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May 23, 2013

Anastas' 'Walker' shows relevance of history

A new book by Gloucester’s Peter Anastas resurrects many issues faced by the nation’s oldest seaport decades ago that continue to simmer in local debate.

He will read from the book titled “A Walker in the City: Elegy for Gloucester” at the Gloucester Writers Center next Wednesday, May 29, at 7:30 p.m. Also reading will be the co-publisher of his book, Ammiel Alcalay, who will read from his new book “a little history.”

Anastas said Ammiel’s book complements his new work, and has much in it about local writers and poets, Charles Olson and Vincent Ferrini. Alcalay is a board member of the Gloucester Writers Center and has Gloucester roots from when his family lived on Rocky Neck in the 1950s and 1960s. The Cape Ann Museum will open a show next month that includes paintings by his father, Albert Alcalay.

The book by Anastas features a selection of columns he wrote for the Gloucester Times between 1978 and 1990. It features an introduction by his son Ben Anastas, a writer, and an afterword by Alcalay. He dedicated the book to the late Peter Watson, former editor of the Gloucester Times, the late Joseph Garland, a fellow writer and historian, and Charles Olson, who inspired him to look closely at his world.

Garland had been urging Anastas to publish such a book for years.

“Joe was a wonderful mentor. Joe had written a column all through the 1960s and 1970s. Joe was a maritime guy and that’s not my background. So he loved that I did the onshore pieces.

He loved that I walked the streets, walked through the neighborhoods and talked to the people, and that I remembered my childhood here in Gloucester,” said Anastas.

The book is divided into four sections.

The first is titled “This Side of the Cut,” referring to the local expression that denoted that he lived on the island side of the city’s bridge. In the 1940s, he grew up on Perkins Road and the first section is about his childhood through the seasons, including the start of summer, Memorial Day and summer day camp.

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