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New England Literary News

Writers publish new bilingual edition of Vietnamese poet’s work; Boston Kids Comics Fest back in person; winners of Maine Literary Awards announced

An illustration from Cara Bean’s “Let’s Talk About It.”CARA BEAN

Belmont- and Cambridge-based writers publish new bilingual edition of Vietnamese poet’s work

Vietnamese poet Tuê Sy was born in 1943, joined a Zen order when he was 10, became a Buddhist scholar, translator, and dissident, and has twice been imprisoned. A new bilingual edition of his poetry marks his North American debut, assembled and co-translated by Belmont-based poet and essayist Nguyen Ba Chung and Cambridge-based poet, translator, and founder of the creative writing program at UMass Boston, Martha Collins. “Dreaming the Mountain,” published as part of Milkweed’s Seedbank Series, which publishes works of world literature that deepen our relationship to our ecosystems, is a collection of great depth and longing. Sy is attuned to the gossamer impermanence of clouds and dreams, of all that we know shifting, disappearing, returning. He names what goes and comes across a thousand years. “Strange shores tell their secrets to the shadows/ Stray clouds, a thousand years, old hair,” he writes. A city misses the forest; a dry tree cries out for the stream; wandering makes one’s hair white. If there’s loneliness in these poems, it’s the loneliness of a soul aware of his small place among a mysterious immensity, an immensity that includes the butterfly wing, the bending grass, the wet eyes of a love. And it’s the loneliness that somehow, powerfully, makes one feel less alone. “Smile in the sunlight: how quickly a day passes/ Today winter, tomorrow summer — how sad.” How sad, and how beautiful.


Boston Kids Comics Fest back in person

After a three-year pandemic hiatus, the Boston Kids Comics Fest is making an in-person return, with a daylong comics celebration with local authors and illustrators, hands-on workshops, and the Young Artists Table, where young comics makers can sell their own comics. Cara Bean, author of “Draw 500 Faces and Features,” hosts a “Relax & Make Comics” workshop; Jannie Ho offers a workshop for ages 5 and up; “Don’t Think, Just Draw” is Dan Moynihan’s workshop; and LJ-Baptiste will help attendees “Craft Your Cartooning!” The fest also includes an impressive group of graphic novelists as featured guests, including Erica Henderson, author of “Danger and Other Unknown Risks”; Marjorie Liu, author of “Wingbearer”; Michelle Mee Nutter, author of “Allergic”; and Chad Sell, author of “Cardboard Kingdom.” The Boston Kids Comics Fest takes place Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Curry Student Center at Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Ave., Boston. Admission is free. For more information, visit


Winners of 2023 Maine Literary Awards announced

The Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance recently announced the winners of the 2023 Maine Literary Awards, given to both year-rounders and seasonal residents alike. Morgan Talty won the fiction category for his novel “Night of the Living Rez.” Lauren Saxon’s collection “You’re My Favorite” won for poetry. Kathryn Miles’s “Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders” took the nonfiction category. Gretchen Legler’s “Woodsqueer: Crafting a Sustainable Life in Rural Maine” won the memoir category, and was co-winner in the Maine nonfiction category with Debra Spark and Deborah Joy Corey’s “Breaking Bread: Essays from New England on Food, Hunger, and Family,” which also won the anthology award. The crime fiction category went to Kathryn Lasky’s “Light on Bone.” In the YA category, Sashi Kaugman won for “Sardines,” and Maryann Cocca-Leffler won in the children’s category for “Fighting for Yes! The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann.” E.L. Bates won the speculative fiction category for “Death by Disguise.” Jayne Decker’s “All the Good They Gave Us” won the award for drama. And the Distinguished Achievement Award went to Molly McGrath, publications director at the Telling Room, “for exceptional and steadfast contributions to the Maine literary arts.” For more information, and a list of finalists, visit


Coming out

“On Women” by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff (Picador)

“Where Are Your Boys Tonight? The Oral History of Emo’s Mainstream Explosion 1999-2008″ by Chris Payne (Dey Street)

“Bread and Circus” by Airea D. Matthews (Scribner)

Pick of the week

Nikki Siclare at Newtonville Books in Newton recommends “The Salt Grows Heavy” by Cassandra Khaw (Tor Nightfire): “No one does horror and lyricism quite like Khaw! A perfectly grotesque, heartbreaking, and romantic dark fairy tale.”