Tales in verse
The animals in Mikko Harvey’s poems are those on the outside – the real walruses, penguins, ladybugs – and those on the inside – those who make our hearts beat faster, who are hungry, craving and afraid. . In her smart and fiery new collection, “let the world have you(House of Anansi), Harvey writes poems like stories, like fairy tales, like fabulist moments with reality at an angle. In one, no one volunteers to be mayor, so the Librarian releases a yellow lizard named Harold, “a cousin of conscience” to choose from. In another, a bear offers vitamin B and ashwagandha tonics from its case. For their playfulness, their good humor (how hard it is to make a poem laugh, how refreshing when it’s done!), there is a thrilling darkness at the center of these poems, as in fairy tales . Our hidden selves remain largely incomprehensible, and it’s those hidden selves that Harvey reintroduces us to, reminding us of the one inside ourselves, those inside everyone and everything else. The language is powerful in its simplicity – “you never / really / know what’s what / when it / arrives on / this planet” – conversational, and descends with a deep and intimate truth: “There is a gateway / in a forest / hardly ever/never cross paths. / The human spirit is the moss / growing on its stone. / I wish / I told you / no longer the truth. There is magic here, a imposing and welcoming imagination, the best kind, the kind that takes you to strange places, knows that fear has meaning and helps you see what is here.
“Their hotels are bad. Their pumpkin pies are delicious. Their poetry is not so good. So Edgar Allan Poe summarizes Boston, his hometown, with which he had a conflicting relationship. “Bostonians don’t have a soul,” he continued. This weekend, April 7-10, Boston will host Edgar Allan Poe’s fifth international lecture, “Poe Takes Boston!”, at the Omni Parker House, a culmination of meetings that began in 1999 in the cities where Poe lived – Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, and now the city where the writer was born. Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson is the weekend’s guest of honor and keynote speaker. And the conference will include a number of talks and panels on how Poe’s relationship to science, his connection to Boston, how African American writers responded to him, Poe and Lolita, “Poisoned and Possessed: Neuroscience and the Animate Body in Hawthorne and Poe” and “Female Bodies and Male Fears in Poe and Hawthorne”. The conference will bring together more than 100 scholars from around the world, for in-person and online events. Paul Lewis, Professor of English at Boston College and past president of the Poe Studies Association, said “Poe may well be Boston’s most commemorated author,” citing monuments and plaques at five locations, with another in the works for the site likely from Poe’s birth at 62 Charles St.
A new library
A new independent bookstore is coming to Chestnut Hill. Hummingbird Books, founded by Boston-area native Wendy Dodson, will open this spring at The Street Chestnut Hill, an outdoor mall. Dodson, who also owns Valley Bookstore in Jackson Hole, Wyo., will run the store alongside Andrea Chiang, Clarissa Murphy and Rachel Walerius. The store will feature a large children’s section, as well as works of fiction and non-fiction by local, national and international authors. The centerpiece of the store is a bespoke tree installation called the Great Oak, serving as a gathering space for events and a place where readers can dive into their next book. The store will also sell gifts, candy and cards, and hold story times and book signings, with a particular focus on local authors. For more information, visit hummingbirdbooks.com.
“Near Paradise” by Lisa Russ Spaar (Perseus)
“Private notebooks 1914-1916″ by Ludwig Wittgenstein, translated by Marjorie Perloff (Liveright)
“Tribute to good bookstores” by Jeff Deutsch (Princeton University)
Choice of the week
Zoey Walls of Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge recommends “Dreaming of you» by Melissa Lozada-Oliva (Astra House): « This book revealed itself in a feverish dream, a moment before dying! This book kissed my face and covered me with its blood! This book crept into my bed at night and laid eggs under my skin! Tender and funny and relatable even if you don’t like ‘reading’ or ‘books’ or ‘poetry’ or ‘necromancy’, ‘Dreaming of You’ is alive and vivid and hideous and sweet and scary and charming. »