One of my favorite books in our poetry section isn’t a book of poetry at all. Richard Hugo’s The Triggering Town gathers nine brief lectures, essays and “sentimental reminiscences” by the beloved Seattle writer. I’m not a poet and I don’t plan to become one, but Hugo’s ideas are so wise and clear, and his humor and candor are so appealing that I suspect a lot of readers will enjoy this. Writers certainly will find plenty to think about here, and will jot down many of Hugo’s rules of thumb, such as “Use number 2 pencils … Don’t erase. Cross out rapidly and violently, never with slow consideration if you can help it.” Or “Use ‘love’ as a transitive verb for the first fifteen years.” Come to think of it, that last one is good advice for non-writers too. There is some great pragmatic discussion of being an artist in the material world (Hugo worked for Boeing for many years) and interesting local touches (for more see Hugo’s autobiography, The Real West Marginal Way, and the documentary film Richard Hugo: Kicking the Loose Gravel Home.) The wonderful chapter about Theodore Roethke, who taught Hugo at U.W. back in the 1940s, may leave you wanting more, and Straw for the Fire, fellow student David Wagoner’s recent collection from Roethke’s own notebooks, fits the bill perfectly.
With the opening of the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) on March 8, 2008, Seattle’s cultural map expands to include one more unique and interesting destination. Through interactive exhibits, programs and events the museum promises to “document the unique historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.” NAAM is, clearly, the new kid on the block of established and honored museums in the region.
Planning a trip to the museum? Enhance your visit before you enter the Journey Gallery by reading In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990 by Quintard Taylor or The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District, from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era, also by Taylor.
The Northwest Gallery features painter Jacob Lawrence and sculptor James Washington Jr. In addition to their works of art, the tools each artist used to shape and develop their creations are on view. While Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings and Murals (1935-1999) A Catalogue Raisonné by Peter Nesbitt is Continue reading “The Making of a Museum”
Are you an aspiring writer? Maybe, like me, you used to do a lot of creative writing when you were younger but somehow don’t find the time now. Well, there are a number of aids to help you get into (or back into) the writing habit.
First of all, free creative writing classes are popping up this spring like daffodils at a library near you:
Poetry Writing, Saturday, April 26, 1 to 3 p.m. at University Branch
Start Your Novel Today! Saturday April 26, 2 to 4 p.m. at Greenwood Branch
Short Story Writer’s Toolbox, Saturday, May 10, 1 to 3 p.m. at Wallingford Branch
Writing the Picture Book, Saturday, May 31, 1 to 3 p.m. at Wallingford Branch
All Ages Open Mic, Thursday, May 22, 6 to 7:30 p.m. at University Branch Continue reading “Want to Write?”
Brains and Brew – a perfect combination in this city of microbrewers and techies. I am a huge fan of science writing in the vein of Stephen J. Gould, Carl Sagan and E. O. Wilson. The only drawback I’ve ever found to science books is the lack of immediacy. It takes years for a scientist to do the work, write up the results, get those results peer reviewed and then, hopefully, write about their research in an exciting and approachable popular format. And in this impatient world I want to know about the interesting research NOW!
Along comes Science on Tap. Sit down in a local pub with a beer or a cup of coffee and listen to working scientists from all over the scientific map discuss their current work. It doesn’t get much more immediate or more interesting. And it’s totally nonthreatening. Just a bunch of brainy folks chatting about an interesting topic over a few drinks at their local.
Of course, if you would rather read about the interesting discoveries or grand unified theories of everything I’ve got some suggestions.
It’s been almost a year since Kurt Vonnegut died, but I’ve been thinking about him a lot. I recently read the final book he published during his lifetime, A Man Without a Country. It’s a concise collection of biographical essays that feel like they were written by your cantankerous, but highly intelligent and funny, old uncle.
I felt such deep affection for the man while reading these essays. Then, when I got to page 102 and read his eloquent thoughts about librarians and libraries, I fell for him hook, line and sinker. Here’s what he wrote:
I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, their powerful political connections or great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.
So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”