photo of Naila Moreira by Jermane Stephinger
Naila Moreira, photo by Jermane Stephinger

Where the Real and the Surreal Meet

The Modern Real and Surreal: Writers and Artists on Our Age, is the Forbes Library’s author reading series. Now in its third season, the series explores contemporary themes on the premise that libraries offer vibrant spaces to engage with and explore our era’s most pressing questions – questions that in their surprises and contradictions can be understood through either a realistic lens or through fantasy, science fiction and the surreal. The series invites the community to join us in examining how story and art can provide empathy and insight in our accelerating world.

The series features writers in genres ranging from fiction to nonfiction to poetry. The role of the image in conveying literary themes will be explored, too, in events on comics & graphic novels, film and screenwriting, and nature word-and-image pairings. Current issues from our political and social milieu will also form an important backbone as these authors share from their fine work.


The Modern Real and Surreal: Writers and Artists on Our Age



2017-2018 Forbes Library Reading Series

October 11 – Comics and Graphic Novels

Holly Black, author, The Good Neighbors

Denis Kitchen, cartoonist, Kitchen Sink Books

Christopher Couch, author, The Will Eisner Companion: The Pioneering Spirit of the Father of the Graphic Novel


November 8 – Aspergers, Autism, and Neurodiversity

John Elder Robison, author, Switched On

Cammie McGovern, novelist, A Step Toward Falling

Patricia Stacey, author, The Boy Who Loved Windows


December 13 – Celebration of Local Authors

Kelly Link, author, Get in Trouble

Mira Bartok, novelist, The Wonderling

Ruth Lehrer, novelist, Being Fishkill


February 26 – Screenwriting, Scripts and Film

Abraham Ravett, filmmaker, Holding Hands With Ilse

Wade Wofford, screenwriter/director, The Answer

Ellen Kaplan, screenwriter/director, Mixed Blessings

Jake Hulse, screenwriter/director, Heroes Don’t Come Home


March 21– Native Americans and the Land

Cheryl Savageau, poet and author, Mother/Land

Lisa Brooks, author, Our Beloved Kin

Jillian Hensley, novelist, In This Strange Soil


April 11 – Science Fiction and Fantasy

Jane Yolen, novelist, The Pit Dragon Chronicles

Elizabeth Bear, novelist, The Stone in the Skull

Robert V.S. Redick, novelist, Master Assassins


May 9 – Nature: Word and Image

Bob Marstall, illustrator, On Duck Pond

Naila Moreira, Forbes Library Writer in Residence, and Pam Petro, photographer, Dusk at Macleish

Valerie Carrigan, printmaker and book artist, The Walk


May 16 – Memory & Desire: Poetry of Midlife

Lesléa Newman, poet, LOVELY

Joy Ladin, poet, Impersonation

Gail Thomas, poet, Odd Mercy


2016-2017 Forbes Library Reading Series

October 5 – Mystery, Horror, and the Northampton State Hospital

Dave Stern – author of Shadows in the Asylum

Emily Arsenault – author of The Evening Spider

Katherine Anderson – author of Hospital Hill


November 2 – Political Poetry

Jane Yolen – author of Bloody Tide

Rich Michelson – author of More Money Than God

Lesléa Newman – author of October Mourning

Andrea Hairston – author of Will do Magic for Small Change

Bill Newman – moderator


December 7 – Literature From and About Prison

Lois Ahrens – creator of Real Cost of Prison Project and Real Cost of Prison Comix

Moana Rawlings – program director, Women’s Treatment Program, Gandara Center

Kempis “Ghani” Songster – activist and poet (read by Michael Lewis)

Revan Schendler – journalist


January 11 – Celebration of Local Novelists

Jacqueline Sheehan – author of The Center of the World

M.B. Caschetta – author of Pretend I’m Your Friend

Jendi Reiter – author of Two Natures

Zane Kotker – author of Goodnight, Ladies


February 1 – Literature and Poetry of Brazil

Pamela Petro and Marguerite Harrison – artists/writers of In Two Voices series

Malcolm McNee – author of The Environmental Imaginary in Brazilian Poetry and Art

Ellen Doré Watson – translator of Ex-Voto by Adélia Prado


March 1 – Identity, Nature, and the Environment

Lauret Savoy – author of Trace

Mistinguette Smith – executive director of The Black Land Project

Naila Moreira – Forbes Library writer in residence


April 12 – War, Conflict, and Refugees: The Literature of Crisis

Emmanuel Dongala – author of Johnny Mad Dog

Polina Barskova – author of This Lamentable City

Thérèse Soukar Chehade – author of Loom


May 10 – Writers as Climate Activists

Ellen Meeropol – author of Kinship of Clover

Brian Adams – author of KABOOM

Jennifer Browdy – author of What I Forgot…and Why I Remembered: A Journey to Environmental Awareness and Activism Through Purposeful Memoir

2015-2016 Forbes Library Reading Series

October 7 – Earth and Cosmos: Nature Writing

Dava Sobel, author of The Planets

Jonathan Mingle, author of Fire and Ice

Michael Dover, editor, and Elizabeth Farnsworth and Katie Koerten, contributors, Earth Matters

Naila Moreira, Writer in Residence, Forbes Library


November 4 – Writing about Health, Medicine and the Body

Norman Johnson, author of Darwinian Detectives

Nell Lake, author of The Caregivers

Suzanne Koven, Writer in Residence, Massachusetts General Hospital Internal Medicine Division


December 2 – 1000 Words: Telling Stories Through Photography

Paul Ickovic, photographer

Stephen Petegorsky, photographer

Greg Saulmon, journalist, The Hampshire Gazette


January 6 – Writing the Fantastical

Andrea Hairston, playwright, Will Do Magic for Small Change

Jedediah Barry, author, The Family Arcana

John Crowley, author, Four Freedoms


February 3 – The Massachusetts Review: Author Panel

curated by Emily Wojcik, managing editor of The Massachusetts Review literary magazine


March 2 – Comics and Graphic Novels

James Sturm, cartoonist and co-founder, Center for Cartoon Studies, Vermont

Tillie Walden, cartoonist, I Love This Part

James Lawson, cartoonist, Paleo: Tales of the Late Cretaceous


April 13 – The Common: Author Panel

curated by Jen Acker, editor of The Common literary magazine


May 4 – Writing about Disability

Claire Blatchford, author of Coming to My Senses

Katherine Duke, author of Kissability: People with Disabilities Talk About Sex, Love, and Relationships

Susan Stinson, author of Venus of Chalk