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The Big Read Features Advice from the Lights by Stephanie Burt

Hartford Public Library's 2019 "Big Read" book is Advice from the Lights by Stephanie Burt.

Advice from the Lights is a brilliant and candid exploration of gender and identity and a series of looks at a formative past. It's part nostalgia, part confusion, and part an ongoing wondering: How do any of us achieve adulthood? And why would we want to, if we had the choice? This collection is woven from and interrupted by extraordinary sequences, including talking objects and animals grappling with their unique identities (a hermit crab trying to find the right shell, a a roly-poly bug that doesn't like the way it looks). The collection also includes poems on politics, location, and parenthood. It is an essential work that asks who we are, how we become ourselves, and why we make art.

"The Big Read" is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. 

Join us for an evening with Stephanie Burt at the Downtown Branch on Thursday, October 10th starting at 5:30pm.




Drag Yourself to the Library: Hartford Public Library's Big Read Kickoff

Main Floor, Downtown Library
Monday, September 9th, 6pm-7:30pm

Join us as we kick off our celebration of Advice from the Lights by Stephanie Burt, Hartford Public Library’s choice as “The Big Read” for 2019, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. 

Featuring performances from local drag queen Robin Fierce and muscian Zaaqqara, including readings from Advice from the Lights, photography exhibit opening of They/Them, and Connecticut Historical Society’s A Brief History of Connecticut’s LGBTQ Community: A Traveling Exhibit and Digital Timeline. Light refreshments will be served.

A Brief History of Connecticut's LGBTQ Community:
A Traveling Exhibit and Digital Timeline

Main Floor, Downtown Library
August 5th - September 12th

Developed by the Connecticut Historical Society in partnership with Central Connecticut State University, this traveling exhibit consists of 8 pop-up banners. The exhibit explores the idea of the LGBTQ+ community, finding its voice, moving from invisibility to visibility, and moving from an underground existence to a claimed communal identity. 

Photo Exhibit by Michael Elder

Main Floor, Downtown Library
September 9th-October 11th

Poetry Workshop Series with Kate Rushin

Albany Library
Tuesdays, September 17, 24, 1 and October 8: 1pm-3pm

Join award-winning teacher, poet and storyteller Kate Rushin for a poetry writing workshop series around identity and self-discovery.  Participants are welcome to bring a photo from their past and a current photo.  The workshop will revolve around the topics of who they were then and who are they now, their journey, their evolution and the events that define their current identity.

Please call the Albany Library to RSVP 860-695-7380. Walk ins also welcome


Film Screening: Saturday Church

Downtown Library, Center for Contemporary Culture
Wednesday, September 11th, 5:30-7:30pm

Ulysses is a shy teen who finds himself coping with new responsibilities as man of the house after the death of his father. Living alongside his mother, younger brother, and conservative aunt, Ulysses is also struggling with questions about his gender identity. He finds an escape by creating a world filled with dance and music, and his life takes a turn for the better when he finds a vibrant LGBTQ community.  A community discussion will follow the film led by a member of UConn Hartford GSA. Light refreshments will be served.




My Identity: Past, Present and Future

Tuesday, September 17th, 6:00-7:45pm - Dwight Library, 7 New Park Ave.
Tuesday, September 24th, 6:00-7:45pm - Camp Field Library, 30 Campfield Ave.
Thursday, September 19th, 12-1pm, Park Library, 744 Park St. (En Español)

Please join in a discussion on gender identity with Bessy Reyna--poet, writer, and former opinion columnist for the Hartford Courant. Light refreshments will be served.  Registration suggested in advance, by calling the library branch. Walk-ins are welcome!


Hartford Capital City PrideFest 

Saturday, September 14th, 12-6pm
Pratt Street, Hartford

Come find Hartford Public Library on Pratt Street during this year's Capital City PrideFest!

Also check out the last performance as a part of our World of Sounds summer concert series, taking place during PrideFest! The band Dee-lish, a tasty blend of rock and soul plated by some of CT’s most talented female musicians, will be performing on the PrideFest stage at 1pm.


Film Screening: ALL WE'VE GOT 

Downtown Library, Center for Contemporary Culture
Since 2010, over 100 bars, bookstores, and community spaces where LGBTQ women gather have closed. Director Alexis Clements wanted to better understand why that was happening, and why some spaces have managed to stay open despite the odds. From Brooklyn, New York, to Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Texas, this film explores LGBTQ women’s spaces and communities in order to better understand why having a place to gather matters, particularly for marginalized groups. A panel discussion will follow. Light refreshments will be served.


Drag Queen Story Hours 

Downtown Library, Center for Contemporary Culture
Saturday, September 28th

First session: 1pm-2pm
Second session: 2:30-3:30pm

Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.




Author Talk with Stephanie Burt

Center for Contemporary Culture, Downtown
Thursday October 10th, 5:30-7:30pm

Join us for an evening with Stephanie Burt, author of Hartford Public Library's Big Read selection Advice from the Lights. Featuring a showcase of art and poetry created during the Big Read





2019 Youth Book Selection: George by Alex Gino

Hartford Public Library's 2019 Youth read is George by Alex Gino.

When people look at George, they see a boy. But George knows she's a girl. 

George thinks she'll have to keep this secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part... because she's a boy. 

With the help of her best friend Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte - But so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. 

George is an insightful and heart-warming middle grade book, the story of transgender girl coming to terms with her identity and understanding the importance of being who you are. 



More about the Author

Stephanie (also Steph; formerly Stephen) Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of [her] generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. She has published four collections of poems: Advice from the Lights (2017), Belmont (2013), Parallel Play (2006), and Popular Music (1999).
Burt's works of criticism include The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them (2016); Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Art of the Sonnet, written with David Mikics (2010); The Forms of Youth: 20th-Century Poetry and Adolescence (2007); Randall Jarrell on W.H. Auden (2005), with Hannah Brooks-Motl; and Randall Jarrell and His Age (2002).
Burt has taught at Macalester College and is now Professor of English at Harvard University. She lives in the suburbs of Boston with her spouse, Jessie Bennett, and their two children.