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new england literary news

Boston Literary District looks at how we talk, think about ourselves

“State Street, 1801” by James Brown Marston is featured on the cover of a new book “The Citizen Poets of Boston: A Collection of Forgotten Poems, 1789-1820,” Massachusetts Historical Society

Poetry and American identity

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges will explore the ways in which Emma Lazarus, Langston Hughes, Joy Harjo, and other poets wrestled with the idea of American identity.

Georges’s presentation, called “Articulations of America,” will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Boston Athenaeum and kicks off Boston Literary District’s “Constructions of Self’’ series. In addition to being a poet, Georges is a teacher and scholar of African-American, American, and Caribbean literature. Tickets are $30.

The district’s series also includes “Where I Am From,” a story slam in which Suffolk University students and writers from Grub Street will tell personal narratives, and “Boston’s Creation of Self,” a walking tour inspired by the question: “What Makes Boston, Boston?”


“Where I Am From” takes place April 22 at 7 p.m. at Suffolk’s Modern Theatre, 525 Washington St. Tickets are $10. Details at Boston By Foot’s walking tour will begin at 6 p.m. June 2 at the State House steps on Beacon Street. Tickets are $15. Details at

Early Boston poets

Boston College English professor Paul Lewis was a major force behind the installation in Boston of a statue honoring Edgar Allan Poe. His newest literary campaign is to shine a light on early Boston poets. He and his students combed through the nearly 60 magazines once published in Boston to find selections. The result is “The Citizen Poets of Boston: A Collection of Forgotten Poems, 1789-1820” (University Press of New England), edited by Lewis.

In poems he calls “buckboard time machines” the rhythms of a city and its people come alive. Stories are swapped in taverns; traffic slows to a crawl in Charlestown; a rivalry between Boston and New York is articulated. The publication will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m. April 20 at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, at 7 p.m. May 5 at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, and at 6 p.m. May 9 at the Boston Public Library.


Coming out

 “War Hawk” by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood (Morrow)

 “Maestra” by L.S. Hilton (Putnam)

 “The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-boats” by William Geroux (Viking)

Pick of Week

Ginette Gonzalez of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., recommends “Welcome to Night Vale” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Harper): “In the small desert town of Night Vale, books are known to be dangerous, librarians deadly. Quirky, creepy and intriguing to the last page, this novel is true to the hit “Welcome to Night Vale” podcast radio show.”

Jan Gardner can be reached at