Friday Reads: Cape Cod in Poetry

Since April is National Poetry Month what better time to share a little gem of a poetry book I just discovered yesterday.  A patron emailed the reference department to say that she had read that there was a poem dedicated to each town on the Cape, and could we get her a copy of the Falmouth poem.  I hadn’t heard of their being such a series of poems, but it sure sounded like a possibility.  If it didn’t exist already, what a great project for someone.   Now that you mention it, given our rich literary heritage, each Cape town should have an official poem, much like each state having an official bird.

Well, I did some sleuthing and came up with several poems about Falmouth, although none of them were labeled “official town poem,” and the fact that Falmouth appointed its first and only Poet Laureate in 2012, Adelaide Cummings.  Also during my searching, I discovered a nifty little old book:  Cape Cod in Poetry edited by Joshua Freeman Crowell and Florence Hathaway Crowell.  It was published in 1924 by the Four Seas Company of Boston and bears an old stamp from when we were known as “Falmouth Free Public Library”.

Cape Cod in Poetry nearly fits the bill for having what the patron described as a poem dedicated to each town on the Cape.  Orleans and Bourne are not included, but several villages are, such as Craigville, Pocasset and Wianno.  Most towns had a couple poems each, but Falmouth, which appears first for some reason, has nine.  Most are by Katharine Lee Bates, author of the poem America the Beautiful, who was born in Falmouth in 1859.  I used this book and others to answer the patron’s question about a copy of a Falmouth poem, but I neglected to mention that there were poems about most other towns on the Cape in it as well.  To my surprise, the patron replied that she already owned a copy of the book and she had purchased it at one of the annual book sales our Friends of the Falmouth Public Library hold around the fourth of July!

The editor, Joshua Freeman Crowell, was a poet and writer of children’s books.  His goal in creating this anthology was to “preserve first, for the friends and lovers of the Cape, the essence of the historical and local spirit; and with that, provide characteristic examples of the work of the more widely known poets who were either born on, or were, in some way, associated with the Cape.”  My favorite part of the book is the index by locality with biographical notes.  You can look up a town and see a list of poets whose work is included in that section.  Most entries also include a biographical note, such as “birthplace,” “visitor,” or “summer resident.”  For instance, did you know Conrad Aiken was a former resident of South Yarmouth, Edna St. Vincent Millay summered in Truro and that Joseph C. Lincoln was born in Brewster and summered in Chatham? I was tickled to find out.

If you would like to make your own interesting discoveries about Cape Cod in Poetry, you can find this book in the local history collection in the reference room.  Due to its importance and fragility, it cannot be checked out, but you are welcome to find a cozy seat by a window and enjoy it in the library for as long as you like.  Stop by the reference desk and we’ll share it with you.

Friday Reads: Northern Armageddon

by Adrienne Latimer

My family background is French Canadian; my husband’s heritage is English Canadian.  Thus, the book Northern Armageddon: the battle of the Plains of Abraham and the making of the American Revolution caught my attention – what happened in Canada, and when did it happen?

Canada is now a bilingual constitutional monarchy – Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is the Head of State, with a governor-general as her representative, and a parliamentary form of government led by the Prime Minister.  But, back in the mid-eighteenth century this outcome was not certain.  The thirteen American colonies were well established, but Britain was not certain of their future, as the French territories to the North, to the west and down the Mississippi were all under French occupation.

The centerpiece of the book is the battle of the Plains of Abraham for the control of Quebec, the capital of French Canada. The author D. Peter MacLeod, curator of the Canadian War Museum, does an outstanding job telling the story in great detail, skillfully integrating his wealth of primary sources into the narrative. His lively, flowing writing style made this a real page turner, despite the fact that I am not a military historian.

You can find this book on the Staff Picks Cart.

