A history of non-violence
In 1922, at age 37, a Chicago labor lawyer named Richard Gregg was introduced to the work of Gandhi, and it changed the trajectory of his life, steering him to “rethink how conflict could be resolved and how injustice might be fought.” Gregg traveled to India to study with Gandhi, one of the first Americans to do so, and wrote “The Power of Non-Violence,” the primer on how to protest peacefully which influenced a generation of activists including Martin Luther King, Jr. A thoughtful, illuminating, and accessible new biography, “The Power of Non-Violence: The Enduring Legacy of Richard Gregg” (Loom) by UMass Lowell political science professor emeritus John Wooding, shines light on Gregg’s life and work, calling Gregg’s book “one of the most important works on pacifism of the twentieth century.” Wooding braids in stories of his father, finding his research on Gregg serves as a map to better understanding his dad. Gregg lived by a philosophy of “voluntary simplicity,” and the importance of sustainability and environmental stewardship, and this biography arrives at a time when we are well-served to be reminded of Gregg’s insights and example.
At the Northern Hope Recovery Center, a substance abuse center, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, Jim Bell leads a poetry group for people there working to put drug and alcohol addiction behind them. The Western Mass-based Slate Roof Press recently published an anthology of poems that rose out of Bell’s group. “Writing from the Broken Places” showcases a range of voices on what it means to be an addict, and what it looks like to claw one’s way out from addiction’s grip. The lines, full of hope and courage, regret and pain, aim toward the light of what might be possible, and give a raw and stripped-down sense of struggle. “Landed in detox, all alone / oh little yellow pills / please don’t / follow me home,” writes Robin. In “Blue Dress,” an anonymous writer offers these haunting lines: “Puss stains / perfect green / touch, please / remember / me / bath tub / baby doll / white breath / begging / again / gut wrench / pink lips.” And Julissa A. puts it simply: “I don’t want to die.” A virtual reading will take place Sunday, July 11, at 2 pm, and $3 from the sale of each copy will be donated to the North Quabbin Recovery Center in Athol.
Words and music
After a hiatus, the long-running Earfull Series, which pairs local authors with local musicians, is back for two outdoor shows this summer taking place at the Commander’s Mansion in Watertown. On Wednesday, July 14 at 7 pm, the line-up includes Cambridge-based novelist Laura Zigman, and bestselling author Tom Perrotta. Musicians that evening include progressive Boston-based folk duo Honeysuckle as well as Giant Kings, led by Duke Levine. Later this summer, on August 14, authors include Lily King and Rishi Reddi, with musical acts Tanya Donelly, of Throwing Muses and the Breeders and the Wellfleet-based Parkington Sisters. Visit earfull.org for more information.
“Purgatorio” by Dante Alighieri, translated by Mary Jo Bang (Graywolf)
“Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness” by Kristen Radtke (Pantheon)
“T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone That Dominates and Divides Us” by Carole Hooven (Holt)
Pick of the Week
Michael Herrmann at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire, recommends “Ariadne” by Jennifer Saint (Flatiron): “For centuries, authors have mined Greek mythology for their subjects. The success of these attempts has always depended on the author’s ability to make emotional connections with these remote characters. Ariadne is a very successful effort. The story of two sisters with tragic outcomes becomes real and contemporary in this novel. The men — whether mortal or god or beast — don’t come off too well, but they know what they did.”