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Sam Cornish

Sam Cornish was born in Baltimore in 1935. He was educated at Goddard College and Northwestern University. He authored ten collections of poetry, including Dead Beats (Ibbetson Street Press, 2011), An Apron Full of Beans: New and Selected Poems (CavanKerry, 2008), and Folks Like Me (Zoland Books, 1993). Cornish taught at Emerson College and other Massachussets-based institutions, and also worked as an editor and reviewer. He received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1967. He was the inaugural poet laureate of the city of Boston, serving from 2008 - 2014. After suffering a stroke, he died on August 20, 2018. 

Sam Cornish
Photo credit: Eric Levin

By This Poet


Spring 1931

Northern black
boy traveling
with empty belly;
these are the American
shanties, and fine
big houses, a sad
on a poor man’s tongue
land of cotton and trouble
night sweet as dusk
on its gentle people
until today,
was just a place
where the train
had to stop
and the Southern
was beautiful
I traveled
from Memphis to Georgia
drinking my whiskey
singing my blues

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