scorecardresearch Skip to main content
New England Literary News

A new poetry collection, Amherst College LitFest, and more

Hilton Als will speak as part of the LitFest at Amherst College.Ali Smith

Love letters to life in new poetry collection

Sarah Dickinson Snyder’s are poems of blood and love and time. In her new collection, “Now These Three Remain” (Lily Poetry Review), the earthly world — the pipes, the tiles, the ferns, the rocks and bones, the velvet dress — mingles with the sacred one, the wordless, and the holy. Snyder, who’s based in Vermont, writes of having a body in time, of aging and death: “How shocked I was / as a child to learn / that the architecture / of life included / a crumbling.” These are poems that reckon with ends, and in doing so, take deep pleasure in what’s on offer now. We all must take our leave, and this fact ups the sanctity and quiet joy in the dailiest acts: “I will miss / even cleaning / the lint screen / each time I do / laundry, feeling / the mesh on my fingertips— / doing something I know / will lengthen the life / of a machine.” The poems read as almost love letters to being alive, to the sorrows and pains and diminishments, to the mystery of love, to being a lover, a mother, a body moving between trees, across a field, climbing up a hill. There are wounds, and there is room for healing, for new forms, rhythms, and resurrection, “the way the earth pulls off / its lid of ice and lilacs burst their heavy purple lungs.”


Amherst College LitFest features Hilton Als on race and racism

Next weekend brings Amherst College’s 8th annual LitFest to the campus, a weekend-long celebration of the college’s crackling literary atmosphere with a schedule of readings, discussions, and performances. Friday evening, Feb. 24, marks the opening of the exhibition “God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin” at the Mead Art Museum, with remarks by Hilton Als, who originally organized the group exhibition in 2019, as well as Siddhartha V. Shah, and Jennifer Acker, editor of Amherst’s literary magazine, the Common. That evening, National Book Award finalists Meghan O’Rourke and Ingrid Rojas Contreras will be in conversation with Dennis Sweeney. On Saturday, poets Victoria Chang and Tyehimba Jess will read and discuss their work. And that evening, Valeria Luiselli will be in conversation with Acker. Sunday brings the President’s Colloquium on Race and Racism, with Als in conversation with Frank Leon Roberts. For more information and a complete schedule, visit


A collection of World War I haiku, translated from the French

Julien Vocance lost an eye fighting in World War I. He also wrote a series of haiku about his time in the trenches, recently translated from the French by North Shore-based poet and translator Alfred Nicol. The poems in “One Hundred Visions of War” (Wiseblood) are immediate and visceral; Vocance, an early practicioner of the haiku form in French, writes of the raw squelch of bodies and mud, of gangrenous limbs, of stepping on the vertebrae of a hastily buried horse. “Blackening three months / between the trenches, the dead / have lost all their hair.” The condensed form serves the subject matter, distilling warfare into its exploding, bloody, desperate truths. There is fear here, and black humor, and mundanity, too: “at dawn / greedily, they gulp / cold soup.” Vocance, savvily and sharply translated by Nicol, captures the tragic absurdity of the battlefield. “A brown swirl / of shells rolling in the dirt / like schoolboys.” Amid the screeching shells, the panting soldiers gasping their last breaths, the crusted woolens, there is terrible beauty, too: “The shell left a hole. / Reflected in its water, / heaven. All of it.”


Coming out

“Wolfish: Wolf, Self, and the Stories We Tell About Fear” by Erica Berry (Flatiron)

“Users” by Colin Winnette (Soft Skull)

“Voyager: Constellations of Memory” by Nona Fernández, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Graywolf)

Pick of the week

Riley Lindhorst at Brookline Booksmith recommends “We Had To Remove This Post” by Hanna Bervoets, translated from the Dutch by Emma Rault (Harper): “The protagonist gets more than she bargains for when she takes a job as a content moderator for a major social network. She and her co-workers are bombarded with violence and twisted facts, which eventually take a toll on everyone involved. Over time, she sees her co-workers’ viewpoints change from mainstream to extreme and she begins to wonder how she got to this uncharted place in her life. The book makes you aware of how easy it is to believe in the seemingly outrageous.”