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JAMES: Walk for the first time into a session of the Black Seed Writers Group, any Tuesday morning, and you might not immediately register it as a place where literature is happening. People are sitting around with cups of coffee and bowls of oatmeal. They're talking, or eating, or staring, or doing what they need to do to gather themselves in a space of momentary calm, away from the street. The vibe is indeterminate, faintly atomized. 

Look around the room, though, look deeper into the space, and you'll see heads inclined over sheets of yellow paper, and pens moving: distinct nodes of energy that crackle into a network the instant you become aware of them. You'll see faces charged with focus. People are writing. 

The Black Seed writers have always been about activating the room, kindling the buried community, finding the current of life. Deadness and desultoriness are the enemy, ever-present. The weight of the empty hour — these writers attack it with poetry. It's one of the many frontlines along which they operate and from which this issue of The Pilgrim, our 52nd, is another indispensable report.    James Parker

CHRISTIE: This issue of The Pilgrim has me really thinking about place and all the ways that a place can be seen, known, and understood. The writers have, since I began hanging out with them in 2018, transformed the way I see the city of Boston, the way I know it, and the way I understand it. I will never walk through Logan airport again without thinking about Michael Moschella, once an employee, and now one of its many hideaway sleepers, tucked in among all the other travelers and pilgrims. The chalk labyrinth outside of Park Street station? I used to walk over it, hardly noticing the prayer in the pavement, but now I look for it, traces of my friend, the poet James Van Looy. Somedays, it feels like the “only real poem” in Boston. James Pells has changed, even, the way I see Boston’s notoriously terrible traffic. He writes about sitting at the Hatch Shell, “It’s peaceful and relaxing to watch the boats out on the water. / Across the water, the cars go by.” He reminds me that in every pilgrimage there are moments of stillness, a being-in-placeness, that are necessary to the journey. This issue is full of this, if you look for it, as you learn to look for it, your eye trained by the Black Seed Writers to see the world, the people, the poetry that has always been here.     Christie Towers

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