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.
April 23, 2014
4904 S. Lake Park Ave.
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”:
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
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.
Register here for this event.
“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.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
4904 S. Lake Park Ave.
A highly regarded science fiction/fantasy writer, Nnedi Okorafor will read from her most recent collection of short stories, Kabu Kabu, and her novel Who Fears Death for which she won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. Join us to hear the work of this wonderful thinker and writer.
Dr. Okorafor holds an MA in journalism from Michigan State University and a MA and PhD in English from the University of Illinois-Chicago. She is also a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop.
Register at Eventbrite
Kids Need Education, Not Incarceration
(Read part 1 of this post here.)
The school-to-prison pipeline overwhelmingly affects poor black and Latino youth with disabilities. Instead of an appropriate education, they face zero tolerance policies that result in suspensions and expulsions that ultimately jettison them from school. Black students with disabilities are three times more likely to be suspended than white students with disabilities.
The current arrangement is expensive. The average daily cost for educating a youth in Chicago Public School is $74.21, while we pay $501.93 per day for youth in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. The economic choice is clear, we need to get these kids the services they need to learn, grow and become productive adults with hope. And, from the perspective that youth are our future and every human life matters, we have an obligation to give all youth a chance in life.
Over the past year the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation at Roosevelt University launched a new program in the Juvenile Court building that provides advocacy for youth with disabilities. Through the program, probation officers in Diversion refer youth with disabilities to advocates who work to ensure youth get the services they need in school (and other areas of life). The goal is to help the youth successfully complete their education and not recidivate. If we can help the youth successfully complete their education we will save taxpayers money, and give children a chance in the world.
Darrell surely faces many obstacles and his story is still unfolding, but we know that without education and without addressing his disabilities, we will likely see him going deeper into the juvenile justice system. Together with the Family Resource Center on Disabilities and his grandmother, Darrell may now be able to get the services he needs in order to access his education.
- submitted by Heather Dalmage, PhD
Director, Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation
Professor of Sociology