THE BIG READ 2011: Poe Unmasked

SE Wisconsin gets inspired by mystery and horror.


Educational Engagement:

Odds, Ends, and In-between.  Writing Workshops and Book Readings. For one week acclaimed author, Erika Janik engaged area schools with a series of ten writing workshops and two book readings.  In a hands-on presentation Erika brough to life the importance of the Odd.  As a purveyor of the oddities of life, in the vein of Poe, she’s wrote and collected rural folklore.  She is the author of Odd Wisconsin: Amusing, Perplexing and Unlikely stories from Wisconsin’s Past, Renewing the Countryside: Wisconsin, and a forthcoming history of Wisconsin (Spring 2010).

Mural Residency and T-Shirt Design Competition (ages 13-18). Middle, High and Home School students were encouraged to submit pieces of art for the official 2011 Big Read design.  The winner had their design imprinted on the official Big Read promotional t-shirt.  The design was also displayed at area art galleries during the month of April.

Jeremy Pinc, a Chicago born painter and muralist, engaged at-risk high school students and art classes with 4 hands-on workshops that demonstrated the nature of translating words into larger than life visual representations.  The workshops allowed students to create their own individual are that were considered for the t-shirt design contest.  One art class was selected to work in-depth with Pinc to create their own mural representing their impression of a story by Poe.  The final mural was unveiled at the Cinco de Poe Fiesta.

The Raven’s Telltale Heart Quartet (all ages).  As part fo the Musical Encounters series, faculty members of the UW-Whitewater School of Music and undergraduate students created expressive music that denoted the mysterious and rambunctious themes from Poe’s works.  The performance demonstrated how music can be a powerful agent to enhance the mood of any story, especially those that rely on suspense.

Community Outreach: Poe in Cities and Towns

Big Read Kick-Off.  16 area public library partners helped kick-off the Big Read by offering give-away copies of Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, t-shirts and tickets to the performance of Joshua Kane’s Tales of Terror.  The Hedberg Library in Janesville was the host of the main event, the other 16 had events of their own.  This included movie showings of Poe-inspired films, readings, children art activities, and displays.

House of Usher Home Shows. Two of the biggest community events in our region in the spring are the Jefferson County and Southern Lakes (Walworth County) Home Show.  To encourage non-readers and educate families about the Big Read, there was a free kids art activity that linked the themes of the chosen text.  The annual attendance for the two shows is 4,500!  WOW!

Cinco de Poe Fiesta! The final event for the Big Read.  Downtown Whitewater hosted a Cinco de Mayo block party featuring authentic Mexican cuisine, the UW-Whitewater Alma dancers, music by The Raven’s Telltale Heart Quartet and children’s art workshops.  Latinos Unidos, the UW-Whitewater student Hispanic organization, organized the pre-performance fiesta and preformed community outreach to ensure a diverse and open event.

Thank you to everyone that made this Big Read Event possible.  Without your support and efforts our event would not have been successful.

Number of Schools that participated:    18

Number of Libraries that participated:   21

Other organization partners:     20

Book discussions:       32

Book discussion participation:    438 adults, 209 K-12

Other Big Read events:    40

 Total Event Participation:   Adults:  3,013 Children:  2,351



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