Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Our Wednesday December 1st Lunch at the Library will feature Lincoln City Libraries Youth Librarian Vicki Wood. Vicki will present her very popular annual review of books that make great gifts for all ages. We look forward to hearing her suggestions.
The program begins at 12:10 pm in the auditorium on the 4th floor of Bennett Martin Public Library at 14th and N Streets in downtown Lincoln. Bring your lunch and enjoy coffee provided by The Mill! Please join us!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
One Book, One Nebraska has chosen Ted Kooser's Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (University of Nebraska Press, 2002), as the featured title for 2011. Although Kooser is one of America's most distinguished poets, this is not a poetry book at all, but a kind of intimate travel guide to Kooser's backyard. Kooser, who lives in Garland, Nebraska, served two terms as United States Poet Laureate, 2004-2006 and has published many collections of poetry, including Delights and Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004) which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Local Wonders won the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003 and Third Place in the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award in Nonfiction for 2002. The book was chosen as the Best Book Written by a Midwestern Writer for 2002 by Friends of American Writers. It also won the Gold Award for Autobiography in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards. Like his poetry, Kooser's prose parses the details of a rural American landscape, illuminating the hidden lives of its natural and human worlds with humor and insight.
One Book One Nebraska 2011 sponsors include the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Humanities Council, Nebraska Library Association, Nebraska Library Commission, and University of Nebraska Press.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Joseph Wydeven, Professor emeritus of English and Humanities and former dean of Arts and Sciences at Bellevue University, has had an enduring interest in writer and photographer Wright Morris. Wydeven began to read Morris and study his photographs in the early 1970s. He wrote his Purdue University dissertation on Morris, and has since published numerous articles and book chapters on Morris, as well as the 1998 biography Wright Morris Revisted. He first met Morris and his wife Jo in California in 1979 and had at least six visits there with Morris before the writer's death in 1998. He presented a special program on Morris in the Heritage Room in 1985.
Wydeven has sought to give us a deeper appreciation of Morris, who is surely one of the most independent, original, and complex writers to come from our state. Morris was the most productive writer of his generation. He was one of the few who can claim the invention, in the photo-text, of a new literary form. Morris won great critical acclaim, but far less popular success. His works chronicled disquieting aspects of the American experience, and a post-Depression world in which anchors of history and place, seemingly renewed in the 1930s, were once again drifting away. Since Morris' book, The Home Place, has been the 2010 One Book One Nebraska selection, it seemed appropriate to invite Joe Wydeven back to talk about one of his favorite topics.
The program begins at 2:00 PM Sunday, November 21st in the Heritage Room on the 3rd floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln. Please join us.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
John Janovy, Jr. is a distinguished parasitologist and professor of biology who has the broadest philosophical interest in human encounters with nature and the education of young people.
Janovy is the author (and illustrator) of some of the most admired books and essays in American natural history, among them, Keith County Journal, Return to Keith County, and Dunwoody Pond: Reflections on the High Plains Wetlands and the Cultivation of Naturalists. He is also a gentle humorist that can offer up a book like Outwitting College Professors: A Practical Guide to the Secrets of the System as a guide to getting a good education.
Wednesday's program borrows its title from Janovy's most recent book, Pieces of the Plains: Memories and Predictions from the Heart of America, in which the author meditates on his experiences as a biologist, on our understanding of the natural world, and our future.
The Program will begin at 12:10 p.m. on November 3rd, in the auditorium on the fourth floor of Bennett Martin Public Library at 14th and N Streets in downtown Lincoln. Please join us.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
A new display on the second floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln celebrates the announcement that Joe Starita’s book, I am a Man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice will be this year’s One Book/One Lincoln selection. Other finalists were worthy, but Starita’s book offers a riveting story with deep roots in local and regional history.
Joe Starita was born in Lincoln and studied English and Journalism at the University of Nebraska. He went on to become an investigative reporter at the Miami Herald and that newspaper’s New York City Bureau Chief. He is a former City Editor of the Lincoln Journal Star. He has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist for reporting at the Miami Herald, and his book, The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge (1995) won him critical acclaim, local and regional awards, and a second Pulitzer Prize nomination. Starita teaches in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Starita’s books are a distinguished contribution to a strong Nebraska literary tradition. Some of the earliest serious attempts to record and understand Native American experiences and to put the Plains Indians back into American history as real people were made by Nebraska writers. Our display represents a little more than a century of Nebraskans writing about the Plains Indians.
