Thursday, April 30, 2009

Burton and Sargent events on May 1

From the Gloucester Daily Times

Celebrating Burton

The Cape Ann Museum will present "The Art and Legacy of Virginia Lee Burton," a lecture by Elleman, this Saturday at 3 p.m. Elleman will talk about the artistry and power of Burton's illustrations, looking at specific images that demonstrate why her books were so popular when they were published and why they continue to be acclaimed today. She will also draw parallels between Burton's picture books and her Folly Cove Designs. Elleman is a writer, critic, educator and editor.

A published author, Elleman wrote "Tomie dePaola, His Art and His Stories" (Putnam, 1999); "Holiday House: Its First 65 Years" (Holiday House, 2000); and "Virginia Lee Burton: A Life in Art" (Houghton, 2002).

Admission is free for museum members and $10 for non-members. Please call 978-283-0455, x11 to make a reservation. The museum, 27 Pleasant St. in Gloucester, offers free admission on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon through the end of May. For details, call 978-283-0455.

Sargent Museum to host birthday party

The Sargent House Museum will host an evening birthday celebration tomorrow at 7 for Judith Sargent Murray, a Gloucester native and 18th century writer and early advocate of women's equality. Murray, born in 1751, would be 258 years old if she were alive today. The celebration will feature a keynote address by Roz Barnett, an author and researcher on women's work and family lives. There will be a cake and champagne celebration and a short dramatic reading of a selection from Murray's life-long collection of letters. Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk recently declared May 1, 2009, "Judith Sargent Murray Day" in honor of this pioneering American woman writer and thinker.

Call (978)281-2432 for information or tickets.

On Saturday, the museum will offer free admission to visitors who bring birthday cards for Judith Sargent Murray. The organizers encourage families to bring daughters and others to the museum to help celebrate Sargent Murray's birthday.

Barnett is a senior scientist at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University and executive director of its Community, Families & Work Program.

The Rev. Sarah Clark, a Unitarian Universalist minister and Rockport native who has an extensive background in theater arts, will present the dramatic reading of Sargent Murray's letters in the museum.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bonnie Hurd Smith on Judith Sargent Murray

Manchester Public Library
Friday, May 1, 11 am
Local author Bonnie Hurd Smith will discuss her book “Judith Sargent and John Murray, an Eighteenth-century Love Story,” which chronicles the poignant love story between Judith Sargent Stevens Murray, America’s most prominent female essayist of the 18th century, and the Rev. John Murray, the founder of organized Universalism in America, told through Judith Sargent Murray’s private letters, many never before published.

I worked with Bonnie a few years ago when she organized and wrote much of the content for the Escapes North site, part of which is what morphed into the Literary Trail. She's been researching Judith Sargent Murray for years and transcribing her copious journals. This should be an interesting talk, and you can say you knew all about the Murray's love story before Hollywood options the movie rights.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Newburyport Literary Festival—tomorrow!

Thursday's event at the Spirit of '76 was just lovely. Turns out I wasn't speaking, but was just there to meet and say hi to the throngs of people who came in to buy the book—all six of them, including one who I didn't already know. No one is busting down doors to meet lil' ol' me yet, but I was pleased.

But, TOMORROW, I'm speaking at the Book Rack in Newburyport at 10 am as part of the Newburyport Literary Festival.

Also looking forward to Bethany Groff and Beth Welch's talk about Newbury/Newburyport history (1 pm, Old South Church) and Eve Laplante reading from Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall (2:30 pm, Jabberwocky).

Jones Very, the band

This is really a post about punk rock, but did you know that after Articles of Faith broke up, Vic Bondi taught history at UMass and had a band called Jones Very, after the mystic poet from Salem who thought he was the second coming of Christ?

Jones Very the political punk band released some records on Hawker/Roadrunner and Jade Tree (same Jade Tree as Jets to Brazil and Joan of Arc and all that Tim Kinsella stuff). You can get the Words and Days LP from this guy for $6. This blogger (who is almost incomprehensible even though I recognize the proper nouns in the post) says it has:
a lot of late Hüsker Dü and Mission Of Burma influences. The calmer songs really anticipate a style that will become famous for Sub Pop, Chicago bands, Caulfield etc.
Huh! Sounds good to me.

We just tracked down the grave of the 19th-century Jones Very in Peabody a couple of weekends ago. Some photos from that outing coming soon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Updike 2.0

"By the time a partnership dissolves, it has dissolved."

