Newburyport Literary Festival

A Celebration of Literature, Readers, and Writers
• In-Person & Virtual Events • April 26–28, 2024

Friday, April 26, 2024

Friday 6:00–7:00 PM
Firehouse Center
for the Arts

Opening Night Ceremony: Honoring Newburyport Historians

Local historians Bethany Groff Dorau, Dyke Hendrickson, and Ghlee E. Woodworth will be in conversation, moderated by former Newburyport Daily News editor Richard K. Lodge. It will be an evening celebrating our wonderful community, including past and present perspectives, historical milestones, anecdotes, musings, and plenty of discussion.

Presenter: Bethany Groff Dorau, Dyke Hendrickson, and Ghlee Woodworth
Moderator: Richard Lodge

Friday 7:30 PM
The Grog
13 Middle Street

Join Us for Supper With the Authors!

Tickets $25 at the door or order online (below) and there will be a cash bar.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Poetry
Saturday 8:30 AM
Central Congregational Church

Breakfast With the Poets: Powow River Poets Read Their Work

Enjoy coffee, tea, and delicious, locally made breakfast breads and pastries with the poets as we launch our day of engaging and provocative poetry readings with Newburyport’s nationally recognized Powow River Poets. Rhina P. Espaillat, co-founder of the group, opens the day of readings, followed by Meredith Bergmann, Mary Kuck, Bob Moore, and Priscilla Turner Spada, reading from their most recent books of poetry.

Presenters: Rhina P. Espaillat, Meredith Bergmann, Mary Kuck, Bob Moore, and Priscilla Turner Spada
Moderator: Owen Grey

Fiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Firehouse Center
for the Arts

Romantasy Is in the Air

Romantasy, the literary genre that blends romance and fantasy, has recently taken the world—and bestseller lists—by storm. Moderator Julie Karaganis, a bookseller and longtime romance and romantasy superreader, will lead a discussion on all the burgeoning category and its enthusiastic fandom has to offer with Lyra Selene, author of A Feather So Black, and Celestine Martin, author of the Elemental Love series.

Presenters: Lyra Selene, Celestine Martin
Moderator: Julie Karaganis

Fiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Old South Church

Small Town, Big Changes: Julia Glass on Vigil Harbor

The New York Times calls Julia Glass a “masterful builder of fictional people, an expert at charting the architecture of entire lives.” These talents are on vivid display in her newest novel, Vigil Harbor. Set in the very near future in a fictional town on the North Shore of Massachusetts whose residents are navigating a post-pandemic, climate-fragile world that’s upended further when a stranger comes to town, Vigil Harbor is Glass at her most provocative and compelling. Editor, writer, reviewer, and former president of the National Book Critics Circle Kate Tuttle will speak with the National Book Award-winning author.

Presenter: Julia Glass
Moderator: Kate Tuttle

Fiction/Nonfiction
Saturday 9:00 AM
Unitarian Universalist Church

Captivating Historical Fiction

Together frequent collaborators and friends Beatriz Williams (The Beach at Summerly, the upcoming Husbands & Lovers) and Lauren Willig (Two Wars and a Wedding, the Pink Carnation series) have explored lost summers in Newport, traveled on doomed ocean liners, and solved mysteries in Gilded Age mansions. Join these two beloved authors of historical fiction as they discuss their work, their collaborative process, and how they make historical moments come alive for their many readers.

Presenters: Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig

Nonfiction
Saturday 9:30 AM
Newburyport Public Library

Celebrations of the Season: A Conversation with Nina MacLaughlin

Nina MacLaughlin’s Winter Solstice: An Essay “takes your breath away with lyrical leaps across time and space.” MacLaughlin (Wake Siren: Ovid Resung; Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter and the companion to Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice) looks at the season through every lens, from hot chocolate to waiting until just the right moment to light a candle so a passing stranger might see it go on. In conversation with Josh Bodwell.

Presenter: Nina MacLaughlin
Moderator: Josh Bodwell

Fiction
Saturday 9:30 AM
Jabberwocky Bookshop

Assassins, Mad Poets, and Pop Bands, Oh My! Humor and Danger in an Alternate Reality

Ed Park’s sweeping new novel, Same Bed Different Dreams, imagines an alternate secret history for Korea that results in mind-bending and often hilarious effects on our current world. The novel was named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Author Elizabeth McKenzie writes that Same Bed Different Dreams “…belongs in the company of a rare few dark and comic masterpieces of invention.” Ed Park will be in conversation with author Ryan Walsh (Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968).