In the best of these works, writers struggled to present the true voices of Native Americans and record their side of history in stories that seemed about to be lost to old age and death, or overlooked in a strong tendency to convert American history into a dull monument to virtue and Manifest Destiny. Real history, interesting history, is meaningful conflict, complex people who deserve to be understood on their own terms, mixed motives and light and shadow. While recognizing that the simple moralization of history is a trap that leaves us ignorant, from time to time, Nebraska writers have gently suggested that much is to be learned from the struggles of native people that sheds light on some of America’s more persistent problems at home and abroad.
The display includes work by Starita, Eli S. Ricker, Mari Sandoz, John Neihardt, Melvin Gilmore, Amos Bad Heart Bull (introduction by Mari Sandoz), George Hyde, Donald Danker, Thomas Henry Tibbles, Hartley Burr Alexander, Alan Boye, John Wunder, and Stew Magnuson, among others.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Glenna Luschei is a poet, publisher, editor, translator and (!) successful avocado rancher. Glenna grew up in Beaver City and Lincoln, Nebraska, and now lives in California. She studied at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. A well-published poet, see her book list here, she also founded the "ground-breaking" (Hilda Raz) poetry magazines Café Solo and Solo. In an appreciation of Glenna, Nebraska poet Ted Kooser recalls that his real success as a poet began with the publication of A Local Habitation & A Name by Solo Press in 1974. Glenna Luschei has been recognized as a pioneer in the small press movement, and in its effort to bring vital new work to the attention of readers. She has served as the Poet Laureate of San Luis Obispo, as a national panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and as a member of the San Luis Obispo County Commission on the Status of Women, among other positions. She has pursued and interwoven an amazingly wide array of creative, critical, and social commitment and influence.
The program begins at 2:00 PM Sunday, October 17th in the Heritage Room on the 3rd floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln. Please join us to hear Glenna Luschei read.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Lisa Knopp will discuss her new essay collection, Three Rivers: Journeys and Junctures. A Collection of Essays about the Mississippi, Missouri, and the Platte Rivers. Knopp has gained critical acclaim for essays that mix natural history with personal and biographical perspectives to a achieve striking insights into the bonds between the natural world and our historical and psychological experience.
Knopp holds the Jefferis Endowed Chair of English, University of Nebraska-Omaha and is the author of four previous collections, including Interior Places (2008), The Nature of Home (2002), Flight Dreams: A Life in the Midwestern Landscape (1998), and Field of Vision (1996).
Lisa will present our Lunch at the Library talk Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 12:10 pm on the fourth floor of Bennett Martin Public Library. Bring your lunch and enjoy coffee provided by The Mill!
Rick Cypert was our 191st Ames Reader on September 19th. He presented a lively program about Nebraska mystery writer Mignon Eberhart and answered audience questions afterward. Cypert hails from Throckmorton, Texas and teaches at Nebraska Wesleyan (since 1987). He is interested in mystery and and suspense writers. His interest in Eberhart led him to write her biography, America's Agatha Christie: Mignon Good Eberhart, Her Life and Works, (2005) and put together a new collection of her short stories, Dead Yesterday and Other Stories by Mignon G. Eberhart, edited by Rick Cypert and Kirby McCauley (2007).
Cypert's most recent book is The Virtue of Suspense: The Life and Works of Charlotte Armstrong, (2008).
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman recalled for friends how her father, Jim, had
“shunned the finality of a paved road, as though Lewis and Clark had hired [him] to scout the uncharted territory of Denton. Instead, he preferred a steep mud hill in his Model A, for it put up a fight and they wrestled until he was on top. And in the 1930s the top was close to the sky.”
Her father also avoided “roads that were numbered like prisoners,” preferring to drive anonymous roads “met by farmer’s driveways, staked by mailboxes and crossed by animals.”
Photograph with, left to right, Rudolfo Gonzales, Marian Anderson, Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman, and Bob Hoffman. Ruth met Bob at a jazz concert. Photo by famed jazz photographer Jack Bradley, used here by kind permission of Jack Bradley. Bradley recalls that "both Ruth and Bob were dear friends." All rights reserved, reproduction by written permission only, Jack Bradley, 24 Skipper's Drive, Harwich, MA 02645.
Rosekrans Hoffman took her father’s independence and his love of byways to heart. Cosmopolitan as she became, after leaving Nebraska to pursue her artistic career in New York, when she found her artistic path pointing back along the roads of her childhood, she followed it. At first, she had painted, very successfully, in the style of the day. Her abstract impressionist paintings were shown at the Whitney Museum and in other famed collections. She changed direction in the 1970s as she began to illustrate children's books. Soon an agent suggested she write such a book herself. Anna Banana (New York: Borzoi Books, Alfred A. Knopf, 1975) settled Rosekrans Hoffman in a unique and successful career as an artist who wrote children’s books and provided artwork for children’s books by many other writers. She was always careful to say that she was an artist and not an illustrator. To her, this meant that the integrity of her artistic vision came first.
