Polly Bradley was the inaugural guest at Nahant Village Church's Online Open Mic session Sunday. (Courtesy of Nahant Village Church)
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Nahant Village Church to host monthly Online Open Mic sessions

NAHANT — The Nahant Village Church celebrated the launch of its new Online Open Mic series Sunday, featuring former Audubon Society writer and poet Polly Bradley as the program’s inaugural guest. 

Meant to highlight local writers and performers, the virtual series will be held monthly via Zoom and will allow anyone interested to participate. 

“It’s great to be a part of something that’s bringing joy to the world,” said Samantha Janeau (who preferred to use a pseudonym), a poet herself and member of Nahant Village Church which helped bring the program to life. “In a time when things are so challenging and overwhelming, to have little moments of joy is really important.”

Janeau said the church wanted to invite Bradley, a 60-year Nahant resident who just celebrated her 89th birthday, as a way to celebrate her decades of work, much of which was inspired by the nature of the North Shore. 

Bradley’s poetry spans her childhood in Oklahoma, college experience in Cambridge, Mass., and a literary career that includes writing for the Audubon Society. Two volumes of her poetry, Seaward Skyward (2011) and Leeward Windward (2015) were published by the Harvard Book Store. 

Her works include humorous and spiritual reflections on biology, local flora and fauna, and family life spanning nine decades.

She was also involved in compiling a 1984 anthology of Nahant writers entitled "Nahant Voices," and was the founder of the Nahant chapter of SWIM (Safer Waters in Massachusetts). 

“She’s just an outstanding woman who’s done a lot in her life to advocate for the conservation of the environment,” said Nancy Cantelmo, also a poet and member of Nahant Village Church. “Because her poetry incorporates the town, her friends, her family, and the environment, it was kind of a natural fit.”

Janeau said more than two dozen friends and colleagues joined Bradley in reading from her collections, with some logging in from as far as Illinois and Florida. 

The large virtual gathering proved that the group achieved what it set out to accomplish: to bring people together in the midst of especially trying times.

“There were around 25 people in the call, maybe more, and each one of those connections represented between one and six people listening,” Janeau said. “It was amazing.”

Janeau added that the church is still seeking Nahant-connected writers for future readings that will have themed writing prompts, including ‘Love’ in February, ‘Ruach: Holy Spirit Wind’ in March, and ‘Resurrection’ in April, which will feature Maureen ‘Mo’ Edison, a retired English professor serving on the faculty at North Shore Community College and Northeastern University. 

Interested participants are encouraged to contact [email protected] for the Zoom invitation or more information. 

The next reading will take place February 13. 

“We just want to inspire other people to reach out to their friends and neighbors,” Janeau said. “(It’s about) being neighborly in this time of great difficulty. It goes back to the whole adage in Christianity: love your neighbor as yourself.”

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