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It’s National Poetry Month, and who better to be the poet of the week then one of the most popular poets in America.  Billy Collins has said about his poetry that it is “suburban, it’s domestic, it’s middle class, and it’s sort of unashamedly that.” Accessible, delightful, and celebrating and mourning the highs and lows of everyday life, we encourage you to give one of his poetry anthologies a try.

Check out what’s available in our catalog.

Here’s a favorite poem, for a sample of his work:

Marginalia

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive –
‘Nonsense.’ ‘Please! ‘ ‘HA! ! ‘ –
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote ‘Don’t be a ninny’
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls ‘Metaphor’ next to a stanza of Eliot’s.
Another notes the presence of ‘Irony’
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
‘Absolutely,’ they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
‘Yes.’ ‘Bull’s-eye.’ ‘My man! ‘
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written ‘Man vs. Nature’
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
‘Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.’

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Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, most commonly referred to as Rumi, was a 13th century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, and Sufi Mystic, among other things.  His poetry covers a wide range of topics, and are amazingly relatable and full of advice centuries later.  These two collections showcase this magnificent poet’s work.  One particular favorite is “Quietness” which can be found in The Essential Rumi.

In honor of National Poetry Month, Rumi is this week’s staff picked poet.

“From the premier interpreter of Rumi comes the first definitive one-volume collection of the enduringly popular spiritual poetry by the extraordinary thirteenth-century Sufi mystic.”–Taken from Goodreads.com


The Essential Rumi - Reissue: New Expanded Edition

Coleman Barks

Published: Jun 08, 1995 by Harperone
Find in the Library



The Soul Of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems

Coleman Barks

Published: Sep 05, 2002 by Harperone
Find in the Library


The Soul of Rumi is renowned poet Coleman Barks’ first major assemblage of newly translated Rumi poems since his bestselling The Essential Rumi.

“Coleman Barks presents entirely new translations of Rumi’s poems, published for the first time in The Soul of Rumi. The poems range over the breadth of Rumi’s themes: silence, emptiness, play, God, peace, grief, sexuality, music, to name just a few. But the focus is on the ecstatic experience of human and divine love and their inseparability, conveyed with Rumi’s signature passion, daring, and insights into the human heart and the heart’s longings.”– Taken from Goodreads.com

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This week’s staff pick kicks off a loose series (meaning that they all occupy the same world but aren’t about the same characters), so you don’t have to read them in order.  The Fairy Godmother looks into what happens when fairy tales go wrong, and how you can change your destiny with determination and a little bit of luck…

“In the land of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, if you can’t carry out your legendary role, life is no fairy tale…

Elena Klovis was supposed to be her kingdom’s Cinderella–until fate left her with a completely inappropriate prince! So she set out to make a new life for herself. But breaking with “The Tradition” was no easy matter–until she got a little help from her own fairy godmother. Who promptly offered Elena a most unexpected job…

Now, instead of sleeping in the chimney, she has to deal with arrogant, stuffed-shirt princes who keep trying to rise above their place in the tale. And there’s one in particular who needs to be dealt with…

Sometimes a fairy godmother’s work is never done…”–Taken from Goodreads.com

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This is an easily readable novel in verse, and the staffer who read this absolutely loved this version of the Shakespeare authorship question and wishes it were true.

“On May 30th, 1593, a celebrated young playwright was killed in a tavern brawl in London. That, at least, was the official version. Now let Christopher Marlowe tell you the truth: that his ‘death’ was an elaborate ruse to avoid his being hanged for heresy; that he was spirited across the channel to live on in lonely exile, longing for his true love and pining for the damp streets of London; that he continued to write plays and poetry, hiding behind the name of a colourless man from Stratford — one William Shakespeare.

With the grip of a thriller and the emotional force of a sonnet, this extraordinary novel in verse gives voice to a man who was brilliant, passionate, mercurial and not altogether trustworthy. The son of a cobbler who rose so far in Elizabethan society that he counted nobles among his friends and patrons, a spy in the Queen’s service, a fickle lover and a declared religious sceptic, he was always courting trouble. When it caught up with him, he was lucky to have connections powerful enough to help him escape.

Memoir, love letter, settling of accounts and a cry for recognition as the creator of some of the most sublime works in the English language, this is Christopher Marlowe’s testament — and a tour de force by an award-winning poet: provocative, persuasive and enthralling.”– Taken from Goodreads.com

 

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You may or may not have heard that author Terry Pratchett died this past Thursday at the age of 66.  A wonderfully imaginative author, he is best known for his Discworld novels.  We recommend one of his books as this week’s Staff Pick.  A couple staff favorites are Small Gods and Good Omens (with Neil Gaiman).   You can see what we have available in the catalog.

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