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Book Club Profiles

Hingham Poetry Study Group
Hingham, Massachusetts

Perhaps one of the oldest poetry book clubs in America, the Hingham Poetry Study Group was born in 1949. A group of women who had attended a League of Women's Voters meeting had lunch together and discussed the fact that Ezra Pound had just received the Bollinger Prize. The group decided to get together and read his poetry. The number in the group has always been kept to twelve, and the group meets twice a month from September to May. Each May the group offers a modest honorarium to an established poet to attend the year's last meeting and give a reading of his or her poems. In June the group meets to discuss the following year's program. An area of interest or framework is chosen, and a calendar is set for the following year.

A different member will host each meeting, starting at 1:00 pm with dessert and coffee. Another member will begin a presentation at 2:00 pm, providing biographical background for the day's poet. Copies of the poems are passed around, and each member of the group takes a turn reading a poem aloud. The readings and discussion of poems last until around 4:00 pm. When a member leaves the group, the members sit down and discuss new candidates. They look for someone who is willing to learn about poets and poetry, and also someone who can make the bimonthly commitment.

Elizabeth Torrey, one of the group's members, offers: "One of the things I enjoy most about this group is the chance to go deeper into a poet's work than I can by reading alone, and I have learned about so many poets. Our members range in age from the 50s through the 90s, and one member of the original group is still active in the group. Our conversations—and sometimes differing viewpoints—are so engaging and stimulating; this group really offers a model for me of life-long learning."


We are looking for existing poetry book groups to share their experiences with us, so that we can make their habits and ideas known to a wider audience. If you would like to share suggestions from your poetry reading group, please contact us at bookclub@poets.org.

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