Q&A with David Eberhardt, Winner of the 2020 Poetry Contest – Part 2

by Shaileen Beyer, Librarian, Fiction Department

Hooray for David Eberhardt! His poem “After ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and Anton Webern ‘Piano Variations’- Op 27 / Ruhig, fliessend” has won the 2020 Pratt Library Poetry Contest. The Little Patuxent Review judges wrote, “This poem is one part syntactical cybernetic wild ride, and one part orchestral arrangement. Both help readers to hear, see, and critique our experiences of the world.”

Here is part 2 of the Q & A with David Eberhardt.

David Eberhardt

Which writers inspire you?

I like what I call “juicy” word poets- Shakespeare’s lush poetry in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, also poets that have something to say- many anti war poets- particularly Wilfred Owen and William Stafford. 

Many Baltimore poet friends have inspired me-particularly Clarinda Harris, Chris Mason, Chris George and the late Dino Pantazonis. The list is long of those upon whose shoulders I stand- some outlaws, some academics, poets associated with The Loch Raven Review and Poetry in Baltimore-Alan Reese and Dan Cuddy. I am inspired by mystery novelist Laura Lippman and her husband and all writers of the TV series “The Wire”.

When did you start writing poetry? 

Oberlin College early 60’s. I was co- editor of the “Yeoman” poetry magazine. After 1967 I had more to write about, because that year I poured blood on draft files to protest the Vietnam War. As a result I spent 21 months in federal prison. Finally I had scads to write about.

What’s the best advice about writing you’ve ever received?

From my primary critic, my partner, CP who brooks no nonsense. Her advice is always: Explain and justify, think of your readers and what you are trying to say. (I tend to please myself at all costs.) 

Poets without editors tend to get away with too much.

If you don’t have the genius of an ED- find good mentors and editors and writing salons and groups (even if you have to pay). If all else fails,  put yourself into a great event (for me the Peace Movement). Then you’ll have something to say.

What’s one of your favorite lines of poetry or sentences from a poem? 

Dante Gabriel Rosetti  in the title and haunting beginning of his poem “Sudden Light”: “I have been here before”; Andre Breton’s “Fata Morgana” has a stunning opening: “This morning  the daughter of the mountain holds on her knees an accordion of white bats.”

Beginning of Rimbaud’s “Drunken Boat.”

This poem attributed to George Chapman, although to me it seems much more current as if written by Dylan Thomas or a surrealist.

Many quotes from the Bible I grew up with- especially from, Kings: “and in a still voice, onward came the Lord.”

Q&A with David Eberhardt, Winner of the 2020 Poetry Contest – Part 1

by Shaileen Beyer, Librarian, Fiction Department

Hooray for David Eberhardt! His poem “After ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and Anton Webern ‘Piano Variations’- Op 27 / Ruhig, fliessend” has won the 2020 Pratt Library Poetry Contest. The Little Patuxent Review judges wrote, “This poem is one part syntactical cybernetic wild ride, and one part orchestral arrangement. Both help readers to hear, see, and critique our experiences of the world.”

We asked David some questions.

When did you write this poem? How did it begin—phrase, image, voice, title? Which part was written first? Which part last?

Roughly late 2016. 

My poems write themselves (they better!). Then comes the editing. My brain works like a crow builds its nest- many disparate bits- shiny objects. This poem began with my desire to meet Ms Dickinson (ED). The only way I could meet her would be through some fictive time warp portal, hence. sci-fi. Sci-fi movies often have used Iceland’s landscapes. I love the color blue, as with Iceland’s glaciers.

The last part in which I get to meet ED comes if you are telling a story, it has a natural end. In this case I come back from the sci-fi off world and sci-fi memory programming.

Emily Dickinson plays a key role in your winning poem. Why Dickinson, and not another poet?

ED plays a role in my life!!! (lol) “Soundless as dots on a disc of snow” as ED wrote. But I ask, was this a surrealist? Who described a hummingbird as a “route of evanescence (iridescence?)”? It was ED. 

Was she a revolutionary? In poetry, absolutely!! Her imagery is startling, fresh and  new, thus incomprehensible to critics at the time.

A famous dictum from American poet Ezra Pound was “Make it new”.  

Poetry needs magic, mystery, music and majesty. She has it all.

I grew up in the church and went to school near ED’s Amherst. Love the hymns and their quatrain form that ED uses. ED had problems with the church, as have I.

Fun Hoopla Book to Movie Adaptations

by Cornelia Beckett, Program Specialist Programs and Outreach

Miss Nelson Has A Field Day.

Classic kids’ author and illustrator James Marshall brings back Miss Nelson and her wicked counterpart, Miss Viola Swamp, to “whip the football team into shape” for the kids at the Horace B. Smedley School, who also grace the pages of Miss Nelson is Missing. This 80s adaptation is still beloved and fresh, with wry narration and Marshall’s inimitable illustrations brought to life in a Weston Woods recording.

