September 17th was Citizenship Day, also known as Constitution Day, when we commemorate the 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution and all that it brings to our republic.

The American Place supports newcomer immigrants on their path to Citizenship with a spirit of genuine enthusiasm, interest and compassion.
An important part of that work is shedding light on immigrant stories. To that end Homa Naficy, executive director of The American Place, recommends two compelling stories.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Nuri is a beekeeper and Afra, his wife, is an artist. Mornings, Nuri rises early to hear the call to prayer before driving to his hives in the countryside. On weekends, Afra sells her colorful landscape paintings at the open-air market. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the hills of the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo—until the unthinkable happens.

Moving, intimate, and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a book for our times: a novel that at once reminds us that the most peaceful and ordinary lives can be utterly upended in unimaginable ways and brings a journey in faraway lands close to home, never to be forgotten.

**

The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham

The Far Away Brothers

Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, the United States was a distant fantasy to identical twins Ernesto and Raul Flores—until, at age seventeen, a deadly threat from the region’s brutal gangs forces them to flee the only home they’ve ever known. In this urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration, journalist Lauren Markham follows the Flores twins as they make their way across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother in Oakland, CA.

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brainfuse help now logo

Hartford Public Library is now offering free online homework tutoring for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

It’s called “Brainfuse: Help Now” and offers live online tutoring every day from 2:00 PM to 11:00 p.m. To login in, you need your library card number and a PIN, which is the last four digits of your library card.

brainfuse start page

HelpNow’s features include:

  • Homework Help Interact with live tutors in math, science, reading/writing, social studies, PSAT/SAT, ACT, AP and state standardized tests.
  • Skills-Building Choose your topic to receive real-time help.
  • Personalized eLearning Tools My File Sharing, My Session Replay, My Tutoring Archive, My Tests Archive, and more!
  • 24-Hour Writing Lab Submit essays and other forms of writing for constructive feedback.
  • Homework Send Question Submit homework questions for expert guidance.
  • Adult Learning Center Access a library of rich adult learning content (GED) and live, professional assistance in resume/cover letter writing, U.S. citizenship prep, MS Office Essential Skills Series, and more!
  • Foreign Language Lab /Spanish-Speaking Support

This new offering is part of HPL’s continued efforts to coordinate with the Hartford Public Schools to address learning needs missed when students aren’t in school.

In addition to Brainfuse, the library has been offering virtual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programming. It has continued its successful storytime series and added “Dial-a-Story,” a 24-hour service where by calling 860-695-6288 children can hear a story in one of several languages.

“The library understands how difficult it has been for families during the pandemic to reach their educational goals. Moving forward we understand that some families need more support,” said Denise Martens, HPL’s youth and family services manager.

 

Hartford Public Library and Hartford Stage invite the community to a new book club, called “Deep Appreciation,” a heart-led gathering featuring live readings, interactive dialogue and reflections on fiction and poetry by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) authors, past and present.

The book club will meet quarterly to discuss the selection with teens and adults, as well as provide a family friendly book pairing for those who wish to continue the conversation at home. Everyone is welcome. To register, click here or call 860-695-6320.

“Among the many values Hartford Stage and Hartford Public Library share is empathy. We believe that cultivating understanding between people, and then acting on what is learned, is a fundamental good. That’s why this book club project is exciting to me – it’s an opportunity for people to engage with great literature with an open heart and an open mind,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, HPL’s president and CEO.

The meeting schedule is as follows:

First Meeting: November 19, 7:00-8:30pm, to discuss “Red at the Bone” by Jaqueline Woodson and “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers

Second Meeting: January 21, 7:00-8:30pm, book selections to be announced

Third Meeting: April 29, 7:00-8:30pm, book selections to be announced

Fourth Meeting: July 22, 7:00-8:30pm, book selections to be announced

The Book Club was inspired Black Lives Matter activists and by Black author Jasmine Guillory, who writes “…when we say Black Lives Matter, we mean the whole of Black lives—not just when we die at the hands of the police and not just when our lives intersect with white lives to our detriment. Racism is not the only thing to know about what it means to be Black. Our joys, our sorrows, our love, our grief, our struggles to fit in, our families, our accomplishments and our triumphs—these things also matter.”

Together we will honor BIPOC stories of joy, grief, healing, sorrow, and love. In this spirit, the book club will live by a shared set of values, including committing to the practice of anti-racism in its gatherings.

“As two neighboring institutions dedicated to amplifying storytelling and storytellers on our bookshelves and on our stage, we are thrilled to have found a new way to come together. ​We are looking forward to the inspiration and insight we will gain from the writings we will share, helping us to forge new connections, and to better know ourselves and each other at this challenging time,” said Melia Bensussen, Hartford Stage’s artistic director.

