Reading and Writing in Nantucket



A few days before the summer solstice,
I traveled with a group of women friends to the island of Nantucket for my first visit. We stayed at the  Star of the Sea hostel near Surfside Beach, a 20-minute bike ride from Nantucket village. The hostel was originally built as a lifesaving station in 1873 to respond to the hundreds of shipwrecks that occurred during the brutal storms that have stirred the seas around Nantucket.

IMG_6468During our three days on the island, we consumed the best raw oysters I have ever tasted, drank wine and ate chocolate while roasting hot dogs around a bonfire, biked from Sconset to Madaket, and attended a wonderful array of talks and readings by notable authors including Pulitzer-prize winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon; Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier; Azar Nafisi, professor and author of Reading Lolita in Iran, as well as three wonderful and prolific female novelists: Ann Hood, Alice Hoffman and Jodi Picoult. All were part of the fourth annual Nantucket Book Festival.

We also became acquainted with Typewriter Rodeo, a quartet of poets from Austin, Texas. For the last few years they have traveled the country with their manual typewriters typing original poems on any topic requested. I asked Jodi, one of the four, to write about “Hope After Betrayal.”


“Oh,” she said, and I couldn’t help but think that she had also endured a first-hand experience with the topic– her sympathy was palpable.

She thought quietly for one moment and got to work, her fingers flying across the keys. Within minutes, she handed me this poem:

Hope After Betrayal

IMG_6460There’s that point where you think
This is it– I’m done with trust, or hope, or any
sense of goodness in the world
And everything is spiraling downwards
And it all
But oh. That sweet distant friend, Time.
Who holds your hand, and pulls you onward
Past days, past weeks, past months
Until one morning, you wake up and realize
Somehow, there’s been a shift. Subtle, but there.
And the bleak bleakness is just slightly rosier
And on the very edge of morning
                              Is just the tiniest fleck of hope.

Yes, the weekend brought one of those flecks. Thank you always to my women friends, and to Jodi and Nantucket.



IMG_6440IMG_6426IMG_6470IMG_6451IMG_6414For more on the Nantucket Book Festival, see:        For more on the TypewriterRodeo, see:

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Three Syllables

swimming through the deep waves


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JP Reads Silent(ish) Reading Party

IMG_0060JP Reads, first launched in the fall of 2012, is a community-wide literary celebration that joins together the Jamaica Plain (JP) neighborhood of Boston to read a single book by hosting an author talk, varied events and shared discussions addressing themes in the book. This year the volunteer Advisory Board, composed of Jamaica Plain residents with representation from JP’s libraries and community organizations, have chosen Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, winner of the 2012 Orange Prize for fiction. Miller worked as a teacher of Greek and Latin as she wrote the book. The novel, set in Greece, re-imagines Homer’s classic, The Iliad by exploring the love story between Patroclus and Achilles.


Last Sunday, JP Reads and Social Artists & Writers hosted the first-ever free Silent(ish) Reading Party at the Loring-Greenough House located on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. The Loring-Greenough House was constructed in 1760 by Commodore Loring and owned by the Greenough family from 1783 until 1924. The Jamaica Plain Tuesday Club purchased the house in 1924 and has remained the steward ever since. The Silent(ish) Reading Party was one of many social, cultural, historical and educational activities that has been hosted by the House since 2008.

All who attended the party were invited to enjoy the sunny window seats, cozy chairs andIMG_0059 plush carpets in the historic house. Participants could bring any book they wanted to read though copies of The Song of Achilles, the Iliad, and related books on Greece and mythology were available. Everyone also circled through the kitchen at least once during the afternoon for a warm drink, some home-made treats and to ask a fellow book-lover, “What are you reading?”















For more about JP Reads, see:                                                       For more about the Loring-Greenough House, see:


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GAMBA Zine: “One Coffee to Go”

Containers in S. End 005“In October, we moved into a larger apartment in a triple-decker on a treeless, trash-strewn block miles from any hope of gentrification. With no furniture to fill the empty spaces, we stacked your books to make a coffee table and scattered pillows across the floor. When summer rolled around again and the utility bills eased, we used our extra cash to buy second-hand furniture or repair the cast-offs we scavenged from the street. You bought a marked-down coffee maker with a timer so that we could linger longer in bed. Most weekends we forgot all about it until we smelled the coffee burning.”


-Excerpt from “One Coffee to Go” by Debka Colson published in Issue 3 of GAMBA Zine, February 2015

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Details: Gaudi’s La Pedrera, Barcelona, Spain


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Tara & Her Leaf“Sonam’s village is nestled in a steep valley beside a river pregnant with monsoon rains. Dogs, children, and chickens tumble over each other between narrow rows of houses. The Himalayas hide behind the clouds.”

Excerpt from “Namaste” by Debka Colson. Photo by Tara Colson Leaning. For the rest of the story, see:!debka-colson-and-tara-colson-leaning/c1gmz

About Passing Through Journal (from the website):

“Started as a xeroxed zine in the mid-1990s, Passing Through has evolved into an online collaboration between art and writing that seeks to capture, twice a year, the transient nature of our lives. Passing Through was originally intended as a printed venue for travelers to share their stories about daring and uncommon ways of travel, but its current intention is to focus on the collaborative aspect between art and writing with a similar thematic element.

The ‘road less traveled,’ however interpreted, is a significant aspect of this journal, as is movement, intersections, wanderlust , nomadic people, tucked away corners, cities, odd homes, scratch-on-the-map towns, wildernesses, and rites of passage.

Writing is concise, around 350 words per page, with a preference for nonfiction. The art tells a story on its own, but is something new when placed next to creative writing. Writers and artists work separately, and the editor brings the two together, but sometimes the art and writing come from the same person.”


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Tara’s World: Crescent Lake, Maine

Image 6ImageImage 1Image 5Image 2Image 4Image 3 All photos are by Tara C.L. (age 15) and are copyrighted with all rights reserved.

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