Humanities event to feature workshops with nationally known authors

Nationally known authors will headline a full day of free workshops featured in Anabranch, celebrating literature and the humanities in association with the 14th Annual Alabama Book Festival, April 11-13.

The events get underway Thursday at Montgomery’s Capri Theatre with an onstage conversation between Princeton scholar Imani Perry and award-winning actor Andre Holland, both of whom have Alabama ties.

On Friday, the celebration continues with workshops on the Troy University-Montgomery campus, for which teachers can earn professional development credits and receive stipends.

Workshops include:

  • The Clotilda and Africatown – 9 a.m. – noon, Room 140/41 Whitley Hall

In 1860, long after the United States outlawed importation of enslaved laborers, 110 men, women and children from Benin and Nigeria were captured and brought to Mobile aboard a ship called Clotilda. This workshop will introduce participants to the story of the Alabama-based ship and the geographic and cultural origins of the West African captives aboard it.

  • Writing for Young People I: Irene Latham and Charles Waters – 10 a.m. – 11 a.m., Room 318 Whitley Hall

Join collaborators Irene Latham and Charles Waters as they describe how they collaboratively created Can I Touch Your Hair? (2018), a dialogue for young people about the inevitable “mistakes” we make when learning about people unlike ourselves.

  • Writing for Young People II: Bethany Hegedus – 11 a.m. – noon, Room 318 Whitley Hall

For Alabama audiences, Bethany is best-known as the author of Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (2018), a perfect introduction that prepares beginning readers for discovering the 1961 classic by narrating how its Monroeville author discovered the power of language at any early age.

  • Alabama Story / Alabama Shakespeare Festival – 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Gold Room (2nd Floor)

Sixty years ago, a librarian named Emily Reed added The Rabbits’ Wedding, a children’s picture book, to the state’s collection. This workshop, offered by Alabama Shakespeare Festival, will introduce participants to the little-known true story on which a play called Alabama Story is based.

  • Young Adult Writing I: Randi Pink – 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., Room 318 Whitley Hall

Writing for adolescents is far from kids’ stuff. Pink has been one of the bravest YA authors in the South when it comes to exploring sensitive concerns. Her first novel, Into White (2016), asks what happens when a black girl wakes up one day to discover she’s suddenly white. Her forthcoming novel, Girls Like Us (this September), promises to spark even more conversation. It’s about unplanned pregnancy and the effects it has on both young women and families.

  • Young Adult Writing II: S. F. Henson – 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Room 318 Whitley Hall

Described as a “teen American History X,” S. F. Henson’s Devils Within recently won the Alabama Library Association Young Adult Award with the gripping and timely story of a teenaged white supremacist desperately trying to disassociate himself from the hatred and violence that he was raised to wreak upon the world.

On Saturday, the Alabama Book Festival gets underway with a host of authors headlining the day in Old Alabama Town. In addition to the festival’s traditional concentration on fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature and poetry, there will be songwriters, philosophers, scholars and filmmakers in the mix.

Endorsed by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, Anabranch is funded in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a collaborative effort involving AHF, Troy University, Alabama State Council on the Arts, Landmarks Foundation and Old Alabama Town, the City of Montgomery, Alabama Public Television, Alabama Writers Forum, Alabama Library Association and Montgomery City-County Public Library.

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