Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital In the 21st Century” has surprised some by becoming a NYT Bestseller and a Longfellow Books top seller, too! It is surprising only because the book is long and long on data and we’ve become accustomed to assuming that our public conversations are fueled on tweets rather than tomes. However, the exploration of wealth and income inequality in society –and in particular, in modern Western societies including the United States — intersects with a lived reality that is sobering, perplexing and requires complex responses.
The Portland Public Library’s “Choose Civility” Initiative and City of Readers’ Team are thrilled to invite economists Susan Feiner and Garrett Martin to help us better understand the data and the arguments made in Picketty’s book and to answer questions about the text. Our evening will also include ample opportunity for discussion about the book and the ideas raised in it.
If you do not have the book (or time to read the whole thing) there are some great guides and reviews online that provide an overview and some critique:
- The Financial Times posted an in-depth blog post leveraging critiques about Piketty’s data and data analysis; an interesting back and forth has followed.
- Bill Moyers posts lots of related links here and provides more resources and analysis regarding the importance of addressing economic inequality here.
- The New York Times maintains an income inequality topics page.
- Watch a Cornell roundtable on the book
- Watch Senator Elizabeth Warren and author Thomas Picketty discuss inequality via MoveOn
- Read a critique of the book in the Wall Street Journal
- Read a related book on the topic
Use comments to submit questions for Professor Susan Feiner and economist Garrett Martin ahead of time or come participate in what should be a lively civil conversation regarding our shared economy — June 24th at 6:30pm in Meeting Room 5!
Sudan. A country experiencing serious violence now, a country that endured a civil war lasting over 20 years, between 1983-2005.
Valentino Achak Deng shared his story of surviving Sudanese Civil War, refugee camp, and resettlement in the United States with acclaimed author Dave Eggers and Eggers shares the story, in novel form, with all of us in his 2006 book “What Is The What.” While the stories of the “Lost Boys” have changed over the years, “What Is The What” remains an exceptionally important cultural history, narrative of war and survival and the challenges associated with living as a refugee in the United States. Please note: “What is the What” includes vivid descriptions of war related violence and can be a painful – even traumatic – read.
Through a partnership with the Machiah Center and Maine Humanities Council, Portland Public Library welcomes Bates Anthropology Professor Elizabeth Eames to lead a facilitated conversation about the book on June 10th at 6pm. The Machiah Center has provided 25 copies of the book to be checked out and PPL also offers the book as an e-download and audiobook.
To register for the program please sign up at the Reader’s Advisory Desk on the 1st floor of Portland Public Library’s main branch, or sign up with Kim Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org
April is National Poetry Month—a time to celebrate poets and poetry, the beauty of language, and the richness poetry brings to the Portland Public Library and to our community. Special programming around poetry this month includes poetry you can carry in your pocket, poetry you can see on the bus (more info soon!), and poetry that you can share with others at PPL.
“Your Favorite Poem” April 23
“Your Favorite Poem” is an event for library patrons to gather and celebrate their favorite poems and poets. On Wednesday, April 23rd, bring your favorite poem by a published author to recite or read aloud in the Rines Auditorium. Come at 6:30 p.m. to sign up for a time slot, talk poetry, and enjoy refreshments. The reading of poems will take place between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Guidelines: One poem per reader, with a time guideline – fans of “Howl” and “Hiawatha,” please bring a short poem to share so that everyone gets a chance!
“Poem in Your Pocket” April 24
On Poem in Your Pocket Day, people throughout the United States select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day. On April 24 Portland Public Library is helping to promote the Poem in Your Pocket initiative by printing and handing out poems at our public desks at the Main Library. You can also share your poem selection on Twitter by using the hashtag #pplpocketpoem and #pocketpoem. Get your pocket poem at PPL on April 24—while supplies last.
And don’t forget to check out the collections of poetry at PPL!
For some ideas on getting started, take a look at a few of our staff lists for poetry. The Portland Room brings us a list of “Lesser Known Maine Poets,” City of Readers suggests “Phenomenal Women: Poets at PPL,” and Teen offers “If There Is Something to Desire: Poetry.” New books of poetry we’re looking forward to in 2014: Carolyn Forche and Duncan Wu’s anthology “Poetry of Witness;” Veteran Kevin Powers’ “Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting;” and a new collection of work from James Baldwin, “Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems.”
We hope you join us in celebrating poetry this month—and hope to hear you sharing “Your Favorite Poem” at the Main Library on April 23!
By Elizabeth Hartsig