Meet the Town of Brockton’s New Poet Laureate, Philip Hasouris
BROCKTON – If you’re looking for creative inspiration, look no further than Brockton’s new poet laureate, Philip Hasouris.
The 68-year-old Brockton native has used his talents as a poet and teacher to cope with his own pain and teach others how to deal with theirs through art for years.
Now he will apply those skills to writing about Brockton and help other Brockton residents tell their stories.
âMy goal is to bring recognition to the Town of Brockton, which it deserves,â he said. “We are a working class city, but that doesn’t mean that we are not artistic, we are not creative. We have many, many wonderful artists, musicians and poets here.”
Hasouris said he started writing in a journal in fifth grade to help cope with the harassment he faced, but it would take him a few more years before he discovered poetry.
âI thought, like everyone in school, that poetryâ¦ has to have counters, has to rhyme and stuff,â he said.
At the college of Massasoit Community College, Hasouris made a breakthrough. A girl he was dating worked for the school newspaper and needed a poem to publish, so he decided to provide her with one.
He was reading :
“Once I had a beautiful dream
it was a sweet dream.
no more war, hatred or fear
people lived and loved as one.
Once i had a sweet dream
it was a beautiful dream.
I woke up to reality and saw perfect hell. “
Hasouris said he “kept the poetry but lost the girl”.
After that, he began to regularly write poetry and read poems by Charles Bukowski, Shel Silverstein, Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, which strongly influenced his writing.
Hasouris said he was not always sure about his writing skills, but once he felt doubtful he told his mother he did not understand where he got his writing skills from. because there were no writers in his family.
Her mother disagreed. She told him the story of her father’s family, explaining that her father had grown up on a small island in Greece called Sifnos. She said her father had 11 siblings, and eventually they all started to leave the island.
âThey would leave the island, but they would keep the family stories,â he said. “And she said, ‘And that’s how you got your talent because you come from a family of storytellers.'”
Since then, Hasouris said, he feels more confident.
Hasouris published his first book of poetry, “Swimming Alone”, in 1998.
A few years later, his wife Linda suffered a brain injury and he stopped working to take care of her.
It was through this struggle that his second book of poetry, “Blow Out the Moon”, was born in 2009. He wrote about what it was like to see someone he loved going through a medical crisis, as well as what it was like to be Linda’s caregiver.
âIf I couldn’t express myself, I don’t know what would have happened,â he said. “For me, poetry is more of a therapeutic vessel.”
Almost a decade later, Hasouris published his third book of poetry, “Light of the Moon”, in 2018. It was dedicated to Linda and centered on her death and the stages of grief that he went through.
Hasouris’ poetry has been celebrated for its relativity.
“The way I write is very down to earth, down to earth. A lot of people would come up to me saying, ‘Oh, I know exactly what you were saying,'” he said. “It was very heartwarming for me. I was starting to understand people.”
Having experienced the healing power of art, Hasouris has led expressive healing workshops where he teaches caregivers and those facing the death of a loved one how to express themselves through art.
âIf you think of your body as a volcano and you keep removing all of these things that have happened and are happening to youâ¦ eventually, it all blows up. And we all know what happens when a volcano blows up – nothing good happens. is happening, âhe said.
Hasouris has organized workshops in partnership with the Brain Injury Association, Beacon Hospice, Spaulding Rehabilitation and local centers for the elderly. Recently, he has also started running anti-bullying-focused workshops at Brockton High School and the Brockton Boys and Girls Club.
âWhat I try to teach in the workshops is how to express these feelings, whether it’s poetry, music or some type of art,â he said. “Once we express them, it’s not like writing a journal. It’s poetry. If you create art, if you create music, you validate yourself.”
Now, as a poet laureate, Hasouris has many responsibilities. One is simply to write poetry about Brockton. He began his tenure on August 28 by reading the first such poem, titled “Brockton Boy”.
“I am an educated Brockton boy in the streets, the playgrounds, the schools, aware that my city was welcoming all ethnicities, nations uniting, sharing their customs, their worthy heritage,” he wrote in the poem .
It is this diversity that Hasouris will honor in one of his upcoming events – Voices of Diversity, Voices of America. At the Brockton Public Library, Hasouris will host 10 poets ranging from teens to 60s to read their poems in their native languages. Participants will hear poems in languages ââranging from Arabic to Irish Gaelic to American Sign Language.
Hasouris learned long ago that having poets read their poems in their own language was not only a completely different experience but also a more powerful one. He said that a poet’s body language and expressiveness change completely when he is not speaking in his second language.
“If they are not sure of themselves, you can see their shoulders are slumped. There really is no expression on their face, as they are trying to understand the words in English,” he said. . “But as soon as they switch to their native language, it’s a whole different experience.”
Hasouris will also host monthly poetry readings at the library, where an established poet and a student poet from Brockton High or a local college will read their work. This will be followed by an open mic session, and at the end of the year it will be a collection of selected poems from each open mic evening.
All of this is meant to help Hasouris’ overarching goals of bringing out the arts in Brockton, inspiring new arts, and bringing together generations of people who live in the city.
âI am honored to be a representative of Brockton,â he said.
Enterprise Staff Writer Susannah Sudborough can be contacted by email at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @k_sudborough. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.