Friday Reads: The Soul of an Octopus

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 


This week, the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club discussed The Soul of an Octopus: a surprising exploration into the world of consciousness by naturalist Sy Montgomery.  We always have a rollicking good time talking about great books, but today’s discussion was one of the most fun.   For some it was overcoming the ick- factor, for others it was learning about something familiar, yet completely unknown, and for all, it was sharing our stories about how this amazing book changed us.  And the writing was beautiful to boot!  Sadly, we didn’t get as far as discussing the quality of the writing.  We were too caught up in eight arms of octopus lore.

The Soul of an Octopus is a love letter to the author’s new found friends: octopuses named Athena, Octavia and Kali; and the diverse group of people she meets who love them too.   Montgomery visits the New England Aquarium in Boston on Wednesdays to gather with her friends, feed capelin to the octopuses, stroke their velvety heads and get hickeys on her arms from their strong and inquisitive suction cups.  They literally taste her skin and give her kisses with their cups.  Through Montgomery’s narrative, we learn about the octopus’ distinct personalities, their great intelligence, and yes, their souls.  We also see there are a number of similarities between them and us.  Amazing.  Sprinkled throughout are interesting scientific facts that are integrated well into the story.

I don’t think any of us had a particular interest in octopuses before reading this book, even the group member who recommended it.  But with the compelling subject so deftly and warmly portrayed by the author, you don’t need three hearts like an octopus to be changed for the better.

Friday Reads: Oysters: a celebration in the raw

Bacon-fatty, fruity, funky, mossy, velvety.   What do these words have in common?

They are a just a few selections from the lengthy oyster lexicon that aficionados use to describe this beloved bivalve.  If you’re still reading, then you must have at least a little interest in oysters, so I want to tell you about a little gem of a book in our new nonfiction area:  Oysters:  a celebration in the raw by Jeremy Sewall and Marion Lear Swaybill.   Scott Snider deserves a call out here for his top-notch photos that will make your mouth water while also providing scientific level detail.  No runway model has ever looked as good in a close-up.

This book, small and meaty like the mollusk it celebrates, has four sections that discuss the history and culture of oysters, the people who harvest them, a sumptuous photo gallery, and of course, oyster stories. You can probably guess some of the topics: aphrodisiacs, pearls, and that myth about the R month, but there are additional yarns to educate and entertain.  It is international in scope, but clearly focuses on Massachusetts farms.

You can find this book on the new nonfiction shelf with the call number 641.394 SEW.  If you’re going to check it out, plan on hitting an oyster bar soon after!

Friday Reads: Dangerous Years

 

New to our library shelves this month is an important book on climate change by a leading environmental thinker, David W. OrrDangerous Years:  climate change, the long emergency and the way forward, published by Yale University Press, is “a valuable addition to environmental and philosophical wisdom.” Says Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University.

The inner flap of the book states:

“This gripping, deeply thoughtful book considers the future of civilization in the light of what we know about climate change and related threats.  David Orr, an award-winning, internationally recognized leader in the field of sustainability and environmental education, pulls no punches:  even with the Paris Agreement of 2015, Earth systems will not reach a new equilibrium for centuries.  Earth is becoming a different planet – more thread bare and less biologically diverse, with more-acidic oceans and a hotter, more capricious climate.  Furthermore, technology will not solve complex problems of sustainability.

Yet, we are not fated to destroy the Earth, Orr insists.  He imagines sustainability as a quest and a transition built upon robust and durable democratic and economic institutions, as well as changes in heart and mindset.  The transition, he writes, is beginning from the bottom up in communities and neighborhoods. He lays out specific principles and priorities to guide us toward enduring harmony between human and natural systems.”

You can find this book shelved in the new nonfiction area with the call number 363.73874 ORR.  Close readers will be pleased to know there are copious notes and an index.

David W. Orr has written several other books on the environment and building design, but don’t confuse him with David Orr, (sans W.)  the New York Times poetry columnist, who has a new book on poetry out this year.   If your interests include poetry, as well as climate change, David Orr’s book, You, Too, Could Write a Poem:  selected reviews and essays, 2000-2015, is also in the new nonfiction area with the call number 808.1 ORR.

