Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. His poetry and prose have appeared in numerous literary magazines and he is arts editor for The Somerville News, and Director of the Newton Free Library Poetry Series in Newton, Mass. Holder teaches writing at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. and Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. He has run poetry groups at McLean Hospital (for psych. Patients) in Belmont, Mass. for over twenty years. McLean is a literary landmark and poets such as Lowell, Plath and Sexton roamed the halls there at one time.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How do you identify yourself as an artist, and what sort of work do you create?
In 1998, I founded the Ibbetson Street Press with Dianne Robitaille and Richard Wilhelm. We have published over 60 poetry collections as well as 30 issues of the Literary magazine Ibbetson Street. My own poetry is, for the most part, character studies, in the vein of Edgar Lee Masters–if I had to pick someone.
What is your relationship to libraries throughout your life? Throughout your work?
Libraries are an essential element in my writing life. I spent long hours at the old wing of the Boston Public Library work on my Master’s thesis for Harvard University on food in the Fiction of Henry Roth. I got many a poem from those days as the library attracts a wonderful collection of urban eccentrics—of which I include myself.
Tell us the story of a specific project that was incubated by a library– how did it start, and how did the library help to bring it to life?
Well I started a small press collection at Endicott College. Brian Courtemanche the Director, as well as Professor Mark Herlihy and professor Dan Sklar were right on aboard with me and we formed our own catalog that has a link on the college website—not to mention a year long display of small press poetry books.
What can libraries do to serve artists like you?
Have free workshops, lectures, small press collections, audio/visual collections, exhibitions of poetry books, visiting poets, sponsor a Poet Laureate—the Boston Public Library does: they provide an office for Sam Cornish, who is the first Poet Laureate of Boston.
As an artist, what would your ideal library be like? What sorts of things would you be able to do there? What kinds of stuff would it collect?
Contemporary Poetry Journals, Audio/Visual tapes of poets reading and being interviewed, visiting author series, chapbook collections—a series on the Mimeograph Revolution, etc…
What resources and services do you use at your library? How do you find out about them? How do they help to support your work?
I use audio/visual collections– the Poetry room at Harvard’s Lamont Library has a great collection. I have interviewed hundreds of poets on my cable TV show Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer and I have contributed some tapes to Harvard and other university libraries.
Do you show or read your work at libraries?
Well libraries of course are a great place to display books. The Somerville Public Library displayed our books several times, and the Hale Library at Endicott College had a special display for us on the main floor, excellent exposure.
What does “library as incubator” mean to you?
A place to dream-to hatch a plan, a respite from the press of the flesh- open to anyone—regardless of credentials, family tree, pedigree—a place where you can just be—creative and free!