MSU professor discusses being Muslim in America

Elk River Arts & Lectures presents a community discussion about Islam led by University of Montana-Billings professor Ambrin Masood, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 9, at Elk River Books.

As part of the Montana Conversations Program, Masood will discuss her experience of being an American, a mother, a wife, a professor and a practicing Muslim. As one of about five million Muslims living in the United States, she hopes, through this program, to expand people’s understanding of her faith and culture.

“I pray five times a day, recite Quran every morning, fast during Ramadan, recite Bismillah before I start my car, pay my zakkah,” says Masood. “But I don’t wear hijab. Am I a bad Muslim? I don’t feel so. To me Islam is not supposed to be difficult or rigid, it is not guilt, it is not fear, it is definitely not war—it’s peace—internal and external peace.”

During Masood’s visit, she will also meet with students at Sleeping Giant Middle School. This program is made possible by a grant from Humanities Montana.

Diversity and Ornithology with J. Drew Lanham

Elk River Arts & Lectures presents a free reading with conservation ornithologist and author J. Drew Lanham at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, at Elk River Books.

Lanham’s book, The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, is a memoir of his relationship to his family’s homestead in South Carolina, where he fell in love with the natural world, while exploring what it means to find joy and freedom in the same land his ancestors were tied to by forced labor, and then to be a black man in a profoundly white field.

The Home Place is a groundbreaking work about race and the American landscape, and a deep meditation on nature, selfhood and the nature of home” writes Helen MacDonald, author of H is for Hawk.

Lanham holds an endowed chair as an alumni distinguished professor at Clemson University. His essays on the intersections of culture and conservation, ethnicity and place, are widely anthologized and have appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, Slate, and National Geographic Online.

Lanham’s presentations, “Connecting the Conservation Dots” and “Coloring the Conservation Conversation,” have been delivered internationally as calls for increased focus on inclusion, diversity and passion in the environmental movement.

During Lanham’s visit, he will also meet with students at Park High School. This program is made possible by a grant from Humanities Montana and co-sponsored by the Murray Hotel.

Folk-rock troubadour plays at Elk River Books

Elk River Arts & Lectures presents a free concert with singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Greg Klyma at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at Elk River Books.

During the past 15 years, Klyma has crisscrossed the country with dozens of national tours while recording eight albums of his blend of Americana, folk, country, rock and storytelling. Originally from Buffalo, NY, he is now based in Boston, and has been a showcase artist at the North Eastern Regional Folk Alliance, as well as a featured artist each year at the Moccasin Creek Festival.

His most recent album, Another Man’s Treasure, debuted at number 20 on the Folk DJ Radio Charts. He’s currently in the final production stages of his ninth album which features performances by Gurf Morlix (guitarist and producer for Lucinda Williams), and Grammy-nominated artist Peter Case.

Sing Out! Magazine notes, “he’s the real deal, singing about stuff that matters,” and the Buffalo News calls him, “a man hell-bent on becoming Buffalo’s own Woody Guthrie.”

In addition to his performance at Elk River Books, Klyma also will meet with students at Park High School to discuss storytelling through music and the poetry of lyrics. This program is made possible by a grant from Humanities Montana. Learn more about Klyma and his music at

These free, public events will take place upstairs at Elk River Books, 120 N Main St., in Livingston. Elk River Arts & Lectures is a non-profit organization that seeks to bring writers to Livingston for free public readings, and to provide opportunities for those writers to interact with local public school students.

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