2017 Newburyport Literary Festival

The Newburyport Literary Festival will be held in various venues throughout downtown Newburyport. Please see below for the events being held here at the Firehouse.

No ticketing, Free admission.
First come, first served.

Below are listed the events being held at the Firehouse only.

For a full schedule of all events in all locations,
visit: http://newburyportliteraryfestival.org

Saturday 9:00 AM 
at Firehouse Center for the Arts
Wendy Williams
The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

Horses have a story to tell, one of resilience, sociability, and intelligence, and of partnership with human beings. In The Horse, the journalist and equestrienne Wendy Williams brings that story brilliantly to life. Williams chronicles the 56-million-year journey of horses as she visits with experts around the world, exploring what our biological affinities and differences can tell us about the bond between horses and humans, and what our longtime companion might think and feel. Indeed, recent scientific breakthroughs regarding the social and cognitive capacities of the horse and its ability to adapt to changing ecosystems indicate that this animal is a major evolutionary triumph. The Horse is a revealing account of the animal that has been at our side through the ages, befriending us and traveling with us over the mountains and across the plains. Enriched by Williams’ own experience with horses, The Horse is a masterful work of narrative nonfiction that pays tribute to this treasure of the natural world.

Presenter: Wendy Williams


Saturday 10:30 AM 
at Firehouse Center for the Arts
Waging War: 
The Clash Between Presidents and Congress: 1776 to ISIS

Waging War shows us our country’s revered and colorful presidents at their most trying times—Washington, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Johnson, both Bushes, and Obama. Their wars have made heroes of some and victims of others, but most have proved adept at getting their way over reluctant or hostile Congresses. A timely account of a raging debate: The history of the ongoing struggle between the presidents and Congress over who has the power to declare and wage war.

Presenter: Judge David J. Barron


Saturday 1:00 PM
at Firehouse Center for the Arts
Richard Zacks
Chasing the Last Laugh: How Mark Twain Escaped Debt and Disgrace with a Round-the-World Comedy Tour

In the 1890s, Mark Twain came back from the dead. The famous author’s career was collapsing, his masterpieces were at risk of falling into oblivion, and he was even mistakenly reported dead. But Twain orchestrated an amazing late-in-life comeback from bankruptcy, bad reviews, and family disaster by setting out on an unprecedented international comedy tour to restore his fortunes. Richard Zacks’ Chasing the Last Laugh captures some of Twain’s cleverest and funniest moments—many newly discovered in unpublished notebooks and letters—as he rode elephants in India, sorted diamonds in South Africa, and talked his way out of hell ninety minutes at a time. This untold chapter in the author’s life began with ridiculously bad choices and ended in hard-won triumph. “An intimate and fascinating account of what was basically the world’s weirdest book tour, starring the funniest writer America has ever produced.” —Carl Hiaasen

Presenter: Richard Zacks


Saturday 2:30 PM
at Firehouse Center for the Arts
Stuart Isacoff
When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and its Aftermath

In April of 1958, at the height of the Cold War, with Americans fearful of a Soviet attack from one of its newly launched Sputnik satellites in space, a tall, lanky Texan named Van Cliburn showed up at the first ever Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow and captured first prize. The world was stunned. The press christened him the “American Sputnik,” and he became the first and only classical musician in history honored with a ticker tape parade down Broadway in New York City. His recording with Soviet conductor Kirill Kondrashin became the first classical album to sell a million copies. And with it a new era of cultural exchange between the nations took root. On the surface, it seemed that musical beauty had, for a time, changed the world. But behind the scenes, complex forces were at work – in the larger political realm and in the personal, tragic lives of many of the participants. This book reveals behind the scenes aspects of the story, including the daily dramas at the event that remained unreported, the Kremlin’s struggle over whether to give the prize to an American, Cliburn’s psychological meltdown soon after the victory, the imprisonment and torture of the Chinese competitor, Liu Shikun, and the secret involvement of the New York Times in staging the famous parade. This lecture will include historical video clips to help bring the moment back to life, including rare footage from Nikita Khrushchev’s home movies of Cliburn’s visits.

Presenter: Stuart Isacoff


Saturday 7:00 PM
Firehouse Center for the Arts
Closing Ceremony: Writing “Up” With E.B. White

E.B. White famously said, “Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.” Join us for this discussion about a man who wrote for adults and children, with panelists Melissa Sweet, author of the illustrated biography, Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White, and Martha White, who has edited several books about her grandfather and his work. From New Yorker essays to the beloved children’s books Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, White’s writing reflects a world keenly observed with humor, honesty, and hope, despite some reservations. We will share essays and passages from the novels, discussing the intersection of the two. With moderator Leslie Hendrickson.

Presenters: Melissa Sweet, Martha White
Moderator: Leslie Hendrickson


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