Belanger, Michael

Michael Belanger

Eyeing the Winners’ Circle: A Talk with the 2019 Bruce Fraser Spirit of Connecticut Award Nominees | 2:30-3:20 (Panelist)

Keeping it Real in Young Adult Fiction | 4:30-5:20 (Panelist) 

Website

Michael Belanger is a debut young adult author and high school history teacher. He is a member of the Westport Writers’ Workshop and faculty advisor to Greenwitch, a high school literary magazine that has published talented young writers–including Truman Capote–for over a hundred years. He currently lives in Connecticut.

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Ciaran Berry

RAW Café | 11:15

Website

Ciaran Berry is an Irish poet who has spent the last decade and a half living, writing, and teaching in the United States. His poetry collections are The Sphere of Birds (2008, Gallery Press/Southern Illinois University Press) and The Dead Zoo (2013, Gallery Press). His honors include a 2012 Whiting Writers’ Award and the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. His work has been featured inThe Best of Irish Poetry, Best American Poetry, Pushcart Prize XXXIII: Best of the Small Presses, and Best New Poets, as well as in various journals.

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Amy Bloom

Theater Talks | 1:30

Website

Amy Bloom is the author of two New York Times best-sellers and three collections of short stories, a children’s book and a ground-breaking collection of essays. She’s been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, O Magazine and Vogue, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award for Fiction. Her work has been translated into fifteen languages. She lives in Connecticut and is now Wesleyan University’s Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing.

Lary Bloom

Lary Bloom

The Lives of Others: Writing About the Real World | 3:30-4:20 (Panelist) 

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Lary Bloom is an author, columnist, editor, teacher, playwright and lyricist. His newest book is the biography, Sol LeWitt: A Life of Ideas, to be published by Wesleyan University Press. His other books include The Writer Within, Letters From Nuremberg (with Christopher J. Dodd), The Test of Our Times (with Tom Ridge),,Lary Bloom’s Connecticut Notebook, and The Ignorant Maestro (with Itay Talgam). His columns have appeared in the New York Times, Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant and other publications. He and Suzanne Levine founded Writing at the Mark Twain House and, with novelist Wally Lamb, Praiano Writers, a program on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. He has taught writing at Yale, Fairfield University, Trinity College and Wesleyan University. His plays include Wild Black Yonder, Worth Avenue and the musical A Woman of a Certain Age.

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Luisa Caycedo-Kimura

RAW Café | 11:00

Website

Luisa Caycedo-Kimura is a Colombian-born poet, translator, and educator. She was the 2014 John K. Walsh Residency Fellow at The Anderson Center, the 2014 Adrienne Reiner Hochstadt Fellow at Ragdale, and a 2013 Robert Pinsky Global Fellow in Poetry. Luisa holds an MFA from Boston University. A former attorney, Luisa left the legal profession to pursue her passion for writing. She has received various awards for her poetry and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her poems appear in The Cincinnati Review, Sunken Garden Poetry 1992-2011, Mid-American ReviewNashville Review, Jelly Bucket, Connecticut Review, Connecticut River Review and elsewhere.

Edmond Chibeau

Edmond Chibeau

RAW Café | 5:15

Website

Edmond Chibeau is a performance writer. His work has been published in The NationNew England Theatre Journal, EAR Magazine, and California Quarterly. His work has been performed at the Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Hall, the Knitting Factory, The Ear Inn, and Hygienic Art. He has worked with John Cage, Alison Knowles, and Charles Bernstein, among others. He teaches scriptwriting at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Collins, Mary

Mary Collins

Gender Across Genres | 10:30-11:20 (Moderator) 

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Mary Collins’s most recent book, At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces, won the 2018 Best Memoir of the Year Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Kate Borstein calls the book, which Mary co-authored with her trans son Donald, the “best, most thorough narrative of trans experience I’ve read: mind, body and soul.” A former writer and editor for National Geographic and Smithsonian, Mary taught part-time for twelve years at the Johns Hopkins MA in Writing Program and is currently the program coordinator for the writing minor at Central Connecticut State University. At the Broken Places is her fifth book. 

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Lisa Comstock

Eyeing the Winners’ Circle: A Talk with the 2019 Bruce Fraser Spirit of Connecticut Award Nominees | 2:30-3:20 (Moderator)

Website

Lisa joined Connecticut Humanities in 1990 and has worn many, many hats in that time, from involvement in a family literacy program to her current role as director of the Connecticut Center for the Book. She holds a B.A. in history and English literature from the University of Tampa and an M.A. from Wesleyan University. She lives in central Connecticut and can often be found cooking from an obscure culinary arts tome or reading into the wee hours of the morning draped in cats.

