The Dipper - February 2019

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know

 

February News

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Save the date! Literary North is proud to partner with our friends at the Brownsville Butcher & Pantry for Poetry & Pints in Brownsville, Vermont, on Sunday, March 10, from 5:15 to 7:00 pm. Doors open at 4:30 pm. Admission is by donation. The evening features poets Colin McKraig, Peter Money, and Ruth Antoinette Rodriguez; fabulous food, beer, and wine; plus an open mic so we can hear YOUR original work. Chef Peter Varkonyi is creating a cozy a la carte menu for the evening. Beer, food, poetry! It’s what you need to survive the end of winter. We hope you’ll join us. Visit the Poetry & Pints page on our website for full details.

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If you haven’t gotten tickets yet for this year’s JAG Fest—JAG Production’s annual festival of new in-process plays by African-American playwrights—what are you waiting for? This year’s festival shines the spotlight on black female poets. Four staged readings will take place the weekend of February 9 to 10 at Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, Vermont. Each performance features a post-show conversation with the artists, moderated by Dartmouth scholars. Tickets are $20 per performance, or $50 for a weekend pass that includes access to all presentations. Last year’s performances were stunning. You don’t want to miss this! (Note: You can meet this year’s playwrights for conversation and lunch at Dartmouth College on Tuesday, February 5.)

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Are you already a member of the Slow Club Book Club? If not, here are five reasons you might want to join us for our first pick of the year, Yoko Tawada’s The Emissary, translated by Margaret Mitsutani:

  1. It’s short. 138 pages!

  2. It won the National Book Award for Translated Literature.

  3. New Directions, a fantastic small press, published it!

  4. It takes place in a world of giant dandelions where only crows and spiders are thriving. (Aren’t you intrigued?)

  5. In Yoko Tawada’s author photo, she is posing with a pomegranate.

If you’re reading along, let us know! And if you post about it to Instagram or Twitter, be sure to tag us with #slowclubbookclub or #literarynorth.

Several of our friends are hosting workshops or events soon that we wanted to bring to your attention. Full details for all of these are in the Deadlines and Workshops sections later in this newsletter:

  • Poets, please consider applying for the Free Verse Farm Residency in the hills of Chelsea, Vermont. The location is stunning and we can’t imagine better hosts than Taylor and Misha. Applications are due April 1.

  • James Crews is hosting his online Mindfulness and Writing workshop beginning on February 2. James was a featured poet at our first Poetry & Pie event. His poetry is outstanding, and he’s such a kind person. You’re sure to enjoy his class.

  • Jo Knowles and Tillie Walden will be teaching their “Creating Graphic Novels for the YA Market” workshop at The Center for Cartoon Studies this summer. We interviewed this dynamic duo last year about the class. Registration for CCS Summer 2019 classes is open now.

To make room on our site for new events, we’ve collected information and links for all of our past events and projects on a single page. We hope this makes it easier for you to find out what we’re up to and what we’ve done before. We have some really fun ideas for 2019 and can’t wait to add them to the list. As subscribers, you’ll hear about all of it first! Thank you, as always, for your support, kind words, and enthusiasm. Your energy helps fire up this two-woman team!



February’s Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your reading life:

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  • Need a brush-up on your grammar? Look no further than Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer, the copy chief of Random House. Witty grammar lessons? Yes, please. —Shari

  • This amazing and moving essay in The New Yorker by Gregory Pardlo about his father and the 1981 air-traffic controller strike includes beautiful sentences like this: “All your delicate ideas have to remain perfectly clear and distinct in your mind at all times.” —Rebecca


February Highlights

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Thursday, February 7 at 4:30 pm, Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, celebrates the life and work of Andre Dubus II in Sanborn Library with readings and discussion about Dubus’ work. The event features the editor of his re-issued series of Collected Stories, Joshua Bodwell, and the distinguished publisher David R. Godine.

The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, Vermont is holding A Celebration of Vermont Poets on Saturday, February 9, at 4:00 pm. The great lineup includes Dede Cummings, Chard deNiord, Karin Gottshall, Syd Lea, Gary Margolis, Julia Shipley, and Bianca Stone. With chocolate!

