Photographer Leibovitz at BookCourt

By Trudy Whitman

The celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz is on a promotional tour for her new book, Annie Leibovitz Pilgrimage (Random House). And befitting her stature as a preeminent pictorial chronicler of the zeitgeist, the venues for readings and signings make a pretty impressive list—the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Manhattan’s Pace Gallery, the International Center of Photography, the 92nd Street Y, and … BookCourt in Cobble Hill.

The publisher’s decision to book Leibovitz in our corner of the Big Apple reflects both the borough’s emergence as a crucible of creativity and BookCourt’s stature in the publishing industry.

Annie Leibovitz will visit BookCourt, 163 Court Street, on Wednesday, December 14, at 7 p.m. Pilgrimage, for which historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has written an introduction, represents a divergence for the famous photographer. Conceived during a turbulent time in her life — a very public financial freefall — these photos were not made on assignment. Rather, Leibovitz traveled to take photographs as part of a personal quest.

“From the beginning,” Leibovitz writes, “when I was watching my children stand mesmerized over Niagara Falls [the cover photo for this book] it was an exercise in renewal. It taught me to see again.”

Within the pages of Pilgrimage, you will not find the gilded ones — the rockers, actors, models, and politicians — that are the usual subjects of her brilliant lens. Instead, we see landscapes, rooms, and objects of daily living. There are dresses — Emily Dickinson’s only surviving dress and a concert gown worn by Marian Anderson.

There are the dress gloves that Abraham Lincoln had in his pocket the night he was assassinated. We see Virginia Woolf’s writing desk and the carpeted couch in Sigmund Freud’s London study. There is a section devoted to the New Mexican desert world of Georgia O’Keeffe — both the outdoor vistas that inspired her art and the collected rocks and bones that frequented it.

There are also words. Leibovitz discusses her subjects — what drew her to them, and what was going on in her mind as she struggled to learn about them by visiting their rooms and shooting the things that had once surrounded and been touched by them. And there are photos of words themselves — a folded dog-eared first draft of the Gettysburg Address, for example, and a heavily self-edited draft of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

The December 14 reading at BookCourt is sure to draw a large crowd. Arrive early for a seat. For additional information, call 718 875-3677.

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Fill your pockets with holiday recipes! There’s something new on the Avenue — Atlantic Avenue that it. Famed for its Holiday Window Contest and the Holiday Tree Lighting Party at the Belarusian Church, sponsored this year by Marathon Bank and the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation, Atlantic Avenue merchants are now sharing their favorite dishes.

Beginning this week, over 30 shops will feature free recipes that could add a special twist to your holiday celebrations. Wouldn’t you love to know with what ingredients the Sahadi family stuffs its Christmas turkey? How about the secret to Waterfront Ale House’s Sam’s Serious Eggnog, or Rothschild’s famous vanilla crème brûlée? These secrets are yours when you visit Atlantic Avenue during the holiday season. Just look for a whisk tied with a holiday ribbon at participating stores.

Of course, what shouldn’t be secret any longer are the pleasures and rewards of shopping close to home. For wonderful gifts — and to maintain sanity — do shop Brooklyn!

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