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.
In honor of National Poetry Month, the Portland Room’s intrepid intern, Harper Wray Chance, has pulled together a charming exhibit of some gems from our collections. Books on display include Martin Steingesser’s Brothers of Morning and Betsy Sholl’s Rough Cradle. (Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Sholl speak about her work on April 10 at the Maine Women Writers Collection at UNE, http://www.une.edu/mwwc/conferences/authorseries.cfm)
Elizabeth Coatsworth, the well-known writer of children’s books, explores a darker side of life in the slightly sinister poems of The Creaking Stair. As she writes in the poem titled By Command, “the nightmares are waiting.” The book is illustrated by W.A. Dwiggins, an illustrator, book designer, and typographer. For this volume, he used an experimental typeface of his own design that he had not yet named.
Also on display is a book by Nathaniel Parker Willis. Willis’ father founded the early Portland newspaper, the Eastern Argus, available on microfilm in the Portland Room. Willis himself was a prolific and popular journalist, poet, and editor.
A page from Julia H. May’s Songs from the Woods of Maine showing the poem “The Happy Hills of Strong.”
These and the other books in the exhibit represent just a tiny portion of what we have on the shelves of the Portland Room. We invite you to stop by, take a look, read a poem or two. While you’re here, take a look at our display of old children’s books, as well, and our ongoing display of items from the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association. The Portland Room is located on the 2nd floor – come on in! We are open Monday-Thursday 10-7 and Friday 10-6.
Spring — a season of renewal, a season of mud. April seems to me to be a perfect time to engage in reflection about what sustains our civic engagement when the cold persists, the mud tracks in, the rain falls. We keep at our community projects in part because we believe that the sun will shine on us again and that the outcomes will be meaningful and worth our time and attention. However, we also keep volunteering or keep on with activism because the alternative is to give up a sense of optimism and connection and even identity…. Activism is an antidote to despair about civic problems, but even the most intrepid activist experiences discouragement, frustration and burn-out at times.
This 2-part workshop stems from work by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone and their book Active Hope, but it is not necessary to read the book to participate! We will also draw on many other resources, included some shared here.
We are offering two distinct sessions – come to one or both!
Saturday April 12th 10:15am – 12:00pm — Meeting Room 5 –> explore the spiral of the work that reconnects including our biggest concerns for the future and our greatest hopes.
Tuesday April 29th 3:30 -5:00pm — Meeting Room 5 –> explore exercises designed to help sustain hope during dark times and to promote individual and collective self-care without encouraging a turning away from social problems.
Both of these public conversations are intended as starting points – an opportunity for developing and sustaining an Active Hope group will be considered by the group.