Book Notes: Canaan Meetinghouse Readings Return With Joyce Carol Oates and More

With the departure of longtime coordinator William Craig, it seemed as if the revered Canaan Meetinghouse reading series would shuffle off the Upper Valley’s summer stage.

But Phil Pochoda, former editorial director of University Press of New England, one of his many publishing stops, agreed to step in last fall for the series’ 26th season.

The lineup announced this week is in keeping with the Meetinghouse tradition of bringing notable writers from around New England along with a writer or two from farther afield to Canaan’s historic 1793 Meetinghouse.

The series starts with a bang on July 11, with readings from Cleopatra Mathis and Joyce Carol Oates. Mathis, of Post Mills, will read from her recent collection of poems, Book of Dog. Oates is among the most highly decorated American novelists of her generation. She will read from The Accursed, her new novel, which is set in Princeton, N.J., where she has taught since 1978.

On July 18, Jay Parini, who has become known for his novels, will read from a poetry manuscript to be published in the fall. He will be joined by Nicholas Delbanco, who will read from The Sherbrookes, his recently re-released fiction trilogy.

Belmont, Mass., author Megan Marshall will read from her recent biography of Margaret Fuller, a 19th-century American writer and feminist, on July 25. While her previous work was well received, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, “pushes Ms. Marshall into the front rank of American biographers,” book critic Dwight Garner wrote in The New York Times in March. She will be joined by Lincoln, Vt., author Chris Bohjalian, who will read from his novel The Light in the Ruins.

And on Aug. 1, Burlington author and genuine Vermont character Joe Citro will read from Vermont Haunts: Tall Tales and True from the Green Mountain State. Also, Ivy Pochoda will read from her novel, Visitation Street , to close out this summer.

The readings are free and open to the public and seating is first come, first served. They start at 7:30 p.m.

∎ A reader doesn’t have to look far to see that Sydney Lea’s voice is one of the most prominent in Vermont literature right now.

As the state’s Poet Laureate, he has made himself a constant presence, giving talks and writing for newspapers, including this one. It doesn’t hurt that he has also brought out a couple of books since donning the laurel crown in 2011. After last year’s A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters and Wildlife, a series of essay-like memoirs of his rural friends and mentors, Lea has returned with his 11th collection of poems.

A read through I Was Thinking of Beauty (Four Way Books) finds a narrator looking by turns calmly and uneasily back at his life, contemplating “things I have done/ Ones I have left undone.” (The same poem, Small Jeremiad, contains two lines that lead back to Frost, who was forever on the edge of light and dark that faith lives on: “My life’s the only life I’ll ever own./ I own it all when memory wings in.”

∎ Poetry is the rage, or seems to be, in the Upper Valley right now, what with Bloodroot Literary Magazine and Harbor Mountain Press publishing verse and poets gathering to read at libraries and coffeeshops. Those readings continue on June 17 at 7 p.m. in the Mayer Room of Hanover’s Howe Library, with readings from Hanover resident Suzanne Dubroff and Jeff Friedman, of West Lebanon. The reading is part of the Howe’s “Read Local” series.

∎ A group of Cornish residents have been working on a history of the past 50 years in their town. The hardcover book is complete, and the book will be launched at a reception Thursday evening at 6 at the Cornish Meeting House in Cornish Flat. Among the authors are Diane Miller-Liggett, John Dryfhout and Colleen O’Neil.

∎ Among the self-published books that have crossed the desk here recently is On Horseback and Healing, a memoir by Hartland resident Sharon Miller Blake in which she chronicles a difficult childhood and a recent injury sustained in a horseback riding accident.

Alex Hanson can be reached at or 603-727-3219.