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NEW ENGLAND LITERARY NEWS

A literary festival in Provincetown, two bookstores open, and Beacon launches an innovative poetry line

Brandon Taylor is part of the line-up for this weekend's Provincetown Book Festival.
Brandon Taylor is part of the line-up for this weekend's Provincetown Book Festival.Bill Adams/William J. Adams

Provincetown festival

Provincetown, where the state slips into the ocean, has drawn generations of writers and artists to its dunes and shores and streets. This weekend, the annual Provincetown Book Festival unfolds, in person, involving dozens of authors and events. On Saturday at noon, Brandon Taylor will discuss “Real Fiction/Real Life”; Kerri Greenidge will talk about “Black Radical (100 Years Before Black Lives Matter)” at 1:30 pm. Mona Awad and Heidi Pitlor will engage with the “Seriously Funny” at 3 pm. And Paul Lisicky and Andrea Lawlor will discuss “Provincetown: Life at the Edge of the World” at 6 pm. Sunday’s events include a conversation between Joshua Henkin and Matthew Klam, a talk about essays with Jennifer De Leon and Aminatta Forna, “The Politics of Memoir” with Maya Lang and Rajiv Mohabir, a wondering about “The Future of Poetry” with January Gill O’Neil and Porsha Olayiwola, and a discussion of “Exploring the Shadows: Fiction vs. History” with Francine Prose and Aaron Lecklider. All events are free and take place at the Provincetown Public Library, and pre-registration is required. For a complete schedule and to register for tickets, visit provincetownbookfestival.org.

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Bookstore news

The MIT Press Bookstore, which was founded in 1980, is one of the only bookstores in the country owned and operated by a university press. Its Mass Ave location in Central Square shut to the public in the spring of last year as the result of the pandemic. The bookstore re-opened last week, in a new location, sharing a home with the MIT Museum at the shifting space known as the MIT Kendall Gateway, right next to the Kendall Square T stop. The new space has more square footage than its previous home, and besides offering the books and journals published by the titular press, the bookstore also carries a selection of academic and general interest titles, including a space dedicated to STEAM books for kids, with special attention on the new MIT Kids Press and MITeen Press titles. The MIT Press Bookstore is located at 314 Main Street, in Cambridge.

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Lowell, birthplace of beat generation icon Jack Kerouac, home to a community college, a university, and a vital arts scene, has, since 2016, been without a bookstore. Not anymore. Earlier this summer Laura and Greg Lamarre Anderson opened Lala Books in downtown Lowell, hoping to help bring a little more literary life to the city. Lala Books is located at 189 Market Street in Lowell. For more information, visit lalabookstore.com.

New verses

Boston’s Beacon Press recently announced that it would be expanding its poetry program with a new series called “Raised Voices.” They plan to acquire three new books per year for the series, adding to a poetry catalogue that includes James Baldwin, Mary Oliver, and Richard Blanco, and focusing on works that “affirm progressive values, give voice to many identities, are accessible to a wide readership, and celebrate poetry’s ability to access truth in a way no other form can.” The first title, released last week, is “Boomerang/Bumerán” a bilingual collection by Cuban American writer Achy Obejas. She writes in an introductory note in the collection of how she tried to “make the text as gender-free as reasonably possible.” Not so hard in English, but trickier to do in Spanish. In three sections, she explores immigration, queer love, and actions against injustice. “Exile is actuality, animation; exile is endurance and presence, the rate race, the real world; it’s the journey and the entity you sleep with every night . . . Exile is everything, everything possible within the possibility of return.”

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Coming Out

Against Silenceby Frank Bidart (FSG)

Graceland, At Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American Southby Margaret Renkl (Milkweed)

Assemblyby Natasha Brown (Little, Brown)

Pick of the Week

Emily M. at Trident Booksellers in Boston, recommends “Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction” edited by K. M. Szpara (Lethe): “This collection of speculative fiction is full of trans stories, whether they be stories centering around trans characters, symbolism, or simply the concept of transformation. And man, is it refreshing. It’s a breath of fresh air, unique above all else, and strays from the more common trappings of speculative fiction to instead linger in the realm of whimsical possibility. Beautifully weird, and absolutely worth reading.”


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