To celebrate its 150th anniversary, the Boston Globe commissioned Boston poet laureate Porsha Olayiwola to write an original poem. Olayiwola’s poem “Portrait of The Boston Globe As Atlas,” is now on display in the Seaport Common. The free, outdoor exhibit opened to the public on Sept. 12, and will remain on view through Oct. 2.
Olayiwola’s words overlay a series of Globe photographs from some of the paper’s most significant stories of the past 15 decades. Her poem speaks directly to these stories, as well as the need for journalists to serve as an “atlas” to their communities.
“Periled / people need knowing to unfold like a map, need / clarity clear as a marked path toward. truth,” one line of the poem reads.
One of the installation’s panels features photos of notorious South Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who evaded government capture for 16 years, along with a snapshot from the Globe’s first Spotlight investigation in 1971, which uncovered serious financial corruption in Somerville politics.
Another features a photo of former President Kennedy exiting a plane at Logan Airport, above a photo of disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned after the Globe’s Spotlight team exposed his role in the Catholic Church’s protection of pedophile priests in Massachusetts.
Also referenced in the installation is Farah Stockman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Boston After Busing.” .
Olayiwola lives in Jamaica Plain and currently works as the artistic director of the literary nonprofit MassLEAP. She founded the Roxbury Poetry Festival in 2021 and was 2015′s National Poetry Slam Champion.