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Promoting Literature in the Community

Dearborn’s Centennial Library held its annual “Big Read” event and is using Edgar Allan Poe to do so. The Centennial held a teaser event on October 8 to showcase what audiences can look forward to. Attendees of the event ranged from Mayor O’Reilly of Dearborn and numerous sponsors including HFC’s own Joyce Hommel of the Eshleman Library.

The event provided various entertainment outlets for the audience; children could draw pictures of Poe, and people of all ages could take selfies with pictures of Poe or his famous raven and submit them to the Big Read’s website. Buying a “Do you know Poe?” t-shirt was also an option, and cookies and drinks were available for everyone to enjoy.

As far as organizing this event as part of the larger project that will continue over the next few months, Henry Fischer, the main orchestrator said “It’s called “The Big Read” for a reason - it is a massive project. Its goal is to get the entire community involved. Because there are so many moving parts, it’s easy to lose track of something here or there.” This project encompasses a macro scale in the context of Dearborn; it has many local contributors and offers the community a chance to get involved.

The Big Read is meant to introduce individuals in the community to reading through Edgar Allan Poe and to give everyone a chance to enjoy certain aspects it has to offer. There are over 30 events planned between February and March 2016. In this respect, as far as bringing a love of reading to participants, Fischer commented, “To be honest, I’m not sure how much of an impact on reading the Big Read will have. I hope it is a positive one. At the end of the day, if we have helped one person experience the joy of reading, or helped bring the community together around reading, or if someone attended an event and just had fun, our work is not in vain.” He went on to discuss how he came to love reading by being given a copy of Catcher in the Rye. An interesting element to note is that the library has purchased 400 copies of Poe’s Great Tales and Poems with 250 of those in Arabic, thus bringing in an even wider audience.

HFC’s own Dr. John Reitz, who teaches English, is involved in the Big Read and will be moderating a group discussion of selections of Poe’s work at the Eshleman Library. As far as HFC’s involvement goes, he stated, “HFC is Dearborn’s college, it would make sense that we would be heavily involved in this important literary event. The Dearborn Centennial Library, which is organizing Dearborn’s Big Read, has intentionally scheduled events at locations throughout the city and drawn participants from various institutions like HFC, UM-D, Greenfield Village/the Henry Ford, Dearborn Public Schools....” Students and community members alike can partake in the Big Read by submitting their own stories and ideas or by participating in the project’s upcoming events.

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