Hundred years and more
Books published a hundred years ago include Emily Post’s “Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home”, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and Claude McKay’s “Harlem Shadows”. The Boston Public Library is hosting a retroactive 100-year Book Prize, with three local writers debating the merits of each book and explaining why theirs should win the prize. Joseph Nugent, a professor at Boston College specializing in Irish studies, Joyce studies and digital humanities, will defend “Ulysses”. Porsha Olayiwola, Boston Poet Laureate, performer, educator, MFA nominee at Emerson and author of “I Shimmer Too Sometimes,” will speak on behalf of McKay’s poetry collection. And Meredith Goldstein, author of The Globe’s long-running ‘Love Letters’ column, as well as two novels and a memoir, will make the case for Emily Post’s book of manners. The hybrid debate, which will take place in person and online via zoom, will be moderated by Kennedy Elsey, and the winner of Best Book of 1921 – “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin, “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” by Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Luigi Pirandello “Six characters in search of an author” will be announced. The free event takes place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at BPL’s Rabb Hall and on Zoom. To register, visit bookaward1922.eventbrite.com.
Tribute to Thich Nhat Hanh
Thích Nhât Hanh, Zen master, Vietnamese monk, peace activist, author and poet, died last month at the age of 95. Boston-based Beacon Press was one of its longtime publishers in the United States, and this spring they will publish a revised and expanded edition of “The Blooming of a Lotus,” Hanh’s introduction to guided meditation. The book has been reorganized thematically, focusing on the relationship with the body, with feelings and emotions, with commitment to self and others, and to the environment we share with living and non-living things. A new chapter includes 30 guided meditations. The book, written with Hanh’s warmth and clarity, is accessible, straightforward, and illuminating, offering useful instruction for both seasoned meditators and those looking to start a practice. Hanh reminds the reader of the importance of the breath, which is our foundation for mindfulness and openness to joy, to healing, to realizing a greater depth of connection with ourselves, those who around us and the world. “Conscious breathing also leads us to the basic ideas of impermanence, emptiness, dependent origination, selflessness and non-duality in all that is.”
Sidewalk poetry in Cambridge
Wandering the streets of Cambridge from time to time offers moments of surprise on the sidewalks. Here and there, etched into the concrete of the sidewalk, are poems written by Cambridge residents. The city holds its annual Sidewalk Poetry Contest, which began in 2015, in which residents of all ages are encouraged to submit an original poem. Five winning poems will be printed on the pavements of Cambridge this autumn. Poems, written in English, must not exceed ten lines and no more than 250 characters in total, and the subject must be appropriate for the audience and must be written by a current resident of Cambridge. The deadline is Monday, March 14 at 5 p.m. and submission is free. To date, 28 poems lie under our feet throughout the city. For full rules and submission guidelines on how to be part of the city’s literary serendipity, visit cambridgema.gov/sidewalkpoetry.
To go out
“new animal” by Ella Baxter (Two Dollar Radio)
“chilean poet” by Alejandro Zambra, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell (Viking)
“True story: what reality TV says about us” by Danielle J. Lindemann (FSG)
Choice of the week
Jean MacKenzie of Brewster Bookstore in Brewster, Massachusetts, recommends Elizabeth Brooks’ “The Orphan of Salt Winds” (Tin House): “England, 1939. Ten-year-old Virginia Wrathmell arrives at Salt Winds, an isolated house on the edge of a swamp, to meet her adoptive parents ― Clem practical and reliable and Lorna glamorous and temperamental. The swamp, with its deceptive tides, is a beautiful but menacing place. Virginia’s new parents’ marriage is full of secrets and tensions that she doesn’t quite understand, and their wealthy neighbor comes by too often, taking little interest in the family’s affairs. Only Clem offers a real sense of belonging.”
Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Wake, Siren”. She can be contacted at [email protected]