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evelyn-leavensThe late Red Bank artist Evelyn Leavens (above) is among the creative people showcased in ‘New Jersey Artists Through Time,’ a new book by Middletown-based author and artist Tova Navarra that inaugurates a series of events at Red Bank Public Library.

NJ Artists Thru TimeA quick flip through the newly published New Jersey Artists Through Time reveals a number of creative people whose lives and work were well known here on the Greater Red Bank Green. There’s the late lifelong Red Banker Evelyn Leavens, profiled here a few years back; Jim Gary, legendary maker of dinosaurs from repurposed auto parts; Mike Quon, painter of stylized local landmarks; plus Riccardo Berlingeri, Grace Graupe-Pillard, Judy Martin, Bob Mataranglo, and George Tice.

They’re all there, sharing space with the likes of superstar sculptor George Segal, celebrated printmaker Jabob Landau, and Emmy-winning courtroom artist Ida Libby Dengrove, in the first such study to come along in over 50 years. The books is just the latest of more than 30 published titles for its Middletown-based author — artist, photographer, educator, journalist, former Asbury Park Press art critic and registered nurse Tova Navarra — and the subject of the first in a new series of free ‘Author Talks’ events at Red Bank Public Library, this Wednesday.

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leighton lib 110915 2leighton lib 110915 1Kate Triggiano, who had a custom-built “little library” built and installed outside her Red Bank home for neighborhood kids last October, plans a book labeling party Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.

The aim of the event, to be held at Kitch Organic restaurant at 75 Leighton Avenue, is to apply labels to dozens of books donated to the library’s wish list on Amazon, Triggiano said. Participants are asked to bring scissors; kids are welcome if  they’re old enough to help.

Why label? “Because we respect the kids and trust them,” said Triggiano. “Because they cost nice people money. And because we don’t want someone taking them and selling them.”

Dubbed the Little Library on Leighton, the mahogany receptacle, built by custom woodworker David Halbout of Middletown, is in front of Triggiano’s home at 22 Leighton, and features children’s and young-adult literature.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


pam-jenoffPress release from Congregation B’nai Israel

Novelist Pam Jenoff served as Vice Consul for the US State Department in Krakow, Poland and is an expert on Poland and the Holocaust.  On the morning of Sunday, February 28, Pam Jenoff speaks at Congregation B’nai Israel in Rumson about the role her State Department experiences played in shaping many of her novels.

Jenoff’s internationally best-selling debut novel The Kommandant’s Girl was based on actual events and was cited by Publisher’s weekly for its “luminous simplicity….”and hailed as “a breathtaking debut. “  This poignant Holocaust story – a suspenseful “page-turner” – is on the reading list of several area Book Clubs.  Jenoff’s talk will be followed by book sales and author signings.

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rbpl 1 032714Through his foundation, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner below, has pledged $50,000 to the library that bears his family’s name. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

(Press release from the Red Bank Public Library)

michael eisnerThe Eisner Memorial Red Bank Public Library started 2016 with a nice surprise: a letter notifying Director Elizabeth McDermott of a five-year, $50,000 donation to the Foundation for the Red Bank Public Library from the Eisner Foundation.

This is the largest donation yet received by the library foundation, with $10,000 being donated annually for five years.

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mimi cross 2Singer-songwriter-novelist Mimi Cross makes an appearance in Fair Haven Thursday to promote her new work of fiction, “Before Goodbye.”  (Click to enlarge)


BeforeGoodbye-20232-CV-FT-v5“It was great to see everybody,” says Mimi Cross in reference to her performance last weekend at Asbury Park’s Langosta Lounge, part of the annual Light of Day slate of musically minded benefit events. “I haven’t been playing much the past couple of years, and it was like coming home to family.”

