New in verse
Matters of the mind — mazes of memories, private and shared — concern two new poetry collections by local poets. In his sixth collection of poetry, Steven Cramer, founder of the Lesley University MFA program, looks at and through the fogs of memory and depression. In “Listen” (MadHat), Cramer tries to distill a “bedlam of thought.” He is, by turns, matter of fact, nailing the sometimes-funny sometimes-sad absurdity of the world, as in “Costco”: “enough Reynolds Wrap to foil an asteroid, / Eros in particular. Who’s not aroused / by sales?” And warmly sensual: “when he comes, the game beats / in his heartbeat thumped by the wallop of her heart / beating against his; and like a spider tumor, spins / webs in his brain, in love now with how it’s played.” Joyce Peseroff, former director of the UMass Boston MFA program, looks backward and forward in her new collection “Petition” (Carnegie Mellon University), and the two books share a concern with the ghosts that accumulate. Peseroff writes of the places “I’ll never see again . . . I’ll miss always . . . no reason to return . . . 20 years / since we last stood astonished.” She writes of the ways we wander off and find our way, not necessarily back. “In the woods, Pan rules. Follow his pipes and wander in circles.” There is something of the freeze-and-thaw in her lines and she reminds us: “The road is mud, but it’s still a road.”
Bio of a whistleblower
In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg — Harvard grad, Marine, U.S. military analyst — decided he was on the wrong side of history regarding the war in Vietnam and he handed 7000 pages of highly classified internal government documents detailing the grave missteps and egregious lies in Vietnam to the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Pentagon Papers, as these documents came to be known, altered the relationship between the government and the press, and led to a Supreme Court case. Columbia University Press just announced that they’ll be publishing the first authorized biography of Ellsberg, with a working title “The Whistleblower: The Life and Times of Daniel Ellsberg,” written by Ben Bradlee Jr., a veteran journalist who worked for a quarter of a century here at the Globe, overseeing the paper’s Pulitzer-winning coverage of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. The biography comes from years of interviews with Ellsberg, access to exclusive and never-before-seen documents, and research from recently opened archives. “The Whistleblower” is slated for publication in early 2023.
Another virtual fair
The pandemic has pushed one of the oldest antiquarian book fairs in the country online for the first time this year, opening up the fair to rare book collectors from around the world. At this year’s Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, taking place November 12 through 14, attendees will be able to the wander virtual booths of over 150 booksellers, with each exhibitor showcasing up to 50 pieces, including ancient texts, autographs, historic documents, illuminated manuscripts, maps, photos, and prints. A $50 ticket allows for a Patron Preview on November 12, giving a first look at what’s on offer. Otherwise, the fair is free and open to everyone starting at 11 am on November 13. To entice beginning collectors, a number of dealers will offer “Discovery” items priced at $100 or less. For more information visit bostonbookfair.com.
“The Office of Historical Corrections” by Danielle Evans (Riverhead)
“Eartheater” by Dolores Reyes, translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches (Harpervia)
“One Life” by Megan Rapinoe (Penguin)
Pick of the Week
Tyler Glauz-Todrank at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, recommends “World of Wonders” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Milkweed): “The incredible poet turns to prose in this beautifully illustrated book of short essays where she weaves together memoir and nature writing. She writes about being one of the only families of color on all of her childhood hikes in Ohio and northern New York. But her love of nature was deeply instilled and has greatly influenced her writing. She balances critique of the racism embedded in our culture with her passion for the wonders of the natural world.”