The Center for Cartoon Studies’ own James Sturm is on tour for his new graphic novel, Off Season. Catch him at the CCS in White River Junction, Vermont, on Thursday, February 14 at 4:00 pm. James’ presentation will also touch upon the drawing of dogs, crooked contractors, LSD, and 4 x 6 index cards.

Jane Brox. Photo by Luc Demers

Jane Brox. Photo by Luc Demers

The lovely Jane Brox will be at The Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough, New Hampshire, on Saturday, February 16, at 11:00 am to read from her latest non-fiction work, Silence.

Poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi reads at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Thursday, February 21, at 4:30 pm in the Sanborn Library.

You’ve got two great chances to see Pam Houston read from her recent book, Deep Creek. On Sunday, February 24 at 6:00 pm, she’ll be at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont; she’ll be at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire, on Tuesday. February 26.

Emily Bernard

Emily Bernard

Emily Bernard, a professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of Vermont, reads from her book, Black Is The Body, at 6:00 pm on Friday, February 22 at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont.

The Painted Word Poetry Series is back at The Fleming Museum of Art in Burlington, Vermont. Stephanie Burt reads on Wednesday, February 27 at 6:00 pm.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

LitFest 2019 begins on Wednesday, February 27 and goes through Sunday, March 3 at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Jamel Brinkley—whose amazing collection of short stories, A Lucky Man, was nominated for a National Book Award and for The Story Prize—will be reading on Thursday, February 28 along with fellow NBA nominee Brandon Hobson. Other writers in attendance will be Jennifer Egan, Elizabeth Kolbert, and Cullen Murphy.

 

Worth a Listen

  • What a treat to hear Zadie Smith and her husband Nick Laird speak about their books, both titled Feel Free, on the Shakespeare & Co. podcast.

  • Every single episode of the Slowdown podcast with Tracy K. Smith. Period.

We're Looking Forward to These February Releases:

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

It’s PoemCity and PoemTown season again! Submit your poems for consideration to be displayed in downtown windows in Montpelier, Randolph, and St. Johnsbury, Vermont, during the month of April. The submission deadline for Montpelier and Randolph is February 4. The submission deadline for St. Johnsbury is February 28. For more information about Montpelier and St. Johnsbury submissions, please visit the PoemCity Submission page and the PoemCity website. For Randolph submissions, please send 1-3 original poems as Word attachments to musbird@gmail.com. Include your contact information in the email (name, mailing address, email address and telephone number). Then attach each poem separately with the title of the poem as the document name and no identifying information other than the poem’s title on each document.

The Upper Valley Fiction group is accepting new members. The group meets monthly, September though June, to offer honest feedback on each other’s work. An MFA or publication is not required, but comparable writing expertise is preferred. To apply, submit one short story or one chapter (no longer than 20 pages) by February 11 to uppervalleyfiction@gmail.com.

The Poetry Society of Vermont is accepting submissions to its publication, The Mountain Troubadour, until February 14. You can submit up to three poems, of 40 lines or less. You must be a PSOV member to submit. For more information, please visit the Mountain Troubadour Submission page.

Applications for the next round of Vermont Studio Center residency fellowships for artists and writers are due by February 15 (for residencies scheduled between May and December 2019 in Johnson, Vermont), including the James Merrill Poetry, ALSCW, VSC/Callaloo, Helen Zell Residency, and Voices Rising fellowships. Every VSC residency includes private room, private studio space, all meals, and full access to the VCS’ schedule of evening programs and events. For more information, please visit the VSC Fellowships page.

The Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program is seeking nominations for the 2019-2021 Poet Laureate. The Laureate is the PPLP’s main bridge to the community, a role model and recruiter for future generations of poets and sets the tone for two years in the life of the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program. Nominees should live in Portsmouth, Dover, Durham, Eliot, Greenland, Kittery, Madbury, New Castle, Newfields, Newington, Newmarket, North Hampton, Rye, or Stratham, or work at least half time in Portsmouth. To make a nomination, send an email about your nominee to info@pplp.org by February 20.

The AVA Gallery in Lebanon, New Hampshire, is looking for storytellers for its next Mudroom event (March 14). Selected storytellers will be awarded an AVA membership and may bring a guest to enjoy the evening. Please include a very brief summary of your story (no more than 300 words) and a short bio (no more than 150 words) by February 24. For more information, please visit the Mudroom page.

