Irish poet, Princeton University professor and songwriter Paul Muldoon and his impressive rock band, Rogue Oliphant, closed out Hoboken Literary Weekend at Little City Books on April 7 with an outstanding show. Rogue Oliphant members sang and performed Muldoon’s songs while he watched from the audience; the band also backed him when he performed dramatic spoken word pieces. Muldoon is the author of 12 collections of poetry, including “Moy Sand and Gravel,” which earned him the 2003 Pulitzer Prize.
This rocking literary finale featured talented band members Warren Zanes of The Del Fuegos (and author of the 2015 book, “Petty: The Biography”); David Mansfield of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue; Cait O’Riordan of the Pogues; Chris Harford of Band of Changes; and Sim Cain of Rollins Band. Rogue Oliphant has a revolving line-up and released a double vinyl LP, Sadie and the Sadists, earlier this year.
I have learned to expect the unexpected at Little City Books, a beautiful store with welcoming, intelligent owners and a stage surrounded by books. It’s a treat to walk off the streets of Hoboken into a parlor-like bookstore with a talented rock band fronted by a master of spoken word, songwriting and poetry. The show was standing room only.
Muldoon’s spoken word with Rogue Oliphant masterfully playing in the background created a dreamy café feel. Check out the videos below of Muldoon performing “I Haven’t See the Movie,” Harford and the band rocking out to “I’m Not One” and also singing Muldoon’s beautiful song, “Highlights of the Lowlife.” In addition, there is a video of Zanes singing Muldoon’s haunting “I Never Knew That About You.”
Little City Books’ music- and book-loving patrons pack every event I’ve attended there. According to Kate Jacobs, who co-owns the store with Donna Garban, the Literary Weekend was also well attended. Jacobs expressed a common anxiety experienced by event organizers that no one would show up, but “Hoboken totally turned out for it,” she said. “The weekend was a literary stamina test for our community and us.”
The weekend program showcased 12 author events and a private party for Hoboken’s publishing community. While the Literary Weekend was primarily a Little City production, Jacobs and Garban partnered with the Hoboken school district; Propelify, a local technology group; the Hoboken Public Library; and the Jubilee Center, an after-school program established by the All Saints Community Service and Development Corporation in Hoboken.
Anna Quindlen and David Levithan kicked off the adult portion of the weekend. Quindlen discussed her past work as well as her new book, “Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting.” Young adult writer and editor Levithan, a family friend of Quindlen’s and a current Hoboken resident, interviewed her. Jacobs said the event turned a chilly, damp evening into a warm, cozy night with a lively discussion. “She (Quindlen) lived in Hoboken for 20 years … and we learned that Anna was the reason he (Levithan) first came to Hoboken, and the reason he became a writer,” said Jacobs.
Irish novelist, playwright, critic and teacher Colm Tóibín discussed his book “Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Yeats, Wilde and Joyce” with a “profound Q&A, and a long signing line,” said Jacobs. Adam Wade, multiple Grand Slam winning Moth storyteller and local, weaved his touching tales.
Local author Veronica Chambers shared “Queen Bey,” an anthology that contains essays about Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s cultural significance and artistic influences. Authors Ylonda Gault and Candice Benbow led a discussion about Beyoncé’s impact, and the store served lemonade-themed cocktails and played a Beyoncé-themed trivia game.
The weekend also catered to youngsters with Denis Markell presenting his first novel about gaming, “Click Here to Start,” for middle school students at the Hoboken Library. Spectacular spring weather welcomed acclaimed picture books author/illustrators Jessie Sima (from Jersey City) and Nancy Carpenter (formerly of Hoboken). Enhancing the community feel, the Girl Scouts greeted guests in front of the bookstore with cookies sales, and the Hoboken Public Library set up a table to promote its programming.
Soman Chainani discussed his series “The School for Good and Evil,” featured on the New York Times bestseller list, and was interviewed by his cousin, Hoboken journalist and author Raakhee Mirchandani. At Hoboken High School, Daniel H. Pink spoke with students about his book, “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.”
Garban and Jacobs partnered with Veronica Manning, the Jubilee Center’s administrator, to bring author Mahogany L. Browne and illustrator Floyd Cooper to the Jubilee Center. Browne (publisher of Penmanship Books and Slam host at Nuyorican Poets Café) and Cooper also visited Little City Books to speak with store patrons.
Will the Hoboken Literary Weekend develop into an annual event? I think you can count on it.
“The Friday morning of the Hoboken Literary Weekend I was all ‘never again!,’ but of course Monday morning it was more like, ‘That was so much fun. What should we do next year? ‘ ’’ Jacobs said.
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