Staircase Poetry

Her Words Echo Through The Ages . . . 

“Make use of what I leave in love”
​by Anne Dudley Bradstreet

Thank you so much for inspiring your child
to join in this new poetic project for
the students of North Andover

Staircase Poetry
is a yearly
spoken – word event
for elementary students in the same way
the North Andover High School Chorus
celebrates music and voice

Please have your child to the Smolak Farm Barn
on Friday, April 27, 2018 at 5:30PM

Siblings, grandparents and friends are all welcome
Come join in the fun
in the Valley of the Poets

The program begins at 6PM and runs for 30 to 45 minutes.



August 15, 2007

A way to remember America’s first poet

By Drake Lucas   Staff writer   Lawrence Eagle Tribune

NORTH ANDOVER – Anne Bradstreet lived, wrote and died in North Andover, but the only memorial to her is a marker in the town’s Old Burying Ground.

Local poet Karen M. Kline hopes to gain attention for Bradstreet, referred to as America’s first published poet, by building a brick walkway and dedicating it to the poet. The walkway would run from the Old Burying Ground down Academy Road to the Old Center.

“Right now, until she has a place of honor somewhere in this town where she lived and died, I’m on a poetic path to honor the original poet laureate in our town,” said Kline, who plans to talk about her idea at an upcoming selectmen’s meeting.

Kline said the walkway also would be a safety measure because many students walk on Academy Road from the middle school to the youth center in the Old Center.

Bradstreet came to America from England in 1630 and lived in Cambridge and Ipswich before coming to North Andover, then known as Andover Parish, in 1645. She resided here in the Valley of the Poets until her death in 1672.

One book of her poetry, “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America,” was published in London without her knowledge when her brother-in-law traveled to England in 1650. A second edition, with her corrections, was published in Boston in 1678 after her death.

Bradstreet scholars said it is about time something is created to honor the poet.

“She is not unheralded, but she is relatively obscure. More people have heard of Emily Dickinson,” said Jeannine Hensley  of Hanover, who edited an edition of Bradstreet’s poems in 1967.

Hensley said that although Bradstreet is becoming more popular in high schools and colleges, it is rare to find any physical reminders of her life here. The house where she lived in Cambridge before she came to North Andover no longer exists and the house where she spent most of her time in North Andover burned down six years before her death. 

There is a Bradstreet Gate in Harvard Yard named in her honor in 1997.
A bronze plaque marks the site of her home in Ipswich where she lived with her husband who went on to become governor of Massachusetts. One other surviving artifact is a manuscript of poetry and other writings in her own handwriting that is owned by the trustees of Stevens Memorial Library, but rarely displayed, it is so fragile.

“I had gone all through high school, college and graduate school and I never encountered one line of her work,” Nancy Weare of Exeter, N.H., who put together a small book of selections of Bradstreet’s poems in 1998 after hearing about Bradstreet during an event at Stevens Memorial Library.

Anne Bradstreet; Selections from Her Works, edited by Nancy V. Weare, is available at the library.

This week in history

1630  — June 12 . . .
Anne Dudley Bradstreet and her husband Simon landed in Salem Harbor, Massachusetts with Governor John Winthrop and others aboard the Arbella.
1630 — June 14 . . .
Mistress Bradstreet never again saw her beloved England.  Over decades, she slowly accepted America.
Other emigres included Anne’s mother Dorothy Yorke Dudley and father, Thomas Dudley along with her sisters and brother.
Gov. Winthrop recited a “city on the hill, the eyes of all people are upon us ” offering ways to live in the New World.
All gave thanks for a safe voyage and prayed for strength in their new adventures.
Here are a few statements on what poetry means to me and why I decided to be a poet . . . please send any questions you may have after seeing these links.
What do you think (or feel) about the poetic word?   Does it impact your life?   How?
Shalom, Karen

Welcome to the Merrimack River Valley of Massachusetts!

Valley of the Poets Tours invites you to discover the poetic legacy of America’s four powerful poets of the past 350 years.  See where they lived, worked and wrote — places of inspiration, introspection and too often, pain of loss, misunderstanding and even possible threat to life.

Living in times of national and personal upheaval, these tenacious ladies and gentlemen forged ahead, leaving us their legacy of action, belief and words.


