The Oxford English Dictionary is the premier dictionary of the English language. It is famous for its easy-to-understand definitions and word etymology, which strives to record the earliest known usage. The seemingly simple verbs set, make and put vie with each other for the longest entries – over 60,000 words each to describe all of the uses and senses!
The current editor of the OED, as it is commonly known, is set to retire later this year. John Simpson was briefly interviewed on Morning Edition on NPR yesterday. What makes his position newsworthy is that he is only the seventh editor of the dictionary since the project's beginning in 1879 and has been working in this high profile position of the world’s most famous dictionary for more than 35 years.
In addition to some specialized copies of the Oxford dictionaries for foreign languages and picture dictionaries, MCPL owns a compact version of the Oxford English Dictionary. The print is so tiny, you need a zoom text reading machine (which MCPL also owns!) to really read any parts of this mammoth book. Read more »
We're in the closing days of National Poetry Month, and this Sunday if you'd like to compose a poem of your own, we're offering a program about writing ekphrastic poetry in partnership with The Writers Guild at Bloomington. It's at 2 p.m. this Sunday in Room 2B. Call 349-3228 to register. The word ekphrasis comes from the Greek and simply means description. The original Greek root phrazein meant to point out or explain. An added meaning was to name an inanimate thing.
Many of the Romantic poets celebrated art including John Keats in his "Ode to a Grecian Urn." The list of modern poets who have worked in the form include W.H. Auden, William Carlos Williams, Anne Sexton, Muriel Rukeyser, Greg Pape, and former poet laureate, Kay Ryan, among many others.
You can write about any art form in ekphrastic poety: sculpture, paintings, ceramics, prints, and photographs. Some poets describe the work in vivid detail; others just use the art piece for a jumping off point. This is especially true when an abstract painting is the subject of the poem as in the example I've included below. Read more »
Each year, high school students across the state of Indiana read from a list of around 20 nominees for the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award (or the Rosie, as it's known). These books are rated by the students, who then vote through their high schools. With voting winding down for the 2012-2013 award, many people are looking forward to spending some time this summer getting to know the new nominees for the upcoming 2013-2014 award.
Today is Shakespeare's birthday and to celebrate a Goodreads contributer created a great infographic to help you select your next read. A comedy? A tragedy? MCPL has works by Shakespeare, books to help you get through the plays and of course biographies. One of the best biographies is Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World. Shakespeare expert and Harvard historian, Greenblatt does an excellent job of integrating a basic biography with the sights, sounds and feel of Elizabethan England. This book is dense with detail, but also entirely readable is a great choice for both self professed Shakespeare know-it-alls and newcomers alike.
Seeing as it is a classics sort of day, I thought I would also link to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This fictional video blog chronicles the modern day Lizzie Bennet, her sisters Lydia and Jane, and her best friend Charlotte Wu as they navigate between the pressure of their parents and potential boyfriends including the new-to-the-neighborhood Bing Lee. Read more »
It’s Earth Day. Senator Gaylord Nelson was the driving force behind the first one which occurred in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues. As I scanned the new releases in the environmental section, this book caught my eye. It was a sobering read but one that was very thought-provoking. World-renowned legal scholar, Andrew Guzman, wrote Overheated. In it, he examines the political and sociological changes from climate change that the author reports have already started to occur. Not just flooding and mega-storms, but also droughts, food scarcity, refugees forced from their land, lack of water for agriculture, etc. In his preface, the author states that “climate change will affect nearly everyone on this planet.”
The chapter topics reveal his major concerns: one on flooding shows how some island nations will disappear, and that at least one very populated one—Bangladesh--will suffer massive flooding that will lead to migrations of millions of refugees. The chapter entitled “A Thirsty World” depicts how the melting of glaciers will affect the water supply of many people on earth, not only in India, Pakistan, Argentina, and Chile, but also in our American West. He predicts that this will impact both our food supply and the prices of commodities.
