#ArtLitPhx: First Draft Book Club

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Join Changing Hands at First Draft Book Bar (the wine and beer bar inside Changing Hands Phoenix) for a discussion of this month’s pick, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.

Stop by Changing Hands Phoenix or Tempe (or order online by clicking “add to cart” below) to get your copy of The Nickel Boys.

Then meet us and Arizona Republic reporter Barbara VanDenburgh at First Draft Book Bar to discuss the pick and enjoy happy hour prices all through the event.

Sign up for Barbara VanDenburgh’s weekly “Feel Good 5” newsletter here, and join our First Draft Book Club Facebook group here.

ABOUT THE BOOK 

In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.

The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.

Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

WHAT IS FIRST DRAFT BOOK CLUB? 
First Draft Book Club is the official book club of First Draft Book Bar – the coffee, beer, and wine bar inside Changing Hands Phoenix. Every month, Arizona Republic reporter Barbara VanDenburgh picks a hot new book and hosts a guided book club discussion.

EVENT INFORMATION

Location: Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix 

Date: Wednesday, August 28

Time: 7 p.m.

For more information about the event, click here.

Contributor Update, Dara Elerath: ‘The Dark Braid’

Join us in congratulating SR poetry contributor Dara Elerath. Her manuscript, The Dark Braid, was selected by Doug Ramspeck for the 20th John Ciardi Prize for Poetry through BkMk. The book is scheduled for publication in fall 2020.

“What makes these poems so engaging is the way the poet constructs them from contradictory elements. The works feel both personal and mythic,” says prize judge Ramspeck.

More information about Dara and her new book can be found here. You can find her poetry from SR’s Issue 23 here.

Congratulations, Dara!

#ArtLitPhx: Great Books Discussion

Stop by the library for a discussion with fellow book lovers. The Great Books Foundation promotes reading, thinking and sharing of ideas. Kathy and Don Dietz will lead discussions on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. in the Connections Café at Tempe Public Library.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser before the book discussion at 6 p.m.

EVENT INFORMATION

Date: Wednesday, August 28

Time 6–8 p.m.

Location: Tempe Public Library, 3500 S. Rural Rd.

For more information, click here.

#ArtLitPhx: ASU Book Group

The ASU Book Group’s September 2019 reading selection is “By the Forces of Gravity” by Rebecca Fish Ewan. The book group is open to all in the ASU community and meets monthly from noon–1 p.m. in the Piper Writers House on ASU’s Tempe campus. Haven’t read the book? Come anyway! Authors are always present. A no-host luncheon follows at the University Club. 

Synopsis:

Ewan’s illustrated coming-of-age memoir, set in 1970s Berkeley, Calif., reflects on a childhood friendship cut short by tragedy. In an era of laissez-faire parenting, she drops out of elementary school and takes up residence in a kids commune—no parents allowed!—and we follow her, bestie Luna, and their hippie cohorts as they search for love, acceptance, and cosmic truths. Full of adventure and heartache.

The book is available from amazon.com.

Rebecca Fish Ewan is associate professor of landscape architecture in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Ewan received her MFA in creative writing from ASU in 2004.

The ASU Book Group meetings and selections for 2019-2020 are:

The ASU Book Group is sponsored as a community outreach initiative by the Department of English and organized in partnership with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

Contact: Judith Smith
Email: jps@asu.edu

EVENT INFORMATION

Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019
12-1 p.m.
Location: Piper Writers House, 400 E. Tyler Mall, Tempe
Price: Free of charge and open to the public

For more information, click here.

Authors Talk: Kate Cumiskey

Authors Talk: Kate Cumiskey

Today we are pleased to feature Kate Cumiskey as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, she discusses two factors that relate to her writing process in today’s political and social climate: community and inertia.

She reflects on the beginning of her writing career, where she felt a sort of isolation before being introduced to Atlantic Center for the Arts, which gave her a literary community that she feels changed her life and fueled her growth as a writer. With this experience, Kate encourages writers “to build a community which enhances your work.”

She also explores the importance of tackling current events in one’s poetry, explaining, “If writers—serious writers—do not write about what’s happening in their nation, then who is going to speak?” Although writing about topics like these are so critical to Kate, she admits she has difficulty approaching the heartbreaking and terrifying current events she sees happening in the news, government, and even her own classroom. To help her discuss these important topics, she plays with the idea of changing point of view and suggests that we remind ourselves that there is still good in the world and that we must remind ourselves that “there is honor in our politicians, there’s honor in our government and there’s honor in the American people.”

She closes the conversation with two poems: one published with Superstition Review that examines honor and a new poem that uses second person to approach her fears about America today.


You can read Kate’s poetry in Issue 23 of Superstition Review.


#ArtLitPhx: Flourish—The Art of Life on Earth

EVENT INFORMATION
September 13, 2019
Friday, 6–10 p.m.
Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St.
FREE

Held in September, Mesa Arts Center’s annual Season Kickoff Event celebrates the start of each season and is inspired by exhibitions opening in the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. The festival offers an evening of celebration and entertainment, with live music, art studio demonstrations, five new exhibitions, hands-on activities, delicious foods and more!

FLOURISH: The Art of Life on Earth

Bloom and grow wild at the 2019-20 season kickoff event! The free, family-friendly festival is inspired by Flora & Fauna, one of five exhibitions opening in the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum this fall. Through the exhibitions, live entertainment, artmaking, demonstrations, delicious food and drink and more, the event invites us all to look closer and celebrate the incredible, fascinating world in which we live.

