I have a history of adopting stray and shelter cats and dogs my entire life. In fact, so far I have had six cats and two dogs. In my experience, shelter animals are so appreciative of the time and love that you give them. Each comes with their own personality and baggage.
A little over a year ago, we had two visitors at my house. These guys would just watch from afar as the family came and went. As the weeks went by, the smallest of the two began to creep closer and closer. We decided to feed these two stray cats (actually feral). They have since become ours. The three cats often will sleep with their older “brother” dog to keep him company.
I love to read stories about the experiences of others. I am always looking for that book to help me and my companions’ experience to be more positive.
The library has a variety of books to help with both of these needs.
We’re coming to the end of National Poetry Month, and as a poet myself, I always have conflicted feelings about it. On the one hand, it is great that poetry is getting more attention. On the other hand, it seems that the spotlight is often placed on only one spectrum of poetry: the stereotypically ‘poetic’. When Oprah or Caroline Kennedy go on air and talk about how great poetry is, they’re often touting those aspects of poetry that most conform to our idea of what poetry should be: lovey dovey, rhyming, flowery, accessible, beautiful. But just as often, poetry is the opposite of these things too.
One of the reasons I love and write poetry is that it can be the antithesis of what every other medium tries to tell us. For instance, when people say that poetry is inaccessible or incomprehensible, I don’t want to prove them wrong. Instead, I want to say “Look how much of the world around us today is incomprehensible.” Most news outlets reassure us constantly that ‘Everything is simple and under control’ when clearly it’s not. Just look at the gulf oil crisis (golf balls? really?), or the nuclear meltdown in Japan, or the financial crisis; the world is a complex place that we cannot always understand. What’s more, there are no easy answers. Poetry reflects this attitude and says that sometimes it’s OK that we don’t instantly understand everything around us. It’s OK to sit with that feeling of being in total mystery of something bigger, and learn be at home with it, to commune with it.
Poetry values that which we place less and less value on in modern society: incomprehension, complexity, mystery, ambiguity, nonsense, uncertainty, imagination, smallness, ugliness, vulnerability, slowness, silence, hard work (and many more). Rarely have I heard these qualities touted as the strengths of poetry, rather than shoved under the rug as something we don’t want to mention. On top of that, poetry is one of the only places that I feel I can go to for this kind of relief from the instantly gratified hustle and bustle of our multi-tasking lives.
So these words against poetry are not really against poetry, but against an idealized version of poetry as seen in the media. Hopefully we can all have a more complete conception of poetry than that. And the best way to start is to read more of it. Here are a few titles available at DCPL:
Today I’d like to mention a website devoted to showcasing the most bizarre, inexplicable, and just plain bad science fiction and fantasy book covers out there. It’s called Good Show Sir, and it is billed as “Only the worst Sci-fi/Fantasy book covers”.
The pictures are hilarious, and the commentary even more so! I find it highly amusing. Can you think of any book covers that are so bad they are good?
I love book sales. Big ones, small ones, library ones, ones that are being held in the local mall or in a thrift store; even ones that consist of only a handful of books in someone’s yard sale. And next week I will boldly go where I have never shopped for books before: the 7th annual Houston County Library Old Book Sale, which will be held at the state fair grounds in Perry, GA. Before you ask, I have wondered if I’m thinking clearly, using a tank of gas to potentially buy a few dollars worth of books. My only rationale is that part of the fun in book collecting is the hunt. Among of the 90,000 plus books they promise to have on hand may be some titles that will make my trip completely worthwhile. The Houston County Library Old Book Sale runs April 28-30. Visit them online or on Facebook for further details.
But you don’t have to travel to enjoy a great book sale; we have book sales too, right here in DeKalb County. And some of our branches have ongoing booksales that are open whenever the branch is open!
This week I have a real treat for all of you fantasy fans. Peter Jackson, acclaimed director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, has unveiled the first in a series of behind-the-scenes production videos from the set of his newest Tolkien adaptation, The Hobbit.
The Hobbit, along with The Silmarillion, served as prequels to the more well-known Lord of the Rings trilogy authored by J.R.R. Tolkien. Unlike the Silmarillion and the LOTR trilogy, The Hobbit is written with a younger audience in mind (although adults will enjoy it too!). The film is scheduled to be released in late 2012, so you have plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the book beforehand. And if you can’t wait to see Bilbo and all the rest come to life on screen, you can always check out the animated adaptation. Pick up a copy at your local library!