The Paper Bag Princess

Is your daughter obsessed with princesses? Meet the anti-damsel in distress, Princess Elizabeth, who rescues Prince Ronald from a fiery dragon, wearing only a burnt paper bag and using her wits. The ending is a fresh twist on happily-ever-after and the neat fable works perfectly as a book to video adaptation.

Going Down Home With Daddy

This gentle story by Kelly Starling Lyons, about shy Lil Alan dreaming up the perfect talent to share at his family reunion’s show, is a lyrical celebration of a multi-generational African American family. The video lingers over Daniel Minter’s warm, gentle art that shows every character and the rural setting in loving detail. This story is perfect to spark conversations about family stories and the ties we share.

Dragons Love Tacos

Adam Rubin’s modern classic Dragons Love Tacos is just about universally loved by readers and listeners ages 2-5. The idea of luring dragons to a party with lettuce, tomatoes and teeny tiny tacos—but NOT spicy salsa— is just too deliciously silly to pass up. Little ones will want to hear this again and again- just hit replay on this great video!

The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs!

Poet and author Jon Sciezka’s talents lend themselves well to a wacky fairy tale remix, but veteran character actor Paul Giamatti’s narration is perfection for this fun and easy video adaptation. It’s the number 3 most popular kids’ video on Hoopla, and with good reason—Giamatti’s acting chops nail the voices of the pigs, the wolf and the quotable narration.

Maryland History Day Competition Still On!

by Amanda Hughes (she/her)
Assistant Manager, Maryland Department

Throughout the academic year, students across Maryland have been working hard on their projects for National History Day. Over the last few months, hundreds of students competed in school and district level competitions to win the right to advance to statewide competition. This year, things are different. With schools closed and large gatherings prohibited, surely the state competition would be cancelled this year right? Wrong! 

Thanks to the hard work of the dedicated staff at the Maryland Humanities Council and dozens of enthusiastic volunteer judges (including several Pratt Librarians!), this year’s competition is going digital. Over the next few weeks judges will be attending training webinars, beginning to receive links to documentaries, websites and performances, photos of exhibits and pdfs of papers.  Evaluations and rankings will be done via Zoom and Google Hangouts and winners will be advanced to the national competition. To see the winning projects, visit mdhumanities.org and thanks to all the dedicated judges and staff at the Maryland Humanities Council for making sure that the students’ hard work will be rewarded! 

Scandinavian Murder Mysteries

By Joyce Worsley, Librarian, Fiction Department

In Scandinavian murder mysteries, the authors interweave murder/suspense stories with thoughts about social injustice: xenophobia, racism, class differences, brutality towards women and overall, exhibit a social consciousness.

There were some early front runners in the genre. Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo in the 1970s and 1980s (Martin Beck series),  and Peter Hoeg (Smilla’s Sense of Snow) and Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallender series in the 1990’s. But no author sparked the explosion into Scandi or Nordic noir fiction, as it’s often called, like Stieg Larsson’s first entry in the Millennium trilogy in 2005, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Since that time, there have been many authors translated and published in the U.S. for the reading enjoyment of mystery lovers. The following are three authors well worth exploring.

The first author is Jo Nesbo and his latest offering is The Knife. Nesbo has become a familiar and steady presence on the best seller lists with his book series about Harry Hole. The newest book does not disappoint as Hole faces one of the darkest and most complex cases of his entire career. It’s typical Nesbo with plot twists and turns and plenty of red herrings. While some might prefer to start at the beginning of the series, The Knife has enough stand alone qualities to dip one’s toe into the murky world of Nesbo’s Norwegian police procedural. The story is typical – dark, gritty, and with an air of “what can go wrong next” for the likeable but often quirky, drunk, and battered genius that is Harry Hole.

The second book, The Island by Ragnar Jonasson,  which features an Icelandic woman as Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir, is actually a prequel to the first book in the series The Darkness. It’s a perfect starting point for this author. Hulda is a dogged and determined investigator and won’t let anyone or anything stop her from finding out exactly what happened or who the real culprits are. The atmosphere of The Island is suitably bleak and foreboding and the sense of dread that the author creates is perfect for reading to forget the real world for a while. This makes The Island an excellent addition to the Nordic noir genre.

The third and last book is The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup. Sveistrup is interesting because until this debut novel, he was most notable as the scriptwriter for a 3 season TV show on AMC called The Killing. He carries the brooding suspense of The Killing into his novel. The primary detective, Naia Thulin, is saddled with a sidekick who often seems distracted and oblivious to the case they are investigating. The two are tasked with solving a series of gruesome murders where the killer’s calling card is a child’s handmade Christmas decoration composed of chestnuts. It’s a compelling story and definitely a welcome new addition to the genre.

These books and more are available to Pratt readers through the Enoch Pratt Free Library ‘s digital collection.