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Faculty Member Mark Schorr honored by Robert Frost Foundation

Cambridge College Faculty Member Mark Schorr dedication plaque
The plaque honoring Mark Schorr was placed in the Lawrence Public Library in the Robert Frost Room.

A plaque honoring the memory of Mark Schorr was dedicated and placed in the Robert Frost Room on the third floor of the Lawrence Public Library on October 27, 2017. Schorr died Jan. 2 at the age of 72. He served as executive director of the Robert Frost Foundation from 2002 until 2014. Under his leadership, the foundation organized poetry readings throughout the year, including the Robert Frost Festival which is held at Lawrence High School.

Schorr, who earned a doctorate in American literature at Harvard University, taught that subject at Cambridge College's Lawrence campus. Frost had a strong connection to this city. He graduated from Lawrence High School as co-valedictorian and his first published poem appeared in the school newspaper.

“Thank you to everyone who made it to this evenings community read. We are very humbled to have dedicated the Frost room to Mark Schorr, who, like Frost has inspired many of us,” posted the Robert Frost Foundation in social media.

Schorr was a native of Chicago – Carl Sandburg's "city of the big shoulders" – and was raised in that city. He was the grandson of a Hungarian immigrant.

"He didn't like to be called Dr. Schorr," his wife Natalie said.

Schorr became acquainted with Lawrence while learning more about Frost, she said. Indeed, it was as a student at Lawrence High School that Frost discovered he had a gift for poetry. The first poem he had published appeared in the Lawrence High newspaper.

The Robert Frost Foundation, based in Lawrence and dedicated to preserving the poet's legacy, was founded in 1997. Under his leadership, the foundation organized poetry readings throughout the year, including the Robert Frost Festival which is held at Lawrence High School.

Schorr once said Lawrence "has become a city of writers."

Besides Cambridge College, he also taught at Milton Academy – where he mentored a young man named Deval Patrick, a future governor of Massachusetts. They hit it off in large part because they were both from the south side of Chicago.

“I knew where he was coming from,’’ Schorr recalled. “And I made an immediate connection with him.’’ Schorr introduced Patrick to Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass and Emily Dickinson.

Schorr was the adviser to the Milton Measure, the school newspaper, for which the young Patrick wrote. On one occasion, he took Patrick and five other students to Washington to attend a journalism conference.

That was the first time Patrick visited the nation's capital, according to Natalie Schorr. Besides his teaching career, Schorr also worked as a technical writer and software engineer, she said.

Karen Kline, former poet laureate of North Andover and treasurer of the Robert Frost Foundation, called Schorr, "one of the most gentle, kind, deeply intelligent men I've ever known."

Mark Schorr dedicationsShe said Schorr's "command of memorized poetry was phenomenal, only overshadowed by his love and respect for the written word. As a teacher, he connected with any searcher of beauty, truth and joy. As the leader of our Frost Foundation, he brought us to a much larger audience by years of wise program planning and publicity about the poetry of Robert Frost and his years of learning in Lawrence."

Helena Minton, a member of the board of directors of the Robert Frost Foundation, said, "When I think of Mark I think of his incredible kindness and gentleness towards all his friends and acquaintances; also his wit. The title of his memoir, 'Song of My Selfies,' is just one example; his energy; his creativity; his intelligence and erudition. He had an amazing spontaneity and was always so encouraging. At readings, after someone finished presenting a poem, Mark would make the most perfect comment, just one or two sentences that would leave us, whoever had read, feeling we had done something well.”