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Open Mic, authors, lunch featured at Third Annual African-American Read-In

The+first+author+to+arrive+at+the+African+American+Read-In%2C+Teffanie+Thompson+%2C+meets+the+first+student+to+arrive%2C+Vivian+Vega+in+2017.
The first author to arrive at the African American Read-In, Teffanie Thompson , meets the first student to arrive, Vivian Vega in 2017.

The first author to arrive at the African American Read-In, Teffanie Thompson , meets the first student to arrive, Vivian Vega in 2017.

Myra Salceddo

Myra Salceddo

The first author to arrive at the African American Read-In, Teffanie Thompson , meets the first student to arrive, Vivian Vega in 2017.

Staff Reporter, Staff Reporter

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Feelings were commodities sealed in dented cans,

sold in ten for a dollar baskets at “Safeway.”

Too extravagant for a husbandless woman

with seven mouths to feed.

Had she taken the time to open them,

each of us would have died

from poverty’s rusted toxins.

Sitters were luxuries afforded to those with incomes

above government cheese and powdered milk.

We guarded each other with the ferocity of a Doberman.

 

So begins Loretta Diane Walker’s poem “The Help’s Daughter” published in the book In This House, the  2016 Phyllis Wheatley Award winner for poetry. Walker, an alumna of The University of Texas of the Permian Basin will be joined by three other authors at the read-in at the event that promotes literacy. The entire UTPB community (and the public) are invited to participate in the University’s Third Annual African American Read-In. Bring your own selections or select from materials provided to read, or just listen.

The Read-In will be conducted from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27 in the Multi-Purpose Room on the second floor of the Mesa Building. The event is a local presentation as part of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE’s) month-long program that celebrates the works of African American authors for Black History Month. This is a come-and-go read-in and luncheon hosted by UTPB’s Success Center, and The Department of Literature and Languages.

The nationally-acclaimed Walker has been a long-time music educator at Reagan Elementary School in Odessa. She has also garnered three Pushcart Prize nominations and the Blue Light Press Award for World Ghetto, published in 2011. She will begin reading at 11 a.m.

Returning for her third Read-in is Midlander Teffanie Thompson, who penned the novel Dirt described by UTPB Senior Lecturer Myra Salcedo, Ph.D., as “containing magical realism, ancestral history, and the realities of slavery.”

A pivotal passage follows:

“Leaning back against a giant tree trunk, I slid to the ground under towering East Texas trees. When staring up, light dots darted through loosely plaited branches.

I relaxed in silence far from the Thompson comedy show. Rust-colored dirt covered my socks and shoes. I wondered when Mom would notice my disappearance. I should not have left. I reached into my backpack to grab my game, and stopped. If I read, at least I would have an excuse for leaving. I grabbed the book instead.

I read.”

The preceding passage

Loretta Diane Walker, 2016 Phyllis Wheatley award winner, reads from her poems. The Odessa teacher took time from her day and stayed longer than scheduled in order to keep the reading marathon going in 2017

reveals the character of a young man (who initially detests reading) and is thrown into a new world.

Also reading from her works will be Cynthia Conner Goyang, the author of Just One Touch, a 2013 novel with the abstract of: “What might this woman’s life have been like prior to her years of suffering from this ailment? What would she have endured during the years of her infirmity? How would she have felt as she forced her way through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus garment? How might her life have been affected afterward? Meet Sapira, a woman of striking beauty from humble beginnings. She emerges by means of marriage to a life of luxury. After many unfortunate events, Sapira loses everything her family, her place in the community, her wealth, and her health until the day she pushes forward to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.”

Motivational speaker and author Greg T. Anderson will also participate. He wrote the book The Power of Crap: A Women’s Guide to Turning Trials into Triumphs. Anderson is an author and inspirational speaker who is described as “delivering powerful messages on hope. He is a sought-after speaker whose readers express their love for his straight-to-the-point style of writing.” Anderson is a graduate of Baylor University.

Walker’s poem “The Help’s Daughter” was inspired by the novel The Help and the fact that her own mother worked as domestic “help.”

“Interestingly enough, many UTPB University composition instructors often engage students with the novel The Help for a host of English 1301 courses,” Salcedo said. “Students are often shocked how a matter of decades ago that this nation was struggling with desegregation. Issues of racism today suddenly become more relevant.” Salcedo is chairing the annual African-American Read-In on campus for the third year.  “Walker’s poem resonants with the novel and the poem will forever become a part of my classes that are reading The Help,” Salcedo noted.

For more information on the Feb. 27 Read-In, Salcedo can be reached at [email protected]

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Open Mic, authors, lunch featured at Third Annual African-American Read-In