Gloucester Writer Center’s Artist In Residence Sandy Tolan To Speak At The Harbor Room

Sandy Tolan will read from his new work-in-progress at the Harbor Room, across the street from the Gloucester Writers Center (see directions below) at 7:30 pm,
Thursday, July 29. The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP:

Sandy Tolan, the Gloucester Writers Center’s first writer-in-residence, is the author of two books and the producer of hundreds of documentaries and features for NPR and Public Radio International, and has written for New York Times Magazine, Audubon, the Nation, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and dozens of other publications.

Sandy was a 1993 Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. The following year he moved to Gloucester, to a house on East Main Street, a few blocks from the home of Vincent Ferrini – now the site of the Gloucester Writers Center. It was here that Sandy wrote his first book: Me and Hank, A Boy and His Hero 25 Years Later, an exploration of race and sports in America.

From 2000-2007, Sandy was the I.F. Stone Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC-Berkeley, where he divided his time between teaching and many journeys to the Middle East to research his second book, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East (Bloomsbury USA). The Lemon Tree was based on his award-winning NPR documentary about a Palestinian man and a Jewish woman whose families lived in the same house before and after the founding of Israel. The book won a Christopher Award for "affirming the highest values of the human spirit" and was Booklist’s "Editor’s Choice" for best adult non-fiction book of 2006. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Sandy’s many awards for journalism include the United Nations Gold Medal, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, three Robert F. Kennedy awards, and honors from the Overseas Press Club. A dedicated teacher, Sandy takes as much pride in the recognition awarded to his students’ work as to his own. In 2007, his students won the prestigious George Polk Award for a series on the early signs of climate change around the world – the first time in its 58-year history that the prize has been awarded to students.

In 2007 Sandy joined the faculty of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism . He has just returned from the West Bank, where he has been researching his next book, a profile of a visionary young musician in Palestine.

In 1988, a photographer in the West Bank snapped a photo of an 8-year-old little boy with tears in his eyes, hurling a rock at an Israeli tank. The widely circulated photo symbolized the rage and frustration of the intifada. Later Ramzi took up the viola and his natural talent was noticed by a Palestinian music teacher. Eventually he received a scholarship to study at a conservatory in France. Today, Ramzi devotes all his energy to opening music schools in Palestinian towns and refugee camps, teaching both European and Arabic classical music. He has opened 10 schools, so far, serving 500 students. "I cannot tell you the feeling of playing music," Ramzi says. "But that’s what I was dreaming about: to give this as much as I can to other children. As much as I can. The music and the feeling." Famed conductor and peacemaker Daniel Barenboim praises Ramzi’s achievement, "This is an extraordinary collection of children all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to the beauty of life."

Sandy’s three-week stay at the Gloucester Writers Center has provided him the opportunity to focus on writing the first chapter of that book.

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