 

Friday Reads: Unbowed, a memoir by Wangari Maathai

 

The Narrative Nonfiction Book Club read Unbowed, a fascinating memoir by 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai this month.   As always we had more to discuss than our short one hour would allow.  That is partly because we had a large turnout of vey engaged readers, and also because Wangari Maathai has accomplished so many important things in her life.  And she’s not done yet.

Born in a rural village in Kenya in 1940, she enjoyed a childhood bound closely to nature and her family.  Unlike most girls in Kenya she went to a Catholic school locally, then on to college in the United States. She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in East and Central Africa.  She married, had three children, went through a very public and ugly divorce (which was shameful in her society), taught at the University of Nairobi and was a political activist for many causes, especially for women, the environment, and democracy.  Despite of the Kenyan government’s efforts to knock her down time and again, she is a selfless and tireless advocate for causes she believes in.  In 1977 she established the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, which has spread across Africa and garnered attention in other continents.   The movement is an effort to replant large swaths of deforested land with indigenous trees, planted by women, who earn an income for their successful seedlings.   This initiative goes a long way to solving both environmental degradation and empowering and employing women.

President Bill Clinton said, “Wangari Maathai’s memoir is direct, honest and beautifully written – a gripping account of modern Africa’s trials and triumphs, a universal story of courage, persistence, and success against great odds in a noble cause.”

The book club loved this book and I highly recommend it.

IRS Tax Scams in the 2016 Filing Season

Scammers are making unsolicited phone calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a false tax bill. They try to con victims into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls.”

These calls have been received by people in the Falmouth area. One of our librarians received a just such a call. The recorded message said a lawsuit had been filed and warrant would be issued for her arrest if she did not call the 800 number they gave her.

Many phone scams use such threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

The IRS will NEVER:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you receive one of these calls, do not identify yourself, do not argue with the caller — just hang up.

REGISTER: Ticks & Tick-borne Illnesses (This Weekend!)

We are pleased to announce a free two-part series on ticks and tick-borne illnesses on Saturday, March 18, and Sunday, March 19, 2017.  Come learn about how to avoid ticks, the many diseases they spread, how to manage your health if you become infected and about the “untold story of Lyme Disease.”

Part one will be held on Saturday March 18 from 10:30 to noon in the Hermann Foundation meeting room.  A panel of three speakers will present their complementary areas of expertise regarding ticks, followed by questions from the audience.  Larry Dapsis, entomologist from the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, the education department of Barnstable County, will talk about tick habits, habitats and precautions to take when spending time outdoors to avoid exposure.  Lauren Valle, founder of Kinship Herbal and Holistic Healing in Falmouth, will present an array of information related to healing Lyme Disease, including herbal medicines, immunity, nutrition, detoxification, self-advocacy, tracking symptoms and maintaining optimism and strength.  Ron Gangemi, founder of Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod and Entire Health and Wellness, both in Mashpee, will discuss the many tick-borne illnesses that are found on the Cape and the latest information on treatment options and resources, including integrative approaches.  Light refreshments will be served.

Part two will be held the next day, Sunday, March 19 from 2:00 to 4:30 PM, in the Hermann Foundation meeting room.  We will be screening the award winning documentary film:  Under Our Skin, followed by a discussion of the film lead by a reference librarian.  “Under Our Skin is a powerful and often terrifying look not only at the science and politics of (Lyme) disease, but also the personal stories of those whose lives have been affected and nearly destroyed.” (Underourskin.com) It won six “best documentary” awards when it came out in 2008 and it is still an important expose on the disease.

Come to either event or both.  Please register for the panel discussion on Saturday.