Since 2018, Hartford Stage has partnered with the Hartford Public Library to create a program inviting Hartford residents to attend shows at the theatre, free of charge. Through the Library Pass Program, Hartford residents with an adult or teen library card can reserve a two-ticket pass per eligible show from any community library in the city. Since its inception, nearly 2,000 Hartford residents have enjoyed free performances at Hartford Stage. HPL @ Hartford Stage – a micro-branch of the Hartford Public Library housed in the Hartford Stage lobby – gives theatre-goers the opportunity to browse through a selection of carefully curated titles directly related to the themes of each production.

The partnership has evolved to include programs that unite the theatre, the library, and the community to create deeper connections all across the city.

For more information about the library, visit hplct.org

For more information about Hartford Stage, visit hartfordstage.org.

About Hartford Public Library

Now celebrating its 126th year, Hartford Public Library remains at the forefront of redefining the urban library experience in the 21st Century. With seven locations throughout the city, the library provides education, intellectual enrichment and cultural development for thousands of children, youth and adults every year. Hartford Public Library has also gained local and national recognition for its wide range of new initiatives and partnerships designed to meet the needs of a diverse and dynamic city and region, including immigration services, employment assistance and youth leadership training. www.hplct.org.

About Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage’s mission is to enlighten, entertain, and educate by creating theatrical works of the highest caliber that have a transformative impact on audiences, the community, and its field. Led by Artistic Director Melia Bensussen and Managing Director Cynthia Rider, Hartford Stage has presented the world premieres of the new musical AnastasiaRear Window with Kevin Bacon; Reverberation by Matthew Lopez; Big Dance Theatre’s Man in a Case with Mikhail Baryshnikov; Breath & Imagination by Daniel Beaty; A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, winner of four 2014 Tony Awards; and Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Water by the Spoonful, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. www.hartfordstage.org

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Anyone who’s ever shopped online has seen the chat button – just a click away from answers or help in real time.

HPL is borrowing an idea from our friends in retail and will offer a new chat service to provide an extra layer of service to our customers.

Chat box

The service, called LibChat, is available throughout HPL’s website. Customers can type their questions into a text box and, during certain hours, receive an answer from a librarian in real time. Customers will be directed to a FAQ page when librarians are not available to answer questions (rest assured that a librarian will answer questions once they are back online.)

Open chat screen

The global pandemic prompted HPL to seek out new and innovative ways to keep in touch with their customers when the library was closed. A chat service is a good tool to help accomplish that goal.

Online chat will not be the only way to communicate with HPL. This service also allows people to text their questions to a librarian.

LibChat was live on the website for the past couple of weeks as a kind of soft launch, said Julie Styles, manager of public services at HPL’s Downtown Library. Thus far, people wanted to check on the library’s status or learn how to use the collections from home, she said. Nothing different from usual, but Styles and her team are ready for anything.

“I am excited to see what happened when we start to roll this out a little bit. We answer questions all day long. That’s what we do,” Julie Styles, manager of public services at HPL’s Downtown Library.

By Steven Scarpa, Manager of Communications and Public Relations

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We thought it was a fitting time this Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, to call attention to the work of Latina poets, whose contributions have long been overshadowed by the better known Latino giant of the poetry world, Pablo Neruda.

Here’s a list of Latina poets assembled by Graciela Rivera, branch manager of the Park Street Library and curator of HPL’s Spanish-language collection. It represents a small sampling of works both in our collection and beyond. We hope it provides a starting point to explore less familiar Latin American voices that are as rich and varied as the individual poets and the time and place in which they lived.

Julia Alvarez

The Woman I Kept To Myself

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist who may be best known for her novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies, which was made into a movie produced by and starring Salma Hayek.

The theme of being caught between two cultures runs through both her poetry and fiction. Born in 1950 in New York City, Alvarez was raised in the Dominican Republic, but had to leave the country

when she was 10 years old when her family supported an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Dictator Rafael Trujillo and had to flee to Brooklyn. Her other works of fiction include Saving the World. Alvarez also has several children’s books to her credit. Her latest volume of poetry, The Woman I Kept to Myself, was published in 2004.

Carmen Boullosa

Leaving Tabasco

The writing of this Mexican poet and novelist deals largely with feminism, the gender roles of Latin American women, social and political injustices, and sexuality. Both her poetry and novels celebrate the tradition of magical realism. Boullosa’s poetry has been anthologized in numerous collections.

Leaving Tabasco, a coming-of-age story about a charming and imaginative girl raised in a home filled with magical women, is one of her better known works of prose.

