By LIBBY CUDMORE • for www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Dr. Nancy Kleniewski choked back tears as she described Janet Mock, New York Times bestselling author, TV host and transgender rights activist, as a role model.
“With your social media presence, #GirlsLikeUs, you’ve done so much to help transwomen,” said the SUNY Oneonta president. “It’s very emotional. You may have had your legends, but you’re the legend now.”
Mock, author of this year’s Common Read, “Redefining Realness,” was on hand to deliver the annual Mills Distinguished Lecture in a question-and-answer format with Kleniewski. “I really appreciate you all dealing with having to read my book,” she said. “Thank you all for coming out.”
By LIBBY CUDMORE • for AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Before he even knew he wanted to be a writer, Ishmael Baeh was learning the fundamentals of storytelling.
“My father and I would play a game where he would put me on his shoulders and he would play he was blind,” he said. “I had to tell him the world. He would pretend to walk into the wall, into the fire, and I would have to explain those things to him.”
Such play – and books like “Treasure Island,” his favorite growing up – gave him the tools to write his memoir, “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs a Boy Soldier,” this year’s SUNY Oneonta “Common Read.”
Baeh gave the Mills Distinguished Lecture this evening before a full house of students and community members, taking the stage with a smile. “I’m always smiling,” he said. “I wake up and I’m smiling because I am alive, so I’ve already won that day.”
Baeh was just 11 when the Sierra Leone Civil War started in 1991. After his village Mogbwemo was attacked, he fled, wandering with other boys until he was taken in by the military, who used him as a child soldier. He rose to the rank of lieutenant, with 30 boys at his command.
Author Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis’ Pierces
Censorship, She Tells SUNY Audience
By LIBBY CUDMORE • allotsego.com
Seated comfortably between ferns and a slate-blue backdrop, Marjane Satrapi very quickly made herself at home chatting with Dr. Susan Bernardin. “English is not even my third language,” she said in a thick French accent by way of introduction. “When I come to American for the first time, I learned English by watching a lot of movies, so I was saying the f-word a lot. I will not say it again here.”
Satrapi, author of SUNY Oneonta’s 2014 Common Read “Persepolis”, was on hand this evening to give the Mills Distinguished Lectureship to a full Alumni Field House. “When I was young, I thought I had to write like Dostoevsky, but I couldn’t, because he was a genius,” she said. “If I was Dostoevsky, you would know it.”
“Persepolis” deals with Satrapi’s childhood during the Islamic Revolution, during which she rebelled by declaring herself a prophet, wearing high-top Nikes and buying illegal tapes of AC/DC and Kim Wilde. “I was a teenager, all teenagers have bad taste in music,” she joked with the crowd.
She read Batman comics when she was a kid, but it wasn’t until she met French comics artist David Beauchard, who mentored her and introduced her to comic writers like Art Speigelman, author of “Maus.”