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About this poet

Sam Cornish was born in Baltimore in 1935. He was educated at Goddard College and Northwestern University. He authored ten collections of poetry, including Dead Beats (Ibbetson Street Press, 2011), An Apron Full of Beans: New and Selected Poems (CavanKerry, 2008), and Folks Like Me (Zoland Books, 1993). Cornish taught at Emerson College and other Massachussets-based institutions, and also worked as an editor and reviewer. He received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1967. He was the inaugural poet laureate of the city of Boston, serving from 2008 - 2014. After suffering a stroke, he died on August 20, 2018. 

Spring 1931

Northern black
boy traveling
with empty belly;
these are the American
blues,
shanties, and fine
big houses, a sad
song
on a poor man’s tongue
land of cotton and trouble
night sweet as dusk
on its gentle people
until today,
when
Scottsboro
was just a place
where the train
had to stop
and the Southern
night
was beautiful
I traveled
hungry
from Memphis to Georgia
drinking my whiskey
and
singing my blues

From Folks Like Me (Zoland Books, 1993) by Sam Cornish. Copyright © 1993 by Sam Cornish. Used with permission of the author.

From Folks Like Me (Zoland Books, 1993) by Sam Cornish. Copyright © 1993 by Sam Cornish. Used with permission of the author.

Sam Cornish

Sam Cornish

Sam Cornish authored ten books of poetry, including Dead Beats (Ibbetson Street Press, 2011).