Got Poems?

April is more than just the month when sun tries to return to the Seattle skies. It’s also National Poetry Month. What does poetry mean to you? For some of us, we recall that haiku writing assignment in elementary school. Then there’s that familiar and famous line from Robert Frost of “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Even though some of your friends may be digging into the 800-plus pages of Charles Dicken’s Little Dorrit, consider doing something different by reading or trying your hand at poetry. Here are some places to start.

dream-of-summer-book-coverFinding poetry at the Library is easy. A library catalog search for summer poetry brings up A Dream of Summer: Poems for the Sensuous Season. Want to listen to poems? A search for poetry cds in the library catalog lets one know about The Classic Hundred Poems: All-Time Favorites.  At any public library, you can browse lots of American poetry on the shelves in the Dewey 810s. As the Continue reading “Got Poems?”

Staff Favorites: Dogs and strays.

Travels with Charley: In Search of America, by John Steinbeck
If this book doesn’t make you want to take a road trip, I don’t know what will. The first paragraph so completely captures the urge to travel that I feel profoundly moved every time I read it. At age 58, Steinbeck sets out to rediscover America, a country he has become famous writing about but feels he no longer knows or understands. His deep love for the country and the everyday people who inhabit it is made all the more touching by his sense of the loss of the America of his childhood and his wonder and bafflement at the country it is Continue reading “Staff Favorites: Dogs and strays.”

Finding that elusive poem – Part Two

In the first part of this tutorial, we asked the question “How do you find a poem, when you know only the title or first line?” The reference tool we used was the Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry.  Now let’s ask the same question using one of the Seattle Public Library’s popular subscription databases.  After the video,  enjoy exploring LitFinder on your own.  Hopefully you’ll never again be frustrated by an elusive piece of poetry. 
~Stan S

Finding that elusive poem

How do you find a poem when all you remember is the first line or the title?
We have two excellent resources you can use to track down that elusive poem: one in print, the other online.

In this post, let’s use the two volumes of the Granger’s Index:
The Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry in Collected and Selected Works.
The Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry in Anthologies.
You can find Granger’s in the Arts, Recreation and Literature Department in the Central Library.

Let’s use some examples to explore the Index to Collected and Selected Works: The book is divided into three sections, each arranged alphabetically:
Title and First Line Index
Author Index
Subject Index

What is the title of the poem that begins “Does the road wind uphill all the way?”
Go to the Title and First Line Index. The complete entry reads:

Does the road wind uphill all the way? Uphill. Christina Georgina Rossetti. CP- Ros-C1.

The first line is listed, followed by the title, Uphill and the author, Christina Rossetti. Continue reading “Finding that elusive poem”

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.