ACTIVITIES

  • Succulent cuttings by Desert Botanical Garden
  • Compost demonstrations with Recycle City
  • Art Studios open house and demonstrations
    •  Glass hotshop
    • Glass flameworking
    • Ceramics
    • Painting and drawing: instructor exhibition
    • Printmaking
    • Metal

LIVE MUSIC AND PERFORMANCES BY

  • CAZO Dance Company
  • More to be announced soon!

TASTY EATS 

  • Bring your own water bottle! Stay hydrated and fill your own water bottle at City of Mesa’s Water Resources Water Bar 
  • Freak Brothers Pizza
  • Awesomesauce Bowls
  • SuperFarm SuperTruck
  • Udder Delights
  • Paletas Betty
  • Not Your Granny’s Apples
  • Cuties Lemonade
  • More to be announced soon!

BOTANICAL VENDORS
SW Herbs
Holistic Earth Remedies
Ahimsa Essentials

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

  • Blooming flowers projections by Kendra Sollars
  • Photo station by Lauren Lee

For more information, click here.

Contributor Update, Hannah Brown: ‘Look After Her’

Today we are happy to announce the news of past SR fiction contributor Hannah Brown. Hannah’s debut novel, Look After Her, published by Inanna Publications, is now available for preorder. The novel takes place in the 1930s and follows two young Jewish sisters through the betrayal of a family friend, captivity, addiction, and danger. 

“With the background of anti-Semitism and exploitation, of sex and love and art and dramatic ruses, all during the terrifying rise of fascism in Austria and Italy, Look After Her reveals this truth: no matter how close we are to another human being, even a beloved sister, that’s what we are: close—we all have our own secrets to keep.” 

Next year, in September 2020, Inanna Publications will also publish a collection of her interlinked short stories, including “On Any Windy Day,” which appeared in SR’s Issue 15.

More information about Hannah and her forthcoming novel can be found here. You can find her fiction piece, “On Any Windy Day,” from Issue 15 here.

Congratulations, Hannah!

Contributor Update, Elizabeth Searle: ‘Four-Sided’ Film Screening

Join us in congratulating SR fiction contributor Elizabeth Searle. Massachusetts Independent Film Festival accepted Elizabeth’s short film, “Four-Sided,” based on her critically acclaimed novel, A Four-Sided Bed, for this September’s festival. Directed by Vittoria Colonna, the film stars transgender Rain Valdez and explores the dynamics between four lovers who each react differently when it comes to accepting their sexual identities and desires. The film screening will take place in Arlington’s Regent Theater on September 7.

To read more about Elizabeth’s book and the upcoming film, click here. You can find her story from SR Issue 3 here.

Congratulation, Elizabeth!

#ArtLitPhx: ‘Aladdin’ by Rhythm Dance Company

Rhythm Dance Company presents: Aladdin, Ek Anokhi Prem Kahani—A unique love story

Enjoy a Bollywood musical presented by Rhythm Dance Company production team that shares the classic love story of Aladdin and Jasmine in the good old city of Agrabah. The Bollywood dancers promise an extraordinarily colorful and extravagant event that is sure to impress!

EVENT INFORMATION

Date: Saturday, August 24

Time: 5 p.m.

Location: Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Pkwy.

For more information, click here.

#ArtLitPhx: Long and Short of It

Long and Short of It Book Club is a new bimonthly club that explores one book and one story collection connected by a theme.

Tonight the group discusses The Gone Dead and The Man Who Shot My Eye Out is Dead, both by Chanelle Benz. The Gone Dead is a debut novel about a young woman who returns to her childhood home in the American South and uncovers secrets about her father’s life and death. The Man Who Shot My Eye Out is Dead is a debut collection about lives across history marked by violence and longing.

Stop by Changing Hands Phoenix or Tempe (or order online by clicking “add to cart” below) to get your copies of The Gone Dead for 20% OFF and The Man Who Shot My Eye Out is Dead for 10% OFF.

Then meet fellow book lovers at First Draft Book Bar to discuss the pick.

FREE PARKING / LIGHT RAIL

  • Don’t want to drive? Take the Light Rail! It lets off at the Central Avenue/Camelback Park-and-Ride, which has hundreds of free parking spaces across the street from Changing Hands.


About The Gone Dead:
Billie James’ inheritance isn’t much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day—and she hasn’t been back to the South since.


Billie James’ inheritance isn’t much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day—and she hasn’t been back to the South since.

Thirty years later, Billie returns but her father’s home is unnervingly secluded: her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger.

Inventive, gritty, and openhearted, The Gone Dead is an astonishing debut novel about race, justice, and memory that lays bare the long-concealed wounds of a family and a country.


About The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead:
A brother and sister turn outlaw in a wild and brutal landscape. The daughter of a diplomat disappears and resurfaces across the world as a deadly woman of many names. A young Philadelphia boy struggles with the contradictions of privilege, violence, and the sway of an incarcerated father. A monk in sixteenth century England suffers the dissolution of his monastery and the loss of all that he held sacred.

The characters in The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead, Benz’s wildly imaginative debut, are as varied as any in recent literature, but they share a thirst for adventure which sends them rushing full-tilt toward the moral crossroads, becoming victims and perpetrators along the way. Riveting, visceral, and heartbreaking, Benz’s stories of identity, abandonment, and fierce love come together in a daring, arresting vision.

EVENT INFORMATION

Location: Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix 

Date: Tuesday, August 20

Time: 7 p.m.

For more information about the event, click here.