Carr reading series to feature novelists, poets

Several award-winning writers are scheduled to read this fall in the Author’s Corner on the second floor of the Illini Union Bookstore. Here’s a quick summary of the lineup:

Micheline Aharonian Marcom will read from her latest book, “A Brief History of Yes,” at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 18th.

The poets Ladan Osman and Roger Reeves will read from their works on Nov. 4th.

Sara Levine will read from her short story collection on Nov. 13th.

The full press release is available at the Illinois News Bureau here.

The Creative Writing program also has information about the Carr reading series here.

For more information about the authors, check out the following biographical pieces and poetry pages:

Award-winning UIC poet: ‘desire is not enough’

Micheline Aharonian Marcom: Goddard College Faculty

Ladan Osman (Narrative Magazine)

Sara Levine’s professional website

Seamus Heaney dies at 74

Seamus_HeaneyThe world of languages and literatures suffered a great loss as August came to a close, and the Irish poet Seamus Heaney passed away at age 74. Renowned for his work, he was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, among other critical works and plays. A service was held at the Church of Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin, to a packed devotion of family (including his wife and children), friends, and members of the local and arts communities.

His poem “Anything Can Happen” first appeared in District and Circle, and was featured on Poem-A-Day on September 5, 2013.

Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter
Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head
Before he hurls the lightning? Well, just now
He galloped his thunder cart and his horses

Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth
And the clogged underearth, the River Styx,
The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.
Anything can happen, the tallest towers

Be overturned, those in high places daunted,
Those overlooked regarded. Stropped-beak Fortune
Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one,
Setting it down bleeding on the next.

Ground gives. The heaven’s weight
Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle-lid.
Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.
Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.

He will be missed, and remembered.

Read more at the Irish Times, the New York Times, or the Paris Review. Many of his works can be found in the Literatures & Languages Library; follow the link here to view the catalog holdings.

Ode to the Best I Ever Had

Artist Cassandra Gillig has recently composed a number of mashups between pop music beats and poetry readings. A few selections were featured on Slate yesterday (see the article here), including Frank O’Hara’s reading of “Ode to Joy” combined with Drake’s “The Best I Ever Had,” and William Carlos Williams’s “Tract” mashed with “Lotus Flower Bomb” by Wale. The tracks are a wonderful way to remind ourselves that poetry has life beyond the page, and that it is meant to be performed, an active and enacted art.

The Literatures & Languages Library holds copies of both works by Frank O’Hara and William Carlos Williams. You can view their holdings in the catalog here (O’Hara) and here (Williams) (materials may also be held in Main Stacks).

The Passing of Greats

Two great American authors passed away this month. Albert Murray, a renowned novelist, essayist, and critic, died in his Harlem home at 97 years old on August 18 of this year. Elmore Leonard, novelist and screenwriter, died just two days later on August 20 at age 87. Both will be remembered for their substantial impact on American literature and culture.

Albert MurrayMurray may be best remembered for his first book The Omni-Americans which received high critical praise, his writings and philosophies on jazz, and his friendship with novelist Ralph Ellison which seemed to define both men. As a member of the black intelligentsia, he criticized separatist ideologies, believing that the black experience was an essential part of American culture. To this end, he argued that America is a “nation of multicolored people,” not a nation to be viewed only in shades of black or white. For him, the true heart of American identity was in the blues.

Elmore LeonardLeonard too had a grasp for what truly made American culture, and is often noted for his uncanny ear for realistic dialog. Among his best known works are Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Rum Punch, and 3:10 to Yuma, many of which have been adapted into films. He received many awards and honors during his lifetime, including the PEN Lifetime Achievement Award (2009). He spent his final years still writing in his Michigan home until the time of his death, with his last novel Raylan published in 2012.

The University library holds many works by both authors, which can be found here for Albert Murray and here for Elmore Leonard.

German Traces NYC

Hundreds of thousands of German immigrants called New York City home in the mid- to late-nineteenth century.  Most congregated in “Kleindeutschlands” – Little Germanys – on Manhattan Island as well as in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Though New York City has grown and changed in many ways over the past century, the history and culture of New York was still shaped greatly by Germans.

An innovative new project is taking place through the Goethe Institute and the Pratt Institute SILS to illuminate this immigrant history. This project, called German Traces, is an application uses archival documents, photographs, and multimedia combined with Google Maps. You can look at historic German-American landmarks in New York City using either your mobile phone or computer.

The German Traces website is available here.

The German Traces website also recommended a short list of print resources on German-Americans here. Here are some print resources at UIUC’s Library (and web resources, too):

-The WPA guide to New York City : the Federal Writers’ Project guide to 1930s New York (book from the catalog)

-King’s handbook of New York city; an outline history and description of the American metropolis (book from the catalog)

-Little Germany : ethnicity, religion, and class in New York City, 1845-80 (book from the catalog)

-The Neighborhood preservation center has a search function for looking up landmarks in NYC; it is available here.

-Germany in NYC, a website maintained by the German-American Community Project, maintains a calendar of German cultural events and services in the metro area here.

-General information about German-American history is available through the U.S. embassy’s website here.

Finnegan’s List


Since 2010, the European Society of Authors has been publishing Finnegan’s List – an annual list of “under-translated or forgotten works” chosen by a diverse international panel of authors.

Finnegan’s List for 2013 is now a part of  Schwob. Schwob is an organization that facilitates the promotion of literature from all parts of Europe that has not yet appeared in translation. The list is available online, with extensive blurbs describing the books chosen by contributing authors. Some of the works chosen have been translated into a few languages; others have never appeared in any other language.

Also available is this list for 2012 and 2011. 


UNESCO World Book Capital

Each year The United Nations Educational, Scientific and  Cultural Organization searches for a city to name the “World Book Capital” with is an “acknowledgement of the best programme dedicated to books and reading.”

The entire book industry participates in this initiative, including the International Publishers Associations (IPA-UIE, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and the International Booksellers Federation (IBF).

To be considered for the award the candidate programs, presented or endorsed by the major of the applicant city, has  be aimed at promoting books and fostering reading during the period between one World Book and Copyright Day and the next (23 April). The selection committee will examine the candidate programs, making a special effort to involve all regions of the world in turn, in accordance with the following criteria:

  • the degree of participation of all levels (from the municipal to the international level)
  • the program’s potential impact
  • the scope and quality of the activities proposed by the candidates, and the extent to which they involve writers, publishers, booksellers and libraries
  • any other projects promoting books and reading
  • the extent to which the programs respects the principles of freedom of expression, as stated by the UNESCO Constitution as well as by Articles 19 and 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by the Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials

The 2014 winner is Port Harcourt, Nigeria, which beat out Oxford, among eleven total finalists. The only previous African winner was Alexandria in 2002. The committee was most impressed by Port Hartcourt’s plan for the quality of their program, their emphasis on youth, and the city’s overall vision for improving literacy in Nigeria.

You can read general information about the World Book Capital City competition here. The official announcement of Port Harcourt’s win is available online here.

There is a UNESCO club in Campaign contact the Literature and Languages Library for more information.