Once a frequently sighted fixture on Shore area club stages — and a two-time Asbury Music Award winner for her self-released albums like Monkey Trap — the singer-songwriter soprano has indeed kept a low public profile since she became a mom. It’s an uncharacteristic stance for an artist who can boast of having shared stages with Bruce, Bon Jovi, Bonnie (Raitt), (Jackson) Browne, Lauryn Hill and Sting.

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brandon zenner 052114whiskey devilsRed Bank bartender-turned-self-published novelist Brandon Zenner, seen here in 2014, is  in the running for a contract with Kindle Scout, an Amazon program in which readers vote on which works get published. An excerpt of the Dublin House barkeep’s second novel, “Whiskey Devils,” may be previewed and voted upon here. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


burden gefken 112315 3Mayor Don Burden and co-author Rick Geffken at the Shrewsbury Municipal Complex. The Bonanno Farm on Sycamore Avenue, preserved under an easement, is visible in the background. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


story of shrewsbury 112315 2The 350-year history of Shrewsbury Borough, a vestige of a vast township that once extended from Raritan Bay to Little Egg Harbor, has a new chapter.

With the tiny borough getting ready to celebrate the 90th anniversary of its incorporation in 2016, two avid amateur historians — Rick Geffken and Mayor Don Burden — last month debuted a new edition to the definitive history of the town, adding in information on the past half-century of rapid transformation.

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Tim_SeiblesAward-winning poet Tim Seibles (above) and best selling author/graphic novelist Mat Johnson (below) wrap up this season’s Visiting Writers program at Brookdale tonight.

mat_johnsonA poet and a graphic novelist walk into a room — and for tonight’s final entry in the fall 2015 series of Visiting Writers events on the Lincroft campus, Brookdale Community College sets up a double-header event that hits the holiday-break interlude on a high note.

Featured is Tim Seibles, whose five volumes of verse have won him accolades from his peers (and, in the case of Fast Animal, placed him squarely in the running for no less an honor than the National Book Award).

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Sea Bright United MethodistSea Bright United Methodist is the place to be this weekend for the official dedication of the relocated Sea Bright Public Library on Saturday, plus a Christmas Cantata and free community dinner on Sunday. 

Even as the people of Sea Bright got to work putting their beloved borough back together in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the loss of the town’s permanent public library continued to leave a hole in the heart of community life.

While the library’s circa-1976 J.W. Ross Cultural Arts Center building — razed amid some controversy in early 2014, as reported here on redbankgreen — sustained relatively light damage in comparison to other hard-hit neighboring structures, the decision was made to temporarily relocate rather than restore. This past summer saw the “small, friendly” Sea Bright Library open its doors inside the host walls of United Methodist Church at 1104 Ocean Avenue — and this Saturday, the borough officially cuts the ribbon, in an all-welcome event that boasts a bonus helping of seasonal cheer.

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nutcracker1Excerpts from the Performing Arts Ensemble’s production of “The Nutcracker” will be featured this Sunday during a Big Holiday Show at the Middletown Arts Center.

While the upcoming Town Lighting ceremony in downtown Red Bank remains the event that officially keynotes the season’s festivities around the Greater Green, there’s already plenty going on to tantalize the appetites of those who can’t wait until after the Thanksgiving turkey is sawed into — and this Sunday, the Middletown Arts Center is the scene for a soup-to-nuts extravaganza that goes straight to the main course.

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TalasnikDonPollardSci-fi author and former Brookdale Community College faculty member William Jon Watkins (below) makes a BCC homecoming on Tuesday night, as part of the Visiting Writers Series. Sculptor Stephen Talasnik visits November 12. (Top photo by Don Pollard)

william_john_watkins_mxA homecoming hero who sculpts works of imagination in prose and poetry — and a visiting visionary who spins stories out of bamboo — are among the new and returning faces on campus as Brookdale Community College continues its fall 2015 slate of special-guest Writers and Artists events.

