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Our fantastic participants for April 2023

Upstairs in Art Gallery


STUDENT POETRY: Arts in Action: Celebrating Poetic Possibilities 
Introduction by Jack Herney, history teacher

"Arts in Action" is a school to community partnership between Exeter High School and various community members and groups. The Exeter LitFest event will feature teachers Dennis Magliozzi and Kristina Peterson, along with Exeter High School students. During the Exeter LitFest, guests will be able to listen to a selection of high school students share their slam and spoken word poetry. The project is in its third year and has been part of the freshman English classes that Magliozzi and Peterson work with. The unit is broken into three phases beginning with a slam poetry unit looks at contemporary slam and spoken word poets who have poems that comment on the central themes of To Kill a Mockingbird.

POETRY READING: Diannely Antigua and Ralph Sneeden,
with a tribute to the late Exeter poet, Harvey Shepard.
Moderated by Todd Hearon, poet, teacher, and musician


Diannely Antigua is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection Ugly Music (YesYes Books, 2019) was the winner of the Pamet River Prize and a 2020 Whiting Award. Her second poetry collection is forthcoming with Copper Canyon Press in 2024. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts Lowell where she won the Jack Kerouac Creative Writing Scholarship; and received her MFA at NYU where she was awarded a Global Research Initiative Fellowship to Florence, Italy. She is the recipient of additional fellowships from CantoMundo, Community of Writers, Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program, and was a finalist for the 2021 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and chosen for the Best of the Net Anthology. Her poems can be found in Poem-a-Day, Poetry Magazine, The American Poetry Review, Washington Square Review, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She hosts the podcast Bread & Poetry and is currently the Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, NH, the youngest and first person of color to receive that title.

Ralph Sneeden was born in Los Angeles in 1960 and grew up on Long Island and the North Shore of Massachusetts. His poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, The Adroit Journal, The American Poetry Review, The Common, Ecotone, Harvard Review, New England Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, Slate, The Southampton Review, Southern California Review (now Exposition), The Southeast Review, Southwest Review, and The Surfer's Journal.
His second book of poems, Surface Fugue, was published by East Over Press in November 2021. The title poem of his first book, Evidence of the Journey (Harmon Blunt, 2007), received the Friends of Literature Prize from POETRY magazine, and others in it appeared in The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The New Republic, Slate, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly and other magazines.
His work has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and anthologized in The Second Set: The Jazz Poetry Anthology Vol. 2 (edited by Sascha Feinstein and Yusef Komunyakaa, University of Indiana Press); Under the Legislature of Stars: 62 New Hampshire Poets (forward by Maxine Kumin); and Poet Showcase: An Anthology of New Hampshire Poets.

“Preserving Family History” panel with Q&A
Introduced by RM Allen, historical-fiction author
Moderated by Peg Aaronian, amateur genealogist

James D. Nealon
When he was just 11, James Nealon asked his great aunt where the family came from. Her 12-page response launched his life-long passion to identify their Irish ancestors and tell their stories. Over the years, James put the question to other family members and in 2001 presented them with an exhaustive history. He has also amassed a family tree on Ancestry with more than 8,000 kinfolk and is still at it. When James retired as a career foreign service officer he merged his interest in the Civil War and an ancestor’s participation in the Fenian movement in “Confederacy of Fenians”, an imagined account of the Irish supporting the Confederacy in exchange for British support of an independent Ireland.  Now he is trying to figure out what to do with his latest writing project, accounts of his childhood escapades, from getting lost at a circus to joining the scouts so he could start fires.

June Fabre
June Fabre wrote her first two books to improve healthcare through her business, Smart Healthcare LLC. Her mission:  speaking up to make a difference in the lives of patients and healthcare professionals. When she retired, her focus shifted, at the behest of her adult children who pressed her to preserve their immigrant grandparents’ life stories. And when she was done with that, they encouraged her to write her own memoir. The two self-published volumes, “Coming to America” and “I Hope You Dance, A Memoir”, have made perfect gifts for family members, June says. An active member of several local writing groups, June credits their influence on her creations.

