The MTV Poet Laureate

Filed under: News — marcia at 9:09 pm on Monday, August 27, 2007

MtvU – the MTV channel for college campuses – chose John Ashbery as its poet laureate. At first, it sounded like a well-meaning attempt that would accomplish little. However, I was less cynical after reading about the contest associated with the new appointment. A contest with a real prize!

In another first, mtvU will help sponsor a poetry contest for college students. The winner, chosen by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, will have a book published next year by HarperCollins as part of the National Poetry Series. – via the New York Times

I am glad that I haven’t heard too many snotty reactions to this. Remember when people pooped their diapers about Oprah’s book club? Like suddenly a book isn’t a real piece of literature anymore because people are actually reading it. Of course, I only say that because I am too naive to comprehend Oprah’s nefarious plan to control what America reads.

Introducing new audiences to art is a good thing. (Now if the way you introduce it is to chop it to bits and mess with it until it’s unrecognizable and bland, that’s another story …)


Come on, America

Filed under: News — marcia at 9:53 pm on Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One in four Americans polled by the Associated Press-Ispos said they didn’t read any books at all last year. Not even one?

“I just get sleepy when I read,” said Richard Bustos of Dallas, Texas, a habit with which millions of Americans can doubtless identify. Bustos, a 34-year-old project manager for a telecommunications company, said he had not read any books in the last year and would rather spend time in his backyard pool. – via CNN

So read a book already! And if a whole book makes you sleepy, there’s always DailyLit – a service that will e-mail you small chunks of public domain books each day.

Journaling for people who hate journaling

Filed under: The Writing Life — marcia at 11:46 pm on Tuesday, August 14, 2007

There is something intimidating and off-putting about writing in a journal for me. I am a type to get obsessed with how nice the book of paper looks and whether or not I am using a good pen or crossing things out and making the page look ugly. Also, I begin to focus on what the point of it is if it’s stuff in my brain I don’t know what to do with or don’t care to do anything with — which is often the case for journaling. I am not the type to want a record of my own thoughts for its own sake.

Gretchen Rubin posted about her one-sentence journal — just a series of single sentences, not too scary. She added to that with another idea suggested by a reader: a while-people-are-boarding-the-plane journal.
There are many moments in our lives where we could jot down some ideas or thoughts, but don’t. For people like me who have a hard time with the concept of a traditional journal, a running notebook with ideas and stray sentences could work better … as long as it wasn’t some bossy thing I always had to write in. I do what I want.
For instance a “journal” filled with random thoughts from when I was:

  • Waiting at the DMV, dentist/doctor office or mechanic
  • Watching something on TV because I was bored
  • Waiting for someone else to get out of the shower
  • Doing laundry at the Laundromat
  • Having trouble sleeping because of a cold or flu
  • Doing anything else that doesn’t require my attention


Spreading the joy of reading

Filed under: Fun — marcia at 9:50 am on Tuesday, August 7, 2007
book mule

I’ve never actually seen a bookmobile in real life, but I like the idea. Reading is important, blah blah children society. OK, now I can get to the awesome part: bookmules and bookcamels! Children! Excited about books! All right, no more exclamation points.
About bookmules in remote areas of Venezuela:

Anyone who was not out working the fields – tending the celery that is the main crop here – was waiting for our arrival. The 23 children at the little school were very excited.

“Bibilomu-u-u-u-las,” they shouted as the bags of books were unstrapped. They dived in eagerly, keen to grab the best titles and within minutes were being read to by Christina and Juana, two of the project leaders.

“Spreading the joy of reading is our main aim,” Christina Vieras told me. (read entire story on BBC website)

About bookcamels:

The actual Camel Bookmobile brings books to semi-nomadic people in Northeastern Kenya who live with the most minimal of possessions, suffering from chronic poverty and periodic drought. I visited the region during a period of drought and made several hours-long walks through the African bush with the bookmobile. I cannot describe how moving it was to see the people, particularly children, crowding around as the traveling librarians set up straw mats under an acacia tree and spread out the books. The excitement is palpable. (get more details, including how to donate books, from Masha Hamilton)

Links via Kevin Kelly