When she spoke to friends and interviewers, it was always apparent that Rosekrans Hoffman had unusually intense memories of her own childhood. She remembered the fine red dust that blew up from Oklahoma in the early 1930s, coming in through unsealed windows so thickly that was hard to breath indoors, so that her mother would put wet towels over Ruth and her brother’s heads to filter the air. The fortitude, ingenuity, and teamwork required for a family to survive the Great Depression years seemed to draw families and neighbors together. For a child, all unaware of her parents’ worries, those years could make for wonderful, and unusually intense (by contrast with the experience of later, more materialistic generations) childhood memories.
But all was not wonder. In the later summer of 1933, age of seven, Ruth developed a bone infection, osteomyelitis, treatable in those days before antibiotics only with painful bone drains. Most people with the disease died, Ruth spent 18 months in a full-body cast, armpits to toes, to immobilize her for the drains. She would spend many more months in partial casts, a wheelchair, and homemade braces that her father invented to enable her to become more mobile. The experience, she told Lincoln Star reporter Patty Beutler,
“gave me a new perspective on life… in bed in the body cast, horizontal I saw things I wouldn’t ordinarily see. I wasn’t a child looking up, but more like a part of the land. From my prone position, I used to eye my food like an explorer surveying the horizon. Piles of mashed potatoes took on the proportions of mountains against the skyline. Undersides of chins, nostrils, palms jumped out at me. I studied expressions, the details of wallpaper, and tiny hairs peeking out of people’s ears.”
She had been drawing since she was three or four years old, but in her long confinement in bed, she began to draw all the time. She began by copying the comic strip, “Tillie the Toiler,’ and others from the newspaper. “Good things can happen from really bad things, although you may not know it at the time,” she told a Connecticut interviewer. Her illness put her on the path to becoming an artist. She would go on to get a fine arts degree from the University of Nebraska.
As Ted Kooser recalled at her memorial, Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman “was in pain from the time she was a young girl to the day she died.” “How is it possible,” Kooser asked, “for a person enduring such suffering to create drawings and paintings so luminous with delight, to write stories with such joy and hope?” She seemed to draw on “an immense store of character” running counter to the self-centeredness that seems so widespread in our world. Kooser again:
“You all know how marvelously witty Ruth was, and how much she loved to laugh. At the end of her years, having lost her delightful and beloved husband, Bob, having lost the ability to care for herself, she could even find life in a nursing home amusing. I would go up there to visit her in part to hear what she had to say about the other people there. I would rather hear Ruth describe somebody down the hall or in the dining room than to see them myself…. She could snatch funny lines right out the air, like butterflies.”
Ruth never spent much time looking at other artists' and authors' childrens books. When she illustrated books for other writers, she favored the publishers’ usual practice of keeping the author and the artist separate until the book launch party. Her art drew on her own vision of reality, “if there is one thing I concentrate on,” she told an interviewer, “it’s expression—it never seems to lie… there is a facial expression and then there is the whole body as expression…“ Children, she noticed, “learn expression before words.” She never had children of her own, but seemed to draw from a deep well of her own childhood, on the muted colors of small town Nebraska in the 1930s, and on the quirky and independent spirit that sustained rural people in those years of trial.
The new display in the Heritage Room on the third floor of Bennett Martin Public Library includes selections from the original artwork (all in the Heritage Room) for Go To Bed: A Book of Bedtime Poems, Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Illustrated by Rosekrans Hoffman. (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1979), following through the various stages of book art production through to the color proofs. The display also includes other books, sketches and cards sent to friends, and, as part of our permanent display, two of her dolls. The display draws on the Heritage Room's files of Rosekrans Hoffman's correspondence and on artwork she donated to the Heritage Room. From the 1970s on, Rosekrans Hoffman donated posters and drawings to the Heritage Room for our fund-raising purposes.
* * * *
Rosekrans Hoffman on her father, remarks made July 28, 1983 at a celebration of the artist's work in the State Capitol Rotunda, Rosekrans Hoffman Manuscript in Heritage Room (corrected and signed by the author), "Hoffman, Rosekrans, Capitol Celebration 7-23-83."
Patty Beutler, “Rosekrans Hoffman, Native Nebraskan Draws on ‘Peculiar’ Perspective,” in Nebraska Library Association Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 4 pp. 15-19. Beutler interviewed the author and artist about her unusual perspective and observed the connections between her childhood and her artwork noted here, especially regarding her choice of palette.
The most extensive published sketch of Rosekrans Hoffman (the name she used professionally) is Sue Williams, “Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman, A Renowned Lancaster County Artist,” in Tales and Trails Newsletter from Denton, NE and surrounding areas, Vol. 3, No. 3, June 2001, pp. 1-5.