Julia de Burgos

Song of the Simple Truth

This Puerto Rican poet, who got her own postage stamp, is credited with being one of the only writers of her generation to weave together themes of romance and political activism

in her work. She bucked the norms of her time, wearing pants and refusing to get married. Her work primarily focused on feminism and social justice. In addition to being a poet, De Burgos was also an activist for both women and African/Afro-Caribbean writers. Recommended read: Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos, translated by Jack Agueros.

Gabriela Mistral

Madwoman

This early 20th century Chilean, feminist poet whose real name is Lucila Gody y Alcayaga, was a one-time teacher of Pablo Neruda and the first Latin American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Writing under the pseudonym Gabriela Mistral, she is best known for her work advocating the rights of women, exploring motherhood and sexuality, and her critiques of the homogenization of

North America. Considered by many to be the greatest female Chilean poet of all time, Mistral’s face was even featured on Chilean banknotes. A good work to start with: Madwomen: The “Locas mujeres” Poems of Gabriela Mistral, a bilingual collection translated by Randall Couch.

Excilia Saldana

in the vortex of the cyclone

This Afro-Cuban writer and poet is best known for her experimental writing that blurred the boundaries between poetry and prose. Her work drew heavily from mythology and folklore, but above all she was a poet who strove to convey truths about the lives of Carribbean women, from domestic violence and female friendships to their dual roles as mothers and romantic partners. Try reading: In the Vortex of the Cyclone: Selected Poems by Excilia Saldana.

Alfonsina Storni

my heart flooded with water

Born in Switzerland and raised in Argentina, Alfonsina Storni is considered one of the most important

modernist poets of Latin America. She spent her life writing from Coronda, Buenas Aires, and later Uruguay. Her work features both feminist and erotic themes considered progressive when she wrote them in the early 1900s. Check out My Heart Flooded with Water, a selection of poems from seven of Storni’s collections, translated by Orlando Ricardo Menes.

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HARTFORD – In October 1920, with the passage of the 19th Amendment, thousands of Hartford women queued up to register for the newly acquired right to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Their voter registration card, along with thousands of other city residents’ cards, are preserved and made accessible in Hartford Public Library’s Hartford History Center (HHC).

October 1920, a new online exhibition that focuses on the Hartford women who registered to vote for the first time, goes live September 14, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the day when the state of Connecticut ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote. Through these historical public records, we are introduced to a diverse contingent of civic-minded women – whether single, married, or widowed; black or white; Jewish or Christian; housewives, stenographers, undertakers; native born or foreign born – who took advantage of this long-fought opportunity to register to vote.

“The Hartford History Center at HPL houses a remarkable record of Hartford’s public history including the Town and City Clerk Archives from 1639 through 1970, the records of the Hartford City Parks Commission from the 1850s through the present, and Hartford’s voter registration records from the 1840s through the 2000s.  Taken together these three huge collections contain a wealth of information about Hartford and its citizens.  They reflect the city’s rapid growth and prosperity and its increasing diversity,” said Brenda Miller, the Library’s Executive Director, Culture and Communications.

The spine of the October 1920 project comes from a collection of voter registration cards from that landmark year, a trove of demographic and biographic information about who came to the polls in that historic election.

In the early 1900s, voter registration was only open twice a year, March and October, and only every two years.  Only a few hundred people would apply. In 1920, somewhere between 15,000 and 17,000 women registered to vote out of 19,000 women eligible. Hartford’s overall population was about 138,000 people.

“We started thinking about this this past Fall. We really wanted to do something that would highlight what we have in the collection. The voter registration cards are very unique,” said Jennifer Sharp, HHC Archivist.

“We wanted to release it on the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. It was too monumental an anniversary not to recognize it,” said Maureen Heher, HHC Historical Research Specialist.

In the lead up to the election, women lined up to practice what to do at the polls. They caught up on the issues at stake and in the positions of the people on the ballot. “They were very engaged. There was a real push to make sure that women understood what they were doing,” Heher said.

Sharp and Heher said that while doing research they were struck by the patriotism of the people of that time period. The women who fought long odds to get the vote believed in government’s ability to help people and in their own

“The biggest takeaway for me was how many people wanted this,” Sharp said. “These were people who wanted to participate in the process.”

“When these women were given the right to vote, it was treated as a sacred duty. It was an obligation – now that we have it, it is our duty to do this, they felt,” Heher said.

Sharp said it’s hard to look at the time period, where over 90 percent voter turnout was not uncommon, and to not feel a level of concern about the current state of our democracy where turnout is low and some people feel as if their vote is meaningless. “We have this right and we have to use it,” Sharp said.

