Book Tour: Pope Francis in His Own Words

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Yes, yes, I know: Pope Francis in His Own Words was published two years ago.

So why am I starting a book tour of sorts right now?

Well, as you’re probably aware, Pope Francis will be visiting Cuba and the United States next month, and it seems like a prime time to reintroduce the book to English- and Spanish-speaking audiences (did you know the book has been translated into about 15 languages?). Plus, I received a few lovely invitations to do so, and I couldn’t turn them down.

If you’re in one of the cities below, I hope you’ll spread the word and join me at one (or more!) of these events:

Decatur Book Festival: Decatur, Georgia, USA
I’m grateful to my alma mater, Emory University, for inviting me to participate in this beloved book festival. I’ll be signing books in the Emory tent from 3-4 pm on Saturday, September 5. I’ll have a very limited number of foreign language editions of the book as well.

Brooklyn Book Festival, Bookend Event Series: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Before I head out of the country to cover Pope Francis’s visit in Cuba, I’ll be talking about the book and signing copies as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival. My generous host is the delightful Hullabaloo Books, and I couldn’t think of a better bookstore to have a conversation about Pope Francis. This is an Official Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend Event. I’ll have a very limited number of foreign language editions of the book as well.

This event will take place at 8 pm on Tuesday, September 15.

Cuba Libro Bookstore: Havana, Cuba
I’m so excited that I’ll have the chance to talk about the book the day before Pope Francis will be giving his mass at Plaza de la Revolución in Havana.

This event will take place at 5 pm on Saturday, September 19.

NEW: Our US publisher, New World Library, is offering a 50% discount off online orders of Pope Francis in His Own Words throughout September. Buy the book through their site using the discount code “pope” (no quotes, not case-sensitive) and you’ll get the book at half-price. Buy the book here.

Would you like to add Pope Francis in His Own Words to your bookshelf or inventory? Need a speaker or expert to interview about the Pope? Get in touch by emailing me: writingjulie[at]gmail[dot]com!

Flag burners and protesters clash at Ft. Greene Park in Brooklyn

Photos: Francisco Collazo
[Please do not use these photos without permission. To purchase rights, contact Francisco Collazo: fracollaz[at]gmail[dot]com
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Yesterday, flag burners and people protesting their actions confronted each other at Ft. Greene Park in Brooklyn. You can read more about the confrontation in this article at DNAInfo.com. The photos below were taken by Francisco Collazo and are used with his permission.

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Protesters showed up in clothing bearing images of the American flag. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
Protesters showed up in clothing bearing images of the American flag. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)

"Pro-America" protesters, as they dubbed themselves, included bikers and service members. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
“Pro-America” protesters, as they dubbed themselves, included bikers and service members. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)

As is often the case, this protest attracted attendees supporting numerous other causes and opinions. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
As is often the case, this protest attracted attendees supporting numerous other causes and opinions. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
Bikers from a club called Hallowed Sons were on the scene. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
Bikers from a club called Hallowed Sons were on the scene. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
As the ardent protesters clashed, others moved to the site. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
As the ardent protesters clashed, others moved to the site. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
Flag burners had a small barbecue grill they used to light one flag on fire. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
Flag burners had a small barbecue grill they used to light one flag on fire. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
One man brought a supersized water gun to douse any fires. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
One man brought a supersized water gun to douse any fires. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
Protesters celebrated the disruption of the flag burning. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
Protesters celebrated the disruption of the flag burning. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
Police stood by, some with video cameras. DNAinfo reported that no arrests were made. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
Police stood by, some with video cameras. DNAinfo reported that no arrests were made. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
A participant holds a large American flag. Note new World Trade Center building in background. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
A participant holds a large American flag. Note new World Trade Center building in background. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)

Author Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés in New York City

Rodríguez's newest book.
Rodríguez’s newest book.
I recommended not one, but two of Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés’s books in my round-up of essential reading about/related to Cuba for The Guardian, so I’m especially excited that I’ll get to meet her in person when she’s here in NYC this month.

The events below are open to the public. I hope you’ll support Cecilia, whose newest book, Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You, was released by Ig Publishing just this year.

Monday, June 15, 7 PM
Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center
172 Allen St, New York, New York 10002
Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You: A Reading and Signing

Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés will be presenting a reading of fiction from her newly released short story collection Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You followed by Q & A and signing. Her work reflects on the lives of Latina/os in the U.S.—especially those who settled in “el norte.” The characters populating her stories cope with challenges such as immigration, assimilation, poverty, race and gender issues; their voices call out to us to listen—oye!

