Writing to the Bone: The Boston Book Party

We gathered in person – first time since 2020! – for our Book Party celebration of members with recently published books. At least 50 writers, book-lovers, fans and friends enjoyed the three-hour party at the Dance Complex in Cambridge.

Chapter Chair Willie Wideman-Pleasants fulfilled the promise she made at last year’s virtual party – “next year In person!” — and reminded us of accomplishments of the past year.

The café style set up was perfect for lively conversation and for making new connections while enjoying the delicious buffet from Cambridge’s family-owned Greek Corner, allowing us, as Charles Coe put it, “to nurture the body as well as the spirit.”

We kicked off the program by hearing 16-year-old poet/novelist Eda Galvez perform her slam poem, “iFear” that calls on her peers to unplug from cellphones and social media and be with each other in the flesh.

Jim Kates then hosted the readings. We heard enticing tidbits from Kathryn Graver (memoir about becoming motherless and the three women who helped her stitch together a good life), Patricia A. Williams (novel whose characters are woodland creatures uniting to fight the pollution of their water supply), John L. Hodge (nonfiction about state laws designed to prevent classroom discussion of historical racist and sexist practices), and Charles Coe (poems from his third volume of poetry, Purgatory Road).

Charles then introduced our Keynote speaker, Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola, who urged us, despite challenges we face as writers, to “write to the bone” – with authenticity and passion. She stayed past the Q&A session to join in on the socializing.

We know that many members live too far from Cambridge to attend events in person: we hope to offer a video of the readers and keynote speaker, and continue to offer virtual “Writers Night In” gatherings and professional programs, along with our monthly e-newsletter, Update.

Thanks to Jim Kates for hosting the reading – and the raffle; Charles Coe for finding our inspiring guest speaker, arranging for the delicious buffet and the cool sounds of John Coltrane; Jim Kates for coordinating the readers; Shannon O’Connor for organizing our volunteers; Vicki Pleasants for welcoming arrivals at the door; John Hodge, John McDaid and Eda’s parents, who set up and/or insured the Dance Complex was left in good shape. Thanks also to everyone who attended, especially members: the National Writers Union not only “has your back,” it gives you front-facing opportunities as well, fundamental to our solidarity as writers.