Applications are open for Free Verse Farm’s week-long poetry residencies. Residents will stay in an off-grid small vintage camper on the farm in Chelsea, Vermont. The residence fee is $250/week, which includes coffee and tea, but all other groceries must be provided by the resident, with meal preparation occurring in the camper. Poets are welcome to bring a partner at no extra charge. The application deadline is April 1. For more information and to apply, please visit the Free Verse Residency page.

The Juniper Summer Writing Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts (June 16 to 22) is accepting applications. The institute includes manuscript consultations, craft sessions, workshops, readings, and other events, led by a wide range of instructors, including CAConrad, Gabriel Bump, Ross Gay, Khadijah Queen, Bianca Stone, Ocean Vuong, Dara Weir, and Joy Williams. The non-refundable application fee is $40. For more information and to apply, please visit the Juniper Institute website.


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

Poet James Crews is offering his four-week Mindfulness and Writing Online workshop from February 2 to March 9. This generative online writing workshop will examine connections between the practice of meditation/mindfulness and the act of writing fearlessly from the heart. Though not required, attendees will be invited to share their work via email with each other. Beginners and all skill levels are welcome. You do not need any previous experience with mindfulness, meditation, or online courses; all you need is an internet connection, email, and an open mind. $295 for four sessions. For more information and to register, please visit the Northshire Books events page.

On February 9 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, join the New Hampshire Writers’ Project and romance author Ana E. Ross at SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire, for “So You Think You Know Me?” This workshop focuses on three vital elements of characterization in storytelling: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict (GMC). This interactive workshop invites you to bring a character you’re working on. $65 for members; $80 for non-members. For information and to register, please visit the NHWP Workshops page.

The New Hampshire Writers’ Project is hosting a six-week “Preparing Your Manuscript for an Agent’s Eyes” workshop, where you can work your manuscript into a polished version ready for agents, professional review, and publishing consideration. You will work directly with Amanda Forbes Silva, a professional writer and editor who will help you better evaluate your writing and determine how to edit your work for clarity and concision. All genres are welcome! The workshop meets on Saturdays, February 16 through March 23, 1:00 to 4:00 pm at SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire. $390 for NHWP members; $510 for non-members. For information and to register, please visit the NHWP Workshops page.

On March 9, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, the AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, is offering a “One Photo, Four Stories” writing workshop where you will use a photo of your choice as a prompt for four separate stories. This class is open to all levels. $68 for members; $80 for non-members. For more information and to register, please visit the AVA Gallery website.

Already dreaming of summer? Registration for Summer Workshops at The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, is already open. This year’s workshops include Graphic Memoirs with Melanie Gillman, Creating Graphic Novels for the Young Adult Market with Jo Knowles and Tillie Walden, and a Graphic Novel Workshop with Paul Karasik. For all the details and to register, please visit the CCS 2019 Summer Workshops page.

Friday Reads - January 4, 2019

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You should definitely look out for Sounds Like Titanic when it hits bookstores on February 12. It makes for compelling reading. In this memoir, Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman addresses subjects like classical music, class, living in a female body, fakery and so much more. And I haven’t even mentioned the main storyline— '“performing” as a violinist for a strange composer who uses a CD during his concerts. Thanks to W.W. Norton for this giveaway copy!—Shari

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The complete facsimile hardbound compilation of all 12 original issues of the South Polar Times, the magazine written, illustrated, typed, and bound by expedition members during the long Antarctic winters of Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery (1901-1904) and Terra Nova (1910-1913) expeditions. This great iceberg of a book is a treasure, filled with fascinating descriptions of daily life, songs, poems, sketches, photographs, and watercolors. I’ve barely dipped in and think I’ll be lingering for awhile. —Rebecca

The Dipper - January 2019

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know

 

January News

Hello and welcome to 2019! We hope you all had a peaceful holiday season and had some time to read new or favorite old books between feasts, walks in the snow, movie watching, or however you celebrated the days. Did you get any books on your wish list for gifts? Or books you didn’t even know existed that you’re excited about? We sure did, and hope you did too!

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This month marks the start of the second year of the Slow Club Book Club and we’re incredibly excited to be devoting the entire year to women in translation.

Our first book for 2019 is The Emissary, by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani. This novel recently won the National Book Foundation’s prize for Translated Literature and is one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2018.

