Poetry Institution Stone Soup
Presents R.U. Outavit Aug. 29
By Susie Davidson
31 years ago, Jack Powers founded a weekly poetic gathering in Beacon Hill. Not only does Stone Soup Poetry still exist today, it has, amazingly, met consecutively on Monday nights ever since. With an open mic for poets and featured readers, the series has for 20 years held stage at Cambridge venues the Green Street Grill, T.T. the Bear’s Place, the Zeitgeist Gallery, the Middle East Downstairs and most currently, at Out of the Blue Gallery at 168 Brookline St. in Central Square.
On May 1, 1971, Powers conducted the first reading of 14 to 16 poets at a Cambridge Street storefront. Stone Soup was a part of the Beacon Hill Free School, which he had started the prior year. A publishing house as well, its press has produced over 80 titles to date. In addition, a two-hour Stone Soup Poetry show has aired on Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) for the past 16 years. Over 2000 hours of Stone Soup poetry, books and taped performances are archived at University of Mass. Boston’s Healy Library, which is open to the public. It’s quite a literary legacy.
“However,” interjected Powers, “because of outrageous rents, Stone Soup’s existence is always threatened.” He urged all to attend the readings and contribute $4 or more to this historic and visionary arts program. “Over the years,” he continued, “poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Creeley, John Weiners and many others have passed through, read, or published with Stone Soup.
“With poetry 40 years removed from the Beat movement heyday, overall attendance at poetry venues has plummeted,” he added, “yet Stone Soup is gearing up for the next wave in spoken word, in a new location.” (On Sept. 2, it will commence meeting at the new Out of the Blue Gallery site at 106 Prospect St. in Central Square.)
“The continued hope is that the fundamental desire to express and be heard and to hear will bring people in,” said Stone Soup poet Martin Li. “To this end, the latest Stone Soup anthology is being assembled via assistant headmaster and quite the anti-disciplinarian Victor.”
"I'm afraid that it might turn out to be a big piece of crap," Victor effacingly admitted, "but how can you exclude and still hold true to the principle of inclusion?"
The upcoming anthology will be an attempt to go back to the original efforts in the 70's to showcase readers who attend the open mic. “Seeing your poetry on the page can be a educational and sobering experience,” said Powers.
“If you are a poet or a writer and you haven't been at a reading,” he said, “you are missing a very big part of the poetry scene.”
This coming Monday night, R.U. Outavit will hold his special brand of court at Stone Soup, at the 168 Brookline St. location. Renowned in years past for his July 14 “R.U. Outavit Day” celebrations, he was a founding member of the Fire of Prometheus, a legendary Cambridge performance troupe which, it is said in certain circles, pioneered the poetry slam style of reading. The proudly scruffy troupe could often be seen in the 70s and 80s on Harvard Square streets; Outavit still claims to be “America's most rowdy poet.”
“Poetry was pretty boring before I came along,” he stressed.
His third volume of poetry, “Harmony Blossoms,” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1989. His long poem, "Hate Poetry but Love the Poets", is due to be released this year.
“Since 1982, R.U. Outavit Day has honored poetry's contributions to world peace and social justice,” the “Official Poet Laureate of Weirs Beach, New Hampshire” said. “And I still love to attend poetry readings. I believe that to hear the voice of the poet can be a life-sustaining experience.”
Stone Soup meets Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. at the Out of the Blue Gallery, 168 Brookline St. On Sept. 2, at the new location, The Bob and Bat Show, featuring Sidewalk Sam and Wombat, will be showcased.
R.U. Outavit’s works can be accessed at http://www.poets4peace.com/outavit.htm.
For further information on Stone Soup, contact Jack Powers 617-227-0845 or Victor at firstname.lastname@example.org, where submissions for the new anthology can also be emailed. Donations, however small, can be sent to Stone Soup Poets, 5 Mechanic Ct., Boston MA 02113.