Verses of visions
A vision emerges spontaneously, seemingly delivered not from within the mind, but from without, as if from the gods, or the God, arriving by superhuman or supernatural force, an offering to the inner eye . In 12th century Germany, Hildegard of Bingen, mystic, writer, composer, philosopher, began having visions at the age of three. In “And again I heard the stars” (Spuyten Devil), a thrilling and sensual debut collection of poetry, Somerville-based poet Christie Towers intertwines with Hildegard, bringing the language of Hildegard’s visions into the poems, evoking something alive and new. This are above all poems of longing, longing and aspiration, and the flames that define the feeling, sometimes burning hot and low, sometimes burning bright and searing: “caused swollen or intensified red/brightness a strong feeling an acceleration/excitement a source of illumination. Towers’ lines are anchored in “a whole body”, and she draws the line between the flesh, its passionate presence, and ecstasy, union – or the desire for union – with something or someone in outside of you. “I speak as someone/in doubt who inwardly teaches great/secrets,” Towers writes. There is a permanent not-knowing, a sense of questioning and “the restraint of the flesh / this burning perversity”. Towers wonders what comes from the warmth of not having, not knowing, and her answers are powerfully erotic, laden with the touch of feathers and stars. Towers will read excerpts from her work, with poet Aly Pierce, this Wednesday, July 27 at 7 p.m. at Porter Square Books in Cambridge.
A new outpost for books
Boston’s book industry is booming. Harvard Book Store, Cambridge’s powerful independent bookstore, now joins the ranks of area bookstores opening second locations in Boston. In the spring of 2023, the bookstore will open an outpost at the Prudential Center, taking over what was once a Barnes & Noble. It will occupy almost 30,000 square feet, a huge space, especially compared to the 5,500 square foot Cambridge location. “Put simply,” says Creative Director Alex Meriwether, “we will have more space to do the things we are passionate about.” This includes an expanded events program, a much larger children’s book section and a number of community spaces. The expansion is partly due to the bookshop’s recent partnership with John and Linda Henry, owners of Liverpool FC, the Red Sox and this newspaper. Meriwether is delighted to give the space its own character. “There’s going to be our philosophy on the types of books we display,” he says. The difference is that “it won’t be a college bookstore within a college community,” and he and the rest of the bookstore team are eager “to learn who this community is and work to make it a special store for them”. while retaining “an idea of who Harvard Book Store is as well”.
“Hylodes stops glancing. Purring Frogs (Rana palustris) to cease. Lightning bugs seen for the first time. The bullfrogs asset in general. The mosquitoes are starting to be really annoying. Stormy showers in the afternoon almost regular. Sleep with the window open. . . The turtles have had enough and generally started to lay eggs. So wrote Henry David Thoreau in his diary in June 1860, observing the onset of summer and reminding us of what it is like to adapt to the rhythms and patterns of the natural world. The Thoreau Society recently announced the winners of this year’s Thoreau Prize, awarded to a writer “who wishes to speak on behalf of nature and embodies the spirit of Thoreau as a gifted writer, insightful naturalist, and ethical thinker.” This year’s award went to Jane Goodall. The Walter Harding Distinguished Achievement Award, recognizing scholarly achievement that furthers the mission of the Thoreau Society, was presented to Shoko Itoh, founder of the Thoreau Society of Japan; Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize winner; and professor, translator and editor François Specq. The Distinguished Service Award went to DB Johnson, author of children’s books about Thoreau’s experiences. And the Thoreau Society Medal, recognizing sustained contributions to the legacy of the study of Thoreau and his ideals, went to Lawrence Buell and Rebecca Solnit.
“mother in the dark” by Kayla Maiuri (River)
“Denial” by Jon Raymond (Simon & Schuster)
“How to read now” by Elaine Castillo (Viking)
Choice of the week
Mary Cotton of Newtonville Books in Newtonville, Massachusetts, recommends “Perplexityby Karen Tucker (Catapult): “This book got me on the first page!” I’m drawn to books about female friendship, and this one, about two young women living on the margins of society and poverty, drawn into opioid use and trafficking, is edgy and amazing. This will help find readers whose interests in Elena Ferrante and ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ intersect!