Gloucester’s Charles Olson Centennial Week, October 3-10, will open with five evenings of readings at three separate locations. Each reading begins at 7 p.m. They are free and open to the public. The schedule is as follows:
On Sunday, October 3, poet, novelist and CUNY Graduate Center professor Ammiel Alcalay will read from and sign copies of his recently published novel “Islanders,” at the Bookstore of Gloucester, 61 Main Street. Alcalay grew up as a summer resident of Rocky Neck in the 1950s and early 60s, with Charles Olson as a close friend of his parents, painter Albert Alcalay and his wife Vera. He has written extensively about Olson and his childhood memories of Gloucester.
Of his novel “Islanders,” published by City Lights Books, the LA Times wrote: “Atlantic islands, Northeastern U.S. fishing towns, the last years of the Vietnam War: Ammiel Alcalay flies over this time and these places. .. Memories emerge, and from the memories, stories. The placement of details on the pages is stunningly simple.”
On Monday October 4, a group of local poets calling themselves "The Usual Suspects,” will read from their own work at the Gloucester Writers Center, 126 East Main Street. Readers will include James and Amanda Cook, Kent Bowker, Schuyler Hoffman and other local talents. These writers have been inspired by the work of Charles Olson and the school of writing which formed in the 1960s called “The New American Writing,” of which Olson was a major influence. They will read from their work and discuss it with participants. Parking for the Gloucester Writers Center is across the street in the East Gloucester Marina.
On Tuesday, October 5, Gloucester natives Peter Anastas and David Rich will read fiction and non-fiction inspired by Charles Olson at the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library. Anastas will read from a recently completed memoir, “From Gloucester Out,” and his forthcoming novel, “Decline of Fishes,” also set in Gloucester. Rich will read from the fiction of the late Gloucester playwright and novelist Jonathan Bayliss, including excerpts from Bayliss’ posthumous novel “Gloucestermas,” due for publication this fall.
On Wednesday October 6, the Gloucester Writers Center, located at the former home of poet Vincent Ferrini, will host a second evening of readings featuring works by Olson's friends and fellow poets, Vincent Ferrini and Linda Crane. A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of unpublished work by Crane. Readers will include Sarah Stotzer, Joanna Bowker, Jo-Ann Castano, Carol Weston, Peter Anastas, Dorothy Nelson, Elizabeth McKim, and Fred Dewey.
On Thursday, October 7, poets Gerrit Lansing and Charles “Chuck” Stein will read from their work at the Bookstore of Gloucester, 61 Main Street. Both poets were close personal friends of Olson’s and each has paid tribute to Olson in poetry and prose. Lansing’s most recent book is “Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth,” published by North Atlantic Books. Stein is the author of a major critical study of Olson, “The Secret of the Black Chrysanthemum: The Poetic Cosmology of Charles Olson.”