City Life

Writers Ponder This Rhode Island Life

A new collection of poetry and prose explores Rhode Islanders' connections to urban and liquid landscapes


In May, Frequency Writers unveiled their latest collection of poetry and prose. The anthology, aptly titled City & Sea, explores the underpinnings of a Rhode Islander’s identity tied to the state’s unique collocation of water, city and people. The anthology is dedicated to the memory of Mark Baumer, Providence poet and activist, who was struck and killed by an SUV earlier this year during his barefoot cross-country walk to raise awareness of climate change. One of his poems, “I Don’t Remember Dreaming Last Year,” is included in the book.

The collection is divided into three parts: Living Cities, Living Seas and Ocean/State. Living Cities explores the intricacies of living within an interconnected society; William Keller’s “Instant Coffee,” for instance, illustrates the constructed nature of modern life through a breakfast routine. Living Seas focuses on the fluid counterpart of urban Rhode Island: water. Laura Brown-Lavoie’s “Dip” in this section describes the rejuvenating, vivacious quality of the ocean. The final section, Ocean/State, is more explicit in its depiction of the state’s relationship to city and sea. It includes Kate Schapira’s “The Subway Series,” which details the watery life stirring in abandoned subway tunnels, with a mix of nostalgia, aversion and hope.

“There is not one Rhode Island experience or identity, there are many,” says S. Tourjee, director of Frequency Writers. “However, in each of these stories and poems – much like the landscapes of RI – there is a city and a sea not far from view.”