It begins Tuesday night, when science fiction specialist/ once-and-future poet William Jon Watkins beams back to BCC (where he served on the school’s founding faculty before retiring) for a reading and discussion hosted inside the Warner Student Life Center building. Read More »


kevinthreeAuthor, performer, TED Talk sensation and mental health activist Kevin Breel recently brought his important message of teenage depression and awareness to Red Bank Regional High School.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

As the six-foot-six captain of the basketball team, the life of the party and a natural stand-up comedian, the teenaged Kevin Breel lived two lives. One was the confident and outgoing persona that he presented to the world — and the other hid itself away, only to surface in the privacy of his room.

“It was exhausting;” he told a captivated audience at Red Bank Regional High School. “The lie was getting bigger and bigger and harder to change.”

One day, when he felt he had hit rock bottom, he decided to end the charade and picked up his pen to write his suicide note. That was his wake-up call, and somehow he summoned the courage to do the unthinkable: break the taboo, and talk about it to his family. Five years later, the 22-year old author, performer, TED Talk sensation and mental health activist Kevin Breel is still talking; bringing his important message of teenage depression and awareness to audiences from coast to coast — a calling that brought him to Red Bank Regional for a recent assembly.

Breel’s visit was sponsored by The SOURCE, the School-based Youth Service Program at RBR. It was the only high school stop on the current North American promotional tour for his book Boy Meets Depression: Or Life Sucks and Then You Live; published by Random House and released in September of this year. It was also a visit that was prompted by a poignant invitation from RBR senior Julie Cocker, a member of the Youth Council Executive Committee for Society for the Prevention of Suicide in Freehold. Incredibly engaging, funny and self-deprecating, Breel commanded his audience’s attention on a very heavy subject; informing his audience that “This generation not only has the power to change the conversation, but to change the culture.”

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siobhan fallon hogan 101315With emergency lights on because of a power outage, parent Siobhan Fallon Hogan urged parental choice in the books read by teens. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)


[UPDATE: See a statement from playwright Ariel Dorfman about this controversy appended to the bottom of this article.]

HOT-TOPIC_03It was a dimly lit and slightly damp night as about 150 members of the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School community politely debated a stormy issue Tuesday: the place of two works of fiction in the curriculum.

Taking turns at a non-working microphone in an auditorium lit by emergency lights because of a power outage, a number of parents challenged the inclusion of two books on reading lists for juniors and seniors because of their adult themes and coarse language.

Led by former Saturday Night Live cast member Siobhan Fallon Hogan, the objectors insisted they were not out to ban or censor the books, but instead to call for a policy that would allow parents to choose substitute reading material they consider “age appropriate” for their children.

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ElisabethEganGlamour magazine book editor Elisabeth Egan (above) visits River Road Books on Thursday to read from and sign copies of her recently published A WINDOW OPENS…while fellow first-time novelist Barrie Levitt Knee arrives later this month to promote her debut book PLAIN JANE (below).

plainjaneTwo new novels; two stirring stories of contemporary women at a crossroads of life-choices. Both written by authors who are new to book-length fiction, and both the subject of special events at Fair Haven’s River Road Books here in October, a month when we shake the sand from those “beach reads” and find something a little more fireside-appropriate.

But don’t break out that Snuggie just yet, as one of the visiting authors might just inspire you to take it outdoors for one more cool-weather marathon.

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Kristof-WuDunnPulitzer-winning journalists (and matrimonial partners) Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn visit Brookdale Community College on Wednesday, for a discussion keyed to their latest book (and affiliated PBS documentary), A PATH APPEARS.

They’re most immediately famous as the first husband-and-wife partnership to jointly win the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism; a pair whose achievements in the realms of reporting, media management and business can fill a book — and whose own co-authored books include China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power; Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia; and Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Here in 2015, the team of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn is back on the bookshelves, with the (just out in paperback) nonfiction study A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity; an affiliated PBS documentary series of the same name, and an itinerary of personal appearances that takes them to the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College on Wednesday evening, September 30.

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