New Voices: Sounds & Rhythms of Story

“What a wonderful and inspiring reading and conversation we had!” Poet S Stephanie summed up New Hampshire Humanities’ first reading in the “Connections New Voices” series held at the Bookery in Manchester.

In a New Voices reading, professional writers introduce and read with new American writers. New Hampshire Humanities created the writing and public reading initiative as an extension of the Connections book discussion program offered in adult ESOL classes across the state.

At the Bookery, two new Americans, Anaily Robles Ibarra from Mexico and Rusul Hassoon from Iraq, both students in Christopher O’Keefe’s class at English for New Americans in Manchester, read alongside two long-time New Hampshire poets, S Stephanie of Rollinsford and Patrice Pinette of Wilton. 

Patrice Pinette facilitated the Connections series in Christopher’s ongoing English class in which students wrote in response to reading poems and short stories. “Thank you for inspiring me to write,” Anaily told Patrice. Christopher noted that “The Connections program tapped into a new set of interests and skills for these students.”

The audience filled the reading area of the Bookery and engaged in conversation with the writers during and after the reading. One attendee said a highlight was when the women translated their writing back into their first language “so the English-speaking audience could hear those sounds and rhythms.”

S Stephanie, who mentored the students, said, “The women were honored that we had such a good crowd. I loved how brave and sharing they were! I hope the program continues and we have many more readings and introductions of diverse folks joining our communities.”

Currently New Voices readings are being planned in West Lebanon, Concord, Keene, on the Seacoast, and in other cities. For more information, email tfarish@nhhumanities.org or visit our New Voices page.

By Terry Farish, Connections Adult Literacy Manager

Note: As part of the Connections program’s “Year of New Voices,” New Hampshire Humanities recently held its first public reading featuring two new Americans and two New Hampshire poets. If you are a writer and would like to be a mentor in the “New Voices” project, please contact tfarish@nhhumanities.org.


Photos and video by Morgan Wilson, Marketing & Communications Specialist