Presenter: Ed Park
Moderator: Ryan Walsh

Fiction
Saturday 10:00 AM
Old South Church, Social Hall

North by Northwest: C.B. Bernard’s Ordinary Bear

C.B. Bernard’s latest novel, Ordinary Bear, is set in rural Alaska and the gritty underworld of Portland, Oregon. This dark but often humorous novel follows a guilt-ridden investigator as he tries to redeem himself after a personal tragedy by fighting desperately to prevent another. Novelist Kristin Bair O’Keeffe (Agatha Arch Is Afraid of Everything) will go in depth with C.B. about his writing.

Presenter: C.B. Bernard
Moderator: Kristin Bair O’Keeffe

Nonfiction
Saturday 10:00 AM
City Hall

Left for Dead: Shipwreck, Treachery, and Survival at the Edge of the World

In Left for Dead, Eric Jay Dolin—“one of today’s finest writers about ships and the sea” (American Heritage)—tells the true story of a wild and fateful encounter between an American sealing vessel, a shipwrecked British brig, and a British warship in the Falkland archipelago during the War of 1812. Fraught with misunderstandings and mistrust, the incident left three British sailors and two Americans, including the captain of the sealer, Charles H. Barnard, abandoned in the barren, windswept, and inhospitable Falklands for a year and a half. With deft narrative skill and unequaled knowledge of the very pith of the seafaring life, Dolin describes in vivid and harrowing detail the increasingly desperate existence of the castaways during their 18-month ordeal—an all too common fate in the Great Age of Sail. A tale of intriguing complexity, with surprising twists and turns throughout, Left for Dead shows individuals in wartime under great duress acting both nobly and atrociously, and offers a unique perspective on a pivotal era in American maritime history.

Presenter: Eric Jay Dolin

Fiction
Saturday 10:15 AM
Firehouse Center
for the Arts

A Pandemic Novel in Three Acts: Michael Cunningham Is Back

Michael Cunningham, who won the Pulitzer and international acclaim for his fourth novel, The Hours, returns to the literary stage with his eighth, Day. Nearly 10 years since his last book—the author was reportedly halfway through another when COVID hit—Cunningham explores a day in the life of three members of a dysfunctional family in the years 2019, 2020, and 2021. But while Day is about the pandemic, it’s also about so much more. In conversation with literary editor Courtney Hodell.

Presenter: Michael Cunningham
Moderator: Courtney Hodell

Poetry
Saturday 10:15 AM
Central Congregational Church

The Poetry of Irina Mashinski and Aaron Caycedo-Kimura

Out of the fire of memory, two poets craft powerful records of devastation and loss, gritty determination and hope. In The Naked World, Irina Mashinski, trained in paleogeography and a refugee whose family survived the Soviet purges, knows how even after cataclysm, life-forms fiercely restart in “untidy happiness… in clumps and tufts.” In Ubasute and again in Common Grace, artist and poet Aaron Caycedo-Kimura explores his mother’s memories of the Tokyo firebombing and his father’s time in an American concentration camp. Whatever his subject, he has something wise we would do well to learn.

Presenters: Irina Mashinski and Aaron Caycedo-Kimura

Fiction
Saturday 10:15 AM
Old South Church,
Social Hall

For the Love of Dog

Alexandra Horowitz, author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (2009) and The Year of the Puppy: How Dogs Become Themselves (2022), will chat about her research and all things dog-related with Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling novelist and author of Woodrow on the Bench: Life Lessons From a Wise Old Dog (2021).

Presenter: Alexandra Horowitz
Moderator: Jenna Blum

Nonfiction
Saturday 11:00 AM
City Hall

All In, All Together: West Newbury’s “Great Play Day” and More Events and Celebrations!

