Calling All Book Lovers

Tuesday April 25, 2023

Newburyport Library

NEWBURYPORT AND BEYOND — In its 18th year, the Newburyport Literary Festival has gone hybrid.
Many of the popular festival’s offerings this weekend of interviews with authors and poets will be live on Friday night and all-day Saturday in multiple downtown venues.
But Sunday’s fare will be on-line, capitalizing on the festival’s growing worldwide following that developed during the Covid-19 years.
“We are a vibrant community of readers and writers who come together each year to bask in the love of reading,” the festival’s website describes itself. “A celebration of literature, from fiction to poetry to non-fiction and biography, the festival features author readings, panel discussions, and book signings held in venues across historic Newburyport, Massachusetts.”
This year, the festival opens at the Firehouse Center for the Arts with author Peter Orner, the director of creative writing at Dartmouth College, talking with fellow novelist Andre Dubus III, about why they can’t live without books.
Orner’s latest, Still No Word From You: Notes in the Margin, is described as “a unique chain of essays and intimate stories that meld the lived life and the reading life.”
Dubus, a literary festival stalwart, is the author of three novels – Such Kindness, Townie and House of Sand and Fog.
That free event will be followed by a $25 cocktail party at The Grog Restaurant, the only paid event for the weekend.
At 9 a.m., Saturday, the festival opens a packed day with the popular Breakfast With the Poets, featuring Powow River Poets reading their work at the Newburyport Public Library. Owen Grey will moderate nationally recognized poets Al Basile, Daniel Brown, Rhina Espaillat, Paulette Demers Turco, and Barbara Lydecker Crane reading work published since last year’s festival.
Or if poetry is not your cup of tea, there is a wide range of choices of fascinating authors discussing their works throughout the day.
At the Firehouse Center for the Arts, Robin Clifford Wood will discuss her tribute to Rachel Field, The Field House: A Writer’s Life Lost and Found on an Island in Maine. Field was one of the most beloved children’s authors of the beginning of the 20th century.
At Old South Church, Namrata Patel, Amy Poeppel and Jenny Jackson will discuss the houses that are central to their novels. Local author Holly Robinson will moderate.
If human stories bore you, stop in the Old South Church’s social hall to listen to Karen Find discuss her book, Fur, Feathers, and Scales: A Lifetime of Caring for Pets.
At the Unitarian Universalist Church, Carla Panciera, Dennis Donoghue and M.G. Barlow will converse about memories of their childhoods. Jane Ward will moderate the panel.
Venture down Pleasant Street to City Hall where Christopher Gorham and moderator Dyke Hendrickson will discuss Gorham’s book on Hungarian immigrant Anna Marie Rosenberg. She was described as the most influential hero of World War II that almost no one has ever heard of. She was a close advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt and organized President Kennedy’s famous birthday party when Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.”
Beginning at 10 a.m., the festival presents another 25 events, including fiction, non-fiction and young adult works, in several downtown locations that continue through the afternoon.
After dinner at your favorite downtown restaurant, walk to the Firehouse to hear a collection of local authors, Dubus, Meg Mitchell Moore, Kamila Shamsie, Alfred Nicol and Peter Berkot, reading from their upcoming novels at the Firehouse.
Sunday presents fewer choices, but you can rest your tired legs as you view outstanding authors from the comfort of your own computer screen. The topics range from murder and cemeteries to modern day relationships.
The events are free thanks to the generosity of the Newburyport Bank, the Institution for Savings and dozens of other friends and donors.
For a full list of events and donors, visit

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