Brattleboro Literary Festival 2022 Brattleboro Literary Festival 2022

Friday, October 14, 2022

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Ghosts and Mayhem—Gennarose Nethercott

Suspend reality as you join master storyteller and local writer GennaRose Nethercott’s  with her debut novel, Thistlefoot.  In the tradition of modern fairy tales like Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver it is a sweeping epic rich in Eastern European folklore about the ancestral hauntings that stalk us, and the uncanny power of story. And there will be crankies! 

Saturday, October 15, 2022

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Todd Hearon & Matt Miller
Todd Hearon
Todd Hearon
Crows in Eden
Matt Miller
Matt Miller
Tender The River

Todd Hearon’s Crows in Eden is an unflinching look at America’s long history of white terrorism and racial expulsion, told by one who knows southern white culture from the inside. Whether he is uncovering the buried sins of Eden, Tennessee, or documenting the banished black community of Malaga Island, Maine, Todd Hearon seeks no less than to reveal, at last, ‘a history never written down.’ By turns brutally honest and poignantly elegiac, these poems are a vital contribution to the real history of home.” — Patrick Phillips, author of Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America

In Tender the River, Matt Miller captures the history and legacy of the Merrimack River Valley, from the Pennacook, Wamesit, Algonquin, and other indigenous tribes who settled there first, to the European settlers who came with guns and their god to supplant them, to being the birthplace of America’s industrial revolution and first labor movements, to becoming a center of continued immigration, of entrenched nativism, and even multicultural celebration. 

The Merrimack River begins with the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee rivers spilling from the White Mountains in New Hampshire, then travels down through mill towns like Manchester, Lowell, and Haverhill to finally spit out violently into the Atlantic in the old port (now posh) town of Newburyport. In its journey between those points and as well across the centuries, the Merrimack River Valley has been America in microcosm, many of the nation’s democratic successes and demagogic sins being seeded there.

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Martin Espada & Doug Anderson
Martín Espada
Martín Espada
Floaters
Doug Anderson
Doug Anderson
Undress, She Said

Martín Espada has published more than twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His new book of poems from Norton is called Floaters, winner of the 2021 National Book Award. Other books of poems include Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016), The Trouble Ball (2011), The Republic of Poetry (2006) and Alabanza (2003). He is the editor of What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (2019). He has received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. 

The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The title poem of his collection Alabanza, about 9/11, has been widely anthologized and performed. His book of essays and poems, Zapata’s Disciple (1998), was banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona, and reissued by Northwestern. 

A former tenant lawyer in Greater Boston, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

 In Doug Anderson’s newest collection, Undress, She Said, we accompany a speaker undaunted by the complex reckonings of history, evolving relationships, and an aging body, a speaker that, besieged by a storm, resolves to "set out into it, the wind / playing the rigging like a harp." Over and over in these pages, Anderson makes music of the gales and rain and turbulent sea. These poems voyage from the subtle violences of a religious upbringing to complex remembrances of time served in the Vietnam War to contemporary emergencies of real and political plagues. Yet, no matter the subject, compassion rudders these lyrics as they turn always and at last to myriad beloveds-the enigmatic "Angel of Death," literary and mythological influences, kind strangers, the constantly elusive and elusively constant moon. These words reach out to the reader the way the poet addresses frozen joy from the confines of winter: "Red berry trapped in ice, / let me touch you."

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Bridges & Juxtapositions— Meg Kearney & Steven Cramer
Meg Kearney
Meg Kearney
All Morning the Crows

In All Morning the Crows, Meg Kearney draws on her acute powers of observation, a lively curiosity and her gift for gorgeous imagery to take us on a journey of personal exploration, discovery, and reconciliation. These surprising poems bring together the parallel but discreet worlds of human beings and birds, which talk to each other across the gulf between them. 

Steven Cramer’s Listen generates scores of illuminating juxtapositions: the privacy of a son’s shower-aria and the public lies spewed by the demagogue; what Martin Luther, The Thinker, and Charmin have in common; Renaissance garb—the stomacher, pincnets—wrapped in a headline announcing the moon-landing, to name just a few.

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Resilience & Identity— Quintin Collins & Jendi Reiter
Quintin Collins
Quintin Collins
Claim Tickets for Stolen People
Jendi Reiter
Jendi Reiter
Made Man

In Claim Tickets for Stolen People, Quintin Collins embraces a range of poetic forms and registers to show the resilience of Blackness in a colonized world. The tension between mortality and vitality is ever-present, whether Collins is charting his daughter’s emergence into being, cataloging the toll of white violence, or detailing the exuberance of community, family, and Chicago and Boston life. 

Jendi Reiter's Made Man explores female-to-male transition and gay masculine identity through the voices of unusual objects and fictional characters with some aspect that is constructed, technological, or hybrid. These startling life studies open up onto a broader consideration of humanity's relationship with technology and the shadow side of male dominance of nature.

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Interrogations— Andrea Cohen & Nathan McClain
Andrea Cohen
Andrea Cohen
Everything
Nathan McClain
Nathan McClain
Previously Owned

The poems in Everything, Andrea Cohen’s seventh collection, traffic in wonder and woe, in dialogue and interior speculation. Humor and gravity go hand in hand here. Cohen’s poems have the rueful irony of a stand-up comic playing to an empty room. 

In his daring sophomore collection Previously OwnedNathan McClain interrogates his speaker’s American heritage, history, and responsibility. Insofar as this collection scrutinizes one’s own culpability in this country, interested in the natural world and beauty, as well as what beauty distracts us from, it does so in the hopes of reimagining inheritance, of leaving our children a different song

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Write Action Open Reading

Writers are invited to read from their work in an informal setting. Just sign up at the Write Action table located at the Festival Headquarters, located in the Brooks House Lobby at the corner of Main and High Street.

Participants will read in order of sign-up.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

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Roads Not Taken - Green Writers Press

Readings from Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poetry, 3rd Edition, with Editors Chard deNiord and Sydney Lea, Former Poet Laureates of Vermont and Published by Green Writers Press of Brattleboro.

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Local Voices— Shanta Lee Gander & Arlene Distler
Shanta Lee
Shanta Lee
GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA

In her first full-length collection GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues, Shanta Lee Gander navigates between formal and vernacular styles to introduce the reader to a myriad of subjects such as scientific facts that link butterflies to female sexuality and vulnerability; whispers of classical Greek myth; H.P. Lovecraft’s fantastical creature, Cthulhu; and the traces of African mythmaking and telling. 

In Voices Like Wind Chimes, Arlene Distler’s parallax vision reveals both the visceral and emotional interiors of her subject matter, especially as it evanesces before her, whether it be an octopus getting cleaned or those she has loved and lost. These are moving lyrical poems that transcend mere experience with a distilled wisdom that’s resonates with spontaneous freshness.

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Dennis Nurkse and Carolyn Forche
Dennis Nurkse
Dennis Nurkse
A Country of Strangers
Carolyn Forché
Carolyn Forché
In the Lateness of the World

“An undisputed literary event,” NPR announced on the recent publication of Carolyn Forche’s new book In The Lateness of the World and Hilton of New Yorker summed up the import of this timely, prophetic book in this way: “History—with its construction and its destruction—is at the heart of In the Lateness of the World. . . . In [it] one feels the poet cresting a wave—a new wave that will crash onto new lands and unexplored territories.” 

What a joy to have this overview of D. Nurske’s marvelous poems, Ilya Kaminsky writes about A Country of Strangers. He is a master of  the lyric mode, one in whose hands the lines come immediately alive, magic breathes, nuance shimmers and becomes the world all its own. Doors open into the unknown and we see that it is strangely familiar because strangeness is, in fact, our first language, one we mouthed before words. Welcome to A Country of Strangers, reader–don’t be surprised if by the time you finish this terrific book you might feel changed, and at home.”

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Michael Fleming & Camille Guthrie
Michael Fleming
Michael Fleming
Bags and Tools

About the winning selection of Sundog Poetry’s yearly Vermont poetry book contest  Benjamin Aleshire wrote the following about Bag of Tools in Seven Days: “This unusually rich variety of lived experiences makes Bags and Tools a pleasure to read." 

Divided into four sections, the author confronts the dread of the pandemic, recounts personal adventures from his wild years, and muses about subjects global and local. Composed almost entirely in rhyme and meter, the book is also an impressive feat of formalism — especially since the gorgeous musicality in Fleming's poems never gets in the way of what the author is communicating.” 

Camille Guthrie's new book Diamonds abounds with witty resilience. In these irreverent poems about grief and desire—in which the poet meditates upon gender roles, history, pop culture, and academia. Guthrie subverts and teases traditional forms in an elegy about Sylvia Plath’s prom dress, a dating profile for Hieronymus Bosch, a sestina about beauty and power—with radical dramatic monologues in the voices of Madame du Barry, a Pict Woman, and more. 

Unlike Virgil, who refuses to guide this poet through her journey at midlife, Guthrie leads readers by the hand into a provoking, affecting journey of a break-up and a reconciliation with love.