The Arlington Author Salon takes place quarterly the first week of July, October, January, and April, with some exceptions to circumvent holidays.
Special Salon: Thursday, August 20, 2020, 7:30 pm
We are thrilled to present three local authors who have had the challenging experience of launching new work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jabari Asim is the author of seven books for adults — including Stop and Frisk — and 11 books for children. His poems are included in several anthologies, including Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present; Beyond the Frontier: African American Poetry for the 21st Century; and Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature & Art. He directs the MFA program in creative writing at Emerson College.
In Stop and Frisk, Jabari Asim ruthlessly interrogates entrenched injustice and its insidious echoes. Part rap sheet, part concept album, Asim lays down tracks that add conviction to our collective broken record: What could be more American than pretending truths were self-evident when they seldom were? Drawing defiant inspiration from the news and the Blues, these poems arrest our attention and burn grooves into us. These starkly revelatory poems expose the dark heart of our nation and call for a reckoning-the only way out before everything breaks / into hurt, noise, and ever after.
Jennifer De Leon is the author of Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (forthcoming from Atheneum/Simon & Schuster on August 18, 2020) and the editor of Wise Latinas (University of Nebraska Press). An Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Framingham State University, and a GrubStreet instructor and board member, she has published prose in over a dozen literary journals, including Ploughshares, Iowa Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review. Her essay collection, White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing, will be published by UMass Press in Spring 2021. She lives in Southborough with her husband, author Adam Stumacher, and their two young sons.
Liliana Cruz is a hitting a wall—or rather, walls. There’s the wall her mom has put up ever since Liliana’s dad left—again. There’s the wall that delineates Liliana’s diverse inner-city Boston neighborhood from Westburg, the wealthy—and white—suburban high school she’s just been accepted into. And there’s the wall Liliana creates within herself, because to survive at Westburg, she can’t just lighten up, she has to whiten up.
So what if she changes her name? So what if she changes the way she talks? So what if she’s seeing her neighborhood in a different way? But then light is shed on some hard truths: It isn’t that her father doesn’t want to come home—he can’t…and her whole family is in jeopardy. And when racial tensions at school reach a fever pitch, the walls that divide feel insurmountable.
But a wall isn’t always a barrier. It can be a foundation for something better. And Liliana must choose: Use this foundation as a platform to speak her truth, or risk crumbling under its weight.
Rishi Reddi was born in Hyderabad, India, and lived in Great Britain and several regions of the United States before attending Swarthmore College and Northeastern University School of Law. She has worked as an environmental lawyer for state and federal government for more than twenty-five years and served on the boards of Grub Street, Boston’s creative writing center, and SAALT, a national nonpartisan organization that represents the South Asian-American community. She has also served as the Massachusetts legislative liaison for Amnesty International USA. Her first book, Karma and Other Stories, was the winner of the 2008 PEN New England / L.L. Winship prize for fiction. Her essays and translations have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Asian American Literary Review, and the Partisan Review and she has received grants and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the U.S. Department of State, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She lives in Cambridge, MA.
1914: Ram Singh arrives in the Imperial Valley on the Mexican border, reluctantly accepting his friend Karak&;s offer of work and partnership in a small cantaloupe farm. Ram is unmoored; fleeing violence in Oregon, he desperately longs to return to his wife and newborn son in Punjab&;but he is duty bound to make his fortune first.
In the Valley, American settlement is still new and the rules are ever shifting. Alongside Karak; Jivan and his wife, Kishen; and Amarjeet, a U.S. soldier, Ram struggles to farm in the unforgiving desert. When he meets an alluring woman who has fought in Mexico&;s revolution, he strives to stay true to his wife. The Valley is full of settlers hailing from other cities and different continents. The stakes are high and times are desperate&;just one bad harvest or stolen crop could destabilize a family. And as anti- immigrant sentiment rises among white residents, the tensions of life in the west finally boil over.
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