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Tag Archives: Books@Work

An Overlooked Classic, “Nervous Conditions” Is A Book That Deserves A Second Life In The Mainstream

 by Gail Arnoff“I was not sorry when my brother died.”  So begins Tsi Tsi Dangarembga's semi-autobiographical novel Nervous Conditions, the story of Tambudzai, a teenage girl in (the former Rhodesia now Zimbabwe) who lives in two worlds: that of her parents, poor farmers who earn a meager living, and that of her aunt and uncle, whom the British colonists have chosen to receive an education in England and eventually to run the missionary school.  I fell in love with Tambu in the first few pages, and as I introduce her to more readers, I have discovered that they take her to their hearts as well. This includes participants in a Books@Work group, women who are thirty to sixty-five, and college students in a “Questions of Identity” seminar. Until I requested it, the Cleveland... Read More →

Bringing Maya Angelou’s Poetry To Single Moms In Cleveland

One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes—one I love so much that I gave all my friends an illustrated copy of it—is: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” So when the keynote speaker at the first Cleveland Single Moms Conference dropped this gem mid-way through her talk, I felt an instant connection. Robyn Hill, a licensed counselor with a practice on the east side of Cleveland, made Angelou the focus of her keynote, sharing with more than 75 attendees 11 insights from the author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” "Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances" seemed particularly apt. Professor Michelle Rankins led a lunchtime session... Read More →

East Cleveland Women Use Poetry On The Path To Healing

by Ann Kowal Smith + Rachel Burstein This post was originally published on the Books@Work blog. Reading, writing and discussing poetry has the power to open windows in life-changing ways, giving readers the freedom to tell their own stories and view themselves as capable learners and contributors. Our current partnership with the East Cleveland Municipal Court and From Lemons to Lemonade (FL2L) bring Books@Work to a group of single mothers and other women whose lives rarely afford them the opportunity to read, let alone reflect. The majority of the women in the group have suffered extraordinary personal hardships; they often struggle to provide for their children. But these women’s stories don’t have to end there; with the right support, single mothers and other women finding... Read More →

How Books@Work Program Allowed Readers To See Themselves In Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth Of Other Suns”

by Rachel Burstein Our experience of a book can be changed—and enriched—when we read it alongside people who are different from us. That’s the verdict from participants at a recent Books@Work program in Cleveland. The group read The Warmth of Other Suns from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson. Her meticulously researched and beautifully told history of the Great Migration won a 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Books@Work is a non-profit organization that brings professor-led literature seminars into the workplace and to a variety of community settings. Few participants in a recent seminar were prepared for how profoundly reading and discussing Isabel Wilkerson’s book would hit them. Many recognized elements of their own family history in the book, causing them to... Read More →
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