Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In the mail

Excavating my desk today, I find two items of note. First, an invitation to the NYPL's Anne Carroll Moore lecture, free and open to all comers and given this year by Patricia C. McKissack. 10:30AM, Monday November 13, at the Donnell Library Center, 20 West 53rd Street. Do go; I hope to.

Second, I've received a brochure touting the NEH and ALA's annual "We the People Bookshelf," with this year's theme being "the pursuit of happiness" Rick Santorum wants you to forswear. (Take that, Founding Fathers!). Get information about how to apply for the collection of fifteen "classic" books here; I'll just sit here and whine about the poetic injustice of turning "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" into a picture book. Count me in with Ethel Heins, who, in reviewing Susan Jeffer's edition of the poem in 1979, wrote "it is often questioned whether an explicit line-by-line pictorial representation of a lyrical--not a narrative--poem may constrain a child's imagination and interfere with his or her response to poetic ambiguity--the spontaneous formation of images in the mind."

7 comments:

rindawriter said...

How in the world does this Bookshelf program define "classic?" And for whom? And which real, live persons with names are doing the defining and selection of these books?

I wouldn't feel so "iffy" about this program if this were a nonprofit, private program, but...when it comes to spending my tax dollars...I kind of like to know who (real live people) are behind the decison making..and their training, experience, etc., in giving away "free" books from my dollars.

I know the "Hornbook" doesn't give away free copies of books, but I can still pester the libary to buy copies if I read a review of a book in the "Hornbook" I might want to read. At least I know I had some say in my tax dollars that way. And I may not exactly feel mushie gushie about the "Hornbook" all the time or agree with it all the time...but, deep down, I know I LOVE it in a deep, enduring sort of way.

Nina said...

I've found the "We the People" selections on all the lists so far to be somewhat peculiar.

For a little more interference in your imaginative response to a lyric poem: try setting "Stopping by Woods.." to the tune of "Hernando's Hideways." A lovely trick.

Anonymous said...

Pretty cheap to include the snide comment about Rick Santorium! Not surprised you're from Mass. where that sterling character, Ted Kennedy, lives. A. Huebner

thommy said...

I'm not sure I agree with a general dismissal of (lyrical) poems-as-picture books. I'm right there with the idea that poetry has a vital role to play building strong imagination muscles, but I don't know that we should expect that of individual poems (just like we don't expect individual books to reflect the world's cultural plurality - that responsibility belongs to collections of books).

Plus, the nobility of imagination training notwithstanding, it isn't poetry's only role. I'd suggest that it's perfectly reasonable to allow a poem to be nothing more than appreciated, and I'll extend that permission to a poem in picture book format.

Ed Young's illustrated version of Frost's "Birches" is a lovely book and a clearly personal creative response to the poem. I'd hate to think that we feel somehow bound to protect children from manifest artistic interpretation, for fear that it might compromise their own interpretive abilities.

And, to take the argument to the absurd and plug a particularly timely cantata (available on Telarc with the divine Nathan Gunn), a world without Vaughan Williams' "Dona Nobis Pacem," with its exquisite, stirring settings of Whitman's "Beat! Beat! Drums!," "Dirge for Two Veterans," and "Reconciliation" is not one I care to inhabit, thank you very much.

Melinda said...

E.B. White advocated taking candles to the Anne Carroll Moore lecture. The kind that exploded.

Big Grandma said...

Roger, ma petit:

Please cast your mind back to a ALSC (or was it CSD?) session of the Notable Children's Books Committee when Phyllis Van Orden chaired and I was on the committee. Please recall the hissy (and shit) fit I tossed when the "Stomping on Robert Frost"--with cute ponies by Jeffers was discussed. One of the kinder words I used as I carefully dissected it was "obscenity," as in "it is an obscenity." It was I, Roger, who blasted it before the sainted Ethel-and I continue to do so, And, you should also know, it was my first appearance before a CSD (ALSC?) bunch and I was shaking in my boots. It helped stiffen my spine for late altercations on one side or 'tother. No more, babe, no more. Love--Big Grandma

Roger Sutton said...

For Nina AND Thommy, try "Because I could not stop for death . . ." to "The Yellow Rose of Texas." Probably half of my cd collection is poetry set to music; I need to think about why i'm more bugged by picture-book poems. A big part of it, I think, is their frequent gift-book-look, dressing up something plain and honest to make it more palatably "fancy."

For A. Huebner: not to mention Mitt Romney.

For Big Grandma: Ethel's gonna get you. With a chair.