Main Street Books: 10 Years of Independent Bookselling

A few days ago I had the great pleasure of reading at Main Street Books in Hattiesburg, my hometown — a wonderful night, full of family and friends, which simply couldn’t have been nicer. Main Street Books, for those who don’t know it, is the south Mississippi equivalent to Lemuria Books in Jackson or Square Books in Oxford, and one of Hattiesburg’s true literary treasures: run by Diane and Jerry Shepherd — and their Maine coon, Patch — it has served as one of the catalysts for the revitalization of the downtown Hattiesburg area (where for many years, my grandfather owned and operated one of the two shoe stores in town). This year, they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary: congratulations to them both on such a remarkable achievement, and for anyone living in Hattiesburg, or even just passing through, make sure you go and support them. The store is beautiful, and always full of discoveries. And don’t forget to say hi to Patch.

In other news, I’m delighted to report that good friends Artfully Aware have published a new storybook from Uganda. More details are available on their Amazon page, but AfA describes it this way:

The book was written and illustrated by our community members from Northern and Eastern Uganda (written in both English and their local language of Acholi). Proceeds raised help us continue our volunteer based arts programs here in NOLA and Africa. We have a big HIV/AIDS awareness campaign that’s being planned with the Healing Center in May, among other programs.

Nature Writing Retreat with Gregory Norminton

For those in the north of England, a good friend and colleague, Gregory Norminton, is hosting a five-day reading and writing retreat in the Peak District this coming May. Details are available on the Quaker community website, but here’s the description of the course:

7-12 May. Ecological reading and writing: How does contemporary literature engage with the natural world – and our troubled place in it? A five-day retreat combining reading, nature walks and (for creative writers) writing classes; with Quaker novelist Gregory Norminton.

Gregory has offered a few other details, saying

The retreat will consist of group readings and discussions, as well as classes and one-on-one tutorials for those who are interested in writing. There will also be nature walks in the community’s woodland (created from scratch since 1988) and in the hills around Ladybower reservoir. Those who want to can join the community in worship, although this is entirely optional. The retreat does, however, offer a rare opportunity to experience and contribute to community living. Evenings will be for relaxation and entertainment.

For more information, contact Gregory directly.

ruth weiss in New Orleans

17 Poets has a special guest this week: ruth weiss, returning to the city for the first time in 61 years. The details, from the organizers:

Jazz Beat Poet — ruth weiss — is one of the last living significant poets of the Beat Generation. Born to a Jewish family during the rise of Nazism, she eventually made her way to the United States where she became friends with, and a contemporary of, the likes of Jack Kerouac and many other artists of the 1950s American counter-culture movement of San Francisco (specifically in North Beach). In the 1960s she began spelling her name in lowercase letters in a symbolic protest against “law and order” since in her birthplace of Germany all nouns are capitalized. She continues to perform live in North Beach and at many jazz and poetry festivals around the world. In this age of high-speed information exchange, she still uses her “Loyal Royal” metal typewriter, and lives deep in the Northern California forests of Mendocino County, USA.

With readings, music, a reception with complimentary food, and the regular open-mic, it’s going to be a fantastic night. Thursday, April 5th, at the Gold Mine Saloon, 701 Dauphine Street in the French Quarter. More information available here.