Anne Dudley Bradstreet (1612 – 1672) America’s First English-language Poet to be published from the New World

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807 – 1892) A beloved poet and outspoken abolitionist whose birthday was honored with a National Holiday

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 – 1896) “So you’re the little lady who started this great big war.” :President Lincoln, meeting Mrs. Stowe

Robert Lee Frost (1874 – 1963) Thought by many to be the best, most beloved of all American poets – four Pulitzer Prize awards


Come harvest your heritage as you visit each poet’s home here in the Valley of the Poets.

Tours are being planned to begin in late August or early September, 2018.
More information about dates will be published here in the next few months.

If you have questions, send them to:

Nancy V. Weare

In March, 1998, I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely lady, Nancy Weare at Stevens Memorial Library, as she introduced

“Anne Dudley Bradstreet

     America’s First Poet

Selections from Her Works”

the chapbook she had edited to bring Mistress Bradstreet out into the public once more after decades of being ignored.

Nancy discussed the life and words of Mistress Bradstreet, a founding mother of Andover Parish and America’s first published poet in 1650.  She told the audience that in 1995, she had heard Anne’s poems read and had no idea of the poet or her lovely poems written so long ago.  Even with a major in literature, Anne was a complete surprise to her.

The quiet passion with which Nancy spoke of “To My Dear and Loving Husband,” demonstrated  Anne’s deep devotion to Simon as his wife since they wed back in Lincolnshire, England in 1628.

That Sunday afternoon in Spring changed my life completely as I meet two of the most cultured, gentle women ever.

Nancy, I must thank you for sharing your love of Anne with the world and with me.

Now, here is a brief overview of your very successful life of 92 years . . .

photo karen.jpg

  Nancy Virginia Weare
April 26, 1925 – December 12, 2017

Nancy Virginia Weare of Exeter, formerly of Newburyport, Boston and Ipswich passed away peacefully at RiverWoods in Exeter, New Hampshire on December 12th at the age of 92.

She was born at home on Ashland St. in Newburyport, the daughter of Laurence Weare and Helen Rodigrass Weare.

An only child, Nancy graduated from Newburyport High School, Class of 1943. She went on to earn a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts at the Massachusetts College of Art and spent 20 years as an art editor for Ginn and Company in Boston.

She received a Masters Degree in Special Education and then taught at the Brown School in Newburyport for 17 years.

After retirement Nancy decided to write “Plum Island, The Way It Was”, about her favorite place in the whole world, her family’s summer camp at the Knobbs.   She enjoyed sailing, swimming and teaching her dog Nicki to dig for clams. Her fondest and most vivid memories were created on this special place, Plum Island.

The Federal Government reclaimed the land when Nancy’s Mother passed on and she was able to find a home on Great Neck in Ipswich overlooking her beloved Island, where she lived for 33 years.

She took it upon herself to edit and publish a second book on American’s First Poet, Anne Dudley Bradstreet after hearing a presentation about her life and enjoying some of her poetry recited at Stevens Memorial Library, North Andover, in 1995.  Nancy had never known of Mistress Bradstreet during her school years and believed this Puritan woman deserved much more recognition.

Jill Barker, librarian at Stevens Memorial Library, recalls;  “Nancy, who compiled and published the chapbook, Anne Bradstreet: America’s First Poet, was an ardent champion of Anne and her poetry.”

A memory of former North Andover Poet Laureate, Karen M. Kline;  “Anne Dudley Bradstreet was a woman admired by Nancy, who understood both the difficulties of Anne’s life and her amazing poetic talent, ignored by too many.”

As an author, Nancy was often invited to speak at meetings of local organizations and libraries in MA and NH.

Nancy enjoyed traveling, especially to Ireland, which she visited five times.

She was a member of many organizations, including

The Ipswich Historical Society
The Museum of Old Newbury
The Maritime Museum
The Sons and Daughters of Old Newbury
The Friends of Plum Island Light
The Museum of Fine Arts
The Peabody Essex Museum
The Whittier Home Museum
The Friends of Anne Bradstreet
The Belleville Improvement Society
The Red Hat Society

She was a descendant of Susannah Martin, one of the accused Salem Witches (1692).

