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Friday, May 30, 2008

Poetry Friday--Math and Science

Over the past few years, many nontraditional poetry subjects have found their way into print, but math and science poetry? Yes! Educators are finding ways to integrate poetry into their lessons on math and science.

One example is the picture book, Mathematickles by Betsy Franco [JP FRA], a collection of poems written in the form of math problems and grouped according to seasonal themes.




Another is Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings, by Douglas Florian [J 811.54 FLO].






Venus

Scalding-hot surface,
Nine hundred degrees.
Nothing can live there,
No creature,
No trees.
Poisonous clouds
of acid above.
Why was it named for
the goddess of love?


Fun, huh? And, this nice introduction to Venus may start a kid off on a little study of the planet.

Adults too, can find the weighty topics of math and science covered in poems. Verse and Universe: Poems about Science and Mathematics [811.008 VER] contains poems divided into categories such as "Space," "Time," and "Matter." Here's a little taste of the poem by Charles Harper Webb called "Persistence of Sound":
Sounds never die, some scientists say.
They fade from hearing, but keep rolling up
and down--smaller and smaller waves--forever.
Churchill orating, "We will never surrender,"
Nixon whining, "I am not a crook,"
Caruso singing Vesti la giubba,

That should give you something to think about!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Disturbing...

Over the weekend I read an interview with M. Gigi Durham, the author of a new book called, The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It. Here's how Durham describes the Lolita Effect:
The Lolita Effect is the media's sexual objectification of young girls. In the Nabokov novel the protagonist, who is 12 years old at the start of the book, is the object of desire for Humbert Humbert the pedophile. In the book you're put into the mind of the predator; Lolita, in Humbert's view, initiates the sex and is very knowledgeable and all that. Nowadays the term Lolita has come to mean a little girl who is inappropriately sexual, wanton, and who sort of flaunts her sexuality and seduces older men. I'm very critical of that construction in the novel and in real life because little girls can't be held responsible in this way. They're not born with the understanding or intention of seducing older men, and the burden of responsibility can't be placed on children. They're just too young to knowingly enter into these kinds of relationships. The Lolita Effect is the way our culture, and more importantly our corporate media, have constructed these little "Lolitas" by sexualizing them and marketing really sexualized items of clothing and behaviors to them -- constructing them as legitimate sexual actors when they aren't.

It makes me long for the "good old days" of film stars like Shirley Temple who remained a child far beyond the time when she should have been accepted as an adult. Shirley Temple, was thought of as clean and wholesome. Her dresses may have been short, but they weren't provocative. Her sweet-girl-all-the-time image, although also unrealistic, is infinitely better than Lolita image projected by the girls who become stars today.

So what do we do to protect our girls? Be informed. Read. Understand the pressures in our society. Study marketing and teach our children its power to influence society. Resist the pervasive role of advertising.

Here are some books dealing with girls today:

Garbarino, James. See Jane Hit: Why Girls are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It. [303.6 GAR]

Lamb, Sharon and Lyn Mikel Brown. Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers' Schemes. [306.3 LAM]

Linn, Susan. Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood. [305.23 LIN]

Tanenbaun, Leora. Slut!: Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation. [305.23 TAN]

If you'd like to read the original Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, we have a copy in our fiction section. To help you approach it as a work of literature, we have a critical study, Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita [813 NAB].


A little side note: Barbie, the doll, is in court. Barbie's role as the world's no. 1 doll has been threatened by the Bratz doll. The reason for going to court? It seems the Bratz doll's designer is accused of developing the idea for his doll while working at Barbie's home, Mattel!
His idea was a smart one: as Barbie was becoming middle-aged, girls today would surely respond to a doll with a little more edge. He came up with Bratz with their oversized lips, wild hair-dos and bare bellies.


Oh, what a world we live in...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

All Things Sinatra

If you watch the Turner Classic Movie channel, you know that Frank Sinatra has been featured this month with his films and tv specials being broadcast every Wednesday and Sunday. The U.S. Postal Service has issued a stamp with Sinatra's image on it, and it's on sale at the post office. Several Sinatra CDs have been released recently, including Sinatra at the Movies, which we have already purchased (currently being processed). There are probably a hundred ways Sinatra is being celebrated this month!

A "nice Italian boy" I dated in high school had a father who was a REALLY big fan. It sort of rubbed off on me, and I've been a fan ever since. If you aren't a fan, maybe you'll become one after borrowing some of our many Sinatra items.

Films:

From Here to Eternity [DVD FRO]. Sinatra won a "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar for his role in this multiple Academy Award winning film.

The Man with the Golden Arm [DVD MAN].

The Manchurian Candidate [DVD MAN]. This is the original film with Angela Lansbury as Laurence Harvey's very creepy mother!

Books:

Sinatra, Tina. My Father's Daughter: A Memoir [B SIN].

Summers, Anthony. Sinatra: The Life [B SIN, also AB/CD B SIN].

Music:

The Best of the Capitol Years [CD MALE VOCALIST SIN].

Come Fly with Me [CD MALE VOCALIST SIN].

Sinatra Reprise: The Very Good Years [CD MALE VOCALIST SIN].

Or borrow at tribute album such as Bolton Swings Sinatra: The Second Time Around [CD MALE VOCALIST BOL].

Do you have a favorite Sinatra song? I think I like "Angel Eyes" the best. Oh, and "I've Got a Crush on You." And, I can't forget "You Go to My Head"...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"A Tomato Doesn't Have Logic..."

This morning with my coffee, I sadly read the news of the death of Sydney Pollack. This multi-talented man was an actor, director, and producer of film and television. Surprisingly, though, I bet that there are many who don't know Pollack. The New York Times has a slideshow where you can see photos of Pollack wearing his many Hollywood "hats." Once you see his face, you'll say, "Oh, yeah..."

To view Pollack's work, look for these films the next time you visit:

A Civil Action. [DVD CIV] (Actor)
Cold Mountain. [DVD COL] (Producer)
The Firm. [VIDEO FIR] (Director)
Iris. [DVD IRI] (Producer)
Jeremiah Johnson. [DVD JER] (Director)
Michael Clayton. [DVD MIC] (Producer, Actor)
Out of Africa. [DVD OUT] (Producer, Director)
Sabrina. [VIDEO SAB] (Producer, Director)
Searching for Bobby Fischer. [VIDEO SEA] (Producer)
Tootsie. [VIDEO TOO] (Producer, Director, Actor)
The Way We Were. [DVD WAY] (Director)



He will be missed.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Poetry Friday--Thoughts on the Upcoming Memorial Day

Some lines from a Scottish poet, Charles Mackay:
There's a good time coming, boys,
A good time coming:
War in all men's eyes shall be
A monster of iniquity
In the good time coming.
Nations shall not quarrel then
To prove which is the stronger,
Nor slaughter men for glory's sake:
Wait a little longer.
Let's hope that the good time comes soon because we all grow weary with weeping.

To read "There's a Good Time Coming" in its entirety, click here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Films

Today I'm attending the NH Library Association's annual conference, so I'm simply going to tell you about a few of the new films we've recently added to our DVD collection.

Some new releases are: Atonement [DVD ATO], August Rush [DVD AUG], Into the Wild [DVD INT], and No Country for Old Men [DVD NO].

In our effort to weed out aging videocassettes, we added these replacements in DVD format:
Amadeus [DVD AMA], Bonnie and Clyde [DVD BON], and Splendor in the Grass [DVD SPL].

We've also added a good number of classics that we haven't owned previously, including: Anna Karenina [DVD ANN], Pillow Talk [DVD PIL], Camille [DVD CAM], and Royal Wedding [DVD ROY].

As of May 16th, we had 1,573 DVDs in our adult collection alone! And considering that we order fairly frequently, the next time you visit, there are bound to be a few more new-to-us titles on the shelves!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

World Vegetarian Week, Part 2--Vegans

A Vegan Food Pyramid

Yesterday I posted about vegetarians. Today, I'm addressing a more "radical" type of vegetarian, the vegan.

Vegans have a bad rap--they're lumped together with "dirty hippies" or "crazy" PETA people! Not so, there are many perfectly normal people who have chosen to eat foods that have no connection to animals. I don't usually quote actresses, but Alicia Silverstone made sense when she said,
I feel better about myself as a person, being conscious and responsible for my actions and I lost weight and my skin cleared up and I got bright eyes and I just became stronger and healthier and happier. Can't think of anything better in the world to be but be vegan.

So, if you want to explore becoming a vegan, visit Vegan Action. You can also consult the American Dietetic Association's New Food Guide for North American Vegetarians (vegans can use the alternatives to animal based products). Then, come borrow one of our vegan cookbooks (we have several) where you'll find advice and hundreds of recipes:

Kramer, Sarah. La Dolce Vegan!: Vegan Livin' Made Easy. [641.5636 KRA]

Moskowitz, Isa Chandra. Veganomican: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. [641.5636 MOS]

Be proud of yourself for eating well!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This is World Vegetarian Week!

Over the years I've found myself eating less and less meat, although I'll freely admit, I'll never give up a juicy hamburger! Still, more often than not, I prefer vegetarian meals. This week, in honor of it's being World Vegetarian Week, I'll try to be more conscious of meat-free eating.

Here's an article on the Top Ten Reasons to Go Vegetarian, if you need convincing about the benefits of vegetarianism.

If you're a committed vegetarian, or simply like vegetarian meals come visit us. We carry the magazine Vegetarian Times [MAG VEG] and we have tons of books on the vegetarian lifestyle and cooking meatless meals.

Here are two for vegetarian newbies:

Melina, Vesanto. The New Becoming a Vegetarian: The Essential Guide to a Healthy Vegetarian Diet. [613.262 MEL]

Wolfe, Frankie A. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being Vegetarian. [613.262 WOL]

Just want to try a few new vegetarian recipes? Here are two cookbooks:

Robertson, Robin. Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are. [641.5636 ROB]

Wasserman, Debra. Meatless Meals for Working People: Quick and Easy Vegetarian Recipes. [641.5636 WAS]

Want more resources? Try the Vegetarian Resource Group website.


Kids often dabble in vegetarianism during their teens, much to the dismay of parents who worry about getting enough nutrients into growing bodies. We have books such as Vegetables Rock!: A Complete Guide for Teenage Vegetarians by Stephanie Pierson [YA 613.2 PIE] to guide you and your teen. Or, visit KidsHealth.

All this talk about meatless eating has got me drooling. I'm thinking right now of General Gao's tofu--lightly fried chunks of tofu, crisp broccoli, and a lovely spicy sauce. It's like General Gao's chicken, but better!

Monday, May 19, 2008

It's Nice to be Appreciated!

This past Friday, the Nesmith Library Board of Trustees, honored the staff with a beautifully prepared dinner. It is so nice to be appreciated, and the staff, in turn appreciates the Board for its continued support of the Library, its volunteers and workers, and, its mission.

Here are two photos of the treats prior to our digging in!



The room was decorated with lovely pink geraniums and pink plaid tablecloths. Perhaps the Board borrowed one of our party planning books. We have quite a few including:

Barefoot Contessa Parties: Ideas and Recipes for Parties. [642.4 BAR]

Good Things for Easy Entertaining: The Best of Martha Stewart Living. [642.4 GOO]

Kemp, Jim. Stylish Settings: The Art of Tabletop Design. [642.7 KEM]

A really different book is Napkin Folds for Special Occasions That Are Really Fun, by Gay Merrill Gross [642.7 GRO]. It lives up to its name with napkins folded as pinwheels, elf boots (for Christmas), and single stem flower holders. This is one book you'll have to see!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Poetry Friday

This is taken from a Teachers & Writers announcement:

A POEM AS BIG AS THE CITY

T&W Launches Citywide Poem Project

This spring, Teachers & Writers Collaborative will launch A Poem as Big as the City, a community poetry-writing project in which thousands of young New Yorkers will write about their everyday experiences growing up in the neighborhoods of New York City. Project components will include:

* Poetry-writing workshops at schools, library branches, community arts centers, museums, and parks;
* A book featuring the best of the youth poetry and presenting the diverse lives and neighborhoods that give shape to the spirit of New York City; and
* A series of public events featuring the youth poets reading their poems alongside well-known New York writers at significant cultural sites in each borough.

Doesn't it seem like a fun project? Is this something we could do statewide here in NH? Keep in mind there are only about a million people in the whole state of NH and there are about 8 million in the city of New York, still, we should be able to interest enough people in writing. As they plan to do in NY, the people of NH could write about specific aspects of NH life in order to gain new perspective on the state as a whole. For instance, the experience of hearing spring peepers every April, or jumping in a pile of leaves in the fall, or standing outside waiting for the school bus on a below freezing day. Here's the beginning of a poem very specific to NY, by Franklin Pierce Adams:
A New York Child’s Garden of Verses
In winter I get up at night,
And dress by an electric light.
In summer, autumn, ay, and spring,
I have to do the self-same thing.

I have to go to bed and hear
Pianos pounding in my ear,
And hear the janitor cavort
With garbage cans within the court.

And does it not seem hard to you
That I should have these things to do?
Is it not hard for us Manhat-
Tan children in a stuffy flat?

Read the rest here.


If you'd like to read some NH poets, start with Robert Frost, then delve into Donald Hall [818 HAL], Jane Kenyon [811.54 KEN], Maxine Kumin [811.54 KUM], or Patricia Fargnoli [811.54 FAR].

Then start thinking about writing your NH experiences!

Green Dolphins


If you've driven along rt. 111, and passed by Delahunty's over the past week, without a doubt you've noticed the green dolphins, leafy baseball players, and the giant pineapples!

These are all examples of the gardener's art of topiary! More examples can be found on-line at Topiary Joe's website. Cool! If you ever go down to Newport, RI, and I recommend that you do, include in your visit to the mansions, a side trip to the Green Animals Topiary Garden.

Topiary on a scaler scale can be done with potted shrubs or herbs. Examples can be seen in NH at Owl's Rest Farm in Sanbornton.

If you'd like to try your hand at this art, borrow Topiary and the Art of Training Plants by David Joyce [715 JOY].

I have a question...where does one put a giant leafy green pineapple?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

And Speaking of Bikes...


Well, I did speak about bikes briefly in my post about the rail trail. Biking is a great spring activity--and it's good exercise. May is "National Bike Month," and this Friday, May 16, is "Bike to Work Day," according to the League of American Bicyclists.
Their website has many resources for Windham cyclists such as groups to join, bike shops, and even instructors--click here.

A fascinating bicycle website is the International Bicycle Fund. Here you'll find all sorts of things like bicycle history, starting a community biking program, anti-theft ideas, etc.

We have many items on bicycling you may want to look for, start with one of these:

Chestney, Linda. Bicycling Southern New Hampshire. [917.42 CHE]

The Noblest Invention: An Illustrated History of the Bicycle. [629.227 NOB]

Wilson, David Gordon. Bicycling Science. [629.2272 WIL]

Also look for the series of maps put out by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Planning in cooperation with the U.S.Dept. of Transportion Federal Highway Administration, which are housed in vinyl pouches in a cardboard box [917.42 NEW].

For additional titles, check the catalog under the subject heading "Bicycles and Bicycling."

Wave to Carl when you see him biking to the Library on "Bike to Work Day" on Friday!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

History Walking

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned the Walk NH website. The site also has a page called, Walk into History that contains regional maps with lists of places to walk and learn a little history. Unfortunately, the list doesn't give much information. For example, the Merrimack Valley map lists Robert Frost's Home as #2 and contains this:
This man was a world famous poet who lived here and taught at Pinkerton Academy. One of his well known poems is "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening."
Well, duh! Not much here to entice you to visit! On the corresponding map, the #2 is barely visible! Not much "walking" is involved, either. "Walk into History" was a good idea, poorly executed.

If you want to visit Frost's Home (also known as Robert Frost's Farm), go the historic site's webpage. Here you'll find information about the farm, events, poetry, and a trail you can WALK on!

For more historic walks close to home there's the Lowell National Historic Park. A little further afield is Boston, which John Harris has written about in The Boston Globe Historic Walks in Boston [917.44 HAR].

1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada before You Die
by Patricia Schultz [917.304 SCH] will lead you to many wonderful places to visit and walk!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rail Trail

Yesterday was a glorious day for a walk--sunny, but not too hot. My daughter and I decided to check out the Windham Rail Trail. It was something we had been planning on doing for quite a while, but we just never did. It was FABULOUS! The paved path was wide enough for walkers and bike riders. The scenery was awesome--wild flowers, chipmunks, beaver dams, etc. If you haven't yet been there yourself, do it! Visit the Windham Rail Trail Alliance for more information. If you're a runner, there is a certified 5K trail race coming up on June 1. Registration details are on the site.

This colorful caboose is located at the northern end of the Windham trail

The Windham paved trail is 4.1 miles, Derry is planning on paving an additional 3.6 miles. They, the Derry Rail Trail Alliance, received a promise of funding of $225,000 from the town, but it is contingent upon the Alliance raising an $150,000.

By the number of bikes we saw on the trail yesterday (it seemed like half of Windham was there on bikes), we could see that the additional length of trail up to Derry, would be welcomed. If you want to see the paving made a reality, think about contributing.

The Rails to Trails Conservancy is a national organization devoted to converting old railroad tracks to trails. Visit their site for more trails in the northeast, or borrow the library's copy of the Conservancy's official guidebook, Rail-Trails New England [917.4 RAI].

If you'd like to check out the State of NH plans for the extended trail from Salem to Concord, visit the Dept. of Transportation site and look at the newly posted maps! Also, the first week of June will be Walk New Hampshire week, so dust off those walking shoes!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Poetry Friday--Happy Mother's Day!


A poem from Emily Dickinson to celebrate all mothers--especially Mother Nature:


NATURE, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest,—
Her admonition mild

In forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.

How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon,—
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down

Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.

When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky,

With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.



For more Emily Dickinson poems, look for Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson [811 DIC]. A Happy Mother's Day to you and your mother, daughter, aunt, friend--any woman you wish to remember on Sunday!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Do You Have To Be Crazy To Be A Documentary Film Maker?

I'm sure it doesn't hurt. First of all, documentary film makers get no respect. Documentaries don't often become summer blockbusters, so Hollywood generally ignores them. Secondly, the film makers have to mortgage their lives to get financing--you have to be crazy to do that. Thirdly, people don't like it when reality upsets their view of the world, and a documentary film maker presents reality, warts and all. Sometimes, as a result, the film maker becomes the recipient of hateful attacks. Only crazy people would want to put up with all this for their art!

Fortunately, though, there are some film makers who approach their topic with a sense of humor that translates well to film. These people are "crazy," but they have managed a fair amount of success. One such film maker, is Michael Moore. He can make you laugh despite the fact that he is showing you the absolute hellishness of living in the U.S. without access to adequate healthcare in his film, Sicko [DVD 362.1 SIC].

Another in the field is Morgan Spurlock. Spurlock is the guy who decided to film himself living (while slowing killing himself) on a diet of McDonald's fast food. If you haven't seen the film, Super Size Me [DVD 613.2 SUP], you really should! Now it seems, the crazy Mr. Spurlock, has made a film of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The film is Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? It premiered at Sundance in January, opened very limitedly in the U.S., and is opening later this week in the U.K. The Independent, covered Spurlock in this piece. Visit the official website to take a look at the trailer.

If you want to see Where in the World... you'll have to travel down to Mystic, CT, otherwise you'll probably have to wait until it comes out on DVD!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Princesses


We have a display of princess books for the next few weeks. It's perfectly pink and sparkly. I hope, however, that it doesn't raise the ire of some library user who thinks the display is sexist! (See my past rant about our display case complaints.)




Actually, the display is a showcase for some of the crowns made at the recent young adult Tiara and Tea Party held during April vacation.



The idea for the party was a result of an awesome new book we added to the collection, Crowns and Tiaras, by Kerri Judd [YA 745.5 JUD]. Look for it on the shelves in a few weeks, right now it is part of our princess display.





Some other items on display are several of the books in the Meg Cabot "Princess Diaries" series, [YA CAB], the Pink Princess Cookbook by Barbara Beery [J 641.86 BEE], and one of my all-time favorite films, The Princess Bride [DVD PRI] (view the trailer here).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The State Library


This posting is a wee bit late--I was at the NH State Library this morning for a workshop on two Content Management Systems--Joomla and Drupal. These are free (open source) programs that allow a group, in our case, a public library, to have a web content that everyone on staff can easily add or change without the bother of HTML or using a costly web creation program such as Dreamweaver.

Most of the workshop was over my head, but I was quite impressed with what I saw of Joomla and Drupal. Someday, when I get some free time at home, I may experiment.

I also did a little research while I was at NHSL. I love that place! It is full of surprises. I was looking for Science magazine from 1945 and it was there--in hard copy, not fiche. Then I needed something that I was sure they wouldn't have--an issue of the Journal of American Nursing from 1954, and that, too, was there! Who woulda thunk it!

For those of you who didn't even know we had a state library, the next time you're in Concord, it's right across the street from the State House, stop in! The staff is friendly and helpful.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Weddings

Weddings have become a big business in the United States. The average cost of a wedding for a couple from Windham is more than $48,000! (If you believe the website www.costofwedding.com.)

Bridal fairs are held in huge convention centers, paid seminars are given on wedding planning, and, there are jobs for people involved in weddings that weren't in existence 25 years ago! (Think of the ice sculptors who now spend time year round carving out crystal swans and fountains!)

The business of weddings has spawned reality television programs such as Bridezilla. They in turn, have spawned even more books on planning the perfect wedding! (See the RichBride PoorBride Your Ultimate Weeding Planning Guide [395.22 RIC] for an example.)


All this is by way of introduction to the Peabody Essex Museum's current exhibit called "Wedded Bliss, The Marriage of Art and Ceremony," which runs through September 18.
Wedded Bliss, The Marriage of Art and Ceremony explores the wedding as a source of inspiration for the creation of art in cultures around the world. Featuring approximately 130 objects, this ambitious exhibition presents work by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Claes Oldenburg and Jacob Lawrence alongside historic and couture gowns, ceremonial items and rare jewelry. The complex beliefs and emotions surrounding the matrimonial experience are reflected in three centuries of art and culture from the United States, Asia, Africa and Europe. The full spectrum of the matrimonial experience - from courtship, engagement, and pre-nuptial arrangements to wedding rituals, ceremonies, and anniversaries - is richly represented.

Borrow our library pass and plan on a visit to see this intriguing show. A preview can be seen at the museum's website.

And since wedding season is coming up, you may wish to look at our collection of wedding books in the 392.5 section. Here you can learn a little of the history of weddings by thumbing through Weddings: Dating and Love Customs of Cultures Worldwide Including Royalty by Carolyn Mordecai [392.5 MOR], or view some of the dresses worn by brides over the years in Clare Gibson's Wedding Dress [392.54 GIB]. And, if wedding cakes interest you, we have Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes [641.8653 STE] for you to drool over!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Poetry Friday--Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop died in 1979 and only now has a volume of her poems, stories, travel writing, and letters been published. This volume entitled Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters [811.54 BIS] was recently issued by The Library of America. One of the people who selected the writings to be included, and who wrote the notes, Lloyd Schwartz, was interviewed this week by Terry Gross on Fresh Air.

Schwartz, who was a friend of Bishop's, tells of finding a poem Bishop had written and keeping the fact that he had made a copy of it a secret for many years. The poem was never published until Schwartz included it in this new collection. The revelation is interesting in that we do not know the reasons why Bishop never published it--was it not to her liking? Was it too personal? Was it lost? In any case, it presented Schwartz with a dilemma--to publish it or not? You can listen to the interview on the Fresh Air site.

Bishop was not only a poet, but also a painter, a fact that probably helps explain her keen observation of scenes.

Here's a short poem by Bishop:
Thunder

And suddenly the giants tired of play.--
With huge, rough hands they flung the gods' gold ball
And silver harps and mirrors at the walls
Of Heaven, and trod, ashamed, where lay
The loveliness of flowers. Frightened Day
On white feet ran from out the temple halls,
The blundering dark was filled with great war-calls,
And Beauty, shamed, slunk silently away.

Be quiet, little wind among the leaves
That turn pale faces to the coming storm.
Be quiet, little foxes in your lairs,
And birds and mice be still--a giant grieves
For his forgotten might. Hark now the warm
And heavy stumbling down the leaden stairs!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Conceptual Art

Yesterday, when doing a Google search, I noticed the header illustration had changed. I find the illustrations always pleasing and generally they tie into the season or holiday. The new photo had me baffled. What was it, and what did it represent? Was there some cultural reference I was missing? When you hit my advanced age (let's just say 50+), it is no longer easy to keep up with the youth culture.

I right-clicked on the illustration and found the name Jeff Koons. Then, I did a google search on Koons and discovered that he is an American conceptual artist. Okay, conceptual art--what is that? This being a library, I thought it would be easy. I went to The Dictionary of Art [R 703 DIC]. If you haven't seen The Dictionary of Art, let me tell ya, it's an awesome, 34 volume set, of almost everything you could possibly want to know about art! I found this definition in volume 7:
Conceptual art [idea art; information art]. Term applied to work produced from the mid-196-s that either markedly de-emphasized or entirely eliminated a perceptual encounter with unique objects in favour of an engagement with ideas.
Well, that's clear as mud! So, I went to Koons' website and had a look around.

I still don't get it, but it certainly is fun! And, since his work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (NY), Whitney Museum of American Art (NY), Guggenheim Museum (NY), The National Gallery (Washington, DC), Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (CA), Tate Gallery (London, UK), Stedelijk Museum (the Netherlands), Museum Ludwig (Germany), and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum (Japan), someone must "get" it.

If you're interested in learning more about contemporary art, plan a trip to the newly renovated Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. The library has a pass that you can reserve! Sign up for one of their ARTalks
ARTalk lectures and gallery talks explore works of art in the Currier’s collection from a variety of angles and put them into cultural, social, and historical contexts.
When you learn about conceptual art, come back and explain it to me!