Saturday, April 17, 2010

Leonard Cohen

Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen (2006).  Cohen is a Montreal native who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.  As anyone who has listened to his albums can tell you, he has built his reputation on his songwriting skills, rather than his vocal abilities.  In fact, Cohen began his career as a poet, publishing his first collection - Let Us Compare Mythologies - in 1956, while he was an undergraduate at McGill University.  By the time he moved to New York in 1967 to pursue music, he had already established himself as a gifted poet in Canada.
Book of Longing is his most recent book of poetry, and it is the only poetry book to make it to the top of the bestseller list in Canada (as compiled by Maclean's magazine).  The pieces in this collection cover a lot of territory, and they are interspersed with Cohen's own line drawings and quick sketches.  Lyrics, free verse, epigrams, short poems and communications to the reader fill the pages.

Friday, April 16, 2010

John Ashbery

A Worldly Country: new poems by John Ashbery (2007).  The son of a farmer and a biology teacher, Ashbery was born and raised in upstate New York.  He graduated from Harvard University in 1949 and received his Master's at Columbia University just a couple of years before publishing his first collection of poems, the chapbook Turandot and Other Poems. 
He worked as a magazine editor and poet for years, continuing to publish his work with mixed success until 1975, when his book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror won the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.
In the succeeding decades, he has gone on to garner numerous awards, including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Poetry Society of America's Robert Frost Medal, the American Academy of Arts and Letters's Gold Medal for Poetry and many fellowships and awards. 
Ashbery has published more than twenty collections of poems, and he is currently the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College at Annandale-on Hudson, New York.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kay Ryan

The Best of It: new and selected poems by Kay Ryan.  Ryan is currently in her second year as Poet Laureate of the United States.  Born and raised in Southern California, she was educated at UCLA and she now teaches part-time at the College of Marin in Kentfield.  This is her first retrospective collection of poetry, and she includes previously published work as well as new pieces.  Her poems are very short and compressed, but there is a certain rhythm and rhyme to her poems that give them an air of musicality....almost like a chant. 
In addition to her two-year tenure as Poet Laureate, Ryan has also been awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Maurice English Poetry Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Union League Poetry Prize, an Ingram Merrill Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stephen Dunn

Everything Else in the World by Stephen Dunn (2006).  Dunn was born in New York City in 1939 (apparently, if you want to be a poet, it helps to be born in NYC).  After graduating from Hofstra University, he spent a year as a professional basketball player with the Williamsport, Pennsylvania Billies.  He's had considerably more success and longevity as a poet.
He has published 14 collections of poems, winning the Pulitzer Prize for his book Different Hours (2000) and the National Poetry Series award for Local Time (1986).  He has also been awarded the James Wright Prize, the Academy Award for Literature, three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Theodore Roethke Prize, the Levinson Prize, and the Oscar Blumenthal Prize.
He is currently the Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (I wonder how he fits that title on his business card). 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Marge Piercy

Colors Passing Through Us by Marge Piercy (2003).  Piercy draws on a number of different influences in this book:  the life of her maternal grandmother, who emigrated from a Lithuanian stetl; her love of gardening; her strong sense of political activism; her experiences with marriage and divorce; and her own sexuality.
Piercy, who has lived on Cape Cod for decades, was born and raised in Detroit during the Great Depression, and was the first member of her family to attend college.  She rebelled against the traditional roles of the 1950's, however, becoming involved with both the civil rights movement and the feminist movement. She published her first book of poems - Breaking Camp - in 1968, after completing an M.A. at Northwestern University.  She has since published 16 collections of poetry, the most recent being The Crooked Inheritance.  Many of her prose and poetical works deal with feminism, Judaism, cats and gardening.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Charles Wright

Buffalo Yoga by Charles Wright (2004).  Tennessee-born Wright is currently the Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  A prolific poet who published his first volume of poems - The Grave of the Right Hand - in 1970, Wright has recently published his 19th book.  Sestets is a collection of six-line poems that are "a masterpiece of formal rigor and a profound meditation on nature and mortality" - from the book description.
Charles Wright is a well-respected poet who has won the Pulitzer Prize (Black Zodiac), the National Book Award (Country Music) and the Griffin Poetry Prize (Scar Tissue).  In 1979 he won the PEN Translation Prize for his work in translating the Italian poet Eugenio Montale (The Storm and Other Things).  Being stationed in Italy while enlisted in the U.S. Army and his later experiences teaching in Italy surely helped him get a feel for Italian culture.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Louise Glück

Writer-in-residence at Yale University, Louise Glück received the Pulitzer Prize for her collection of poems The Wild Iris in 1992.  The poems in this collection alternate between conversations with God and communication between flowers and their gardener (who could be seen as the Supreme Being of the garden). 
Born in New York City and educated at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University, Glück published her first collection of poems - Firstborn - in 1968.  She was appointed Poet Laureate in 2003, and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry in 2006 for her collection Averno.  She has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Bollingen Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets
Her eleventh collection - A Village Life - was published last year, and is a collection of poems set in the hills overlooking the Mediterranean.  She received a great deal of critical praise for this book, although it was seen as a departure from her previous works.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

They're here! They're here! Ebooks are here!

