Books

The spirit of activism

SOMOS wraps this season’s Writers Series with three politically aware authors

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Taos is charged with activism. In response to the discourse found on our local streets and on the national stage, SOMOS has invited three authors to reflect on their activism. On Wednesday (Aug. 16), authors David Bedrick, Iris Keltz and David Pérez will read from their books and share their personal ideas of activism.

The reading takes place at 7 p.m. at the SOMOS Salon, 108 Civic Plaza Drive. This is the last event for 2017’s Summer Writers Series.

Bedrick hails from Santa Fe and will be reading from his book, “Revisioning Activism: Bringing Depth, Dialogue, and Diversity to Individual and Social Change.”

When asked what readers can expect, Bedrick said, “I’ll touch on a few major areas: social justice issues, sexism and body image – and I’ll talk about psychology and its role as an activist agent. I’ll read a few pieces in the book to support them, riff on those and then definitely open things up for questions. Responding to people’s questions is actually more engaging. It brings the dialogue to a more heated place.”

Bedrick’s biography states that he is a speaker, counselor, attorney and teacher. He spent eight years on the faculty of the University of Phoenix. He is author of the acclaimed “Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology.”

Bedrick acknowledges the legacy of activism in Taos. He grew up with the music and the politics around the Vietnam War. “But my activism really grew as a young man in New York City with a diverse population and with family members who were racist. I had a reaction to that as young person. There were things I didn’t fully understand, but knew in my heart was wrong,” he said.

This is his first time reading for SOMOS. “I hope people are challenged in their thinking about activism because activism is traditionally thought of as a kind of action that looks like protest, petition and taking an outer stance toward a social system. But it’s less so of how we think about ourselves and how we engage in relationships with others,” Bedrick said.

Known for her first book, “Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie” (named as a top 10 read in New Mexico Magazine’s “Centennial Issue”), Keltz will be reading from her more recent book, “Unexpected Bride in the Promised Land.”

“This June commemorates the 50th year of the Six-Day War [between Israel and Palestine]. And that is the war that I got caught in. It’s a historical memoir. There is a historical timeline and glossaries for Arabic, Hebrew and Yiddish words. I try to make the history personal. You can remember it better when you experience how it affects human beings,” Keltz said.

Her biography states that Keltz is a founding member of Jewish Voice for Peace-Albuquerque and Friends of Sabeel-New Mexico. Along those lines, she notes, “This isn’t just a book; it’s a cause. It’s about having met the Palestinians and believe they deserve the same human rights as everyone else.” Keltz said it took her 50 years to complete this book and its conflicts are still relevant.

“Unexpected Bride in the Promised Land” is divided into two parts. The first part is Keltz’s immediate experience when she met Palestinians through the war and its aftermath. The second part is when Keltz returns to Israel and Palestine 32 years later to see what had happened to the people who offered her sanctuary.

She has read for SOMOS before and has read sections of this book before it was published. “The stories are very poignant. Rather than just saying, ‘Their homes were demolished,’ I tell you about a particular home of a particular family. It’s very powerful.”

The other activist writer in this lineup is Pérez. His biography states that he is a writer, editor, actor, radio host and performance teacher. Pérez is the author of two memoirs, “WOW!” and “WOW! 2,” both of which chronicle his multifaceted coming of age. Latinostories.com named Pérez as one of the top 10 Latino authors to watch and read.

When asked why he was choosing to read from “WOW! 2” for this reading, Pérez explains, “The two other writers were already slated to read. When I saw that their writing deals with social and political topics, I thought ‘WOW! 2’ would be a good addition because a lot of the book is how I became a political activist in the real radical variety and how my life as a young man ended up on that path.”

This sequel picks up where his first book – “WOW!” – left off in terms of starting high school. “From what others have told me, it still continues in that laugh-out-loud vein. I don’t try purposely to be humorous, but my adventures in high school are some pretty fun stuff.”

When asked what he hopes people will get out of his reading, Pérez said, “I hope that people will be entertained, but also in terms of commitment to social justice and revolutionary change, that my story inspires them to walk a similar path.”

SOMOS Executive Director Jan Smith adds, “These readings should be a fascinating look at activism with a Q&A at the end.”

Tickets are $8, $5 for SOMOS members. For more information, call (575) 758-0081 or visit somostaos.org.

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