The Center for Writing & Literature @ Miami Dade College and the National Endowment for the Arts Celebrate Reading with The Big Read

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka [dropcap]T[/dropcap]he time has come again to celebrate one of Miami’s most beloved literary events: The Big Read. Powered by the National Endowment for the Arts, this community shared reading program will feature events inspired by the novel When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka. The Center for Writing and Literature @ Miami Dade College (The Center @ MDC) is kicking off The Big Read with a visit to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, book discussions, author presentations, haiku poetry workshops for teens, and a discussion of the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII and how it relates to other civil rights violations, historically and today.

In When the Emperor Was Divine, Otsuka addresses themes of race, identity, loyalty and patriotism. In her sparse, beautiful prose she quietly reveals the ugly underbelly of being “other” in a country which both embraces and rejects its immigrant self.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture. Visit or call 305-237-3258 for a full list of events and to request a free book.

Schedule of Events
 Thursday, February 5
7:00 p.m. │ Lyric Theater, 819 NW Second Ave., Miami
The Big Read Kick Off with Visiting Author, Historian and Activist Dr. Peniel Joseph
Why #BlackLivesStillMatter: Reimagining the Civil Rights Movement in the Age of Obama and Ferguson
Join us for a conversation with celebrated civil rights chronicler, Dr. Peniel E. Joseph, as we delve into the moral and ethical issues of our day. Dr. Joseph is Professor of History at Tufts University and the author of the award-winning Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America. He is a frequent national commentator on issues of race, democracy and civil rights who appears on C-SPAN’s Book TV, NPR, and PBS’s NewsHour. During the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Convention, Professor Joseph provided historical commentary for the PBS NewsHour. His most recent book is Stokely: A Life.
Presented in partnership with MDC Kendall Campus, The Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida, Inc. and The Historic Lyric Theater Cultural Arts Complex in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, and Books & Books.

 Saturday, February 14
12:00 – 4:00 p.m. │ MDC Museum of Art + Design, Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Downtown Miami
The Big Read’s Big Knit! 
Knit for Me, Haiku for You with Mixed Media Artist Carlos Alejandro
Write haikus or very short poems or sentences about “hope” on strips of fabric. Keep a strip for yourself and weave the other one into to the community chain knit by Alejandro to form a chain of collective well-wishing. Participants will learn simple knitting techniques.
Free copies of The Big Read 2015 official title, When the Emperor Was Divine will be given to participants.
Knit for Me, Haiku for You is inspired by 90 Miles: A Project by Carlos Alejandro
Free. Presented in partnership with MOA+D and WAIL (Word And Image Lab)

 Saturday, February 21
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. │ Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, 4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach
Road Trip To Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Hop on the bus with fellow Big Readers for a trip to Delray Beach and a day of learning about Japanese culture and the history of the 100-year-old connection between Japan and South Florida, including an event related to the subject of this year’s Big Read title, When The Emperor Was Divine. In May of 1942, during World War II, farmland in the Yamato area still owned by Japanese settlers was confiscated by the U. S. government for a military installation.

Take a guided tour and experience the splendor of the Morikami’s six distinct gardens and the museum that complements them. The gardens, named Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew, were designed to be a living exhibit with abundant viewpoints that give you a chance to stop and enjoy your surroundings. The museum’s galleries play host to several exhibitions of Japanese art and artifacts throughout the year featuring different aspects of Japan’s rich and diverse culture. To learn more about the museum, visit

The Center will rent a motorcoach to provide FREE transportation, and will subsidize admission to the Morikami. All participants will receive a free copy of When the Emperor Was Divine.
Museum entry is $8 (Regular price of museum entry $15) l Space is limited to 38 people on a first-come, first-served basis.

Deadline to register: February 14, 2015
Meet at MDC Wolfson Campus at 9:00 a.m. l Bus leaves at 9:30 a.m.
For more information, please call 305-237-3258.

 Wednesday, February 25
6:30 p.m. l Books & Books, 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables
Big Read Keynote
Author David Mura on Japanese American Internment During WWII
David Mura is a writer, memoirist, poet and performance artist who brings a unique perspective to our multi-racial and multi-cultural society. A Sansei or third generation Japanese American, Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei, which won a 1991 Josephine Miles Book Award from the Oakland PEN and was listed in the New York Times Notable Books of Year, and Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality and Identity. Mura’s second book of poetry The Colors of Desire, won the Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Friends of the Chicago Public Library.

Mura’s memoirs, poems essays, plays and performances have won wide critical praise and numerous awards. Their topics range from contemporary Japan to the legacy of the internment camps and the history of Japanese Americans, to critical explorations of an increasingly diverse America.

Ongoing Big Read Events
February 5 – March 5

 The Big Read: Book Discussions
Discussions on When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka will take place at various branches of the Miami-Dade Public Library System. Visit or for exact information.

 Follow The Center on Pinterest and check out the Big Read boards! They will be celebrating all things Japanese and much more. On Twitter you can also be a part of Big Read Twitter chats and get up-to-date info on all upcoming events. You can also join in on the fun on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr too! Hashtag #NEABigRead

Facebook: /TheCenteratMDC
Twitter: @thecenteratmdc
Pinterest: /thecenteratmdc
Instagram: @miamibookfair

MDC Media-only contacts: Juan Mendieta, MDC director of communications, 305-237-7611,; Tere Estorino Florin, director of media relations, 305-237-3949,; Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, Roxana Romero, 305-237-7187,, or Allison Horton, 305-237-3359,

The Center @ MDC media contact: Maria Lanao, Levy Communications, 305-764-3370 ext. 206,

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