Quotations from Ted Kooser are from “Remarks for Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman’s memorial service, December 2, 2007.” (Kooser MS in Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman vertical file, Heritage Room).
“I concentrate… on expression,” in Nora Fitzgerald, “Child’s World,” Connecticut Magazine, Vol. 52, No. 12, December, 1989, p. 115.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Small presses and little magazines are lively participants in Nebraska literary life. These publishing efforts treasure independent judgment, fidelity to self-chosen ideals, the discipline of craftsmanship, and the desire--perhaps most intensely felt by poets--to create something wholly one's own. Small presses value freedom from commercial, corporate, and academic influence. Writers and publishers feel that literary ideals and craft can grow and prosper best in a small face-to-face community, where frankness and immediacy survive. Over many years, the activities of these presses have helped shape a genuine community of writers in the state. Everything in our display was published in Nebraska.
Books by these Presses/Publishers will cycle through the display:
Windflower Press (Garland), Backwaters Press (Omaha) , Morpho Press (Omaha), Cummington Press (Omaha), Black Oak Press (Lincoln), Sandhills Press (Ord), Lyra Press (Lincoln), The Prairie/Plains Resource Institute, The Center for Rural Affairs, and Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center.
It is not surprising to find that Ted Kooser wrote the article on "Small Presses" in the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. Kooser himself founded and operated the Windflower Press, which specialized in contemporary poetry. Windflower was a one-man operation. Kooser was its editor, publisher, and sometimes its book designer and illustrator. The Press gained international recognition for bringing new poetry to a wider audience and for promoting the work of younger poets. Windflower published Kooser's literary magazines, The Salt Creek Reader (1967-1971), The New Salt Creek Reader (1972-1975), and The Blue Hotel (1980-1981). The Salt Creek Reader received grant support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Windflower Home Almanac of Poetry was recognized as one of the best books from small presses for 1980 by Library Journal. Other Windflower anthologies have received regional and international acclaim. In 1999, Kooser published Roy Scheele's Keeping the Horses as a fundraising project for the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association. Kooser's Windflower Press is now inactive (though the name is being used by an unrelated California Press).
Harry Duncan, (1917-1997) was one of the leading figures in the revival of printing by hand. In 1982 Newsweek Magazine called him "the father of the post-World War II private-press movement." He began printing by hand in 1939, and over the years he would print Robert Lowell's first volume of poetry and many other works of contemporary literature. Duncan came to Nebraska in 1972 to operate a press at the University of Omaha, for which he created the Abbatoir Editions imprint. Duncan's Doors of Perception: Essays in Book Typography, W. Thomas Taylor, 1987, is a meditation on his years of experience in book design and printing. Duncan received the Jane Geske Award from The Nebraska Center for the Book in 1994.
Several of Nebraska's independent presses have been founded by poets. Ted Kooser founded the Windflower Press, Greg Kosmicki founded and runs Backwaters Press, Matt Mason created Morpho Press, and Greg Kuzma founded the Best Cellar Press. David McCleery runs A Slow Tempo Press. Poets commonly self-publish their own chapbooks, so it is a small step from that to publishing other work. Matt Mason told Omaha Reader interviewer Jasmine Maharisi that "the advantage [of having your own press] is being able to do things you like and think are good rather than what will make you a lot of money... My press has never made a dime of profit."
Among the most active independent presses at the moment is Backwaters Press, where Greg Kosmicki has been assisted by volunteer editors, including poet Marge Saiser and writer Lisa Sandlin. Backwaters Press publishes on average some 15 poetry books a year. Backwaters has received numerous Nebraska Book Awards for its success in finding and publishing work by unique and talented writers from Nebraska and from around the Midwest.
Other independent publishers of note are County Historical Societies, The Center for Rural Affairs, The Prairie Plains Resource Institute. Like the poets' efforts, these reflect the will of a small community of people to see something of special value find an audience, even though the effort might not be financially profitable.
Special hard to find items included in the display:
William S. Whitney and Jan Whitney, Microcosm of the Platte. A guide to Bader Memorial Park Natural Area. Aurora: Prairie/Plains Resource Institute, 1987.
This guide to Bader Park is a small masterpiece of graphic design and single color illustration rich in ecological observations about the Platte river and Bader Park.
Weldon Kees, The Ceremony and other stories. edited with an introduction by Dana Gioia. Omaha: Abbatoir Editons, 1983.
Ted Kooser, A Book of Things. Joseph M. Ruffo, illustrator. Lincoln: Lyra Press, 1995 Limited Edition.
A very elegant slip-cased limited edition of Kooser's poems.