New England town meetings serve a vital municipal purpose, setting local government’s course for the coming months and year. In West Newbury, town meetings also have had enormous entertainment value. Consider the 1910 Scribner’s story “Town Meeting Day,” supposedly based on the West Newbury town meeting, in which the moderator “dropped his useless gavel, seized a chair, and poised it above the tumult.” Welcome to West Newbury, quintessential small town New England, where from much of the 19th into the 20th century, the entire populace planned, anticipated, and enjoyed an annual en masse summer’s day outing to the beach (the “great play day of the year”)—yet then and now at the town meeting, “they all try to run it, each in a different direction.” These historical vignettes encompass the experiences of Indigenous peoples and colonists; generals and soldiers; workers, manufacturers, and farmers; authors; adventurers; athletes; women seeking the right to vote and participate fully in the community; and Black citizens finding their rightful place. They span the difficult early days of colonization, the anxiety and sorrow of the Civil War, the exhilarating exploration of the West, fresh hopes of the post-World War II era, and other framing events of the nation—always centered on small-town community.

Presenter: E.J. Grammer

Fiction
Saturday 11:00 AM
Newburyport Public Library

Colonialism, Racism, and the Cosmos: A Conversation With Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s award-winning novel Digging Stars blends drama and satire in the story of a young graduate student who is poised to attain her dream of researching the cosmos but is plagued by anxiety attacks she calls “The Terrors” and forced to grapple with questions about the life and death of her late astronomer father. Tshuma will be in conversation with author Yvette Lisa Ndlovu (Drinking from Graveyard Wells).

Presenter: Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
Moderator: Yvette Lisa Ndlovu

Nonfiction
Saturday 11:00 AM
Jabberwocky Bookshop

The World Behind the World: How the Brain Creates Our Conscious Experience

Dr. Erik Hoel grew up in his family’s bookstore, local favorite Jabberwocky Bookshop, and went on to become a neuroscientist, Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient in science, and writer. His latest book, The World Behind the World, is a fascinating look at the nature of consciousness and shows us that at long last, science is coming to understand the fundamental mystery of human existence.

Presenter: Erik Hoel
Moderator: Mary Barlow

Fiction
Saturday 11:30 AM
Unitarian Universalist Church

A Love Story That Transcends Time

Publishers Weekly called Cynthia Zarin’s novel Inverno “A sly and beguiling love story doubling as a meditation on the nature of time.” Zarin’s poetic prose and inventive narrative tell the story of Caroline and Alistair’s love in the present moment and across decades. Zarin will be in conversation with Alexandra Jacobs, book critic for The New York Times.

Presenter: Cynthia Zarin
Moderator: Alexandra Jacobs

Poetry
Saturday 11:30 AM
Central Congregational Church

The Poetry of Anna V.Q. Ross and Charles Coe

In a world run amok, Anna Ross’s stunning collection Flutter, Kick keeps its subjects close, nurturing poems as tenderly as her own children and the five black hens she often writes of, and as skillfully as she tends her garden, where “even when the… crop is good, something… is always dying.” With everything gone awry, Charles Coe, in Purgatory Road, turns his gaze, “calm and quiet” as a yard sale buddha and watchful as a “red-tailed hawk / perched… nearby” on those around him. Out for a stroll, he captures city life in details that are by turns surprising, funny, delightful, and heartbreaking.

Presenters: Anna V.Q. Ross and Charles Coe

Fiction
Saturday 11:30 AM
Firehouse Center for the Arts

Lost Innocence: Daisy Alpert Florin in Conversation With Jill Gross

Set against the backdrop of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, Daisy Alpert Florin’s debut novel, My Last Innocent Year, follows Isabel Rosen during her final semester at a New England college. After a nonconsensual sexual encounter with a fellow student ends in disaster, Isabel falls into an ill-advised affair with a married professor. Local writer Jill Gross, who attended high school with Daisy in New York City, will sit down with the author to learn about her creative process, including character development and setting, writing from experience, how the book functions as a response to the #MeToo movement, and more. The author will also read from her novel and participate in a Q&A.

Presenter: Daisy Alpert Florin
Moderator: Jill Oestreicher Gross

Fiction
Saturday 11:30 AM
Old South Church

The Ocean State Comes to the Bay State

Last year, our New England state focus brought you to the coast of Maine. This year, we head south to visit our region’s most diminutive state. Small but mighty, Rhode Island has produced more than its share of authors and literary works. Join two of them, Luanne Rice (Last Night) and Ann Hood (The Stolen Child), as they talk about living, working, and creating fictional worlds in the Ocean State. Longtime Rhode Island resident and literary influencer Robin Kall will moderate.