In “Climate Wars—A Shower of Sparks” he hypothesizes how the conflict in Darfur in the 1990s may have been the first war sparked by climate change. Guzman also says that more wars will be caused by a scarcity of resources. He is very concerned about the Middle East, already one of the most arid areas in the world. Read more »
This novel focuses on the life of Zelda: dancer, writer, and famous flapper who married Scott Fitzgerald. The Fitzgeralds were considered the “it” couple of the twenties. Zelda and Scott spent time in Paris in the same social circle as Hemingway and his wife where the hard-drinking and romances took a toll on both marriages. If you've read about Zelda in Scott's or her own writing, this fascinating, multi-talented person will intrigue you.
If you love Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem “Annabel Lee,” this novel about Poe’s doomed wife and first cousin, Virginia, will interest you. The Poes married when Virginia was thirteen and E.A. was twenty-seven; her mother signed a document that she was of age. Like Hemingway, Poe was a big drinker, and Virginia had to put up with drunkenness and poverty. Another story of a literary marriage where the wife was both muse and care-giver.
This is often considered the most famous novel of the “Lost Generation,” that crowd of artists, musicians, and writers who left the U.S. during the 20s to live an expat lifestyle in Paris and other cities. Jake Barnes, a jaded WWI vet, travelled from the bars of Paris to Spain for the spring bullfights. Hemingway describes the expatriate lifestyle amid the violence, camaraderie, and life and death risk for bulls and men. Read more »
"Select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others throughout the day. You can also share your selection on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem." One unique way is to switch to old technology--remember the telephone?--and call a friend and read a poem to him or her. What a great way to share this form of oral literature.
Please feel free to scan our large collection of contemporary poetry and classics. American poetry can be found between 811-812 in our stacks, British, between 821-822. If you want to explore poetry from other languages, try 831--German, 841--French, etc. Haiku can be found in the 895s. (They squeezed poetry from many cultures inthe 890s including Russsian, Japanese, Chinese and Inuit.) Also, you can find a large and diverse selection at Poets.org.
I'll get a head-start on the day by sharing one my favorite spring poems with you from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by e.e. cummings. His love for nature and humanity shines through all his poems. Read more »
The Pulitzer Prize is an annual awards given to excellence in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition and are administered by Columbia University in New York City. The 2013 awards were announced yesterday. For books, the following awards were given.
Ambitious and inventive, this novel is set in an orphanage in North Korea. Protagonist Pak Jun Do is forced to become a fighting tunnel expert and a kidnapper before he takes his fate into his own hands. Johnson is able to tell the tale of touching humanity set within the backdrop of a brutal regime. Read more »
Roger Ebert, film critic extraordinaire and Pulitzer Prize winner, died last week after a battle with cancer. Immediately following his death, there were lots of quotes circulating online from Ebert which reminded me what a great writer he was. In writing about movies, Ebert was able often able to put his finger on the pulse of real life human behavior and articulate the human condition – both the happy and the sad. I forgot how funny he was, and his reviews are a joy to read even if you disagree on the rating.
Those interested in starting with the basics, check out his Movie Yearbooks – complete with movie reviews, essays, tributes, journal entries, and new additions to his popular Movie Glossary. If you are looking for critiques that might lead you to viewing of really good movies, try The Great Movie series. However, some of Ebert’s best writing was in critiquing bad movies. If you aren’t looking for movie suggestions, but just some hilarious examples of his writing check out Your Movie Sucks. Read more »
In college, I often dreamed of tsunamis. The waves were enormously high and transported me far inland but were amazingly gentle behemoths that if I did not fight against, eventually landed me upon the shore without any damage. The tsunami that struck Sir Lanka the day after Christmas 2004 was nothing like these, but was instead brutal, fierce, and deadly.
Imagine losing your husband, two sons, and both parents on the same day. This unbelievable tragedy happened to this British economist. The memoir starts quietly with her description of a typical morning at a beach resort in Southern Sri Lanka that her family had been visiting since her childhood. Sonali knew all the hotel staff and park rangers; the place meant home to her and her family. Ironically, the family was packing to go home later that day.
As her children are dressing, she speaks to a close friend who has accompanied them on their holiday outing. Suddenly, both women notice an unusual wave in the far distance. Sonali calls to her husband in the bathroom, but Read more »