Reading

Emily Vogel

The Philosopher’s Wife
(2011)

Emily Vogel

Wednesday, February 8, 2012
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

"From my first encounter with them I have been struck by the ferocity of clarity and understatement with which Vogel shapes and controls and, in fact, intensifies the impact of these splendidly constructed poems. They bring to mind Berryman's enigmatically simple phrase, "the freedom of the poet. "I'm startled again and again by their authenticity, distinctiveness of voice, and the authority of tone, the dark fun, the sexiness and delightful adventurousness they display. One hardly knows what to expect next in one of her poems, but can be sure it will be both startling and, somehow, symmetrically inevitable. It is so heartening to know there is one more serious young poet out there-there are so very few." ~Franz Wright, 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Emily Vogel, in The Philosopher's Wife, speaks to discovery. Discovery of the self, discovery of the other, and what the comingling of the two can do to create more than the sum of their parts. These poems speak to possibilities, revealing the mysteries of enchantment, the too-often fleeting moment of adoration that accompanies found love. If not first love, then love in that elevated state of being one experiences upon realizing this "other" that what one hopes for, lives for, and dies for. A love we imagine to be true and lasting, though experience tells us that is not always so. The cathedral of marriage here is not binding; there is no obligation, no forced responsibility. While not all things will be true or come true, adrenaline pulses just below the surface in the "giddiness of grass" the "attenuated light of the wakeful mind," and for a while it is in fact all true. ~Michael Foldes

Read more: Emily Vogel

Eileen PatchVoice from the Civil War

Eileen Patch

Thursday, November 10, 2011
7pm – 8pm

Performance and Signing

Eileen Patch reads the civil war letters of her great-grandmother's son, who was a solder during the civil war. Patch will be dressed in period clothes and will impersonate her great-grandmother.

You could call it one man's perspective on his American Civil War experience or a biography of a short life. This set of letters written home from assignments with the 89th NY Regiment of Volunteer Infantry reveals the personality and values of George Magusta Englis. Like peeling layers from an onion, each letter puts the reader closer to the soldier's soul. Using timely phrases such as "On to Richmond," and "All for the Union," he most often closed his letters "This from George."

With 59 letters as a core, annotations flesh out his life and relate it to family, friends, neighborhood, and war campaigns. His was such a small part of the Union's ultimate success that it didn't matter to the war's outcome. Or did it? The collective presence of thousands similar to him worked the war machinery. The letters were transcribed and annotated by Eileen M. Patch, a descendant of the soldier's sister.

Read more: Eileen Patch

Therese WalshThe Last Will of Moira Leahy
(2009)

Therese Walsh

Thursday, June 9, 2011
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

This haunting debut novel explores the intense bond of sisterhood as a grieving twin searches for her own identity in the ruins of her sister's past. Maeve Leahy is a busy professor of languages at a university in upstate New York. So busy that she leaves little time for memories—the memory of her lost twin, Moira, and of her many lost opportunities. Until a childhood relic and a series of anonymous notes changes everything—resurrects her long-dead dreams, a lost language, her most painful recollections, and prompts her to cross an ocean in search of ancient history. There, Maeve will learn new truths about her past, and come face to face with the one thing she truly fears. Only then can she choose between the safe yet lonely life she's built for herself and one of risk, with bonds she knows can be both heart-breakingly delicate and more enduring than time.

Read more: Therese Walsh

Anthony F. GeroBlack Soldiers of New York State:
A Proud Legacy
(2009)

Anthony F. Gero

Thursday, May 12, 2011
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

The heroic saga of New York State's African American soldiers, largely untold, comes to life in these pages. Drawing on a wealth of sources, some newly discovered, author Anthony F. Gero tells of their two centuries of struggle and triumph, beginning with the French and Indian War and continuing until 1950, when the United States Army and New York's National Guard became integrated. Their legacy is vividly illustrated by the heroism of the 369th United States Infantry (previously the 15th New York) during the American advance in the Argonne-Meuse in 1918. Private Dorrance Brooks from New York City was killed in action as he led his company's survivors forward after all its officers had been killed or wounded. Black Soldiers of New York State  demonstrates how in spite of many obstacles--including ongoing prejudice within their own country--the African American soldiers from New York State served courageously and valiantly, winning many commendations and earning the respect of friend and foe alike.

Read more: Anthony F. Gero

Patricia Bray and Joshua PalmatierAfter Hours: Tales From the Ur-Bar
(2011)

Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier (Editors)

Thursday, April 28, 2011
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

The first bar, created by the Sumerians after they were given the gift of beer by the gods, was known as the Ur-Bar. Although it has since been destroyed, its spirit lives on--in each age there is one bar that captures the essence of the original Ur-Bar, where drinks are mixed with magic and served with a dash of intrigue. Heroes, villains, poets and thieves may be found within its walls; when the gods visit Earth they stop by the Ur-Bar for a drink.

