Arlington Reads Together: Events and Discussions

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The Arlington Reads Together community read program launched in 2003 as a way of bringing Arlington together through literature. Last summer, the ART selection committee chose Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum as the community read for 2021, and here you’ll find a host of related programming including a special event with Dr. Tatum. The ART calendar of events offers a wide variety of opportunities to address issues, understand differences and create connections. 

Copies of the book are available via the Minuteman Library Network catalog. Thanks to a grant from the Arlington Libraries Foundation additional copies of the book are available as digital downloads via the Digital Collection and Libby app.

Arlington Reads Together is supported annually by the Diversity Task Group of Envision Arlington, the Arlington Libraries Foundation, and the Friends of the Robbins Library.  This year we also welcome the Arlington Educational Foundation as a major supporter.

Featured Presentation

A Conversation on Race and Racism with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatumdr.-beverly-tatum-headshot
Zoom event, register at
https://conversationonraceandracism.eventbrite.com
Sunday, March 21
3:00 p.m. Join Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum for a moderated discussion on race and racism based on her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria.  Borrow a copy of this year’s community book choice by stopping by the Robbins Library lobby during drop-in pick-up hours.
Support for this program comes from the Arlington Libraries Foundation and the Arlington Education Foundation.

Additional Events

PLUG iN to TRUE STORY THEATER: “Who am I? And how did I find out” Sharingtrue-story-logo stories of identity
Zoom program, register at https://pluggedin-03-03-21.eventbrite.com
Wednesday, March 3
7:00 p.m. 
In this collaborative workshop with True Story Theater, you will get to explore your core identities, connect to others who are both similar and different from you, and make new discoveries. In small groups, we’ll look at the identities we were born with, the identities we choose, and those placed on us by the world–identities such as race, religion, gender identity, societal role, and much more. When do your identities give you a sense of belonging–and when do they create a feeling of uncomfortable “otherness?” When have you broken through preconceptions or judgments placed on yourself and others? Why do we take time to look at our own identities in pursuit of greater racial and social justice?

Between the small group sessions, True Story Theater will invite volunteer audience members to share their experiences and feelings. On the spot, the performers will respectfully and creatively embody the emotional essence of what is shared, using movement, music, and drama. Throughout, whether you take a risk to share or prefer to simply watch and listen, chances are you will be moved (maybe even to laughter and tears), and leave with a greater appreciation for yourself and a greater understanding of others in the wider community.  Read more about True Story Theater and Playback Theatre.

Everyone Belongs: METCO in Arlington, A Conversation with Margaret Thomas
Zoom event, register at https://artmetco.eventbrite.com
Monday, March 8
7:00 p.m.
Jillian Harvey, Town of Arlington’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director, hosts a conversation with Margaret Credle Thomas, Director of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) Program in Arlington. Thomas has led the program for the past 8 years and has gained significant insight into the experiences of students of color in town. Thomas and Harvey will discuss the history of the METCO program, its impact in Arlington, and Thomas’ unique role in leading the program and supporting students of color, as well  as the experiences Boston-resident students face navigating the challenges and concept of belonging to a community–as an outsider.

SpeakOUT: Intersecting Queer Identitiessquare-logo
Zoom event, register at https://artspeakout.eventbrite.com
Thursday, March 11
7:00 p.m. The Robbins Library Queer Book Group/Social is proud to host a panel discussion where LGBTQ+ people of color will share  personal stories exploring the intersections of their identities. SpeakOUT Boston tells the stories of LGBTQ+ lives to raise awareness and create safer spaces for LGBTQ+ people by opening up a dialogue with its audiences.   Support for this program comes from Arlington’s Rainbow Commission.

The Friends of Robbins Library Present: Tim Hall, Trust the Processdianalevine_timhall_6904
Facebook Live, also airing on ACMi’s Public Channel
Sunday, March 28
3:00 p.m.
Tim Hall brings you Trust The Process – performance about creative expression, self love, and artistic exploration. Tim Hall is an award winning musician and performance poet from Detroit, MI, now residing in Boston. His poetry draws inspiration from his lived experiences – charting the nuances of blackness, masculinity, and the beauties of life. He’s an Assistant Professor in the Professional Music Department at Berklee College of Music, won Session Musician of the Year by the Boston Music Awards 2020, received a 2019 Artist Luminary Award from local youth arts non-profit Zumix, and was honored by WBUR’s Artery 25 as 1 of 25 millennials of color impacting Arts and Culture in Boston. Hall’s virtual performance will be followed by a live Q&A.  

