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Programs and Activities

Dinner with Myra Sabir

Dr. Myra Sabir, Assistant Dean at Cornell UniversityBook Reading with Dr. Myra Sabir
June 19, 2009, 7pm to 9pm

Dr. Myra Sabir is an Assistant Dean at Cornell University. She will read from her book, She. She falls into a fascinating new genre of concise, intimate, poetic conveyance called the lyric essay.

In classic lyrical essay form, She is an experience in a book. By design, it places you in the cosmos, in your body, in nature, and in a series of cultural moments. It puts you in direct contact with your own sensing ability, and for a few minutes of reading you experience non-linear, full-body knowing.

The event will be on June 19, 2009 from 7pm-9pm at Africa House. You can purchase your tickets online or by phone.

Event Details

When: Friday, June 19, 2009
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Cost: $40/person (RSVP Required). First come, first serve basis.
Reservation Deadline: June 16, 2009.
On the Menu: Appetizer: Avocat aux Crevettes (Avocado with shrimp), La Salade Cote Cap Verte (Chopped Egg Salad); Entrée: Yasar Poulet (Chicken Yassa in the manner of Casamarance), barbecued Chicken with onion and lemon sauce, served over a bed of rice. Desserts: Africa House  Banana Glace; Wine: Red and White Wine, a mix of sweet wine will complement the cuisine. Coffee: Yirgacheffe Gourmet Coffee (Ethiopian); Beverages: Apple Juice, Filtered Water.
Note: Dinner is prepared on the day of the event using only the freshest ingredients.
Attire: Formal

Or call Africa House at 607-821-2540 to pay for your seat. All ticket sales are final and non-refundable.

Myra Sabir (DeeMyra) Biography

DeeMyra is a narrative psychologist who has worked with life narratives for the past 20 years. In 1996, she completed a master’s thesis magna cum laude at Emory University in which she conducted a series of life-narrative workshops with African American adults then living in Atlanta’s lower-income communities. The project earned two community service awards from Emory: The Jack Boozer Community Development Award (1995) and the Mary K. Mobley Award for Academic Excellence & Significant Community Concern (1996). She continued the workshops for two years in Atlanta’s urban churches, homeless shelters, and community centers before enrolling in The College of Human Ecology at Cornell University and completing her Ph.D. in Human Development. Following the Ph.D., she was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship to conduct life-narrative workshops with 62 older adults living in Harlem, New York. She was then recruited to become the Assistant Director to the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center at Cornell, then to become an Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell. Most recently she has founded Got Meaning? The Life Writing Project, a non-profit organization that conducts life-writing workshops; trains volunteer life-writing coaches; and installs life-writing programs at community centers and other institutions. For this body of work and related efforts, she has been called a “visionary” with an “unerring instinct for what is sound and valuable.” She was born in a small town in Alabama, spent her teenage and young adult years in Atlanta, GA., and has enjoyed living in Ithaca, New York for the past 11 years. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She completed the new lyric essay, She, in 2008.

Excerpt from She

"It suited her to scale it way back - so people know an emotion together in the events of the day. Where flavors waft across thresholds and where the pleasures of a thing are largely taken in knowledge of the hands that shaped it. Where survival instincts are left dormant by the mutual sharing of each other's gifts and talents, and life is lived gracefully, in a self-contained system in which sufficiency here creates no insufficiency elsewhere. Where what is worth knowing is first filtered through the heart before enlisting the skills of the head, and where the size of the web makes membership a felt experience. Living time as did her father. Feeling the truth."

About She

DeeMyra (2008). She. Ithaca, New York: Well Considered Words Publishing. $15.95 paperback

She falls into a fascinating new genre of concise, intimate, poetic conveyance called the lyric essay. The Seneca Review writes, “The lyric essay partakes of the poem in its density and shapeliness, its distillation of ideas and musicality of language. It partakes of the essay in its weight…. The lyric essay does not expound. It may merely mention. “It is suggestive rather than exhaustive." The stories it tells may be no more than metaphors.…circling the core of a single image or idea…inviting the reader's participatory interpretation.”* In classic lyrical essay form, She is an experience in a book. By design, it places you in the cosmos, in your body, in nature, and in a series of cultural moments. It puts you in direct contact with your own sensing ability, and for a few minutes of reading you experience non-linear, full-body knowing.

* For more on the lyric essay see the Seneca Review’s webpage.

What brought about She?

As a narrative psychologist one learns to sift carefully through the life as it is lived for the personal meaning in significant events - to maintain clarity and understanding at each step, and in the end, a coherent story which represents a coherent life. As my daughter moved toward young adulthood and eventual independence, there were many significant events deserving slow and quiet attention. The book, She, is a combination of dreams, imaginings, and fictionalized accounts that disentangle how the sense of meaning my daughter found for her life emerged naturally from my own sense of meaning, from her relationship with her father, and from the soul of my mother.

Woven through the story are subtle references to the African nature embodied by African Americans I have known over my lifetime, suggesting that there may be certain innate characteristics that cross time and space. Some of these familiar qualities include the sense that there is always enough to share, stemming from an awareness of nature’s abundance; the lived experience of the connection, oneness, and interdependence among us, of the web of spirit joining us all; and a unique experience of time. This is the first time my life narratives have taken on the lyrical form, which reflects, I believe, the convergence of many paths of inquiry over the years, and the new levels of liberation brought on by the second half of life.

What other’s have said about, She

“She" is unbelievably beautiful. Musical, lyrical, lovely.” -- Maria Davidis, Cornell

"This just floated into me. It's unhurried, soft, delicate." -- Valarie Henry, Atlanta

“You have a gift for expressing profound things simply. What you don't say is as important as what you say.” -- Clare McMillan, Cornell

"On 12-04-08 at 10:33 p.m., I completed reading She. I am light-headed, almost floating above my natural being. Thanks so much for the ride!" -- Bessie Knight Farmer, Dothan

"Fluid, complex, simple." -- Cha Roberts, Holistic Modalities, Ithaca, NY

"Exciting and different and wonderful." -- Robin Botie, Ithaca, NY

“It's like a dream.” -- Christine Harris, Diaspora Gallery, Ithaca