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Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon presented their new anthology, Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down (Scarlet Tanager Press, 2012). We heard readings by editors and contributors: Andrena Zawinski, Lucille Lang Day and Judy Wells.

 

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Over 500 players from Pre-Readers to Kids to Teens to Adults are reading and coloring and spinning and winning. The Alameda County Library’s Summer Reading Game lasts all summer. (Albany Library’s game shuts down in late August.)

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The first Bingo winners are cashing in! Book-loving kids are hitting Albany Bowl and Togos, trekking to Lawrence Hall of Science and the Chabot Space Center–and a few have scored their final prize of a Book and Ferry Ride and chance at the county raffle.

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Teen and adult prize winners are faced with the difficult choice between blow-up globe or squeezy ball. Psychological studies reveal that globe-pickers have dreams of world domination and squeezy ball choosers want us all to get along. (Don’t worry, peaceniks! The inflatable globe is accurate and will help kids pass their SATs. And the globe–like all dreams of world conquest–will lose its air, especially after a good game of soccer!)

This Monday we draw our first Albany Raffle Prize for each age group: four Solano Avenue gift cards. (Yes, the entire card can be spent on Ice Cream!)

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Opal Palmer Adisa & devorah major read at Albany Library in California, as part of Second Tuesdays Poetry Series. “You cannot disappear into the crowd. You have been named.” –Opal Palmer Adisa

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Our featured readers at the November 13 poetry night were Betty Roszak and Murray Silverstein.

A fascinating collection of painted tubes stood to the left of the podium as Betty Roszak read her poems, glowing like a futuristic city. These designs are part of the cover art for her collected poems: For Want of the Golden City.

The art fit the mood of the poems. Just as the decorations on the tubes were reminiscent of a hippie bus, the concepts held under the poet’s scrutiny shimmered in a groovy way as they caught the light. See photos below.

Roszak also stared down the problems of pollution and greed and her poems were a testament to ecological awareness. As Catherine Taylor writes,

“Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and reviews. Her audio-texts, Starbirth and The Crest of the East Pacific Rise, poetic evocations of recent scientific discoveries, have been presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The poem “Global Ocean Flux” was commissioned by the American Geophysical Union.”

Murray Silverstein was the second reader. He read favorites from his collection, Any Old Wolf, reminding the audience how rooted we are in spoken truths. The voice, narrating the passages of family life, is great within us and Silverstein’s voice is particularly clear and strong.

His idiosyncratic poems about a series of buildings in Modesto (with slides of each building) were a delight to hear and see. Not only did we meet the people who lived in the buildings; the structures spoke out–each revealing its own persona. The architectural poems were written for Modesto’s 2012 International Architecture Festival.

Look for Murray’s new book, Master of Leaves, from Sixteen Rivers Press.

Many accomplished poets stepped up to the open mic following the featured readers, a night remarkable for its clear voices. I hope to add video recordings of the featured poets at a later date.

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On Monday, October 15, Mani Feniger read from her book, The Woman in the Photograph: The Search for my Mother’s Past. The author’s odyssey into her family history was prompted by the accidental discovery of a packet of photographs in a family closet.

These pictures showed a young woman from Leipzig, Germany in the 1930′s. Mani’s own memory of her pragmatic, thrifty mother contrasted with the rich, soft images of the girl in the photos. This puzzled her. The pleasure evident in her mother’s face was a side of her mother the author had never seen.

Through discussions with relatives, email exchanges with strangers, records searches and a trip to Leipzig, the stories of her mother’s youth (and the family’s former property in Germany) came to light.

The author’s resolve to accept everything that was revealed–including pain and disappointment–made the stories very compelling and built empathy for this woman who kept so much of her life “to herself.”  The memoir improves our understanding of how people cope with fear and danger, passing those traumas on to their children–at the same time, surrounding their kids with comfort and love.

Feniger was especially eloquent in describing the symbolic re-emergence of her mother’s ring–one of the view tangible treasures from her mother’s past.

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Reading is So Delicious!

All lined up and ready to play!

http://www.facebook.com/AlbanyCALibrary#!/events/119486654859382/

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Reading poems aloud show if they really work. Are the words chosen and placed in a way the voice can carry them, or does the voice trip and stumble from a lack of balance? Do the endings work? Are the meanings muddled or made clear by speaking them aloud? This last point is a great mystery when we speak another’s lines–say, Emily Dickinson’s. The cadence is our own, we can’t really imagine how she would intimate her lines out loud.

It is a great privilege to hear a poet read his or her own words because the sense of utterance, the fight for the right sound and tone, comes through. We hear a person’s thoughts becoming speech.

Sandra Gilbert gave us a glimpse of that process last Tuesday night. The endings definitely worked, the meanings were strong and clear, painful and occasionally merry. She chose to read part of an essay from Rereading Women. The essay was like an incantation, with some humor stirred into the mix. She discussed Emily Dickinson and, though the Boom was her Own, the Thrill was all the poets that preceded her. Maybe when the living read poems, the dead speak through them. The Thrill came slowly like a Boom for /Centuries delayed. (Dickinson-1495.)

Gilbert’s voice showed its fullest range–both incisive and tender–as she read a series of sonnets from Aftermath. The matter of the facts was difficult and, in the end, the facts mattered to us. A true disclosure. It would be a pleasure to see the words in print and read them aloud–or silently.

Look for video of this event on Albany’s public access channel. See photographs below.

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Albany Library welcomed Richard O. Moore, Brenda Hillman and Paul Ebenkamp to its Second Tuesdays Poetry Night on 9/13  at 7:00 pm.

Brenda Hillman and Paul Ebenkamp began the evening with selections from their own books of poetry. Both are active in the writing program at St. Mary’s College, with many of their students and colleagues in the audience.

Richard O. Moore was the final featured poet. His resonant voice filled the room and gave everyone a new appreciation of poetic diction. Moore’s recent book, Writing the Silences, is a celebration of over 60 years of writing. The book provides a glimpse into San Francisco Renaissance Poetry of the 1940′s, a movement that preceded Beat Poetry.  True to the ethos of that era, Moore–a pioneer broadcaster who helped found KPFA–said that his political art sprang from “radical doubt” in government, power, and language.

Hillman and Ebenkamp co-edited Moore’s book and the readings were followed by a discussion of the selection and editorial process.  They spoke of the pleasure of learning from each other and the difficulty of condensing a lifetime of poetic output into one book. All three made strong statements about politics and art–condemning the current state of perpetual war in Central Asia and the Middle East. Brenda Hillman reaffirmed the power of conscience against complacency.

Brenda Hillman has published eight collections of poetry, all from Wesleyan University Press. Themost recent, Practical Water (2010), which won the LA Times Book Award for Poetry, is part of herlarger project of meditations on the natural elements that includes Pieces of Air in the Epic (2005)and Cascadia (2001).

Paul Ebenkamp, a writer, editor, and assistant academic coordinator, has published poetry inTry!, RealPoetik, and The Walrus. He is currently at work on An Anthologyof Early Women Modernist Poets (forthcoming April 2012, Counterpoint Press).

Albany Library thanks all three September poets for kicking off the 2011-2012 Second Tuesdays’ Poetry series.

Richard O. Moore (Author), Brenda Hillman (Editor), Paul Ebenkamp (Editor)

Writing the Silences

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Albany Library’s Ronnie Davis stepped into the spotlight on Tuesday afternoon. The City of Albany’s Rotary Club invited Ronnie to speak at a luncheon held at the Solano Grill and Bar. Her ingenious topic was “Cartoon Talking Points!” This slideshow of library-related cartoons covered all facets of library service and turned old-fashioned perceptions upside down.

Before the salmon and veggie lunch, members talked with library staff about old times. Dana Milner recalled his first day on the job with the City of Albany and Ronnie’s urgent request to fix the library doors. His team rebuilt the doors and the stressed-out library staff were able to open and close on time. Club President, Jason Alabanza, and Friends of Albany Library President, Caryl O’Keefe, introduced Ronnie to the group.

Ronnie began her talk with a Peanuts cartoon she’d used many decades ago in her first speech to local Rotarians: Lucy exclaims that everything at the library is FREE and Linus replies, “Sort of makes you wonder what they’re up to.” She pointed out that libraries are not free, but–to quote Alan Riffer–pre-paid services, funded by property taxes and city special taxes. She fielded questions about funding at the end of the program and it was evident that local partners must work even harder to support each other through tough times.

To demonstrate the library’s viability to the business community, Ronnie cited statistics showing the Albany library’s 3-fold increase in circulation from 1981 to 2011. Rotary members have been essential members of the team that garnered support for the new library building in the 90′s. Many members have served on the board or been active in the Friends group.

This talk was an excellent venue for showing what it takes to build successful partnerships between people (or agencies) and the liaison-role of a community librarian. Rotary is all about partnerships based on mutual respect. Club members measure their success by the 4-Way Test:

Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER RELATIONSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

The talk was full of humor. To illustrate the changing image of the librarian, Ronnie showed several contrasting cartoons, then produced a plastic action figure of the “shushing librarian,” a doll that raised its finger to its lips. Her advice was the opposite: Don’t be quiet. Speak up and speak out about this great town and its fantastic library.

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Some people are so special!  We appreciate all the business at the library–our gate count is consistently higher than it’s ever been. Though each day brings surprising encounters, some interactions are remarkable and deserve mention.

Last week, a patron was using the self-checkout machine and doing just fine, but turned to the checkout desk when an item was not scanning properly. A staff person checked the patron’s card to make sure it was up-to-date and saw that the patron was 98 years old. The two had a nice conversation about using the library. Our staff member was so happy to serve the nonagenarians in our midst. (When they let us help!!)

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