Matt Mason, Coffee and Astronomy and other poems. Omaha: Morpho Press, 2001
James Magorian, The Hideout of the Sigmund Freud Gang. Lincoln: Black Oak Press, 1987.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Joel Sartore, Rare: Portraits of America's Endangered Species. (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society/Focal Point, 2010) Lincoln resident Sartore is an award winning photographer for National Geographic. For 20 years or more Sartore has been making portraits of individuals of endangered species. This book collects these portraits of "the rarest of the rare." There are familiar Nebraska examples like the Blowout Penstemon and the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle. It is also fun to read about the wolverine who tore apart a one-inch plywood backdrop in minutes, then stepped gently across the surface of a thin and fragile backdrop of seamless paper to get his picture taken.
Marianne Beel, Sand in My Shoes: Four Decades of Sandhills Stories and History. (Sioux Falls: Pine Hill Press, 2008) Marianne Beel's first "Sand in My Shoes" column appeared in the North Platte Telegraph in 1977. Her columns tell of life in the Sandhills, and the challenges and rewards of ranching.
Robert Beum and Roy Scheele, ed. A Few on the Mini: Poems on the small, neglected and out-of-the-way. Lincoln: The Dolphin Press/Three Sheets Press, 2009. A collection of poems by Robert Beum, John Fandel, Maria Melendez, Rachel Palmer, Judy Ray, Christof Scheele, and A.E. Stallings.
Jeff Koterba, Inklings, a memoir. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) The cartoonist's haunting and generous memoir of growing up in Omaha in a conflicted family with an explosive and eccentric father, and becoming an artist. Go ahead and read all the praise from other Nebraska writers on the back cover (Mary Pipher, Richard Dooling, Jonis Agee, and Timothy Schaffert among others).
Don Schauffenberger and Bill Beck, The Only State: A History of Public Power in Nebraska. (Nebraska Public Power District, 2010). Nebraska is a peculiar place. It is the only State in these United States in which every electric utility is publicly owned. Perhaps this is something of a monument to the great George Norris. But above all it is a tribute to the foresight, courage and tenacity of businessmen, utilty managers, politicians and citizens who supported this system and the engineers who built it. This history shows how that system embodies, albeit in a very modern form, the realism and the intense community spirit of Nebraska's first settlements and pioneer generations. Informed by insider Schauffenberger's encyclopedic knowledge of the history of Nebraska's public power and business historian Beck's broad perspectives, this book is a delight to read, and wonderfully illustrated. In a period of American history that probably be remembered mainly for corruption, self-deception, waste, and hubris, this book reminds the reader that in Nebraska, it is sometimes possible to sustain virtues that are dying, or dead, elsewhere.
Dan Chaon, Await Your Reply (New York: Ballantine, 2009). Dan Chaon's own website surveys the great reviews this novel about identity and fraud has been getting in the national press. The book is on the American Library Association's list of Notable Books, The Washington Post's list of best fiction of 2009, and Salon's Top Five Fiction of 2009. Some of the novel has a Nebraska setting, out in the wind in the middle of no-where, near a dried up Lake McConaughy: "There was a soundlessness to this place, she thought, though sometimes the wind made the glass in the windowpanes hum..." My gosh, its doing that now! This reader enjoyed the novel, but did not think the profound thoughts about identity that occurred to reviewers in the national press.
Mark Griep and Marjorie Mikasen, ReAction! Chemistry in the Movies. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). Griep is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his wife, Mikasen, is a geometric painter who has received support from the Nebraska Arts Council. With CSI enjoying a boom on television, and young people checking out everything on zombies and vampires they can get their hands on, this book should be a best seller, despite its esoteric subject matter. The film summaries and factual assessments of the science and chemistry that lie behind the films are often fascinating. Read about the real chemistry of a toxin that is supposed to produce a zombie. It looks as if the authors collected every movie that involved chemistry, poison, or a secret formula. Alas, flubber is not real!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
A new Heritage Room display on the second floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln celebrates author Wright Morris. Morris gained critical acclaim as a novelist and as a photographer. He received a National Book Award twice, in 1957 for The Field of Vision , looking at how a visit to a Mexican bullfight alters the lives of a group of Nebraska tourists, and in 1981 for Plains Song.
Photography and fiction were equally important in Morris' extraordinary life-long effort to capture the soul of the Midwest. In 1942 and again in 1946 Morris won a Guggenheim fellowship to support his photographic projects. The support enabled him to return to Nebraska and to produce his first two photo-texts, The Inhabitants, and The Home Place. These ground-breaking works, combining photography and fiction, have been recognized as an attempt to create an entirely new literary form. In honor of the 100th Anniversary of Wright Morris's birth, the Nebraska Center for the Book has chosen The Home Place as the One Book, One Nebraska book for 2010. The Lone Tree Literary Society in Morris's birthplace, Central City Nebraska, will host many of this year's One Book One Nebraska activities.
