Big Read details |

Big Read details

Dear Editor:

On behalf of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation, I would like to extend our appreciation for John Colson’s story last week about the Big Read Roaring Fork Valley and other local reading initiatives (“Encouraging readers of all ages,” March 7).

As the story’s headline suggests, we are inviting readers throughout the Roaring Fork Valley to join us in the Big Read, a community reading proj­ect sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Specifically, we hope the local community will join us in reading, discussing and cel­ebrating “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya during our month­long program of events, April 4 to May 5.

There are a few points of the story which bear clarification: 1) The Big Read is a true communi­ty- wide campaign in which everyone in the Roaring Fork Valley ” from Aspen to Glenwood Springs ” is encouraged to participate: including, but not limited to, the Latino com­munity.

2) “Bless Me, Ultima” is one of 16 classic novels chosen for the Big Read by the NEA for its literary merit. We believe it is an ideal selection for our local Big Read because, as a ground­breaking work in Chicano literature, the book provides significant oppor­tunities for sparking cross-cultural dialogue and, hopefully, for bringing our valley’s diverse populations together in new and meaningful ways. The fact that the book is avail­able in English and Spanish makes it accessible to a wide readership, which certainly is a key to the pro­gram’s success. The book was not selected for our local chapter of the Big Read “largely because it is avail­able in both English and Spanish,” as stated in the article.

3) Contrary to what the story sug­gested, the Roaring Fork Valley chap­ter of the Big Read was not “launched last summer when Dana Gioia, chair­man of the NEA … walked into the Aspen Writers’ Foundation office and introduced himself.” While it’s true Mr. Gioia personally invited the organization to apply for a NEA Big Read grant, the AWF was awarded the grant in November only after submitting an application and undergoing a competitive grant process. The actual launch for the month-long program will take place in early April.

4) The NEA Big Read grant is limit­ed to the Big Read and does not extend to the Little Read. The Little Read is a program that the Aspen Writers’ Foundation has elected to sponsor as a companion project to the Big Read.

Once again, we appreciate The Aspen Times for helping us spread the word about this exciting commu­nity- wide reading program. We invite everyone to pick up a book and join us. Please visit the AWF website at for informa­tion on where to find copies of “Bless Me, Ultima.”

Julie Comins Pickrell

special projects manager, the Big Read

Aspen Writers’ Foundation


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