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NEW ENGLAND LITERARY NEWS

Queer pioneers, new poetry, and a new home for Grub Street

Frieda Belinfante is featured in Sarah Prager's new book "Rainbow Revolutionaries."
Frieda Belinfante is featured in Sarah Prager's new book "Rainbow Revolutionaries."Sarah Papworth

Kids’ pride

Sarah Prager’s new book, “Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History” (HarperCollins Children’s), out this week, gives a lively look for middle grade readers at queer figures, present and past, who made an impact on the world. The miniature bios of both well- and lesser-known people celebrate the variety of ways queer people have influenced and altered history in all aspects of society, from science, to art, to politics, entertainment, sports, film, literature. Alan Turing, Frida Kahlo, James Baldwin, Adam Rippon, Wen of Han, Navtej Johar, José Sarria, Harvey Milk, Julie d’Aubigny, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, Sally Ride, Simon Nkoli, and Alexander the Great are a handful of the subjects, each accompanied by a dynamic portrait illustration by artist Sarah Papworth. Prager, who lives in Central Massachusetts, is a queer history education advocate; her first book was “Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World,” and she created Quist, a free app on LGBTQIA and HIV history. The book also includes a glossary of terms and symbols, as well as a map, and a queer history timeline. When she taught herself the history of these figures in high school, “it changed my life,” Prager writes. “I knew I wasn’t alone, I knew I wasn’t the first to feel this way. I knew I could be anyone and achieve anything. I knew I was part of a big family.” A virtual launch will take place Tuesday, May 26 at 1 p.m. For more information, visit sarahprager.com.

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Workshopping hope

The Cambridge Public Library is offering a series of five remote poetry workshops called the “Hope Storytelling Project.” The aim of the series is twofold: to discuss and explore the theme of hope with experiences expressed through poetry, and the creation of community in a time of isolation. The workshops will be hosted and run by David Xiang, a former National Student Poet who lives in Boston and will return to Harvard this fall as a first-year medical student, and Alisha Yi, a 2018 US Presidential Scholar for Poetry, and current Harvard student. The series begins May 27, with a workshop on “Finding Comfort” and continues through July, with the topics “On Perspective,” “Approaching Emotion,” “Being a Witness,” and “A New Hope.” The workshops are free and no prior poetry experience is required. Registration is required, by Sunday, May 24. Visit cambridgema.gov/cpl for more information.

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Grub update

Grub Street, the independent writing center, had plans to move into a new headquarters in the Seaport this fall, continuing to stay in its home on Boylston Street overlooking Boston Common until the new space was ready. The organization was alerted recently that the owner of 162 Boylston had plans to sell the building, and could not extend the lease beyond June. In some ways, because of the pandemic, this news is less disruptive than it could’ve been as Grub Street has shifted all of its classes online via videoconferencing for the foreseeable future. The organization will wait for construction restrictions to be lifted to begin work on the new space at 50 Liberty Drive in Boston, which will have three times the space, a podcast studio, a stage, a community lounge, and a cafe. Executive director Eve Bridburg writes that “though we are anticipating some delays, we’re still planning to move into our new space this fall and to host” writers and community members there “as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

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Coming out

“Minor Detail” by Adania Shibli, translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette (New Directions)

“Parakeet” by Marie-Helene Bertino (FSG)

“The Death of Jesus” by J.M. Coetzee (Viking)

Pick of the week

Kate Layte at Papercuts J.P. in Jamaica Plain recommends “A Children’s Bible” by Lydia Millet (Norton): “Evie and her 9-year-old brother Jack are just two of the ragtag kids you’ll meet in Millet’s utterly brilliant new book. It’s a deceptively simple book that takes place one summer in which a group of old friends rent a great house. Nature plays a force so big that it must be reckoned with. The adults are useless and the kids are so special and there’s so much I think we can learn from them. I’m feeling that this is the book of now.”

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Wake, Siren.” She can be reached at nmaclaughlin@gmail.com.