Our display (snapshot above) includes signed Wright Morris posters, books and other memorabilia. Heritage Room archival collections include the Wright Morris-Victor Musselman correspondence and several original Morris prints. Wright Morris developed a close friendship with Loren Eiseley when when both men lived in the same building in Philadelphia in the late 1940s. Gale Christianson's interviews and correspondence with Morris are in our Gale Christianson Collection of Eiseley Research Materials
Sunday, April 25, 2010
"Letters About Literature" is a national reading promotion for children and young adults sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and locally coordinated through the Nebraska Center for the Book.
Contest participants compete on three levels: Level I for young readers in grades 4-6; Level II for young adult readers in grades 7-8; and Level III for readers in grades 9-12. Young readers are asked to write a letter to an author, living or dead, explaining how that author's work somehow "gave them wings" (Level I), became a part of their life (Level II), or changed their view of the world or themselves (Level III).
On April 7, this year's Nebraska winners gathered in Lincoln. They toured the State Capitol, met with Governor Heineman, were treated to a dinner, and closed their special day at the Heritage Room (where the winner from Alliance was present via video conference) and signed their submissions. Winning letters will be accessible online courtesy of the Nebraska Library Commission.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The program begins as 2:00 P.M. Sunday April 18th, in the Heritage Room on the third floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln. All Ames Readings are taped for later broadcast on 5 City TV, Time Warner Cable Channel 5. Please join us.
Monday, April 12, 2010
The Loren Eiseley Society presented a great book launch program at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln this past Saturday. Eiseley Society president Bing Chen chaired the event. In the snapshot above we see him thanking the folks at Infusionmedia Publishing for their contribution to the project. Ray Bradbury wrote the foreword for the reader and, since he would be unable to travel, Dr. Chen visited him in California and interviewed him on video to introduce the book launch proceedings. Bradbury's remarks about his long friendship with Eiseley were most striking and very memorable. We hope the Eiseley Society will make them more widely available in the future.
The main event was a theatrical reading of Jim Cook's script "Memory's Night Country," adapted from the Loren Eiseley Reader. The distinguished guest readers are seen facing the audience in the snapshot. To Bing Chen's left (moving nearer to the observer) we see Michael Forsberg, Jim McKee, and Matt Harvey (out of the picture are Lisa Knopp and Kam Veney). To Bing Chen's right (moving away) are Jennifer House, Patrice Berger, Polly Wimberly, Lora Black, W. Don Nelson, and Marge Saiser. Also in the picture are Jim and Gwen Cook (at the left, Jim is facing away from the camera), and (at the far right) Ruth Thone, founding president of The Friends of Loren Eiseley, the predecessor of The Loren Eiseley Society.
Beng Chen brought the formal proceedings to an end with a heartfelt invocation of Eiseley's importance in allowing us to see our relationship with nature anew, and change it for the better. The reader is designed to encourage teachers to introduce Eiseley to a new generation of readers.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Jim Griess returns this April to continue the story of German Russians who came to Nebraska. Jim was our April speaker last year, and everyone agreed we should bring him back to finish the story. All four sets of Jim's grandparents were German Russians who came to the Sutton, Nebraska area in the last quarter of the nineteenth century from the Volga and Black Sea regions of Russia. He follows the story of the German Russian immigrants in his book length study: The German Russians: Those who came to Sutton (Henderson: Service Press, 2008) The book presents a broad portrait of German Russian history and culture and of the causes and history of this group's immigration to America, before focusing in on the German Russians around Sutton Nebraska.
Mr. Griess will present our Lunch at the Library talk on Wednesday April 7, 2010 at 12:10 pm on the fourth floor of Bennett Martin Public Library. Bring your lunch and enjoy coffee provided by The Mill! Anyone interested in history or genealogy will enjoy the talk.
The Loren Eiseley Society is sponsoring two April book launch events for the Society's new Loren Eiseley Reader. The reader, with a foreword by famed science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, is a special collection of some of Eiseley's most popular essays and poems intended to introduce new generations to his work.
Book Launch events in Lincoln and Omaha will feature local authors and Eiseley admirers Michael Forsberg, Margery Saiser, Lisa Knopp and others.
Date: April 10, 2010
Location: Lincoln, NE at Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St.
Date: April 17, 2010
Location: Omaha, NE at The KANEKO / UNO Library, 1111 Jones St.
All are invited to attend!
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Robert Franke Eiseley Research Collection is now available to researchers and the public at the Heritage Room. Of special interest are a seven page typescript by author Ray Bradbury, Franke's correspondence with nature writer Annie Dillard and with poet Howard Nemerov concerning Eiseley, and extensive correspondence with Caroline Werkley, Eiseley's long time assistant at the University of Pennsylvania. Werkley's snapshot here shows Eiseley playing with a cat.
