New poetry, a new small press, and an exhibition on children’s books that talk about the Civil Rights movement

Jerry Pinkney’s illustration for “A Place to Land” by Barry Wittenstein. Collection of the artist. © 2019 Jerry Pinkney

Bright bursts

In his elegant and intimate new collection of poetry, “Small Talk” (Dos Madres), poet and translator Stephan Delbos, first poet laureate of Plymouth, lands us into the lights of different locales: Berlin, the Balkans, the “pliant mouth” of Plymouth. There’s an oneiric, watchful feel to his lines, as he explores a shifting present, particularly in a long poem centering on his new son. Ash becomes “a vacant story for the wind” and “grass / in parks sparks teeth of frost,” and Delbos proves his deep attunement to the natural, and to bright blasts of language. He’s also alert to the uselessness of language, the moments of beauty, the moments of deep swallowing horror. He writes of the Marathon Boston bombing, the 2011 earthquake in Japan, four boys killed on Gaza Beach, moments of disaster and monstrosity. And he addresses poems to Charles Bronson, students, Michael Jackson, and Solzhenitsyn. Delbos raises good questions, too: “What malicious, blessed dreamer / pries us from our common sleep / to see the secret / radiance of the ordinary, / then sets us groping / again among rough stones?”

Pressing on

Curator Beth Kantrowitz and artist Roberta Paul have been pals and collaborators for years, and have recently announced a new shared endeavor: they’ve started a new independent publishing house based in Brookline called k+p press. Kantrowitz, who co-directed the fiery, spirited Allston Skirt Gallery in Boston, and Paul, a painter and mixed-media artist, wanted “to bring the same approach from the gallery and the studio to literary work,” wrote Kantrowitz in an e-mail. They’ll publish fiction and nonfiction undergirded by an energy of “stories on the pulse of the present.” Their first title, a debut novel called “A Season Unknown” by Westwood-based psychologist Keith Cohen, due out April 27, is a coming-of-age story with a mystical and environmental bent. A virtual launch will take place on May 1 through the Brookline Booksmith. k+p press will start accepting submissions of finished manuscripts of fiction and narrative nonfiction in May.

Picturing civil rights

Now through June 11, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is hosting an acclaimed exhibition — the first of its kind — that explores the civil rights movement through the lens of picture books. “Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Children’s Books” includes more than 80 illustrations by 41 artists, that explore the the people, places, and themes that drove the movement. Divided into three sections, the show looks at the the ignition of the movement, its prominent figures and events, and aims an eye ahead to the revivification of activism in the United States right now. Co-curated by the award-winning children’s book author Andrea Davis, the exhibition includes work by Raúl Colón, Brian Pinkney, Ekua Holmes, Selina Alko, Faith Ringgold, Floyd Cooper, and Kadir Nelson, among others, capturing defining moments and people: Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, John Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr., and the four Black women who became pivotal mathematicians at NASA during the Space Race, among others. The show, which premiered in Atlanta in 2020, raises questions, sparks conversation, and celebrates equity and racial justice.

Coming Out

On Time and Waterby Andri Snær Magnason, translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith (Open Letter)

The Twilight Zoneby Nona Fernández, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Graywolf)

Double Blindby Edward St. Aubyn (FSG)

Pick of the Week

Josh Cook at Porter Square Books in Cambridge recommends “Two Stories” by Osvaldo Lamborghini, translated from the Spanish by Jessica Sequeira (Sublunary Editions): “Less ‘stories’ and more ‘linguistic landscapes’ or ‘ambient textualities’ or ‘en-languaged fogs,’ “Two Stories” is one of those books that questions how books and sentences are supposed to work. Lamborghini is an utterly unique, tantalizingly difficult, and occasionally dirty writer.”

Continue reading for just $1
Only $1 for 6 months of unlimited access to
Get access now
Thanks for reading
Access unlimited articles for only $1.
Get access now