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NEW ENGLAND LITERARY NEWS

A Lit Crawl in Cambridge, a poetry book celebrating the Merrimack, and the Maine Literature Awards

Poet Danielle Legros Georges will read as part of the Lit Crawl event taking place in Central Square.
Poet Danielle Legros Georges will read as part of the Lit Crawl event taking place in Central Square.Jennifer Waddell

Lit Crawl in Cambridge

For the first three years of its existence, the annual Lit Crawl Boston event — in which a smattering of literary readings and performances are held across an evening and a neighborhood allowing people to bounce from one event to the next — took place in Boston. For the first time this year, and after a year off due to the pandemic, it’ll take place in Cambridge, on Thursday, June 10, at outdoor spots — restaurant patios, alleys, parking lots, and the Starlight Theater — all in Central Square. Poets Danielle Legros Georges and Miriam Manglani will read on the Poetry of Science; Julia Story and Cassandra de Alba will offer poems-on-command. The Here Comes Everybody Players will present their take on “Ulysses”; Kim Adrian, Adam Colman, Alden Jones, and Kim McLarin will talk about “The Art of (Writing About) Reading.” In Graffiti Alley, Alexis Ivy and Heather Nelson will lead an ekphrastic writing workshop. “Silence, Madness, Secrets, and Apologies” will be the theme for Molly Howes, E. Dolores Johnson, Alicia Googins, Michelle Bowdler, and Sebastian Stuart. And Bengali theater group Off Kendrik will present South Asian Immigrant Stories. Some events are free; others cost $15. For a complete schedule and to register, visit bostonbookfest.org/litcrawl.

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Celebrating the river

In his hewn and forceful new collection of poetry, “Tender the River” (Texas Review), Matthew W. Miller makes a coursing book-length portrait of the Merrimack River, its “syringe and soda bottle banks,” and the Merrimack Valley. Miller, a Lowell native and a teacher at Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, tracks the whole lifespan of the river, streaming together personal history, geological history, political and cultural history. The poems address race, labor, industrialism, the region’s indigenous people, and the powerful interplay — sometimes cruel, sometimes nurturing — of people on the environment and the environment on the people. It is a book distinctly of a place — its parks, bars, and churches, its liquor stores and parking lots — and Miller gives a homeowner’s texture and homeriver movement to his lines. “Make me small again, roll me in your lap / your mud, your moon lit blood.” What emerges is the mystery that comes from a place living inside of you as much as you live in or on or near that place. He writes of a “frost skulled hill,” of “a land apart, outside time, and ever our infinite theft,” of different kinds of violence, of “where our salted flesh seeks salinity, some / delta of eternity.”

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Maine lit awards

The Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance recently announced the winners of the 2021 Maine Literary Awards, given to both year-rounders and seasonal residents alike. Jim Nichols won the fiction category for his coming-of-age novel “Blue Summer” (Islandport). “Mill Town: Reckoning With What Remains” (St. Martin’s) Kerri Arsenault’s nuanced regional and personal history, won the non-fiction category. Poet Éireann Lorsung won for her ambitious and altering collection “The Century” (Milkweed). Phuc Tran’s “Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight To Fit In” (Flatiron) took the memoir category. Beth Culley’s “Three Things I Know Are True” (Harper Teen) won the YA category, and Anica Mrose Rissi’s “Love, Sophia on the Moon” (Little, Brown) won the children’s award. The prize for speculative fiction went to Emma J. Gibbon’s “Dark Blood Comes From the Feet” (Trepidatio), and “Enough! Poems of Resistance and Protest” (Littoral), edited by Claire Millikin and Agnes Bushell, won the anthology category. Travis Baker’s “Hockey Mom” won the drama prize, and Morgan Talty’s “The Bless Tobacco” won the short works category. There were over 300 submissions to this year’s prize. A complete list of winners can be seen at mainewriters.org/maine-literary-awards.

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Coming Out

Animalby Lisa Taddeo (Avid Reader)

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoirby Akwaeke Emezi (Riverhead)

The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthoodby Krys Malcolm Belc (Counterpoint)

Pick of the Week

Dana Weigent at The Concord Bookshop in Concord, Massachusetts, recommends “The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage, and a Girl Saved by Bees” (Park Row): “Brimming with amazing detail about bees, “The Honey Bus” is the touching story of a girl brimming with hurt and determination. She has been sent to Big Sur into the arms of an eccentric, beekeeping grandfather. In an interview the author says that she was raised by bees, but this grandfather is the quiet hero here.”


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