Q & A with Connecticut Authors: Colleen Shaddox
October 17, 2022 • Features & News, Q & A

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When: October 23, 2022 | 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Where: Hartford Public Library


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COVID is still with us, although easing off a little, thank goodness. Did you have a favorite comfort genre to turn to when things were looking bleak? Something that lifted you away and to a different place for a while?

Honestly during the height of COVID I was working on a project to get children released from juvenile prisons, which were even less safe than usual. I didn’t read anything. I just worked.

In general, I like sharp wits: E.B. White, Dorothy Parker, P.G. Wodehouse.  Those are my comfort reads.

Where do you get your inspiration?

The world is so full of injustices that need to be dragged into the light. Inspiration, unfortunately, is everywhere.

Who made reading important to you?

My mom worked incredibly hard as a waitress and then came home and worked just as hard tending to her family. Every night after the dinner dishes were done, no matter how tired she was, she would read to me. It was our ritual. My beagle, Lady, and I would climb into her lap for story time. For a half hour I had my mother’s undivided attention.

I still associate reading with pleasure. It’s a gift I give myself.

Mom left school in the 7th grade. She was extremely intelligent and taught herself many things by reading. She read every word in the daily newspaper and magazines that got passed on to her by an aunt who subscribed to everything. She never had her own library card. I am not sure why. But once I got mine, I would always include a book for her in my weekly stack.

If you had the power to invite any writer or artist, dead or alive, for dinner who would you like to have there and why?

Shakespeare! Does anybody NOT say Shakespeare? I have seen every one of his plays in performance – most many, many times. His insight into what makes human beings tick is almost supernatural. I could talk with him for days.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was very small, Great Aunt Mae took me to the Dominican community in Guilford to buy a Mass card. We were greeted by an elderly sister in a white habit. She radiated joy. I’d never seen anyone like her. “I want to be a nun!” I declared. She placed her hand on my head and smiled at me.

That idea stuck with me for several years, though I developed other interests. Boys, mainly. I’m still a contemplative person and like nothing better than quiet prayer and meditation.

What are you reading now?

I am reading a trilogy by Octavia Butler, Lilith’s Brood. I don’t generally read sci-fi and am not sure why I picked it up, but I’m very glad that I did. She’s incredibly skilled at creating worlds, presenting ethical dilemmas, and exploring complex characters. I’m excited to read her other works


Colleen Shaddox is a print and radio journalist and activist. Her publication credits include The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, America, and many more. She left daily newspapers when an editor reprimanded her for “writing too many stories about poor people” and went to work in a soup kitchen. She has had one foot in journalism and one in non-profits ever since. In states throughout the country, Colleen has worked on winning campaigns to get kids out of adult prisons, to end juvenile life without parole and to limit shackling in juvenile courts. She is a frequently anthologized fiction writer. Her award-winning play, The Shakespeares, and other dramatic works have been performed around the country.




Water. Food. Housing. The most basic and crucial needs for survival, yet 40 percent of people in the United States don’t have the resources to get them. With key policy changes, we could eradicate poverty in this country within our lifetime. 

Nearly 40 million people in the United States live below the poverty line—about $26,200 for a family of four. Low-income families and individuals are everywhere, from cities to rural communities.

From Joanne Samuel Goldblum and Colleen Shaddox, Broke in America offers an eye-opening and galvanizing look at life in poverty in this country: how circumstances and public policy conspire to keep people poor, and the concrete steps we can take to end poverty for good.

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