2021 Common Read Book Panel

Thursday, September 23, 2021 | 11:00 AM PDT

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Every year, all first-year students are assigned a common book to read and discuss.

Join Mills students for a faculty-led conversation about this year’s selection, The Names of All the Flowers, by Melissa Valentine.

Participant Bios

Author Elmaz Abinder looks into the camera, dark curly hair framing their face.Elmaz Abinader is an author, a performer and educator. Her most recent poetry  collection, This House, My Bones, was The Editor’s Selection for 2014 from Willow  Books/Aquarius. Her books include a memoir: Children of the Roojme, A Family’s  Journey from Lebanon, a book of poetry, In the Country of My Dreams… which won the  Oakland PEN, Josephine Miles Award. Her plays include Ramadan Moon, 32 Mohameds, and Country of Origin and have been performed worldwide. A recent finalist in the Rita Dove Poetry Contest, she has been anthologized widely including the New Anthology of American Poetry,Radical Hope, Truth to Power and in The Colors of  Nature. Most recently her fiction has appeared in Fifth Wednesday and Nimrod. Elmaz  is a former Fulbright Senior Fellow, a resident fellow at the MacDowell Colony, BAU  Institute, and Montalvo, among others. Elmaz is one of the co-founders of The Voices  of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA/Voices) a writing workshop for writers-of-color.  She teaches at Mills College, and for Hedgebrook. www.elmazabinader.com

Author Janae Newslon looks into the camera, their head resting on their right hand, dressed in a jean jacket and white t shirt.Janae Newsom  is a Mama, Writer, and Educator from East Oakland California. Her short story For All The Girls Like You, is published in the anthology Essential Truths the Bay Area in Color, and her think piece These Bullets Have All Of Our Names, is published on medium.com. Janae is the winner of the Amanda Davis best thesis in fiction prize from Mills College, the Melody Clark Tepolla Creative writing prize judged by Melissa Valentine, and she is the first prize winner for the 2021 book pitch contest with Voyage YA. Janae is an inaugural member of the black women artist collective Janga's House, and is currently working on her first novel.  

Author Melissa Valentine looks into the camera dressed in a print shirt stands before a turquoise wall. Photo by Ira James.Melissa Valentine is an award-winning writer from Oakland, CA whose work explores themes of race, trauma, and healing. Her debut memoir, The Names of All the Flowers, was the winner of the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize. She has been an artist fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts in Nonfiction Literature. The Names of All the Flowers was selected as the 2021 winner of CLMP's Firecracker Award in Nonfiction. In 2020 she was visiting professor at University of California at Santa Cruz. Melissa’s writing has appeared in New York Magazine, Guernica, Jezebel, and Apogee among others.