Tuesday, June 16, 7:30 PM
Greenlight Bookstore
686 Fulton St, Brooklyn, New York 11217
An Evening with Ig Publishing: Sailing, Skating, and Cuba

Featuring Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes, author of Oye What I’m Gonna Tell You
Tracy O’Neill, author of The Hopeful
Diana Wagman, author of Life #6
Reception to follow

Fort Greene’s own independent press Ig Publishing publishes “original literary fiction from writers who have been overlooked by the mainstream publishing establishment, and political and cultural nonfiction with a progressive bent.” At this event, Greenlight and Ig celebrate the release of three exciting new literary works with a joint reading and reception.

A farewell to Frida… for now

The exhibit "Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life" opened at The New York Botanical Garden on May 16, 2015. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
The exhibit “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” opened at The New York Botanical Garden on May 16, 2015. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)

Though I have one more assignment to file related to Frida Kahlo— a 1,200 word feature for an in-flight magazine about Frida’s Mexico City– with this weekend’s opening of “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life,” an exhibit whose development I’ve been following for nearly a year, I feel like I’m beginning to say a slow good-bye to someone who has been my constant companion for a long while.

There was a piece for Bio.com about Frida’s and Diego’s America; a longform piece for Contributoria about Frida’s enduring appeal; an article for FOX News Latino about the Frida-Diego show at the Detroit Institute of Arts; and two pieces for Remezcla, one about Frida’s love letters to José Bartolí and another about how Frida’s image gets used in fashion and other product placement.

While working on these assignments, I reread work by and about Kahlo and found several texts I’d somehow missed in my nearly two decade long interest in Kahlo, among them Frida’s Fiestas and Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress. I thought it wasn’t possible to learn more about her.

I was wrong.

Spending so much time with one subject, albeit one who is no longer living, and to have so many assignments about her has been gratifying, a writer’s dream, really. I feel like I’m at the end of this run, though, and will soon be saying a temporary farewell to move on to other projects.

A re-creation of Kahlo's studio from Casa Azul in the exhibit at New York Botanical Garden. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)
A re-creation of Kahlo’s studio from Casa Azul in the exhibit at New York Botanical Garden. (Photo: Francisco Collazo)

Collection of Frida Kahlo Letters Auctioned for $137,000

Peter Costanzo of Doyle, auctioning Lot #231, a collection of letters from Frida Kahlo to her lover, José Bartolí. (Photo: Julie Schwietert Collazo)
Peter Costanzo of Doyle, auctioning Lot #231, a collection of letters from Frida Kahlo to her lover, José Bartolí. (Photo: Julie Schwietert Collazo)

The mystery buyer arrived at the auction of 582 lots approximately five minutes before Peter Costanzo, Vice President of Doyle New York Auctioneers and Appraisers and the auctioneer for the first half of Wednesday’s sale, opened bids for Lot #231, “an important unpublished archive of approximately twenty-five autograph letters to José Bartolí, with photographs and various enclosures.” Seven minutes later, and just two minutes into bidding on Lot #231, the woman wielding paddle #283 was declared the winning bidder, with the coveted collection of letters going for $110,000, $10,000 below what the auction house estimated as the high bid range for the lot.

As is the custom at U.S. auctions, the bidder was not identified by name, though Doyle indicated to at least one outlet that the winning bidder, an Asian woman who made her bid from the floor, was a New York City-based artist and art collector. Bidding started at 12:55 PM, nearly three hours after the highly anticipated auction opened. Just over a dozen people were in attendance, with the winning bidder the only member of those assembled who entered a competitive sum. She responded immediately when bidding opened at $60,000 and offered counter bids as other offers came in by phone and Internet.

Costanzo, who indicated during previews of the letters that “everyone” in the art world knew about the auction, declined to reveal which museums and cultural institutions might be bidding for the lot of letters, which Kahlo wrote to her lover, José Bartolí, in the 1940s. In addition to the letters, the lot contained drawings made by Kahlo and photos of her, including some by renowned photographer Nickolas Muray, who had had his own affair with Kahlo. Costanzo said that museums might find it hard to vie for the collection, as the objects wouldn’t fit neatly amidst artworks, and institutions like Mexico City’s Casa Azul, the house where Kahlo was born, where she lived with muralist Diego Rivera, and which is now a museum, might find it difficult to raise the kind of money required to purchase such a valuable collection. Costanzo’s observation seemed to play out in the gallery on Wednesday, as the volley of offers and counter-offers was somewhat lethargic. After offering her final bid of $110,000, Costanzo held off on confirming her as the new owner of the letters until several phone and online bidders were asked directly if they wanted to up the ante.

They did not. After Costanzo issued a final warning and the bid was sealed, the winner was whisked away by Doyle staff, who added a $27,000 buyer premium to the bid, bringing the total to $137,000.