April 20th at 6:30pm: Katherine Towler, The Penny Poet of Portmsouth
We celebrate the paperback release of Towler’s fascinating study of a literary life here in Portsmouth during the 1990s.
The Penny Poet of Portsmouth is a memoir of the author’s friendship with Robert Dunn, a brilliant poet who spent most of his life off the grid in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The book is as well an elegy for a time and place―the New England seaport city of the early 1990s that has been lost to development and gentrification, capturing the life Robert was able to make in a place rougher around the edges than it is today. It is a meditation on what writing asks of those who practice it and on the nature of solitude in a culture filled with noise and clutter.
April 21st at 6:30pm: Alison Hawthorne Deming, Stairway to Heaven
In her fifth book of poems, Stairway to Heaven, Alison Hawthorne Deming explores dimensions of grief and renewal after losing her brother and mother. Grounded in her communion with nature and place, she finds even in Death Valley, that most stark of landscapes, a spirit of inventiveness that animates the ground we walk on. From the cave art of Chauvet to the futuristic habitat of Biosphere 2, that inventiveness becomes consolation for losses in family and nature, a means to build again a sense of self and world in the face of devastating loss.
“Deming’s sophisticated yet accessible work is an ecopoetic disquisition and aphoristic guidebook, but most saliently, it is an imagist gem that is urgent and masterly in its evocation of place, liminality, and waking dreams.”
– Publishers Weekly
Deming’s huge, impressive biography can be found here: http://alisonhawthornedeming.com/bio/
April 24th at 6:30pm: Chuck Collins, Born On Third Base
Collins (99 to 1), born to great privilege, takes a thoughtful, well-written, and carefully researched approach to solving the extreme imbalance in wealth distribution, directed toward one- and 99-percenters alike. Refreshingly, Collins not only talks the talk but walks the walk: at age 26 he gave up his $500,000 trust fund and dedicated his life to ending inequality. The book’s first half outlines the problems of uneven wealth distribution, which have been made even more evident by the 2008 economic downturn. This part includes a section addressing racial issues in the U.S. and making the case for federal reparations for slavery.
April 26th at 7:00pm: Poetry After Hours
Our series continues. Come at 7pm to hear from some up and coming young authors, and stay for the open mic afterward.
Alice B Fogel is the Poet Laureate of New Hampshire (2014-2019). In addition to Strange Terrain, a guide to appreciating poetry without necessarily “getting” it, she is the author, most recently, of A Doubtful House (April 2017). Other collections include Interval: Poems Based on Bach’s Goldberg Variations (2015), which won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature and the New Hampshire Literary Award in Poetry, and Be That Empty, a national bestseller. A nine-time Pushcart nominee and recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship and other awards, her poems appear in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry and Poet’s Choice. She works with learning disabled students at Landmark College in Putney, VT, and hikes mountains whenever possible.
Ella McGrail is a 17-year-old Senior at Portsmouth High school. She is a writer, fantasist, and dragon-rider, not necessarily in that order, as well as a close personal friend of Hermione Granger. This year she was honored to become New Hampshire’s first youth poet laureate. She hopes to use her position to encourage young writers to pursue their craft, and to create opportunities for them to share and improve their writing. Ella’s own writings include A Trick of the Dark, a fantasy novel that received a Scholastic Gold Key Award, as well as multiple social justice speeches, articles, and narratives. You can find her speeches on YouTube, and her other social justice writing at her blog on Seacoast Online, Civic Teen.
Mike Nelson has been hanging around the seacoast poetry scene for nearly two decades. He is the Host of Beat Night at The Press Room, the founder of Tribe Poetry Project (tribepoetry.org) and the new Poet Laureate of Portsmouth.”
Andrew Lapham Fersch is a teacher and writer. Fersch is the founder of The Penn Program, an alternative education cooperative. He also quite enjoys spending his time outdoors hiking and biking, and writes poetry and books for young people that will likely never get published because they treat young people as actual people. Find out more at www.afersch.com.