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African-American Writers Featured in Newark Library’s February and March Offering
January 2, 2008
Media only, please contact:
Heidi Cramer at (973) 733-7837 or Pam Goldstein at (973) 228-4559

Readers and writers are invited to participate in two special upcoming Black History Month programs at the Newark Public Library; one tailored for the lunch-time crowd, the other designed to allow writers to explore their inner visions and discover their magical selves.

"These two programs ensure that the voices of published African-American authors remain alive and well in our community and help encourage new voices to speak out," said Library Director Wilma J. Grey.

The events are part of the library’s eight-week-long salute to African-American Literary Societies through March 22. The exhibit in the Main Library’s Second-Floor Gallery, entitled Entrusted to Our Keeping: The Legacy of African-American Literary Societies in Newark, the Nation and the World, details through photographs, documents, booklets, wall quotes, displays of memorabilia and other ephemera the history of these reading circles and their impact on modern culture.

The public is invited to a "Read-In" starting at noon on Monday, February 4 in the lobby of the Main Library, 5 Washington Street. Participants are asked to read a favorite passage in any book by an African-American author. Guest authors will also read and meet with the audience.

The library’s Frances E.W. Harper Literary Society, which is showcased in the exhibit, celebrating its 20th anniversary, will mark the 2008 Black History Month celebration with a special event on Wednesday, February 6: Remembering Their Voices. There will be a staged reading of works by such notables as W.E.B. DuBois, Shirley Chisholm, Harriet Tubman, James Baldwin, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. John Henrik Clarke and a slave narrative. Students from the Harriet Tubman School will be special guest participants. The program will be held in Centennial Hall at 6:30 p.m.

Later in the month, the library will feature video conversations with African-American authors followed by public discussions of their work. On Wednesday, February 13, at 6 p.m., the library will present a film featuring the late playwright August Wilson followed by a discussion of his Pulitzer Prize-winning work. The following Wednesday, February 20, at 6 p.m., an interview with author Alice Walker will be shown. Both programs will take place in the James Brown African American Room on the first floor of the Main Library.

On Saturday, March 1, Sheree Renée Thomas, editor of the Dark Matter series, comes to the Newark Public Library to conduct a two and a half hour writing workshop Writing the Marvelous Real: Magical Realism for 21st Century Voices. The workshop begins at 10 a.m. and participants are encouraged to call 973-733-5411 to register.

The interactive/multimedia workshop explores the fiction writing style of magical realism, or more accurately "the marvelous real," a powerful genre that takes ordinary people and places them in extraordinary circumstances. First developed by Cuban novelist, Alejo Carpentier in his novel of the Haitian revolution, The Kingdom of This World, it was further explored by other Latin American authors such as Gabriel García Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges and in the works of Alice Walker, Arthur Flowers and Gloria Naylor among others.

Thomas urges writers to come prepared to read, discuss and pen their own marvelous tales.

Thomas is the editor of, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, winner of the 2001 World Fantasy Award and the Gold Pen Award and of Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, winner of the 2005 World Fantasy Award for best anthology of the year. Her work has appeared in Callaloo, ESSENCE, VIBE, the Washington Post Book World, and So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science.

For more information on the exhibit or the programs, please call 973-733-5411.

PNC Bank is proud to support The Newark Public Library’s Black History Month programs. This exhibition and related programs are funded in part by an operating support grant to The Newark Public Library from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.


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