Books

Holocaust survivor urges BGSU audience to fight against injustice

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Irene Butter survived the Holocaust. Now she sees signs that people have forgotten its lessons. She sees people being dehumanized, stigmatized because of their nationality, families being broken up and deported. “I see all that happening.” People from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and African-Americans are called criminals. “Some people in this country try to get rid of them all,” the 87-year-old Holocaust survivor said Wednesday at Bowling Green State University in a talk sponsored by Hillel. White supremacy is on the rise. “When Trump says ‘make America great again,’ sometimes it means make America white again,” she said.  That echoes the Nazis’ desire to make Germany “clean of Jews because the blood of Jews contaminates the Aryan race.” That’s what gave rise to the killing machinery of the Holocaust.  “I don’t see that,” Butter said. “I see something like the way it all began in Nazi Germany.” Butter of Ann Arbor, knows well the outcome. She had a happy childhood in Germany with her parents and her older brothers. If anyone had asked about their identity, they would have said German, first, and then, Jewish. After Hitler took power in 1933, the signs started to appear with the swastika, an ever present symbol of the new regime. Her brother was beaten up at school and she was ostracized. Then her grandfather’s bank was seized, and her father was out of work. He moved to the Netherlands where he got a job with American Express. Soon the rest of the family joined him in Amsterdam where they lived happily for two and a half years. Then Germany invaded. Jews had to wear yellow Stars of David. Their movements were restricted. They could only shop after 3 p.m. when few of the scarce rations were left. Even their bicycles were confiscated. The Jews had to go to segregated schools. They were sad places, Butter said, as there were more and more empty desks. Some because students and their families were able to emigrate from the Netherlands. Others were in hiding.  But more because Jews were deported back to Germany and concentration camps. Butter’s father, through a friend, had applied for Ecuadorian passports. He had heard this may give them other options as “exchange Jews” who could be traded for German citizens held in Allied countries. Then one day, she said, the Nazis showed up,…


Susan Brownmiller delivers history lesson on the fight for abortion rights & against rape

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News To celebrate the history of Women’s Studies at Bowling Green State University, the program invited a woman who made history. Susan Brownmiller, author of the landmark best seller “Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape,” delivered the keynote address Thursday night. Now known as Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies the program is marking 40 years of existence. Brownmiller was part of the second wave feminists who help usher in the era when women’s studies blossomed on college campuses. As much as she would have liked to say differently, Brownmiller said years have not been marked by steady progress for women’s rights. “The pendulum always shifts,” the author and activist said. “And when the pendulum shifts you can lose a lot of the gains you thought you had forever just a decade before. I’ve seen that.” While praising the emergence of the #metoo movement, the 83-year-old feminist said she feels young activists lack a sense of history. Not surprising, she said. Her generation didn’t appreciate what the suffragettes went through to earn the vote. While her generation expected those women coming behind them to pick up the cause, they were disappointed. “When we did consciousness raising we found these truths for the first time. For the next generations, it’s received wisdom, not something they discovered. Received wisdom doesn’t have the power.” Not that the male radicals of the 1960s necessarily recognized the importance of these early consciousness raising sessions. The women who gathered in living rooms to discuss their lives were dismissed for “navel gazing” by those they had struggled with in the anti-war and Civil Rights movement. Brownmiller has worked in Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964. With all the energy in the air, women began asking “what about us?” In these sessions, “we were on the verge of discovering new truths. It was like spontaneous combustion.” As they talked, the issue of abortion came up. One woman talked about being blindfolded to be taken to a Mafia-protected abortion doctor. Another received a therapeutic abortion in a hospital. That meant that two doctors had to sign a statement saying she was too mentally unsound to have a child. She feared this would follow her throughout her life. And Brownmiller revealed she received three illegal abortions, one in Cuba and two in Puerto Rico. She said she cried as she realized she could have died….


