Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Another Poem of the Day - April 8

Today’s second poem of the day is from our own Rob Gray. Wish him a happy birthday!

i wish that i were langston hughes
by Robert Gray

i wish that i were langston hughes
or even maya angelou
able to cry out for freedom
over the roofs of the world
from a position of surprising
and unaccustomed strength
but sadly i am not
for no matter how much
i read or think or discuss
no matter how enlightened i may feel
i can never fully understand
as a white poet
privileged if by nothing else
but my own whiteness
how the truth in their words
can see so well into the life of things
and so i am damned
by that same whiteness
always to be disadvantaged
always impoverished

i have always found
a fundamental difference
between white poetry
and black poetry
and i have always envied it
and while i am certainly
as guilty as anyone and
would never wish to oversimplify
it seems to me that white poetry
historically at any rate
has often tended to soar
on the ethereal wings
of imagination and philosophy
with a mission to explore
the deep and hidden meanings
of the heights of heaven
in order that poets might
as prophets or amanuenses
bring the mountaintop down
so that truth might come to be
within the reach of those
of us too blind or deaf
to write the zeitgeist of eternity
and so white poets have pontificated
throughout history on the wherefores
and whys of our existence
almost as if poets and poetry
had nothing else or better to do

african american poetry
on the other hand
has preferred to labor
with its hands in the earth
it has always done its work
in the everyday
at the dinner table
or through childhood remembrances
born out of minds too strewn
with petty cares
or while standing on
the grave of dreams
deferred from the earth’s inside
this voice of the subaltern
long subjected to the margins
has always preferred to work
down in the midst of things
where life happens
lifting truth up to the heavens
in an act of heavy praise
for there is power in pain
and strangled possibility
but there is also beauty
in the fact of blackness
just as there is poetry
in the song of a caged bird
or the lies of a mask
perhaps even more than
in the tortured thoughts
of an overly pensive prince
or an overwrought
ideological wasteland

yet while it is indeed a privilege
to ponder life’s mysteries
by deconstructing the semantics
of our social discourses
even in a vain hope that
by revealing and reversing
historical and hierarchical binaries
they might dry up or explode
it is a privilege wrought
with hidden costs and effects
that we are taught not to see
and while many might argue
that poetry should be above
the baseness of politics
and while there may well be
a richness to those arguments
there is also a whiteness
silently blinding us to the life of things

Poem of the Day - April 8

Today's poem is by Martin Espada and is in honor of the Red Sox home opener.

The Fugitive Poets of Fenway Park
-- Boston, MA, 1948

The Chilean secret police
searched everywhere
for the poet Neruda: in the dark shafts
of mines, in the boxcars of railroad yards,
in the sewers of Santiago.
The government intended to confiscate his mouth
and extract the poems one by one like bad teeth.
But the mines and boxcars and sewers were empty.

I know where he was.

Neruda was at Fenway Park,
burly and bearded in a flat black cap, hidden
in the kaleidescope of the bleachers.
He sat quietly, munching a hot dog
when Ted Williams walked to the crest of the diamond, slender as my
father remembers him, squinting at the pitcher, bat swaying in a
memory of trees.

The stroke was a pendulum of long muscle and wood,
Ted's face tilted up, the home run
zooming into the right field grandstand.
Then the crowd stood together, cheering
for this blasphemer of newsprint, the heretic
who would not tip his cap as he toed home plate
or grin like a war hero at the sportswriters
surrounding his locker for a quote.

The fugitive poet could not keep silent,
standing on his seat to declaim the ode
erupted in crowd-bewildering Spanish from his mouth:

"Praise Ted Williams, raising his sword
cut from the ash tree, the ball
a white planet glowing in the atmosphere
of the right field grandstand!

Praise the Wall rising
like a great green wave
from the green sea of the outfield!

Praise the hot dog, pink meat,
pork snouts, sawdust, mouse feces,
human hair, plugging our intestines,
yet baptized joyfully with mustard!

Praise the wobbling drunk, seasick beer
in hand, staring at the number on his ticket,
demanding my seat!"

Everyone gawked at the man standing
on his seat, bellowing poetry in Spanish.
Anonymous no longer,
Neruda saw the Chilean secret police
as they scrambled through the bleachers,
pointing and shouting, so the poet
jumped a guardrail to disappear
through a Fenway tunnel,
the black cap flying from his head
and spinning into centerfield.

This is true. I was there at Fenway
on August 7, 1948, even if I was born
exactly nine years later
when my father
almost named me Theodore.

Martin Espada

Monday, April 07, 2008

Poem of the Day - April 7

Today's poem is by William Wordsworth in honor his birthday.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
  That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
  A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
  And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
  Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
  Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
  In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
  In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
  Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Poem of the Day - April 6

Today's poem is by Sue Walker, the Poet Laureate of Alabama and Chair of the English Department at the University of South Alabama. It is in honor of her birthday.

Binary Measure
by Sue Walker

How it was only one measure
but yet held two beats,
separate and apart,
was mystery
and music,
was longing,
and memory that hung in the night,
the slack face of a haunted moon.

If her name was Mick
or Carson, if the letters
were confused about making
nouns and verbs, if the sentences
were hard and calloused,
discord that rose up angry,
and a trombone took over
and denied the flute,
and bãy boong bãy boong came
out of the night like flashes
of lightening, if a storm
played across Georgia,
moved west, moved into Alabama,
without definition, the heart,
its four chambers wanting,
became rite of passage,
became need,
became the struggle to love.