For Children, Teens,  and Families

Quest: An Intimate Portrait of an African-American Family
Movie event, register: https://questmoviescreening.eventbrite.com
Thursday, March 18
3:00 p.m.
Beginning at the dawn of the Obama presidency, Christopher “Quest” Rainey, and his wife, Christine’a “Ma Quest” raise a family while nurturing a community of hip hop artists in their home music studio. It’s a safe space where all are welcome, but this creative sanctuary can’t always shield them from the strife that grips their neighborhood. Targeted for Grades 6 and up and their families.

What Is Racism?: A Workshop for Kids With Wee the PeopleWTP Logo
Zoom event, register at https://weethepeoplewhatisracism320.eventbrite.com
Saturday, March 20
10:30 a.m.
Kids notice a LOT — including skin color. They sense that it matters, and they have questions about how and why. Together we will explore how racism isn’t just one thing, but a system with many parts working together. Through activities, kids will learn how they can help challenge and disrupt these systems. Geared for kids ages 6-10.  This program is supported by the Russell Fund.

Book Groups and Discussions

We thank Dr. Tatum for providing a discussion guide: beverly-daniel-tatum-book-group-discussion-guide-1 for the community. Download a copy for yourself or your book group.

tatum-why-are-book-jacket-1Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting In the Cafeteria Together, The Introduction
Zoom event, email atroha@minlib.net for meeting link
Thursday, March 4
12:00 p.m.
Join this roundtable discussion focusing on the introduction to the ART book. Dr. Tatum quotes James Baldwin “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” In this discussion we hope to discuss questions about race and society as these conversations are often hard to begin.  

What Questions Do We Have?
Zoom event, email alitten@minlib.net for meeting link
Tuesday, March 16
6:00 p.m.
Join us for a roundtable discussion of Dr. Tatum’s book before her visit to the community. At  this meeting, we’ll discuss the book, and think about follow up questions to pose to Dr. Tatum during her visit on March 21. 

Wrap Up Discussion: Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?
Zoom event, register at https://artwhoami.eventbrite.com
Thursday, March 25
7:00 p.m.
Facilitated book discussion with Arlington resident  B. Joanna Chen. Participants will be prompted to reflect on their own identities and share their takeaways from Dr. Tatum’s work.  B. Joanna Chen is a long-time library lover and a more recent Arlington resident. She holds a bachelor’s in English and Sociology with a minor in Inequality Studies and Asian American Studies from Cornell University. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, where her work focused on identity, family history, belonging, and what it means to occupy–and broaden–interstitial spaces. As the LeadBoston Program Associate at YW Boston, an organization dedicated to empowering women and eliminating racism, she supports YW’s inclusive leadership program. Sponsored by the Arlington Human Rights Commission.  

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Learn how to download ebooks with the Libby app

Are you lost when it comes to downloading books and audiobooks from the library? Then we have the perfect learning opportunity for you!

Overdrive, maker of the Libby app, will be holding three Getting Started sessions online on March 23. They are at 9:00, 9:30, or 10:00am.

For those of you who know the basics but feel like you could be getting more out of the service, or if you have specific questions, you might be interested in the Deep Dive session that same day at 10:30.

Sign up here for any of these sessions: http://bit.ly/robbinstrain

Before the session you’ll want to make sure you have the Libby app installed and ready to go. Just search for Libby in your app store (it will say Libby, by Overdrive) and download it for free. It will look like this:

Choose your library and log in with your library card number and the same PIN/password you use for your library account. If you don’t know your PIN/password, just call the Reference Desk at 781-316-3233 and we’ll help you!

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Red Letter Poem #48

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

“When you die, God and the angels will hold you accountable for all the pleasures you were allowed in life that you denied yourself.”  My wife cut out this anonymous quote from a magazine and posted it on our fridge.  At the time, I believed (foolish man!) it was meant as justification for her beloved indulgence: shoe shopping.  Endlessly frugal, I’d spent most of my life turning denial into a veritable artform.  Later, when it came out in conversation that the quote was intended, not for herself, but for me – my tears were extravagant and, over time, transformative.