The digitization of the Hartford Voter Registration Collection held in the Library’s Hartford History Center, and the subsequent transcription of the cards and making the cards’ digital images accessible online through the Connecticut Digital Archive was made possible through the generous support of Abraham Ford Jr., Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Michael Howser, Janice Mathews, Anne E. McAloon, B. Miller and Pradeep Bajaj, Pomeroy-Brace Fund, Brenda Roggeveen, Gilda and David Roncari, and Stephen and Amy Saunders. 

To see the exhibit, visit hplct.libguides.com/October1920.

For more information about the Hartford History Center, visit its webpage.

For more information about Hartford Public Library, visit hplct.org.

By Steven Scarpa, Manager of Communications and Public Relations

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Hartford Public Library (HPL) is presenting Hartford’s L.I.T. (Literary Integrated Trailblazers) virtual programming event, “All Things Lit Live!” – festivities of literary bliss on September 19, 2020, from 10:00am until 5:00pm. Zoom events will  stream on Hartford Public Library’s Facebook page.

Register free on Eventbrite and follow HLIT on Facebook.

HLIT’s virtual programming is a culmination of the literary community, celebrating the craft of writing, the business of books and the beauty of literature. This event will contain workshops, literary discussions and readings, a panel discussion where writers and publishers meet, Griot storyteller, local author highlights, featured poets, Bookstore highlights, literary intellectuals, words and thoughts turned into a patented Conscious Conversation card game by Alphonso McGriff III, as well as a poetry writing workshop led by the Hartford Poet Laureate, Frederick Douglass Knowles.

Hartford’s L.I.T. (Literary Integrated Trailblazers), is a group of local authors, artists, and entrepreneurs. Their mission is to establish presence and awareness of Greater Hartford’s local authors, diverse artists and entrepreneurs to revitalize literary arts and communication. H.L.I.T. focuses on literacy, literary productions, entrepreneurial building and networking within Hartford communities, including the underserved and non-traditional communities.

Virtual Event Program
September 19, 2020 10:00am-5pm

HLIT Author Highlights The following authors will be featured throughout the day sharing their works and reading excerpts from some of their books. All of which will be available for purchase.

Lyndell Williams is an award-winning writer and bestselling author. She has been published in peer-review journals and presented at national conferences. She is the founder and managing editor of the NbA Muslims blog on Patheos. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and she is a contributor to multiple online publications.

Rosa M. Bailey, aka CEO Boss Lady, is a native of Hartford, CT. She currently resides in Bloomfield, CT. Her love of reading makes the library her favorite place to visit. She is a wife and the proud mother of three adult sons and four grandchildren. Ms. Bailey is the CEO of RMB Management Group, a full-service training and development center for aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders.

Mack Writtens; Prior to being the educator that he is today, when Mack Writtens was a young student he struggled to find stories that he could resonate with and characters that look like him. He heard those same feelings echo throughout the communities he’s experienced. Mack Writtens is dedicated to producing relatable and impactful stories across all sub-genres of fiction that feature black and brown characters.

Mikala Guyton; First-time author Mikala Guyton brings her thrilling perspective to the page with Home Body: Poetry & Prose, a peculiar and refreshingly ambitious collection of poetry and prose. Mikala is an artist and prize-winning writer based in Connecticut. She grew up writing stories about strange characters in familiar places and creating art in whatever medium she could get her hands on. Always having a special love for the written word, she obtained a B.A. in writing and worked as an editor in publishing for a few years before finally giving in to her raison d’être: writing. Home Body: Poetry & Prose is her first book. She currently lives with her head in the clouds, working on many books to come.

Dianne Gill is a Connecticut native raised in the town of Bloomfield.  She is the self-published author of the Cruisin Trilogy. In her early twenties her love of writing led her to entering essay contests and ultimately becoming self-taught writing in the short story format.  Using her maiden name, she created D. James Publishing, LLC in 2012 and focused on making something of all her work. The Cruisin Trilogy is an exciting collection that has something for everyone.

NBS Malay is a published author, singer, spoken word artist, writer, braider, curator of NBS Malay’s Speak N’ Eat bi-weekly open mic in Massachusetts

JV Harvey is an award-winning producer, director, and author of an adult novel “A Step Into The Rain” and the children’s books “Harvey The Little Brown Duck” and “Even Dragons Have To Go To Bed.” What he likes most of all is producing and directing, he has a few short films that have won awards for and a cooking show in the works that he is planning to produce this summer! Are you a behind the scenes person or do you want to be the first one to talk on the film set! We’ll find out!

