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Activating Our Hope

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Recommended Reads | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Government

Last month, 9 of us gathered to reflect on Joanna Macy’s ideas presented in the book Active Hope. We began by considering the “spiral of the work that reconnects” and the various stages, including : gratitude, honoring our pain, and seeing with new eyes. The last piece is “going forth” and we left considering our own commitments and ideas for how to bring “active hope” into our lives and our communities.

Some of the ideas for preventing or addressing burn-out that were shared included:

  • – Spend more time outside
  • – Be informed but avoid people who are cynical
  • – The film “A Great Green Fire” was recommended as a provocative overview of the environmental movement – it is available via MaineCat
  • – Engage with arts that promote social change and lift spirits
  • – Ask ourselves, “How can I actually, in some small way… “
  • – Connect in places we’re already connected, including Church, through kids, and in neighborhoods
  • – Engage intergenerationally – consider asking elders to play the role of a steadying force
  • – Have fun while making change
  • – Check out some other resources on this topic (here’s a booklist to start with)
  • – JoAnna Macy’s book World As Lover, World as Self was highly recommended
  • – Learn more about the history of social movements and the “wins” of past movements

Use the comments to share your insights about how to stay hopeful in the face of challenges and stay active in community life.


An invitation to a discussion : “What Is The What”

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Programs & Events | Recommended Reads | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture | Government

what is the whatSudan. 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  simmons@portland.lib.me.us


National Poetry Month at PPL

posted: , by Jim Charette
tags: Library Collections | Programs & Events | Recommended Reads | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture

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

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