Christopher Jane Corkery’s poem takes us to a tiny Italian hill town near Florence where she savors what seems the simplest of memories: sun, taste, the generosity of the body, those times in life when we’re able to be blissfully unaware of the price time exacts from us all.  Three times she mentions “danger” yet, despite some hints of darkness, she plunges ahead, plumbing memory’s irresistible depths – because, back then, that little coltish spring seemed a symbol of ultimate abundance.  But what should we make of that old man she meets, squatting on the boundary between the mundane and the mythological?  And his offer/command that she – “Bevi!” – drink?  Do we ever understand what we’ve been given – or fully appreciate what we’ve lost?  Perhaps that’s the poet’s job: to reclaim that lost day – for herself, for her readers – with the gently-inflected music I’ve come to trust in Christopher’s writing.  Savoring the poem, we are each, then, left on our own to take account of what beauty our flickering days contain.

My dog-eared copy of her first collection, Blessing (Princeton University Press) remains a favorite of mine.  Christopher’s new book, Love Took the Words (Slant Books, 2020) from which “Il Cavallino…” was taken, carries us to faraway places – Ireland, Mexico, Greece, Italy (much appreciated during these homebound days) – as well as towns a mere stone’s throw from Arlington.  Poet, educator, essayist, proud grandmother, Christopher is widely published, richly honored, and determined to continue following wherever her pen leads.

Red Letter Poem #48: 

Red Letter 48

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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George Franklin Grant, Black History Month, and Arlington

Dr. George Franklin Grant, Arlington Heights resident,  invented the golf tee in 1899, a lesser-known fact in Arlington history.

 

George Franklin Grant (1846-1910)

George Franklin Grant was an Arlington resident in the late 1800s and early 1900s and the first African American professor at Harvard University.  His father, Tudor Elandor Grant, was born a slave in Maryland and later  became an abolitionist helping smuggle slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad.

George Grant was the second African American to graduate Harvard University and became a renowned dentist, having graduated from Harvard Dental School in 1870.

The following is derived  from website: originaltee.com

In addition to Grant’s local renown as a dentist, he was a passionate golfer; considerable evidence points to Grant & his golfing partners as some of the earliest African American golfers in the post-Civil War era.  His daughter recalled caddying for her father in the 1880s in the Boston suburb of Arlington Heights, where her father had built a meadow course next to his home in the country.  The family had moved to Beacon Hill, but in his free moments Grant returned to the course in Arlington Heights.

One aspect of the golf game frustrated him:

He was unhappy with the imprecise process of teeing up the ball every time – which required pinching moist sand or mud into a cone-shaped tee before each shot.  Grant came up with an invention that would forever change the game of golf.  He received the very first patent for a wooden golf tee.   As an inventor rather than a businessman, Grant never marketed his golfing innovation.

  His golf tees were manufactured in Arlington, Massachusetts

 

Note:  George Franklin Grant’s home in Arlington Heights was originally numbered 48 Hillside Ave but was renumbered 118 Hillside Ave. in 1897.  In the 1883 street directory the listing says simply – Hillside Ave. 5th house on left from Wollaston Ave.

Arlington Heights, Mass. Wollaston Ave. in winter

This postcard is from Robbins Library’s Historical visual collection. All Library historical postcards and photographs are online via the Digital Commonwealth repository:  digitalcommonwealth.org.

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Red Letter Poem #47

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

If you’re not familiar with the work of Afaa Michael Weaver – award-winning poet, fiction writer, educator, and soon-to-be memoirist – you might want to dive right in to the three books of his monumental verse achievement, Plum Flower Trilogy.  But when he offered me a Red Letter contribution, my mind went immediately to a modest-looking 13-poem chapbook, A Hard Summation, published by Central Square Press in Cambridge, MA.  Hard?  I’d have said nearly impossible – because Afaa set himself the challenge of weaving together 400 years of the African-American experience in this brief sequence – stretching from the Middle Passage to the Great Migration and up into our contemporary city landscapes.  He conjures a host of voices and scenarios, clothed in dictions that range from the rural South to the patois of Northern urban streets – inflected, at times, by Gospel chant, the formal stance of the sonnet, or his own style of musically-charged free verse.  As our country, at last, begins to wrestle with its troubled racial history, A Hard Summation should be an essential resource in the deepening conversation.