Franke was deeply interested in the religious themes in Eiseley's writing about man and the natural world. Franke's published and unpublished explorations of this theme, including drafts, reprints, sermons, several book proposals and conference notes are included in the collection.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
We welcome the dynamic duo as our Ames Readers, Sunday, March 21 at 2:00 P.M. in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room on the third floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Shirley Maly will present the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association's March Lunch at the Library talk. Shirley is a lifelong Lincoln resident. After a long career in public relations, at age 60, she joined the Peace Corps and served for three years in Uruguay. That stay and other travel experiences were the basis of her book Love Affair with the Americas. Shirley's topic will be "Pictures Tell Stories: How Illustrations Enhance the Story."
The program will begin at 12:10 p.m. on March 3 on the fourth floor of Bennett Martin Public Library at 14th and N Streets in downtown Lincoln. Feel free to bring your lunch, free coffee is provided courtesy of the Mill. We look forward to seeing you.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The Haythorn ranch raises Angus, Hereford, and Longhorn Cattle and is especially famed for the quality of its foundation-bred Quarter Horses. The Haythorn ranch did not mechanize to the extent that others did, finding it more economical to continue to raise and use Belgian/Percheron work horses to stock hay in the summer and to feed cattle in winter. Author-photographer Lisa Norman has lived and worked on the Haythorn ranch since 1995. She does a wonderful job of capturing the working landscape and people of the ranch. Anyone interested in the Nebraska Sandhills, in the survival of traditional ways of life, or in horses, might enjoy this book.
Lisa Norman, Haythorn Land & Cattle Co., A Horseman's Heritage. A pictorial essay by Lisa Norman. (introduction by Red Steagall). Kansas City: Trabon Printing, 2007. This coffee table book explores ranch history and work life through the seasons on the famed Sandhills ranch founded by Harry Haythornthwaite and his wife Emma in 1884.
Heritage Room uncatalogued holdings include Nebraska photographer Charles Guildner's album of photographs, Lives of Tradition, Vol. 2, Scenes. (9 in a limited edition of 20), also with some scenes from the Haythorn ranch.
John Janovy, Jr. Pieces of the Plains: Memories and Predictions from the Heart of America. Lincoln: J&L Lee Co., 2009. John Janovy, Jr. is one of Nebraska's human treasures, a distinguished scientist who has also written for broader audiences. Seeking to show us what "there is to learn from nature rather than about nature," Janovy is the author (and illustrator) of some of the most admired books and essays in American natural history, among them, Keith County Journal, Return to Keith County, and Dunwoody Pond: Reflections on the High Plains Wetlands and the Cultivation of Naturalists. He has often written about how young people learn, and about the philosophical and social consequences of our contested and evolving understanding of nature and our place in it. This is a very personal book about the issues Janovy cares most about.
The Loren Eiseley Reader, published by the Loren Eiseley Society, 2009, with an introduction by Ray Bradbury is intended to remind us of the work of the anthropologist, essayist, and poet, and to introduce that work to a new generation. Eiseley, who grew up in Lincoln and attended the University of Nebraska, was a pioneer in asking us to reconsider our place in the natural world and think about the limits of our scientific and technical mastery. Eiseley was a brilliant essayist, with a capacity to pull his readers into his own inward experience of nature, his "night country" and then carry them along along on his journey into a new scientific and humanistic understanding of the waking world. The Reader is a collection of short pieces and excerpts from Eiseley's best known works.
Mari Sandoz, Capital City, a new edition with an introduction by Nebraska born writer Terese Svoboda. (Lincoln: Bison Books, 2007). This new (to our collection) paperback edition has a wonderful period cover photograph that could remind us, as Ms. Svoboda does, that when Sandoz was writing this in Lincoln in the late 1930s, some Lincoln families were finding their food at the municipal dump. Capital City contains some of Sandoz's most angry writing.
Kwakiutl L. Dreher, Dancing on the White Page: Black Women Entertainers Writing Autobiography (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008), explores the popular autobiographies of well known Black women entertainers, including Diahann Carroll, Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Whoopi Goldberg, and Mary Wilson. The author was our February "Lunch at the Library" speaker.
George E. Hyde, Rangers and Regulars (Columbus, Ohio: Long's College Books, 1933, 1952). New to our collection, this book surveys Spanish, Mexican and American conflicts with the mounted Southern Plains Indians, especially the Comanches. Omaha resident Hyde was a prodigious researcher with a deep interest in Native American history and contacts in many tribes. Legally blind, he was sought out by George Bird Grinnell and assisted Grinnell in researching books on the Cheyenne and the Pawnee. He wrote several early tribal histories and was an early explorer in the field now known as ethnobotany. Having obtained and cultivated many of the old varieties of Indian corn, he was co-author with George F. Will of Corn Among the Indians of the Upper Missouri, published in 1917.
