Our Hosts


Gemma and Mark host the series and welcome you to The Poetry Institute where OUR FOCUS is creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for YOUR ENJOYMENT of poetry.

Gemma Mathewson was born under a new moon, so it took her awhile to cast a shadow. She spent 21 years in ECE where daily trial by fire of “circle

Gemma Mathewson was born under a new moon, so it took her awhile to cast a shadow. She spent 21 years in ECE where daily trial by fire of “circle time” tempered her mettle as open mike emcee. Between skywriting and messages in a bottle, her poetry has been published in collections in the US, India and Ireland. You can read her poetry-photography blog at: “Museum of Rain” — gemop.wordpress.com



Mark McGuire-Schwartz manages our email and press activities and serves as our primary feature bookings coordinator. He also manages our website and serves as Editor of Circumference, our e zine. Sometimes he imagines that he was raised by bears, and it shows. He believes that laughter is a gift to be shared. People often laugh out loud when they read his writings. Then again, they laugh at a lot of things he does. Mark is author of a short play, Meeting Arthur Miller, which was produced as part of the Short and NEAT program during the 2004 International Festival of Arts and Ideas, in New Haven.  And he realizes that he should update this bio.


Our hosting philosophy

We work hard to create a friendly and inviting atmosphere for poetry lovers to enjoy poetry

We want you to enjoy sharing your poetry, whether it’s the poem’s first draft or final.  We encourage first time readers to give reading at the open mic a try. We encourage all readers to bring a favorite poem, — whether it’s one you wrote or your favorite poem written by someone else.    And because listening to poetry can play such an important role in improving the writing of poetry, we will work to bring our audience an ecclectic mix of feature poets — some well-known and some not so famous  —who share their original and interesting poetic voices, to top off a great open mic.

What we won’t do: We won’t bore you with pages and pages of our own poetry.  The venue is not an excuse for us to feature our own work month after month.  You’ll find us rotating roles:  Open Mic Host, Introducing the Feature, and our most important role, “door-buzzer manager”.  Remember — Only ring once and give us time to sprint to the buzzer to let you in!

Contact us at:  PoetryInstitute [at] gmail [dot] com

Alice-Anne Harwood Sherrill is Host Emeritus.  She is an accomplished poet and emerging playwright. Her soaring vocals to can be heard at various venues around New Haven.

Faith Vicinanza is Host Emeritus.  She is a poet and poetry enabler whose talents and experience stretch far and wide.

Eli Cleary is Host Emeritus. She works in Corporate America by day and is a poet in those odd moments when she isn’t working.