Aspen Summer Words Gala

Tara Carson, Helen Obermeyer, Jamie Kravitz and Heather Harpham.

Aspen Words celebrated literature at its sold-out summer gala at the Hotel Jerome on Tuesday, June 19. The theme of “A doorway to other worlds” carried through from the readings onstage to the shape of the pledge card boxes on the dinner tables. Aspen Words board members, patrons, staff and reading enthusiasts gathered for a reception in the Antler Bar followed by dinner in the ballroom. “In lieu of a live auction,” Aspen Words Executive Director Jamie Kravitz welcomed three special guests to the stage for the start of the program. Peter Ho Davies, the author of two novels, “The Fortunes” and “The Welsh Girl,” followed by Francisco Cantú, Aspen Summer Words writer in residence and New York Times best-selling author of “The Line Becomes a River,” and Aspen Words student Levi Razer.

The nonprofit presented its inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize to award-winning novelist Mohsin Hamid, who spoke with Dan Porterfield, the new president and CEO of the Aspen Institute. Hamid had just flown in from Greece, a two-day trek to Aspen, which meant arriving mere hours before the gala event. The internationally bestselling author’s novels include “Exit West,” “Moth Smoke,” “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia,” and “Discontent and its Civilizations.” Among his many enlightening analogies, he spoke about “time as a process of continuous migration” and the significance of reading as opposed to TV and film in that “the reader animates stories into their own experience.”

Reading passages from “Exit West” was Iris Beaumier, a star of Theatre Aspen’s production of “Ragtime: The Musical,” that just opened to rave reviews. A New York City native and graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, Beaumier has appeared on television and the stage in “Rent,” “The Marvelous Wonderettes” and “Blindspot,” among other productions.

Also at the reception and dinner were Aspen Summer Words authors, agents and editors, and an opportunity to purchase tables with literary luminaries.

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