of Amesbury is a member of the Powow River Poets, a gathering of area poets in Newburyport.

“It has a lot of people that are well-published,” said Finkelstein, who also reached out to poets from different parts of the country and included a poem apiece from Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams.

The book’s cover was created at Wordle.net, a website that describes itself as “a toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.”

When the words used most often in the poems turned out to be “like one,” Finkelstein knew she had the title for the book.

“Both really capture the feeling of disaster, how we come together during disaster,” Finkelstein said. “Tragedy is not about politics, our likes and dislikes. We are one.”

All proceeds from sales of the book, which is available through www.LikeOnePoetry.com, will go to the One Fund.

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