Throughout the sequence, we’re introduced to a litany of names and voices: from children listed on a slave ship manifest, to cultural and civil rights figures, to those anonymous men and women just trying to make it through another day.  In this, the closing poem of the collection, we feel the presence of Heaven Sutton, a seven-year-old girl shot and killed in her West Side Chicago neighborhood, the collateral damage of gang violence.  As in all the poems here, the losses, the fleeting joys are individual, intimate, rich with the sort of visceral impressions that history books often fail to document.  Afaa’s writing offers us (as the poem says) “a respite from history”, the chance to be moved by the music and emotional valence of these thoughts, so that we might begin to make our own peace with what we’re carrying within us.

Red Letter Poem #47: 

Red Letter 47

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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Together We Read Book Club

Attention Overdrive/Libby users! From now until February 24, you can read Kate Clayborn’s contemporary romance Love Lettering with no waiting as part of the Together We Read Book Club.

The Minuteman Library Network joins nearly 16,000 public libraries and tens of thousands of readers across the United States in offering the latest Together We Read: US digital book club selection. From February 10 to 24, patrons can enjoy author Kate Clayborn’s witty romance ebook and audiobook, Love Lettering, for free with no waitlists or holds. Readers can access the digital book by downloading the Libby app or visiting our Overdrive site, and then participate in an online discussion.

Here’s a description of the book: Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

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Red Letter Poem #46

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

s e x, of course – the ever-present siren-song of our physicality, that’s one element.  Love, absolutely – our need for deep connection, in all its wildly-inventive incarnations.  And it involves the act of reaching out – embracing another’s loneliness; risking the surrender of all the artful barriers we’ve devised to safeguard our own.  But in the end, we’re won over, seduced by that dreamed-of possibility: we – ours – knowing – and home.

I’ve been thinking about art-making, and it seems to me it too is a kind of Valentine.  This is especially true of Sarah Bennett’s delightful poem, selected to celebrate the hearts-and-flowers holiday.  In fact, isn’t language itself a form of seduction, whispering its sweet nothings into our eager ears until we no longer resist and partner in its brief dance?  “Phasmids” comes from Sarah’s beguiling collection, The Fisher Cat (Dytiscid Press) in which her lyrics are, by turns, veiled or unexpectedly exposed, spurred by the poet’s nimble inventiveness.  She is (by her own description) a book designer, gardener, clarinet player, and appreciator of the natural world.  Way back in the 1980’s, before the current trend, she was selected as the Poet Laureate of Worcester, MA.  Out of nothing – signs, sounds – words construct an ephemeral something that feels as tangible as the chair we’re sitting in, the page beneath our fingertips.  In “Phasmids”, every element of the poem is designed to invite the mind’s participation – even that caesura (a pregnant pause?) between that quiet “unnoticed” and the startling “Show me…”.  Tell me: how can anyone resist this delightful will-you-be-mind?

Red Letter Poem #46: 

Red Letter 46

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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So Sweet!

This month we asked our librarians for their favorite sweet themed titles! (Remember, sweet titles & settings doesn’t always mean sweet content!) Here are their responses:


Kids:

Not an Alphabet Book: The Case of the Missing Cake by Eoin McLaughlin

Bear Goes Sugaring by Maxwell Eaton

Sweety by Andrea Zuill

Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together by Andrea Tsurumi

Who Made This Cake? by Chihiro Nakagawa

Lady Lollipop by Dick King-Smith

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller

Cinnamon Baby by Nicola Winstanley

Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems

Maybelle and the Haunted Cupcake by Katie Speck

Are You Eating Candy Without Me? by Draga Jenny Malesevic


Teen:

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Gumballs by Erin Nations


Adult:

The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender


The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks


From the Children’s and Teen Room:

Who Made This Cake?  by Chihiro Nakagawa, Illustrated by Junji Koyose

Baby Cakes by Theo Heras, Illustrated by Renne

In Aunt Lucy’s Kitchen by Cynthia Rylant (Cobble Street Cousins Book #1)

Pies and Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick (Mother-Daughter Book Club Book #4)

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer


The Great British Baking Show

Marie Antoinette

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Illus. Wendy Xu

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Red Letter Poem #45

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

“We’re considered blow-ins,” my Irish friend once explained (the image being that of dried leaves carried in on a random breeze) “because we’ve only lived in Sligo for forty years.”  It took me a moment to let that sink in.  “But our children, who were born here – perhaps they’ll be thought of as locals.  If not, then certainly our children’s children.”  By such a calculation, almost all of us are blow-ins, conveyed by winds of history, politics, economics, or unbridled dreams.  We’ve arrived upon some untested territory, hoping to establish a new life – and wondering, all the while, how the locals will receive us.