Presenters: Luanne Rice and Ann Hood
Moderator: Robin Kall

Nonfiction
Saturday 12:00 PM
City Hall

 

Meet Newburyport’s Early Black Residents

Ghlee E. Woodworth will take you on a visual tour of Newburyport’s Black History from the 1700s to the early 1900s. Meet the formerly enslaved who made their home in our community, a resident who attended the Perkins School for the Blind, men and women business owners, sailors, and young ladies who stood up for equal education. See the results of the ground-penetrating radar project at Old Hill Burying Ground. Did we find unmarked burials? Come join us. Seats fill up fast!

Presenter: Ghlee E. Woodworth

Nonfiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Old South Church, Social Hall

In Bloom: Plants and Their Meanings

Pairing 19th-century botanical drawings with electric photography, author Karen Azoulay has created a contemporary guide to the language of flowers. The study of floriography can help decode messages—or send secret missives. Did you know honeysuckle means “bonds of love” or marigolds translate into despair? It’s also a chance to revel in the beauty of blooms, and just in time for spring. In conversation with a passionate gardener and distinguished professor of English at Endicott College, Charlotte Gordon.

Presenter: Karen Azoulay
Moderator: Charlotte Gordon

Fiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church

Napa, Nantucket, and North Carolina: The Power of Place

Characters and plot are necessary parts of the worldbuilding of any novel, but without the third tentpole of setting, the structure would topple. We’re bringing you three authors whose vivid settings are as much a character in their books as the characters. Join moderator Laura Szaro Kopinski, host of the popular author interview podcast A Bookish Home, as she talks with Namrata Patel, Julie Gerstenblatt, and Sara Johnson Allen, whose books take us, respectively, to Paris and Napa; Nantucket in 1846; and North Carolina.

Presenters: Namrata Patel, Julie Gerstenblatt, and Sara Johnson Allen
Moderator: Laura Szaro Kopinski

Nonfiction | Comics
Saturday 1:00 PM
Newburyport Public Library

Enlightened Transsexual Comix with Sam Szabo and Nikole Beckwith

In Enlightened Transsexual Comix, artist and Newburyport native Sam Szabo has created a world where a “raw, uncut heroine roams the wasteland in defense of trans rights and trans wrongs.” This subversive collection of work is “a psychedelic stew of social satire and gonzo gender theory.” In conversation with director, screenwriter, and playwright Nikole Beckwith.

Presenter: Sam Szabo
Moderator: Nikole Beckwith

Nonfiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
City Hall

Going One Better: Newburyport’s William Bartlet

William Bartlet (1748-1841) was a sixth-generation shoemaker trained by his father, Edmund. Then, as a young enterprising youth, he entered the West Indies trade, first with his father, then on his own, soon becoming a successful maritime merchant and Newburyport’s wealthiest citizen by 1797. In 1778, he built his fine three-story American Georgian mansion on King (now Federal) Street above the Merrimack River, near his store, wharf, and warehouses. The Motes’ newest volume resolves a century-old error in the date of construction of the Bartlet mansion on Federal Street and presents for the first time a full history of this fine Georgian mansion to the present time and explains how William Bartlet achieved his great wealth.

Presenters: Skip and Marge Motes

Nonfiction
Saturday 1:00 PM
Jabberwocky Bookshop

On Food, Adventure, and the Secret to Successful Self-improvement

In To Boldly Grow: Finding Joy, Adventure, and Dinner in Your Own Backyard, journalist Tamar Haspel shows us that raising and gathering your own food is not as hard as you’d think. After Haspel (a self-defined “crappy gardener”) moves from New York to Cape Cod, she and her husband set a goal to take a more hands-on approach to their diet by gardening, foraging, hunting, and raising chickens. In this witty memoir, Haspel shares practical tips, gratifying successes, spectacular failures, and a great deal of hard-won wisdom. In conversation with Newburyport native Dave Becker, owner of Juniper restaurant in Wellesley.

