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Writers run local literature stand at Davis Square Farmers Market

Denise Provost and Lesley Bannatyne doing their part in promoting locally made literature at the Davis Square Farmers Market. — Photos by Ryan DiLello

By Ryan DiLello

I could feel my shirt sticking to my back as I biked through the thick air in Davis Square. Off the main road now, I turned down a brick-laid alley and emerged at a parking lot farmers’ market. I ditched my bike, lodging it against an iron fence, and entered the paved paradise full of fresh produce, pressed juices, meats, and other local goods. It was nearly 6:00 pm and the market was winding down. I made my way through the aisles in the fading sun.

I was patched and in search of organically grown, locally sourced, freshly squeezed – literature.

The Literature table, which was covered with books from Somerville-based authors, stood at the back of the fair. Two accomplished local writers, Denise Provost, and Lesley Bannatyne stood by the table, making introductions to their local wordy finds.

I asked them how they came up with this idea. Provost answered.

“Authors kept telling me they have great success at farmer’s markets – but in this situation,” Provost said, gesturing at the books and then at the surrounding vendors, “You can’t sell things.”

“I thought, why don’t we promote it all? And so, we went around and harvested as many Somerville authors as we could find,” Provost said.

No one was questioning the extension of “digestible goods,” let alone “harvesting,” so I moved on. I asked what led them to write.

“I was making up poems before I could write them down,” Provost told me. “For a while when I was little, my mother read poetry to me,” she said. “Then she had too many kids to do that. So, I used to listen to song lyrics, memorize them, then make up alternative lyrics to the melody. You know, just making stuff up. And then I decided that I should make them into books. In case my computer exploded, or my house burned down, my poems wouldn’t disappear forever. Which I guess is a kind of vanity, but it afflicted me. And I keep getting deeper. I am now Co-President of the new England Poetry Club and I think at this point all our officers in the New England Poetry Club live in Somerville. I’m dreading the day that some journalist comes up with the Somerville Poetry Mafia.” I assured her that she would not be me.

“I have a rejection letter from when I was six years-old,” Bannatyne chimed in, with a sparkle in her eyes. “Did you submit something you wanted published?” I asked. “Yes,” she said. “And they were nice enough to write back to me with encouragement – ​​and you know there was no hard ‘no’ in that letter. So, I think there’s still a possibility,” she said laughing.

“I went down the rabbit hole of Halloween to start,” Bannatyne said, pointing out a few books covered in pumpkins and ghouls. “Then about 10 years ago, I took a short story class and that…” she trailed off with a circular hand motion, signaling that the course marked a change in direction. “I just published my first collection of short stories and they’re all fiction.”

Both writers were eager to discuss the strength of the Somerville writing community. She affirmed that the table served both promotional as well as networking purposes.

For readers interested in supporting local authors, getting their own works out to the public, or simply hungry for local literature, the stand will return to next week’s market.

The following books are being promoted by Provost and Bannatyne at their Farmers Market stand:

Lesley BannatyneUnaccustomed to Grace. Stories
Buy the book:
UPCOMING EVENT: Saturday, September 10, 2:00 pm, Somerville Library main branch, author reading w/Lesley Bannatyne and Kate Chadbourne -bannatyne/

Bonnie BishopOne Foot in Another World
Buy the book: contact

Linda ConteSeldom Purely. Poems by Linda Haviland Conte
Buy the book:

Gary DuehrThe Great Empty. A Regna in Time of Corona
Buy the book:

Kirk EthertonDiving for Stones

Bridget GalwayWhat Moments Yield
Buy the book:

Louise GluckWinter Recipes from the Collective: Poems
Buy the book:

Dory HaleDisorientation and the Weather
Buy the book:

Doug HolderThe Essential Doug Holder. New and Selected Poems
Buy the book:

Daphne KalotayBlue Hours/Sight Reading/Russian Winter, Calamity & Other Stories
Buy the book:

Gloria MindockAsh
Buy the book:

Tam Lin NevilleTriage

Buy the book:

Dave Ortegadays of solace
Buy the book:

UPCOMING EVENT: Dave will be a special local guest at MICE 2022, October 22-23

Denise ProvostCity of Stories
Buy the book:

Diane RobitailleLeaving Only Impressions
Buy the book: contact

Hilary SallickAsking the Form
Buy the book:

Lloyd SchwartzWho’s on First? New and Selected Poems
Buy the book:

Michael SteffenOn Earth as It Is

Burt SternWhat I Got for a Dollar
Buy the book:,on%20American %20expatriate%20Robert%20Winter.

Gilmore TamnyHaiku4U

Buy the book:

Patricia WildWelling Up. A love Story
Listen to the book:

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