What an amazing JP Reads 2013 – the second year of our community-wide literary celebration!

Our diverse community came together around Pulitzer-Prize winning author Junot Díaz’s debut book of short stories Drown to engage in meaningful discussions about race, class, inclusion and immigration, while also celebrating the richness of Caribbean culture.  From September 14 through October 26 we sponsored 15 events, engaging more than 800 attendees, with the generous support of 16 community partners, 21 cash contributors & 14 in-kind donors.

We partnered with several JP organizations this year.  As part of an Immigration Discussion Series with JP Forum, we were inspired by authors David Bacon & Leigh Patel.  At an “Art Inspired by Literature” Workshop led by Dey Hernandez and Roberto Chao with the Eliot School for Fine and Applied Arts, we created paper and paint collages while discussing racial politics.

Undaunted by a rainy day for our ‘La Feria’ at the Loring-Greenough House, a stalwart 100 revelers turned out to watch the Hyde Square Task Force Youth Literacy Theater Troupe perform a play based on a Julie Alvarez book.  We made lanterns, paper flowers, masks & musical instruments with Spontaneous Celebrations and the JP & Connolly branch librarians.  A special thanks to Jim, ‘the bubble guy’ & Peter, ‘El Sabio san fronteras,’ who created magical moments despite the weather.

Luckily we were quickly able to reschedule our main attraction – Jorge Arce’s Caribbean Music Workshop – for a festive Fiesta Tropicale at the JP Library a couple of weeks later. Children and adults enjoyed more crafting, pinning leaf wishes to a Wishing ‘Palm’ Tree, and a very dramatic Caribbean-style piñata pull.

The Connolly Library held a Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration with music by Ten Tumbao & the JP Library hosted guitarist Michael Nigro.  There were well-attended adult book discussions, a film screening, and special activities sponsored by the Boston Public Library branches and Friends’ groups that brought many new faces into our local libraries!

A creative writing workshop led by JP resident Debka Colson launched our inaugural Flash Fiction Contest, this year with the theme of ‘escape’.  Judged by author Pablo Medina, and coordinated by Debka, the contest attracted 39 entries.  Congratulations to the winner, JP resident Rachel Bergquist, on her story ‘My Son,’ printed in the JP Gazette, and to finalists Mary Battenfeld and Bryanna Licciardo!  All three stories are posted on the JP Reads website.

And, on Friday, October 25, a SRO crowd enjoyed a magical evening at the Footlight Club’s Eliot Hall with Junot Díaz!  He was gracious, funny, provocative, and totally in tune with his audience.  And such a wonderful audience; almost 300 people who were incredibly patient (chilly wait in line) and full of book nerd energy!  As one of the evening’s audience members said – “I live in JP for the diversity, but rarely have I seen everyone together in one place like this before.”

Thanks Junot Díaz! Thanks JP!

Check out JP Reads’ facebook page for news and updates.



Dr. Sally Friar,

Friar Chiropractic

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