Lynette Johnson is a poet, a performing artist, a voice actor and an event host. She has published four collections of poetry and her most recent book was also a one-woman show; Supreme.  Using poetry, Lynnette discusses relationships, injustice, God, love and unlove with a little humor and plenty of vulnerability.  She looks forward to continuing to use her art to uplift and connect.

Rell Erwin is a children’s co-author who writes chapter books, middle school books, and YA books with his four youngest children. THE HOWLING HAPPENINGS released in 2015, was the first book in the Kizzy Kloo Mystery Series co-written with his daughter, Evie Erin. The second book in the series THE GOLDEN EGG, was released in 2019 and is currently available on Amazon in paperback and e-book versions as well as it can be purchased directly through the publishing company website at www.hurstonfifth.com.

Darlene Fernandez  aka Dee Truepoetry was born in New York City and presently resides in Waterbury, has been writing since 1996. She began spoken word in 2009, gracing many stages in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. Dee Truepoetry mother of three, author of Broken Silence, entrepreneur, State of Connecticut Beat Poet Laureate of 2018-2020, President of Make’Em Believe based in Waterbury. Also, a Curator of many events like Grown and Sexy Poetry and Poetry Matters. Her passion is to make a difference in the community by inspiring others to take action hoping her words of encouragement will live forever through her poetry.

Where Publishers & Writers Meet – Panel Discussion moderated by T’challa Williams

Publisher – Melissa-Sue John, Ph.D. is a wife, mother, social psychologist, university lecturer, grant writer, business consultant, mentor, author, and publisher. She enjoys lecturing, researching, and writing. Her professional roles led her to write and publish diverse children’s literature with her two daughters, Olivia Lauren and Alyssa Simone, where they focus on STEAM education, diversity, inclusion, and universal design. Dr. John currently serves as the Chief Executive Operator and Blogger of Lauren Simone Publishing House. Visit www.laurensimonepubs.com to learn more.

Publisher – Maryam A. Sullivan (Author Umm Juwayriyah), Umm Juwayriyah, MA; 2018 Highlights Foundation Fellow;  #MuslimGirlsReader Founder;  New England Muslim Sisters Association Editor-in-Chief. Her company Sabr Publications offer a list of Best Sellers: The Size of a Mustard Seed * Hind’s Hands * The Princess and The Good Deed* Yaseen’s Big Dream*

Writer – Lyndell Williams is an award-winning writer and bestselling author. She holds a B.A. in Historical Studies and Literature, M.A. in Liberal Studies, and an AC in Women and Gender Studies. She is an adjunct instructor as well as an anti-racism and gender equity advocate.

Writer – Lashawn Henderson Middleton is a published poet and author, Board member of Journey Writers Inc. A nonprofit organization in Hartford, CT and Executive Co-Founder of Hartford’s L.I.T.

Independent Book Store Spotlights
We will hear from three Independent Bookstores that have pushed through these trying times and held onto old customers while garnering new ones! Let’s find out what worked for them and more.

  • People Get Ready Bookstore of New Haven Connecticut
  • The Key Bookstore of Hartford, Connecticut
  • Riverbend Bookstore of Glastonbury, Connecticut

Poetry Writing Workshop
With Hartford Poet Laureate, Frederick-Douglass Knowles II; poet, educator and activist involved in community education. He is the inaugural Poet Laureate for the City of Hartford. His collection of poetry, BlackRoseCity was featured at the 2018 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP). His works have been featured in the Connecticut River Review; Sinkhole Magazine; Poems on the Road to Peace: A Collective Tribute to Dr. King Volume 2 by Yale University Press; Lefoko magazine, and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora by Third World Press. His poem “Mason Freeman Cuts Jenkins Down,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His sonnet “Sunday School in the 90’s (the way I understood it)” won the 2019 Nutmeg Poetry Award. Frederick-Douglass is an Associate Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College.

Featured Poets & Performers

Naomi D. Williams; Lynette Johnson; Darlene ‘DeeTrue Poetry’ Fernandez

HLIT Dedication Poem – HLIT Team
A reading from Hartford’s L.I.T. dedicated to Black Men

Storytime with Andre Keitt Andre Keitt , The GreatHeart Griot felt a strong connection to the cultural arts from an early age and says that storytelling is “in his blood”. His beloved grandmother Martha Greatheart Thompson, “Mama Thompson,” told him stories that he uses today in his tale telling. Mr. Keitt received a Bachelor’s of Arts in English from the South Carolina State University and worked doing outreach, marketing, writing, teaching and performance arts for such places as the Hartford Public Library, the Dallas Public Library, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Bushnell Memorial Performance Hall, the Hartford Stage Company and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. He will be reading for the youth.