If this book sounds interesting to you, we hope you’ll join as as we slowly read it from now through March. If you’re not already a member of SCBC, you can join by subscribing to the newsletter. And if you have suggestions for books written and translated by women (remember, they don’t have to be recent books; we love reading books from the past), drop us a line. We have a list of ideas already, but we always love suggestions from our faithful readers.

Now that we’ve turned the corner into the new year, the calendar of events for January is starting to really fill out. In particular, January seems to be a good time for workshops and classes. Check out the long list of upcoming workshops at the end of this newsletter. It’s a positive blizzard of choices!

Speaking of events, we’re setting aside a morning later this week for our first annual Literary North Retreat, where we’ll drink tea, eat something delicious, review our notes from 2018, and go through our wish lists to figure out the events and projects we want to pursue in 2019. We already have a couple of exciting ideas percolating, and we can’t wait to figure it all out and share our plans with you in the coming months.

Here’s to 2019! May it be a year of good health and good books for you all.


January’s Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month!

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  • New year, new literary journal subscription? Last year I subscribed to The Sewanee Review and loved every issue. In the past, I’ve subscribed to Zyzzva and One Story. This year I’m thinking about subscribing to The White Review, but I’m open to other suggestions. It’s a great way to keep up with contemporary fiction. —Shari

  • The end of the year always brings a deluge of Best Of lists. One of my particular favorites is Glass Poetry editor Anthony Frame’s Recommended Reading list, an annual tradition since 2015. The list highlights Anthony’s favorite poems of the year that appeared in journals and magazines. It’s always a terrific collection, and it’s nicely accessible: you can just click and read a poem without having to buy a new book or leave your house. —Rebecca

January Highlights

For the month of January, if you donate blood at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, they will buy a children’s book from The Norwich Bookstore to donate to the kids at CHaD (Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock). So, you can do two good deeds at once: help save someone’s life, and give a kid a book. Get all the details and schedule your donation on the DHMC website.

The Visiting Writers for the Winter Residency at VCFA in Montpelier, Vermont, will be giving readings January 3 through 5 at the chapel in College Hall at 7:00 pm. Carmen Maria Machado will read on January 3, Terrance Hayes on January 4, and Liara Tamani on January 5.

Start your new year off right with Bennington College’s Writers Reading Series in Bennington, Vermont, which begins on Thursday, January 3 with Douglas Bauer and Carmen Gimenez Smith. The series wraps up on Friday, January 11 with Garth Greenwell and Mark Wunderlich. All readings are held at the College’s Tishman Lecture Hall, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm (except for the January 10 reading, which begins at 7.30 pm).

Chana Porter. Photo by Stella Kalinina

Chana Porter. Photo by Stella Kalinina

Hannah Tinti and Chana Porter will be reading at the Haybarn Theater at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, on Monday, January 7 and Tuesday, January 9, respectively. Both readings begin at 7:00 pm.

On Thursday, January 17, Jonathan Miles will be in conversation with New York Times book critic, Dwight Garner, at The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont. The event begins at 6:00 pm.

Thomas Christopher Greene, president of VCFA, will be at Phoenix Books, in Essex, Vermont, on Tuesday, January 22 at 6:30 pm and at The Northshire Bookstore, in Manchester, Vermont, on Thursday, January 24, at 6:00 pm with his latest novel, The Perfect Liar. The official book launch will take place at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, on Tuesday, January 29.

Kevin Young

Kevin Young

On Sunday, January 27, Dartmouth College celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a multi-faith celebration featuring the Dartmouth Gospel Choir and poet Kevin Young. The celebration begins at 3:00 pm at Rollins Chapel in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Emily Bernard, author of Black is the Body, will launch her book on Tuesday, January 29, at 6:30 pm at Phoenix Books in Burlington, Vermont.

Cognitive psychologist and linguist, Steven Pinker, will be discussing his new book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Wednesday, January 30, at 7:00 pm as part of the Writers on a New England Stage series. Tickets are $13.75 (plus $18 book voucher).

Alex Mar is reading from her new memoir, Witches of America, on Thursday, January 31 at 4:30 pm at Dartmouth College’s Sanborn Library in Hanover, New Hampshire. This reading is part of the Cleopatra Mathis Poetry & Prose Reading Series.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

Daisy Johnson, whose novel Everything Under, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, will be at the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Thursday, January 31 at 7:00 pm.

