Somerville Spotlight: Poet GennaRose Nethercott

This post was originally published in the Somerville Journal. 

Growing up with a writer as a father, GennaRose Nethercott has always loved literature. For her, the arts provide connections with the world, connections with human beings.

The Somerville resident can remember being a little girl, listening to her father recite classic poems. And she remembers dictating her poems to her father, before she was able to write, and he would record them for her.

“I have a very well-bedazzled Lisa Frank folder with my poems,” Nethercott said with a laugh. “Both of my parents have always been very encouraging of me and my brother’s creativity and passions.”

After receiving her poetry degree from Hampshire College in 2013, the Vermont native picked up her 1952 Hermes Rocket typewriter and hit the road, traveling throughout the United States and Europe, writings poems-to-order, which typically feature a free verse narrative style.

And from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, Nethercott will be doing it again, this time stationed at the Brattle Book Shop on West Street in Boston.

Her booth, said the full-time poet, is a social and community-oriented project, more of a public art initiative.

With a small table, a lace tablecloth, a few signs, and her trusty typewriter, Nethercott jumped from city to city, sitting in public squares and gardens, writing poems for anyone who wanted one.

“Anyone can come up to the booth and give me a topic, as general or specific and as strange or unique as they like,” she said. “I will compose a poem on the spot … read it aloud, and give them the only existing copy.”

Each poem takes three to five minutes to write, and people are encouraged to donate any amount of money they deem sufficient.

Traveling alone, said Nethercott, was a bit isolating, so it was nice to have a different sort of connection with people. Spending hours at a time in public spaces, she said, helped her pick up on different social patterns, trends, and just meet new people. Even today, she continued, being a full-time writer can be a bit lonely.

“It allows … an interactive experience for whoever is ordering the poem, plus they can watch the poem come into being with just a few minutes,” said Nethercott.

Some people ask her to write about specific topics, which is her favorite because she said it’s unlikely she’s ever written about it before. One specific topic tends to stick out in her mind.

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