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by Meaghan Igel LIT LIFE

A Great Read and a Great Cause L

OCAL LIBRARIES HAVE, for a long time, been places of reading, learning and fostering com- munity, but throughout the beginning of the year, Kent District Library is taking things a step further. In partnership with the Michigan Humanities Council, KDL will be featuring seminars and discus-

GREAT MICHIGAN READ BOOK DISCUSSIONS Jan. 17, 1:30 p.m. – Sand Lake/ Nelson Township Branch Jan. 18, 6:30 p.m. – Plainfield Township Branch Jan. 23, 1 p.m. – Gaines Township

Branch FREE!, (616) 784-2007

sions that are free and open to the public during the Great Michigan Read, which this year is Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age by Detroit na- tive Kevin Boyle. The book itself is

about a now- famous civil rights case involving a black slave’s grandson who became a doctor. The man, named Ossain Sweet, galva- nized by his success, moved to a predominately white neighborhood in Detroit in 1925. When a white mob

threatened his home one night and stray shots killed one of the white protesters, Sweet was accused of murder. Along with acclaimed defense attorney Clarence Darrow, Sweet put Detroit on the map of the Civil Rights movement and started the ball rolling for racial equality in America — but not without signifi- cant personal cost. “It’s a fascinating book; it’s nonfiction, but

it reads like fiction,” said Cheryl Garrison, the library’s assistant director. “[The Great Michigan Read has] been going on for several years, and it’s our third time partnering with them. We’re doing several things to participate this year, like hosting book discussions at different locations.” In addition to providing local readers with

copies of the book and book discussion guides for reading groups, school groups and families

Author Kevin Boyle

The Detroit home owned by the Sweet family, who are the focal point of the book Arc of Justice.

alike, Garrison is quick to point out the numerous other events at KDL in connection to the Great Michigan Read through the month of March. In partnership with Davenport University, the Kentwood branch of the library will host “Us vs. Them: A Critique of Divisiveness in Popular Culture,” a lecture by Dr. David Pilgrim of Ferris State University, on Feb. 21, and an Arc of Justice panel presentation with local experts and Davenport students on March 19. By participating in these events, Garrison

hopes readers all over the state will be encour- aged to think about the events in the book and their impact at the time, as well as the book’s implications today. “These events are all about community

and the chance to get together and talk about important issues in our lives, especially some- thing as important and pertinent as racism,” Garrison said. n

Other Literary Events | by Meaghan Igel

Ivan Jenson Schuler Books & Music, 28th Street location Jan. 26, 7 p.m. FREE!, (616) 942-2561

Schuler Books & Music will host author Ivan Jenson for a reading and signing of his newest tour de force, Dead Artist. The book follows former pop art superstar Milo Sonas as he navigates obscurity, his dying mother’s funeral plan- ning, his own wedding, and frequent visits from famous dead artists. Through the novel, Milo must come to terms


with his fears that the art world would appreciate him more if he were dead.

History Detectives Grand Rapids Public Library Main Branch Jan. 21, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. FREE!, (616) 988-5400

With topics like “Rescued from the Attic: A 1918 Grand Rapids Treasure Trove” and “The Ku Klux Klan in 1920s Grand Rapids?” Grand Rapids Public Library’s History

Detectives event will prove to be an informative day cover- ing multiple aspects of Grand Rapids’ long and colorful history. This daylong seminar will cover topics from Civil War scouts to cartoonists and everything in between.

Friends of Poetry Kalamazoo Public Library – Central Library Jan. 31, 7-8:30 p.m. FREE!, (269) 342-9837

Kalamazoo’s Friends of Poetry invite you to come make friends with some local poets. Nancy Eimers, Judith Rypma and Janet Heller, all professors of English at Western Michigan University, will come to Kalamazoo Public Library for a public poetry reading sponsored by Friends of Poetry. Eimers, Rypma and Heller will read from their poetry col- lections Oz, Rapunzel’s Hair and Traffic Stop, respectively, and the library will serve free refreshments at the event.


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