Port Townsend Shorts to feature prize-winning author

PORT TOWNSEND — Prize-winning author Joan Leegant will read one of her new stories as a guest of honor at Port Townsend Shorts on Saturday.

Leegant will read her story, “The Baghdadi” which received special mention at the 2014 Pushcart Prize awards, at 7:30 p.m. at the Key City Public Theatre Playhouse, 419 Washington St.

As a special New Year’s treat, hot cider and doughnuts will be available.

Admission is free, atlhough donations are welcome.

“The Baghdadi” is set in Israel where a visiting professor from Boston forms an unlikely bond with an Israeli from Iraq when the oldest Jew in Baghdad is airlifted to Tel Aviv by the U.S. Central Command.

Leegant is the author of “An Hour in Paradise,” a collection of short stories about middle-class Jewish family life in America. The title is taken from the old Yiddish proverb, “even an hour in paradise is worthwhile.”

She also wrote the novel “Wherever You Go.”

After graduating from law school, Leegant started writing, which she says “is like falling in love.”

She has won the Pen/New England Book Award and was selected as a Barnes &Noble Discover Great New Writers pick.

Accompanying Leegant on the program will be Judith Glass Collins and Don White who will read “The Diviners of Desire: A Modern Fable” from that collection.

In the story, an American mother wants her only daughter to marry a “nice Jewish boy.”

The young woman travels to Israel, wanders into a butcher shop, and there, through a series of weird coincidences, a clairvoyant matchmaker and an aromatic beef stew, meets her soulmate.

“This tale weaving humor and mysticism, delights, leaving you smiling at the end,” Collins said.

While her subjects are Jewish families, their problems and human drama are common to all families, she said.

Collins is a local playwright and actor. She is a five-time winner of the Port Townsend One-Act Play Competition, and is published by Next Stage Press.

She was recently seen in August, Osage County, The Seagull and The Art of Dining. White has been a frequent reader at PT Shorts and is often seen at Key City Public Theatre.

Port Townsend Shorts is produced by Key City Public Theatre in partnership with Northwind Arts Center and is sponsored by the Port Townsend Arts Commission.

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