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Event Details

Julia Ridley Smith: The Sum of Trifles (in conversation with Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson)

The Ivy is delighted to host Julia Ridley Smith for a reading and discussion of her memoir, The Sum of Trifles, Julia will be in conversation with Elizabeth Evitts Dickison. This event will be held outdoors, on The Ivy's back patio.

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When Julia Ridley Smith's parents died, they left behind a virtual museum of furniture, books, art, and artifacts. Between the contents of their home, the stock from their North Carolina antiques shop, and the ephemera of two lives lived, Smith faced a monumental task. What would she do with her parents' possessions?

Smith's wise and moving memoir in essays, The Sum of Trifles, peels back the layers of meaning surrounding specific objects her parents owned, from an eighteenth-century miniature to her father's prosthetics. A vintage hi-fi provides a view of her often tense relationship with her father, whose love of jazz kindled her own artistic impulse. A Japanese screen embodies her mother's principles of good taste and good manners, while an antebellum quilt prompts Smith to grapple with her family's slaveholding legacy. Along the way, she turns to literature that illuminates how her inheritance shaped her notions of identity and purpose.

The Sum of Trifles offers up dark humor and raw feeling, mixed with an erudite streak. It's a curious, thoughtful look at how we live in and with our material culture and how we face our losses as we decide what to keep and what to let go.

Julia Ridley Smith is the author of a memoir, The Sum of Trifles (University of Georgia Press, 2021). Her essays and short stories have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Ecotone, Electric Literature, the New England Review, The Southern Review, and new work is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review and Literary Matters. She teaches creative writing at UNC Chapel Hill. Find her at juliaridleysmith.com and @JuliaTrifles.

Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson is a journalist, essayist, and short story writer whose work has been published in The New YorkerHarper’s MagazineThe New York TimesThe Southern ReviewThe Washington Post Magazine, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, to name a few. Her nonfiction has been optioned for television and film, and her personal essays have been recognized as notable in Best American Essays. Her writing has been supported with fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the Rubys Artist Grant among many others, and Elizabeth is a recipient of the Mary Sawyers Baker Prize in Fiction.






Event Details

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 - 6:00pm


The Ivy Bookshop, Back Patio
5928 Falls Road
Baltimore, MD 21209

by Dr. Radut