Presenter: Tamar Haspel
Moderator: Dave Becker

Poetry
Saturday 1:30 PM
Central Congregational Church

The Poetry of Cynthia Manick and Marcia Karp

Conflicting emotions, emerging from profoundly deep personal spaces, unite the recent poetry by Cynthia Manick and Marcia Karp. In No Sweet Without Brine, Manick draws the reader into her far-from-silent soulful odes and celebratory orations on her journey to young Black womanhood, as she draws the reader to, as Rachel Eliza Griffiths says, “shores and rooftops, reminding us of our calling to leap, fly.” In If by Song, Marcia Karp’s poems, in the words of Edward Mendelson, “have the rare double merit of being precise and passionate, products of a distinctive personal voice that succeeds in speaking for anyone who has ever thought deeply about emotions that are felt deeply. These are poems that transform unhappiness into aesthetic and intellectual pleasure.”

Presenters: Cynthia Manick and Marcia Karp

Nonfiction
Saturday 1:30 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts

A Dramatic True Story of a Couple’s Escape from Enslavement, With an Appearance in Newburyport

In Master Slave Husband Wife, Massachusetts author Ilyon Woo shares the love story of William and Ellen Craft and the thrilling details of their 1848 escape from bondage in Georgia to freedom in the North. With Ellen posing as a wealthy white man and William as “his” enslaved person, the Crafts dodged slave traders, military officers, and friends of their enslavers along the way. They settled in New England to travel and speak with abolitionist luminaries, including a famous address in Newburyport, but their stay was cut short by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. Woo is joined in conversation by Caleb Gayle. Sponsored by Massachusetts Center for the Book, administrator of the Massachusetts Book Awards.

Presenter: Ilyon Woo
Moderator: Caleb Gayle

Fiction/Nonfiction
Saturday 1:30 PM
Old South Church

Gaining Agency: Two Literary Agents Talk Business

For many writers seeking to publish their work, landing an agent can be the most mystifying, most challenging, most frustrating part of the process. What are agents looking for? How do you find one? What do agents do, anyway? What are the biggest mistakes agent queriers make, and how can you avoid them? Moderated by local novelist Meg Mitchell Moore, this panel will delve into these conundrums and more with experienced literary agents Esmond Harmsworth and Gillian MacKenzie. Bring your questions; we’ll save time for them.

Presenters: Esmond Harmsworth and Gillian MacKenzie
Moderator: Meg Mitchell Moore

Nonfiction
Saturday 2:00 PM
City Hall

Ice Ship to Calcutta: Captain Pritchard and the Strange Tale of the Elcano

On June 15, 2023, the Museum of Old Newbury purchased a slate tablet from an auction in Cincinnati, Ohio, a notebook paper-sized piece of thin stone, double-sided and framed in walnut. This slate deck log became, accidentally, a permanent record of the last moments of a man’s life, and researching this artifact revealed a gripping story of love, loss, treachery, and murder at sea. Follow the harrowing maiden voyage of the Newburyport ship Elcano, overloaded with ice. Meet her first captain, his wife, the cabin boy, and an assortment of unforgettable characters, all headed to Calcutta as the Civil War rages.

Presenter: Bethany Groff Dorau

Fiction
Saturday 2:30 PM
Jabberwocky Bookshop

All the Lonely People: How Loneliness Can Spark Creativity

Loneliness is on the rise in our world but is also stigmatized and easily dismissed. In his book This Exquisite Loneliness: What Loners, Outcasts, and the Misunderstood Can Teach Us About Creativity, award-winning author Richard Deming turns the tables on loneliness, seeing it as something that we can learn from and which might actually draw us closer together. Offering both his own experiences and those of six notable individuals—from Zora Neale Hurston to Rod Serling—Deming explores how loneliness has played a role in some of the most innovative art of the 20th century. He will be in conversation with psychologist Dr. Edward Eagan of Newburyport.

