@ Your Library

Recent library events, news and more.

Duets: Johnston and Percy

One of the first principles you learn in theatre is to trust your partner.  It’s also a required ingredient for two writers collaborating. Just ask Arnold Johnston and Deborah Ann Percy, the husband and wife team whose book of one-act plays has just been published. Duets is a collection is six short plays, “providing a view of the human heart in the tender war of love.”

Johnston and Percy write these plays together. Often one will start and hand off to the other. Absolute trust in your partner is required, they said.

These short plays are snippets of couples caught in the act of life. Johnston and Percy begin with the everyday: waiting for a client to appear, arguing over marriage counseling, climbing a monument. When two people know each other well, multiple conversations are carried on in just one sentence and the dialog reflects that intimacy of communication. As the issues of here and now are bandied about, there’s always a subtext or two. Johnston and Percy layer all that witty situational banter with the deeper issues confronted in relationships — agreements, confessions, trespasses, questions.

We hosted the authors at KPL on May 6 for a reading and book signing. Give a listen as they read from “A Pet of Temperance.”


Duets: Love Is Strange



A Week Without TV @ Your Library

TV Turnoff Week is April 20th through the 26th. If you’re looking for alternatives to watching TV, playing video games, or otherwise engaging in screen media - there’s a lot to choose from here at Kalamazoo Public Library.

Tune in to real live fun right here in your community. And if you’re not looking for alternatives to screen media, Kalamazoo Public Library has lots of movies and video games as well as internet access and even downloadable DVD quality programming from MyLibraryDV. These services and more are available just like always and they’re always free of charge.


TV Turnoff Week

Francine Prose at KPL

Hearing a great writer read their own work can be something very special, and Francine Prose’s reading at the Kalamazoo Public Library on March 12th certainly qualifies. Prose who was in Kalamazoo as part of the Spring 2009 Gwen Frostic Reading Series, read to large crowd at the Central Library through a partnership with Western Michigan Universities Creative Writing Program.

National Book Award finalist and multiple award-winning, novel, short-story and nonfiction writer, Prose’s ability as a writer is without question. But to hear her read a newly completed short story, Prose admitted to finishing the story only a week earlier, about a jeweler in Nazi Germany and his weird and fascinating encounter with a cross-dressing, morphine addicted Hermann Göring, Nazi leader and commander of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), in her own voice and with the intended pace was truly special.

Francine Prose at KPL

The story was strange, satirical, haunting and contained such a well constructed plot twist that it nearly gave every one of the 100 people in the audience whiplash. What a treat it was to hear Francine Prose read and what an honor it was for the Kalamazoo Public Library to host her.


Francine Prose at the Kalamazoo Public Library

Remembering the Freedom Riders

The civil rights movement was a time of intense conflict, but also a time of great courage. On February 23, we were privileged to host a program about the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Rides.

We hosted two Mississippi natives for the program. Miller Green, now living in Chicago, was arrested in a Jackson bus station. Eric Etheridge is an author whose book is Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders.

Late in 1960, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlawed segregation in interstate bus terminals. On May 4, 1961, there were 13 people who made the first Freedom Ride to test the compliance of bus stations with the ruling. This, and subsequent rides, encountered increasingly violent resistance. Though there were Freedom Rides across the South, the campaign’s primary focus became Jackson, Mississippi. More than 300 Riders were arrested there, photographed, and convicted of breach of peace.

In 2004, journalist Eric Etheridge, a Mississippi native, ran across the mug shots of some 328 Freedom Riders arrested in Jackson. Etheridge decided to publish the photographs and, where possible, include new photos and stories of the Riders.

Green shared stories of his arrest on July 6, 1961 at the Trailways terminal in Jackson, and his harrowing experiences in jail. After his release, Green worked on voter registration and civil rights issues in Mississippi, and moved to Chicago where he has lived since 1963.

He also talked about his childhood friend, Bobby Joe, a white boy. Miller and Bobby Joe were the only children in their Yazoo City neighborhood, and played together constantly. “We were in each other’s houses, eating at each other’s tables, together all the time,” he said. One day, when the boys were around 6 years old, Bobby Joe’s mother received an anonymous letter criticizing the parents for allowing the boys to play together. At this point, both families agreed it would be too dangerous to let them continue playing.

From that point on, the boys would stand across from each other, on opposite sites of the street, and talk. Each boy would play alone, imagining the other was with him. “It left a scar,” Miller said, putting his hand on his chest.

See also: Authors@Google: Eric Etheridge, June 24, 2008 


Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders

What's Cooking in New Orleans?

Peanut Butter Soup with Hen and Habanero. Pho Ga. Zwiebelkuchen.

These dishes don't usually come to mind when one thinks of New Orleans, but the aforementioned Ghanaian, Vietnamese and German specialties are certainly what you'll find in some Crescent City kitchens.

Just ask Elsa Hahne. This Swedish immigrant who made New Orleans her home in 2002 interviewed more than a hundred home cooks to find out what's really cooking. Some of the results were compiled into You Are Where You Eat: Stories and Recipes from the Neighborhoods of New Orleans.

Elsa visited KPL on January 28 to read from and sign her books. Hear what she had to say in this video interview.



You Are Where You Eat: Stories and Recipes from the Neighborhoods of New Orleans