Friday, November 1, 7PM
First Friday at Mechanics’ Hall Reading Series:
Patricia O’Donnell in conversation with Hannah Calkin
In partnership with Mechanics’ Hall
Mechanics’ Hall Library, 519 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101
Patricia O’Donnell, author of The Vigilance of Stars, together with Hannah Calkin, author of Pomegrante Odyssey discuss their latest work, and the art of writing and teaching.
Patricia O’Donnell, THE VIGILANCE OF STARS: Four stories twine together in this novel set in both contemporary and 1950’s Maine. Kiya, a Portland hair stylist in her early 20's, becomes unexpectedly pregnant and determined to keep the baby as she struggles to recover from her brother's suicide. Peter, the baby’s father, wants to break away from Kiya and find love—somewhere else. Maddie, Peter’s mother, fights her own loneliness as she cares for Alex, incapacitated in a nursing home. Evie, Maddie’s mother, appears as a young woman in the 1950’s, searching to heal herself both emotionally and physically.Kiya loses her confidence to be a mother in a shattering experience, which drives her from her home in Portland into the care of Maddie. On the shores of a wide and quiet lake in central Maine, Kiya tries to piece herself together. Peter, still in Portland, struggles to do the right thing without assuming the responsibilities of fatherhood, finding help from his new girlfriend Toni, who—for reasons of her own—pushes him into helping Kiya. In counterpoint to the lives of her descendants, Evie, Peter’s grandmother and Maddie’s mother, puts herself into the care of Wilhelm Reich at his institute in northern Maine, Orgonon. She is hoping to heal both her melanoma and (though she can hardly admit this to herself) her sexual problems. The characters’ lives spiral together, moving with inexorable force toward an ending which takes place on an uninhabited island in Maine where the stars stand watch over lives both old and new.
Hannah Calkin, POMEGRANATE ODYSSEY: Pomegranate Odyssey is a celebration of women in fairy tales and mythology through a series of narrative and lyrical poems. From Rapunzel to Persephone and girlhood to womanhood, Calkin explores the evolution of the archetypal female protagonist in classic literature and modern culture.