Grolier poetry manager and graphic designer team launch new micropress
James Fraser, the manager of the storied Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Cambridge, and graphic designer Bella Bennett recently launched Staircase, a micropress “dedicated to publishing literature of enduring aesthetic and cultural value.” “With Bella’s background as a graphic designer and my own as a bookseller, starting a press felt like the perfect combination of our interests and expertise,” Fraser writes in an e-mail. They’re focused on book-as-object as well; Staircase books will be beautiful to look at and to hold. “The print production is meant to elevate their content,” Fraser says. Their inaugural title, published last week, is a chapbook by Anchorage-raised and Cambridge-based poet Joan Naviyuk Kane. The poems in “Ex Machina” hold a fire and ferocity, the language stripped by pounding storms to its rawest and most refined form. “Resiliency exhausts me:/ don’t want to be metaphor anymore,/ but drum, but map.” A beating sense of presence, a means of finding ways. These are poems of saplings, sorrel, peregrine falcons, fox, fireweed, rhubarb, sourdock, and ice. “There is nothing sentimental/ in this forest,” Kane writes. Instead, Kane, a Guggenheim recipient and Whiting Award winner, gives us a look at existence in its pure form, in the cold-burning whiteness of solitude. There is fury here, not inchoate, but harnessed and powerful. At the moment, Staircase is soliciting manuscripts from authors they admire, focusing on poetry for now, with plans for prose and art monographs in the future. For more information, visit staircasebooks.org.
Bloomsday Boston 2023 celebrates Joyce and “Ulysses”
James Joyce’s “Ulysses” hit the scene 101 years ago and has been provoking big reactions ever since. June 16 every year marks Bloomsday, the date tied to the single day over which Joyce’s rollicking epic unfolds as it follows Leopold Bloom in his Dublin peregrinations in 1904. (It’s also the date Joyce had his first romantic rendezvous with his eventual wife, Nora Barnacle.) Bloomsday celebrates Joyce and “Ulysses” with both intellectual crackle and a good bit of debauchery. This year, the Here Comes Everybody Players are presenting Bloomsday Boston 2023, celebrating the work of Joyce with particular attention to “Ulysses,” performing songs and dramatic pieces, with a reception afterwards hosted by the Consulate General of Ireland, Boston. “Bloomsday Boston 2023: A Celebration of the Work of James Joyce” takes place this Friday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave, in Boston. The performance is free; suggested donation is $25. For more information and for tickets, visit hce-players.org.
Annual breast cancer benefit event brings authors together in person this year
Cambridge-based author and breast cancer survivor Alice Hoffman has been holding an annual fund-raiser to benefit the Hoffman Breast Center at the Mount Auburn Hospital for many years, and after three years of hosting virtual events due to the pandemic, Pink Pages will be back in person in 2023, with a virtual option as well. The event gathers a group of prolific and award-winning authors to read and tell stories at the American Repertory Theatre in Harvard Square. This year’s event, hosted by Emmy Award-winner Hank Phillippi Ryan, will include Anita Diamant, author of “The Red Tent”; best-selling novelist Jodi Picoult; Ann Leary, whose latest novel, “The Foundling,” came out last year; neuroscientist and author Lisa Genova; novelist Laura Zigman, author of “Separation Anxiety” and “Animal Husbandry”; and Elinor Lipman, author of “Mrs. Demeanor.” Pink Pages takes place Monday, June 12, with a reception at 5:45 p.m. and the show at 7 p.m., at the American Repertory Theatre, 64 Brattle Street, in Cambridge. Tickets are $300 ($150 for virtual tickets); VIP tickets, which include signed books from each author and access to a VIP reception at 5 p.m., are $650 ($500 for virtual VIP tickets). For more information and to buy tickets, visit mountauburnhospital.org/giving/pink-pages-event/.
“Leg: The Story of a Limb and the Boy Who Grew from It” by Greg Marshall (Abrams)
“The Forbidden Territory of a Terrifying Woman” by Molly Lynch (Catapult)
“Maddalena and the Dark” by Julia Fine (Flatiron)
Pick of the week
Liz P. at Harvard Bookstore recommends “Kick the Latch” by Kathryn Scanlan (New Directions): “Simply: a woman named Sonia talks to you. She tells you about the leaky roof circuits, about black shoe polish, about hot walkers, about men’s lives ruined and a woman’s life among these ruins. Admittedly, I am no equestrian. But you don’t have to be either. Scanlan will crack open all of the human in you, racetrack politics aside. And with prose so masterfully restrained, so plain, it feels violent. This novel reminds you: Our lives are a series of vignettes that we choose to tell one another.”