A devoted animal lover, Nancy rescued many dogs and cats over the years, including Liza, Ringo, Sugar Van Fleet and Murphy Brown, a white German Shepard who found her Ipswich home a safe haven in a snowstorm.  Charlie Brown and Trevor, the Beagles, enjoyed living with her at RiverWoods where they received lots of love from other residents.

She leaves her second cousin, Sally (Blake) Lavery, also of RiverWoods, plus many, many friends and fans.

She was predeceased by her close cousins, Barbara Lagasse of Amesbury, Cary Plummer of Newburyport and Thomas Knowland of North Carolina.

Following Cremation she will be buried in the family plot at The Belleville Cemetery.  The date of a Memorial Service, planned for early in the new year, will be announced soon.

Arrangements are by Paul C. Rogers and Sons of Newburyport.

Again, Nancy, I cannot thank you enough for your passion for a woman neither of us ever met, but knew, very well.

Shalom, Karen

Groton kids promote peace through art and poetry

Hayley (2)


Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to come visit Anne’s site.

Here is information about an illustrated poetry project called LITER – Art.

With a passion for children’s imagination, let us celebrate their creativity.

Since 1995, LITER – Art has been seen in six different states, two Canadian cities and in Lahore, Pakistan.

The Groton, MA students mentioned below were honoring the tenth anniversary of National Poetry Month.

You may have interest in this unique concept. We certainly hope you do.

Think of the inspirational art you see hung on walls everywhere.

How often do you see poetry displayed in that way? Does it have value? Some believe yes, it does.

Please share this message and also let us know your opinion. For the children, it is exciting!

Groton kids promote peace through art and poetry

by RITA SAVARD, Sun Staff  Lowell Sun      April 22, 2006

GROTON — How is world peace seen through the eyes of children?
Look around Groton and the answers are everywhere, from the local pizza shop to Town Hall.
“Peace looks like pizza,” according to one second-grader.
“It sounds like a cat purring,” another writes.
War will be over,” notes a third-grader.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of National Poetry Month, more than 580 students at Florence Roche Elementary School are sharing visions of peace with the entire town by wallpapering 19 businesses and public buildings with illustrated poems. The concept is called LITER-Art, a way for kids to express thoughts and feelings  in words and pictures.

“It’s different from seeing a Picasso,” says parent Laurie. “It’s so innocent and untainted. And that’s beautiful.”

LITER-Art was the brainchild of Karen M. Kline of North Andover, executive director of American Community Think Tank — a nonprofit dedicated to promoting public awareness of the imagination of children.

Shaving cream also played a part.  [ ]

Memories of family road trips from Kline’s youth, driving from New York to Ohio and Canada, are peppered with Burma-Shave signs. About 7,000 of the small, wooden road signs dotted cow pastures and farm fields through America’s country roads. The series of signs advertised a brushless shaving cream, but they also became a fun part of travel, offering little nuggets of wisdom for passers-by.

“I thought, we could do that with kids poems,” Kline says. “I’m interested in letting children make their own creative choices.”

“Kids hate standardization, they want choices,” Kline says. “How do you get them to think outside the box if you keep stuffing them into one?”

If American Community Think Tank had a board of directors, kids would rule the table. Kline might have brought LITER-Art to the students at Florence Roche, but it was the kids who gave it meaning, she says.

Adults are not only pondering the messages, they’re also responding. Hundreds of comment cards have been pouring in, each thanking a child artist for their inspiration, says Barbara Scofidio, co-owner of N.O.A. gallery.

The students will start receiving their mail in class next week.

“I’m amazed at the depth these kids have shown,” Scofidio says. “The impact is huge. It’s connecting people in the community.”
Standing with her hands on her hips, 10-year-old Alana, peruses the work of her peers.
“It’s pretty cool,” she says matter-of-factly. “I hope that somebody is going to write back to us.”
For Alana, peace means a world without war, where everyone has something to eat and something to wear.
Peace, according to a poem by Jonathan B., is the “one thing on earth we don’t have.”
Do kids think peace is possible?
“I hope so,” says Calli, 10, who thinks “prejudice” is the main problem standing in the way.
“What does that mean?” Alana asks Calli.
“People might have a certain view of others before they’ve met them,” she answers.

