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new england literary news | nina maclaughlin

Boston YA festival and an anthology that straddles place and culture

From left: Authors Francisco X. Stork, Nicola Yoon, and Jeff Zentner sign books and talk with guests at last year’s Boston Teen Author Festival.Mei Lin Barral Photography

Boston Teen Author Festival

The sixth annual Boston Teen Author Festival takes place this Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Cambridge Public Library and Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, in a free, day-long celebration of young adult literature with Q&A sessions, panels, and book signings.

“This year stands apart from past in that we have an all-time high of 40 authors, 14 of which are New York Times bestsellers,” said festival co-founder and president Renee Combs, noting that the organization registered as a tax-exempt nonprofit this year. “The fest has grown in leaps and bounds since 2012,” she said, when it was held at Emerson with just 14 authors.


Panels focus on dark materials, character, families, the fantastical, and science fiction, and the organizers, many of them Emerson grads, are bringing a diverse line-up of dozens of YA authors including Mackenzi Lee (“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue’’), Ibi Zoboi (“American Street’’), S.K. Ali (“Saints and Misfits’’), Rhoda Belleza (“Empress of a Thousand Skies’’), Sandhya Menon (“When Dimple Met Rishi’’), Rin Chupeco (“The Bone Witch’’), Jason Reynolds (“Miles Morales: Spider-Man’’), Lilliam Rivera (“The Education of Margot Sanchez’’), Lana Popovic (“Wicked Like a Wildfire’’), and many others. For a complete schedule, visit

A timely and timeless collection

Borderlines, figurative and literal, hum in the national and international consciousness with more volume right now. What unites and divides; what’s shared and not; the power and complexity of lines drawn arbitrarily on a map. These are the ideas explored in a new anthology created by two editors with deep ties to New England. Michael Brown, who was instrumental in the Boston poetry slam scene in the 1990s, and his partner, Valerie Lawson, moved from Cape Cod to northern Maine a decade ago. In 2008, they founded Resolute Bear Press to publish a quarterly literary magazine and have recently released their first book, “3 Nations Anthology: Native, Canadian & New England Writers.’’ In essays, poems, and short stories, the writers navigate what it means to be from a place, to have it run in your blood. Fredda Paul, a Passamaquoddy elder and healer from Maine, writes of rescuing and healing an eagle; Leonore Hildebrandt writes of tubers, which “understand fertility/ as a sequence of moves,” in her poem “Thinking Potatoes.” Distinctly of a place, this anthology achieves that rare straddle between timelessness and of-this-moment.


New Carle exhibit

Children’s book author and illustrator Eric Carle is best known for his richly colored collages and bold bright shapes. In a new exhibit, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art shines light on Carle’s night scenes, highlighting works from “Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me,’’ “Dream Snow,’’ “The Very Quiet Cricket,’’ “Draw Me a Star,’’ and others. Gold stars twinkle against blues so dark they’re almost black, a moon shifts through its phases against purple, turquoise, and indigo, beaming a benevolence on the earth below, a cricket watches a great green luna moth against a swirling navy night sky. The exhibit, which runs through March 18, shows Carle’s affection for the night as a gentle, magic time.

Coming out

“Her Body and Other Parties’’ by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf)

“The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits’’ by Tiya Miles (New Press)

“A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet’’ by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore (University of California)


Pick of the week

Paul Wenzel of Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, N.H., recommends “Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life’’ by George Monbiot: “A fascinating exploration into the attempts to rewild the earth, bringing wolves back to Yellowstone and mountain lions to the Rockies, among many other projects. Monbiot discusses not just the geographical but also the emotional aspects of such a rewilding, and how it helps humans reconnect with the world around them.”

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter.” She can be reached at