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People, Places and Things

By Gwen DeRu

This is the last week of Women’s History Month. Women should be and are being celebrated around the world during the month of March on International Women’s Day. Let’s Celebrate Women!
This week…read books about women, by women …and more!  Enjoy!!
Here are a few good books to read….


ALICE WALKER’S BOOK – POEMS: TAKING THE ARROW OUT OF THE HEART – The book, ‘Poems: Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart ’ by ALICE WALKER, is a collection – in English and Spanish – of nearly seventy works of her poetry that bears witness to our troubled times, while chronicling a life well lived.  Walker offers a window into her magical, at times difficult and liberating world of activism, love, hope and above all, gratitude. The poems range from painful self-inquiry to celebrating the simple beauty to baking frittatas. Often honoring actual people and events personally meaningful to her, the poems offer her insightful musings about both an out-of-control world and those who stand up for the voiceless and call out social and political hypocrisies. Whether she is urging us to preserve an urban paradise or to behold the delicate necessity of beauty to the spirit, Walker encourages us to honor the divine that lives inside all of us and once again brings her legendary free verse to the page, demonstrating that she remains a revolutionary poet and an inspiration to generations of admirers.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN – This book by VADDEY RATNER is from 1975 – 1979, when Malaysia was under the thumb of the brutal Khmer Rouge. Told through the lens of a young girl named RAAMI, in the Shadow of the Banyan follows an aristocratic family put through horrible atrocities by the communist regime. The shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours, bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital.  As the trauma intensifies, Raami loses her voice, but finds a new sense of wonder for the beauty of the world around her. An estimated two million people lost their lives. It will give you hope, and it will confirm the power of storytelling to lift us up and help us not only survive but transcend suffering, cruelty, and loss. Ratner’s descriptions of the landscape spin a tale of the necessity of beauty in survival.

THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK – This book by Michelle Richardson is a western Kentucky’s most unique phenomena collide in this tough, resilient novel. Cussy Carter is blue. She’s fought her way through a community suspicious of her to become a packhorse librarian: a person  who delivers books, magazines and newspapers to rural patrons. Richardson explores racial tensions, the struggle to survive and the powerful reprieve of education in the thick, remote Appalachian wilderness.

TWO OLD WOMEN: AN ALASKA LEGEND OF BETRAYAL, COURAGE AND SURVIVAL – This book, Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by VELMA WALLIS is superstition and reality intertwined in this powerful story of survival. It is based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along from many generations from mothers to daughters of the Upper Yukon River Valley in Alaska. During a time of extreme scarcity, two old women are abandoned by their tribe. In the harsh Alaska winter, they come together and find  ingenuity they did not know they had. In stark detail, Wallis lays out the great paradox of nature. Their greatest foe, the forgiving landscape, must be their savior.

THE ZOOKEEPERS WIFE – This book by DIANE ACKERMAN takes place in 1939, when the Warsaw Zoo was caught in the intersection between eugenics and wildlife biology. During the German occupation in World War II, sycophantic officers circled the zoo. Which housed some of the great living treasures of Western Europe. Exploiting the Nazi obsession with science and power, the zookeepers, Jam and Antonia Zabinski risked their lives aiding the Polish Resistance. Part history, part naturalism, this meticulously researched book will show you a new side of Warsaw.

GUIDEBOOK TO RELATIVE STRANGERS – This book by CAMILLE T. DUNGY is about crisscrossing the United States for work being one thing. Doing it as a black woman is another. Doing it with an infant in tow is another level. From kooky urban jungles to remote hamlets, Dungy experienced it all. Her work is part travel diary, part maternal memoir, and part self-discovery. As a poet, Dungy’s writing skitters across the page, shining daily scenes of motherhood and surroundings through an intersectional lens. A MUST READ.

A PRINCESS IN THEORY- RELUCTANT ROYALS – This book is written by ALYSSA COLE. It is a romance book about Naledi Smith who is way too busy going to grad school and working several jobs to pay any attention to the spam emails that she is getting from an African prince telling her they are betrothed… until that prince turns out to be a real dude who shows up at her workplace. As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly email won’t convince her otherwise. Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown. The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after? The book is silly at times, plays with tropes in a delightful way, and also gets into a lot of serious issues. A GOOD READ.

SIDEWALK VIRTUAL SCREENINGS – Check out Sidewalk Home Video screening on demand. BACURAU, now through April 7 via Kino Marque. It is a modern-day western with some of the raw, hallucinatory power of a Sergio Leone epic. FANTASTIC FUNGI is a part of the Fantastic Fungi’s Global Event with a Live Q & A via Zoom on  Friday with director Louie Schwartzberg and mycologist Paul Stamets.  They have released a list of categorized film suggestions available on Hulu (Round One), many with notes and some with additional resources, for at-home viewing.

GARDENING – Now is the time to do some planting whether you have wanted to try gardening for years or you were born with a green thumb. This is a great activity to do with your kids, seed packets or the plants that you already have in your yard. Grow a garden and enjoy the beautiful flowers or good vegetables that you get.