 

Worth a Listen

I really enjoyed listening to John Wray talk about his reading life on episode 15 of The Spine. —Shari

 

We're Looking Forward to These January Releases

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

The Frost Place is accepting submissions for their annual Chapbook Competition until January 5. The competition is open to any poet writing in English. The submission fee is $28. For more information, please visit the Chapbook Competition page.

Applications are being accepted through January 5 for the Dartmouth Poet in Residence program at The Frost Place. This is a six-to-eight-week residency in poet Robert Frost’s former farmhouse in Franconia, New Hampshire. The residency begins July 1 and ends August 15, and includes an award of $1,000 from The Frost Place and an award of $1,000 from Dartmouth College. The recipient will have an opportunity to give a series of public readings across the region, including at Dartmouth College and The Frost Place. For more information, please visit the Residency page.  

Every summer, the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, awards residency Fellowships to artists in seven disciplines, including literature. A Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommodations and three prepared meals a day for two weeks to two months. The deadline for the 2019 Summer MacDowell Literature Fellowship is January 15. The application fee is $30. For more information, please visit the Residency Application page.

The Juniper Summer Writing Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts (June 16 to 22) is accepting applications. The institute includes manuscript consultations, craft sessions, workshops, readings, and other events, led by a wide range of instructors, including CAConrad, Gabriel Bump, Ross Gay, Khadijah Queen, Bianca Stone, Ocean Vuong, Dara Weir, and Joy Williams. The non-refundable application fee is $40. For more information and to apply, please visit the Juniper Institute website.


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

On January 4 from noon to 1:00 pm, Joni B. Cole will be discussing how to foster wellness through expressive writing at Open Door Integrative Wellness in White River Junction, Vermont. Expressive writing, also known as reflective or introspective writing, invites individuals to respond to a “prompt” as a means of exploring their thoughts and feelings, and tapping into the unconscious. At this free “Lunch and Learn” session, Joni will discuss the value of expressive writing to you and to your organization. She’ll also facilitate a brief hands-on demonstration, so bring something to write on/with. For more information or to RSVP, email Joni at jonibethcole@gmail.com.

Learn simple bookbinding at a DIY Bookbinding class from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on January 8 at Words & Pictures in Essex, Vermont. This class will demonstrate simple techniques for binding small DIY-ed books, including saddle stitch (stapled) binding, perfect binding, and a couple different types of sewn binding. $15, includes materials. For more information and to register, please visit the Words & Pictures Workshop page.

Writing can be a powerful, cathartic means of coping with life's greatest hardships, including the illness and death of loved ones. In the Writing Group for People Experiencing Loss workshop, discover ways that writing may allow grief to move and evolve. Co-Facilitated by Jenny Gelfan, MAed & Jessica Stout, MSW, this workshop will meet Thursdays at 12:00 pm from January 10 through February 14 at the Jack Byrne Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Enrollment space is limited. For more information or to RSVP, please email Amanda M. Reinemann or call her at (603) 308-2447.

On January 13, Carly Winn will lead Writing Ecospsychology: A Writing and Meditation workshop from 2:30 to 4:00 pm at Open Door Integrative Wellness in White River Junction, Vermont. This workshop is an introduction to writing ecopsychology, the interaction of the psyche and the landscape. You will learn to tell the story of your own interaction with the natural world. The workshop will include a discussion of craft, a brief analysis of some samples of ecopsychology writing, a short free-write exercise, and guided meditation. For more information or to register, please email Carly at carly3ski@gmail.com.

The OSHER@Dartmouth winter term is offering several courses for writers and readers, including “Completing Your Manuscript,” “Four Women Poets of Northeast Scotland,” “Poems from the 20th Year of Seven Centuries,” “Renaissance Classics,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “The Poetry of T.S. Eliot & Wallace Stevens,” and “Writing in Circles.” Tuition ranges from $40 to $80. Classes are open only to members ($70 fee). Courses begin the week of January 14 and meet at various locations in Hanover, New Hampshire. For more information and to register, please visit the OSHER@Dartmouth website.

