Goodbye Poem to a Short, Chubby Cat

Ten days ago we lost our cat Lupa. She was eleven years old, and she had cancer that had moved into her lungs.

cat sleeping on heater

Lupa loved making the bed with us when we took freshly washed sheets out of the dryer.  She was shy and liked having her cheeks rubbed. And she was sneaky in her lifelong quest for yogurt and cheese. Continue reading

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Bunnies with Moustaches, and Nine Other Things I Love About the Library

Plush bunny with moustache

There have been too many things to love about the library this spring.  At least five of them have to do with beer:

1. Reading Terminal Market and the Fabric Workshop and Museum

In March I headed to my first ever PLA conference, in adorable Philadelphia.  I roomed with my boss, and we watched “Friends” reruns in our hotel room.  So, it was pretty rad.  These Amish women at the Reading Terminal Market made the best sticky buns I’ve ever had in my life. Beer was consumed. But my favorite was the Fabric Workshop and Museum, where I met the very awesome Chicago librarians Vicki Rakowski and Ben Haines, and scored some pink plastic tentacles and a bunny with a moustache.  Then we saw Betty White.

2. The San Jose Public Library

Nate Hill, web librarian at San Jose Public Library, is my new favorite librarian — I saw him speak at PLA in Philly.  Imagine: self-published books by library patrons that could be instantly cataloged and then vetted by upvoting, like on Reddit.  And check out that sexy color coding on their website.  These are some of the brain children of Nate Hill, who makes jokes about dogs and burritos.

3. Erotic Fiction workshops

Also a Philly highlight: talking about smutty books with about 100 fellow librarians at 8:30 on a Saturday morning.  I learned that many erotic novels have purple or red covers, and I placed a hold on Fifty Shades of Grey.

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The Big Poetry Reveal

A few weeks ago I posted a teaser about upcoming poetry events at my library.  A few of you even weighed in on what it should be called (and by a few, I mean one, and he’s mostly a fictional erotic persona).

Lobster Phone

Having little to do with poetry, this Lobster Phone is for your viewing pleasure.

And so now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: what will the library’s new monthly poetry night be called?  Not a Mixer, or a Collective, or a Congress (sorry, Chip) — but… a Social!  Somewhere between a Square Dance and a Soiree, it somehow seemed sexy enough for Lawrence without being too sexy.  The first one’s coming up just around the corner in September, and will feature “Migrations.”  Sharpen your pencils, Lawrence: Continue reading

Sexy, Sexy Poetry

So we’re trying this new thing at my library.  We’re starting a monthly poetry night for the fall and spring, and are pretty excited about the opportunities and challenges this presents.  Main opportunity?  Poetry is awesome.  And main challenge?  Poetry’s got a little bit of a dusty reputation.  We’re hoping to do something about that.

Manic Mouth Congress

And so taking to the ever-amazing Internets to get some ideas, I typed “awesome poetry events” into my google search bar, and discovered this beautiful little poetry tumblr that I’m now obsessed with: Manic Mouth Congress.  Manic Mouth Congress!  I want to be everything that is the Manic Mouth Congress.  In reading more about the Mouths, I learned that they do things like a Night of Erotic Poetry.  Yowza! Continue reading

Reviving Local Stories

William Stafford

Last night at my library I attended a great book discussion about Kansas Poems by William Stafford, edited by Denise Low.  Denise was Poet Laureate of Kansas from 2007-09, and she was our discussion leader last night!

Denise talked to us about William Stafford, a Quaker poet from Hutchinson, KS, who published his first collection of poems when he was almost fifty, in 1962.  That collection, Traveling Through the Dark, went on to win the National Book Award, and he was named U.S. Poet Laureate just a few years later.  His Kansas poems are written in plain language and reflect on death, loss, and rural poverty, but with a deep sense of acceptance and even twinkle-in-your-eye humor.  He was also a noted pacifist; in 2007, NPR’s All Things Considered ran a National Poetry Month feature on him called “A Pacifist’s Plainspoken Poetry.”

And yet!  Most of us in the audience had never even heard of Stafford prior to the book group.  But how could that be ~ a U.S. Poet Laureate and National Book Award winner, from our very own state?  And a KU grad, no less?? Continue reading

Poetrying Your Way Through the Public Library

Many thanks to poet and birth doula V. Wetlaufer for penning this guest post on poetry & public libraries!  V. is a Lambda Literary Fellow, the author of two chapbooks — Scent of Shatter and Bad Wife Spankings — and her poetry has appeared in Drunken Boat, Word Riot and Bloom.  She also blogs regularly at The V-Spot.

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Poetry Shelf

I owe my start in poetry writing to my undergraduate college’s library. Crossett Library is small, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in the quality of their collection. I was in my regular library carrel, where I went to complete all my schoolwork senior year, writing a paper for a literature class, when I decided I needed a break. Off to the shelves I went to find a collection of poetry. I randomly selected a collection of Adrienne Rich’s poetry and opened the volume at random. So moved by her work was I that, having never written a poem before, I scribbled my very first poem inspired by a book plucked at random from the shelves.

I’m fortunate enough these days to live in a city with a fantastic public library, Salt Lake City, as well as a truly incredible university library I rely on for my PhD program. However, I am always saddened when I turn to a library to feed my poetry needs and the poetry collection is sadly lacking. I am especially sad when there is a dearth of contemporary poetry. I am a huge fan of poetry from Chaucer to Wordsworth, Whitman and Eliot and everyone in between, but I believe that the best way for the majority of people to encounter poetry for the first time is through contemporary work. Continue reading

Banquet with poet Janice Harrington; ILA Annual Conference ’09

Cappuccino Cake

As we sat at our banquet tables and admired the intricate book-sculpture centerpieces while eating cappuccino cake on Thursday evening, we librarians had the pleasure of being entertained by the fabulous poet and storyteller Janice Harrington.  Harrington is a spirited and interactive speaker!  She began by asking all of us to rise — our bellies full of cake — and say:

“If you’ve got a tambourine
Shake it to the glory of God!
Glory! Glory! Glory!
Shake it to the glory of God!
Tambourines!
Tambourines! Tambourines!
Tambourines to Glory!”

-excerpt, Tambourines to Glory by Langston Hughes

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