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.
“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
It was a cold wintry night but a little hot tea and coffee and great conversation warmed us up for a wonderful evening with AREA Chicago and the question of “Writing Children.” Presenters from three different projects shared the challenges they found in recording the voices of children – their thoughts, their feelings, their opinions, their responses to what’s happening around them and to them. Barriers like not actively listening, judging what they say or adult control all played a factor in children not being accurately portrayed. The children were always honest when given the chance to express themselves and most readily responded to adults they had some rapport with and trusted. So the real key is how adults will choose to make room for these authentic independent voices.
AREA Chicago will host other presentations this year for their Issue #14 Kids! Check their website for more info – areachicago.org. And look out for the printed issue coming this spring.
We have a few more posts on this topic of children in Chicago so keep watching!
Building the Chicago Free School
(Read part I of this post here.)
In my quest to become a different kind of educator and to find joy and satisfaction in teaching again, I spent the 2012-2013 school year teaching at the Free School in Albany, NY. Founded in 1969, the Free School is the epitome of a school that really values the voices of students in directing their own learning. Without grades or required classes, each student at the Free School pursues an individualized course of learning based on their own interests and following their own trajectory of development. Students take ownership of their learning and can request classes and activities on the subjects and topics they are most excited about. Learning math, for example, can take the form of a small-group class, an independent study guided by a teacher, an impromptu lesson in fractions while doubling a cake recipe in the kitchen, or a group of peers getting together to practice arithmetic.
Building the Chicago Free School
As we work to build the Chicago Free School, a democratic school where the curriculum is driven by students’ choices and interests, we speak frequently to parents who are frustrated that their children are unhappy in school. From a child in a gifted kindergarten who felt anxious because he was “behind” his peers in reading, to a girl whose creative pursuits in the humanities were finding less space as her middle-school curriculum became increasingly rigid, to an energetic boy bursting with questions who didn’t seem to quite fit the mold of traditional school, these bright, curious kids need a voice in school – they need a school experience suited to their unique strengths and passions, a place where their intrinsic motivation is celebrated rather than being seen as a disruption to the schedule.