The Word on the Street

Pulitzer winner Sharon Olds featured at Mass. Poetry Festival

Two images from “For My Daughters” by Dorothy Kerper Monnelly.
Dorothy Kerper Monnelly
Two images from “For My Daughters” by Dorothy Kerper Monnelly.

Poetry festival books a winner

Immediately following the Pulitzer Prize announcements every April, there is a mad dash to book the winners to give readings and talks. Schedules fill fast. Paul Harding, who lives in Georgetown, once remarked to a packed house some months after he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2010 that he felt a bit like Miss America might — in hot demand until next year’s winner is named.

The lucky schedulers are those who have booked a writer who turns out to be a Pulitzer winner. That’s the case with the Massachusetts Poetry Festival being held in Salem next weekend. Sharon Olds, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, will give a reading, with fellow poets Eduardo C. Corral and Terrance Hayes, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at First Universalist Church in Salem. At 1:30 p.m. that day, she will participate in a panel discussion AT PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM, for “mature audiences,” titled “Taboo,” an exploration of the limits of propriety in discussing notions about class, sex, and race.

Olds won the Pulitzer for “Stag’s Leap” (Knopf), a volume of poems written after her husband left her in 1997 following three decades of marriage. She had promised her children that she wouldn’t publish the poems until there was some distance from the shock of the break-up. The Pulitzer Board described “Stag’s Leap” as a “book of unflinching poems on the author’s divorce that examine love, sorrow and the limits of self-knowledge.”


Olds divides her time between New York City, where she teaches in the creative writing program at New York University, and New Hampshire, where her partner, Carl Wallman, owns Graylag Cabins in Pittsfield. Details about the festival are at Both events require pre-registration.

Mother’s poems become daughter’s muse

Dorothy Kerper Monnelly
"Boardwalk and Clouds" From "For My Daughters" by Dorothy Kerper Monnell.
Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Ipswich landscape photographer Dorothy Kerper Monnelly has paired her large-format black and white images with poems to create her second book, “For My Daughters” (Hudson Hills). The poetry that inspired the book was written by the photographer’s mother, Dorothy Darling Kerper, mainly between 1920 and 1945, the year she died.

Many of the photographs were taken in the salt marsh in Ipswich — the subject of Monnelly’s first book, “The Great Marsh: Between Land and Sea” (Braziller) — but there are landscapes, seascapes, and close-ups of flowers and trees from national parks across the country.

The poems proceed from childhood memories through marriage and a diagnosis of breast cancer. Monnelly worked with her sister to marry each poem with a fitting image.

Monnelly’s photographs will be joined with images by Ansel Adams and Ernest H. Brooks II in “Fragile Waters,” a traveling exhibit scheduled to open May 31 in Newport News, Va.


Closer to home, she will be signing books at the Ipswich Museum on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and at Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport at 7 p.m. on May 10.

Coming out

 “Swordfish: A Biography of the Ocean Gladiator”by Richard Ellis (University of Chicago)

 “Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household”by Kate Hubbard (Harper)

 “Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing”by Daphne Miller, M.D. (Morrow)

Pick of the Week

Linda Cysz of the Bookloft in Great Barrington recommends “The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs” by Nick Trout (Hyperion): “You may have read Trout’s books about veterinary medicine, but this is his first novel and what a treat. A son returns to his small hometown to take over his father’s vet practice. It’s a wonderful, emotional ride with love, anger, remorse, joy, and lots of humor.”

Jan Gardner can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JanLGardner.