Paul Marion was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1954. He grew up in Franco-American parishes in Lowell (St. Louis de France) and nearby Dracut (Ste. Thérèse). Baseball and The Beatles were the constants of his youth. His father was a mill worker who played a good game of golf and his mother was a top saleswoman in a city department store—both were avid readers. His two older brothers, respectively, teach art in public schools and political science in college. He earned degrees in political science (B.S.) and community social psychology (M.A.) from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and also studied in the M.F.A. Program in Writing at the University of California at Irvine.
For more than 30 years, he has been involved with the revitalization of Lowell, which is considered the “premier rehabilitation model for gritty cities worldwide.” In the 1980’s, he worked as an administrator for the U.S. Department of the Interior, helping to create Lowell National Historical Park. Among other projects, he managed a heritage-based cultural affairs program that included building artist studios in a renovated textile mill (1982); managing a cultural grants program; commissioning and installing the Lowell Public Art Collection (1983-89); coordinating the creation of the Jack Kerouac Commemorative (1988); and collaborating with partners on developing museum exhibitions, producing academic conferences, and other community projects. He is one of the founders of the acclaimed Lowell Folk Festival (1987) and the Lowell Heritage Partnership (2000), an alliance of 20 environmental, preservation, and cultural groups. In 1996, the New England Foundation for the Arts awarded him a four-year Culture in Community Fellowship, and in 2008 he received the Local Heroes award from Community Teamwork Inc.
He is Executive Director of Community and Cultural Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. On campus, he has led efforts to create the endowment and residency program for the Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies and to earn national designation as a “community-engaged university” from the Carnegie Foundation for Excellence in Teaching. Working with campus colleagues and community partners in 2007, he helped Lowell win a major award from the State and Local History Association of America for a museum exhibition and allied programs when Lowell hosted a display of Jack Kerouac’s legendary On the Road scroll manuscript while it was on national tour. In 2009, he was named co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Arts & Ideas.
He and his wife, Rosemary Noon, and son, Joseph, live in an 1860’s mill agent’s house in Lowell.
He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Strong Place (1984) and What Is the City (2006), and editor of Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings by Jack Kerouac (Viking/Penguin, 1999), which has been published in translation in Italy (Mondadori) and France (DeNoel). His poems and essays have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Bohemian (Japan), Bostonia, The Café Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Christian Science Monitor, The Massachusetts Review, Public Art Review, Salamander, The Salmon Literary Quarterly (Ireland), Wisconsin Review, Yankee, and several anthologies, including For A Living: The Poetry of Work (University of Illinois Press), French Connections: A Gathering of Franco-American Poets (Louisiana Literature Press), Line Drives: 100 Contemporary Baseball Poems (Southern Illinois University Press), Québec Kérouac Blues (Écrits des Forges), and Visiting Frost: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Robert Frost (University of Iowa Press).
With Kathleen Aponick and Jane Brox, he co-edited Merrimack: A Poetry Anthology (1992), a collection of poems by 52 writers from the Merrimack Valley of New England. He is also the editor and co-author of French Class: French Canadian-American Writings on Identity, Culture, and Place (1999). With Charles Nikitopoulos, he created and edited the online bioregional journal, The Bridge Review: Merrimack Valley Culture, http://ecommunity.uml.edu/bridge
He founded Loom Press in 1978 to publish books about his region and by writers from the area. For information, visit www.loompress.com or write to email@example.com
In 2007, he was interviewed by David Perry of the Sun newspaper in Lowell: Poetry emotion - 10 Questions with Paul Marion, Lowell's unofficial poet laureate.
His new book is Mill Power: The Origin and Impact of Lowell National Historical Park, forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers in late August, 2014. The book is an account of the development of a new kind of national park in Lowell, all told in the context of the city's notable urban renaissance over the past 40 years. See details on advance ordering at the right on this page.