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Book Discussion Series Relives Childhood in the South

By Rod Jones

The Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma book discussion series at Oklahoma City University will continue at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 with “Native Guard” by Natasha Tretheway. The discussion will be held in Walker Center room 151, located near the center of campus at N.W. 26th Street and Florida Avenue.

The series is made possible through a grant from Oklahoma Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities with funding from the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative.

Considered one of the finest living poets in the U.S., Tretheway offers an accessible collection of related poems that explore her own childhood history in the South alongside an exploration of the history of the Louisiana “Native Guard,” an African American branch of the National Guard that served the state during the Civil War. Readers follow the poet’s own explorations of family histories and larger shared histories as she processes a personal journey through lyrical language and rich images.

The discussions this season are under the theme Civil Rights and Equality: A Pulitzer Prize Centennial Series. The theme features five Pulitzer Prize-nominated or -winning books that explore civil rights in an American context, with its unrealized ideals using specific historic or contemporary moments, and with fully realized individuals experiencing inequality. Tracy Floreani, director of the Center for Interpersonal Study through Film & Literature at OCU, says the series will look at events beyond what many consider the Civil Rights movement in U.S. history.

“Our collective imagination calls forth the black-and-white photojournalistic images of brave marchers under attack and the resonating voices of the leaders who led court cases and civil actions throughout the 1950s and ‘60s. But the fundamental notion of civil rights has been built into the value systems of our culture from the beginning,” Floreani said.

At each session in the series, a humanities scholar makes a presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussions follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, all participants come together for a brief wrap-up.

Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to preregister and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Floreani at 405-208-5707, emailing her at [email protected] or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library room 211 or 207.

Remaining dates and books in the series include:

  • 11, “The Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age” by Kevin Boyle
  • 25, “A Plague of Doves” by Louise Erdrich

Nov. 1, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” by Katherine Boo

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