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Posts Tagged ‘author talks’

Karin Tanabe Discusses “The Gilded Years” at BPL

Posted on September 16th, 2016 by rlavery in General

img_1869The Gilded Years author Karin Tanabe visited the Central Library on Thursday, September 15 to discuss her historical fiction work, which tells the story of Anita Hemmings, the first black woman to attend and graduate Vassar College by passing as a white woman in the late 1890s. Anita has local ties – she grew up in Roxbury and worked at the Boston Public Library as a cataloguer, and likely met her husband at the BPL. Tanabe is a Vassar alumna and first got the idea for the book in 2014, when she flipped through her alumni magazine and saw mention of Anita. She began researching the woman and quickly found that not too much information could be found, but the subject of her next book was quickly brewing in her head.

Tanabe and some of her friends visited Vassar to search through their archives to find correspondence and details about Anita Hemmings. She was active in school, a member of the debate club and choir, and a very intelligent woman. Though no “majors” existed at Vassar at the time, Anita focused on languages and wanted to be a teacher. The year after she graduated, her college roommate of two years leaked the news that she was an African-American woman after her suspicions were raised in their senior year. After college, Anita married and lived with her husband in Tennessee before relocated to New York City. Anita did not pursue a teaching career after marrying and having children.

A question and answer period followed the reading of a passage. Audience members were curious to know if Anita was related to Peter or Sally Hemmings (maybe), and if Tanabe had communicated with any of Anita’s ancestors; Tanabe has been in touch with Anita’s great granddaughter. Listeners also asked if Anita was involved in civil rights issues, and Tanabe said she was not, to her knowledge, but Anita had a best friend who went to Wellesley College who was. One of the most challenging aspects of writing this book, Tanabe said, was tracking down the name of Anita’s roommate; she wrote most of the book without knowing. Tanabe also discussed how the book has relevance today, as racial tensions and acceptance of others is still an issue more than 100 years later.

Tanabe concluded the talk by signing books and showing photographs of Anita and others related to The Gilded Years.

The next Author Talk is Tuesday, September 20, at 6 p.m. in Rabb Hall at the Central Library in Copley Square, featuring Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches: Salem, 1692.

Michael Patrick MacDonald Kicks Off Fall Author Talk Series

Posted on September 14th, 2016 by kmiller in General

mpm_1Michael Patrick MacDonald, the author of All Souls and Easter Rising, spoke to a captivated audience that filled the newly renovated Rabb Hall at the Central Library in Copley Square last night. MacDonald spent the hour reading from his debut novel All Souls and exploring his emotional journey and experience in South Boston during the 1980s and 1990s. A slideshow of his family and the South Boston Old Colony Housing Project where he grew up played in the background, giving a quiet but powerful context to the memories MacDonald related.

The first reading included an ode to the time MacDonald spent at the Boston Public Library during his high school years. He described the library as his shelter and safe haven. He spent so much time at the library, he added, that he eventually got a job shelving books—an anecdote that garnered applause from the audience. Fond memories of the library segued into his relationship with the world of punk rock. MacDonald’s story of stalking the band Sex Pistols, who were staying at the Central Library’s neighbor the Lenox Hotel, illustrated his sense of living in two worlds: South Boston and the punk rock scene, which allowed him to escape the harsh realities of Southie life.

MacDonald also explored the tragedies that took the lives of four of his eleven siblings and informed the writing of All Souls. His grief over these losses manifested as physical ailments. After going to see doctors all over the city, MacDonald finally was recommended to a therapist, an experience that made him realize that what happened to his family and his circumstances in Southie were not “normal.” Even more importantly, it helped MacDonald acknowledge the tragic events in his life.

The night concluded with numerous questions from the audience. MacDonald talked about his community organizing and the importance of that work as a way for him to transform his pain into good. MacDonald’s new book, with the working title The Echoes, focuses on the heroin epidemic in South Boston and Charlestown in the 90s and is slated for release in 2017.

This talk is part of the Boston Public Library’s Lowell Lecture Series and is generously sponsored by the Lowell Institute, established in 1836 with the specific mission of making great ideas accessible to all people, free of charge.

The next  Author Talk is on Thursday, September 15, at 6 p.m. featuring Karin Tanabe, author of Gilded Years, and takes place in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library in Copley Square.

Boston Public Library June Literary Events at Locations Across the City

Posted on May 24th, 2016 by rlavery in Media Releases

Downloads3Boston Public Library offers a wealth of author talks and book sales throughout the month of June; visit www.bpl.org/calendar for a complete list.

