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RI is in!

On Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 1:07 PM Jim Davis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> An excellent idea!  Count La. in.
>
>
>
> Jim Davis
>
> Director of the Louisiana Center for the Book
>
> State Library of Louisiana
>
> 701 North 4th Street
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> Baton Rouge, LA 70802-5232
> Phone: 225-342-9714 / Fax: 225-219-9840
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> *From:* Center for the Book state centers communication <
> [log in to unmask]> *On Behalf Of *Sharon Shaloo
> *Sent:* Sunday, March 1, 2020 1:38 PM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Idea -- Unifying Project
>
>
>
> Happy March, All!
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>
> It was an interesting experience to listen to the meeting that you all
> held last week!  I have a thought about a couple of things (I know, I know
> ... "of course, you do, Sharon"...).  But the main thing is I may have an
> idea for a unifying project and wanted to float that by you....
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> On Thurs night I went to an interesting program at the Edward M Kennedy
> Institute for the Senate, and if you don't know about this place here's the
> link:   https://www.emkinstitute.org/
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>
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> Here is its stated mission:  The Edward M. Kennedy Institute brings
> Senator Kennedy’s vision for a dynamic hub of civic engagement to life.
> With educational programs, public forums, and digital exhibits, the Kennedy
> Institute welcomes individuals of all ages to debate the issues of the day,
> learn from each other, and leave empowered to make their own contributions
> to improving their communities and our nation.
>
>
> The program focused on Presidential Inaugural Poet, Richard Blanco, whose
> new collection of poetry is titled HOW TO LOVE A COUNTRY.  I won't go into
> great detail about the book at this point, but enough to say that Blanco
> takes the civic role of poetry seriously and believes it can be the avenue
> to productive civil discussions about improving society.  That, and he is
> freaking engaging and approachable and the high school kids in the audience
> (all students of color) ate him up.  As did all of the adults (we
> collectively of a certain age).  In other words, he bridges generations in
> his appeal.
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> So ... what I am thinking is that his idea -- and a bit of his self in
> selected appearances -- could be the springboard to community conversations
> in preparation for the 250th anniversary of this country ... not
> conversations that say "what do you want to fix by 2026"? But rather "how
> are the ways we can love this country?"  Convos, emerging from poetry, that
> seek the good in the country and build on that good with civic action.
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> Partners on this project might well be the EMK Institute, the Urban
> Libraries Council (whose book to action model we would be adapting), the
> Poetry Foundation (or even the source of their funding in the Ruth Lilly
> Philanthropic Foundation), LOC and NEH ... the project would even engage
> NEA if there were interest in extending there.
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> I think it would be a strong cultural response to the call for convos
> about the approaching 250th anniversary of the Dec of Independence ...
> which Blanco adapts, interestingly, to start his collection, calling his a
> "Declaration of Interdepence."  The nice thing about how to love a country
> as a frame, too, is that the link to environmentalism and caretaking of the
> land is apparent and so we add to the social ...
>
>
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> I spoke with Richard Blanco a bit after the program about the discipline
> of occasional poetry and its interplay with the political ... but in the
> course of our chat I asked if he had yet been approached to work on any
> projects leading up to 2026 and he is definitely available and -- I guess
> I'd say -- intrigued.   I told him I would float this idea with you all to
> see if you think it has legs.
>
>
>
> About Blanco ... Cuban immigrant, raised in Miami, now living in Bethel,
> ME, with his partner.  Talks about democracy with the extended metaphor of
> a garden, that has to be continually seeded, watered, tended, and etc.
> Inclusively political and civic, I think.
>
>
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> If there is a general interest in exploring, I thought I'd talk to his
> publisher (Beacon Press here in Boston) to see if I could get copies of his
> book -- I think it's about to come out in paper -- to send out to all of
> you.
>
>
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> For now, links:
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> http://www.beacon.org/How-to-Love-a-Country-P1429.aspx
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> https://richard-blanco.com/
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> Love to hear what you think,
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> Best, Sharon
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> P.S.  He says he was named after Richard Nixon ... "but that's another
> story."
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>
>
> *********
>
> Sharon Shaloo, Executive Director
>
> Mass Center for the Book
>
> [log in to unmask]
>
> 617.872.3718 (office)
>
> massbook.org
>