Rita Savard’s eddress is   This e-mail was initiated by machine [] at IP []


One note, Alana mentions she hopes “somebody is going to write back to us.”  people did!  Students received over 3,000 Comment Cards back from strangers they will probably never meet but who were delighted to see and enjoy their effort.

Such encouragement is invaluable!

Thank you for your kind attention.


World Peace Community Read for 2016

Click here to open a .pdf file of this flyer to print.


For April 30th  World Peace Community Read 

Please send all inquiries to:


                                                Thank You!


World Peace seems more elusive than ever . . . is there anything we can do? Could the poetic word help?

To many, those questions seem incongruous. I disagree.
My name is Karen M. Kline and I’ve worked with adults and children of all ages with poetry for over 20 years, the last three as poet laureate of North Andover, Massachusetts.

Since 2006, many of the projects have had the title World Peace.
That was the theme of the “Great Groton Poetry Walkabout” to celebrate the 10th anniversary of National Poetry Month. Each student of Florence Roche Elementary School wrote a peace poem and then added artwork to their page for emphasis. Five-hundred eighty-eight poems were distributed throughout town for display in April, 2006.  It was a great success.

Since then, I have been suggesting World Peace to nearly every parent and teacher if asked for a theme.

Now, is it possible to expand upon that concept?

We invite you to join an exciting event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of America’s National Poetry Month with a “World Peace Community Read” April 30th, 2016.

The rules are very, very simple. Invite friends and family to join you in a large open space nearby and pass out poems (yet to be decided upon) to be recited by the entire company gathered with you.

If one wish could be heard ’round the world to help save us all, may it be Peace!  

Envision citizens of all countries joining together on one day to demonstrate the power of poetry.

Some believe in that power and in all of the people who will speak words of harmony, words of Peace!

This event costs nothing. Could it be of value? Is it worth your time?

Please, let us know your feelings, thoughts and suggestions . . . and thank you for your kind attention.

Join the Market Basket Challange!

 Karen Kline, North Andover poet laureate, is calling all local poets, young and wizened, to submit their work in the “Market Basket is Back! Celebration Challenge.”Email entries to   All entries will be displayed online at and at on Dec. 19 with a choice entry from a youth and adult writer appearing in print in the North Andover Citizen.

Below are three submissions, enjoy!

GROCER WARS – John S. Lauretani of No. Andover

The Merrimack Valley community
and places well beyond
got themselves embroiled
in a family war that spawned

Support for the one called “ T “
disdain for the one called “ S “
who’s abuse of power through coercion
created an infamous mess

From Athanasios and Efrosini to
Telemachus (Mike) and brother George
the hands of time ground forward
to form the grocery forge

Pride is strong in all families
especially of those with success
but when does wealth become primary
and people become less

It’s true both sides have facts
who knows what’s behind closed doors
we see what media provides us
and just tally up the scores

We salute you “ MB “ employees
integrity won out in the end
standing with you in the pickets
sent a message for all to defend

Harvard will study the outcome
of which many were surprised
but to honest hard working people
the “right thing” was always advised

Giraffe By Karen Mitropoulis   
A  Giraffe
Sticks their
Neck out
For their
Fellow man.
Be strong,
Be courageous,
Be Inspired.
Standing tall
To support
Friends and
Loved ones
In their time 
Of need.
It is time,
Take a stand,
And believe.
A friend in need
Is a friend indeed.
Who has your back,
Be proud,
Do the right thing.
You are an inspiration,
To us all.
Full of generosity,
Honesty, loyalty,
And integrity.
An opportunity,
Victory is within ,
Our grasp.
Believe !
For it is ,
The principal ,
And the heart ,
Of the matter.
Justice will prevail,
United we stand,
We are Family,
And Market Basket Strong !

Family Reunion  By Carole Davis

My family had a reunion today.
Odd décor.
surrounded by peaches so large they are a whole meal.
Tomatoes, fresh from the ground, summer sweet,
yearning for a final sprig of basil and soft cheese.
Corn, sun yellow, wearing a silky, green cloak, dressed
for August heat.
Local eggs so perfect the bacon is cooking
before they leave the market.

We are not  blood relatives.
Love is often easier with strangers.
workers at a local market who have greeted me for decades
items requested, bags packed, dollars exchanged.
Odd beginning for a love affair,
but it happened by the thousands.

