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New England Literary News | Nina MacLaughlin

Lloyd Schwartz named Somerville poet laureate; new bookstore to open on Newbury Street

Top: Lloyd Schwartz was recently named the new poet laureate of Somerville.
Top: Lloyd Schwartz was recently named the new poet laureate of Somerville.

Somerville’s new poet laureate

Poet and Pulitzer-winning music critic Lloyd Schwartz believes that if more people tried it they’d like it.

Poetry, that is.

The Frederick S. Troy professor of English at UMass Boston, who was recently named the new poet laureate of Somerville, plans to use his new bully pulpit to make the case for why poetry matters.

Schwartz, who has been living and writing in Somerville for almost 35 years, believes he has a hometown advantage. “Somerville is a city without a book store,” he points out in an e-mail, “but lots of poets live here.”

The question he’s asking in this new position is how to connect the robust poetry scene with the people who might have less awareness of poetry in their lives. He’d like to start a series where people read and discuss a single poem, “just to discover how easy it is to talk about poetry . . . and to see how the great poems express what we all feel.”

The two-year post, appointed by Somerville mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, previously occupied by Nicole Terez Dutton and Gloria Mindock, offers a $2,000 per year stipend.

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N.Y. chain plans Newbury Street bookstore

New York-based Posman Books, which calls itself a “family-owned independent mini-chain,” is planning to open a new store on Newbury Street by this summer. The store will occupy 1,500 square feet across two storefronts at the bottom on Newbury Street, at the opposite end from independent stalwart Trident Booksellers and Café, according to a report in Publishers Weekly. About two-thirds of the space will be used for the bookstore itself and the remaining third will house an ice cream parlor. The focus will be on fiction and kids’ books. Trident was glad to hear the news of another book shop coming to the street. “We’re happy to welcome another bookstore,” said Courtney Flynn, manager of Trident. “Any new, vibrant business on Newbury Street is a win for everyone in our book.” The Posman website says the company has two locations in New York City and one in Atlanta and is planning to open another in an Atlanta suburb.

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Another side of illustrator Dick Bruna

The late Dutch illustrator and children’s book author Dick Bruna is probably best known for his creation Miffy, a simply drawn white rabbit. But while he was working on his books he was also creating book covers for hundreds of mystery novels, designs that are oddly reminiscent of some Japanese matchboxes of the same period. A new exhibit at the diminutive, potent Katherine Small Gallery in Somerville asks the question: Is there a connection between the two? Not really, says gallery curator Michael Russem. He admits, in the catalog for “Dick Bruna and Black Bears and Japanese Matchboxes,” that all the echoes are “contrived coincidence,” but concludes that “that’s OK.” The exhibit is intended as a kind of thought experiment and does something thrilling: It reminds us that “comparing and contrasting are essential tools for seeing.” The exhibit runs through March 8 at the Katherine Small Gallery, 108 Beacon St.

Coming out

“Sea Monsters’’ by Chloe Aridjis (Catapult)

“The White Book’’ by Han Kang (Hogarth)

“Where Reasons End’’ by Yiyun Li (Random House)

Pick of the week

Marika McCoola at Porter Square Books in Cambridge recommends “Woman World’’ by Aminder Dhaliwal (Drawn and Quarterly): “This quietly hysterical collection of comics is set in a world where men, through dwindling birth rates, have disappeared. With a unique cast of characters, Dhaliwal manages to both critique society and deliver a lot of laughs.”

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