The Making of a Museum

With the oFacade of African American Museumpening 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”

Want to Write?

ifyouwanttowrite.jpgAre 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?”

Cherry blossoms bloom herald the spring

kanji for cherry blossom 'hanami'The appearance of cherry blossoms marks the arrival of spring in Japan, sending revelers of all ages outdoors to enjoy wine and picnic lunches under flowery pink canopies in the nation’s parks and orchards. One cannot delay cherry blossom viewing, or “hanami,” because the cherry blossom is like life: beautiful and tragically fleeting.

image-of-girl-looking-at-cherry-blossoms-courtesy-of-piero-sierraIn Seattle, consumption of alcohol on public land may not fly as it does in Japan, but the beauty and fragrance of the cherry blossom is just as sweet! The year the Seattle Center will be holding its annual Cherry Blossom and Japanese Culture Festival on April 18 – 20, providing folks in our area with a chance to welcome the spring in this centuries-old tradition.

If the beauty and barbarism, poetry and mysticism of medieval Japan have captured your imagination this season, you may be interested in these books and movies available at The Seattle Public Library.



A fantasy set in a world that closely resembles medieval Japan, this first book in the series Tales of the Otori provides an engrossing blend of history and magic that will leave readers anxious for the sequel. Our hero, Takeo, begins this story as a young man whose village was destroyed by an evil warlord. Tests of loyalty, romantic intrigue, secret cults, assassins, Continue reading “Cherry blossoms bloom herald the spring”

You know the author, Neil G-A-I-M-A-N. Guyman? Gayman?

Neil Gaiman Fragile Things book coverIf you like to talk about books with your friends, you’ve probably discovered how many fantastic authors have puzzling, exotic names that it’s unclear how to pronounce.

I have discovered in myself an almost superstitious preoccupation with the correct pronunciation of author names. The more I love the author, the more compelled I feel to get the name right. At some level, I have the sense that whenever I mangle a name and let it stand, the author — wherever he or she is — will somehow know and get the chills. Realizing that people all over the world are probably just as confused as I am only makes it worse. Those poor authors. Well, here is a resource that promises to help!

TeachingBooks.Net offers an online author name pronunciation guide filled with audio files in which dozens of authors (many of whom write for children and teens) introduce themselves, tell us how to pronounce their names, and even tell us what their names mean and where they come from. Eureka!

Another online resource that offers pronunciation tips for the names of all kinds of authors can be found here.  The name of any famous person, author or not, stands a chance of being listed in this resouce assembled by the Wolfner Library in Missouri. 

The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton

slaves1.jpgHamilton’s best-known title is Hangover Square, but I think that the recently re-printed The Slaves of Solitude may be a better introduction to his genius to most readers, with its more measured, benevolent view of human folly and its sympathetic heroine — the sober, bewildered Miss Roach. Having fled the bombings, Roach returns from London each night to a boarding house in a quiet suburb where she and her fellow inmates are nightly subjected to the spectacular boorishness of Mr. Thwaites, a devastating literary creation that had me wincing and gasping as I might over the jaw-dropping sallies of Borat, or of Ricky Gervais in the original British version of The Office. For a moment it seems as though some respite is at hand when a hard-drinking American lootenant brashly courts our Miss with disarming ham-fisted vigor; enter Vickie Kugelman, a German immigrant who threatens her place in the yank’s affections and joins league with the Dickensian Thwaites in waging an insidious war of insinuations and slights upon Roach. Hamilton’s psychological insight is keen, and he clearly relishes tying his characters in knots of their own devising. The moments of discovery, exasperation and triumph are sublime; I recall dissolving into gales of laughter over a pitch perfect rumination that simply read “Oh…Oh…Oh…” This perceptive comedy of manners is a sheer delight.