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Ken Cormier

RAW Café | 3:15

Website

Ken Cormier is the author of Balance Act and The Tragedy in My Neighborhood. He has released three collections of original music, and he also makes radio fiction and documentary pieces, many of which have aired on public radio affiliates around the US and on the BBC. He directs the creative writing program at Quinnipiac University.

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Sloane Crosley

Theater Talks | 12:00

Website

Sloane Crosley is the author of The New York Times bestselling essay collections, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, a finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor, and How Did You Get This Number, as well as Look Alive Out There, and the bestselling novel, The Clasp. She served as editor of The Bestselling American Travel Writing series and is featured in The Library of America’s 50 Funniest American Writers. Her work has appeared in Esquire, Elle, GQ, Vogue, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, New York Magazine, The Believer, Vice, and on National Public Radio.

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Daniel Diaz-Villafane

RAW Café | 12:30

Website

Daniel Diaz-Villafane is a recent graduate from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, whose writing makes space for life’s crookedly balanced messiness, where he focuses on hard truths and pushing boundaries, connecting to his audience through the universality of chaos. Danny is one of the winners of the Fresh Voices Sunken Garden competition and the only poet to win the Wallace Stevens Poetry Scholarship two years in a row. He has received numerous honorable mentions and been published in two journals. He plans to host neighborhood writing classes on his future ranch. 

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Daniel Donaghy

RAW Café | 4:30

Website

Daniel Donaghy is the author of four poetry collections, including Start with the Trouble, which won the 2010 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the Milton Kessler Poetry Award. He also authored Streetfighting, which was a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize. His writing has appeared in The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Southern Humanities Review, Quarterly West, The Missouri Review, and many others. Both his poetry and fiction have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is a Professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University, which recently awarded him its 2015 Board of Regents Faculty Teaching Award. 

Ferriss, Lucy

Lucy Ferriss

The Lives of Others: Writing About the Real World | 3:30-4:20 (Moderator) 

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Lucy Ferriss is the author of ten books, mostly fiction. In addition to her new novel, A Sister to Honor, her novel The Lost Daughter, a Book-of-the-Month pick, has appeared in Poland and China. Her memoir Unveiling the Prophet: The Misadventures of a Reluctant Debutante was called Best Book of the Year by the Riverfront Times; her novel Nerves of the Heart was a finalist in the Peter Taylor Prize competition; her collection Leaving the Neighborhood and Other Stories was the 2000 winner of the Mid-List First Series Award.  Her short fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Missouri Review, Shenandoah, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Georgia Review, and have received recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Faulkner Society, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband, Don Moon, in the Berkshires and in Connecticut, where she is Writer-in-Residence at Trinity College.

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Margaret Gibson

RAW Café | 2:30

Website

Margaret Gibson is the Poet Laureate of Connecticut. Her numerous collections of poetry includeSigns; Long Walks in the Afternoon, which was a Lamont Poetry Selection; The Vigil, a finalist for the National Book Award; Earth Elegy: New and Selected Poems; One Body, which won the Connecticut Center for the Book Award in Poetry; Second Nature; and Broken Cup. Gibson is also the author of the memoir The Prodigal Daughter: Reclaiming an Unfinished Childhood, which was a finalist for the Connecticut Center for the Book Award in Non-fiction. Gibson’s honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Connecticut Commission on the Arts grants, and many others. She is the recipient of a Melville Kane Award from the Poetry Society of America, a James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry, and two Pushcart Prizes. She is professor emerita at the University of Connecticut and lives in Connecticut.

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Jose B. Gonzalez

Writers Bring Their Roots to the Page | 11:30-12:20 (Panelist) 

Website

Jose B. Gonzalez is the author of Toys Made of Rock and When Love Was Reels. His poetry has been anthologized in the Norton Introduction to Literature, Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry and Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States. He is the co-editor (with John S. Christie) of Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature. He has been a contributor to NPR, and has been a featured presenter at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. He has been the recipient of the NEATE Poet of the Year Award and a CT Arts Excellence Grant. A Fulbright Scholar, he is the editor and founder of LatinoStories.Com, and is a Professor of English at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.  

