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new england literary news | nina maclaughlin

New poems from 826 Boston students; Lit Crawl coming; Hoffman center fund-raiser

A student from the Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance Collective recited poetry at the 2016 James Sullivan

Anthology of student poetry

A new poetry anthology, out this week from the writing organization 826 Boston, gathers work from students across five Boston schools, with an introduction by Boston’s poet laureate Porsha Olayiwola.

“The Whole World Is Watching” throbs with urgency and intelligence, offering a window into the lives, minds, hearts of this city’s young poets. Theirs are the great concerns: home, loneliness, connection, loss, love, race, pain. “Do your research, report back to me/ being black is more than half of me,/ it is never atrophy,/ America look after me,/ America look at me,/ I’m not at your feet” writes sophomore Tariq Jaden Charles of the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science.


Many of the poems pose questions, revealing young writers’ struggles with the difficult, ongoing process of discovering themselves and their world. There are arresting lines, like Stejan Noiles’s “All we got is concrete filled with snakes in my city,” and strong reckonings like senior Vanessa Antenor’s “I will do me and keep it pushing” — verse we can all take strength from. A launch party is slated for June 5 at 3:30 pm at The Dewitt Center. The event is free, but an RSVP is required. Visit for more information.

Lit Crawl Boston returns

We’re months away from this October’s Boston Book Festival, but for those needing a little something to tide them over the fest is offering its annual Lit Crawl Boston. This detonation of literary fireworks — trivia, readings, performances, cocktail making — will take place June 6 in Back Bay spots including art galleries, cafes, and a furniture store. Choices that evening include a reading from a group of homeless writers from the broadsheet No Fixed Address; a reading of one-star reviews for classic pieces of literature; writer-bartenders mixing drinks; poetry slamming; and stories about food, among other highlights. The afterparty at WBUR CitySpace will feature a “PoemJazz” performance with former US poet laureate Robert Pinsky and musicians Stan Strickland, Hankus Netsky, and John Lockwood. All events are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule, visit


Hoffman holds annual fund-raiser

For nearly two decades, Cambridge author Alice Hoffman has held an annual fund-raiser to benefit the Hoffman Breast Center at Mount Auburn Hospital, mustering marquee writers to read and tell stories at American Repertory Theatre in Harvard Square. This year’s event, hosted by Hoffman and emceed by Joyce Kulhawik, will include novelist André Aciman (“Find Me” upcoming in October); best-selling writer Anita Diamant (“The Boston Girl’’); Grub Street’s Christopher Castellani (“Leading Men”); neuroscientist Lisa Genova (“Every Note Played’’); Pulitzer winner Richard Russo (“Chances Are . . . ’’ upcoming in July); and award-winning author Sue Miller (“The Arsonist’’). Pink Pages takes place Monday, June 3 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $300. For more information visit

Coming out

In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow (Bloomsbury)

To the Wren: Collected & New Poems by Jane Mead (Alice James)

The Summer Demands by Deborah Shapiro (Catapult)

Pick of the week

Serena Longo at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, recommends Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfastby Megan Marshall (Mariner): “A thoughtful, compelling, and remarkably personal look at the life and work of one of our most beloved (and elusive) poets. Marshall boldly and deftly interweaves her subject’s story with brief bits of her own, lending a further touch of intimacy to this detailed, expertly researched, and beautifully narrated biography.”


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