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New England Literary News

A look at Eric P. Cody’s ‘Rescuing Ellisville Marsh,’ National Endowment for the Arts grantees, and more

Poet Imani Elizabeth Jackson was recently awarded an NEA grant.Henry Smith

An ode to the power of working with nature

“Ellisville Marsh is the environmental gem of New England’s oldest town,” writes Eric P. Cody in his new book “Rescuing Ellisville Marsh: The Long Fight To Restore Lost Connections” (Bright Leaf). Spanning 70 shifting acres 10 miles south of the center of Plymouth, the marsh and its tidal inlet for centuries were maintained by locals who farmed and fished. That maintenance gave way as development increased and livelihoods changed; erosion and flooding tides rapidly shifted the complex and delicate ecosystem. As Cody explains, what began in the early 2000s as an effort to save private property evolved into a community crusade to “restore the vitality of fisheries and wildlife” in this salt marsh. Cody, in detailing the efforts and introducing us to the varied people who got involved — lawyers and botanists, sea mossers and lobstermen, a tribal chairperson, engineers, environmentalists, and a big dog named Veda — creates a moving and compelling ode, to a place, to a natural history, to people and the power that comes from focusing efforts and working with an environment. As Cody writes, the book is “a story about reaching into the past and delving deeply into the present to understand what defines a natural place, uncovering what truly matters, and learning how to live more closely with nature.” Cody’s deep and reverent attention to the natural world reminds us of its rewards, personally and environmentally.

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Regional writers and literary organizations receive NEA grants

The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced its list of individuals and organizations who will receive creative grants in support of their work. Of the 36 poets around the country awarded $25,000 for a total of $900,000, one is based in New England, poet Imani Elizabeth Jackson of New Haven, whose full-length debut, “Flag,” is forthcoming from Futurepoem. “I look forward to the time to come,” writes Jackson of winning the award, “which I will spend getting closer to water and earth, continuing to imagine the many ways we as Black people hold presence with/in the landscape.” The NEA gave $300,000 to 22 recipients for translation projects, including $20,000 to Sophie Duvernoy of Northampton and $10,000 to Robin Myers of Washington, Vt. Fifty-eight literary arts organizations around the country received a total of over $1.2 million, including $30,000 to Alice James Books in Farmington, Maine; $10,000 to AGNI magazine based out of Boston University; $25,000 to Orion Magazine in Great Barrington; $10,000 to literary magazine the Common, based in Amherst; and $12,000 to Tupelo Press based in North Adams.

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Coming out

“Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time” by Sheila Liming (Melville House)

“The Guest Lecture” by Martin Riker (Grove)

“The Red-Headed Pilgrim” by Kevin Maloney (Two Dollar Radio)

Pick of the week

Lindsey Pattavina at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., recommends “Even Though I Knew the End” by C.L. Polk (Tordotcom): “Short, sweet, romantic, and full of secrets. This magical noir stars wonderful characters and so many twists and turns that I never knew quite what was going to happen next. A delightful ride, handbasket optional.”