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A poetic look at neighborhoods, an authors’ series on the Vineyard, and an honor for poet Sonia Sanchez

Raphael Warnock opens this summer's Martha's Vineyard Author Series.Wikimedia Commons

A hometown, mapped in verse

In “This Side of the Hill: Poetic Maps of Our Neighborhoods,” students of the Youth Literary Advisory Board of 826 Boston make a kaleidoscopic portrait of Boston, reckoning with one of the great themes: what it is to call a place home. Bass from car thumps the chests of people on the sidewalks; the smell of homecooking from kitchen windows; the hearing “of gunshots and hoping they’re fireworks,” as Josiah Fuentes writes; the soul of the city living on; the soul of the city changing. Justis Porter addresses the city: “Where have you gone? Where has your soul, your culture, and your color, where has it gone?” Blessing Adedeji, who was born in Nigeria and raised in Boston, writes of a red Bridge in Upham’s Corner, watching “Children, my age, uniform-and-pigtails, running to get home / Children, younger than me, dimples and giggles and laughter / We all passed under the red bridge / And like that, every evening / I met the suns of Dorchester.” These deeply felt, evocative pieces, both poetry and prose, reveal a rich and complex place, and a group of attuned, impassioned, and sensitive observers of it. As Boston’s inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Alondra Bobadilla writes in the foreword of the book, the young authors here “seek to build a bridge between a homeland and a new land, making sense of the in between.”


Martha’s Vineyard Book Fest

The Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival began back in 2005, and starting in 2012, the festival alternated every other year with the Martha’s Vineyard Author Series, a summerlong set of readings and discussions, and this summer’s installment opens this week. Senator Raphael Warnock kicks off the series this Thursday, July 7, reading and discussing “A Way Out of No Way: A Memoir of Truth, Transformation, and the New American Story.” On Sunday, July 10, Geraldine Brooks will discuss “Horse” in conversation with Valerie Smith. Peter Gularnick will discuss “Looking To Get Lost: Adventures in Music & Writing” on July 14. On Thursday, July 21, Eric Kim will discuss “Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home.” Eric Holder will discuss “Our Unfinished March” in conversation with Michele Norris on July 28. On August 4, Dawnie Walton will discuss “The Final Revival of Opal and Nev.” And the series closes on Sunday, August 14 with Amor Towles discussing “The Lincoln Highway.” All events take place at 7:30 pm at the Chilmark Community Center, except for the Towles reading, which will take place at the Performing Arts Center. For more information, visit


MacDowell honors Sanchez

MacDowell, the storied artist residency in Peterborough, New Hampshire, is awarding this year’s MacDowell Medal for outstanding contribution to American culture to poet and activist Sonia Sanchez. The Medal Day ceremony will take place next Sunday, July 10, honoring Sanchez, with introductory remarks by novelist Walter Mosley, and it marks the first time MacDowell will be open to the public sine 2019. Claudia Rankine, chairman of this year’s selection panel, noted that “Sonia Sanchez’s illustrious career spans seven decades. Her commanding oeuvre continues to elevate language’s ability to give voice to entire communities (their daily pleasures and pains) inside our shared and troubled history.” The medal was first awarded in 1960, and the discipline rotates every year. Past winners include Georgia O’Keefe, Sonny Rollins, I.M. Pei, and Toni Morrison. For more information, visit


Coming out

Night of the Living Rezby Morgan Talty (Tin House)

Life Ceremonyby Sayaka Murata, translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapely Takemori (Grove Atlantic)

Bloom & Other Poemsby Xi Chuan (New Directions)

Pick of the week

Meghan Bousquet of Titcomb’s Book Shop in East Sandwich, Massachusetts, recommends “All the Names Given” by Raymond Antrobus (Tin House): “This collection is such a moving read. The meditations on family, history, nature, grief, deafness, and love are heart-wrenching and poignant. The poems are visceral and deeply sensory experiences, with powerful usage of the idea of closed captioning that invite the reader to consider what does sound truly mean to us?”

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