Hands On with Dasha Kelly
Wed., May 13
4904 S. Lake Park Ave.
For as long as she can remember, CeCe has taken care of herself. With her father gone and her mother crippled by chronic depression, CeCe struggles to find fulfillment in the sacrifice required to keep their lives together. As her mother’s condition worsens, CeCe is forced to stay close to home and stifle her dreams. With the poetic dexterity of Nikki Giovanni and an unforgettable cast of compassionate characters, Dasha Kelly examines one woman’s struggle to choose between her obligation to care for her mother and living life on her own terms.
Dasha Kelly joins us to share a compelling story of love, sacrifice and renewal in her new novel Almost Crimson (Curbside Splendor, May 2015).
Dasha Kelly is a spoken word artist, activist, and frequent keynote speaker. She is an alum of the Squaw Valley Writer Community, a former writer-in-residence for the historic Pfister Hotel, and founder of Still Waters Collective, an arts education and community-building initiative in Milwaukee. In 2014, Kelly was selected as a U.S. Embassy Arts Envoy to teach and perform in Botswana.
Cyn Vargas‘ debut collection of short stories, On The Way, explores the whims and follies of the human heart. When an American woman disappears in Guatemala, her daughter refuses to accept she’s gone; a divorced DMV employee falls in love during a driving lesson; a young woman shares a well-kept family secret with the one person who it might hurt the most. In these stories, characters grasp at love and beg to belong—often at the expense of their own happiness.
Join us as Vargas talks about releasing her first collection of short stories.
Cyn Vargas is the recipient of a Ragdale Fellowship and the 2013 Guild Literary Complex Prose Award in Fiction. She was named one of Guild Literary Complex’s 25 Writers to Watch in 2014 and received two top citations in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers contests. Her work has appeared in Chicago Reader, Split Lip Magazine, Word Riot, and Literary Orphans.
We continue to look at what inspires writers to write. Next up is Eric Charles May. Dubbed by Guild Literary Complex as one of the “25 Writers to Watch”, May’s debut novel Bedrock Faith has gotten plenty of accolades. It’s been named a Top 10 First Novel by Booklist Online, made the Chicago Reader’s Best Books of 2014 and the long list of the 2015 Tournament of Books. May is an associate professor in the Fiction Writing program at Columbia College Chicago. A Chicago native and a former reporter for The Washington Post, his short fiction has appeared in Solstice, Fish Stories, F, Criminal Class, Hypertext, and Flyleaf Journal. In addition to his Post reporting, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate, the Chicago Tribune, and the anthology: Briefly Knocked Unconscious By A Low-Flying Duck. Join us as he talks about writing his first novel and returning to “Washington Midwest.” Let us know you’re coming by signing up here. “An Evening with Eric Charles May” begins at 6:30 pm at Blackstone Library, 4904 S. Lake Park Ave on Wednesday, March 25.
This season we look at what inspires writers to write. Not really asking why someone became a writer but with an interest in how they met their characters, what brought them to a certain topic or place or thing. We’ll be joined by some old friends as well as some new ones.
Rachel DeWoskin is our first guest. She is the author of Big Girl Small and Foreign Babies in Beijing. She will be joined by James Kesteloot who served as the inspiration for one of the characters in her new book Blind. (You’ll have to read the book to figure out which one!) Kesteloot is a former executive with the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and a member of President Obama’s Committee on employment opportunities for the blind or the severely disabled.
We look forward to a fabulous evening!
“On Sight and Insight” begins at 6:30 pm at Blackstone Library, 4904 S. Lake Park Ave on Wednesday, January 28.
The natural, cultural, and industrial heritage of the south side is experiencing a rebirth. Learn about our surrounding area’s abundant natural ecosystems and sustainable economic growth initiatives, and how you can play a part. Suellen Burns, Senior Advisor with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for Millennium Reserve, an ambitious initiative of Governor Quinn in collaboration with more than 50 public, private, and nonprofit partners, will share some of the projects that the Reserve has supported to-date and describe how other community-based initiatives can be involved in this new process.
Joining Burns is Eboni Senai Hawkins, Co-Founder of the Chicago chapter of Red Bike & Green (RBG), a national organization promoting healthy living through cycling. She will share how the Reserve provides a robust network to continue her organization’s successes on Chicago’s south side and amplify the impact of other community-building social arts projects being championed by Red Bike & Green – Chicago, including Fultonia and 200 Pedals.
Pedal to the Metal: From Biking to Restoration is part of the Despres Family Memorial Lecture Series. It takes place April 23, 2014 at Blackstone Library, 4904 S. Lake Park Ave. at 6:30 pm.
When one reads a poem by Marvin Tate, author of The Amazing Mister Orange, there is a sense that he is not speaking to the world, or even an audience; he is speaking directly to you. Take, for example, “Open Mic Night”:
4904 S. Lake Park Ave.
Performance poet and lyricist, Marvin Tate combines raw-blues/soul and gospel with stream-of-consciousness storytelling and performance that has been described as “Outsider Soul” – Amazon.com. Tate, founder of the legendary funk band D-Settlement, will read from his upcoming collection of poems, The Amazing Mister Orange, due for release from Curbside Splendor Publishing.
In this collection, Marvin Tate writes Outsider poetry about relationships, death, sex, drugs, dogs, immortality, and Chicago. Inspired by Ainsworth Rosewell, a self-professed genius and con man who committed suicide in 1996 by jumping from the seventh floor of the Water Tower Mall, these poems explode with nontraditional humor and vibrant characters, both real and imagined.
Tate will have books, CDs, and albums available for sale.
The Sound of Poetry featuring Marvin Tate is part of the Despres Family Memorial Lecture Series. It takes place March 26, 2014 at Blackstone Library, 4904 S. Lake Park Ave. at 6:30 pm.
“I think about my father a lot. And how the scarab beetle, the sign of rebirth, landed on me moments before my father’s life was taken. And how it multiplied” (Nnedi Okorafor, The Shadow Speaker). This small excerpt from Okorafor’s sophomore novel is just one of many metaphors and ideas encapsulated in the symbol of an insect throughout her work. Where one might see a terrifying or disgusting creature, Okorafor sees beauty and possibility – but from where did this fascination with the earth’s smallest and most underappreciated inhabitants arise? The obvious answer lies in Okorafor’s apparent fascination with entomology, or the study of insects. According to her blog, a career in entomology was, in fact, an aspiration of Okorafor’s growing up. While the world is thankful that she found her niche as an author, Okorafor has clearly never given up on her love of insects.