Gordon Korman, Youth Community Reads author, to visit BG & area schools

From WOOD COUNTY LIBRARY Families, meet Wood County District Public Library’s 2018 Youth Community Reads author, Gordon Korman. Gordon Korman is the best-selling author of over 90 Middle Grade and Young Adult novels, including Slacker, Restart, Ungifted, and the Swindle series. He is also a contributing author to the popular multi-author series 39 Clues. For more information and a complete list of his titles, please visit his website, gordonkorman.com. He was first published as a 7th grader with a novel he wrote during English Class. Mr. Korman is a much sought-after speaker who spends much of his time traveling to libraries and schools around the country. WCDPL is bringing Mr. Korman to Wood County March 21st and 22nd. His visit is funded through a gift from the estate of Majorie Conrad, and with support of the Bowling Green Community Foundation. Mr. Korman will speak at the Wood County District Public Library on Wednesday, March 21 at 7 p.m., and at the Walbridge Library on Thursday, March 22, at 7 p.m. During the day on Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. Korman will visit Bowling Green, Lake, and Northwood Schools. During his visit to Wood County District Public Library, Mr. Korman will speak, answer questions, and be available to sign books. Two paperback titles will be for sale by the Friends of Library. Several additional copies of his soon-to-be released novel #WhatsHisFace will be raffled off and available for autographing as well. The audience is encouraged to bring any personal copies of Mr. Korman’s books for signing as well. For more information, contact the Children’s Place at 419-352-8253.


Book about tiny mouse is a big deal to BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years ago, the school district’s first “1 Book BG” about Humphrey the hamster caused hamster sales to spike in the Bowling Green area. Parents should be warned that this year’s district-wide reading book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” Bowling Green City Schools has officially started its third annual 1 Book BG program, which engages all 1,700 of its pre-kindergartners through its fifth graders to read the same book. This year, the book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” The unveiling of the 1 Book BG title had students waiting for the big announcement Friday afternoon. The kids filled the gymnasium at Crim Elementary School, as third grade teacher Jonelle Semancik gave them some clues. First, the book heads back to school. Second, the main character is small but mighty. And third, readers should be prepared for an “a-maze-ing” time. Students cheered and gave a drum-roll as Semancik revealed the book they will all be reading – “Ralph S. Mouse” by Beverly Cleary. “I wonder if we can get Ralph to come and say ‘Hi’ to you guys,” Semancik shouted. With that cue, a staff member disguised as a mouse appeared on stage, with a small motorcycle. Those readers familiar with “Ralph” may remember the cute rodent from two earlier stories in Cleary’s “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” series. In this year’s book, Ralph has the ability to speak, but only to certain people – primarily those who are loners. The 1 Book BG program gets everyone in the three public school elementaries, plus Montessori and St. Aloysius, on board reading the same book – whether it’s being read aloud to the younger students, or being read themselves by the older students. The goal is to team up as a community to build a love of reading with the kids. So the program doesn’t stop at the school doors. The entire community is asked to get involved. Again this year, several Bowling Green businesses have gotten involved by becoming trivia question sites for the students. Each week, new trivia questions about the book are posed at the sites – giving the children a chance to win prizes for reading. “We’re going to be reading this book all month long,” Semancik told the cheering students. After the rowdy assembly in the gym, the students went back to their classrooms, where each was presented with their own…


