(PRINCETON, NJ) --- The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will partner with Labyrinth Books to present a Launch Party for Colby Cedar Smith’s Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit (Andrews McMeel Publishing), the novel in verse debut from the Hopewell-based author and ACP creative writing instructor, on Thursday, August 12 at 6:00pm.
Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a beautifully written novel in verse loosely based on Smith’s paternal grandmother. The story follows Mary as the American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants living in Detroit in the 1930s, creating a historically accurate portrayal of life as an immigrant during the Great Depression, hunger strikes, and violent riots.
Mary lives in a tiny apartment with her immigrant parents, her brothers, and her twin sister, and she questions why her parents ever came to America. She yearns for true love, to own her own business, and to be an independent, modern American woman — much to the chagrin of her parents, who want her to be a “good Greek girl.”
Mary’s story is peppered with flashbacks to her parents’ childhoods in Greece and northern France; their stories connect with Mary as they address issues of arranged marriage, learning about independence, and yearning to grow beyond one’s own culture. Though Call Me Athena is written from the perspective of three profoundly different narrators, it has a wide-reaching message: It takes courage to fight for tradition and heritage, as well as freedom, love, and equality.
"I'm thrilled to be able to launch Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit at the Arts Council of Princeton, with the support of Labyrinth Books”, shares Smith. “Both organizations have fueled my creative life in Princeton, and helped me to develop as a writer. I'm so proud to be able to finally share this story with my students, friends, and the larger community."
Colby Cedar Smith grew up in the Midwest, and she still dreams of the cold northern woods and the smell of lake water. She holds degrees from Colorado College and Harvard University. She has been a finalist for the The Iowa Review Poetry Award, the New Letters Poetry Prize, and the Colorado Prize for Poetry, and a semifinalist for the 92Y “Discovery” Boston Review Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a 2020 New Jersey Council on the Arts Fellowship in Poetry; and a 2021 New Jersey Arts in Education Residency Grant for her work with the Nature Harmony Project, which focuses on introducing children to the natural world, using poetry, sounds, reflection, and connection. Her poems have been published in Bellevue Literary Review, Harpur Palate, Mid-American Review, Pleiades, Potomac Review, Saranac Review, and The Iowa Review. Colby lives with her husband and two children in Hopewell, New Jersey, and teaches creative writing at the Arts Council of Princeton. You can follow her on Twitter @colbycedar, and Instagram @colby_cedar_smith.
The Arts Council of Princeton invites the community to a Launch Party in celebration of Smith’s release on Thursday, August 12 at 6:00pm in their Taplin Gallery. Labyrinth Books will be on site at the event with copies of Call Me Athena available for sale. Free registration is available online.
The Arts Council of Princeton, founded in 1967, fulfills its mission of Building Community through the Arts by presenting a wide range of programs including community arts outreach, exhibitions, performances, free community cultural events, and studio-based classes and workshops in a wide range of media. Housed in the landmark Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, Arts Council of Princeton programs are designed to be high-quality, engaging, affordable and accessible for the diverse population of the greater Princeton region.