Thomas Tufts
Amateur genealogist/retired Fire Lieutenant Tom Tufts’ family traces its American roots to 1638 and he is devoted to sharing everything he unearths about them in a pair of blogs, Tufts Family Genealogy I & II. Tom got hooked when he researched a grandfather clock in his late father’s estate, but he didn’t have to start from scratch; a two-volume Tufts family history had already been published and the Tufts Kinsman Association already existed. He has chosen to publish online for the immediacy of the blogosphere. He shares data and stories he uncovers without delay, unlike the author of the Tufts family history who died before he could publish 50 years of research. In addition to preserving family documents, photos and memorabilia, Tom is usually helping a half dozen or so others delving into the extended Tufts family story.


Downstairs in Main Room

KEYNOTE: Rabia Chaudry at noon!
Book signing to follow.
AUTHOR TALK: Keith O’Brien, author of Paradise Falls: The True Story of an Environmental Catastrophe.
In conversation with The Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath.


Keith O'Brien is the New York Times bestselling author of Paradise Falls, Fly Girls, and the forthcoming Charlie Hustle. He has been a finalist for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting, and contributed to National Public Radio. O’Brien’s radio stories have appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition, as well as Marketplace, Here & Now, Only a Game, and This American Life. He has also written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, USA Today, Politico, Slate,, and the Oxford American, among others. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children.

AUTHOR PANEL: Memory and Mystery - Novelists Annie Hartnett, author of Unlikely Animals, and Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept. Moderated by Katie Henderson Adams.


Annie Hartnett is the author of novels Rabbit Cake (Tin House Books, 2017) and Unlikely Animals (Ballantine/Random House, 2022). Unlikely Animals was listed as one of the best books of 2022 by the Washington Post and BookRiot, and it was longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize. Rabbit Cake was listed as one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2017, was a finalist for the New England Book Award, an Indies Introduce and an Indie Next Pick, and was long-listed for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize.  She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Sewanee Writers' Conference, and the Associates of the Boston Public Library. She holds degrees from the MFA program at the University of Alabama, Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English, and Hamilton College. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog.

Lara Prescott received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. Her debut novel, The Secrets We Kept, was an instant NYT bestseller, a Hello Sunshine x Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, an Edgar Award nominee for Best First Fiction, winner of the 2020 Macavity Award for Best Historical Mystery, and winner of 2019 Writers’ League of Texas Book Award in Fiction. It is being adapted for television by The Ink Factory and Marc Platt Productions. She lives in coastal New Hampshire with her family.

AUTHOR TALK: Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, UNH Physicist & author of The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred.
In discussion with Frances Johnson, Phillips Exeter Academy physics teacher.


Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy and core faculty in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire. She is also a columnist for New Scientist and Physics World. Her research in theoretical physics focuses on cosmology, neutron stars, and dark matter. She also does research in Black feminist science, technology, and society studies. Nature recognized her as one of 10 people who shaped science in 2020, and Essence has recognized her as one of “15 Black Women Who Are Paving the Way in STEM and Breaking Barriers.” A cofounder of Particles for Justice, she received the 2017 LGBT+ Physicists Acknowledgement of Excellence Award for her contributions to improving conditions for marginalized people in physics and the 2021 American Physical Society Edward A. Bouchet Award for her contributions to particle cosmology.


Her book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, won a 2021 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a 2022 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award, and the 2022 Phi Beta Kappa Award for  Science. It was also a finalist for a 2021 New England Book Award, a 2021 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize, and the 2022 PEN/EO Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, in addition to being longlisted for the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. In 2022 she was named the inaugural Top Prize Winner for mid- to late-career in the National Academies Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication. Originally from East L.A., she divides her time between the New Hampshire Seacoast and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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