UMF New Commons events focus on immigration featuring keynote by HarperCollins editor of “Inside Out and Back Again”

FARMINGTON, ME  (February 11, 2019)—“Inside Out and Back Again,” Thanhha Lai’s childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama is the next featured work of the University of Maine at Farmington’s New Commons Project.

A heartfelt story of family and immigration, Lai’s debut novel is a New York Times Bestseller, Newbery Honor Book and winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Based on her first year in the U.S., and told in verse as 10 year old Hà, the narrative is a window into the poignant challenges of leaving the only home she knew for one of hope, dreams, grief and healing.

Upcoming Events:

New Commons Film Series: “LOST BOYS OF SUDAN”
The New Commons Film Series presents LOST BOYS OF SUDAN, a 2003 documentary directed by Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk that explores the lives of young Sudanese boys who immigrate to the United States in the wake of the civil war in their native country.
Thursday, Feb. 14, 7p.m., UMF Emery Community Arts Center

Clarissa Thompson, “Reading and the Public Good: Why YA Matters”
Dr.Clarissa Thompson, UMF associate professor of secondary sducation and English sducation, explores the ways in which young adult literature encourages lifelong reading and engagement with important social issues.
Friday, Feb. 15, 11:45 a.m., UMF Mantor Library (second floor)

Douglas Rawlings, Poetry Reading
Doug Rawlings, author of “Orion Rising” and co-founder of Veterans For Peace, shares his poetry. This event is part of the New Commons Project’s consideration of Thanhha Lai’s “Inside Out and Back Again,” a young adult verse novel that tells a story of a young girl who immigrates to the United States due to devastation of the Vietnam War.
Thursday, Feb. 21, 6 p.m., Farmington Public Library

Tara Weikum
Tara Weikum

Keynote Event: Tara Weikum, “Editing Inside Out and Back Again”
Join Tara Weikum, vice president and editorial director at HarperCollins Publishers, as she shares her experiences of working as editor for Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again.
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 11:45 a.m., UMF Emery Community Arts Center

The New Commons Project is a public humanities initiative of the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. It is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Events are free and open to the public.

To learn more about the New Commons Project, or to submit a nomination for the next round of selections to be announced in 2019, Visit the website at:

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Media Contact: Kristen Case, associate professor of English, 207-778-7239,

Image: RP189-034
Photo Caption: Tara Weikum
Photo Credit: Submitted Image

April Mulherin
UMF Associate Director for Media Relations
office: 207-778-7081
cell: 207-491-0064

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