Last Sunday, I attended a book launch at The Witch House, and was thrilled to meet so many aspiring poets and the amazing women who created and run FunDead Publications – Salem’s own publication company. FunDead was established in 2015 and released their first publication (Shadows in Salem, by FunDead founder Amber Newbury) in 2016. They hope “to keep the age old art of story-telling alive and well in The Witch City.”
And, sure enough, they are.
At the former home of Jonathan Corwin, magistrate during the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692, FunDead welcomed a standing-room only audience for a book reading and signing. Their newest publication, Entombed in Verse, collects poems about Salem into an easy to peruse anthology. From the Salem Witch Trials, to ghosts who don’t know they’ve died, to appreciating the summer breeze at the Salem Willows, Entombed in Verse takes a look at various myths and legends surrounding The Witch City.
I loved the irony of listening to poems about Salem’s dark history at Magistrate Corwin’s house while I sat on the floor of his living space. All sorts of people – some wearing all black, some suits, some t-shirts and jeans, some (GASP!) shoulders showing. All sitting there listening to poems about the horribleness of Salem in 1692. And, to add salt to the proverbial fire, it was SUNDAY! No plotting-with-the-devil accusations today Mr. Corwin, not today.
After several of the poets (traveling to our little city from as far away as Florida!) read their poems to us, I ran about the room with my pink pen asking as many as I could find to sign my book. A few were surprised by my ask, saying they’d never signed anyone’s book before (and one dude was reluctant to use my pink pen! He finally relented and I got my signature…). It’s pretty amazing to be the first person ever to ask a poet to sign your copy of their book, and I hope to have that experience again.
FunDead has found a niche here in Salem – they are finding ways to reconcile Salem’s dark past with its witchy tourism and rich literary cultures. I’m very much looking forward to their next release, “One Night in Salem“- another anthology, this time taking the reader through time to experience the history of Halloween in Salem. I’m interested to know how FunDead pieces together tales of Halloween that are about more than pumpkins, witches, and candy.