Jeff Fearnside delivers short stories worth the wait

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jeff Fearnside has his new year’s goal set out for himself – finish his novel. And he’s hoping that novel, when finished, won’t take as long to see print as his first book of fiction, “Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air.” The Bowling Green native who now lives in Corvallis, Oregon, completed that manuscript in 2005. The stories had already won awards including the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Award. The collection was a finalist for the New River Press MVP award. Publishing, he thought, at the time “was just around the corner.” But what was right around the corner was frustration. “Then it didn’t go to the next level,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “I lost faith and stopped sending it out. Something I now really regret. That put me behind.” He advises other writers not repeat to that mistake. “Keep the faith.” When he decided to start submitting the manuscript again, it wasn’t long before he struck a deal with Stephen Austin State University Press. The book was published in 2016. “It all worked out in the end,” he said. “Making Love” brings together 13 short stories, including the six he submitted for his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing thesis from Eastern Washington University in 2000. The stories are “stylistically all over the board,” the author said. There’s realism, allegory, magic realism, and surrealism. “I like a collection that has a little bit of eclecticism to it.” What holds them together is keen psychological insight expressed in clear, shapely prose. The collection opens with the quirky realism of “Nuclear Toughskins,” about coming of age in the shadow of the bomb and includes the allegory, “Cat People,” in which feline overlords dish out just desserts to those who have treated them well or badly. For the record, Fearnside has two cats and is assured of rewards should his fantastical vision come true. On the other end of the spectrum is “Going for Broke,” a straightforward piece of historical fiction. Fearnside tells of a talented Japanese American baseball pitcher, struggling against prejudice to make it to the big leagues after being interned during World War II. The settings of several stories become characters. Fearnside locates his tales in places he knows – his native ground of Northwest Ohio and his adopted home, the Pacific Northwest. “I’m really…


Vegan Toledo hosts discussion of ‘How Not to Die’

Submitted by VEGAN TOLEDO Vegan Toledo will present a book discussion of New York Times bestseller “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger, M.D. at Gathering Volumes Bookstore, 196 E South Boundary St, Perrysburg, on Thursday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and will include free food samples as well as drawings for food baskets, T-shirts and books. The book offers a detailed account of how our American lifestyle can cause preventable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It gives practical advice about not only what foods to avoid, but many positive suggestions about delicious foods that are particularly useful in protecting our health and promoting longevity. Attendees may have read the book, or they may participate even if they are just considering reading it in the future and wish to learn more about it. “This is an eye-opening, evidence-based book,” shared Mike Zickar of Vegan Toledo. “We are excited to partner with Gathering Volumes to bring this important discussion to our community. We all struggle with our food choices and we’ve found this book to offer clear and manageable strategies to help lead to a longer and healthier life.” “Our motto at Vegan Toledo is you don’t have to ‘be’ vegan to eat vegan,” shared Rachel Zickar of Vegan Toledo. “For many of us, it’s more effective to take small steps over time toward a healthier lifestyle. This book is a great way to start, or continue, that journey. Folks with all kinds of eating habits are welcome to join this discussion. We will all do better with the support of others as we strive to become healthier together.” Vegan Toledo, founded by Rachel and Mike Zickar, is an organization dedicated to healthy lifestyle choices as well as making it easier for travelers and residents to find vegan options in the area via their web site, VeganToledo.com, as well as through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


BGSU Arts Events through Jan. 23

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Jan. 10 — BGSU’s Guest Artist Series welcomes back former faculty member and pianist Yu-Lien The. A prizewinner of the 12th International Piano Competition Viotti-Valsesia and the Deutsche Musikwettbewerb, The has performed at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and at Carnegie Hall, with the new music ensemble Opus21. Frequent collaborations with saxophonists Joe Lulloff and Henning Schröder have led to several world premieres of new commissions for both piano and saxophone. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, located in the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 13 — Sigma Alpha Iota members will present a Winter Musicale at 6 p.m. in the Choral Rehearsal Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 14 — Praecepta, the student chapter of the Society of Composers, Inc., will present a performance of their work titled “24/24.” The group promotes new music activities in the Bowling Green community. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, located in the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 16 — Violinist Harvey Thurmer is the next performer in the Guest Artist Series. Thurmer is active in the promotion and recording of new music. His recording of Kurtag’s “Kafka Fragmente” with soprano Audrey Luna, available on the Ars Moderno label, represents the first recording of this monumental work by American artists. The performance will begin at 8 pm in Bryan Recital Hall, located in the Moore Musical ArtsCenter. Free Jan. 18 — Visiting Writer Clifford Chase will read from his fiction. Author of “Winkie” and “The Tooth Fairy: Parents, Lovers, and Other Wayward Deities (A Memoir),” Chase teaches at Wesleyan University. The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Jan. 18 — The Guest Artist Series presents Li-Shan Hung on the piano. She made her Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Hall in 2003 and was invited to present a second Weill Hall recital in 2005. The recipient of numerous music performance prizes, she has performed and taught around the world. Her performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Jan. 19 — BGSU presents EAR | EYE: Listening and Looking: Contemporary Music and Art in conjunction with the Toledo Museum of Art. The performance series explores the relationship between contemporary music and art through performances in front of contemporary works of art, featuring BGSU doctoral candidates in music. The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe St., Toledo. Free Jan. 22 — The Guest Artist Series presents Sandra Shapiro on the piano. Shapiro…


