Literature and Freedom: Judith Tannenbaum at Litquake

October 6th, 2011

Email This Blog Post Email This Blog Post Filed under: New Village Commons— New Village Press Team @ 10:22 am

On Saturday, October 8th, at 12 pm, Judith Tannenbaum, coauthor of By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives, will be facilitating a talk at San Francisco’s prestigious literary festival, Litquake. Published in 2010, By Heart is a two-person literary memoir narrating the encounter between Judith, a dedicated educator and writing instructor, and Spoon Jackson, a man who is serving a life sentence in prison. Judith and Spoon met in San Quentin when Spoon attended a poetry class taught by Judith and sponsored by the Arts-in-Corrections program. Spoon’s portions of By Heart give insight into prison life in a way that few books do, and eloquently illustrates the importance of creativity in human survival. Spoon describes finding poetry: “I had found my niche, my own humanity, through my journey, studies, and poetry.  I had uncovered inside myself a way of transforming my anger, sadness, pain, and unrealness into art by embracing the moment… I had humbly become a poet.”

According to the Sentencing Project, 458 out of 100,000 people in California are incarcerated (as of 2009).  In 2003, the funding for the Arts-in-Corrections program and for artists like Judith was cut even as “a pair of university studies found that participants in the AIC program had 75% fewer disciplinary actions and a 27% lower recidivism rate than the general prison population (William James Association).”  Currently, thousands of prisoners are participating in rolling hunger strikes across California to protest inhumane conditions in prisons and jails around the state. Judith and Spoon and other artists and writers creating in prison settings are participating in their own form of resistance: in a system that demands conformity, these men and women are voices in the silence, demanding to be heard.

Pick up a copy of By Heart and stop by on Saturday to learn more about the flaws of our corrections system and be inspired to make a difference.

The Acting Together Project Officially Launches!

October 4th, 2011

Email This Blog Post Email This Blog Post Filed under: New Village Commons— Lorenzo Estébanez @ 2:39 pm

The hard work that’s been put into the Acting Together project keeps bearing fruit. The second volume of the anthology, Acting Together, Vol. II: Building Just and Inclusive Communities, is currently with our team of graphic designers, and close to being an ink-and-paper book! In the meantime, author Cynthia Cohen has shared her transformative ideas about peacebuilding through the arts with KadmusArts: you can listen to a full podcast here.

This is just one example of the preparations underway for the big release of Acting Together II and the companion documentary film, Acting Together on the World Stage. The editors of the Acting Together anthology have been arranging multiple screenings and events. Check them out, if you can, and join our authors for an enlivening discussion!

– On October 21-23, Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) is hosting a Peacebuilding and the Arts Weekend Intensive, an opportunity for peacebuilders to discuss their work and exchange ideas. There is also going to be a screening of Acting Together on the World Stage at the nearby Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy. Check the program here!

 – On December 1-2, Dr. Salomón Lerner Febres, former president of Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will deliver a keynote address to Brandeis University’s Just Performance Conference. The event will assemble authors from Acting Together Volumes I & II to examine the question of how justice is enacted in the wake of violence. The event is free and open to the public, so anyone has the opportunity to attend. New Village director Lynne Elizabeth will participate, and the Press will have a book table there as well!

 – If you are on the West Coast, don’t worry, you’ll get a piece of the action, too! Dr. Lerner will be in the Bay Area as a guest of the University of San Francisco at the end of October/beginning of November (date TBD). Roberto Gutiérrez Varea, one of the anthology’s editors and organizer of this event, will join Dr. Lerner in a one-of-a-kind event, so stay tuned! We’ll post the exact dates as soon as possible.

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