Award-winning poet Ilya Kaminsky’s acclaimed poetry collection, “Deaf Republic,” will be the focus of the Big Read program.

Atlanta’s 7 Stages theatre is receiving a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The funds will help to facilitate a series of literary outreach events from September 2023 to June 2024.

“What an honor to be awarded the NEA Big Read grant,” said Destiny Renee, education director for 7 Stages. “It has truly shaped our yearly programming and given us new aspirations as we focus on the various themes within the literature.” 

The NEA’s Big Read initiative aims to inspire community connection and conversation through a range of literary selections.

The initiative’s grants program annually supports community reading programs designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

This year’s program is distributing $20,000 to support community reading programs focusing on Deaf Republic, the award-winning poetry collection by Ilya Kaminsky.

“The NEA Big Read brings the transformative experience of reading to an entire community,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, chair of the NEA. “This year’s grantees, including 7 Stages, are taking themes off the page and using creative programming to navigate difficult topics, explore new perspectives, and strengthen bonds between neighbors.” 

7 Stages’ events are a collaboration with DeKalb County. Public Library and Georgia Center for the Book. The reading experience is expected to reach 2,000 diverse community members in the metro Atlanta area. 

“Using the captivating power of literature, NEA Big Read events unleash the creative spirit that resides within all of us,” said Torrie Allen, president and CEO of Arts Midwest, which manages the program. “We’re thrilled to support the work of grantees across the nation, including 7 Stages, as they inspire conversations and artistic expressions through shared reading experiences.”

NEA Big Read grantees have leveraged more than $57 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. For more information, click here

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