KKK history in Wood County unmasked by BGSU prof

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When the Ku Klux Klan took root in Wood County in the early 1920s, the members wore the traditional white robes and hoods, but there was little secrecy about their activities. There was no need to conceal their hatred since the membership roster included many local politicians, businessmen and ministers. Every Ohio county in the 1920s had an active Klan group, according to Michael E. Brooks, author of the book, “The Ku Klux Klan in Wood County, Ohio.” “Wood County is not particularly unique in having a history of the KKK,” said Brooks, a historian who teaches at BGSU. “What is unique is that the records survived.” Included in those records is a membership ledger that was reportedly rescued from a burn pile in 1976. The ledger, which is included in Brooks’ book, reads like a “Who’s Who” of Wood County, with familiar surnames recorded from every community. Brooks explains that economic uncertainty in the 1920s was one of the most significant factors in the rise of the reborn KKK in Ohio. Newspapers told of historically high unemployment rates, declining farm incomes and sluggish postwar economic growth. Membership records in the Center for Archival Collections at BGSU show that nearly 1,400 members paid dues to the Wood County KKK in 1924 and 1925. Once accepted into the Klan, the new members would be fitted for robes and hoods. Measurements would be taken at the local KKK office, and the information would be submitted to the national Klan headquarters for tailoring. No women or children were allowed. A 1927 phone book lists the KKK as having an address at 182½ S. Main St. in Bowling Green. “They didn’t have to sneak around at night. They could parade around in their robes,” Brooks said. “It was fashionable to be in the Klan.” The Klan was welcomed into many local churches during Sunday morning services. Many of the local ministers were members of the organization, like Rev. Rush A. Powell of the United Brethren Church in Bowling Green. Powell, a charter member of the Klan, told his congregation that he stood for the same principles as those held by his hooded guests – against criminal activity, undesirable immigrants and a decline in morality. Recruitment during church services was common. “The extent to which that was going on was very surprising,” Brooks said. Churches were used…


Earl returns in Tom Lambert’s second book

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Despite the big tell at the end of his first book, “Living with Earl,” Tom Lambert is not done with his quirky character. The first book, a series of vignettes that started as Facebook posts, told the story of a character very much like Lambert and his relationship with a convivial stranger who dresses and acts like Mark Twain. Tom refuses to call him Mark or Sam, for Sam Clemens, Twain’s given name, instead calls him “Earl,” since the character described himself as “the Earl of prose.” The book is a breezy read, with veins of humor and wisdom, and it takes a heart-felt turn in the end. Lambert said after the first book he heard from people who wanted to know what happened to Earl. Lambert posted a couple letters from Earl that whetted readers’ appetites. He now has the sequel “Dying with Earl” in hand, and ready for purchase. On Saturday, Dec. 16, at 1 p.m. he’ll celebrate the new book with a reading and reception at the Wood County District Public Library. Lambert hit on the title before he really got down to work on the second book. Not only was it a play on the title of the first book, Lambert said, but “I thought the premise would be fun to ride.” As “Dying with Earl” begins, Earl has found his way down in Florida where he meets colorful characters as is his wont and gets entangled in their affairs. Tom’s misreading of one of his letters leads him to head down to Florida. The change in locale doesn’t alter the relationship nurtured in Bowling Green. Tom and his friend end up lighting out on a road trip. As with the previous book, Lambert is working with donors to get it placed in Veterans Administration Hospitals around the country. Lambert, 71, said he’s surprised he ever wrote a first book, never mind a second. He was a poor student in high school, he said, though he later audited classes in writing at Bowling Green State University and received encouragement. “Everybody has a book in them,” he said. “Everybody has a story to tell.  Don’t wait. If you’re waiting to get it perfect, you’ll never get it done. Get it down and then go back and polish it.” As for himself, Lambert still is writing every day. His work may take…