Program Registration Form

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Friday Reads (and CDs): violins and fiddles

Highlighting today’s early morning news was the story of a Stradivarius violin once lost (stolen) in 1980, found in 2015, and now fully restored in 2017 from its past of Super Glue and Elmer’s Glue patches. Exactly why does the name Stradivari seem to remain in our vocabulary, usually in conjunction with values in the millions? What is so special about this luthier’s instruments? As it happens, the library has a book that may help with these musings. The Violin, a Social History of the World’s Most Versatile Instrument.  2013 [787.2 SCH] has extensive sections on the Stradivari family and Stradivarius instruments.

If you’re wondering about Mira Wang, the violinist who will perform soon on the above-mentioned recovered Strad, you might want to search for a magazine article about her in our fine arts database, Gale’s Fine Arts and Music Collection.

The book title, The Violin, a Social History of the World’s Most Versatile Instrument, elevates the violin to a rank often bestowed upon the guitar… or maybe the piano. Is the violin really so versatile?? Here is a book on fiddling, another style of violin playing:

The fiddle book; the comprehensive book on American folk music, fiddling, and fiddle styles including more than 150 traditional fiddle tunes compiled from country fiddlers. 1967. [787.2THE].

Dig into our CD collection to sample some of the violin’s many music-making guises from both older classics and newer recordings.  From Classical to jazz to gypsy jazz to country to Acadian folk, all the formats share one thing, a beautiful sounding instrument. Here are a few listening suggestions.

Classical violin: Joshua Bell. The Four seasons. Antonio Vivaldi. 2008. [CD MUSIC Class VIV]

Gidon Kremer. Tracing Astor: Gidon Kremer plays Astor Piazzolla.2001 [CD MUSIC Class KRE]

Jazz Violin:         Stephane Grappelli.  Atlantic jazz. Mainstream. 1986. [CD MUSIC Jazz ATL]

Nigel Kennedy.  Recital. 2013 [CD MUSIC Jazz KEN]

 

Country Fiddle:  Bob Wills (of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys):

Back in the saddle again; American Cowboy Songs. 1983 [CD MUSIC C&W BAC]

 

Acadian Fiddle: The Slippery Stick: Traditional Fiddling From New Brunswick / with Gerry Robichaud,

fiddle and Bobby Robichaud, guitar. 1996 [CD MUSIC Folk ROB]

The ubiquitous “Dummies” books offer the chance to sample the very long and labor-intensive process of learning to play the violin: Fiddle for Dummies : Book + Online Video and Audio Instruction, 2014; is available to borrow online from Axis360. Without a doubt, any smattering of experience playing a violin OR a fiddle would give one an admiring appreciation and understanding of what’s so special about a Strad!

Friday Reads: In the Heart of the Sea

 

This month the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club was all hands on deck to discuss In the Heart of the Sea:  the tragedy of the whaleship Essex by Nantucket author, Nathaniel Philbrick.  In a nutshell, the book recounts in harrowing detail how an angry 85-foot sperm whale stove in the Essex in late 1820 and the men, some of them, survived at sea for more than 90 days with little more than some hard tack (dry biscuits) and their wits.

Not just a survival story of man against nature, we also are provided with thoroughly researched and well-presented historical context of Nantucket culture in the 19th Century and the whaling industry.   The shipwreck was well-known during its time, in part because the men resorted to cannibalism to survive.  Also noteworthy was the rarity of a whale, and an unusually large whale at that, attacking a ship.  The event was the inspiration for the climactic scene in Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick.

There was so much to talk about that the hour was quickly over, quite unlike the whaling voyages we were discussing.  Although a few in the group had read the book before, and many of us had some familiarity with whaling, we all were thoroughly engaged and felt enriched for having read this book.

If you are looking for an excellent work of narrative nonfiction about historical New England, then In the Heart of the Sea is for you.  Look for it on the Staff Picks shelf soon.

Next month we will be discussing Unbowed: a memoir by Wangari Maathai.  Join us on Thursday, March 2 at 10 AM in the Hermann Foundation Meeting room.  We look forward to seeing you.