BIRMINGHAM ZOO LAUNCHES VIRTUAL ZOO – The Birmingham Zoo has launched a virtual zoo on social media. The new content aims to keep guests at home connected to the organization and animals they love. The Zoo will offer viewers a look inside the Zoo and provide access to signature camps and programs. Guests who follow Facebook and Instagram will have a wonderful opportunity to virtually tour the grounds and behind the scenes areas, learn what’s new at the Zoo, and meet their animal neighbors too. The Zoo will host Virtual Zoo Camp on Facebook each weekday at 11 a.m. Each 10-minute episode will include an engaging activity for the entire family to enjoy ranging from special behind the scenes tours of the Zoo, interesting lessons about animals and Birmingham Zoo conservation work in our own backyard and all around the world. Staff will be online to answer questions and chat with the virtual campers about the day’s lesson and continue to highlight various animals through the Meet the Neighbors campaign. Each day at 1 p.m., viewers will have a chance to watch a short clip of animals, learn about their behaviors, and meet the Animal Care Professionals who care for them daily. Zoo Members will also receive an email video every Monday with exclusive content just for them.

NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE CORP SCHOLARSHIP (NHSC) – If you are a student interested in a health profession such as physician, dentist, nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife or physician assistant and interested in a scholarship from NHSC, the application deadline is April 23, 7 p.m. E.T.  There is a NHSC Scholarship Application online Q & A Session on April 7 and April 20, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Go to www.bhsc.hrsa.gov/scholarship for info on how to apply. Call 1-800-221-9393.
MILES COLLEGE NEW ACADEMIC PROGRAMS AND SCHOLARSHIPS – Miles College is aligning its academic programs to meet workforce demands and reduce the financial barriers to completion with the launch of its newest academic programs pending the approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and scholarship opportunities starting Fall 2020. The pending academic programs include the College’s first online Bachelor of Science program in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, and a minor in Game Design offered through the Computer and Information Science degree program. In addition to the new academic programs, Miles College recently restructured a variety of scholarships that will assist prospective students in financing their education. Most notably, high school and community college graduates with a 2.75-grade point average are awarded a $2,500 scholarship renewable for three years. There is no ACT/SAT requirement to receive this scholarship, and all students who gain admission to the College and meet the minimum qualifications will be awarded. The application process for Fall 2020 is currently open, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis at www.miles.edu. For more information on scholarships, please call the Office of Admissions at 205-929-1656.

CENTRAL ALABAMA HIGH SCHOOL CAREER FAIR – The 2020 Central Alabama High School Career Fair is hosted by the Alabama College and Career Access Program (ACCAP) April 9 at the BJCC South Meeting Room, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Be sure to register your company for Central Alabama’s Job Fair for High School Seniors. Contact Ezra E. Shine, ACCAP at (205) 266-1740 for more Corporate Registration information.

FOX 6 KIDS & JOBS – The City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office Division of Youth Services (DYS) and FOX6 launch the 2020 Kids & Jobs Program. Kids & Jobs is designed to help cultivate the professional development necessary for youth and young adults to become an integral part of the workforce.
EXPOSURE (14 & 15-Year-Old) PROGRAM  – Participating students will receive first-time exposure to the workplace. The EXPOSURE COMPONENT of the Kids & Jobs Program gives deserving Birmingham youth, who might otherwise not be given the chance, an opportunity to experience the workplace for the first time.
SUMMER EXPLORER PROGRAM – The SUMMER EXPLORER PROGRAM provides high school students 16 years of age and older with an introduction to the workforce and a chance to explore one of the various professions offered.
SUMMER EXECUTIVE INTERNSHIP – The EXECUTIVE PROGRAM provides college students up to the age of 24 with a unique opportunity to establish a foundation for their career path. This year SEI students can apply for the Literacy Leaders Program. (SEI Students majoring in Education or related field)
+Serve as Tutors for Rising 2nd and 3rd graders at area libraries
+Tutors will be trained to be highly-effective reading coaches
+Students will gain valuable work skills and satisfaction changing the lives of children. Applications- https://www.bhamyouthfirst.org/ and www.wbrc.com. Applicants must live in the city of Birmingham to participate in the Kids & Jobs Program. For more information about the Kids & Jobs Program, contact DYS at (205) 320-0879.

THINGS TO DO LATER… in April, or May! (Call to confirm)
ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL: CONTEMPORARY GALLERY – All Things Bright and Beautiful opened recently and brings together works primarily from the Museum’s permanent collection that look at themes of power and agency. This exhibition takes its name from a painting by Amy Sherald, whose portraits depict black sitters with pride, dignity, and joy, representation historically only afforded to white people. Some artists in the exhibition look towards power in other creative endeavors, like music. Others contemplate the hidden potential of everyday objects by transforming them into works of art. Several artists engage the representation of space and architecture–including museum spaces–to discover the dynamics of power. Considered together, these works illustrate the importance of being seen, choosing how to be depicted, and telling one’s own history.
IT’S LIKE THAT: Selections from the Collection of Rebecca and Jack Drake, through April 24 at the Paul R. Jones Museum in Tuscaloosa. The reception is Friday, April 4, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
IN YORK, ALABAMA… by way of Birmingham….
**TONY BINGHAM’S EXHIBITION OPENS IN YORK – Tony Bingham’s exhibition MEMORIAL MEDITATIONS will open at Altman Riddick Gallery, 630 Avenue A Street in York, Alabama 36925. The exhibition will close on Friday, May 22, 2020.

APRIL 10 – THE ZOMBIES at Iron City.

Well, that’s it. Tell you more ‘next’ time. People, Places and Things by Gwen DeRu is a weekly column. Send comments to my emails:thelewisgroup@birminghamtimes.comandgwenderu@yahoo.com.