Author J.D. Vance looks to his Mamaw for solutions to Appalachia’s ills

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The great stabilizing influence in J.D. Vance’s life was his grandmother, Mamaw. The best-selling author of “Hillbilly Elegy” told an audience at Bowling Green State University Wednesday that she always seemed to know what he needed. When she could barely afford her prescriptions, she still made sure he had the calculator he needed for high school math. Mamaw knew he needed “a little discipline and firm hand to not succumb to bad influences” as so many others in his family and community already had. When he started hanging out with an adolescent who was just getting into the drugs, she told Vance if he kept hanging out with him, she would run the kid over with her car. Her model helped him as he enlisted in the Marine Corps, served in Iraq, got through Ohio State in two years and landed at Yale law school. Vance visited campus last night as the summation of the Commons Read program. His memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” had been selected. In introducing Vance, President Mary Ellen Mazey spoke about how the book reflected the hard work, sense of place, patriotism, and humor, despite the frequent heartbreak, that marks Appalachian culture. She noted that her home state of West Virginia is the only state that is entirely within the region. “As I grew up in Appalachia, my mother would always tell me we were so poor we didn’t know we were poor, so it didn’t matter.” Vance is also an example of what American education can do, she said. Then as “a fellow hillbilly,” Mazey invited Vance, “to come on up and tell them what it’s all about.” Vance rose from tough young life growing up in Middletown, Ohio. When at Yale he took the Adverse Childhood Experience quiz, which measures how difficult one’s childhood is. He scored a 7 on a scale of 10, as did other members of his close family. His girlfriend, now his wife, scored 2 as did an uncle who’d been more successful. He struggled to adjust at Yale. “It was like my spaceship had crash landed, and when I got out nobody was like me.” For the first time, he felt out place. Still he could fall back on his late grandmother’s sense of resilience. “Mamaw had to overcome a lot worse in her life.” That, he said, is the key to helping communities…


Cameron’s Comics turns the page with shop in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jonathan Smith said he was something of a nerd when he was a kid. He loved Calvin and Hobbes and Mad Magazine. When Smith’s wife died three years ago this coming February, he needed something that he and his son, Cameron, could do together. Before then Smith traveled a lot selling and racing quarter-scale race cars. Reading comic books was just the thing. Together they’d travel to different shops in southern Michigan and Toledo, checking out what was available. That bonding experience blossomed into a store selling comic books and named after Cameron, 16, which opened in Adrian, Michigan, last year. The success of the Cameron’s Comics & Stuff took Smith, 42, by surprise. At first, he worked days at a factory and ran the store at night. But he found he could quit his factory job and devote himself to the store. Now Smith has opened a second Cameron’s Comics at 175 N. Main St. in Bowling Green. The shop officially opened Friday with a ribbon cutting. Over the weekend, Smith said, customers flocked to the store. Many were pleased to have a store devoted to comics and related literature, toys, and games back on Main Street. Though the store is open, it’s still a work in progress. More merchandise is coming in to fill the shelves that Smith built himself. He also plans to put a game room in the back. The main wall has the comics on white shelving. “They’re presented on white because they’re art,” he said. While he carries Marvel and DC, his stock goes deeper than that, extending to publishers including Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Image Comics, Silver Sprocket, and Alterna. The shop also has games including the Magic: The Gathering and Catan as well as action figures and other toys. “We have our own flavor,” he said. Smith said he’s taking a slower approach to stocking the BG store. In Adrian he dove right in with games, but found there wasn’t much interest. He’s finding games have more traction in Bowling Green. He also has a studio for recording podcasts set up so he can record his own podcast “Two Beers and a Pull List.” The studio’s available for rent. Smith said he decided to expand to Bowling Green because the area lacks a comic book shop, and with a college age population, he felt that left…


