June 14, 2023
The 826 Boston team is full of talented, brilliant, creative, and compassionate people. We think you should get to know them better!
Meet two of our AmeriCorps service members this year, who have made a huge impact at 826 Boston: Mary Rose Manspeaker and Olivia McGovern.
Mary Rose (they/them) was born and raised in Buckhannon, West Virginia. They recently graduated with an MFA in poetry from St. Joseph’s University in Brooklyn, where they have lived and taught for the last three years. As a writer, they enjoy playing with language at the intersection of society, place, and technology. Mary Rose is serving as a High School Specialist at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, and hopes to learn about life in Boston from the students who shape it.
Olivia (she/her) grew up in Central Wisconsin and later earned her B.A. in English at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, along with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. She has been a tutor, a library page, and a digitizing assistant for film and photographs. When she isn’t reading, she enjoys trying new recipes, knitting, and hunting down geocaches. She is also known to have long conversations with her cat, Calvin.
What book do you recommend and why?
Mary Rose: Suji Kwock Kim’s Note from the Divided Country. On top of being a good book, it taught me a lot about what is possible in a poetry collection. Kim writes through the perspectives of multiple generations in her family and so through much of modern Korean history, with each poem occupying and utilizing the page in a different way. I always like to plug Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead, which is a classic of documentary poetics and uses interviews and multiple voices in a book. It covers the fallout from the largely forgotten largest industrial disaster in the U.S. as the workers fought to get proper housing and medical care after many suffered from silicosis.
Olivia: How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu. It’s a pandemic book, and it can be dark and sad. But I think it is a great depiction of humanity and hopefulness, too. I read this book at the beginning of 2022 and it’s the kind of book that I still think about often.
What are you currently listening to?
Mary Rose: My friends and I make an end-of-year playlist with our favorite releases from the year, which means I am currently listening to all the stuff I was obsessed with throughout last year. In this case, Mitski’s album Laurel Hell and Alt J’s The Dream. I’ve also gotten into one of my friend’s picks, Gang of Youth’s Angel in Realtime.
Olivia: I’m currently curating a playlist of songs from movies I liked as a kid and listen to it often during my commute. Some highlights are Another Believer by Rufus Wainwright from Meet the Robinsons and Dare from Transformers: The Movie.
How did you decide you wanted to be an AmeriCorps member?
Mary Rose: I was looking for a position with a term limited to a year-ish while I applied to PhD programs during this application cycle. Other than that, it was more the position itself that drew me. I have worked as a writing teacher and tutor, as well as in publishing, so I was interested in working with a community-focused organization that touched on both.
Olivia: My best friend was finishing their first year of service in Montana when I found out I would be moving to Boston. They suggested I look at AmeriCorps opportunities and when I saw the 826 Boston listing, it fit everything I wanted to do.
What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
Mary Rose: I was in a sorority in undergrad (Sigma Psi) that only exists at Case Western. It was while I was living at the chapter house over the summer as a freshman that I got my cat, Pippin, who I hid in both the Sig Psi house and the frat housing I stayed in for a year afterwards.
Olivia: Last year, I drove 13,600 miles around the U.S. I lived in San Diego for part of the year then in my home state of Wisconsin before I moved to Boston. As fun as it was I’m glad to stay in one place for a while!
Can you tell us about a time when the AmeriCorps program made you feel truly rewarded?
Mary Rose: Any time I get to connect with students in any way, small or large, is that time. It has really begun to feel like our space in the Writers’ Room is an essential space for quite a few of the students, and we get to chat about our days, get updates on a DnD campaign a student is running, learn about their favorite music, shows, and books, and help them as best we can to make the things they want to do possible.
Olivia: Last semester we worked with the entire ninth grade to help them with personal narratives and I found the whole process to be so rewarding. It was a great way to get to know so many students at once and learn about their stories. It’s been amazing to watch their writing improve as we’ve worked through each stage of the writing process. I can’t wait to share in the excitement when they see their work in print!