Read more: Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier

John VernonLucky Billy
(2008)

John Vernon

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

A myth-busting novel about America's most infamous and beloved outlaw, Billy the Kid, from a critically acclaimed historical novelist. According to legend, Billy the Kid killed twenty-one men, one for every year of his short life; stole from wealthy cattle barons to give to the poor; and wooed just about every senorita in the American Southwest. In Lucky Billy, John Vernon digs deeply into the historical record to find a truth more remarkable than the legend, and draws a fresh, nuanced portrait of this outlaw's dramatic and violent life. Billy the Kid met his celebrated end at the hands of Pat Garrett, his one-time carousing partner turned sheriff, who tracked Billy down after the jail break that made him famous. In Vernon's telling, the crucial event of Billy's life was the Lincoln County War, a conflict between a ring of Irishmen in control of Lincoln, New Mexico, and a newcomer from England, John Tunstall, who wanted to break their grip on the town. Billy signed on with Tunstall. The conflict spun out of control with Tunstall's murder, and in a series of revenge killings, an obscure hired gunman called Kid Antrim became Billy the Kid. Besides a full complement of gunfights, jail breaks, and bawdy behavior, Lucky Billy is a provocative picture of the West at a critical juncture between old and new. It is also a portrait of an American icon made human, caught in the middle, more lost than brave, more nadve than principled, more of an accidental survivor than simply the cold-blooded killer of American myth.

Read more: John Vernon

Kenneth A. McClaneColor: Essays on Race, Family, and History
(2009)

Kenneth A. McClane

Thursday, February 17, 2011
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

A timely installment in our national narrative, Color is a chronicle of the black middle class, a group rarely written about with sensitivity and charity. In evocative, trenchant, and poetic prose, McClane employs the art of the memoirist to explore the political and the personal. He details the poignant narrative of racial progress as witnessed by his family during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. We learn of his parents' difficult upbringing in Boston, where they confronted much racism; of the struggles they and McClane encountered as they became the first blacks to enter previously all-white institutions, including the oldest independent school in the United States; and of the part his parents played in the civil rights movement, working with Dr. King and others. The book ends with a tender account of his parents in the throes of Alzheimer's disease, which claimed both their lives.

Read more: Kenneth A. McClane

Joe E. WeilThe Plumber's Apprentice
(2009)

Joe E. Weil

Thursday, January 20, 2011
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

The Plumber’s Apprentice differs from Weil's previous work in that it charts the nature of suffering beyond the limits of his working class "Elizabeth" and focuses more deeply on two aspects of his life: his Irish Catholic sense of communion, with the living and the dead (all who have gone forth marked with the sign of faith), and the essential solitude of being a single, short, bald man who has no offspring, no legacy, no beloved, and is falling, however slowly, to his death. Perhaps the question Weil asks most frequently is: given the inevitable coordinates of ongoing failure, how does a poet give the middle finger to grade z forms of Emersonian positivism and have some fun in this vale of tears? In sum: if love is impossible, and life severely limited, and loneliness is devouring the furniture, where's the closest bar, and do they have a good jukebox? For brief moments Weil succeeds in making failure, death and love his drinking buddies. In the poet's messed up ontology, they make for a lively and comical crew.

Read more: Joe E. Weil

Christine M. GelineauAppetite for the Divine
(2010)

Christine M. Gelineau

Thursday, December 9, 2010
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

Christine Gelineau has invented a new cosmology in her fascinating, ambitious, multi-part poem, Appetite for the Divine.  Questioning contemporary warfare and eco-destruction while praising the green fuse in all that lives, this poet interrogates, celebrates, and re-calibrates our spiritual and cultural values. Gelineau models for us a marvelously poly-voiced poetry, an associative, gently narrative puzzle which allows her to pick through scenes of destruction and illumination toward an idea of a core of holiness in our 21st-century existence. In Appetite for the Divine, Gelineau makes time into the sublime and turns space into grace. – Molly Peacock

Read more: Christine M. Gelineau

John E. Smelcer The Complete Ahtna Poems
(2010)

John E. Smelcer

Thursday, November 18, 2010
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

This forthcoming publication is a comprehensive collection of Smelcer’s bilingual poems.

The forward was written by Noam Chomsky and The Dalai Lama.

Read more: John E. Smelcer

Jaimee Wriston Colbert

Shark Girls
(2009)

Jaimee Wriston Colbert

Thursday, October 14, 2010
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

Shark Girls is about two women whose lives are transformed by a shark attack that amputates a child's leg. It is alternately narrated by Scat, the older sister of the victim, now a reformed drunk and a disaster photographer, and by Gracie, a casualty of a disfiguring accident, who becomes obsessed with Shark Girl, as the younger sister is known, for Shark Girl is rumored to have supernatural powers. At the beginning of the novel, Shark Girl has disappeared.

Read more: Jaimee Wriston Colbert

Joshua PalmatierWell of Sorrows
(2010)

Benjamin Tate (Joshua Palmatier)

Thursday, September 16, 2010
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

An epic tale of a continent on the brink of war, and a deadly magic that waits to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Colin Harten and his parents had fled across the ocean to escape the Family wars in Andover. But trouble followed them and their fellow refugees to this new land, forcing them to abandon the settled areas and head into unexplored territory-the sacred grounds of a race of underground dwellers and warriors. It was here that they would meet their doom. Driven to the borders of a dark forest, they were attacked by mysterious Shadow creatures who fed on life force. Only Colin survived to find his way to the Well of Sorrows-and to a destiny that might prove the last hope for peace in this troubled land.

Read more: Joshua Palmatier

The Africa House Reading Series engages authors in a discussion about their writing, inspirations, creative processes, themes, and the ways they deal with and resolve issues as they write. They may also give a preview of their new and forthcoming projects, respond to questions about what they see as their legacy, what they hope readers will take away from their books, and how their writing will be preserved for future generation. In short, it is a forum for them to discuss their philosophy of life and creativity. After the reading and discussion with the audience, the authors will sign their books.

The Series is sponsored by Ojedi, AfricaResource, and River Read Books (2010), and Binghamton Center for Writers, State University of New York (2010). Sponsors are welcome.

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