Presenter: Richard Deming
Moderator: Edward Eagan

Poetry
Saturday 2:45 PM
Central Congregational Church

The Poetry of Andrea Cohen and Matt Miller

With cunning, surprise, and delight, like a chess grandmaster, the poet Andrea Cohen checkmates the normal, the everyday, the ordinary in a few deft moves. The quick wit and exacting metrics of the poems belie the sophistication of their insight into love’s ephemerality and our need for connection. Grittier poems, rising out of the mill town life that once thrived along the Merrimack, are found in Matt Miller’s Tender the River. Here are gathered in one powerful account the stories of his youth and his time in that place, stitched through with his deep understanding of its natural and cultural history.

Presenters: Andrea Cohen and Matt Miller

Fiction
Saturday 3:00 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts

The Ties That Bind: Complicated Families and Their Secrets

Family triangles are at the heart of two recent novels by bestselling authors. Adrienne Brodeur’s Little Monsters, set on Cape Cod, explores how the relationships between a widowed oceanographer and his grown son and daughter are threatened by the secrets they each keep. Stephen McCauley’s hilarious You Only Call When You’re in Trouble features a struggling architect of tiny houses whose devotion to his outrageous sister and cherished niece continually disrupts his life. Nancy Crochiere (Graceland) will moderate.

Presenters: Adrienne Brodeur and Stephen McCauley
Moderator: Nancy Crochiere

Nonfiction
Saturday 3:00 PM
City Hall

Reclaiming the Merrimack: An Action Plan to Clean the River

In the new book Reclaiming the Merrimack: An Action Plan to Clean the River, author-journalist Dyke Hendrickson delves into the history of the 117-mile waterway, including the arrival of the textile mills in Lowell in 1822. For two centuries, factories have manufactured clothing and shoes on the river—while polluting it on a regular basis. However, the river is getting cleaner now. Hendrickson, the author of eight books, will explain this encouraging development. His book offers 75 color photos.

Presenter: Dyke Hendrickson

Nonfiction
Saturday 3:00 PM
Old South Church

The Most Literary Game

From John Updike to Michael Chabon to Stephen King to Emily Nemen (2020’s The Cactus League is so fun), literary authors have loved baseball and filled their pages with scenes from the diamond. It’s a sport ripe for in-depth documentation, too, and no sport has provided us with more books about its past, present, and future. In this session, Keith O’Brien and Chad Finn talk with the Book Shop of Beverly Farms’ Sam Pfeifle about their baseball books—Charlie Hustle and The Boston Globe Story of the Red Sox—and about what makes the sport so attractive to writers and readers. How has writing about baseball changed over the years, and what does it mean to carry on a legacy of writing about baseball in an area like Boston and greater New England, where people have been doing it for more than 100 years? Oh, and what’s the best baseball book?

Presenters: Keith O’Brien, Chad Finn
Moderator: Sam Pfeifle

Nonfiction
Saturday 3:00 PM
Old South Social Hall

Editorial Magic: Author and Editor Reflect on a Novel About Second Chances

Bestselling author Simon Van Booy’s most recent work of fiction, Sipsworth, is the story of a reclusive widow who, over the course of two weeks, finds an unexpected reason to live. This is the third book Van Booy and his editor, Joshua Bodwell of publisher David R. Godine, have worked on together. They will talk about the author-editor relationship, nontraditional plotlines, and the literary life.

Presenter: Simon Van Booy
Moderator: Josh Bodwell

Nonfiction
Saturday 3:00 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church

From Bounty Hunting to Fatherhood: Andre Dubus III on His New Book of Essays

In Ghost Dogs: On Killers and Kin, bestselling author and longtime friend of the festival Andre Dubus has collected essays that touch on the triumphs, pain, and unanswered questions of his life. Author Dani Shapiro writes: “Andre Dubus III is a literary treasure. These tender, elegant essays come to us directly from his battered heart, his noble soul, his powerful reckoning with the legacy of his childhood.”

Presenter: Andre Dubus III
Moderator: Alli Tervo

Fiction
Saturday 3:00 PM
Newburyport Public Library

Perfect Murders and Twisted Trails

Join two contemporary mystery writers at the top of their game as they discuss their newest novels with local crime writer Connie Hambley. In Blood Sisters, Vanessa Lillie introduces us to a Cherokee archeologist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs who is summoned to rural Oklahoma to investigate the disappearance of two women—one of whom is her sister. In The Kind Worth Saving, Peter Swanson brings us a private eye who starts to follow a possibly adulterous husband, but little does he know that the twisted trail will lead back to the woman who hired him. How do the authors’ visions of the perfect murder inform each mystery they write?

