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Rodney’s reopens in Harvard Square; train-based festival honoring dead poets celebrates Sylvia Plath; Massachusetts Book Award honorees announced

Sara Deniz Akant won the Massachusetts Book Award in poetry.Sara Deniz Akan

Rodney’s reopens in Harvard Square

Rodney’s occupied a central spot in Central Square for over two decades, a singular shop for used books, vintage posters, and sturdy bookshelves for sale, but the end of a lease just as the pandemic began forced the place to close, and a bank took over the space. Owner Shaw Taylor said at the time that he’d be keeping his eye out for another good home for the bookstore, and he found one recently in Cambridge. Rodney’s reopened earlier this month in Harvard Square, taking over the space previously occupied by Raven Used Books at 23 Church St. (Raven, which had occupied the space since 2015, recently moved to Shelburne Falls in Western Mass.) The new Rodney’s is smaller than the Central Square location, about a third of the size, which will mean a tighter focus on books, with a basement area for keeping stock. Rodney’s got its start in Hyannis in 1996 before Shaw moved the business to Cambridge in 2000. Shaw named the store after his dog, who died the same year the Hyannis shop opened. On the day of its opening, a handwritten sign in the window read “Welcome! Open today while still working hard to organize and alphabetize.” Rodney’s is open Monday-Saturday noon-9 p.m. and Sunday noon-8 p.m.


Train-based festival honoring dead poets celebrates Sylvia Plath

To celebrate his 50th birthday, Erik van Loon, Dutch artist, activist, and literary rabble-rouser (he founded a bookstore in the Netherlands called House of Craziness), organized a cross-country train-based poetry festival, each year honoring a dead poet. Now in its third year, Poetry Train is honoring Sylvia Plath, which means the festival will begin its 19-state and 64-city-and-town sojourn from Boston. The train will depart South Station on the evening of Sept. 19, traveling to New York for a seven-hour stopover, then heading westward toward Los Angeles over the course of 76 hours. Part of the aim is connecting big-city poets on the coasts with small-town rural poets across the span of the US. The Poetry Train will arrive in Los Angeles on Sept. 23 in time for Los Angeles Poetry Downtown, a series of nine readings around the city, followed by the festival’s crescendo, LA Poetry Beach, on Sept. 24, which begins at 11:11 a.m. at Venice Beach with a commemoration of dead poets and a reading and poetry event with food, drink, and dancing all day. For more information on Poetry Train, visit


Massachusetts Book Award honorees announced

The Massachusetts Center for the Book recently announced the winners of this year’s Massachusetts Book Award, honoring books published in 2022 by Massachusetts-based authors. This year marks the first time an award is being given to a work of translated literature, which goes to “An Audible Blue” (White Pine) by Klaus Merz, translated by Marc Vincenz of Cheshire. In fiction, Uzma Aslam Khan’s “The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali” (Deep Vellum) won this year, with honors to Geraldine Brooks’s “Horse” and “Our Missing Hearts” by Celeste Ng. The poetry award goes to “Hyperphantasia” by Cambridge’s Sara Deniz Akant (Rescue). Poetry honors go to Mark Elber’s “Headstone” (Passager) and Cynthia Bargar’s “Sleeping in the Dead Girl’s Room.” Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Raise an Antiracist” (One World) won the nonfiction category, with honors to Margaret Burnham’s “By Hands Now Known” and Emma Grove’s “The Third Person.” Malindo Lo of Arlington won the YA category for “A Scatter of Light” (Dutton Books for Young Readers), with honors to Betty Yee’s “Gold Mountain” and Jeannine Atkins’s “Hidden Powers.” In the picture book category, Rajani LaRocca of Concord took the prize with “I’ll Go and Come Back” (Candlewick), illustrated by Sara Palacios, with honors to Christine McDonnell’s “Sanctuary” and Maya Tatsukawa’s “Sunday Pancakes.” An award ceremony will take place on Oct. 24 at the State House.


Coming out

“Recital of the Dark Verses” by Luis Felipe Fabre, translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary (Deep Vellum)

“Beyond the Door of No Return” by David Diop, translated from the French by Sam Taylor (FSG)

“Wild Girls: How the Outdoors Shaped the Women Who Challenged a Nation” by Tiya Miles (Norton)

Pick of the week

Ben Rybeck of House of Books in Kent, Conn., recommends “Diary of a Void” by Emi Yagi, translated from the Japanese by David Boyd and Lucy North (Penguin): “Tired of doing the menial, demeaning work at her office, a woman pretends to be pregnant. Will the lie catch up with her? Snack of a book.”