By Gianna Barberia
With over 80 active clubs and activities, it is hard to believe that one very important club has been left out until recently. Post’s brand-new book club, which had their first meeting on Thursday, Oct. 22, has been extremely successful, welcoming 56 eager members.
“The idea for the book club was a joint effort among [the Herstory] interns from both Hofstra University and LIU Post,” said Nicole Bellinger, a senior English major at Post. Bellinger and Phillip Catapano, a junior criminal justice major, are both Herstory’s Youth Writing for Justice program interns. Herstory is a “writers workshop that provides opportunities through guided memoir writing that empower people from all walks of life,” according to the Herstory website.
“Phil and I decided to inquire about the creation of a book club on the Post campus,” said Bellinger. “And it was approved! With the support of the Honors Society on the LIU Post Campus, fellow peers, Professor Campbell, and the leaders of Herstory, Phil and I were able to have our first meeting.” The club is currently reading “All I Ever Wanted” –a collection of stories from children with incarcerated parents put together by Erika Duncan, the founder of Herstory.
“Phillip, Nicole, and Kristen [Linsalata] have been attending weekly intern meetings exploring the use of stories in justice reform, followed by writing workshops with high school students, during which they’ve each been drafting a 15-page justice-centered memoir,” said Professor Campbell, who is the faculty mentor for the program. “The interns are also doing an intensive study of Herstory pedagogy, creating a professional academic poster to be presented at Post’s annual Student Research Symposium this spring, and forming a book club centered around Herstory’s most recent publication, “All I Ever Wanted: Stories of Children of the Incarcerated.” The book was supplied to each intern on the first day of the internship.
“Professor Campbell, Phil, members of the book club, and myself actively read the book and discuss it via weekly meetings. Because the book is now for sale on campus, fellow peers are increasingly taking interest in reading the book and speaking about its moving content,” said Bellinger. So far, the book club has not faced any major obstacles, according to the leaders of the club.
“Students are actively showing up to the weekly meetings, our discussions address important topics, such as issues related to social injustice, and everybody is engaged in the readings of All I Ever Wanted,” said Bellinger and Catapano. However, both students stress that the book club is not only for reading.
“The book club is truly a rewarding experience for students,” said Bellinger. “Not only do we read from ‘All I Ever Wanted,’ which contains real-life memoirs, but we all express ourselves, therefore we are able to relate to one another. The book club also grants students the opportunity to share their writing. In fact, we have had members of our book club share poems that they have written.” The club prides itself on its welcoming and tolerant attitude.
“The book club is a great opportunity for students to voice their opinion on profound subjects- such as raising the age of youth incarceration,” said Bellinger and Catapano, “Thus, the book club welcomes students from all different majors because the subjects we discuss can be viewed from a variety of perspectives.” Professor Campbell is thrilled about the progress of the club and encourages all students, not just Herstory interns, to join.
“All I Ever Wanted” contains moving stories by ten of the 2.7 million children who have experienced a parent serving time in prison or jail as a result of this country’s mass incarceration epidemic,” said Campbell. “Herstory is encouraging not just interns, but also teachers, families, community members, and legislators to read and foster dialogue around this book, thereby amplifying the voices of youth demonstrating resilience as they deal with the stigma and intergenerational trauma caused by incarceration. We hope that this book club will continue into the spring semester, and Phillip, Kristen and Nicole continue to sell ‘All
I Ever Wanted’ at a reduced student rate to encourage its purchase and dissemination.”
LIU Post’s book club meets on Thursdays from 5-7 p.m.
Gianna Barberia is a high school senior on special assignment for the Pioneer. Kristen Linsalata, an intern with Herstory and a member of the book club, is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Pioneer.