The legendary Life, & Literary Work of  Zora Neal Hurston  A discussion with Professor Marilynn S. Turner, moderated by Nzima Hutchings. Prof. Turner will be leading a conversation on Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, a 2020 publication of the works of Zora Neale Hurston. She will explore the life of Hurston the artist; how her race and gender impacted her work; and her legacy as a writer.

Conscious Conversation Cards with Alphonso McGriff III Alphonso McGriff III is an Executive Founding member of Hartford’s L.I.T., Advisor, Spokesmen, and Stage Manager. As a Public Intellectual, Author, Patented Inventor, a Licensed Cosmetologist, and Speaker. He proposes that when Divine Universal Humans Becoming . . . improve the quality of their consciousness, they will also improve the quality of their decisions, their actions, who they are, their reality, and their lives. He has found his present LIFE purpose in sharing McGriff’s Unique Approach to Harmonious and Productive Communication.

Writing it Out: Healing & Owning Her-Story with Nzima S. Hutchings Nzima Sherylle Hutchings will lead a roundtable candid discussion about writing to heal and expressive truths with contributors from the Every Kinda Lady and Her Sister’s Pages anthology and Poetry Cafe Spiels group.Nzima’s Every Kinda Lady Co. offers free writing to heal workshops for women in the Hartford area and at Mount Holyoke College, Annual Women of Color Trailblazer Leadership Conference; helping women to leave a written legacy, write out their puzzle pieces, heal and tell their story without editing. Nzima facilitated healing through poetry and expressive writing workshops at Saint Francis Hospital, (Greater Hartford Family Advocacy Center), for sexually traumatized young girls. Thus,led her to embark on new projects for teens coming in 2021. The staple used in all her workshops is her book, the Every Kinda Lady Expressive Writing Prompts and Journal. (Write the Hell Out Your Story).

everykindalady@gmail.com  www.everykindalady.com www.bn.com

Black Speculative Fiction with author & editor B. Sharise Moore
B. Sharise Moore is a New Jersey native and graduate of Rutgers University. Moore’s poems and short stories have appeared in several anthologies and journals such as Chosen Realities: Summer 2020 and Fiyah Literary Magazine.
At present, she is a sixth grade English Language Arts teacher, the host of Moore Books with B. Sharise on YouTube, an acquiring editor for Fiyah Literary Magazine, and a graduate student at McDaniel College where she is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her debut YA magical realism novel, Dr. Marvellus Djinn’s Odd Scholars is scheduled for release this fall.

Words, Songs & Books with NBS Malay: singer and published author NBS Malay will discuss the process of writing songs, knowing which songs become music and which become poetry and the excitement of publishing your stories.

From Idea to Production with playwright Dr. Valerie Ingram,  Dr. Ingram Playwright, Drama Therapist, Transformation Coach & Chaplin, Doula, RSS, LCHW, Reiki Master Teacher and owner of Ruby’s Realm Productions will discuss taking an idea into a story that becomes your script and many of the ways you can produce it.

Theatrics; The Art of Delivery with T’challa Williams: Author and actress T’challa Williams will discuss the various ways to deliver lines on stage and how to confidently use your space to present your character and command the audience.

Hartford’s L.I.T. – The TeamNzima Sherylle Hutchings: Founder & Visionary, CEO, Organization Director & Program Designer of Hartford’s L.I.T. Published Author, Poet, Owner & Visionary of Every Kinda Lady Co., Expressive Writing and Literary Wellness Coach; Custom Journal Designer; Community Advocate for the Greater Hartford Family Advocacy Center, and 2020 100 Women of Color Honoree, as well as founder of, I am KNIA Project.

T’challa Williams: Executive Co-Founder, Spokeswoman, Chief Advisor, Director of Organization Affairs, Editor, Project Manager; CEO of Wright Ink Productions, Published Author, Actress, Poet; Community Activist, Chairperson of the School Governance Council for HPHS, Member of Greater Hartford Art Council Artist Advisory Committee

Alphonso McGriff III: Executive Co-Founder, Spokesman, Liaison, Advisor, Stage Manager; Published Author, Poet, Intellectual Speaker, Cosmetologist, Inventor and creator of Conscious Conversation Cards and Alphonso Speaks

Lashawn Henderson-Middleton: is a graduate of Andrew’s University,Founding member,Commemorative Arts Award Official, Owner of Lashawn Bakes, Published Poetess, diversity poet for The Village for Families and Children; Board Member of Journey Writer’s Inc.

Naomi D. Williams: BA English,Wesleyan University 19’, HLIT Member, Collegiate Liaison, Model and a published Poetess

H.L.I.T. has “made it our mission to commit to the awareness and production of literary events within our community. Our stories are being told and we need to ensure that they are heard, discussed, and learned from.”

