Q: Describe "Wake up and Smell the Poetry, how did it get started?
A: "Wake up and Smell the Poetry" was a monthly program from 2004-2019 offering performances of poetry, story and song before a live audience at the HCAM-TV Studios in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. (Backstory) At that time, I was hosting a monthly poetry program at a local café until it closed. Jim Cozzens, the Station Director at HCAM-TV, invited me to bring the little venue I started to the wonderful spacious studio at HCAM. It was like hitting the jackpot. This studio offered room to accommodate up to 100, a small stage with multiple microphones and a sophisticated sound system. Furthermore, I was also offered the assistance of crew who would show up to film the programs so they could be created into monthly shows for cable television and viewing on our website. When Jim asked what I wanted to name the program, it made perfect sense to call it "Wake up and Smell the Poetry" given it's unique, early hours of operation from 10:00-noon...although often running later into the afternoon.
Q: What was accomplished over the 15 years of hosting this program at HCAM-TV?
A: It is inconceivable to think I can provide a summary of all that has been achieved through these years of programming at HCAM-TV. However I can offer a smorgasboard of moments and memories. For instance, we had children as young as three years old and elders well into their 90s at the mic reading their poetry on stage. We had residents of Hopkinton and many other towns of Massachusetts near and far and people who came as guests as far as driving from Philadelphia and travelling from California and Vietnam who participated in the program. We had poems read by so many wonderful poets who were published and unpublished, sharing from a diversity of genres and platforms. We had people joining to read their very first poem or song ever written and we had well-known, seasoned poets and songwriters bringing their fans and performing their best-loved contributions. We had activists, authors, journalists, screenwriters, playwrights, storytellers, magicians and comedians share their contributions. We participated in a poetic "LIT" sermon of poetry addressing Love-Inclusion and Trust and honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in different circles and ensembles. We honored poets and writers of our community who had passed, we greeted babies on stage and sang happy birthdays and honored the poems of young people at the "All Students Poetry Reading." We had a performance by a transgender choir and poetry shared from those who read the words of incarcerated people and those who worked with poetry in medicine and with the dying and in the healing arts. We had poetry read by Veterans of the Vietnam War and we had Buddhist chaplains, Peace chaplains, Catholic nuns and representatives from Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Hindu, Agnostic and Atheist perspectives. We had a representation of perspectives in poems, songs and stories from a diversity of races and ethnicities as well. We had wonderful singer-songwriters and acapella vocalists and a full 4 piece band at times and instrumental playing of guitars, bass, cellos, harp and drums as well as flute and digeridoos. We had captivating stories from history, mythology and science fiction and stories from our lives told from people of many places and points of view. Each month when gathering as a collective community, I believe we were not only gathering as performing artists, visionary writers, artists and musicians when sharing art with one another but we became... teachers and preachers, movers and shakers and activists and contemplative leaders and vibrant celebrants of life with one another as well and more and more over time.
Q: How do you feel about hosting this program?
A: I have so much love and gratitude for all of those past years and every single program that I hosted at HCAM-TV. At this time, I want to express my deep gratitude to every single person who ever attended as audience, as crew member, as TV viewer, as open mic participant, as guest feature. All people were equally important for making the whole of our monthly program be inclusive, connecting, vibrant and inspirational as well. This past year I have moved to Maine and therefore will no longer be hosting programs for the community at HCAM-TV Studios. However, Jim Cozzens has kindly created a web page so people can access many of the past programs that I hosted at the HCAM Studios, including many of the Seasons from 2005-2019 of Wake up and Smell the Poetry as well as Meet Your Neighbor, Friday Night Wake up Call and Common Ground Storytelling.
I would like to express my deep, life-long gratitude to Jim Cozzens and all of the wonderful people at HCAM-TV who contributed so much to help make the past programs happen. I also say thank you to everyone who was ever involved in this special community and wish you all the best in your life going forward and in the creative arts and in doing what makes your light shine in and beyond community in your daily life.