Family disputes
almost killed the magic.
Sides were taken,
the market and love won out.
In between all those shelves filled with sugar and flour
were grains of resolve, barrels of loyalty so strong,
that even the cleaver of a butcher’s knife
could not pierce.

VALLEY of the POETS Walking Tour

Step back in history . . . to the beginning of American poetry as you harvest your heritage.

Travel the trails of the Original Andover Parish as you walk through the Old Center of North Andover.

 The Valley of the Poets Walking Tour starts Saturday April 6th and will be offered each month.

Spring / Summer Tour Schedule:

      Tours begin at NOON    We meet at the Museum of Printing, 800 Mass Ave., North Andover

Saturday    MAY 11th     /     JUNE 8th    /   JULY 13th     Fee:  $6.00 Adults   $4.00  Seniors / Students

 Culture, history and fun will be had by all!

Thank You!

Hello, Friends of Anne Bradstreet!

As Thanksgiving nears and 2012 draws to a close, I want to give thanks for all of you. Over this special year, you came from near and far to celebrate Anne.

On a dark, mysterious farm field on January 1st we began with “Fire and Ice” to honor both Mistress Bradstreet and Robert Frost, our Lawrence neighbor.

We had programs every month, some small gatherings for a few and others reaching hundreds of people through concerts, festivals and symposia.

Cities and towns from Boston and Cambridge to the Valley of the Poets here in Essex County shared the joy of Anne, her words and her work

I thank you one and all for your contributions in so many creative ways to make this a magical year. Anne also thanks you!

Shalom, Karen

PS We continue on with a Spring program to rededicate the Anne Dudley Bradstreet Gate at Harvard University for her 401st birthday.



Dear fellow Anne enthusiasts,

I’m writing to invite you to a very special showing of “From the Author to My Dear and Loving Husband”. The play, written to celebrate Anne’s 400th birthday, features four actresses at different stages of their lives portraying Anne as she ages. The “Annes” form a chorus, becoming the objects of women’s work in the 17th century, as well as Anne’s inner world as she matures.


The play will be performed at Salem 1630: Pioneer Village at 4:30, Saturday, September 15th and Sunday, September 16th. A special salon after Saturday’s performance will be hosted by author Charlotte Gordon. Susan Lenoe will read some of her favorite of Anne’s poems.


For more information, visit


I hope you can join us!


Kristina Wacome Stevick, Artistic Director
History Alive!
Gordon College Institute for Public History




Our celebration of Anne Dudley Bradstreet’s 400th birthday began with “Fire & Ice” on a cold, dark, mysterious North Andover farm field January 1, 2012.

That quietly powerful moment was the start of a week by week, month by month series of programs that culminate with a very special September, including a Merrimack College symposium, gala concert plus local town tours through Trails and Sails.  Come meet Mistress Bradstreet in a variety of settings, including Memorial Hall Library, Andover on September 23rd.

Go to “Upcoming Events” for further information about the program schedule.

Beginning September 1st, check out the Anne Bradstreet Sandwich, available at the J & M Deli / Pizzeria, 701 Salem Street. North Andover, MA

On September 13th, you are invited to Meet the Poet Laureate of North Andover at Merrimack College Cascia Hall from 6:30 to 8 PM.

The citizens of our town and Essex County are proud to call Anne our own as we continue sharing her talent and humanity with the world!

Next Event – September 23 – 2-4pm  Trails & Sails  Anne Bradstreet, Founding Mother and First Poet. Her Story and Poetry with Susan Lenoe programs in North Andover to honor Anne / FREE  / Memorial Hall Library 2 North Main Street, Andover, MA

See our full brochure of events for Anne Bradstreet’s 400th Birthday celebration

Learn about the life and work of Anne Bradstreet, the first female published poet of the New World, with Susan Lenoe. In the 17th century, most women could not even read, let alone write. Yet Anne’s reflections about motherhood and love, as well as early stirrings of feminist feelings ring true today. Anne Bradstreet is indeed a seminal figure in our culture. The Friends of Anne Bradstreet are excited to celebrate her unique accomplishments and her contribution to history.  Special Instructions: The Memorial Hall Library is located in the center of Andover, on North Main Street (Route 28) at the intersection of Elm, Main and Central Streets (also known as Elm Square).