After an informal meet-and-greet over dinner in Albuquerque, facilitators and librarians from hosting libraries in Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Clovis, Gallup, Deming and Las Cruces came together for a facilitator's workshop at the New Mexico Humanities Council last weekend.
The workshop addressed best practices for facilitating book discussions. Led by Dr. Jesse Alemán, (not pictured) Professor of American Literary Studies and Director of Literature at the University of New Mexico, who shared guidelines and best approaches for facilitators.
The workshop began with introductions, an overview and introduction of the Pulitzer Dialogues (this blog), led by a recent graduate from New Mexico Highlands University who is also interning with the NMHC.
Librarians at the workshop were asked to navigate the blog, to share posts and comments, and to test it out. They also were asked what they thought the intent of this blog should be.
Aside from promoting the Pulitzer Dialogues Reading and Discussion programs, this blog also is intended to invite the public, along with the hosting libraries, to read and discuss the five selected Pulitzer works.
The blog also should enable broader participation for those who cannot attend the book group discussions in participating communities and to engage conversations from all parts of the state.
And that means you. So jump in, start reading these books with us and share your thoughts.
After a short break, we continued the workshop to talk about the book selection of the five Pulitzer winners and finalists chosen by the NMHC. Many have asked how we arrived at these five novels: Beloved, The Stories of John Cheever, Plague of Doves, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Lovely, Dark, Deep.
The NMHC — with the generous support of the Pulitzer Campfire Initiative grant — chose these novels because we wanted to share great literature written by those authors with underrepresented voices and perspectives.
We also wanted texts that address a diverse range of topics that often don't get discussed, that explore themes and topics that may present challenges for discussions, to get readers out of their comfort zones and to reflect and begin to understand the human condition through literature.
Each hosting library received twenty copies of each of the five selected Pulitzer novels to distribute to their patrons. Each library will invite their community to read all five books and attend all five monthly reading discussions starting in April. Start times vary by library.
We ended the workshop by reading and discussing Kate Chopin's short story “Désirée's Baby,” facilitated by Jesse Alemán. As an exercise for facilitators and librarians, our conversations showed how the story explored the destructive and ambiguous nature of racism.
Here at the office we are reading Beloved along with the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library in Las Cruces, NM. They are the first among the participating libraries to start their Pulitzer Dialogue reading and discussion program, which will be held on Thursday, April 14. We'll be sharing posts on Toni Morrison's Beloved along the way.
Whether you can physically attend the book discussions or not, we hope you will join us in further discussions on this blog.