New England Literary News

Pequot museum expands book offerings

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center in Connecticut.
Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center in Connecticut.

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center in Mashantucket, Conn., is partnering with two independent bookstores, Savoy Bookshop of Westerly, R.I., and Bank Square Books of Mystic, Conn., to expand the selection of Native American authors and titles sold at the museum gift shop. More than 500 new titles, curated by the museum’s scholars and experts, will be introduced to the shop.

“There is a vibrant and rapidly growing body of material relating to Native peoples that continues to enrich our understanding of Native histories and cultures, Native voices, the cultural landscape, and more,” says Jason Mancini, director of the museum, which is owned and operated by the tribe. “The act of reading secures in our collective conscience that Native people have rich pasts, presents, and — importantly — futures.”

Annie Philbrick, owner of the bookstores, echoes that, saying that exposure to these works can make us “better and more understanding individuals.” She points to recent and forthcoming books by Louise Erdich and Sherman Alexie as highlights.


The partnership will also involve bringing more authors to Connecticut for readings and lectures.

Poetry contest honors JFK’s 100th

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In honor of the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth, Mass Poetry and the JFK Library Foundation are holding a poetry contest open to middle and high school students, and students under 20 enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program in the state. Poems do not have to reference Kennedy directly but must touch on his life or work. A winner and runner-up will be selected in both middle school (grades 6-8) and high school categories. The high school winner will receive $200, and the runner-up will get $150; top middle school prize is $150, and the runner-up award is $100. Former US poet laureate Robert Pinsky will judge the contest. Entries will be accepted until Oct. 6. Winners will be announced in late November. Poets can submit online through the Mass Poetry site (, which also has additional information and resources.

Maine store helps Charlottesville nonprofit

Print: A Bookstore, which opened at the end of last year in Portland, Maine, announced that in response to the deadly violence surrounding the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., it will donate $5 from every purchase of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s upcoming book, “We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy’’ (One World), to the nonprofit African American Teaching Fellows. Coates’s collection of essays, due out in October, focuses on race, power, the Obama years and their aftermath.Charlottesville-based Teaching Fellows works to increase teaching-staff diversity in the city and surrounding Albemarle County.

Pick of the week

Jack Marrie at Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine, recommends “The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake’’ by Breece D’J Pancake (Back Bay): “These stories are as simple and fertile as dirt. Pancake does the stooping for us, presenting the reader with life’s fallen fruit, unpolished and with the dirt still on it. In as unflinching a voice as Raymond Carver — had Carver grown up in the rural South — these are true stories that never happened.”

Coming out

“Poppies of Iraq’’ by Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim (Drawn and Quarterly)


“A Year in the Wilderness: Bearing Witness in the Boundary Waters’’ by Amy and Dave Freeman (Milkweed)

“Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process’’ by John McPhee (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter.” She can be reached at