It’s April! April is National Poetry Month and April 10 through April 16 is National Library Week. So celebrate your local library and its contributions to your community and read a poem this month (or even write one)!
Melissa – Technical Services
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, New Fiction Yanagihara
Yanagihara has created something that is simultaneously beautiful and gut-wrenching. She depicts the lives of four men over their decades-long friendship. There’s not much new I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said by better literary critics. “How often is a novel so deeply disturbing that you find yourself weeping, and yet so revelatory about human kindness that you might also feel touched by grace?” (San Francisco Chronicle). “There are truths here that are almost too much to bear.” (LA Times). Truly, this is a book that will stay with me for years.
Sue – Circulation
The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov by Denise Levertov, Nonfiction 811.54 Lev
Denise Levertov was an English-born award-winning poet. She was born in Essex in 1923 and passed away in 1997. She began writing at a young age, even getting a positive response from T.S. Eliot when she sent some of her poetry to him at age 12. She was first published at age 17. She worked as a nurse in London during WWII and moved to the U.S. in 1948 after marrying an American writer. Her poetry included a wide range of themes over her six-decade career. Early on, her themes included feminism and political and social activism, particularly in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when she spoke out against the Vietnam War and supported civil rights. In her later years, she became a Christian and she wrote spiritual and nature poems. I find her poetry to be an affirmation and celebration of life, even with all of its sorrows. Her writing is very lyrical and reads beautifully. Her poems, especially her later poems that focus on spirituality and the natural world, express deep emotions and reflect upon the meaning of our lives. These later poems are my personal favorites and include “Sojourns in the Parallel World,” “Beginners,” “Of Being,” and “A Gift.” “Sojourns in the Parallel World” speaks about how man has moved away from the natural world, but can find peace and wisdom in nature away from man-made anxieties. “Beginners” speaks of how far man has yet to go in order to find justice, mercy, harmony with nature, etc. “Of Being” and “A Gift” suggest that though life includes sadness and suffering, the joy of life makes up for the sadness and helping others is a way to increase our joy and make our lives more meaningful.
Waiting for My Life: Poems by Linda Pastan, Nonfiction 811.54 Pas
Linda Pastan is an award-winning American poet who resides in Maryland. Her poems deal with our everyday lives and feature themes of domesticity, like parents, children, home, loss, grief, aging, and the unexpected joys and tragedies of life. She writes about ordinary moments of life and celebrates them for their deeper meaning. Her poetry tends to be concise, filled with vivid imagery and simple beauty.
I find her poems to be rich, getting beneath the surface of our ordinary lives to touch on deeper meanings, like love, death, and what defines us as people. A few of my favorite poems from this collection are “Dreams,” “What We Want,” and “The One-Way Mirror Back.” “Dreams” speaks of the meaning of our dreams, how what is most meaningful to us is what our subconscious mind turns to during sleep – how a lost loved one can return to us in our dreams, or a perfect day can be re-lived, or a bad day can have a different ending. Figurative language creates memorable images that add to the poignancy and strength of the poem. “What We Want” is a lyrical poem that explores our longing for something different – how we want things we don’t have or get things we thought we wanted to find that we don’t want them after all. The poem ends, though, with a celebration of the familiar and comfortable, reassuring us that what we do have is pretty good, even if we still feel that longing. “The One-Way Mirror Back” is a longer, reflective poem about the author’s childhood and the love of her parents, shown in so many ways over the years, and her appreciation now that she is older and can understand how blessed she was to have a happy and loving childhood.
Always a Reckoning and Other Poems by Jimmy Carter, Nonfiction 811.54 Car
This is a book of poems written by former president Jimmy Carter. Many of the poems in the book are reminisces of his childhood growing up on a farm in rural Georgia. They speak of important people in the early years of his life and places that affected him. The poems also reflect on his adult life, including thoughts about his family, and his political life.
The poems about his childhood speak of the local farmers and townspeople, his work in the fields planting and tending the peanut crop, and show the divide in the South between black and white at the time.
Some of the poems are quite personal. He includes a poem about his difficult relationship with his father and their healing at his father’s death. He also writes of his mother, a nurse whose strength he greatly admired. Another poem is a tribute to the beloved dog of his childhood. The collection also includes a lovely poem to his wife of over 65 years, Rosalynn, speaking of his love for her when they first met to today when “her smile still makes the birds forget to sing.”
The political poems show us Carter’s deep compassion for people and his strong sense of righteousness and justice, which he never stopped working for, even after his presidency.
Mary – Youth Services
The Door by Margaret Atwood, Nonfiction 811.54 Atw
Margaret Atwood’s poems are small, lyrical masterpieces. With minimalistic words and cadence, she can make epics from everyday experiences, such as gardening to watching a young girl sprint down a wooded path. This specific poetry collection includes a CD-Rom, where you can hear Atwood read the highlighted poems of this collection.