BGSU marks Jerome Library’s 50th year

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Fitting for a library that doubles as a work of art, Jerome Library will unveil a new piece at its celebration of the 50th anniversary. The program will start at 4 p.m. Friday. There’ll be short presentations on the history of the library as well as a presentation by Librarian Amy Fry on the mural. Then a piece by sculptor and book artist Vince Koloski, that draws inspiration from those murals, will be unveiled. The eight-story tall building with six floors of abstract art running up both the west and east faces first opened in 1967. Dean of University Libraries Sara Bushong said she’s been assured by the artist Donald Drumm that the designs have no hidden meaning. Bushong said that at the time, students “either loved it or thought it was the most atrocious thing they’d ever seen.” Now it’s hard to imagine campus without it. While the mural has been a constant landmark on campus over the past 50 years the services within it have evolved. When it was built it was devoted mostly to stacks of books. Now every one of its floors have been repurposed, sometimes several times over, Bushong said. The change is most evident on the first floor. “The goal is to have the first floor to be a very student services focused,” she said. The floor hosts the Learning Commons, Student Athletic Services, and, most recently, the Collab Lab. And, she added, “we’re still circulating books, which is good.” A member of the accreditation team for the architecture program commented that he was “impressed with how many people were coming in the building,” Bushong said. “There’s a lot of reasons to come here.” The library has about 450,000 visitors a year, that’s students, faculty, community member, and tour groups. The library went up in the midst of a university building boom. With its step down entrance and the dramatic murals, it was intended to add contrast to the flat landscape, Bushong said. Like any 50-year-old structure it has shown its age. The battle against leaks has been ongoing since 1967. Recent work on the roof over the first floor has solved problems on the first floor, though areas around the base of the tower, still cause leaks on the second level. And the library was not constructed with the ensuing digital age in mind. Bushong said that…


Winter Wheat plants seeds of literary harvest

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The seeds for Winter Wheat were planted at Bowling Green State University back in 2001, and the writers have been harvesting the benefits annually ever since. Abigail Cloud, who is coordinating this festival, said: “The basic metaphor is sewing the seed for later harvest.” Winter Wheat begins Thursday, Nov. 2, and runs through Saturday night when the participants will gather at Grumpy Dave’s for an open mic. The weekend will include workshops, panels, talks, and readings. Between 200 to 300 participants are expected. Winter Wheat is free and registration is open throughout the weekend. For more information and schedule visit http://casit.bgsu.edu/midamericanreview/winter-wheat/ Cloud said she’d just arrived at BGSU in 2001 when Karen Craigo set about organizing the first gathering.  “She had been wanting to do a community event for a while,” Cloud said. The event welcomes back graduates of the Creative Writing Program as well as students and faculty from schools around the region and as far away as California and Texas, and writers from the local community. “It’s a good town-gown outreach,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to have a banner event for creative writing.” This year Winter Wheat is convening in conjunction with the meeting of the International Symposium for Poetic Inquiry. This is the first time the symposium is being held in the United States. Faculty colleague Sandra Faulkner, the host, suggested the arrangement and Cloud readily agreed. Winter Wheat adds value for those traveling from abroad. Last year a meeting of student editors convened at the same time. Winter Wheat differs from other writing conferences by including time for writing. “There was a recognition when we started that a lot of times when we leave comforting environment of workshops at school, we stop making time for our work. So we’re offering that time to produce something new. … It gives us a chance to dig back in and do some new writing on specific topics or explore where we haven’t had a chance to explore before.” The gathering always includes readings by faculty and graduates. Theresa Williams is both. She will present her work in graphic novels on Thursday night. On Friday evening, alumnae Colette Arrand will read from her novel “Hold Me Gorilla Monsoon.” Poet and, playwright and scholar Mary Weems will present Saturday afternoon. Kimberly Dark will speak Friday as part of the ISPI. And on Friday afternoon the first director of BGSU’s MFA program Howard McCord will…