Presenters: Vanessa Lillie and Peter Swanson
Moderator: Connie Hambley

Fiction/Nonfiction
Saturday 3:00 PM
The Dance Place

Kate’s Place: Author Kate Bolick in Conversation With Nicholson Baker, Lucy Sante, Oline Eaton, and Annie Weatherwax

“Kate’s Place” began in 1994, when Newburyport native Kate Bolick waited tables at the late, great Scandia Restaurant. Every Thursday, after walking around town taking photographs, the late Bud Atkinson stopped in for a dozen oysters and a Bombay Sapphire martini. Over weekly chats they cooked up a scheme: When the young waitress grew up, they’d turn the old black-box theater on Water Street into “Kate’s Place,” where she’d host interesting people doing interesting things. A neon sign of kicking Rockettes would stretch from the roof all the way to Salisbury Beach.

Time passed. Bolick grew up. Atkinson died. The theater became a residence.

And now, 30 years since that fateful summer, and nearly 20 years since Atkinson’s death, the scheme has at last come to fruition! To celebrate the inaugural meeting of “Kate’s Place,” Bolick invited four particularly ingenious writers to come share their latest projects, each more different than the last, all exploring the mysterious, overlapping borderland between the end of words and the beginning of pictures, and/or vice versa. They are:

  • 3:00 PM: Nicholson Baker: Finding a Likeness: How I Got Somewhat Better at Art
  • 3:30 PM: Lucy Sante: I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition
  • 4:00 PM: Oline Eaton: Finding Jackie: A Life Reinvented
  • 4:30 PM: Annie Weatherwax: “Monster in a Dress” (a “kinetic short story”)

Poetry
Saturday 4:00 PM
Central Congregational Church

The Poetry of January Gill O’Neil and Rhina P. Espaillat

Becoming the woman you are in your time in history depends crucially on inner resilience. In Glitter Road, January Gill O’Neil illustrates hers. Written following her divorce, O’Neil’s lyrical verse recounts her trip to Mississippi, revisiting her early life’s loves and traumas and confronting life-changing events entwined with our nation’s history—including the magnanimity of Tina Turner, the tragedy of Emmett Till, and dreams in John Grisham’s bed—before returning home, north of Boston, in love again. Rhina P. Espaillat, in her masterful translation of the witty and expertly crafted Petrarchan sonnets of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in The Liquid Pour in Which my Heart Has Run, reveals the brilliant, unstoppable, self-educated woman scholar and poet of 17th-century New Spain, known as “The Phoenix of the Americas,” who was continually challenged but never silenced in her chosen literary life as a nun.

Presenters: January Gill O’Neil and Rhina P. Espaillat

Nonfiction
Saturday 5:00 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts

B.B. King: From Indianola to Icon

Blues photographer Charlie Sawyer has been behind the camera since the mid-1960s. His 2022 book B.B. King: From Indianola to Icon follows the “King of the Blues” from his humble roots in Mississippi to Carnegie Hall and beyond. Sawyer will be in conversation with fellow musician and writer Steve Yarbrough, and Sawyer and his blues band, 2120 South Michigan Avenue, will perform a short music set.

Presenter: Charlie Sawyer
Moderator: Steve Yarbrough

Nonfiction
Saturday 7:00 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts

Oh, Didn’t They Ramble: The Story of Rounder Records

In 1970, Ken Irwin and Marian Leighton Levy, along with Bill Nowlin, started Rounder Records, simultaneously releasing albums by old-time banjo player George Pegram and young old-timey Cambridge string band the Spark Gap Wonder Boys. Over the next 50 years, Rounder’s catalog grew to more than 3,000 records, documenting roots music and its contemporary offshoots—from blues to bluegrass to folk—including George Thorogood, Alison Krauss, and Robert Plant. Author David Menconi documents Rounder Records’ history in Oh, Didn’t They Ramble. Join us for a conversation on Rounder Records with both the author and the founders. Folk duo Green Heron will perform.