"Inspiration arrives as a packet of material to be delivered."

Can't get enough mid-century masculine angst and out-of-context offhand wisdom? For just 99 cents, you can download an app that streams random John Updike quotes to your iPhone.

The vendor claims it offers the "best John Updike quotes application in the store." I would hope so. If there are competing Updike iPhone applications I'd prefer not to know about it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

book talk at the Spirit of '76 in Marblehead tomorrow

My first book talk! I'll be speaking briefly and signing copies of the book at 6:30 tomorrow evening at the Spirit of '76 in Marblehead. Please come by and ask me some questions.

(Scroll down on their events page—my friend Kate is speaking in June about her soon-to-be published debut novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. I'm pretty excited about the NSLT, but she's hitting the stores with an audiobook already recorded. Very cool.)

RIP Jonathan Bayliss

With a literary ambition that rivaled James Joyce or David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Bayliss of Gloucester took on the big book, not once, but four times.

The first three of his quartet of novels about Gloucester add up to more than 2,300 pages, and he was putting the finishing touches on the fourth in recent months. That page count, however, may substantially exceed the number of readers who have attempted, let alone finished, his books of unconventional fiction.

The Boston Globe has a long obituary. Bayliss's Gloucester tetralogy can be found here—interesting to dip into, but a daunting task to think of tackling end to end.

Robert Frost Foundation poetry contest winners

The adult and youth winners of the Eagle-Tribune/Robert Frost Foundation poetry contest were recently announced.

Getting ready for upcoming talks, I've been looking for strong passages by North Shore writers that are very much about North Shore places, and not having luck finding exactly what I have in mind. The poetry contest's theme was "ideal retreats," and it was nice to see that a few winning poems conjured specific locations, not just idealized nature: Streeter Pond (Franconia, NH), Ward Reservation (Andover), Salisbury Beach.

Miscellaneous trivia, Streeter Pond is mentioned in the 1889 story by Annie Trumbull Slosson, "Fishin' Jimmy" which is the name of one of my favorite sections of White Mountain hiking trails.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The 185-year-old mill girl

Lucy Larcom died 117 years ago today, and Mass Moments has a great summary of her life and work. She's still often referred to as a Lowell mill girl, and her descriptions of replacing bobbins on massive machines as an 11-year-old are important social history. But in her memoir A New England Girlhood, I'm more drawn to her deep nostalgia for her earliest years in Beverly.
But there is something in the place where we were born that holds us always by the heartstrings. A town that still has a great deal of the country in it, one that is rich in beautiful scenery and ancestral associations, is almost like a living being, with a body and a soul. We speak of such a town, if our birthplace, as of a mother, and think of ourselves as her sons and daughters.
Her chapter on Old New England is worth a read for any visitor to Salem, to temper the manufactured Witch City with the history of its having been a hub of 19th century foreign trade.

That's Lucy on the cover of The North Shore Literary Trail, too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Essex County poets

In a nod to National Poetry Month, Jim McAllister's recent column for the Salem News touches on many of the well-known poets who lived and worked in Essex County: Bradstreet, Larcom, Whittier, etc. But the poet who gets the most mention is someone whose name you don't expect to see alongside Olson and Updike: George Parker, of Parker Brothers board game fame. Who knew?

Read the article (and a charmingly baffling comment afterward, par for the course with the Salem News web community) online here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Polis Is This on YouTube

If you missed the WGBH broadcast last week like I did, Polis Is This is available in its entirety on YouTube.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Polis Is This on WGBH

Via GoodMorningGloucester (a blog that is very friendly to my other major pursuit in life), WGBH will be screening Henry Ferrini and Ken Riaf's film Polis Is This: Charles Olson and the Persistence of Place on Sunday, April 5 at 7 pm. reviewed the film today.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pinsky reading Bradstreet

Robert Pinsky reads Anne Bradstreet's "To My Dear and Loving Husband" at Poetry Out Loud. He writes, "This kind of plainness and directness demand great skill, and Bradstreet knows what she is doing."

More recitations every day throughout April, in honor of National Poetry Month.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ipswich Poets or Poems about Ipswich

April is National Poetry Month, and as part of Ipswich's 375 anniversary celebration historian Chris Wright reads and discusses Ipswich poets.

Monday, April 6, 2009 at noon, $5
Ipswich Historical Society, Heard House Museum
54 South Main Street, Ipswich, 978-356-2811

(It was also 45 years ago today that Updike was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.)