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Celebrating Dogtown Common: A Special Place Fourth Annual Conference, September 10-11, 2022
Dogtown Common will be the theme of the JBS 2022 conference, to be held in what Jonathan Bayliss's fiction calls "Cape Gloucester" on the weekend of Saturday-Sunday, September 10-11. The conference is open to all.
Dogtown Common ("Purdeyville" and "Tir-na-Dog" in the novels) is a wild area in the middle of Cape Ann, which is, as Bayliss says in Gloucesterbook, "next to the harbor itself our most precious public possession." Check out a trail map.
Dogtown's history, ecology, legends, and influence on writers and painters will be the subject of conference walks, talks, readings, and more.
Saturday's talks, lunch, and dinner will be held in the beautiful Dogtown-like landscape of the Windhover Center for the Performing Arts, founded by Bayliss's friend Ina Hahn. Speakers include Mark Carlotto, John Day, Cindy Dunn, Chris Leahy, and Mary Ellen Lepionka. The Saturday program includes options for a guided walk in Dogtown to Whale's Jaw and/or a visit to Sandy Bay Historical Society, which has a large collection of Dogtown-related objects.
Saturday evening, after the conference dinner, will feature an exciting new production at Windhover based on Percy MacKaye's poem Dogtown Common, adapted and directed by Peter Littlefield - with readings by Peter Berkrot, Judy Brain, Dan Graham, Duncan Holloman, Cass Tunick, and Deirdre Weed, music by Kathleen Adams, design by Shep Abbott - and presented by Lisa Hahn of Windhover.
On Sunday morning, attendees will have the option to join one of several Dogtown walks (weather permitting) led by experts in various aspects of Dogtown.
Sunday afternoon will include a program on Dogtown-inspired art and literature at the Cape Ann Museum cosponsored by the Gloucester Writers Center. Conference attendees have free admission to the 2 pm program. Details here.
In conjunction with the conference, the Sawyer Free Library will offer a bibliography and a display about Dogtown, and the Gloucester Writers Center will offer a Friday evening reading and social event to kick off the weekend.
Be sure to join our email list for registration information as it becomes available.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Gloucester Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.
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Gloucester's 400th anniversary will be celebrated in 2023, and many organizations are coming together to commemorate the 1623 landing of the Dorchester Company expedition on what is now Half Moon Beach in Stage Fort Park. Throughout the year, events will highlight Gloucester’s rich history, culture, and heritage which will showcase its diverse community, extraordinary contributions to art and culture, remarkable industrial achievements, and wealth of natural resources. The Jonathan Bayliss Society is one of the many partners of Gloucester400. Please visit www.gloucesterma400.org for more information.
As part of the "400 Stories" project, Ken Riaf interviewed Bayliss's friend Jay McLauchlan about Bayliss's life in Gloucester, where he lived from 1956 until his death in 2009. The interview is available here. Another "400 Stories" video, about Bayliss's friends Bill and Peggy Sibley, was taped at the JBS 2021 annual conference and features three Sibley children: George, Liz, and Mern.
A Cambridge Kid in the '30s and '40s June 17, 2022 Houghton Library, Harvard Yard
"A Cambridge Kid in the '30s and '40s: Scenes from the Life and Work of Jonathan Bayliss" - held at Houghton Library on June 17, 2022 - featured talks and readings about growing up in Cambridge during the Great Depression. A few early papers and drawings from Houghton's Bayliss collection were on display for the event.
John Day, Peter Littlefield, Theo MacGregor, and Victoria Bayliss Mattingly read passages about Cambridge and Harvard from the "Book of Ruth" chapter of Prologos. Leslie Morris, curator of modern books and manuscripts, described Houghton Library's extensive Bayliss collection. Talks were "Cambridge as a Point of Departure" (Paul McGeary); "Bayliss Childhoods in Cambridge" (David Bowditch); and "Jonathan Bayliss at Harvard" (John Day). Attendees gathered outdoors for a box lunch and walked past Lowell House (where Bayliss spent his freshman year during WW2) to the Larz Andersen bridge over the Charles River to see where the fictional Michael Chapman sailed his toy schooner during his Cambridge childhood in the 1930s.
Third Annual Conference September 11-12, 2021
One of the 2021 conference themes was Rocky Neck, the peninsula-island attached to East Gloucester via a causeway. Bayliss lived on Rocky Neck for more than twenty years and did much of his novel-writing there. Conference events are listed here. Recordings:
A PDF booklet (download here) includes speakers' notes: George Sibley (Rocky Neck Memories), Sally Bradshaw and Suzy O'Hara Kadiff (Art Colony), Viking Gustafson (Gloucester Marine Railways), Susan Baker and Paula Parsons (The Rudder), Bishop Terry Brown (Father F. Hastings Smyth and the Society of the Catholic Commonwealth), and John Day (introduction to Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay). It also includes the map of Bayliss's "Mother's Neck" that appeared in the conference program.
Second Annual Conference September 11-12, 2020 (Zoom)
The September 2020 Zoom readings entitled "From Cats to Seagulls: A Bayliss Bestiary" and "Gloucester Quintet: Five Writers, Five Friends" are on YouTube.
First Annual Conference September 7-8, 2019
David Rich and Ken Riaf read passages from the novels Gloucestermas and Gloucesterbook relating to downtown "Dogtown" at the first annual conference in September 2019 - the videotapes are available here.
A video of a September 2015 reading on labor-related themes in the novel Prologos is on YouTube, courtesy of the Gloucester Writers Center. Readers were David Adams, Peter Anastas, Thorpe Feidt, Henry Ferrini, Doug Guidry, Victoria Bayliss Mattingly, Martin Ray, Ken Riaf, and David Rich. On Bayliss's birthday, September 7, 2013, the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library sponsored "Dogtown's Acropolis," a reading with commentary by Peter Anastas and David Rich. See the video recording. A 1990 student production of Bayliss's stage play The Tower of Gilgamesh is available on the JBS YouTube channel.