Shake Rag Alley’s NEA Big Read Continues

On the eve of the most important act a citizen can undertake, join Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts on Sunday in collaboration with Hypertext Magazine & Studio for “Citizen Author and the American Story,” the free virtual keynote panel for Shake Rag Alley’s NEA Big Read of Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric.”

Claudia Rankine

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Together with the Mineral Point Public Library and Mineral Point School District libraries, Shake Rag Alley’s grant application was one of 78 funded nationwide to host a community reading program in 2019-20. 

The NEA Big Read of Rankine’s award-winning work, which uses poetry and art to examine the microaggressions that compound the trauma of racism, was rescheduled from April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and kicked off in September with a program of mostly virtual events in September. Programming culminates in November with the Keynote Panel, two more book discussions, and youth engagement programs.

The 3 p.m. Nov. 1 Keynote Panel of authors engaging with the themes of “Citizen” will feature Faisal Mohyuddin in discussion with fellow authors Desiree Cooper, Amina Gautier, Sahar Mustafah, and Chris L. Terry.

Additional ways to engage with the NEA Big Read include:

• participating in the weekly virtual Shake Rag Alley Chapter Book Club that continues Nov. 5 through Nov. 12;

•  joining the Platteville Public Library’s free virtual book discussion at 6 p.m. Nov. 2;

•  attending the Rountree Gallery’s virtual and in-person book discussion at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13.

• viewing the Mineral Point Public Library’s recorded storytime on the Shake Rag Alley website featuring “Sulwe” by Lupita Nyong’o and a companion grab-and-go craft kit related to themes of the book; 

•  viewing the recordings of the Sept. 24 kickoff presentation and Sept. 27 lecture about James Baldwin in Paris.

While not an official part of the NEA Big Read, Shake Rag Alley is pleased to support the Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums’ three-part lecture series on slavery in Platteville, which concludes Nov. 7. For more information and to register, see

Free copies of “Citizen” are available in Mineral Point at the Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce, Public Library and Shake Rag Alley, and at the Platteville Public Library, Rountree Gallery and Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums. Additional resources are available on the NEA Big Read page on the Shake Rag Alley website, including reading guides, video lectures and audio recordings of the Virtual Community Conversation series on systemic racism that Shake Rag Alley hosted in June-August. 

For more information and to register for NEA Big Read events, see www.shakeragalley.org/nea-big-read/ or call (608) 987-3292.