Well, we've had many inquiries about the possibility of getting ebooks for our patrons here in Ketchikan, and I'm happy to say that - thanks to our ListenAlaska consortium - we can now offer over 700 different titles for your enjoyment.  James Patterson, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Margaret Atwood and Barbara Kingsolver are some of the popular authors to choose from, as well as a variety of nonfiction titles like Knitting for Dummies, The Evolution of God.....even the FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook!!
When you go to our ListenAlaska site, you can browse through the newest ebook titles right there at the top of the page.  Most of the ebook titles are in the reader-friendly Adobe ePub format, and they can all be read directly on your PC or Mac, or can be transferred to selected portable handheld readers.  The system works with the Nook (from Barnes & Noble) and with Sony eReaders...but unfortunately is not compatible with Amazon Kindle or the new iPad. 
To see a complete list of our ebook offerings, go to Advanced Search and select either ePub or PDF as your format.  You can also narrow your search by genre, language, award-winners.  Once you've checked out your title, you'll just need to download the Adobe Digital Editions file management software.  The link is at the bottom of the ListenAlaska page, and there are step-by-step instructions for downloading and installing this software.
We will be continuing to add to the ebook selections in the future, so be sure to keep checking for new titles!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

John Straley

The Rising and the Rain by John Straley.  Straley is a well-known name in Southeast Alaska (and among mystery fans everywhere) for his Cecil Younger mystery series.  Setting his novels in Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan, Straley is a completely authentic voice of Southeast.  He gets us....he's one of us.  This same innate empathy comes across in his poems.  The damp cold, grey mist fingers working down into the trees, the detritus and rot, long periods of contemplation out alone in the woods or on the's all there with a good dollop of dry humor.
A long-time Sitka resident and criminal defense investigator for the Alaska Public Defender Agency, Straley was named Alaska's 12th Writer Laureate in 2006 (during his tenure, he came to Ketchikan to do a reading here at the public library).  His first novel - The Woman Who Married a Bear - won a Shamus Award for Best First Mystery in 1993.  The Rising and the Rain is Straley's first book of poetry.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

The library is closed on Sundays...feel free to rhyme amongst yourselves until we reopen on Monday, at 10 am

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Billy Collins

The Trouble with Poetry, and other poems by Billy Collins (2005).  Writing about the previous occupants of his old farmhouse, the symbolism of statues, or the artificial friendship intimated by nametags on workers, Collins writes with poems with a vein of humor and a way of shifting perspective that forces the reader to look at the familiar in new ways.  He has a wonderful spoken delivery, as well (check out Billy Collins Live on our ListenAlaska audiobook service).
Collins is a New York poet, born and bred, who has taught at Lehman College in the Bronx for decades.  He was named U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003) as well as the New York State Poet Laureate (2004-2006).  During his tenure as America's Poet Laureate, he introduced the program Poetry 180, which encouraged high schools to read one poem a day for the entire school year.  The poems selected for this program where collected in Poetry 180: a turning back to poetry (2003), and a follow-up volume 180 more: extraordinary poems for every day (2005).  The public library has both of these volumes, as well as other collections of Mr. Collins' work.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Philip Levine

News of the World by Philip Levine is a slim collection of semi-autobiographical poems dealing with war, blue-collar workers, the gritty side of America and an extremely unflattering portrayal of a librarian ("Library Days", pg. 32). This is Levine's 16th collection of poetry.

Born in 1928, Detroit native Levine has been the poet-in-residence at New York University for the past 14 years, as well as the recepient of the National Book Award for his 1980 collection Ashes and the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for The Simple Truth. The son of immigrants, Levine grew up doing a variety of industrial jobs, and eventually went to night school while working at an auto plant. He has a real understanding of working-class life and the fleeting nature of the American dream when one is living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One poet a day won't kill you

It's April, which is National Poetry Month, and I'm going to totally steal a wonderful concept from KRBD : "One Poem a Day Won't Kill You".  Twice a day, every day, during the month of April one of your friends and neighbors from Ketchikan reads a favorite poem.  30 days = 30 poems.
Since we're big on books here at the public library, we will be showcasing a volume of poems from a different poet each day, including a short bio of the poet.  Let's start with the newest poetry book in the collection:  Breakwater by Catharine Savage Brosman. 
Brosman is emerita professor of French at Tulane University, honorary research professor at the University of Sheffield (England), and is currently the poetry editor for Chronicles: a magazine of American Culture.  She published her first book of poetry in 1972 (Watering), and this latest book is her 7th collection of poems.  A native of Colorado and currently a resident of Texas, she has a real feel for the beauty of the American West in her poetry. 
Breakwater begins with an autobiographical tone, as the poems deal with rediscovered and reunited love (she recently remarried her first husband after decades of being apart).  She goes on to write of the experiences of other women in their lives and loves, and the poems at the end of the collection focus on the nature and landscapes of the bayou and the southwest.