Poem of the Day - April 5

The following poem was written by the American Modernist poet, Marianne Moore, in 1935. It has long been one of my favorites and is a wonderful manifesto on what poetry should be and do in the modern world.

by Marianne Moore

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
        all this fiddle.
    Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
        discovers in
    it after all, a place for the genuine.
        Hands that can grasp, eyes
        that can dilate, hair that can rise
            if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
        they are
    useful. When they become so derivative as to become
    the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
        do not admire what
        we cannot understand: the bat
            holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
        wolf under
    a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse
        that feels a flea, the base-
    ball fan, the statistician--
        nor is it valid
            to discriminate against "business documents and

school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One must make
        a distinction
    however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
        result is not poetry,
    nor till the poets among us can be
        "literalists of
        the imagination"--above
            insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"
        shall we have
    it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
    the raw material of poetry in
        all its rawness and
        that which is on the other hand
            genuine, you are interested in poetry.

From The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore. Copyright © 1961 Marianne Moore, © renewed 1989 by Lawrence E. Brinn and Louise Crane, executors of the Estate of Marianne Moore.

A Maya Angelou Poem

I've been doting on my grandchild on a long weekend so this is a little late. Received from Rob Gray to celebrate Maya Angleou's birthday on Friday, April 4th.

Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou (her birthday)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April--National Poetry Month

Too much textbook prose during the end-of-semester cramming is enough to deaden our imaginations. Rob Gray, the library's in-house poet [and PETAL director], has agreed to help with satisfying our collective need for evocative language. Here are the first two poems he's selected to "priketh" our language palate.

April 1
From The Prologue of The Canterbury Tales
by Geoffrey Chaucer

Whan that Aprill with his its shoures soote
The droghte, dryness of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired into hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open yeeye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kow in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen them whan they were seeke.

From http://pages.towson.edu/duncan/chaucer/index.htm
For a modern version, go to http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/webcore/murphy/canterbury/

April 2
from The Wasteland
by T. S. Eliot

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

To continue, go to http://www.bartleby.com/201/1.html

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Writing Outreach - in the Library Today

Today at 3:30 I will be doing a "Writing Outreach" presentation in the Library Auditorium on finding articles for your papers and projects. Bring your topics and I can show you subscription databases, open-access journals, Google Scholar and a few tricks for using them that will make your research, not easy, but easier.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sticker Shock 2

Our youngest students, raised using Google, are often shocked when I say that the difference between library information and Google's is loot, greenbacks, benjamins, cash, scrilla, jack, bread, dead presidents, moolah, chedda, bling, bucks, dough, filthy lucre.

In 2002 Cornell's Engineering Library put together a website called "Sticker Shock" graphically documenting the incredible cost of engineering periodical subscriptions, for example a one-year subscription to The Journal of Applied Polymer Science cost $12, 495.00 -- as much as a Toyota Corolla in that year.

They have revised this site with current prices. Check out Sticker Shock 2 -- and be very glad you are associated with a university library.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tax Forms

The ever-vigilant Reference and Documents Librarians have noted our needs and put a link on the homepage to the IRS Tax Forms and Publications webpage. Bite the chocolate bunny ears while you bite the bullet.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Break is So Much Hype!

From today's online Chronicle of Higher Education comes this article which should help you get over your Spring Break envy.

"Where the Folks Are"


"Spring break is all about beer bongs, wet-T-shirt contests, and regrettable intimate encounters, right?

Maybe not. A new survey found that only 33 percent of college students whoop it up at the beach, while 70 percent stay at home with their parents (3 percent, presumably, take their parents to the beach). The survey was sponsored in part by Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. . . .

The survey, conducted online in February, found that 68 percent of students who did party during their vacation set limits on how much alcohol they consumed. . . .

Among students who chose to drink, 84 percent said they consumed alcoholic beverages in moderation. . . .

Over all, according to a news release, the survey's results are proof that college students are behaving responsibly during spring break, and that all this talk about debauchery is so much hype. . . .

Friday, March 14, 2008

Everyday Sociology Blog

The weekly Scout Report just came through my email. It always introduces interesting websites. This one grabbed me, probably because I've lately been thinking about how most of our "common-sense" assumptions so often turn out to be wrong (e.g. Eliot Spitzer, Geraldine Ferraro, etc). I particularly liked the one [March 7th] about how students decide where to sit in a classroom. js

Everyday Sociology
When some people think about sociology, they might think about Max Weber, …mile[sic] Durkheim, and Manuel Castells. The witty, irreverent, and very insightful sociologists at Everyday Sociology consider those esteemed scholars, but they also examine social dynamics on airplanes, Asian American voters, and the world of celebrity. The Everyday Sociology weblog is edited by sociologist Karen Sternheimer, and her contributors include a wide range of practicing sociologists. Visitors to the site can scroll through recent entries and also browse several categories, which include crime and deviance, sex and gender, social psychology, and popular culture and consumption. Also, users may wish to look through the archives, which date back to June 2007. Along with being eminently readable, the site also includes teaching activities and video interviews. [KMG]

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Watch Your Language -- Interactive Quizzes

I'm weird. I happen to think that learning can be great fun even if you fail, especially when no one is grading you. Here's a webpage of quizzes: grammar(I mostly failed these), mechanics, punctuation, vocabulary, spelling and others. It comes from the Capital Community College Foundation in Hartford Connecticut.