All-Pikes Peak Reads Winners Riff on the American Dream

 

By Sarah McMahon, Faculty Contributor

In coordination with the Pikes Peak Library District and Colorado College, PPCC participates in an annual community-wide reading program, known as All Pikes Peak Reads. This year’s book was Helen Thorpe’s The Newcomers: Finding Hope and Refuge in an American Classroom.

A Colorado journalist, Thorpe spent one school year at South High School in Denver, following refugee students through their experience of learning English and adapting to American life.

Inspired by her work, the APPR arts and writing contest considered the American Dream as its theme.

It was a tough competition with some incredibly thought-provoking, raw examinations of the American Dream in a variety of contexts.

Prizes included a one-night stay at the Broadmoor, varying amounts of bookstore scholarships, publication in Parley, our in-house literary and arts journal, and an opportunity to be showcased at the Multicultural Awareness Conference in Spring 2019.

The PPCC Winners are:

First place: Alexander Sorrels for his painting, “Home of the Free”

Second place: Rachel Scott for her poem, “There are No Cassocks in America”

Third place: Benjamin Phelps for his short story, “Alleys Through the Valleys”

 

 

Excerpt from “Alleys Through the Valleys”:

Papa had forbidden everyone from speaking Italian. “We are in America, land of great opportunity. Italy is our homeland but now we are Americans, so we speak English.” Once Papa was able to save up some money not needed for essentials, he had bought a little Constitution and Bill of Rights. He still struggled to read some of the language in these documents, but almost every night, after returning home from backbreaking labor at the factory, he could be seen squinting over this little pocket Constitution in the dim light provided by the naked bulb above the kitchen table.

 

There are No Cassocks in America

by Rachel Scott

 

There are no Cassocks in America.

No men armed with steel snakes, laughter and smoke

on their lips, reeking of vodka, who gained pleasure

in lining Jewish men and boys together, guns pointed

upward, only to never pull

the trigger.

Baruch’s cousin tells him they’re gone.

 

There are no gunshots in America.

But there are echoing sounds, such as engines

rumbling in streets, children kicking tin cans in

alleys with new shoes, and the occasional

bang of a pot. Phantom bullets hit

his skin.

Baruch’s cousin tells him he’s safe.

 

There are no religions in America.

There is one religion, favored by the masses, coddled

by adoring and bored attendants alike, unscathed

by rural violations of holy ground. When the church bell

rings he thinks of his village synagogue

in flames.

Baruch’s cousin tells him to pray.

 

There are no dreams of safety in America.

He is still pushed to the ground, tasting

dirt and worms in his mouth. His mother

said there would be no more pain or lashes

or firing squads, but there is still hate for

Jews here.

Baruch’s cousin tells him get used to it.

 

There are no traditions in America.

To be American, one must depart from one’s

own homeland. Burn out the candles on the

Menorah, cast aside the luxury of freshly baked

challah bread, and forgo the lilted words of

an accent.

Baruch’s cousin tells him to play baseball.

 

There are no Jewish names in America.

Only immigrants have Jewish names. Lashes on

his back now covered in fine clothes, memories

of gunfire replaced with applause when

Babe Ruth hits a homerun, with hands up from the

red chair.

Baruch’s cousin tells him he’s Barney now.

 

For more information about APPR contact sarah.mcmahon@ppcc.edu 

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