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Dolores Hayden

Writers Bring Their Roots to the Page | 11:30-12:20 (Panelist)

Website

Dolores Hayden, award-winning poet and historian of American landscapes, engages the lives of daredevil pilots from the earliest years of aviation in Exuberance, her newest poetry collection. Author of American Yard and Nymph, Dun, and Spinner, she’s received awards from the Poetry Society of America and the New England Poetry Club. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Common, Ecotone, Raritan, Shenandoah, The Yale Review, Best American Poetry, and Poetry Daily. Her nonfiction books include Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, A Field Guide to Sprawl, and The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. Professor Emerita of Architecture, Urbanism, and American Studies at Yale University, Hayden has been a Guggenheim fellow and won an American Library Association Notable Book Award for non-fiction. 

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Sonya Huber

The Lives of Others: Writing About the Real World | 3:30-4:20 (Panelist) 

Website

Sonya Huber is the author of five books, including the essay collection Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System. Her other books include Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, The Evolution of Hillary Rodham Clinton and a textbook, The Backwards Research Guide for Writers. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, and other outlets. She teaches at Fairfield University and directs Fairfield’s Low-Residency MFA Program.  

Knowels, Frederick Douglass

Frederick-Douglass Knowles II

Writers Bring Their Roots to the Page | 11:30-12:20 (Panelist)

RAW Café | 2:45

Website

Frederick-Douglass Knowles II is an educator and activist dedicated to community development. He is the inaugural Poet Laureate for the City of Hartford. His collection of poetry, BlackRoseCity was featured at the 2018 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP). His works have been featured in the Connecticut River Review; Sinkhole Magazine; Poems on the Road to Peace: A Collective Tribute to Dr. King by Yale University Press; Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora by Third World Press. The Mississippi University for Women nominated his poem “Mason Freeman Cuts Jenkins Down” for a Pushcart Prize. He is also the recipient of the 2019 Nutmeg Poetry Award. Frederick-Douglass is an Associate Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, CT.

Littman, Sarah Darer (edited-Pixlr)

Sarah Darer Littman

Keeping it Real in Young Adult Fiction | 4:30-5:20 (Moderator)

Website

Sarah Darer Littman has worked as a financial analyst (ask her about sexism on Wall St.), a dairy farmer (ask her about the lactation yield curve of a dairy cow), and a political columnist (ask her about the hate mail). Her favorite and most rewarding career is writing for young people. She is the critically acclaimed author of YA novels including Anything But Okay, Backlash (winner of the Iowa Teen Book Award), and Want to Go Private. Along with her humorous middle grade novels Taming of the Shoe, Fairest of Them All, Charmed I’m Sure, and Confessions of a Closet Catholic, winner of the 2006 Sydney Taylor Book Award. She teaches in the MFA program at WCSU and at the Yale Writers’ Workshop.  Visit her online at @SarahDarerLitt.

McGrath, Leslie

Leslie McGrath

Writers Bring Their Roots to the Page | 11:30-12:20 (Moderator) 

Website

Leslie McGrath is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Feminists Are Passing from Our Lives, Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage, and Out from the Pleiades. She has been called “an oral historian of the alienated” by poet-critic Grace Cavalieri. Winner of the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Gretchen Warren award from the New England Poetry Club, her poems and interviews have been published in Agni, Poetry magazine, The Academy of American Poets, The Writer’s Chronicle, and The Yale Review. McGrath teaches creative writing at Central CT State University in New Britain and The Graduate Institute in Bethany.

Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe

Families Living in Between Two Worlds | 12:30-1:20 (Panelist) 

Website

Okey Ndibe is the author of Foreign Gods, Inc. and Arrows of Rain (novels) and a memoir, Never Look an American in the Eye. He earned MFA and PhD degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and has taught at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York; Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and the University of Lagos (as a Fulbright scholar). He was a 2015 Shearing Fellow of the Black Mountain Institute (BMI) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His editorial pieces have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Hartford Courant, BBC online, The Guardian (UK), Financial Times, and D La Repubblica (Italy).

Nealy, Elijah (1)

Elijah Nealy

Gender Across Genre | 10:30-11:20 (Panelist) 

Website

A professor of social work at the University of Saint Joseph, a transgender man and author of Tran Kids and Teens: Pride, Joy and Families in Transition (WW Norton, 2019), is former deputy executive director of New York City’s LGBT Community Center.

Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson

RAW Café | 12:45

Website

Marilyn Nelson is the author or translator of more than 20 books and chapbooks for adults and children. Her critically acclaimed books for young adults include A Wreath for Emmett Till and the ground breaking Carver: A Life in Poems, a Newbery Honor Book. Of Marilyn’s nine poetry collections for adultsThe Homeplace won the 1992 Annisfield-Wolf Award; and The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems received the 1998 Poets’ Prize, and others. A three-time finalist for the National Book Award, her many honors include the Frost Medal, the Poetry Society of America’s award for “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry,” and numerous fellowships. A professor emerita of English at UConn, she currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and was Poet Laureate of Connecticut, 2001– 2006.

Aimee Pozorski

Aimee Pozorski

 Theater Talks | 12:00

Website

Aimee Pozorski is Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies at Central Connecticut State University. She is an executive co-editor of Philip Roth Studies.

Chandra Prasad

Chandra Prasad

Families Living in Between Two Worlds | 12:30-1:20 (Panelist) 

Website

Chandra Prasad’s first young adult novel, Damselfly, featuring a biracial female protagonist, was recently published by Scholastic. Across the country educators in Grades 6-12 teach Damselfly in their curricula, often in parallel with Lord of the Flies.The author previously wrote general fiction, including the novel On Borrowed Wings, a Connecticut Book Award finalist. Other books include Death of a Circus, which Booklist called richly textured [and] packed with glamour and grit,” and Breathe the Sky, a fictionalized account of Amelia Earhart’s last days. Prasad is the originator, editor a contributor to, Mixed, the first ever anthology of short stories on the multiracial experience. Shorter works have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Week, the official magazine of The U.S. Department of State, Teen Voices, and numerous literary, arts, and poetry journals. Prasad is a Yale graduate and currently working on additional young adult novels. 

Renfro, Yelizaveta

Yelizaveta Renfro 

The Lives of Others: Writing About the Real World | 3:30-4:20 (Panelist)

Website

Yelizaveta P. Renfro is the author of a collection of essays, Xylotheque (University of New Mexico Press), and a collection of short stories, A Catalogue of Everything in the World (Black Lawrence Press). Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Glimmer Train, North American Review, Creative Nonfiction, Orion, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Witness, Reader’s Digest, and elsewhere.

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Ines Rivera Prosdocimi

Families Living in Between Two Worlds | 12:30-1:20 (Panelist) 

Website

Ines P. Rivera Prosdocimi is the author of the poetry collection, Love Letter to an Afterlife (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), which was a finalist for the 2019 International Latino Book Awards (Best Poetry Book) and the 2019 Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. Recently, her poem “Surrogate Twin” was selected by Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, Rita Dove, and featured in The New York Times Magazine. Rivera Prosdocimi’s work has also appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Cold Mountain Review, Kweli, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Puerto de Sol, The Caribbean Writer, Wasafiri, and Witness.  She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from American University. Currently, she teaches literature at the University of Hartford.

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Cindy Rodriguez

Keeping it Real in Young Adult Fiction | 4:30-5:20 (Panelist)

Website

Cindy L. Rodriguez is the author of the young adult novel When Reason Breaks, (Bloomsbury 2015) and “I’m a Survivor,an essay in the anthology Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles (Simon Pulse 2018). Before becoming a teacher, Cindy was a reporter for The Hartford Courant and a researcher for The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team. She has degrees from the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University, and two teaching certifications. She is also a founder of and blogger at Latinxs in Kid Lit. She lives and works in Connecticut with her family and is a big fan of the three C’s: Coffee, Chocolate, and Coconut. 

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Susan Strecker

Gender Across Genre | 10:30-11:20 (Panelist) 

Website

Kirkus Review called Susan Strecker’s novel Nowhere Girl (Thomas Dunne Books) “compulsively readable.”  She writes full-time from her home in Essex, CT; her third novel, Drive, which features a female teen race car driver, is forthcoming from Koehler Books in September.