The League of Vermont Writers’ annual business meeting and winter writing craft workshop will take place at Trader Duke’s Hotel in South Burlington, Vermont, on January 19, 2019. This year’s theme, “Honing Your Craft: Writing that Sizzles,” features workshops and discussions led by two well-published Vermont authors: Julia Shipley and Sean Prentiss. $46 for League members; $56 or non-members (includes morning refreshments and lunch). The deadline to register is January 6. Fore more information and to register, please visit the League’s Gatherings page.

The New Hampshire Writers’ Project is hosting a Travel Writing workshop, led by author Dan Szczesny on the campus of SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire, from 10:00 am to noon on January 19, 2019. Registration is $50 for NHWP members; $70 for non-members. For more information and to register, please visit the NHWP Workshops page.

Sick of using the cut and paste method for creating your zines? In this InDesign: Make a Zine workshop held on January 22, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at Words & Pictures in Essex, Vermont, you will learn how to design a simple eight-page, half-letter zine in InDesign. This is a beginner level class, which will cover setting up a document, adding text and images, and exporting the document for print or online distribution. $50. For more information and to register, please visit the Words & Pictures Workshop page.

Also at Words & Pictures, learn how to make a one-sheet comic or zine that can be easily reproducible and attributable at the One Sheet Comic/Zine Jam on January 26 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm in Essex, Vermont. All experience levels welcome! $5 suggested donation for use of space and materials, but no one will be turned away. For more information or to register, please visit the Words & Pictures Workshop page.

Learn to hand-bind a journal for writing or drawing at a Bookbinding Journals workshop on Saturday, January 26, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm, at River Arts in Morrisville, Vermont. The workshop covers everything from selecting handmade papers to sewing the open-spine binding using traditional techniques. $85, including materials. For more information and to register, please visit the River Arts Adult Classes page.

The AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, is offering an Expressive Arts workshop, on Monday evenings from January 28 through February 18. Expressive Arts offers an engaging experience with different modes of art making and materials—clay, painting, stitching, moving, sound, and writing—to understand your potential for insight, creative curiosity, self care, and deep connection. $136 for members; $160 for non-members. For more information and to register, please visit the AVA Gallery website.

Poet James Crews will be offering his four-week Mindfulness and Writing Online workshop from February 2 to March 9. In this generative online writing workshop, we'll examine connections between the practice of meditation/mindfulness and the act of writing fearlessly from the heart. Though not required, attendees will be invited to share their work via email with each other. Beginners and all skill levels are welcome. You do not need any previous experience with mindfulness, meditation or online courses; all you need is an internet connection, email and an open mind. $295 for four session. For more information and to register, please visit the Northshire Books events page.

On March 9, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, the AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, is offering a “One Photo, Four Stories” writing workshop where you will ue a photo of your choice as a prompt for four separate stories. This class is open to all levels. $68 for members; $80 for non-members. For more information and to register, please visit the AVA Gallery website.

Already dreaming of summer? Registration for Summer Workshops at The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, are already open. This year’s workshops include Graphic Memoirs with Melanie Gillman, Creating Graphic Novels for the Young Adult Market with Jo Knowles and Tillie Walden, and a Graphic Novel Workshop with Paul Karasik. For all the details and to register, please visit the CCS 2019 Summer Workshops page.

Friday Reads - December 14, 2018

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I just finished Normal People, by Sally Rooney. I read this book in two days and highly recommend it! Rooney is great at writing dialogue and characters that feel real. This is the UK edition with a cover I much prefer to the US edition coming next summer. —Shari

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I’m reading Erebus, by Michael Palin (yes, that Michael Palin). History, adventure, polar exploration, seafaring, smart writing, loads of research, maps and black-and-white photographs. What’s not to love? Also, yes, this is the UK cover. Why is the UK cover always so much cooler? —Rebecca

Gray Basnight and Flight of the Fox

When we heard about the connection between New York writer, Gray Basnight, and Phoenix Books owner, Mike DeSanto, we thought it would be fun to ask Gray to write a guest blog for us. Thanks Gray! If you’re looking for a gift for someone on your list who enjoys political thrillers, do check out Basnight’s latest, Flight of the Fox, out now from Down & Out Books.

