One hundred years and counting
Books published one hundred years ago include Emily Post’s “Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home,” James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” and Claude McKay’s “Harlem Shadows.” The Boston Public Library is hosting a Hundred Year Retroactive Book Award, with three local writers debating the merits of each book and making a case for why theirs should take the prize. Joseph Nugent, a professor at Boston College, who specializes in Irish studies, Joyce studies, and digital humanities, will defend “Ulysses.” Boston Poet Laureate, performer, educator, MFA candidate at Emerson, and author of “i shimmer sometimes, too,” Porsha Olayiwola, will speak for McKay’s collection of poetry. And Meredith Goldstein, author of the Globe’s long-running “Love Letters” column, as well as two novels and a memoir, will make a case for Emily Post’s book of manners. The hybrid debate, which will take place in person and online via zoom, will be moderated by Kennedy Elsey, and the winner of the best book of 1921 — Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We,” Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,” and Luigi Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” will be announced. The free event takes place Thursday at 6:30 pm at Rabb Hall at the BPL and on Zoom. To register, visit bookaward1922.eventbrite.com.
Honoring Thích Nhât Hanh
Thích Nhât Hanh, Zen master, Vietnamese monk, peace activist, author and poet, died last month at age 95. The Boston-based Beacon Press was one of his longtime publishers in the United States, and this spring they’ll release a revised and expanded edition of “The Blooming of a Lotus,” Hanh’s introduction to guided meditation. The book has been re-organized thematically, focusing on the relationship with the body, with feelings and emotions, with commitment to self and others, and with the environment we share with living and non-living things. A new chapter includes 30 guided meditations. The book, written with Hanh’s warmth and clarity, is accessible, straightforward, and illuminating, offering instruction useful to both seasoned meditators and those looking to begin a practice. Hanh reminds the reader of the importance of breath, that its our foundation to mindfulness, and to opening ourselves to joy, healing, achieving a greater depth of connection with ourselves, those around us, and the world. “Conscious breathing also leads us into the basic insights of impermanence, emptiness, interdependent origination, selflessness, and nonduality in all that is.”
Sidewalk poetry in Cambridge
Strolling the streets in Cambridge now and then offers moments of sidewalk surprise. Here and there, etched into the sidewalk concrete, are poems, written by Cambridge residents. The city is running its annual Sidewalk Poetry Contest, which began in 2015, in which residents of any age are encouraged to submit an original poem. Five winning poems will be imprinted into Cambridge sidewalks this fall. Poems, written in English, have to be no more than ten lines, and no more than 250 total characters, and the subject matter must be appropriate for the public, and must be written by a current Cambridge resident. The deadline is Monday, March 14 at 5 pm, and it’s free to submit. As of now, there are 28 poems to be found under our feet throughout the city. For complete rules and submission guidelines on how to be part of city literary serendipity, visit cambridgema.gov/sidewalkpoetry.
“New Animal” by Ella Baxter (Two Dollar Radio)
“Chilean Poet” by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell (Viking)
“True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us” by Danielle J. Lindemann (FSG)
Pick of the week
Jean MacKenzie at the Brewster Bookstore in Brewster, Massachusetts, recommends “The Orphan of Salt Winds” by Elizabeth Brooks (Tin House): “England, 1939. Ten-year-old Virginia Wrathmell arrives at Salt Winds, a secluded house on the edge of a marsh, to meet her adoptive parents ― practical, dependable Clem and glamorous, mercurial Lorna. The marsh, with its deceptive tides, is a beautiful but threatening place. Virginia’s new parents’ marriage is full of secrets and tensions she doesn’t quite understand, and their wealthy neighbor drops by too often, taking an unwholesome interest in the family’s affairs. Only Clem offers a true sense of home.”