What I’m Up To:
On Saturday June 17, the town of Easton will host the second annual Delmarva Pride Festival, and I’m thrilled to announce that Shore Lit will be participating with a Pride Pop-Up Bookshop celebrating queer stories for everyone.
We’re partnering with our friends at The Ivy, the cherished Baltimore bookstore, whose brilliant booksellers have put together a stellar collection of titles with queer and trans themes for you to browse and shop. There is truly something for everyone: romance, sci-fi, memoir, children’s, YA, poetry, literary fiction… you name it.
We’re especially excited that award-winning author and illustrator Elizabeth Lilly will be joining us in the afternoon to chat and sign books! Elizabeth’s work for children deals with the difficulty of understanding and loving yourself: Geraldine is about a lonely giraffe navigating life in a human school, while Let Me Fix You a Plate is about the food and love in her dual Colombian and American cultures. Elizabeth finds pride and joy in her identity as a lesbian, bi-racial, Colombian Latina, and she’s put together a curated capsule featuring some of her own favorite inspiring YA and picture books. Stop by and say hi!
What I’m Up To:
I think a lot about what life in a rural community offers us that life in the city can’t. When I left New York, I hoped I would be trading quantity for quality. That has turned out to be true for me.
While I had access to so much in New York, I found, after a while, that I wasn’t really absorbing any of it. For me, the gift of living in a small town is time and attention. Both are more abundant here, and I can afford to be more generous with each than I ever could in the city. My life is richer as a result.
The same principle applies to Shore Lit. As a one-person organization, I will never be able to produce the number of events a great city bookstore does. But that was never the point. My hope in starting Shore Lit was to offer this community a way to connect through literature—to read excellent books we may not have otherwise discovered, and to discuss the ideas presented in those books with our neighbors in a setting that encourages curiosity. It’s about the conversations, as much as it’s about the content.
With that in mind, I’m experimenting with a new community conversation series this summer. Academy Art Museum Director Sarah Jesse and I will be leading a Summer Book Club in the AAM galleries—one book each month that coincides with the themes of an AAM exhibition.
These conversations will be intimate, 15 to 20 people tops (depending on the size of the gallery), giving participants the chance to connect with one another and to share their responses, interpretations, and questions about the work—both the art work on the walls, and the text we’re reading. Sarah and I will give some background on each, and we’ll offer some guided questions, but we won’t be lecturing. We imagine these as facilitated conversations, rather than formal talks. All are free (though registration is required for planning purposes), and books are available for purchase at AAM. I hope you’ll join us!
What I’m Up To:
I came late to poetry. Though I was always a hungry reader, the poetry I was exposed to in school was old and, it seemed to me then, boring. I didn’t get it. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school for creative writing, when I was suddenly surrounded by young writers talking seriously about craft and constantly swapping their favorite poems, that I began to really read it. I’ve come to love poetry’s mix of playfulness and precision. It’s still the genre I have to work hardest at, but it’s now as essential to my reading life as prose.
So this year, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I’m particularly excited to be partnering with the Talbot County Free Library and The Shore Poetry journal to present a special eco-poetry event. We’re bringing together fifteen fantastic poets—all previous contributors to The Shore Poetry—on Earth Day to share work that engages with the theme of place and our human impact on it.
Even if you don’t think you’re a “poetry person” (maybe especially if you don’t think you’re a poetry person), I hope you’ll join us for this fun, casual event. Come as you are, stay for one poem or the whole show, and check out some of the most exciting contemporary poetry being created in our region.
What We’re Up To This Month:
I discovered Lawrence Weschler in 2006 while interning at McSweeney’s, the indie house that had just published his award-winning essay collection Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences. In it, he explores images, forms, and compositions found in life that seem also to repeat throughout art history: Rothko’s 1969 black and white colorblocks mirroring newspaper covers from that year’s moon landing; Joel Meyerowitz’s photograph of a 9/11 first responder echoing Valezquez’s rendering of the god of war. Art, imitating life, imitating art.
The interns at McSweeney’s are not paid, or they weren’t then, but they are invited on their last day to help themselves to a few books from the office stock, which is how I came to own that volume (which is, sadly, now out of print). I flipped through it, fascinated, and then put it on my bookshelf for a decade. It wasn’t until grad school that I truly got to know his writing, when a professor assigned his seminal essay “Vermeer in Bosnia.” In it, he draws connections between the Vermeer paintings he observed hanging in the Mauritshuis Museum and the Yugoslav war-crimes tribunal he was covering nearby in The Hague. He concludes, startlingly and convincingly, that these apparently incomparable things are in fact remarkably similar: they are both about finding interior peace in the face of ravaging violence.
This is, I now know, Weschler’s specialty: pairing seemingly unrelated things to revelatory effect. I was stunned by the power of his insights as well as the openness of his prose. In refreshing contrast to the tight-fisted academic exegeses I was used to, Weschler’s essays are rangy conversations, brilliant and accessible, illuminating and human-scaled. I had found my new favorite essayist.
Reserve Your Seat for Jung Yun @ AAM!
What I’m Up To This Month:
Next week, for our first event of the spring season, Jung Yun will be in town to discuss her fantastic novel O Beautiful. I couldn’t be looking forward to this book talk more.
This was one of my favorite reads of 2022 for a couple reasons, including the protagonist, who is unlike any fictional heroine I’ve met. A quick synopsis: Now in her forties, newly minted journalist Elinor Hanson returns home to North Dakota to write about the impact of the oil boom on the state. Elinor is complex—both tough and vulnerable, ambitious and self-destructive, like many women I know in real life, and I can’t wait to talk to Jung about how she managed to craft such a realistic and compelling heroine.
I also love the way this novel refuses to make villains out of ordinary people, or to take sides in the complicated arguments over ownership and belonging the oil boom exacerbated in small towns suddenly overrun with itinerant workers. Race, class, gender, and violence are considered thoughtfully and with empathy for all involved, broadening the conversation, rather than shutting it down. For more pre-game chat, click through to my interview with Jung in the Talbot Spy. And don’t forget to reserve your seat!
Announcing Our Spring Line-Up: Save the Dates!
What I’m Up To:
Happy new year! We are just about to enter the deepest, darkest part of winter—or, as I like to call it, reading season. As things slow down this time of year, the world seems to give us permission to get quiet, stay in, and cozy up with a good book. I find I read more in January than I do pretty much any other time of year. You know that Scandinavian saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,”? My version would be something like, “no bad weather, only bad books.”
As you prep your own TBR piles and select your book-club reads for the upcoming months, here are two I highly recommend: Jung Yun’s fantastic novel O, Beautiful and Lawrence Weschler’s mind-blowing book of essays, Everything that Rises. Shore Lit is hosting both of these incredible authors in partnership with the Academy Museum of Art this season and we hope to see many of you there!
Also, please save the date for Saturday, April 22—Earth Day. We are working on a very special eco-poetry event, presented in collaboration with The Shore Poetry journal and Talbot County Free Library, featuring several fantastic poets. More details to come on that soon! For now, keep scrolling for more info on our spring events at AAM.
The Buzzed Word, Ocean City
Bookstores vs. Amazon: