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Book Notes: Group to Discuss‘Between the World and Me’ in West Lebanon

Friday, February 12, 2016
The most-talked-about nonf iction book of 2015, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which takes on the sadly eternal issue of American racism in the form of a letter from Coates to his adolescent son, is the subject of a four-part book discussion group that begins Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Kilton Public Library in West Lebanon. Coates recently won the National Book Award for Between the World and Me .

The discussion group, which is open to the public, is sponsored by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in White River Junction. It will meet from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Subsequent meetings will be held at the same place and time on the following Wednesdays: March 2, March 9 and March 16. Participants are asked to bring a copy of the book, although some copies will be available at the first meeting. Books are also available on line and at local bookstores.

Impetus for the reading group came out of parishioners’ alarm over the racial turmoil of the past two years, and from a larger conversation occurring in the Episcopal Church.

“We had a group of people who, like many, have been concerned about increasing racial violence since Ferguson and Charleston,” said Katy Chaffee, a co-organizer of the discussion group. “This is also a huge priority for the Episcopalian church nationally.”

In January the Trinity Institute, an arm of Trinity Church in New York City, devoted its annual theological conference, “Listen for a Change,” to the urgent question of racism in America, calling the three-day event, “Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice.”

And within the St. Paul’s parish itself, there has been a group of parishioners meeting to discuss ways to address racial disparities and racial violence, Chaffee said.

Chaffee said she doesn’t yet know whether this first round of discussions will lead to another book discussion group, on this or other topics. But she expects that Between the World and Me will spur meaty discussion.

“It’s a very powerful book, and somewhat painful to read, frankly,” she said.

It’s recommended that interested participants register for the discussion group by emailing stpaulsvt@gmail.com, or by calling 802-295-5415. For further information on the book discussion group, contact Diane Root at droottrrm@aol.com or Katy Chaffee at katy.chafee@gmail.com.

Book News

W oodstock resident Mimi Baird, author of He Wanted the Moon , a memoir published last year about her father’s struggles with mental illness during the 1940s and 1950s, was named one of the “Best Books of the Year” by The Washington Post . Now Baird’s book has been optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B. In an interview with the on line magazine Vulture, Pitt called it a “gorgeous book.”

∎  Poet Laura Foley, who lives in Pomfret, has been named one of 60 finalists in the British magazine Aesthetica ’s international writing contest, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, which recognizes poetry and short fiction. There were more than 2,000 entries. Foley has also published a volume of her poems in Night Ringing , which is available through Amazon.

Of Note

The Sundog Poetry Center in Jeffersonville, Vt., a nonp rofit organization that promotes poetry throughout the state, has announced that it will be interviewing at length eight Vermont poets throughout 2016. They are: current Vermont poet laureate Chard diNiord, former state poet laureate Sydney Lea, Cleopatra Mathis, who teaches at Dartmouth College, Jean Connor, Tina Escaja, Jody Gladding, Geof Hewitt and Verandah Porche. The interviews will then be posted on the Sundog website. For further information, go to sundogpoetry.org.

∎ Yuliya Ballou, of South Royalton, will present a talk on “The World of Russian Fairy Tales” on Thursday, Feb. 25 at the Royalton Memorial Library in South Royalton. Ballou is a native Russian speaker who teaches at Springfield High School. The talk will be from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is open to the public.

Author Readings

If you’re going to drive beyond the frie ndly confines of the Upper Valley to hear one nonfiction author talk about her book this frost-heave season, the one most worth the trip might be Caroline Alexander’s March 9 presentation in St. Johnsbury on her book, The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition . At 7 p.m. in the St. Johnsbury Atheneum, Alexander will review the British explorer’s harrowing exploration-turned-rescue-operation at the bottom of the planet during World War I. Admission is free. For more information on this and other presentations of the Vermont Humanities Council around the state, visit vermonthumanities.org.

Nordic Noir

The Haverhill Corner Library is inviting devotees of Scandinavian mystery novels to a series of discussions of the genre, starting with Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo’s The Laughing Policeman on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. The novel, which introduced readers to Swedish detective Martin Beck, was adapted into a movie starring Walter Matthau in the early 1970s.

Subsequent discussions will focus on Henning Mankell’s Faceless Killers on March 28 and on Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman on April 25. Admission is free. To learn more about the series, visit hliba.blogspot.com or call 603-989-5578.

Could Be Verse

The Center for the Arts in New London is inviting aspiring poets of all ages in the Lake Sunapee region to enter its annual poetry contest, this year on the theme of “Where the Wild Things Are in the Kearsarge Valley.” March 15 is the deadline to submit poems, in the age categories of elementary school, middle school, high school and adult.

Age-group winners will be announced during a reception at 5 p.m. on April 1 at Woodcrest Village in New London. To learn more and submit poems, visit centerfortheartsnh.org and download the rules for submission. Additional information is available by calling 603-526-4444.

Affairs of the Farm

Meriden dairy farmer and former New Hampshire Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor will talk about “New Hampshire’s Long Love-Hate Relationship with Agricultural Fairs” next Thursday night at 7 at the Old Church Building in Piermont. Admission is free and refreshments will be served at the presentation, which the Piermont Public Library is hosting and the New Hampshire Humanities Council is sponsoring. For more information, call 603-272-4967.

Tell and Show

Storyteller Lauretta Phillips will mix her own tales with folk stories, urban legends, fairy stories, animal tales, as well as discuss the art and history of her craft, during a presentation Wednesday night at 7 in the library of the Andover (N.H.) Elementary and Middle School in Andover, a short drive east of New London on Route 4. Admission is free.

Staff writer David Corriveau also contributed to this story.

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