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Books Brought Us Back Together in Vermont

40 Years After Pursuing Theatre in DC and NYC

by Gray Basnight

In my latest novel, a thriller called Flight of the Fox, my central character is a mathematician who frequently wonders about the mysterious impact of numbers upon human life. That’s no accident. I’ve been wondering about numbers since receiving my first AARP mailing, which seemed to happen five seconds after I turned 50. That was 15 years ago.

Scientists define a year as “365 solar days required for one revolution of the earth around the sun.” Scientists are wrong. As a 65-year-old, I know for a fact that each year goes faster than the previous one. The older I get, the faster they go. Last year, for example, sped past in about a week-and-a-half. Thus, all scientists must revisit this solar revolution thing ASAP (not to be confused with AARP).

Which brings me to my recent reunion in September 2018 with old friend Mike DeSanto who owns five bookstores in Vermont along with his partner Renee Reiner.  My novel and his bookstores brought us back together after nearly 40 years of being AWOL from each other’s lives.

Mike and I were buddies in graduate school at George Washington University in the late 1970s. We studied theatre. My plan was to receive an MFA and become a college theatre professor. After finishing school, I moved to New York City to live the actor’s life for a brief sojourn, which I thought was key to my overall education as a well-rounded sage of theatre. Mike did the same. We even lived in the same apartment building way uptown near the George Washington Bridge. Unfortunately for me, to pay the rent, I waited tables and tended bar. Meanwhile, Mike developed a budding movie career with a series of union film jobs. I was impressed and glad for him.

What happened next is a bit foggy. All I remember is that after a couple of years, Mike vacated the city to rejoin his family in Maryland and pursue better salaried opportunities. I, too, thought of doing the same. For me, it would have meant going back to Richmond, Virginia, to be a high school English teacher. Ultimately, I didn’t because I couldn’t abide the feeling of retreating from the biggest challenge of my young life with my tail tightly tucked under. Then I got lucky. I fell into a radio job at WOR-AM, loved it, and eventually became a news writer, producer, and reporter. Thirty years later I was laid off during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Instead of hustling to get another radio gig, I sat down and began my third career—this time as a novelist.

Now back to Mike DeSanto.  

Little did I know that along the way Mike had moved to Vermont and began running bookstores— he now has five, one each in Burlington, Essex, Rutland, Chester, and Woodstock. Last year, he saw my name listed as an attendee at a writer’s conference in Toronto and he figured … um … could there be more than one Gray Basnight in this world? With a name like mine—hardly.  Thus, two old acting buddies we were reunited through books: his life as a book retailer and my life as a book writer.

Consequently, it was a privilege to appear at Mike’s Phoenix Books in Burlington for Flight of the Fox in September.  

As a bonus, we had dinner together, relived old stories from our grad school days and our struggle as actors in NYC. It was a wonderful reunion that made those decades of absence seem like … well, like they went by in a flash.

Which brings me back to numbers. I remember being about 12 years old when I heard my Aunt Bebe ponder her age, which at the time was about 65, and which, also at the time, I thought to be rather elderly. Speaking to me in all seriousness, she asked me: “How did it happen?”

My answer: “Gee, Aunt Bebe, I guess the years just kind of added up.”

She didn’t appreciate my mathematic answer. Now I know why, which is AISB (As It Should Be).

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Flight of the Fox is a political thriller in which high-tech surveillance, predatory drones, a government gone wild, and an everyman hero converge. An innocent math professor tries to decode a mystery file that lands in his in-box while a team of hit men chase him from the Catskills to NYC and down the East Coast. Their goal is to suppress dark government crimes from decades past. His goal is for the truth to be told. The action switches between the J. Edgar Hoover era and Professor Sam Teagarden’s decoding of the mystery file in 2019, against the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. As the professor runs for his life, armed only with his wits and intellect, he worries whether the truth will be told, and if he’ll be seen as a hero whistle blower or a pariah.  Or worse, will he end up dead? 

“An electrifying, propulsive and timely thriller… that, by all rights, should shoot to the top of every bestseller list in the country…”
Mysterious Book Review (July 16)

Gray Basnight is deeply immersed in fiction writing, after almost three decades in broadcast news as a writer, editor, producer, and reporter; preceded by a few years pursuing an acting career.  His latest book is the political thriller Flight of the Fox (Down & Out Books).

Gray lives in New York with his wife and their Golden Retriever Tinta.