The Agora’s Laurel Bilingual Bookclub

“Promoting literacy, Empowering with literature”

The City of Lawrence is a municipality with approximately 75% Hispanics residents, which in majority emigrated from countries like the Dominican Republic, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Guatemala. We are also the poorest city of Massachusetts state, and we are in desperate need of gestation and implementation of initiatives that foster the individual growth of the Lawrencian of all ages and that nurture the cohesiveness of our community. Given how in the current national narrative, xenophobia, discrimination, and race supremacism permeated to the national media, it is imperative to a needy and disenfranchised city like ours, to create programs that empower us and help us rebuild our so much attacked self-esteem. The book club titled “The Agora’s Laurel” was incubated as a result.

The Agora’s Laurel is a community led bilingual book club —under SPES Corporation—, seeking to promote literacy and cohesiveness within the community, utilizing Latin American literature as a means. It will have two session that will meet in a monthly basis (launching on February 7, 9 of 2017), and that will have parallel readings of the same books, but from different translations respectively (English and Spanish.) We will have forums to discuss novels, short stories, and complementary poetry, and analyze the material read to allocate it into socio-economic context. This club has combined with the administration of Lawrence Public Library and will be held at its building. Thus, we will teach the members of the club to utilize the resources of our public library has to offer, and will encourage its regular use. The Agora’s Laurel has also allied with the Lawrence Senior Center administration, to have a broader reach of our city’s demographic, and highlight that we stand for inclusiveness and that we embrace differences, that way we are able to provide services to larger group of residents. We in addition plan to invite as many authors whose literature we will be discussing, to promote the dialogue and expose the members to the writing world.

The goal of the bilingual book club is to promote literacy within the community through Latin American literature. To help our community recognize the importance and the contribution many Latin American authors have made to the literary world and to society in general. To help us regained or so much attacked self-esteem by the media, by understanding the importance of our background and correlation with our current context by studying and enjoying stories that are compelling to our life experiences. To promote the use of the library resources, and to provide access to reading material that is specialized and discusses our roots. To foster the growth and individual development of the residents. To expose the reader to figures that can be looked after as role models in order to showcase the benefits of reading. And to stablish a reading habit for communities which background is opposite to it due to low resources.

We want to create a literary community in the city of Lawrence hoping we can encourage new authors and new talent to emerge, that can represent and advocate in favor of the city, by maintaining recurrent initiative that make all kinds of Lawrencians to fall in love with the humanities and with literature in general.