Robert Pinsky to Appear in Lexington

By Laurie Atwater  |  A fierce advocate for poetry and spoken poetry, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will be coming to Lexington to help celebrate the launch of the latest book from the Student Publishing Program at Lexington High School, Unsaid: Poems from Lexington High School’s Class of 2013.

Photo of Robert Pinsky by Emma Dodge Hanson

The Student Publishing Program (SPP) at Lexington High School was created in 2002 by Lexington High School graduate Anthony Tedesco (LHS 1987).  Tedesco has dozens of projects and ideas in the air at any given time. His work can be found in Details magazine, Saturday Night Live, Boston Globe and the 2010 Sundance Award-Winning film, Homewrecker, and he’s director of The Greatest Living Writers Project which features exclusive video of poetry and best writing advice from over 500 of the world’s top poets.

Despite his busy schedule, Tedesco has consistently maintained his dedication to the Lexington High School project that he co-founded with Karen Russell, English teacher at Lexington High School.  Russell began teaching in Lexington in September of 1980 and has taught English, Social Studies, and Reading and Language within the Lexington Public Schools.  Together with an impressive advisory board, Tedesco and Russell have nurtured the Student Writing Program—even in the years they struggled for funds and published only online.

This year the SPP is excited to once again be in print thanks to the generosity of the William G. Tapply Memorial Fund.  Tapply, a member of the LHS Class of 1958, was a well-known outdoorsman and writer of both essays on fishing and two well-known mystery series.  Tapply taught in Lexington at the high school for 28 years, retiring as a “House Master” in 1990 to write full time.  Later in life he returned to teaching at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. and at Emerson College in Boston.  Tapply died in 2009.  His fellow classmates came together to create the fund in his honor.  Thanks to the gift from the Tapply fund and the Lexingtonians who have contributed to it, students will once again have the unique experience of seeing their work in print.

More than 500 pages, Unsaid would not be possible without the dedication of all the LHS sophomore English teachers who have supported students in submitting over 400 poems. Tedesco’s professional design creates a high quality platform that pays tribute to the students’ accomplished writing. The Student Publishing Program gives one hundred percent of profits from book sales back to LHS to fund future participation.

BOOK LAUNCH     On Tuesday, May 24th, the SPP in partnership with Craig Hall and Lexington Community Education will host a special program and fundraiser to celebrate the launch of Unsaid and to raise funds to support next year’s publication.  

The public is invited to attend this event and support the young writers who have conquered their fears and allowed their very personal poems to be included in the book.  Attendees will see the book for the first time, meet the student authors and hear the award-winning Lexington High School Jazz Combo during the reception.

The program will be emceed by Craig Hall, director of Lexington Community Education. Lexington residents will have the opportunity to hear students read selected poems from both this year’s publication and from upperclassmen who have contributed to previous online editions. The program will also feature readings by Lexington poet and Robert Frost Medal winner X.J. Kennedy.

ROBERT PINSKY     U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will talk about poetry and what it means to him and read from his latest book Selected Poems. Pinsky is an advocate for young writers and poetry. In 1997 Pinsky was named poet laureate and he served until 2000. During this very public phase of his career, Pinsky launched a great new project that he called The Favorite Poem Project.  Everyday folks were asked to submit their favorite poems and some of them were invited to read their poems as part of a permanent audio archive at the Library of Congress.  This “people’s project” connects to Pinsky’s beliefs about the need for poetry in a democracy and the value of the spoken word.

Pinsky currently teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Boston University and is poetry editor of the weekly Internet magazine Slate. He is a man of varied talents—translator, editor, multi-media innovator and teacher. He is the author of five books of poetry, four books of criticism and a computerized novel. He has received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, Poetry magazine’s Oscar Blumenthal prize, the William Carlos Williams Award, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 (1996) won the 1997 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Come and celebrate one of Lexington’s most worthy student endeavors, hear some great poetry and music and pick up the new book from LHS students.

Quotes About The Book And Its Publisher, The Student Publishing Program:

“These talented, imaginative young poets have made works using the always-fresh, always-unique, forever-new, yet ancient instrument of their voices. The individual voice is the instrument of poetry, an art that as this collection shows is on a human scale, individual and communal. I congratulate the writers, their teachers, and us their audience.” – ROBERT PINSKY, former U.S. Poet Laureate, professor in the graduate writing program at Boston University, Poetry Editor of the online magazine Slate, Advisory Board Member of The Student Publishing Program, and author of SELECTED POEMS.

“To any writer, writing always seems more a meaningful act if it results in publication. In bringing out UNSAID, Anthony Tedesco and the Student Publishing Program have accomplished something rare and valuable. This book and this program strike me, to the best of my knowledge, as the most remarkable gift to student writers that anyone has offered in America.” – X. J. KENNEDY, Lexington poet, winner of the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry, and author of In A Prominent Bar In Secaucus: New & Selected Poems.

“Words have great power. As School Committee Chair, I use words at the intersection of advocacy and policy. Sometimes, even advocating for the words that seem most meaningful and powerful at the policy level will influence the tone and meaning of all the words down the line. In a similar way, this poetry project has provided our students with an experience reflecting the power of their own words in meaningful expression.” – MARY ANN STEWART, Chairman, Lexington School Committee, Lexington Public Schools

Creating a portfolio of written pieces based on models of good writing sets student writers on a course that they navigate for themselves.  Teachers, then, have the opportunity to become active listeners to what each student feels is the composition to publish, to render explicit what was previously unsaid. – KAREN RUSSELL, Lexington High School Teacher, and founding teacher of The Student Publishing Program

What the students say:

“Being a part of this publication made me feel like I could share things that I can’t otherwise say.” AMBIKA JAYAKUMAR, LHS class of 2013

“I can’t begin to articulate how refreshing it is to have a teacher ask me for my own thoughts and writing I can truly call my own.” VERENA LUCKE, LHS class of 2013

“The poem project allowed us to stretch the boundaries of imagination, talking about things we would have never thought of sharing with anyone.” AISHANI PATWARI, LHS Class of 2013


Unsaid: LHS Sophomore Poetry Book & Launch Event

Tuesday, May 24, 7pm
LHS Auditorium 251 Waltham St., Lexington, MA

Readings by Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, Robert-Frost-Medal-Winner X.J. Kennedy and a selection of LHS sophomores reading from their new book, Unsaid: Poems from Lexington High School’s Class of 2013, along with poetry from other classes and music by LHS’s award-winning jazz combo. The public is invited to come support them as student authors, as sons and daughters and friends, as young Lexingtonians, and perhaps most of all as unique, courageous individuals sharing what they’ve often been unable to say, offering glimpses at who they really are – in their own words.

For tickets, book pre-orders please visit or call 800-705-6551. Books ordered before May 24th can be purchased for $24; after May 24th books will sell for $34. Event tickets are $7 in advance; $10 at the door. LHS students admitted free with student ID.


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