Presenters: Ken Irwin, Marian Levy, and David Menconi
Moderator: James Sullivan

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Nonfiction
Sunday starting at 10 AM and 11 AM
Meet at the Essex Street Inn,
7 Essex St, Newburyport, MA 01950

Ghlee Woodworth leads walks along Newburyport’s Clipper Heritage Trail

Newburyport historian and festival honoree Ghlee E. Woodworth will lead two walks through the city. Woodworth is a 12th-generation Newburyport native and the creator of Newburyport’s Clipper Heritage Trail, a series of self-guided history tours accessed via the web, brochures, and smartphones. On Sunday, she will lead two tours of downtown Newburyport for those interested in learning more about the historic city.

Presenter: Ghlee E. Woodworth

Fiction
Sunday 9:30 – 11:00 AM

REGISTER

Zoom Event
The Gateless Workshop: A Creative, Critic-Free Approach to Writing & Craft

Have you ever felt the deep urge to write, but couldn’t? Do you question your work and find yourself stuck? It’s not that you “can’t” write, but that you’re conditioned to judge it before it has a chance. Come experience a fresh, critic-free approach to writing and craft unlike any other you’ve experienced. This workshop will be led by two facilitators certified in the Gateless Method, Terri Trespicio (Unfollow Your Passion) and Daisy Florin (My Last Innocent Year). Participants will be given the framework guidelines, and then invited to write to a prompt. You may even have the opportunity to share what you wrote. Discover what can happen when you open the gates to your writing, and find your flow again. Don’t miss it. Registration required for this free workshop.

Presenters: Terri Trespicio and Daisy Florin
Moderator: Jill Gross and Leslie Hendrickson

Fiction
Sunday 11:15 AM

REGISTER

Zoom Event
The Flapper and The Fairy Castle: The Fictionalized Life of Doreen O’Dare

Bestselling author Kathleen Rooney’s latest novel, From Dust to Stardust, was inspired by the extraordinary true story of Doreen O’Dare, the preeminent movie flapper of the Jazz Age. A story of ambition, tragedy, the price of fame, and the secrets of a dangerous marriage, the novel relates Doreen’s dream of lifting the country’s spirits during the Great Depression by constructing a one-ton miniature fairy castle. Rooney will be in conversation with professional book nerd Liberty Hardy, a senior contributing editor at BookRiot and co-host of the All The Books! Podcast.

Presenters: Kathleen Rooney
Moderator: Liberty Hardy

Nonfiction
Sunday 1:00 PM

REGISTER

Zoom Event
Testimony: Stories of World War II

Inspired by archived testimonies, Lauren Grodstein’s novel We Must Not Think of Ourselves follows a teacher who is collecting stories from Jewish children and other residents of a Warsaw ghetto in 1940. Toni Reavis’ BISIA & ISHAM: The Countess & the P.O.W. tells the story of two soldiers from different worlds who met, and married, 11 days later in a café in Lublin, Poland. The authors will discuss research, connections, and the stories that survive.

Presenters: Lauren Grodstein and Toni Reavis

Fiction
Sunday 2:15 PM

REGISTER

Zoom Event
Relationships and Revenge in YA Mystery

Mysteries are one of the hottest genres in YA right now and we have three recently published authors to tell us how they do it. E.A. Neeves, author of After You Vanished; Jordyn Taylor, author of The Revenge Game; and Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Harvest House, will join us to discuss missing girls, hauntings, romance and relationships, revenge, and more.

Presenters: E.A. Neeves, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Jordyn Taylor
Moderator: TK

Nonfiction
Sunday 3:30 PM

REGISTER

Zoom Event
John Updike’s Ghost: Live from the Book Shop podcast recording with Jami Attenberg and Steve Almond

Live from the Book Shop: John Updike’s Ghost is a biweekly podcast hosted by Sam Pfeifle and Hannah Harlow, co-owners of The Book Shop of Beverly Farms. Join them for a very special episode with guests Jami Attenberg, most recently the author of 1000 WORDS: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Creative, Focused, and Productive All Year Long, and Steve Almond, most recently the author of Truth Is the Arrow, Mercy Is the Bow: A DIY Manual for the Construction of Stories, for a discussion about reading as writers and the books they’re reading now.

Presenters: Jami Attenberg and Steve Almond
Moderators: Sam Pfeifle and Hannah Harlow