Internationally renowned authors Debra Magpie Earling, Chigozie Obioma, and Carl Safina will headline an evening at Chico Hot Springs on Saturday, April 20, with a discussion about community and place.
The event serves as a launch party for Humanities Montana’s new program, Gather Round, an initiative to provide free DIY toolkits to people who are interested in hosting humanities conversations based on the themes raised in Hearth: A Global Conversation on Community, Identity and Place, an anthology edited by Missoula authors Annick Smith and Susan O’Connor:
“A hearth is many things: a place for solitude; a source of identity; something we make and share with others; a history of ourselves and our homes. It is the fixed center we return to. It is just as intrinsically portable. It is, in short, the perfect metaphor for what we seek in these complex and contradictory times — set in flux by climate change, mass immigration, the refugee crisis, and the dislocating effects of technology.”
Earling is the former director of the University of Montana’s creative writing program, and a Bitterroot-Salish tribal member. Her novel, Perma Red, won Spur, American Book, and WILLA awards, among other honors, and is being made into a television series. Perma Red recently was voted the state’s favorite book by participants in the Great Montana Read.
Nigerian writer Obioma’s novel, The Fisherman, was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize. The New York Times called him “the heir to Chinua Achebe,” and he was named one of “100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine in 2015. His latest book is a mythic love story about a Nigerian poultry farmer, An Orchestra of Minorities.
Conservationist Carl Safina holds the endowed chair for nature and humanity at Stony Brook University. His work has been honored with many awards and fellowships, including from the MacArthur, Pew, Lannan and Guggenheim foundations. He was the host of the 10-part PBS series, “Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina.” His newest book is Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel.
The event will begin with a social gathering at Chico’s convention center at 5 p.m. Following the featured authors’ presentation, participants will break into smaller groups for dinner and a discussion using the Gather Round toolkits designed by Humanities Montana.
The evening’s program also will include a short reading by two Livingston public school students. These will be chosen from among participants in a poetry workshop, in which local poets — over the course of several days — will be paired with students to work on their ideas about the role of community and place in their lives.
The event is co-hosted by Humanities Montana and Elk River Arts & Lectures, with support from Milkweed Editions and the Park County Environmental Council.