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    A history of local bicycling; celebrating favorite poems in Somerville

    Cyclists at the starting line of the
    Cyclists at the starting line of the

    Cycling in the city

    Lorenz J. Finison’s engaging new book,Boston’s Twentieth-Century Bicycling Renaissance: Cultural Change on Two Wheels(University of Massachusetts) traces the history of cycling in this city, from a boom in the late 1800s, to a flagging popularity at the turn of the century, and an increase in fervency and cycling spirit in the 1970s.

    Though not explicitly about transportation policy, Finison notes, the book reveals a “commitment to inclusive cycling for people of all sociologies and abilities,” in its exploration of “racing, recreational touring, commuting, messengering . . . bike building and bike shops.”

    The discussion of Cambridge’s Broadway Bicycle School is particularly lively. It focuses on the revolutionaries who started the place with “a fantasy of the perfect workshop run by mechanics, free of bosses and free of the task of selling bikes. We had pictures of Marx and Lenin on the walls, and we did close down the store for demonstrations,” according to bike mechanic Neal Carney. Finison will discuss the book on April 18 at 7 p.m. at Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street.

    Somerville’s new poet laureate


    One of Somerville poet laureate Lloyd Schwartz’s goals for his new position is to show people “that you don’t have to be a poet to have poetry in your life.” So he’s organized an event called Poems We Love, modeled on former US laureate and Boston University professor Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project. Schwartz has invited a group of Somerville residents to recite a favorite poem and talk about why it’s important to them. The line-up includes Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, former congressman Mike Capuano, writer Pagan Kennedy, Miss Black Massachusetts USA 2018 Naomie Raymond, Globe writer and editor Jon Garelick, mystery writer Clea Simon, and many others. The free event is April 17 at 7 p.m. at the Somerville Armory.

    Poems of immigrants, refugees

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    An urgent and timely new poetry collection, Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience (Seven Stories), edited by Patrice Vecchione and Marblehead’s Alyssa Raymond, gathers more than 60 poets writing about home and displacement, memory and borderlines. Half a dozen of the voices come from New England, including Chen Chen, poet-in-residence at Brandeis, who asks “what is it, to remember nothing, of what one loved?” Ocean Vuong, who teaches at UMass Amherst, writes of what’s ahead and what’s behind; Rhode Island’s Chrysanthemum Tran’s “Ode to Enclaves” centers on food as she writes “we always endure the scorch.” Lenelle Moïse writes of “my mouth quaking with her love,” in her poem about Haiti. And Javier Zamora, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, writes in his foreword on how the collection shows him “how to process what I’m living through” as a migrant from El Salvador.

    Coming out

    Honeyfishby Lauren K. Alleyne (New Issues)

    Miracle Creekby Angie Kim (Sarah Crichton)

    Seasons: Desert Sketchesby Ellen Meloy (Torrey House)

    Pick of the week


    Renee Rainer at Phoenix Books in Essex, Vt., recommends Syria: Remember Me by Deborah Felmeth (Wind Ridge): “Through photographs, author Deborah Felmeth reminds us in a critical way of what it means to be human. Critical because she shows us Syrians whose goodness is easily forgotten. She reminds us that there are places in this world that are being destroyed and therefore people whose lives are being shredded.”

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