Clarion University will kick off its 2017-18 Mary L. Seifert Cultural Series in September. This year’s theme is “Work and the American Dream.” Events, including literary readings, lectures, films and a photography exhibit, will focus on wide-ranging issues surrounding the myriad ways in which Americans conceive their ideas of work within the framework of larger cultural limitations and opportunities.
Martín Espada will launch the series with a poetry reading, Q&A and book signing at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 in Hart Chapel. Espada's latest collection of poems is called "Vivas to Those Who Have Failed." Other collections include "The Trouble Ball," Pulitzer Prize finalist "The Republic of Poetry," and "Alabanza." He has received the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
A film, "Up in the Air," will be shown at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 in the university theater, Suites on Main North. In the film, loner Ryan Bingham is forced to take a colleague on a business trip when she proposes changes to their company, which specializes in firing people. A discussion will follow.
Roger May, an Appalachian American photographer and writer and director of the Appalachian South Folklife Center, will lecture about his work at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 in Carlson Library. His photography, which will be on display Sept. 5 to Nov. 11 in the library's University Art Gallery, has been published by The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera America, National Geographic, The Oxford American, Le Monde Diplomatique, Photo District News, and others. In 2014, he started the crowdsourced "Looking at Appalachia" project. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
A film, "Food Chains," followed by a presentation, will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 in the university theater. "Food Chains" reveals the human cost in our food supply and the complicity of large buyers of produce like fast food and supermarkets. The film focuses on an intrepid and highly lauded group of tomato pickers from southern Florida – the Coalition of Immokalee Workers – who are revolutionizing farm labor. Their story is one of hope and promise to ensure a dignified life for farm workers and a more humane, transparent food chain.
Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, will present a lecture and signing of her book, "Under the Bus: How Working Women are Being Run Over," at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 in the university theater. Fredrickson previously directed the ACLU's Washington legislative office and was general counsel and legal director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. During the Clinton administration, she served as special assistant to the president for legislative affairs.
Producer/director/writer Stacey Tenenbaum will moderate a screening of her first documentary feature, "Shiners," followed by a presentation at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in the university theater. Tenenbaum started her career in factual television 18 years ago. She is skilled at finding interesting characters and bringing their stories to life and is passionate about social justice.
The Mary L. Seifert Cultural Series was established to provide the Clarion University community with cultural experiences that inspire learning through thoughtful discussions. All Seifert Series events are free and open to the public.