  • The Brighton Branch, located at 40 Academy Hill Road, holds a book sale on Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • The Central Library, located at 700 Boylston Street, hosts a book sale in the McKim building’s Cushman Room on Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator E.B. Lewis speaks to children about how picture books are created on Tuesday, June 7, at 4 p.m. at the Faneuil Branch, located at 419 Faneuil Street in Brighton.
  • The Parker Hill Branch hosts a book sale on Thursday, June 9, from 4-7:30 p.m. at 1497 Tremont Street in Roxbury.
  • Anthony M. Sammarco gives a slide show presentation and talk about his book Lost Boston, which details Boston’s fascinating lost architectural heritage on Thursday, June 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Lower Mills Branch, located at 27 Richmond Street in Dorchester.
  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor offers profound insights in her in-depth look at the political landscape that gave birth to Black Lives Matter, discussing From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation on Saturday, June 11, at 12 p.m. and on Saturday, June 25, at 12 p.m. at the Dudley Branch, located at 65 Warren Street.
  • Local author Myra Love speaks about her new book, My Life as a Poet: Minerva’s Story, which details Minerva’s senior year in high school, in which she resists others’ efforts to define her, even when illness and violence intrude. Monday, June 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Connolly Branch, located at 433 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.
  • Join biologist Nathan H. Lents for a discussion of his book Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals; through a mix of colorful reporting and rigorous scientific research, Lents describes the exciting strides scientists have made in decoding animal behavior. Thursday, June 16, at 6 p.m. at the East Boston Branch, located at 365 Bremen Street.
  • Local author Kenneth Turino speaks about his book Haymarket, as the Boston market district has changed dramatically but continues to serve a constant stream of students and tourists, longtime residents, and newly arrived immigrant families. Thursday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the West End Branch, located at 151 Cambridge Street.
  • Stop by the South End Branch, located at 685 Tremont Street, for a book sale on Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • The South Boston Branch, located at 646 East Broadway, holds a book sale on Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Jenna Blum reads from her book Those Who Save Us, which combines a love story and mother-daughter drama on Tuesday, June 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the South End Branch, located at 685 Tremont Street.
  • Bob Backlund, WWE Hall of Fame member, discusses his book Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling’s World Champion on Thursday, June 30, at 6 p.m. at the West End Branch, located at 151 Cambridge Street.

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Bee Panel at the Central Library in Copley Square

Posted on May 18th, 2016 by awilliams in General

BeesBees were the theme for the final Boston Public Library Author Talk of the spring, with guests Olivia Messigner Carril, co-author of The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees, and Thomas Seeley, author of Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting. The bee experts provided the audience with an overview of the different ways to observe and track the wild bees that live around us.

Seeley led off with an exploration of the art of bee hunting, which involves tracking bees to their nest through a process of luring and following them. To begin, a hunter catches a bee in a box designed specifically for bee hunting that contains a sugar water comb. When the bee is released it will return with its nest mates, allowing the bee hunter to see the “beeline,” or the direction in which the bees are flying. The hunter then moves further down the beeline with the box of bees, following the bees’ path as they again are released and return to the box with the food source. Eventually, the hunter will be able to follow them home to their nest. Seeley says the joy of bee hunting lies in observing the bees and locating their home. A bee hunter doesn’t have to be immersed in nature to go on a bee hunt; Seeley has conducted bee hunts everywhere from Harvard Yard to Central Park in New York City.

Messinger Carril followed with an overview of the wide variety of bee species – four thousand in the United States and Canada alone – and how to find and identify them. The solitary bee can make its home in everything from sand to pine cones and snail shells. Some bees even build beautiful nests out of flower petals. When encountering a wild bee, she said, an observer can use a camera phone to take pictures from a few different angles in order to identify the species later. To help illustrate the wide diversity of bees, she brought along a box of bee samples that showcased a range of bee types and sizes.

The authors concluded by taking questions from the engaged audience members who were eager to know more about bee populations and species. In response to one attendee’s question on how to support wild bees, Messinger Carril emphasized that it’s important to provide them with an undisturbed place to nest and to grow native plants that are not highly cultivated.

Thank you to all who attended our spring Author Talks. Boston Public Library’s Author Talks Series will return in the fall.

Joseph Bagley and “A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts”

Posted on May 12th, 2016 by awilliams in General

image1Joseph Bagley, City Archaeologist of Boston, wrapped up the BPL’s spring Local and Family History Series with a discussion of his new book A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts. He treated the crowd of 100 people that filled the Central Library’s Commonwealth Salon to images of some of the artifacts highlighted in the book as well as the fascinating stories behind them.

Bagley was inspired to write A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts by the volume A History of the World in 100 Objects. When writing the book, he made sure to select artifacts that represent all time periods in Boston history, not just the Revolution, and Bostonians from all walks of life. For instance, he highlights a plate found in an excavation of the 1806 African Meeting House on Beacon Hill that was part of a matched set of shell-edged pearlware – a luxury in the 19th century. It was identified as belonging to Domingo Williams, a free black man who lived below the meeting house and ran a successful business as an event caterer for Boston’s upper classes.

Other artifacts serve as a gateway into the lives of fascinating Bostonians throughout history. For example, the oldest bowling ball in North America, dating from 1660-1715, was uncovered in the North End in a privy on the property of Katherine Nanny Naylor. Though lawn bowling was illegal in Puritan society, the wealthy Nanny Naylor may have openly bowled as a sign of her elite status. Illegal bowling was just the tip of the iceberg of ignoring convention for Nanny Naylor; she was also the first woman in Massachusetts to successfully sue for divorce from her abusive husband.

Other artifacts highlighted in Bagley’s book remind readers that the history of Boston did not begin with the Puritans. A native spear point found during an archaeological survey of Boston Common dates from 5,500-7,500 years ago, making it older than Stonehenge or the Egyptian pyramids. Bagley also explored the stories behind such objects as a comb found in the Paul Revere House, a whizzer toy that belonged to the son of wealthy merchant and slave dealer Charles Apthorp, an arrowhead made from a kettle traded to native people, and a page from a Hebrew prayer book found in the walls of the African Meeting House.

Bagley concluded with an overview of the City of Boston Archaeology program, including the current work at the Malcolm X House. He emphasized that the program is truly public, as anyone is welcome to help excavate the property. During a question and answer session that followed, the audience proved eager to learn more about archaeology in Boston.