Literary Hook: Library offers ‘One Book, One Rockford’

The Rockford Public Library has added to the literary life of Rockford in countless ways over the years. For many years, it sponsored the Northern Illinois Writer’s Conference, which featured every genre of writing. The Friends of the Public Library were among the sponsors for Confluence: A Living Literary Legacy of the Rock River Valley, published in 2000 in honor of the millennium, and still housed at the Friends’ Bookstore at the library.

Poetry slams, book and author discussions, and the new Word Fest held on the river are among the rich offerings from the Rockford Public Library.

This month, something quite special is happening at the Rockford Public Library. Billed as “One Book, One Rockford,” the library is sponsoring a “citywide reading program designed to deepen our sense of community…” The book chosen is Sandra Benitez’s novel, A Place Where the Sea Remembers. I just finished reading the novel and can recommend it firsthand. I have always loved books that take me somewhere I haven’t been to, an experience I will probably not have firsthand.

Benitez’s A Place Where the Sea Remembers is a somewhat short novel, constructed simply and sweetly, telling the story of the fictitious people who live in the seaside village of Santiago, Mexico.

In the novel, we see how their lives are intertwined through their tragedies, courage and victories. We meet a “maestro” who finally has the courage to leave his mother and marry later in life, a “salad maker” who offers to adopt the child of a rape victim, a shaman woman whose mystical oneness with the sea and the people in her community allow her to cast spells that are stronger than any others. Written with poetic delicacy and never overwrought with sentimentality, the novel is satisfying in the way a well-prepared, nutritious meal of small portions is.

Book discussions for A Place Where the Sea Remembers will be at Main Library Auditorium, Thursday, April 20, 7-8:30 p.m., and at the Rockford Center Branch Library, Tuesday, April 25, 6-7:30 p.m. Young adults can choose to attend the discussion at the Main Library Auditorium, Thursday, 7-8:30 p.m., or at the Montague Branch Library, Friday, April 21, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Next week we will look at receptions scheduled for Sandra Benitez.

Another event scheduled for the Rockford Public Library is a poetry reading Monday, April 17, in celebration of National Poetry Month, from 7-8:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. I will be one of the featured readers for that event and would love to see you!

More about this event and National Poetry Month next week. For more information about library events, call 965-7606. Until then, enjoy the offerings of the Rockford Public Library. Check out the events, and read some good books while you’re at it.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry and formerly wrote a column called “The Writer’s Garret” for this newspaper.

From the April 12-18, 2006, issue

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