One Book/One New Paltz 2022 will tackle Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed

One Book, One New Paltz Committee members Linda Welles and Myra Sorin and this year’s selection, Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

A local tradition since 2005, Kitabu Kimoja/Paltz Moja New will be back this November, and here’s your chance to get your hands on this year’s reading group if you think you’d like to participate. “We didn’t do that last year, so we lost momentum,” says OB/ONP committee member Linda Welles. “And last year it was absolutely true.”

As with many cultural organizations trying to keep services and activities alive during this pandemic, this group of volunteers — working under the joint sponsorship of the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz and the Elting Memorial Library — took on a new trick. technological and. devices that will continue to be important in the future. One Book 2022 will employ a combination of films streamed through Kanopy, live gatherings and virtual discussions; some events will be mixed. That means a large number of people can participate, including people who are unable to stay at home or will be too far away during OB/ONP week (November 13 to 19) to attend in person.

Selecting a yearbook is usually a difficult process, with committee members strongly influenced by favorite authors or works; but there are some agreed upon guidelines, including a page limit. The organizers want to ensure that participants have enough time to read the One Book after getting a copy. Inquiring Minds bookstore in New Paltz should have a good supply on hand, and is offering a 15 percent discount; Barner Books, a former partner, is today the only used bookstore. The Elting Library downtown and the Visitor Fact Library on campus will have copies, but, according to committee member Myra Sorin, your best bet may be interlibrary loan, which is “very fast.”

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For this year’s edition, the committee was keen to choose a theme from the Hogarth Shakespeare series: a project initiated by Hogarth Press (now an imprint of Penguin Random House) to commission renowned authors to retell the Bard’s plays in novel form in a contemporary setting. . And The Handmaid’s Tale a lot in public awareness these days due to the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to cancel Roe v. Wadeit made perfect sense to choose Hag-Seed (2016), Margaret Atwood’s imagination A storm. Much of the play’s action takes place in a men’s correctional facility, which made it appropriate for readers in New Paltz: As Welles says, “There are more prisons in this area than usual.”

Widely regarded as Shakespeare’s farewell to playwriting, A storm tells the story of a duke named Prospero who is deposed in a military coup (also a political moment) and exiled to a desert island with his three-year-old daughter Miranda. The story begins 12 years later, when Prospero – who is also a powerful sorcerer – has discovered his enemies sailing around in a storm to destroy their ship on his island. An ongoing romance between Miranda and the son of one of his rivals distracts Prospero from his original quest for revenge. There are comic and magical characters as well: the powerful Ariel and the “hag-seed” monster Caliban, both of whom are held in servitude until the exiled duke’s plans mature.

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Although Atwood’s best-known works are dystopian dreams, Hag-Seed it’s set in modern-day Canada and actually has fewer interesting features than the game that inspired it. The main character, Felix, the director of a theater festival expelled by his colleagues, has a conversation with his dead daughter, who is also named Miranda, but she is more of an imaginary friend than a spirit. Enraged and humiliated, Felix sleeps in a rural cabin, teaching English Literature courses to prisoners under an assumed name and dreams of revenge against the managers who stole his work and whose stars are rising, academically and politically.

The ex-Shakespeare director’s class, in which inmates get to transform the Bard’s sophisticated language into vernacular, act out plays and record them on video, becomes such a success model within the prison system that Felix’s former enemies, unknowingly who is it. it is true, decided to make an official visit – thus giving the opportunity to have them at his mercy. “He’s using the prison drama to get revenge on these two men who ruined his life,” Welles explains. “But the story is more about how Shakespeare’s plays affected the prisoners, and the relationships between the prisoners.”

Part of the OB/ONP program this year is a selection of film productions A storm, or films inspired by it, some of which can be viewed through Kanopy and others on DVD that can be borrowed from two participating libraries. (You’ll need a Mid-Hudson Library System card to get them from Elting or SUNY New Paltz borrowing privileges to access them through Sojourner Truth.) Two of the films will have live screenings, followed by a facilitated group discussion: opus by Julie Taymor in 2010. A stormwith Helen Mirren as Prospera, and Shakespeare behind the Bar (2005) article on the actual production of A storm performed by inmates at the Luther Luckett Correctional Facility in Louisville, Kentucky. The other two films featured in OB/ONP are by Paul Mazursky A storm (1982) by Derek Jarman A storm (1979).

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One Book Week begins with its traditional Community Book Discussion and Lunch hosted by Bill Strongin, retired rabbi of the New Paltz Jewish Congregation. Other scheduled events include an Academic Panel, this year featuring SUNY New Paltz professors Cyrus Mulready (English), Jerry Persaud (Digital Media & Journalism, Latin & Caribbean Studies) and Anne Roschelle (Sociology). “The Academic Panel is always my favorite part of One Book, with people from different disciplines discussing the book through a lens unique to their discipline,” says Welles.

Additional scholarly presentations include those focused on Aimé Césaire A storm, an adaptation that makes Caliban the protagonist and separates the story as a reflection on colonialism; discussion entitled “Playing in Prisons/Prisons in Games;” and another summarizing the amendment of A storm for centuries, including modern versions aimed at children and young adults.

To see the full schedule, including live event locations and links to access Zoom discussions or download films, visit

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