Updates and News: Teaching, “Closed Ranks,” and The Fitz
After the already-busy start of a new school year followed by a fire at our school, and with editorial and design work on Closed Ranks being nearly finished, the real busy-ness of this fall is beginning. Now that the faculty and students at our school have settled into our temporary location at Hayneville Road Elementary School, the work of teaching and learning must resume. My students and I have a schedule chock-full of good work to do, including our (mostly) annual trip to the Kentuck Festival of the Arts in October, our oral history collection in Newtown in November, and our annual poetry reading in December. And that’s just the first semester!
Furthermore, now that the preparation for the book’s release is winding up, the work of sharing it far and wide is on the horizon for me. Even though Closed Ranks has not been released yet, the first book-talk event is next week, at the Montgomery Rotary group’s lunchtime meeting. Other events are starting to materialize, too, and I’ll be sharing those dates on the News & Forthcoming page and on social media. Closed Ranks tells an important story, not only about Montgomery’s history but about the long-term effects of police shootings: on the families whose loved ones are killed or hurt, on the people who witness the events, and on the places where they occur. The Whitehurst Case may have happened in Montgomery, but it is much more than just a Montgomery story.
Additionally, as a board member at the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, I will be coordinating the museum’s annual Literary Contest this year. In the spirit of Scott’s and Zelda’s innovative lives and works, both in art and literature, and in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of their meeting in Montgomery, the contest’s theme this year is “What’s Old Is New.” The idea is to identify and honor the wildly creative young artists and writers of this generation. It is open to high school students and college undergrads. The submissions period is already open and will be until December.
The other task, which for now resides on the back burner, will be rebuilding my school garden at the new campus. I salvaged our tools, rain barrel, composting bin, sifter, and wheelbarrows before we left the Union Street campus, though the raised beds couldn’t have been dismantled and moved, and the low-slung shed that I built from salvaged wood had gotten termites. I’ve never had any funding for the garden, but have somehow always made it work, so rebuilding will require some resources that I never bothered to develop. Thankfully, I’ve already had an offer of help from an alumni who works for the cooperative extension service, as well as another offer of help from a local organization if we’ll transform our school garden into a community garden for the west Montgomery residents who live around our school. It’s an appealing idea— but one that will take real work.
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