The Gloucester Writers Center is getting ready to celebrate Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday on Friday, May 31, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The Maud/Olson Library, 108 E. Main St., Gloucester, will be the center of the free celebration. Whitman’s poetry will be available to read, discuss and enjoy in this public event. Visitors are invited to bring along their favorite Whitman literature to recite and discuss with fellow partygoers. 

To help with a head count, those attending can RSVP at the event page on Facebook, www.facebook.com/events/2320162921369742. Donations are always welcome to help fund support this nonprofit organization.

The Gloucester Writers Center, which supports an array of programs, is also co-sponsor of a Poetry Slam on Thursday, May 30, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Drift Cafe, 3 Main St., Gloucester.

For more information, visit www.gloucesterwriters.org.

A fair to fete spring

The festive Holy Family Women’s Guild spring fair takes place on Saturday, June 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All are welcome to the varied offerings, starting with a free cup of coffee.

The fair takes place at St. Ann Church Hall, 74 Pleasant St., Gloucester. There will be plenty of items for spring gardening needs, including potted plants, hanging baskets and décor. Homemade baked goods and pies will also be available, along with a craft table and mini yard sale.

All money raised will support Holy Family Parish.

It’s all an illusion

Gloucester’s Jose Diaz, a magician and illusionist, will perform at Cape Ann Cinema & Stage, 21 Main St., Gloucester, on Saturday, June 1, at noon. He is a rising professional magician who has wowed local audiences over the past year. 

Tickets are $5, and doors open at 11:40 a.m. For more information, visit www.kdmagicco.com.

The art of protest songs

Folk singer-songwriters Jonathan Edwards and Cheryl Wheeler, known for weaving protest themes into their songs, will perform at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main St., Rockport, on Friday, May 31, at 8 p.m.  

Edwards’ repertoire includes classics such as the 1971 “Sunshine (Go Away Today),” as well as “Shanty,” “Sometimes” and “One Day Closer.”

Fellow troubadour Cheryl Wheeler, who will share the stage with Edwards, often crafts songs that are emotional portraits of people, though her live concerts include both comic routines and serious discussions. After the Jonesboro massacre, she wrote lyrics for a song with the closing line, “If it were up to me, I’d take away the guns,” which received nationwide attention after the Columbine massacre a year later. Wheeler released the recording into the public domain to exempt radio stations from paying royalties.

To purchase tickets, which start at $39, call the box office at 978-546-7391 or visit www.rockportmusic.org.

Soak up nature at Halibut Point

Halibut Point State Park, on Gott Avenue in Rockport, has a slate of free programs in June, starting with a night of stargazing for all ages on Saturday, June 1, from 7 to 9 p.m. Meet at the Visitor Center for a star party hosted by the Gloucester Area Astronomy Club. There will be telescopes available. Bring a flashlight and insect repellent.

The hourlong program “Reading the Granite Landscape” takes place on Sunday, June 2, at 10 a.m., when visitors of all ages learn about the natural history of granite. Meet in the parking lot.

The following day features the program “Dragonflies in the Park,” on Monday, June 3, at 10 a.m. This hourlong program features about a 1-mile stroll in the park. Meet by the parking lot bulletin board.

There is a historical program, “Halibut Point: On the Edge of Technology,” on Tuesday, June 4, from 1 to 2 p.m. This program, for ages 12 and up, details the role the site played in the development of Cold War technologies and inventions still used today. Meet in the parking lot.

There is a parking fee of $5 for Massachusetts plates and $6 for others. An adult must accompany children.

The Visitors Center will be open on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and other times depending on staff availability. For more information, call 978-546-2997.

A musical mashup for Old Sloop

Old Sloop Coffeehouse presents an adventurous group of young musicians in the band Upstate on Friday, May 31, at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Rockport, 12 School St.

The band blends folk, R&B, jazz, gospel and rock ’n’ roll. A trio of singers — Mary Kenney, Melanie Glenn and Allison Olender — brings a playful spirit of sisterhood to the performance, while Harry D’Agostino on bass and Dean Mahoney on cajón provide the rhythm background.

Advance tickets are $15 and available online at www.oldsloopcoffeehouse.org and at John Tarr Store in Rockport and The Bookstore of Gloucester. The suggested contribution at the door is $18 for adults, $12 for those 65 and older, $5 for those 12 and under, and $36 for families.

An art-full presentation 

Rockport Music presents the final of this season’s “Great Art on Screen,” a new HD broadcast series, on Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. with “Water Lilies of Monet: The Magic of Water and Light” at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main St., Rockport. 

The series is designed to take the audience on a journey and features an array of scholars who talk about the artists and their work.  Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $5 for youths. For more information, visit www.rockportmusic.org.

Opening and closing talks from artists

There are two upcoming events over the next week in the 15th Rocky Neck Art Colony’s Goetemann Artist Residency program. Jason Burroughs, the Gloucester invitational artist, will give his closing talk on Thursday, May 30, at 5 p.m. at the Goetemann Residency Studio, 77 Rocky Neck Ave., No. 10, Gloucester.

The next artist in residence is Marilu Swett, who works in the areas of sculpture and drawing. Swett, who lives and works in Jamaica Plain, is an associate professor at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly and a member of Boston Sculptors Gallery.

Her work reflects her interest in biological form, its volume, complexity and variety, and the ways we interrogate it. The layered space of her ink drawings reference natural systems and subsystems, microscopic form, telluride and oceanic form, images from the human body, and industrial artifacts. Her opening talk is Monday, June 3, at 7 p.m. at Cultural Center at Rocky Neck, 6 Wonson St., Gloucester, and her closing talk is Thursday, June 27, at 7 p.m. at Goetemann Residency Studio.

Reality star comes home for show

A contestant from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Gloucester’s own Laila McQueen, will perform with fellow drag queens under the waterfront event tent with a runway and stage at Mile Marker One, 75 Essex Ave., Gloucester, on Wednesday, June 5, at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The “Drag Invasion” will also feature Kris Knievil, Neon Calypso and Pristine Christine of Boston and Annie B. Frank of Providence, Rhode Island. Tickets for the 21-plus event are $25, available at www.eventbrite.com/e/drag-show-tickets-60909427738.

For more information or to reserve a table, call 978-283-2122.  

Around Cape Ann is a column devoted to events happening on Cape Ann and artists from Cape Ann performing elsewhere. If you would like to submit an item, contact reporter Gail McCarthy at 978-675-2706 or gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com, at least two weeks in advance.