By Radwan Farraj
Brooklyn College hosted its 29th Annual Faculty Author’s Reception this past Tuesday, May 10 to commemorate the works of more than 40 BC faculty and staff members. Beginning in 1993, the annual reception has allowed staff and faculty to share their work both amongst colleagues and with the BC community, as all featured works are placed in the library’s collection.
“There is nothing that gives a provost more pleasure than seeing faculty honored for their creative achievements,” said Anne Lopes, BC’s Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, at the beginning of the ceremony.
“There is nothing like a book, or a creative work, or medium. There is nothing like the pleasure of writing or creating or reading or listening to the book or seeing the creative work,” remarked Lopes when recalling a quote written by her favorite author. “Among all forms, we recognize creativity…,” said Lopes when commending the BC authors.
The event was hosted in-person for the first time in the Christoph M. Kimmich Reading Room since the pandemic’s start. Mary Mallery, the Chief Librarian and Executive Director of Academic IT, began the ceremony with a warm welcome.
Following Provost Lopes’ statement, the authors had their works presented by the deans of their respective schools and were once again congratulated on their outstanding achievements.
Professor Archie Rand of the School of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts presented three pieces that he has published between 2021 and 2022. With the help of co-author Anne Waldman, Rand and Waldman created “Blood Moon,” which is their collection of artwork and poetry published in 2021.
“We kept tweaking each other’s texts and images until we both decided that we had a genuine collaboration. And then we had an exhibition and the exhibition was so successful that the galleries got a publisher to publish the book with all of the entries,” said Rand.
Jeffrey Biegel, an Associate Professor for the School of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts, was congratulated for his work as the pianist responsible for playing in the newly-made recording of “Rhapsody in Blue,” which was created and originally played by George Gershwin in 1924.
“I’ve played ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ since I was a child, and having met members of the Gershwin family, it brought me closer to what is the original 1924 manuscript, which was created by a musicologist [scholar of music],” said Biegel when asked about his motivations to recreate the piece.
With the help of the Adrian Symphony Orchestra and conductor Bruce Anthony Kiesling, Biegel was motivated to “reenact exactly what George Gershwin composed in 1924.” In their efforts, Biegel created the first commercial recording of this piece, which “brought out the originally jazz spirit and lightness of the piece,” he explained.
Professor Aleah N. Ranjitsingh was featured as an author for the School Humanities and Social Sciences during the reception. She presented her book “Dougla in the Twenty-First Century: Adding to the Mix,” which was co-authored by friend, and fellow PhD scholar, Sue Ann Barratt.
“Douglas are mixed race people, very specific to the Caribbean. They are mixed of African and Indian descent,” said Ranjitsingh when explaining the book’s namesake. Ranjitsingh and her co-author Barratt both identify as Dougla. Writing this book was a deeply personal experience for the both of them.
To better interpret how Dougla people understand themselves and their mixed identities, Ranjitsingh and Barratt interviewed 125 individuals from New York who identify as Dougla. “A great part of the book is hearing Dougla experiences through the Dougla voice… so actually hearing their stories and seeing how similar their stories are to my story, I think that’s the best part,” said Ranjitsingh.
Once the ceremony ended, authors signed the copies of their works that would be included into the Brooklyn College library and gathered for a photo to celebrate the event.