Carol starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Sarah Paulson, New DVD Carol
Patricia Highsmith is usually heralded for her mystery novels, such as Strangers on a Train. But also within her writing canon is a tender, yet explosive story of two women falling in love in the 1950’s. Like the original book, Carol as a film adaptation is set in a pre-Stonewall era America, where being gay is not openly discussed within society, and it is also a prosecutable crime. This backdrop of social restraint, combined with contrasting 50’s glamour aesthetic, is the world director Todd Haynes carefully creates in this cinematographically elegant film. The story itself begins with the meeting of two women. Therese Belivet wants to be a photographer, but has taken up a job at a department store, in a toy section. Carol Aird, a recent divorcee, meets Therese at this department store when she is looking for a toy for her daughter. Their connection and attraction is immediate. With a highly nuanced, no-nonsense script by playwright and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, this film shines as it delves into the harsher realities of the human psyche and obsession. With unforgettable performances by Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Sarah Paulson, this film brings light to a world of women who lived in the 1950’s and were forced by an unforgiving society to make their own way, and search for joy, rooted at the centers of themselves.
Brigitte – Circulation
Brooklyn Nine-Nine starring Andy Samberg, New DVD Brooklyn, Seasons One and Two
If you feel like staying in on a rainy weekend this April, consider renting Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is not your typical sitcom; it’s also not your typical cop show that relies on the gore of a more mainstream police show like Law and Order or Dexter. Watch as Detective Jake Peralta, played by Andy Samberg, tracks down bad guys with his coworkers Terry and Boyle while still being an unrepentant goofball. His best friend Gina, the office administrator, marches to the beat of her own drum while the stoic Captain Holt fires off one-liners faster than he can draw his gun. This show is a light-hearted look at a police precinct that will be sure to keep you laughing!
Jane the Virgin starring Gina Rodriguez, New DVD Jane, Season 1
Jane the Virgin is an adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela about a pregnant virgin and the antics that surround her pregnancy and family life. Jane is a smart and driven college student who is accidentally impregnated when she goes for a routine check-up. It sounds crazy – because it is, but what is crazier is how Jane reacts to this impossible situation – she decides to keep the baby. This comedy is sure to keep you on your toes and laughing the entire time. If you’ve never seen a telenovela before, this is a great introduction to a new genre for you!
Hubbell – Circulation
The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough, Nonfiction 972.87 McC
One of McCullough’s first books, The Path Between the Seas tells the complete story of the greatest engineering feat of the 20th century, the construction of the Panama Canal. The canal took more than 40 years to complete from the first breaking of ground to the first ship to pass through it. This account explains the first attempt made by the French entrepreneur Ferdinand de Lesseps, which ultimately failed and exposed deep corruption in the canal company and the French government. Then, the book takes us through the American takeover of the failed project, which ultimately changed the world forever.
Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America’s Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang by William Queen, Nonfiction 921 Queen
William Queen is a retired ATF agent and Vietnam veteran who managed to infiltrate one of the most prominent outlaw motorcycle gangs in the country, California’s Mongols. Queen’s first person account of his time as a undercover ATF operative is gripping and real. Not only did he manage to gain full “patch” status within the club, he even rose to the ranks of treasurer and vice president of his major local chapter in California. If you liked Sons of Anarchy, you will like this first-hand account of outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Fargo, Season One starring Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton, DVD Fargo, Season One
Fargo, the TV series, is a re-imagination of the classic 1995 film of the same name and has the same dark themes set against the peaceful background of the upper Midwest. Following a chance encounter and an awkward murder for hire, the story devolves into a dark humor tale of revenge and fatal misdirection. The series was critically acclaimed widely and stars Martin Freeman (of Sherlock) and Billy Bob Thornton.
Dagmar – Circulation
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, New Fiction Flynn
The Grownup is a very witty new book by Gillian Flynn, the author of other popular books, such as Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects. If you like her clever fiction, thrillers, suspense, and ghost stories, this is your book to read. The book is so engaging that you may not be able to put it down (I was not able to), but the good news is that the book consists of only 62 pages, so you may be able to get through it quickly in one reading (I did). It is a story of an unnamed young woman, who is trying to survive by “various levels of mostly harmless fraud.” She works, among other things, as an intuitive psychic at Spiritual Palms. They call her Nerdy because she wears glasses, reads books, and eats yogurt for lunch. She is not really a nerd; she only aspires to be one. She is a high school dropout who reads constantly, but lacks formal education, so she is left with the feeling that she is smarter than people around her, but not as smart as “really smart people who went to universities, drank wine, and spoke Latin.” Her life is about to change one rainy April morning when Susan Burke walks in for an aura reading. The “psychic” makes her predictions based mostly by being a keen and shrewd observer of human behavior. Therefore, when she sees the beautiful Susan Burke, she diagnosis her as an unhappy woman eager for a change in her life. However, when the “psychic” visits the Victorian house that is the source of Susan’s unhappiness and grief, she realizes that she may start believing in the ghosts herself. Miles, Susan’s stepson, does all he can do to help to fuel this imagination. The story takes many unexpected twists and turns and the result is wickedly funny, clever, and humorous book to read.