The Civic Engagement Series is a new panel discussion from the RI Department of State featuring Rhode Islanders who use their time and talent to create space for all of us to engage civically in unique ways. This inaugural event is centered around Storytelling as a form of civic engagement. The panel will feature Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate, Marta Martinez of Nuestras Racies, and Val Tutson of Rhode Island Black Storytellers, and be moderated by Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore. FREE and open to the public.
Parking: Free parking is available in the large lower legislative lot next to the State House.
Location: The State Library is located the second floor the State House, directly above the Smith Street entrance of the Rhode Island State House (82 Smith Street, Room 208, 82 Smith Street, Providence).
Learn more about our panelists:
Marta V. Martínez
Marta V. Martínez, PhD is the founder and current Executive Director of Rhode Island Latino Arts (RILA), where she has led the organization since 1988. In 1991, she also founded Nuestras Raíces: The Latino Oral History Project of Rhode Island, and the collection of oral histories has become the main focus of her work at RILA. In 2014, she published Latino History in Rhode Island: Nuestras Raíces (History Press), a book which features her oral history collection, and now being used in local middle & high schools and universities. She manages the only comprehensive archive and collection on Rhode Island Latino History. In 2022, Marta was awarded a 2-year Fellowship from the Oral History Association and National Endowment for the Humanities.
Valerie Tutson graduated from Brown University with a self-designed major, Storytelling As a Communication’s Art, and a Masters in Theatre. Valerie received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Rhode Island College. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Pell Award for Artistic Excellence from Trinity Repertory Theatre in Providence. Valerie has traveled the world teaching, gathering and sharing stories and songs. Her repertoire includes folktales, personal and historical stories with an emphasis on black traditions, and first- person Bible stories. She works in schools, libraries, festivals, churches, conferences, businesses and universities. Valerie is a founding member and director of the Rhode Island Black Storytellers and FUNDA FEST: A Celebration of Black Storytelling.
Besides telling stories, Valerie creates spaces for people to learn storytelling skills, and share stories. Valerie believes in the power of stories, storytelling and story listening to help us heal ourselves and our communities.
Tina Cane serves as the Poet Laureate of Rhode Island where she is the founder/director of Writers-in-the-Schools, RI. In her capacity as poet laureate, Cane has established her state’s first youth poetry ambassador program in partnership with Rhode Island Center for the Book, and has brought the Poetry-in-Motion program from the New York City Transit System to Rhode Island’s state-wide buses.Cane is the author of The Fifth Thought, Dear Elena: Letters for Elena Ferrante, poems with art by Esther Solondz (Skillman Books, 2016), Once More With Feeling (Veliz Books 2017), Body of Work (Veliz Books, 2019), and Year of the Murder Hornet (Veliz Books, 2022). In 2016, Tina received the Fellowship Merit Award in Poetry, from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. She was also a 2020 Poet Laureate Fellow with the Academy of American Poets.
Her debut novel-in-verse for young adults, Alma Presses Play (Penguin/Random House) was released in September 2021. Cane is also the creator/ curator of the distance reading series, Poetry is Bread, and the editor of Poetry is Bread: The Anthology (forthcoming from Nirala Press, 2023). Her second novel-in-verse for young readers, Are You Nobody Too? (Penguin/ Random House) will be published in summer 2024.