May 21st: Jack McCarthy Featues

Stone Soup Poetry meets from 8-10 p.m. every Monday at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery at 106 Prospect Street with an open mike sign-up at 7:30 p.m. On May 21st, Stone Soup has the honor of welcoming back local poetry icon Jack McCarthy, as he stops by the venue for his only Boston area performance as part of a new tour.

Jack McCarthy is a working guy from the Boston area who’s been writing poetry since the mid-60s. He’d been averaging about a poem a year until 1992-93, when two things happened. First, his new wife, Carol, blackmailed him into attending a workshop with Galway Kinnell; then he brought his daughter Annie, for her birthday, to the open mike at the Cantab Lounge in Central Square, Cambridge, hoping she’d get excited about poetry. Jack was the one who got hooked.

Since then he’s brought out Grace Notes, two chapbooks (Actual Grace Notes and Too Old to Make Excuses (But Still Young Enough to Make Love)), a 60-minute cassette tape (Poems for Hannah), and a CD (Breaking Down Outside a Gas Station). A major book, Say Goodnight, Grace Notes, was released in 2003 by EM Press to rave reviews. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including The Spoken Word Revolution.

Jack was a member of the Boston team at the 1996 National Poetry Slam, and was an engaging minor character in the feature film "Slamnation," which documented those proceedings, and he was a member of the Worcester team at the 2000 National Poetry Slam, where he finished as the 10th ranked individual. The Boston Phoenix has named him “Best Standup Poet,” the Boston Poetry Awards “Best Love Poet,” and the Cambridge Poetry Awards “Best Spoken Word” and “Best Humorous Poet .” The Boston Globe says, “In the poetry world, he's a rock star.”

Among his influences he numbers Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, and Garrison Keillor. He doesn't think of himself as a "performance poet," but as a "standup poetry guy," a writer of poems that perform themselves.

Poet Stephen Dobyns has written, "Jack McCarthy is one of the wonders of contemporary poetry. He writes—and often performs—dazzling narratives full of wit and humor, sadness and hard thinking. He should be cloned." Of Say Goodnight, Grace Notes, ALA Booklist says, "McCarthy brings his compelling experiences to his poetry with nimble humor, hard-won wisdom, and a raconteur's knack for telling diabolically barbed stories…concrete, candid, personal, and utterly captivating…caustic, sexy and smart."

Thomas Lux has written, "The only ambition he seems to have is to tell the truth as best he can in poems." That is a very worthy ambition, but it's not his only one. He also hopes to be remembered as an integral member of the movement to restore poetry to its rightful place in everyday American life. So that when Americans think of poetry, they don't think of school and homework, but of laughter and tears; a shortcut to the heart.

Bio and photo taken from Jack McCarthy's website. Click here for more information and a sample of the author's work.