Monday, October 24, 2016

An Isabella Stewart Gardner Exhibit

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston currently is showing a collection of Italian Renaissance Books. Physically, these books are very different from the ones we read today, and I'm not just talking about the differences between standard print books and eBooks. Medieval books were illuminated, that is, the words were supplemented with decorations, from fanciful initial fonts, to borders, marginalia, and hand-painted illustrations. Color was used and may have included gold or silver leaf. The Gardner exhibition of Renaissance books represents the period of transition from one-of-a-kind illuminated animal skin books to paper books created on a printing press.

The exhibit is part of a Boston-wide project, Beyond Words 2016. You can see examples of the illuminated manuscripts found in the collections of the participating institutions by clicking here.

Learn more about illuminated manuscripts from the National Gallery of Art. If you'd like to try your hand a illuminating a manuscript, start off by doing a quote. Look for Paint Your Own Illuminated Letters by Stefan Oliver [745.67 OLI] and you'll be on your way!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Poetry Friday--Happy Birthday, Samuel Taylor Coleridge!

Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on this day in 1772. He is known for poems such as "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and "Kubla Khan," works you probably studied in high school. (More of his poetry can be found in Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Poems [821 COL].)

Courtesy National Portrait Gallery.

Coleridge is an often quoted philosopher, too. Here are a few sample quotes, all relating to poetry:

No man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher.


The proper and immediate object of science is the acquirement, or communication, of truth; the proper and immediate object of poetry is the communication of immediate pleasure.


In philosophy equally as in poetry it is the highest and most useful prerogative of genius to produce the strongest impressions of novelty...


Not the poem which we have read, but that to which we return, with the greatest pleasure, possesses the genuine power, and claims the name of essential poetry.


Our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination.


I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose = words in their best order; poetry = the best words in their best order.


Poetry is certainly something more than good sense, but it must be good sense at all events; just as a palace is more than a house, but it must be a house, at least.


I take unceasing delight in Chaucer. His manly cheerfulness is especially delicious to me in my old age. How exquisitely tender he is, and yet how perfectly free from the least touch of sickly melancholy or morbid drooping! The sympathy of the poet with the subjects of his poetry is particularly remarkable in Shakspeare and Chaucer; but what the first effects by a strong act of imagination and mental metamorphosis, the last does without any effort, merely by the inborn kindly joyousness of his nature. How well we seem to know Chaucer! How absolutely nothing do we know of Shakspeare!

You can draw your own conclusions, but for me, I think Coleridge was saying that poetry should be able to reveal its writer, yet still give lasting pleasure by appealing to what is basic to the individuals reading it. What do you take away from these quotes?

Ponder what he was saying, but then visit this week's Round-Up being held at The Miss Rumphius Effect where you'll find more poetry to bring you pleasure.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Ties between Humans and Animals

Those who dismiss animals as being on the earth merely to provide food, entertain, or to perform other services for humans, are selling them short. Animals may feel emotion, sense things (earthquakes), and help us to be kind. Case in point is this story from Australia about the impact on a family of rescuing a young magpie. Please take a few minutes to view, and read through, the slideshow. I think you'll be glad you did!

Photo by Cameron Bloom.

Stories about the bonds between humans and animals are a staple of novels and children's books. Reports of the intellectual and emotional lives of animals are less common, but are increasing in popularity. Here are a few:

Coren, Stanley. The Pawprints of History: Dogs and the Course of Human Events. [636.7 COR]

Facklam, Margery. What Does the Crow Know?: The Mysteries of Animal Intelligence. [J 591.51 FAC]

Montgomery, Sy. The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness. [594.56 MON, also AB/CD 594.56 MON]

Morell, Virginia. Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures. [591.513 MOR]

Pepperberg, Irene M. Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process. [636.6865 PEP]

Yoerg, Sonja. Clever As a Fox: What Animal Intelligence Can Teach Us about Ourselves. [591.5 YOE]

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

National Day of Writing

The National Council of Teachers of English has declared tomorrow to be "National Day of Writing."
Every October 20, NCTE celebrates the importance, joy, and evolution of writing through a tweetup, using the hashtag #WhyIWrite and events hosted by thousands of educators across the country.

Last year there were more than 60,000+ tweets with a reach of millions of people.

Writing, besides being useful for communication, also can be an act of creativity, or can function as a form of therapy for those who may be having problems. There is so much good that can come of writing. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. So why wait until tomorrow. Start today with one of these:

Coman, Carolyn. Writing Stories: Ideas, Exercises, and Encouragement for Teachers and Writers of All Ages. [808 COM]

Women on Writing: From Inspiration to Publication. [808 WOM]

Writing: How to Express Yourself with Passion and Practice. [J 808 WRI]

Here's a site that can help almost any writer improve his/her work: Hemingway Editor. It "makes your writing bold and clear."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Got Tots?

A movie blast from the past:

We have Napoleon Dynamite on DVD [DVD NAP], as well as a book of quotes from the movie, collected by Jared Hess, Napoleon Dynamite: The Complete Quote Book [YA 791.4372 HES].

Pick up a bag of frozen tots, bake them crisp, and then sit down and enjoy the show!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Downloadable eBooks & eAudios

There have been, and will continue to be, a number of changes to the two downloadable eBook and eAudio services we belong to, Overdrive (NH Downloadable Books) and 3M Cloud Library. Updating your device to the latest edition of an app is always a good idea so you can get the full benefit of the service.

For Overdrive users, the NH State Library maintains a detailed user's guide that you can access here. Cloud Library has a user's guide here.

One of the biggest changes you will notice is that 3M, is changing its branding from 3M Cloud Library to simply, Cloud Library, due to a change in ownership of the service.

The change in logo will be appearing in our online catalog in late December, but rest assured, no matter which logo you see on your device or desktop, the service is the same.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Poetry Friday--'Tis the Season

It's pumpkin time!

Nancy Willard, whom many of you are inclined to think of as a children's writer (won a 1982 Newbury Medal for A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers [J 811 WIL]), is also a prolific writer of adult poetry. In Swimming Lessons: New and Selected Poems [811 WIL] you will find this playfully strange poem for the season:
Saint Pumpkin

Somebody's in there.
Somebody's sealed himself up
in this round room,
this hassock upholstered in rind,
this padded cell.
He believes if nothing unbinds him
he'll live forever.

Like our first room
it is dark and crowded.
Hunger knowns no tongue
to tell it.
Water is glad there.
In this room with two navels
somebody wants to be born again.

So I unlock the pumpkin.
I carve out the lid
from which the stem raises
a dry handle on a damp world.
Lifting, I pull away
wet webs, vines on which hand
the flat tears of the pumpkin,

like fingernails or the currency
of bats. How the seeds shine,
as if water had put out
hundreds of lanterns.
Hundreds of eyes in the windless wood
gaze peacefully past me,
hacking the thickets,

and now a white dew beads the blade.
Has the saint surrendered
himself to his beard?
Has his beard taken root in his cell?

Saint Pumpkin, pray for me,
because when I looked for you, I found nothing,
because unsealed and unkempt, your tomb rots,
because I gave you a false face
and a light of my own making.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place down in Alabama at Irene's Live Your Poem.

Photo by starsandspirals.