Local History and Dynamic Poetry Draw Big Crowds at South End Library for Lynne Potts (“A Block in Time: a History of Boston’s South End from a Window on Holyoke Street”) and Poet April Bernard (“Miss Fuller,” New Poems)
It’s a good thing that the South End Library offers elevator access to its second-floor community room: it allowed a harried-looking mother with three young children and a squeaky-wheeled stroller to come up and listen to a reading underway by poet April Bernard on a recent Tuesday night. “It made my day,” the grateful mother said afterwards. She was not alone. A large crowd had taken every seat in the room, spellbound first by Bernard’s forceful reading from her 2012 fictionalized history of Boston-based feminist Margaret Fuller, followed by five new poems received with appreciative laughter and applause. A week earlier, a standing-room audience listened intently to Lynne Potts describe her 35 years living on Holyoke Street and the research she has done to tie the colorful fortunes of that single block to the larger tale of the South End’s many cycles of rise and decline.
While “Miss Fuller” is fictionalized history, it is based on years of research and “coincides with facts as known,” said Bernard, who teaches creative writing at Skidmore College. The story of how Henry Thoreau traveled to the shores of Long Island hoping to find a
manuscript that might have survived the shipwreck in which Fuller drowned with her husband and young son in 1850, “planted a seed in my tooth” when she first heard of it, said Bernard. “What if he found something else?” That conceit is at the root of the novel’s fiction, and allowed Bernard to weave a new and complex picture of Fuller’s character and beliefs, set in tumultuous times when the changes she advocated caused great discomfort not just to close friends and others but also to herself. After a few audience questions, Bernard read five new poems, titled, When I was Thirteen I Saw Uncle Vanya; Werner Herzog in the Amazon; Tis Late; Lids; and Thunder-Mountain-Mesa-Valley-Ridge, all likely to be included in Bernard’s next collection.
Both Lynne Potts’s and April Bernard’s five favorite books can be found on this web site under the tab The South End Reads.
On Tuesday, February 26, acclaimed author Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days) will read from his riveting memoir, Townie, in which he describes the violence, bullying and loneliness of his childhood after his father, short-story writer Andre Dubus, leaves the family. He will be introduced by his colleague, Doug Bauer. The reading starts at 6:30 PM.
Those who missed Lynne Potts’s reading have another chance to hear her when she will read from her book on Thursday, February 21 at the South End Historical Society, 532 Massachusetts Ave, at 6:30 PM. Reservations are required: 617 536-4445 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is the list of scheduled authors for the remaining 2012-2013 season of The South End Writes:
Tuesday, February 26, 6:30 p.m.
An examination of the award-winning author’s violent past, Townie has been described ”best book” of non-fiction of 2011 and 2012 by many literary-gate guardians. It was preceded by Dubus III’s previous novels, House of Sand and Fog (made into an Academy-award nominated movie by the same name) and The Garden of Last Days. Author and essayist Doug Bauer will introduce the writer, who is a member of the faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 p.m.
will read from her second novel, The K Street Affair.
Tuesday, April 16, 6:30 p.m.
Editor, writer of numerous books of fiction and non-fiction, and revered professor of English at Bennington College (to where he commutes from the South End), Bauer will read from his most recent collection of essays, What Happens Next?, to be published in the fall of 2013 by the University of Iowa Press. His previous work includes several novels, including Dexterity, The Very Air, and The Book of Famous Iowans; and two non-fiction books, Prairie City, Iowa and The Stuff of Fiction. He has edited anthologies, such as Prime Times: Writers on their favorite television shows; and Death by Pad Thai and Other Unforgettable Meals.
Tuesday, April 30, 6:30 p.m.
wrote The Art Forger as a fictionalized suspense thriller based on the heartbreaking heist of 13 irreplacable paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. The author of five other suspense novels, and the non-fiction The Big Squeeze, the South End resident teaches creative writing at Northeastern University.
Tuesday, May 14, 6:30 p.m.
the spectacularly successful author who grew up in Dorchester and is ALSO a BPL trustee, published his latest novel, Live by Night, in 2012. Set in Boston in the 1920s, the New York Times’ reviewer called the book a “sentence-by-sentence pleasure.” Previous novels include, among others, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island and Mystic River, all made into fabulous movies.
Tuesday, May 21, 6:30 p.m.
The Dovekeepers, a historical novel describing the AD70 massacre at Masada from the point of view of four women at the fortress before it fell during the Jewish-Roman war, is the most recent of the nearly two dozen novels by Hoffman and just came out in paperback. To be introduced by Sue Miller.
Tuesday, June 11, 6:30 p.m.
the local filmmaker whose mesmerizing documentary, Angelo Unwritten, has followed the life of a teenager adopted out of foster care when he was twelve, will return with an update of new material gathered since December 2011.
Tuesday, June 18, 6:30 p.m.
will return to read from his current work-in-progress, retracing the steps of his father who, as a soldier, was sent to Europe during the Second World War.
The five favorite books recommended by the authors mentioned above, and previous speakers, can be found under THE SOUTH END READS.