The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo

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.

 

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.

 

Literature

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.