Hartford’s L.I.T. Staple Virtual programming 

*H.L.I.T Book Chat

*Lit Justice Mic

*Author Highlights

*Kiddie Corner Saturday Storytime

Hartford’s L.I.T. Staple Events

*Brothas Be Heard

*Unfinished and Finished Literary Work

*ChocLit Sundaze

*HLIT Literary Holidays

*Speakeasy – A Banned Books Cafe Hour

*HLIT Annual Hartford Book Festival

Annual Community Outreach

Book Drives

Children Book Giveaways

Food Drives

3-Day Festival 2 Venues

Hartford’s L.I.T. (Literary Integrated Trailblazers)
Annual Hartford Book Festival & Writer’s Conference

May 21st & 22nd, 2021

Hartford Public Library

500 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103

May 23rd, 2021

An Evening of Poetical Musing

Free CNTR

460 New Britain Ave, Hartford, CT 06106

Hartford’s L.I.T. would like to thank all HLIT Red Shirt Volunteers, supporters, and contributors.

For inquiry about Hartford’s L.I.T.

Hartfordslit@gmail.com

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

www.Hartfordslit.com

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HARTFORD – Hartford Public Library is looking for musical artists to perform as a part of our dynamic concert series.

Hartford Public Library is accepting submissions for in our Baby Grand Jazz series, which runs 16 Sundays from January through April. These popular free concerts have been a staple of Hartford Public Library since 2004. The concert series boasted its highest attendance in 2020.

Ensembles must include a pianist who will play the Library’s grand piano. HPL will livestream the concerts on HPL’s Facebook and YouTube channel. These will be virtual performances, not with an in-person audience.

The library is accepting rolling submissions; deadline for the 2021 series is October 16th 2020. Videos may be submitted through this link:  https://hplct.submittable.com/submit/173766/baby-grand-jazz-virtual-series-2021.

As an anchor institution, the Library plays an important role in the region’s cultural, social and economic development while contributing to the stability, safety and quality of life in Hartford. The Hartford Public Library supports artistic excellence by engaging local communities in new and exciting ways through an array of inspiring artistic programs.

For information about the Baby Grand Jazz series, visit https://www.hplct.org/classes-seminars-exhibits/baby-grand-jazz

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josesantiagoeplaceweb

Jose Santiago had only been in Hartford for a couple of weeks when he made the connection that would change his life.

“I had lost my job as a social worker in Ohio and my mom had just moved from Brooklyn to Connecticut. She said that there was a lot of work in Connecticut. Why don’t you come out this way? I said to my wife, OK, let’s see what is out there,” he said.

He quickly found work at the now defunct San Juan Center helping people find jobs. Two weeks into his work an opportunity crossed his desk that caught his attention – a position at Hartford Public Library’s Ropkins branch.

“I thought that this was a nice thing,” he said.

There had to have been a catch, he thought. The position had been open for a while and he knew that the neighborhood was rough. They were looking for someone with a library degree. Santiago wasn’t sure. A colleague, Karen Krukas, encouraged him to move forward.

“She said, ‘Jose at this point, go for it. You never know,’” Santiago said.

She was right. Santiago was hired after a single meeting with then-library director John Burgen, where they hit it off over their shared military service.

“It was meant to be. That was the beginning of a new career at a wonderful place,” he said.

Thirty-six years later, Santiago has decided to retire August 28.

“Everyone is very sad he is leaving” said Julie Styles, manager of public services at the Downtown Library and Santiago’s supervisor. “I think for a lot of people it is hard to imagine the library without him. He’s beloved by his teammates and coworkers.”

“Jose Santiago was one of the first people I had the pleasure of meeting when I first arrived at HPL in 2016. He made a point of greeting me, welcoming me and engaging me in conversation. It was such a pleasure to learn more about him, his work at HPL, and his family,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, HPL’s president and CEO.

Chatting with Santiago is a walk through library history. He drops the names of long retired or deceased staff members. He talks about the youth he supervised and the customers he helped. He points around the Atrium – there used to be a print shop over here and stacks over there. There was no air-conditioning and it used to get so hot during the summers they’d have to send everyone home at 11 am.

He remembers the really big shift for HPL (and for libraries in general.)

“We got a memo that said ‘The zebras are coming,’ I’m picturing all kinds of animals. But Zebra was the library’s first computer. You know what? I didn’t like it … Technology was taking away what I was dealing with my whole life since I was a kid. It took me a lot to accept that,” he said.

After a year at Ropkins, Santiago was placed in charge of the page and messengers department, a group of high school and college aged workers charged with caring for the collection. It was hot, hard work.

