Writer and editor George Hodgman talked about the WestportREADS 2017 selection Bettyville on January 19, 2017. His critically-acclaimed memoir relates with wit and tenderness a son's journey from New York City to care for his irascible mother in his Missouri hometown.
Robin McHaelen, director of True Colors, Inc., will lead a family-friendly, free-wheeling discussion about today's changing gender norms. Transgender, gender bending, bi-gender, gender creative, gender fluid, gender queer, two spirit, agender, pan gender. What's it all about? Might the changing norms about gender make the world a better place for everyone? A panel discussion of Westport students speaking about their own LGBT issues and experiences in the schools will follow the talk. Register online. Light lunch and refreshments included. Partners: TEAM Westport and the Staples Genders Sexualities Alliance Note: This is a rescheduled date from 1/21.
Robin McHaelen is the founder and current executive director of True Colors, Inc., a non-profit organization that works to ensure that youth of all orientations and genders are valued and affirmed. Robin is nationally known for her expertise, has won numerous awards and has co-written two books and many articles on LGBT youth.
Dr. Mark Schenker, Dean of Academic Affairs in Yale College, will give a talk on the theme of homecoming in Bettyville and other works of literature and myth. In his memoir, George Hodgman returns home not for a visit or a holiday, but for a new life, a life that is a blend of his past and his present, of his Midwestern roots and his adulthood in New York City, of his middle age and his mother’s end of life. Robert Frost wrote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” In Hodgman’s case, he did not have to go home in the sense that Frost meant, nor was he so much taken in as having to take in his mother (he describes himself in the book as a “care inflictor”). But even in his caregiving, he remains the son and gives Betty her due as the mother.
Dean Schenker will consider various examples of coming home after traveling, in James Joyce’s phrase, “the longest way round”—that is, having experiences that not only change what “home” is, but also who we are when we return there
Mark J. Schenker has been at Yale College since 1990. He is currently a senior associate dean of the College and dean of academic affairs. Born and raised in New York City, he received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Columbia University and has taught at Columbia, New York University, and Trinity College (Hartford). Dean Schenker has led book discussion series in public libraries and other venues in Connecticut for over 30 years and lectures frequently on literature and film for public audiences. He was the recipient of the 2001 Wilbur Cross Award for Outstanding Humanities Scholar, presented by the Connecticut Humanities Council.
WestportREADS is funded by the estate of Jerry A. Tishman.
Nancy Moore has been using disparate artistic media to express her thoughts about gender identity in loving response to her transgender son. Inspired by his courage, Moore has been using woodcut (her "Gender Warrior" series), mixed-media painting (her ongoing "Unconventional Women" series), and fiber art (her series of "Blanket Statements") to examine gender in general, and the roles of women specifically. This transition in materials reflects a broader exploration of her own identity and the identities of the women she sees around her as they adapt—painfully, gracefully—to their own shifts in occupation, family life, appearance and age. Moore will be showing her artwork and discussing, among other things, how being shaken to core can lead to the grateful conclusion that one does indeed have a core. Click here for a full bio of the artist and more about her work.
Images, top to bottom: Rise, Blanket Statements and Triptych
Community partner: Westport Arts Center
WestportREADS 2017 is funded by the estate of Jerry A. Tishman.
The Westport Library and Westport Cinema Initiative, as part of its ongoing series of pop-up films, present In and Out, a romantic comedy film directed by Frank Oz and starring Kevin Kline, Tom Selleck, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Debbie Reynolds and Wilford Brimley. Cusack was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. A discussion will follow with Westporter and freelance writer Dan Woog.
(Note that this is a re-scheduled date from January 7.)
Small-town high school English teacher (Kevin Kline) is watching the Academy Awards telecast with his fiancee (Joan Cusack,) when one of his former students (Matt Dillon) wins the Oscar. He wins for playing a gay soldier, and in his acceptance speech, he thanks a lot of people, including the teacher—”who,” he volunteers, “is gay.” This comes as news to the fiancee. Also to the teacher." As a media blitz descends upon on this small Indiana town, the teacher attempts to convince everyone that he's your average straight American male. (1997, 1h 32m) The film will be followed by a talkback.
When somone is kind to us, we know how great it makes us feel. When we are kind to others, we create change for the good. In honor of the kindnesses shown in the book WestportREADS book Bettyville, draw, collage and color KINDNESS in ourselves and each other with artist and author Elaine Clayton. We'll make a book celebrating our communal dedication to being kind! Grades 3 to adult. Register online.
In Bettyville, George Hodgman returns to Paris, Missouri, to care for his ailing mother. This panel of eldercare experts will discuss the issues you might face as your parents age—the emotional, legal and practical issues of caring for your parents whether they live close by or far away. The panel includes:
Katie Regan, Respite Care Manager (Southwestern CT Agency on Aging and Independent Living, Inc.)
Megan Hague and Barbara Mcnair Odeh from the Family & Children’s Agency
Kristen Witt from the Town of Westport Department of Human Servies
Sharon Rosen, Elder Law Attorney
Anne James, Veterans Administration
WestportREADS 2017 is funded by the estate of Jerry A. Tishman.
The Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging (SWCAA) is a private, not-for-profit corporation. Funding supports services such as nutrition, in-home care, legal, health, adult day care/respite, transportation, senior centers and outreach/social support. SWCAA researches and evaluates elderly issues, offers community education related to the needs of the elderly, and serves as an advocate for older individuals. It is a resource for information and referral to services for older adults, such as health insurance, housing, and in-home care.
Family & Children’s Agency is a nonprofit, human service organization that is committed to increasing the social and emotional well-being of our clients. We provide strength-based, solution focused services that respond to the individual needs of children & families, youth, adults, and seniors. Ligia Masilamani, Director, has a Master in Public Health and has worked at FCA for the past 12 years, most recently serving as the Director of Home Care Services for Seniors, which offers comprehensive support to make the aging process easier on both seniors and their families.
Join a discussion of the WestportREADS selection for 2017 of Bettyville by George Hodgman. This humorous and insightful memoir is the story of how he left Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, and found himself an unlikely caregiver for his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will who was in her nineties and showing signs of dementia. George struggles over whether to try and lure her into assisted living, away from the home they both treasure. Betty, who speaks her mind but keeps her emotions private, has never accepted the fact that her son is gay.
WestportREADS is an annual program dedicated to strengthening the community through the shared experience of a book. All of the books explore the nature of identity along with other topics.
Join a discussion of I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. The book follows teenage twins Jude and Noah as they deal with identity, loss, love, and betrayal. The book was awarded the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and is also a Stonewall Honor Book.