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Poets Come Together to Honor Sam Cornish, Boston’s First Poet Laureate and Longtime Emerson Professor

Emerson College professor Sam Cornish reads from his book ‘Songs of Jubilee.’

Noted members of the Boston poetry community came together to honor the late Emerson College professor Sam Cornish, who was Boston’s first Poet Laureate.

Cornish passed away at the age of 82 in August 2018. He had been Boston’s Poet Laureate from 2008 to 2014.

Boston area poets came together on February 24, 2019, to honor former Emerson College professor Sam Cornish, who passed away in 2018.
Emerson College professor emeritus DeWitt Henry, far left, as well as Boston’s current Poet Laureate and current Emerson MFA student Porsha Olayiwola, second from right, spoke at the event honoring Sam Cornish.

Held on February 24, the event was fittingly held at the New England Mobile Book Fair, which Cornish worked at, albeit when the popular bookstore was at a different location several years ago.

Poets in attendance included DeWitt Henry, professor emeritus of Emerson College, who was the founding editor of Ploughshares.

“A lived life of talent and conviction; a legacy to learn from,” said Henry at the time of Cornish’s passing.

Boston’s current Poet Laureate, Porsha Olayiwola, an Emerson Writing, Literature and Publishing MFA student also spoke.

Cornish taught literature and creative writing at Emerson from 1982 to 2004, developing courses on the Beat Generation, Literature of the American West, the Harlem Renaissance, Gay Literature, and Literature of War in the 20th Century, according to his website.

Other speakers included Vin Dorio and Elizabeth Quinlan, two Carpenter Poets of Jamaica Plain; Doug Holder, Somerville Times columnist and editor of Ibbetson Street Press; Christopher Reilly, Poet Laureate of Dedham; Zvi A. Sesling, Poet Laureate of Brookline; Lynne Viti, poet and faculty emerita of Wellesley College; and poet, adjunct professor, musician, and editor Charles Coe.

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