Big Read grant awarded to Pennyroyal Arts Council

The $20,000 grant will help the arts council and several partners host dozens of activities around a community read of the novel "There, There."

Hopkinsville has been awarded its eighth Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which will support a community read of the novel “There, There” this fall. The grant is for $20,000.

Led by the Pennyroyal Arts Council and several community partners, the Big Read will run from September through November, the arts council announced Thursday in a press release. 

“There, There” is the story of 12 Native Americans who travel to a powwow. It explores what belonging means for Native people, who often live between two worlds. 

A debut novel by Tommy Orange, who is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma, “There, There” received the prestigious PEN/Hemingway Award and the American Book Award in 2019.

The editors of the New York Times Book Review named it among the 10 best books of 2018.

The reviewers wrote, “Its many short chapters are told through a loosely connected group of Native Americans living in Oakland, Calif., as they travel to a powwow. They are all, as in Chaucer, pilgrims on their way to a shrine, or, as in Faulkner’s ‘As I Lay Dying,’ an extended family crossing the landscape. The novel is their picaresque journey, allowing for moments of pure soaring beauty to hit against the most mundane, for a sense of timelessness to be placed right beside a clear-eyed version of the here and now.”

The arts council is one of 62 organizations across the country selected for a Big Read grant. It is awarded by the NEA in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Big Read “broadens our understanding of our world, our communities and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience,” the press release states. 

Margaret Prim, executive director of the arts council, said the Big Read with engage the community in more than 30 activities. 

Hoptown Chronicle is a partner in the Big Read, along with Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library, Museums of Historic Hopkinsville-Christian County, Christian County Public Schools, Hopkinsville Community College, Human Rights Commission, Trail of Tears Heritage Center, Trail of Tears Association, Christian County Literacy Council, the city of Hopkinsville, Christian County Visitors Center and Martin Farms. Planters Bank is the corporate sponsor. 

When the programs kick off this fall, it will be the first in-person Big Read for Hopkinsville since the fall of 2019 when the play “Our Town” was featured. The most recent Big Read — focused on “Circe” in early 2021 — had virtual programming because of the the pandemic. 

Big Read grant awarded to Pennyroyal Arts Council

Jennifer P. Brown | Hoptown Chronicle

Jennifer P. Brown is co-founder, publisher and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at editor@hoptownchronicle.org. She spent 30 years as a reporter and editor at the Kentucky New Era. She is a co-chair of the national advisory board to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, governing board president for the Kentucky Historical Society, and co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.