At BGSU, Clarence Page reflects on Middletown & “Hillbilly Elegy”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Clarence Page is a story teller. That’s what all good journalists are, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner said. On Thursday at Bowling Green State University, though, he reflected on someone else’s story, J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” Vance’s book has been selected as the university’s Common Read. Page was invited to BGSU to discuss Vance’s book. Meant to bring everyone together to read the same book and spark discussion, this year’s selection has done the trick. Social media is full of commentary on the book, and even its appropriateness as the Common Read. “Hillbilly Elegy” arrived at the same time as Donald Trump was elected to office, and many reviewers touted it as the book to read if you wanted to understand Trump voters. Vance takes a hard look at his people, who feel displaced in America and are plagued by dysfunctional families and unemployment. This demographic is the most pessimistic of any in the country.  Poor whites are more pessimistic than poor blacks. “Maybe because we’re used to it.” Page, who like Vance comes from Middletown, Ohio, said the book gave him a look at what was happening on the white side of town. Page noted he started out as “colored,” and has been a Negro, black, African-American, before now being a person of color. His family, he said, was “po’” because, according to his father, they were too poor to afford the “or.” But, he added, “ we were rich in spirit.” Page, 70, said he’s told Vance that save for the difference in age and race, it could be his story. But there were differences. Unlike Vance who chronicles a difficult family life, Page said his family was boring, a quality he’s come to appreciate as he’s gotten older. Like Vance’s grandfather, Page’s family moved north from the south to work in northern industry. Page’s people were part of the Great Migration that brought blacks north by rail seeking an escape from the segregated south and seeking greater opportunities. And Page remembers the lure of the railroad, looking down the tracks imagining an escape from Middletown. He succeeded in large part because of what he learned there.  He wanted to be an astronaut but his vision, “being four-eyed” ended that dream. But he was also captivated by seeing the reporters during a whistle…


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page to visit BGSU

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS As part of the Bowling Green State University 2017 Common Reading experience, BGSU will welcome Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page, syndicated columnist and senior member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board, as the Common Reading Scholar-in-Residence. Page will participate in a number of events and give a public presentation at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, followed by a question-and-answer time. In his Oct. 26 presentation, Page will address issues of culture and identity in the United States and share his perspective on topics raised in this year’s common read “Hillbilly Elegy.” Like J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” Page grew up in Middletown, Ohio, where “Hillbilly Elegy” is set but a generation earlier, attended Middletown High School and went on to a successful writing career. Also during his visit, in a session designed especially for faculty and graduate students, Page will participate in a faculty panel discussion on “Migrations and Cultural Populations” from 3-4:15 Oct. 26 in 207 Union. Moderated by Dr. Ray Swisher, sociology, panelists include Drs. Melissa Miller, political science; Andrew Schocket, American culture studies; and Larry Smith, humanities and English, BGSU Firelands. Dr. Michael Ann Williams, chair of the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology at Western Kentucky University, will speak about “Appalachian Cultural Landscapes” at 6 p.m. Nov. 2, also in 1007 Business. Vance will be on campus Nov. 29 to discuss his New York Times best-seller, “Hillbilly Elegy.” To register for Page’s talk visit registration.