Of course, we all know that library collections have long circulated all sorts of items that aren’t books, but check out this article: Seed Lending Libraries Bloom.
That’s right…it’s a seed lending library! Patrons “borrow” seeds and then save the seeds from those plants to return. I think this is a great idea and sounds like a wonderful way to encourage gardening within communities. The article specifically mentions the Potrero branch of the San Francisco Public Library but there are similar programs in place at the Richmond Public Library in Virginia and in Connecticut at the Fairfield Woods branch of the Fairfield Public Library.
I had a hipster Freshman English teacher. He wore his hair long and his jeans were faded. He played ZZ Top and the Doobie Brothers (yes, yes, stop snickering—I am that old) in his classroom during lunch and invited students in to “rap.” He was fun, cool and he didn’t like teaching literature. He preferred teaching films. It’s thanks to him that I can deconstruct a Hitchcock film without batting an eye, not that I’d want to because we spent so much time on Hitchcock films I now can’t stand them. He also killed any love I might have had for any Shakespeare that had been turned into a film, with the exception of West Side Story, which he showed but never asked us to dissect. He did what he was required of him with literature—he dragged us through Silas Marner and we actually read Romeo and Juliet out loud, stopping every few lines for the “what is the writer saying here?” conversation. He balked at Beowulf. He told us he hated it and since he had a choice we would skip it in favor of Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. To this day I am grateful because in no way possible would I have ever liked the Keyes book so dissecting it to death didn’t matter. However, I love Beowulf and that love might not have survived six weeks of Freshman English.
When I was a new librarian I was invited to visit a seventh grade classroom in order to convince the students that reading could be fun. It was grim work and in desperation I turned to my unpolished, condensed storytelling version of Beowulf. What had been a painful half hour of trying to be heard over a roomful of wildly bored adolescents turned into dead quiet by time I got to the part where our hero rips Grendel’s arm from his body. By the time Grendel’s mama came to call they were putty in my storytelling hands and begging for the book. That, my friends, is the power of Beowulf. Sadly, I didn’t have a gripping but resonant translation for them, but these days we are rich in various versions. Michael Crichton did a wonderful job in his retelling, Eaters of the Dead, Gareth Hinds presented it as a graphic novel adaptation and John Gardner gave us the monster’s version in Grendel. Of course there are also movies: The 13th Warrior with Antonio Banderas was made from Eater’s of the Dead (sadly, now out of print and all DCPL copies are gone) and in 2007 we saw the latest Beowulf movie, this one starring Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie. All of these are fine versions, but if you want to truly fall under the spell of this mythic hero you need the result of 15 years of work in the hands of a master poet. You need Seamus Heaney’s translation. It is accessible, riveting and uses the power behind the cadences of Old English poetry to break the reader’s heart. His translation will be the ultimate translation for a long, long time.
Most baseball fans run hot or cold on the subject of the New York Yankees.They either love the Yankee pedigree and the history inherent in those classy pinstripe uniforms or they hate the Yankee swagger and the dominance created by virtually unlimited resources. It can be easy to forget that there was a time when the Yankees had no more World Championships to their name than the Houston Astros. Robert Weintraub’s new book, The House That Ruth Built, takes a look back to the 1923 season when the Yankees were moving into a new stadium and had yet to win their first championship. Better yet, Mr. Weintraub will be appearing at the Decatur library on the evening of April 18 to talk about his book and sign copies. It will be an evening any baseball fan can enjoy.
“The concept and reality of bookmobile service started in Hagerstown, Maryland in April, 1905 when Mary L. Titcomb, the Librarian of the Washington County Free Library, sent out the first book wagon in the United States from the library.”
For more information about bookmobiles, try this article from Smithsonian Magazine, or read a related DCPLive blog post from last year. You might also want to explore this nifty documentary website about a bookmobile that travels the country dispensing free library materials in exchange for interviews about books that have changed people’s lives. The bookmobile will occasionally be driven by famous authors.
And last but not least, check out My Librarian Is A Camel, which provides kids with an introduction to the concept of a bookmobile by showcasing some of the more interesting and unusual forms it can take.
It’s National Library Week (April 10—16, 2011)! First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country. It’s a time to celebrate libraries and librarians.