A talk with the founders of "Squawk" a venue for poetry and music in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass.
“A Talk With ‘Squawk’”
On any given day, at the “Sherman” café, in Union Square, Somerville, you are bound to run into any number of poets, writers, and artists nursing their respective cups of java . On this particular Saturday I ran into the former owner of “House of Sarah Books” in Inman Sq. Cambridge, and June Gross who co-wrote the play “The Dangers of Empathy.” But
who I was really waiting for was Lee Kidd and Jessa Lynne, of the “Squawk Coffeehouse”, a long-time venue of music, poetry and performance housed at the “Harvard Epworth Methodist Church” just outside Harvard Square. Since 1998 the coffeehouse has presented such folks as the poet/writer Ed Sanders, the singer and 60’s activist John Sinclair, the jazz musician and Kerouac confidant David Amram, and a host of local poets and musicians. Their other brainchild is “Squawk Magazine” an art and poetry journal that they have put out with artist/poet Mick Cusimano and others. There are 57 issues of the print magazine, and now “Squawk” is solely online, but a new print run may be in the works.
Lee Kidd, a long-haired, barrel-chested man of sixty and the founder of the “Squawk” enterprise , is decidedly a Renaissance man. He has owned and operated a language school in Harvard Square that specializes in language immersion since 1976. Kidd is not just a self-educated bohemian. He attended Harvard Divinity School; he is a “Fulbright Scholar,” and has been published in “The New Yorker.”
Jessa Lynne has an equally fascinating background. Originally from the Milwaukee area; she moved here in the 1980’s. She was looking for a counterculture venue when she heard of the “Naked City”, an earlier incarnation of “Squawk,” which was located at the “Allston Mall” in Allston, Mass. She said: “I was impressed with the warm and open environment.” Since she has graced the stage at “Squawk,” she has performed skits, political satire, dance, and other modes of expression.
Lynne has worked at Harvard for years, and she also has a gig where she portrays historical figures like Susan B. Anthony, Emilia Earhart, and other notable women, at libraries and schools in the area.
Kidd said that “Squawk” has changed a lot from 1998 to 2005. Before it was basically music and poetry, now there is anything from jugglers to book signings. Kidd said: “ We are much more eclectic now. We have a “coffeehouse consciousness;” a mix of people from the homeless to Harvard professors.
Kidd and Lynne are optimistic for the future of “Squawk.’ Kidd said with a straight face: “We will be part of the great golden age of music and poetry in the third millennium’
* “Squawk” meets every Thursday night at 9PM at the Harvard Epworth Church 1555 Mass. Ave. Cambridge 617-868-3661 http://www.angelfire.com/ music/squawk
This article originally appeared in "The Somerville News."