Winning entries from the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association's 2010 Short Story Contest are now on display in the Heritage Room. The age divisions for the contest are Kindergarten through 2nd Grade, 3rd through 5th Grade, and 6th through 8th Grade.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Greg Kosmicki writes that Nebraska based independent publisher, The Backwaters Press is planning several interesting projects for 2010. The press will publish new collections from 2009 Nebraska Arts Council Master Artist Award winners Marge Saiser and Brent Spencer. New titles are also in preparation from poets Roy Scheele, Linnea Johnson, Charles Fort, Brad Maxfield, Trevino Brings Plenty, Michelle Brooks-Love, Angela Kelly and Charles Gillespie. The Press is also working on:
Letters from Grass Country--"a collection of essays about poets from the Great Plains, edited by Mary K. Stillwell and Greg Kosmicki."
Lost Originals--"a collection of Greg Kuzma poems that have not appeared in book form, edited by Kathleen Cain and Greg Kosmicki."
Aspects of Robinson: Homage to Weldon Kees, edited by Christopher Buckley and Chris Howell.
Natural Theologies: Essays about Literature of the New Middle West, by Denise Low, past Poet Laureate of Kansas.
Talking Out of Turn: Poetry by Nebraska Women, edited by Sarah Mason, Heidi Hermanson, Liz Kay and Jen Lambert.
It looks like there is a lot to look forward to this year!
Postscript: Backwaters Press has announced that it will be accepting submissions for The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets through December of 2010, for publication in Spring, 2012. Contributors must be women born or currently living in Nebraska, or have previously lived in Nebraska for more than a decade. More submission guidelines on the Backwaters Press homepage, at the link above.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Dr. Kwakiutl Dreher will present the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association's February Lunch at the Library Program. Dr. Dreher is Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she teaches English and Ethnic Studies. Her interests include African American literature, and film and visual culture. She is also a writer and performer who has presented her own plays and musicals in a variety of venues from Georgia to California. Locally, she has served on the Lincoln Community Playhouse Reading Committee, on the Lincoln Arts Council, and as Editor of the NAACP-Lincoln Branch newsletter. Her numerous articles explore the roles of African American women in literature and the cinema. Her recent book Dancing on the White Page (SUNY Press, 2008) examines popular autobiographies of six well known black women entertainers.
The Program will begin at 12:10 p.m. on February 3rd, in the auditorium on the fourth floor of Bennett Martin Public Library at 14th and N Streets in downtown Lincoln. We look forward to an exciting presentation from Dr. Dreher.
Friday, January 22, 2010
The Loren Eiseley Society donates Robert G. Franke's Eiseley Research Collection to the Heritage Room
Robert Franke had a strong interest in religious themes found in the essays and books of anthropologist and naturalist Loren Eiseley. Franke was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Friends of Loren Eiseley, reorganized recently as The Loren Eiseley Society. The collection includes Franke’s publications, and his notes, proposals, and unpublished manuscripts for sermons, papers and books about Eiseley. Franke's research included numerous interviews and correspondence with Eiseley’s friends and colleagues. Of special interest are a seven page typescript by author Ray Bradbury, giving answers to Franke’s questions, correspondence with writer Annie Dillard and poet Howard Nemerov, and an extensive correspondence with Caroline Werkley, Eiseley’s secretary at the University of Pennsylvania.
Most of the documents in the research files were collected in 1981-1983, but there are later additions and documents overall date from 1959 to 1987. The collection is now in processing, and will be available soon.
The Franke Collection joins the Heritage Room's substantial collection of Eiseley materials, which, anchored by the Gale E. Christianson Collection of Eiseley Research Materials, also includes books owned by Eiseley as a boy, the Nebraska Academy of Science Eiseley Donation, a Library Collection, and the Lazlo Kubinyi Collection of Eiseley Book Illustration.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Nebraska native Michael Forsberg is a professional photographer whose work has appeared in National Wildlife, National Geographic, Audubon, and Natural History and in National Geographic and Smithsonian books. He is a charter member of the North American Nature Photographers Association and Fellow, International League of Conservation Photographers. His 2004 book, On Ancient Wings: The Sandhill Cranes of North America has been called “the finest body of work on Sandhill cranes ever published.” His 2009 Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild, with additional text contributions from Ted Kooser, Dan O’Brien, and David Wishart is receiving rave reviews in the national press.
We welcome Michael Forsberg as our January, 2010 Ames Reader on Sunday, January 17 at 2:00 PM in the Heritage Room on the third floor of Bennett Martin Public Library.