Lit News: Summer Readings, Rants & Awards | Live Culture

Lit News: Summer Readings, Rants & Awards


Left to right: Michael Coffey, Penelope Cray and Rebecca Makkai, part of the NER Reading Series - COURTESY OF THE NEW ENGLAND REVIEW
  • Courtesy of the New England Review
  • Left to right: Michael Coffey, Penelope Cray and Rebecca Makkai, part of the NER Reading Series

July Readings

Concerned about the gentrification of Burlington's South End? You may find like minds at a reading this Saturday celebrating the release of Pine Street Poets, a collaboration of the Pine Street Poets' Workshop and Honeybee Press.

Honeybee publisher and part-time Vermonter Ben Aleshire sent us a press release for the event (Saturday, July 11, 8 p.m., at the Green Door Studio in Burlington; $5 includes book and refreshments) accompanied by a "brief anti-gentrification rant," which runs thus:

Events such as these may soon become a thing of the past. How long until Pine Street’s vibrant community of artists are pushed out to make room for high-end condos and craft cocktail bars for the upper-middle class to slake their un-ending thirst in Capitalism’s trough and luxuriate in their delusion of participating in the cultural cache [sic] of the very ‘Arts District’ they disemboweled? Although the poems in Pine Street Poets do not directly deal with this theme, as a product of the South End, they represent one of the many cultural contributions hanging beneath gentrification’s Sword of Damocles.

The invasion of craft cocktail bars is less of a concern (so far, anyway) down in Rochester, where BigTown Gallery will start its renamed Joan Hutton Landis Reading Series on Sunday. Poet Hutton Landis is one of the series' founders and has been summering in the area for more than half a century. "Under her guidance," runs the press release, "the artful and playful spirit embodied in this series has made it a beacon for the many enthusiastic attendees who come each year for our unique setting and the intimate performance experience we offer."

Those experiences start with a reading by William Craig, author of an acclaimed history of the U.S.' troubled relationship with Cuba called Yankee Come Home: On the Road from San Juan Hill to Guantánamo (Sunday, July 12, 5:30 p.m., at BigTown Gallery in Rochester). It could shed light on the exhibit "¡Viva Cuba," closing the same day.

Later this summer at BigTown, look for readings by poets Ann McGarrell and Patricia Brody (July 26), Dartmouth prof Woon-Ping Chin (August 16), and poet Paige Ackerson-Kiely and fiction writer Carolyn Kuebler (August 23).

Kuebler is also editor of the Middlebury-based New England Review, which has a reading of its own coming up. The NER Summer Reading (Wednesday, July 22, 7 p.m., at Carol's Hungry Mind Café in Middlebury) features popular literary novelist and part-time Vermonter Rebecca Makkai (who just released a story collection called Music for Wartime) and poets Michael Coffey and Penelope Cray.

Makkai will also discuss her book (with Megan Mayhew Bergman) on Tuesday, July 28, 7 p.m., at Phoenix Books Burlington. $3. More info here.

Award News

In late June, Vermont College of Fine Arts announced the six finalists for its inaugural Vermont Book Award. Here are the first five; click the links to read Seven Days' reviews of these titles by local authors:

Winter Ready by Leland Kinsey (Barton) — poetry
Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes by Kerrin McCadden (Plainfield) — poetry
If Only You People Could Follow Directions by Jessica Hendry Nelson (Winooski) — memoir
Museum of the Americas by Gary Lee Miller (Montpelier) — short story collection
Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath (Underhill) — young adult fiction in verse

While Seven Days only reviews books by Vermont (or Upper Valley) resident authors, VCFA also considers books with local publishers or settings eligible for its award. Hence the sixth nominee: YA novel Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, which takes place at a Vermont boarding school.

So there you are — a summer reading list. (Btw, if you like creepy YA novels set at Vermont boarding schools, I also recommend the brilliant Charm & Strange [2013] by Stephanie Kuehn. What is it about our boarding schools?)

The winner of the $5,000 award will be announced on September 26.

Dede Cummings, publisher of Brattleboro's Green Writers Press, has something to crow about this month. In addition to Kinsey's aforementioned poetry collection, GWP published a novel called Love in the Time of Climate Change (by Massachusetts resident Brian Adams) that snagged one of Foreword Reviews' 2014  INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. Cummings calls the book "Bill McKibben meets Ridgemont High [presumably as in Fast Times at]," which certainly piques our interest. Congrats to all the finalists/winners!