Cambridge Arts and the City of Cambridge launched the Poetry Ambassadors Program in 2016 as an exciting opportunity for poets to engage with the Cambridge community. Rather than a single "figurehead" position for poetry in Cambridge, Poetry Ambassadors were engaged to develop programs highlight the rich diversity of literary arts happening in the City. Programs in 2016 and 2017 included an inter-generational open mic night focused on the theme "Roots," poetry workshops pairing upcoming and established poets, and an evening of reading poetry related to the theme of parenthood by prominent Cambridge poets. All programs featured 2-3 poets in addition to the organizing poet. The goal of the Cambridge Arts Poetry programs is to create opportunities for the Cambridge community to engage with and promote poetry from diverse backgrounds and styles. Poetry Ambassadors were selected via an open call for proposals and had to reside in Cambridge in order to apply.
2016 Poetry Ambassadors
Jade Sylvan, called a “risque queer icon” by the Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jade’s book, Kissing Oscar Wilde (Write Bloody 2013), a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris, received rave reviews, and was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award. Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe. They are heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. They are currently writing and producing Spider Cult the Musical at Oberon Theater. Over the past decade, Jade has produced and performed in dozens of acclaimed stage-shows and workshops in collaboration with entities such as The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Harvard University, and Mass Poetry. In 2012, Jade co-wrote and starred in Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein’s first feature-film TEN (awarded “Runner-Up” for Best Screenplay and Best Genre Film at the Imaginarium Film Festival), and was also commissioned to write the official novelization of the film. Jade has had pieces published in The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, The Toast, PANK, and many other places. The author has received the Bayou Poetry Prize, the Write Bloody Renaissance award, and a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
Mary Buchinger is the author of Aerialist (Gold Wake Press, 2015; shortlisted for the May Swenson Poetry Award, the OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Prize, and the Perugia Press Prize) and Roomful of Sparrows, (Finishing Line Press, 2008). She is the featured poet in Border Crossing (Fall 2015) and The 3288 Review (Fall 2015) and one of three women poets in Words to Cure the Tameness (White Knuckle Press). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Booth, Caesura, Cortland Review, DIAGRAM, Existere (Canada), Fifth Wednesday, Ibbetson Street, New Madrid, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, Orbis (England), PANK, RUNES: A Literary Review, SAND (Germany), Salamander, Silk Road Review, Slice Magazine, Solstice, The Massachusetts Review, Upstairs at Duroc (France), Versal (The Netherlands), and elsewhere; she was invited to read at the Library of Congress, received the Daniel Varoujan Award and the Firman Houghton Award from the New England Poetry Club, and was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. Originally from rural Michigan, she served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador and holds a doctorate in Applied Linguistics from Boston University. Buchinger (Bodwell) is Associate Professor of English and Communication Studies at MCPHS University in Boston, Massachusetts where she teaches interpersonal communication, creative and expository writing. She is a member of NoCA (North Cambridge Arts) and lives in the Porter Square neighborhood with her husband and two sons, their dog and two cats.
Nadia Colburn is a writer, teacher and coach interested in the intersection of personal and social transformation. She holds a PhD in English from Columbia and a BA from Harvard and has taught literature and creative writing at MIT, Lesley, Stonehill College, where she was a visiting writer, and in popular workshops throughout New England. Her poetry and prose have been published in more than sixty national publications including The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Slate, The Boston Globe Magazine, Yes! Magazine, The LA Review of Books, Harvard Magazine and many other places. For many years Nadia ran the popular Cambridge poetry series, and she founded Continuities: Readings and Discussions, which paired local poets with activist in such fields as the environment and trauma work. She is a founding editor at Anchor Magazine: where spirituality and social justice meet, a certified Kundalini yoga instructor, and an OI aspirant in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddhist Plum Village Tradition. Nadia is interested in bringing the benefits of mindfulness and mind-body awareness to wider audiences and in exploring the relationship between mindfulness and creativity. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children. More about her can be seen at www.nadiacolburn.com
Toni Bee is a poet, photographer, and one of the founders of Black Lives Matter in Cambridge. The community advocate and mother was the first elected female Poet Populist for the City of Cambridge (2011-2013). Bee has been honored as the 2011 YMCA Cambridge Outstanding Woman Award. She has served on the board of directors at Cambridge Community Television and served a year-long term as Community Artist Fellow at Citi Performing Arts Center. Bee is deeply involved with youth empowerment and education and led the Black Lives Matter in Cambridge march along with co-founders and teen leaders in January 2015.
2017 Poetry Ambassadors
Peter Nohrnberg grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, and has been writing poetry since he was a teenager. He had the good luck to study poetry with Seamus Heaney while an undergraduate at Harvard, where he was the poetry editor of the Harvard Advocate. He went on to attend Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship and completed his Ph.D. in English at Yale. He had subsequently taught literature at both Williams College and Harvard. His poems have been published in numerous journals, including Notre Dame Review and Oberon Poetry Magazine, and he recently attended the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference to workshop a blank verse memoir that goes under the provisional title of The Prequel.
Monica Raymond is a prize-winning poet and playwright. She was a Jerome Fellow for 2008-09 at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, and a 2013 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow in Playwriting. She has had over seventy productions and staged readings of her work. She’s written myriad short plays, including a couple published by Smith and Kraus and Dramatic Publishing, and several full-length ones, including the prize-winning OWL GIRL( Clauder Gold Medal, Peacewriting Award, Castillo Theater Award in political playwriting) and A TO Z (Ruby Lloyd Apsey Award for plays about race/ethnicity). Her sestina “In Cana” was published in Before There Is Nowhere to Stand, an anthology of poems by Jews and Palestinians all over the world about the current situation in Palestine/Israel. Raymond received the Swan Fellowship in poetry from the Vermont Center for the Arts, published work in Drunken Boat and Mezzo Cammin, and teaches poetry writing at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.