Jenny Xie was born in China’s Anhui province but resettled with her family in Piscataway, New Jersey where she spent her school years.  Later, studying at Princeton – and writing in her second language, no less – she began garnering attention and winning prizes for her poetry.  To say her debut collection, Eye Level (Graywolf Press, 2018) was well-received is quite the understatement; among the cascade of honors it received was the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, and it was chosen as a finalist for the National Book Award.  What I find remarkable in her writing is the unflinching way she explores the sense of native and foreign within every individual.  While her poems possess a marvelous specificity concerning the immigrant experience, they reach far beyond that.  Between those dark stations from which we each arrive and eventually depart this life, there are the diverse landscapes we travel through, each making as much of a claim upon us as we do on them.  In a time when the very word immigrant has been cast by some Americans to be a sign of threat, Jenny’s poems helped me to better feel the ground beneath my own feet.  It’s clear to me her passport (like the ones we are all issued at birth) is from the province of Self.  And when we meet one another like this, eye to eye, our new visas are validated.

Red Letter Poem #45: 

Red Letter 45

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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Pride and Prejudice Retellings

There is no better time than the depths of winter to watch (or re-watch) the 5-hour BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. But did you know that there are also approximately a billion book adaptations, spinoffs, and retellings of the same story? In most cases knowledge of the original is unnecessary for your enjoyment, but if you’re familiar with it you’ll have an extra appreciation for these books. Here are a few:

Longbourn by Jo Baker

In Pride and Prejudice we hear one story about people who live at Longbourn, but here Jo Baker gives us a completely different story that is going on at the same time. Our main character is a maid named Sarah who is intrigued by a new footman, James. There is every bit as much drama and romance as with the Bennet girls, and those events are happening in the background but they’re not what we’re concerned with here. This is an excellent historical novel in its own right, rich with detail about everyday life in this period.

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

Remember pious, bookish Mary, the ill-singing middle sister at whom the others were constantly sighing or rolling their eyes? Hadlow reimagines her story here, finally giving her a chance to star without embarrassment. The characters and humor are very true to the original, and it’s incredibly satisfying to see another perspective on the events. Of course, true to any good Austen retelling, she also (finally!) gets her own chance at love. Mary really deserved more than Jane Austen gave her, and I’m glad Hadlow has provided that.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Zoboi’s teen novel Pride is more of a straight-up retelling, starring Black teenagers in a contemporary setting. Set in the New York neighborhood of Bushwick, Lizzy Bennet has been reimagined as Zuri Benitez, proud of her Haitian and Dominican roots and protective of her neighborhood. When the Darcy family moves in across the street, it’s obvious that they don’t fit in – they are rich, and dress and talk like white people, a perfect illustration of the theme of gentrification that runs through the novel. Of course Zuri keeps running into one of the brothers, Darius, and the ending is inevitable but still full of surprises. Zoboi does an excellent job of creating modern, genuine characters that are perfectly updated versions of the original.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Arguably the most hilarious of all the retellings with which I’m familiar, this is another contemporary take. Here, Jane is a yoga instructor, Mary a perpetual student and recluse, and Kitty and Lydia are obsessed with CrossFit and their paleo diets, while Lizzie works for a magazine. Just like the original Bennets, this family has fallen on hard times, though here it’s because of Mr. Bennet’s illness and the family’s lack of health insurance. The family meets Chip Bingley, a doctor at the hospital where Mr. Bennet stays, and through him his friend Mr. Darcy. The plot and characters are almost exactly like the original (down to the dialogue in some parts), but with modern trappings – it’s incredibly clever! The satire still works, which must say something about how our society has changed and how it hasn’t.

Those are just a sampling of what’s out there in the world of P&P retellings, but here’s a list of other notable titles:

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan

Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

That should be enough to get you started! Tell us, what is your favorite Pride and Prejudice adaptation?

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