“You had the freedom to laugh, but you had to get the job done. That is what we were there for,” said Nelson Lora, a longtime HPL staffer who Santiago hired 32 years ago.

Lora said Santiago’s work ethic was always readily apparent and an example to young people like himself just coming up in the library. “You always, no matter what the task is, you have to attack and you have to finish it. You have to get it done,” Lora said.

By the early 1990s, it was clear that things needed to change around the library. Under library director Louise Blalock, the library went through a much needed renovation and organizational restructuring. For Santiago, that meant the end of the pages and messengers department and a new position in as caretaker of the collection itself, a role he has held to this day.

“I love it. I love helping people … I wish I could go longer because I love what I am doing,” he said. “It is about the customer. They are everything. I am going to stick with you until you get everything that you need.”

The word everything is not a bit of hyperbole. If there is a customer who doesn’t speak English and needs to navigate the complex bureaucracies of unemployment or other assistance, Santiago steps in, Styles said. “He goes out of his way to help people at a personal level, well beyond what is expected of him. He really relates to our patrons. He knows it can be frustrating when you hit a roadblock and it is important to him to remove these obstacles,” she said.

“His kindness and thoughtfulness show through in all he does – for other coworkers and especially with our customers. He is patient, attentive and makes sure everyone gets the help they need. He is an amazing model of exemplary service, even when faced with challenging people and situations,” Quinn-Carey said.

Santiago came by his love of libraries early. Starting at the age of six, he would go to a library in his hometown of Brooklyn and help the librarians put the books back on the shelves.

“The library was my home growing up,” he said. “It was something I really wanted to do.”

He served in the Marines for six years, advancing to the rank of sergeant and participating in Operation Eagle Pull, the mission at the end of the Vietnam War evacuating American personnel from Phnom Penh.

Library work was, in many ways, his destiny. Like most HPL staff members, Santiago believes in the altruistic aspects of the job. “The satisfaction you get when a person comes in who needs a job, or just a good book to read and you provide them what they need,” he said.

“Jose goes out of his way to help the people of Hartford. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. The people who come here from somewhere else, the library is the first stop because they need help and they don’t have anyone to help them,” said Lora.

Santiago plans to be busy in his retirement. He and his wife of 40 years Maricella will be moving to Ohio in the fall. He also plans to volunteer helping veterans. He hopes that when the pandemic passes they can take a long awaited trip to Rome.

Santiago is a spiritual man and reads his Bible every day. There is a verse he felt was apropos to his retirement, but he didn’t quite remember where from. “There is a time for that, there is a time for this … there is a time for everything,” he said.

The verse is from Ecclesiastes. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven …”

By Steven Scarpa, Manager, Communications and Public Relations

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TOP

1 – The Darwin Affair

Darwin Affair Book Cover

London, June 1860: When an assassination attempt is made on Queen Victoria, and a petty thief is gruesomely murdered moments later—and only a block away—Chief Detective Inspector Charles Field quickly surmises that these crimes are connected to an even more sinister plot. Was Victoria really the assassin’s target? Are those closest to the Crown hiding something? And who is the shadowy figure witnesses describe as having lifeless, coal-black eyes?

2 – The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

3 – Midnight Sun: Twilight Series, Book 5 by Stephenie Meyer

Midnight Sun

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

4 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

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5 – How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

How to be an Antiracist

From the National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a “groundbreaking” (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society—and in ourselves. “The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.”—The New York Times

6 – The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds

Causing mass hysteria as listeners of its 1938 radio broadcast believed a Martian invasion of Earth really was taking place, H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds is perhaps the most famous novel of its genre. This 1898 story has spawned films, radio and television series and comic-book adaptions, and its popularity endures today.

7 – Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Caste

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

8 – The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

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Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers learned early that the rich are not to be trusted. Enter Xander Spence–he’s tall, handsome, and oozing rich. Despite the fact that he seems to be one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. But just when Xander’s loyalty and attentiveness are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. With so many obstacles standing in their way, can she close the distance between them?

9 – Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison

Playing in the Dark

An immensely persuasive work of literary criticism that opens a new chapter in the American dialogue on race — and promises to change the way we read American literature. Morrison shows how much the themes of freedom and individualism, manhood and innocence, depended on the existence of a black population that was manifestly unfree—and that came to serve white authors as embodiments of their own fears and desires.

10 – The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

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Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

BECAUSE THERE WERE SO MANY GOOD CHOICES WE DECIDED TO GIVE YOU FIVE MORE!

11 – Untamed by Glennon Doyle

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12 – Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump

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In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.

13 – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. What Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

14 – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

15 – Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

twice in a blue moon

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment WeeklyMy Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it.

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