Written By Terry Weber/Correspondent Cape Ann Beacon used with permission
The Gloucester Writers Center continues to shape its identity and recently developed a calendar of events that supports its mission of celebrating, preserving and promoting the future of Gloucester’s rich literary legacy. Located at 126 East Main Street, the Center is housed in the former home of one of Gloucester’s most beloved poets, Vincent Ferrini. The Center is dedicated to honoring the works both Ferrini and his friend and fellow poet Charles Olson. Ferrini passed away in 2007 on Christmas Eve. He was 94. Affectionately called “Gloucester’s conscience,” Ferrini’s works included dozens of critically acclaimed poems, several plays, and a 1988 autobiography titled “Hermit in the Clouds.” Much of Ferrini’s writing was inspired both by living in Gloucester and growing up in Lynn during the Great Depression as he observed his family’s struggles and hardships. Ferrini’s family moved from Lynn to Gloucester in 1948.
Fellow poet Charles Olson (1910-1970) was a colleague and friend of Ferrini, and both served as inspirations to each other. In his literary masterpiece “The Maximus Poems,” Olson wrote about Gloucester’s past and his vision for Gloucester’s future. His collection was described as an ambitious and important part of American history. Olson published his first book, “Call me Ishmael,” in 1947 which was a study of Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick. Olson’s family first summered in Gloucester and eventually the poet settled in the Fort Square neighborhood, becoming involved in community and political issues of his day.
When Vincent Ferrini died, his good friend, the late Rev. Paul Sawyer, spearheaded the effort to purchase and convert Ferrini’s former home into a writer’s center. He placed calls to Vincent’s nephew Henry, and close friends of Ferrini’s. Sawyer began informing people that he had pancreatic cancer and had less than a year to live; he wanted to spend his time creating what is now the Gloucester Writers Center. Many more friends and “fans” of Sawyer, Ferrini and Olson soon became involved in raising the money to purchase the home and the doors to the Gloucester Writers Center were opened in July 2010.
To carry out their mission and keep the memory and works of Ferrini and Olson alive, the Writers Center will begin offering a variety of community-based programming, including literary readings, workshops, youth programs, topical writers’ talks and conferences, and a residency program. The Center will serve as a gathering place and resource for local and international writers in all genres, fields and realms of interest.