Hiram College’s second year participating the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) “Big Read” event began this Saturday, October 2, in the Alumni Heritage room of Teachout-Price. The “Kickoff” event began with introductions by Hiram English Professor, Paul Gaffney, organizer of the “Big Read” event at Hiram. Vice President and Dean, Cheryl Torsney, introduced guest speakers Senator Tom Sawyer, and State Representative Stephen Dyer, who delivered speeches on the importance of, and the struggle to, bring literacy to the American public.
But the primary part of the event was the “Speak Peace” project; a dramatic reading of poems written by American children, established poets, and veterans, in response to paintings by Vietnamese children concerning peace and war. This project is a collaborative effort between Soldier’s Heart, a veterans’ healing organization, and Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center and School of Art. The performance showcased a slide-show of the inspirational paintings, while a troupe of Hiram student’s read the corresponding poems with occasional musical accompaniment. This cast of students consisted of Zach Fiore ’14, Erica Harris ’13, Vrej Khanzadian ’11, Joshua Mullins ’13, Melissa Santana ’11, and Sydney Vore ’11, who all delivered a very moving performance, and gave both the paintings and the poems their artistic credit.
This presentation was a great way to begin this year’s “Big Read” event theme of war happening throughout the month of October, otherwise primarily represented by various discussions of Tim O’Brien’s book “The Things They Carried.” The NEA “Big Read” is an initiative to restore reading to the center of American culture, and any participation in the events held this month support that goal, so please join us for any of the upcoming events.
For more information on The Big Read click here.