Thom, Melissa (edited-Pixlr)

Melissa Thom

Keeping it Real in Young Adult Fiction | 4:30-5:20 (Panelist) 

Website

Melissa Thom, M.A. is a teacher librarian at Bristow Middle School in West Hartford, CT.  She spent 12 years teaching grades four to six as a classroom teacher, and four years ago she earned her library media specialist certification from the ARCLMS program. She is the vice president of the Connecticut Association of School Librarians, a member of the Customer Advisory Board for Scholastic Book Fairs, and a 2019 AASL Social Media Superstar Reader Leader finalist.  Look for her forthcoming article in School Library Connection about developing a schoolwide culture of reading. Follow Melissa on Twitter @MsThomBookits

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Elizabeth Thomas

RAW Café | 4:15

Website

Elizabeth Thomas is a published poet, educator and advocate for the arts for all ages. The author of two poetry collections and a book on writing, she has read her work throughout the United States. She represented the U.S. in Sweden as part of an international poetry troupe and in 2009 taught ‘Poetry as Theater’ in the United Arab Emirates. She is a past keynote speaker for the Florida Council of Teachers of English and the Florida Literacy Council. Thomas was a member of three Connecticut National Poetry Slam teams and has been an organizer for the Connecticut National Youth Poetry Slam Team since 1998, going to Brave New Voices: International Youth Poetry Slam and Festival. Much of her energy and time is devoted to programs that promote literacy and the power of written and spoken word.  She hosts a blog at www.stillwriting2.wordpress.com and www.hereisakiss.wordpress.com.

Sergio Troncoso

Families Living in Between Two Worlds | 1:30-2:20 (Moderator)

Website

Sergio Troncoso is the author of A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son, The Last Tortilla and Other Stories, Crossing Borders: Personal Essays, and the novels The Nature of Truth and From This Wicked Patch of Dust. His most recent work includes an Op-Ed on CNN Opinion. He’s taught at the Yale Writers’ Workshop for many years. Troncoso is Vice President of the Texas Institute of Letters and a member of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Alumni Hall of Fame. A Fulbright scholar, he has won numerous awards, including the International Latino Book Award, the Premio Aztlan Literary Prize, and the Southwest Book Award. He was born in El Paso, Texas, and attended Harvard College and Yale University, where he earned graduate degrees in international relations and philosophy. 

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Katharine Weber

Eyeing the Winners’ Circle: A Talk with the 2019 Bruce Fraser Spirit of Connecticut Award Nominees | 2:30-3:20 (Panelist)

Website

Katharine Weber is the author of six acclaimed novels― Still Life With MonkeyTrue Confections, Triangle, The Little Women, The Music Lesson, and Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear―and a memoir, The Memory Of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family’s Legacy of Infidelities. Objects in Mirror, The Music Lesson, and The Little Women were all named Notable Books by The New York Times Book Review; two of her novels were long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and The Music Lesson has been published in twelve languages. Katharine grew up in New York City and has lived in rural Connecticut since 1976, when she married the cultural historian Nicholas Fox Weber. She held the Visiting Thomas Chair in Creative Writing at Kenyon College 2012-2019.

Whitacre, Paula Tarnapol

Paula Tarnapol Whitacre

Gender Across Genre | 10:30-11:20 (Panelist) 

Website

The author of A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time, a biography of a 19th-century teacher and activist, Julia Wilbur, who worked with African American author Harriet Jacobs to assist people escaping slavery during the Civil War. The story of their working relationship, friendship and challenges shows the value in revisiting hidden figures in history. Whitacre grew up in New London and works as a writer and editor in Washington, DC. She is currently researching the interconnected lives of Jacobs and two other women.

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Christopher Wigren 

Eyeing the Winners’ Circle: A Talk with the 2019 Bruce Fraser Spirit of Connecticut Award Nominees | 2:30-3:20 (Panelist)

Website

Christopher Wigren is an architectural historian and Deputy Director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. His articles and essays have appeared in the Hartford Courant, the New Haven Register, and Connecticut Explored magazine. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut. 

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Will Wilkins

Theater Talks

Website

Will K. Wilkins has worked as Executive Director of Real Art Ways since 1990, serving as the organization’s artistic and operational head. RAW is committed to programs in cinema, visual arts, live arts, and education. Among the authors presented during Mr. Wilkins’ tenure are Marlon James, Paul Beatty, Amy Bloom, Steve Almond, Martín Espada, John Trudell, Safiya Henderson-Holmes, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Kimiko Hahn, Marilyn Nelson, Luis J. Rodriguez and Colin Channer.  Real Art Ways has sponsored design competitions, underwritten multiple artists’ residencies, commissioned and produced public art projects, including by PepónOsorio, Mel Chin, Mark Dion, Rachel Berwick, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle and Sofia Maldonado, and developed free arts programming for neighborhood children, serving more than 4,000 kids per year. Mr. Wilkins has a BA in English from UMass Amherst, where he studied with Chinua Achebe and Joseph Brodsky.