Cuban-American author, storyteller coming to campus

Carmen Agra Deedy

Renowned storyteller and children’s author Carmen Agra Deedy will visit campus Tuesday to talk with students and present “A Night of Storytelling” at 7 p.m. in Dickson Assembly Room.

Dr. Amanda Plumlee, who coordinates the Latin American Studies and Modern Languages program, said Deedy encompasses many areas of the college’s focus on global engagement.

“Carmen was born in Havana, Cuba,” Dr. Plumlee said. “She and her family came to America as refugees in 1964 and settled in Decatur, Georgia. Her successes as an award-winning author of children’s books and as a professional storyteller also give her a perspective that our women’s studies students will appreciate.”

Tuesday night’s performance is a cultural enrichment event. Dr. Plumlee said there has been an effort to make the college’s CE activities as various and engaging as possible.

“Carmen does so much more than speak,” she said. “She interacts, she listens and she tells wonderful stories. Right now my students are studying Cuba and reading a memoir that was written by a woman who left Cuba about the same time as Carmen’s family. So there’s that connection, as well.”

The author will be speaking with students in Dr. Gretta Wright’s class on children’s literature during the day, and then performing in a free evening of storytelling that is open to the campus and the community.

kidsDeedy has been writing for children for more than two decades. A resident of Decatur, where she grew up, she has become a favorite storyteller at the annual Azalea Storytelling Festival held on the LaGrange College campus.

She began writing as a young mother and storyteller. Her NPR commentaries on All Things Considered were collected and released under the title “Growing Up Cuban In Decatur, Georgia.” The collection of 12 stories soon garnered awards, among them a 1995 Publishers Weekly Best Audio (Adult Storytelling) and a 1996 Parents’ Choice Gold Award.

Deedy’s children’s books have won numerous awards. “The Library Dragon” received various children’s state book awards and has sold almost half a million copies. In 2003, it was her home state’s choice to represent Georgia at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival.

“The Yellow Star” was the recipient of the 2001 Jane Addams Peace Association Book Award, presented to Deedy at the United Nations by Mrs. Kofi Annan.  It was followed by “Martina the Beautiful Cockroach,” “14 Cows for America” and “The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale,” all of which have garnered many state, national and international awards.

Deedy has spent the past 20 years writing and telling stories. She has been an invited speaker at venues as varied as The American Library Association, Refugees International, The International Reading Association, Columbia University, The Smithsonian Institute, TED, The National Book Festival and the Kennedy Center.

A passionate supporter of libraries, she was the 2008 National Spokesperson for School Library Media Month. Over a span of 20 years, Deedy has told stories to hundreds of thousands of school children. She said they remain her favorite audiences.

“We are thrilled to be able to welcome Carmen to LaGrange College,” said Dr. Plumlee. “We hope the community will join us Tuesday night for a wonderful storytelling adventure.”

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1 Brenda Callahan
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2 Simon Hwang
3 Kirby McCartney
4 Ken Passmore
5 Melvin Hall
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