A Night of Laughs with Jeff Dugan

by Julie Johnson, Branch Manager, Roland Park Branch

Jeff Dugan, former television producer for the Discovery Channel, is a funny guy. He started his June 7th program with a throw-away joke or three and then headed straight for the other funny bone with a few readings from his book, Ins & Outs: A Life in Television.

Who knew that being the unintended camera pool feed for ALL the networks at Pope John Paul II’s entry into Giants Stadium could be so entertaining? Well, at least in the telling. At the time, perhaps “terrifying” is a better adjective.

How about the best way to get a French television company to cough up the “clean tapes” for a television program? Why, have your local fixer pretend to be you having a full-scale meltdown in the office, of course.

And yes, he did work with Oprah while she was in Baltimore.

You’ll have to read to book find out more. Click on the cover to check out his book in the collection.

Black Women’s History Month Resources: Part 3

In 2014, the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta declared April as Black Women’s History Month. Pratt Library staff have highlighted related texts in the Humanities Department, Fine Arts and Music Department, and African American Department. Please enjoy the major contributions black women have made to religion, theatre, poetry, writing, political thought, activism, and art. Check out the first and second post for more suggested reading.

Click the cover to reserve your copy now.

Black Feminism

Included here are works by seminal scholars that consider black women’s historical contributions to the feminist movement. Several texts reflect on intersectionality- the theory that race, class, gender, and other social categorization creates overlapping identities that shape black women’s experiences in ways often very different from white women.  

BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Highlighted here are works by and about influential but lesser known black women, including early suffragists, Civil Rights leaders, Black Panthers, and contemporary cultural critics.

ESSAYS

Additional anthologies, essays, and speeches reflecting on race, gender, feminism, and popular culture.

Checking out one of the resources? Share it on social media with #atthepratt.

Black Women’s History Month Resources: Part 2

In 2014, the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta declared April as Black Women’s History Month. Pratt Library staff have highlighted related texts in the Humanities Department, Fine Arts and Music Department, and African American Department. Please enjoy the major contributions black women have made to religion, theatre, poetry, writing, political thought, activism, and art. Check back for one more post this month and check out the first post here.

Click the cover to reserve your copy now.

Music, Theatre, and Film

Featured here are some texts by and about foundational black women musicians, film directors, and playwrights. Household names in the American music pantheon such as Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald share the list with lesser known legends such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Lizzie Douglas (aka Memphis Minnie). Peers in terms of talent, these women have received varying degrees of recognition as they persevered in a male dominated industry.

  

Checking out one of the resources? Share it on social media with #atthepratt.

Experience the Power of Poetry

by Mary Dzwonchyk, Information Services Librarian

Words have power. Throughout history, carefully crafted manifestos have influenced policy, swayed popular opinion, shifted social tides, and given birth to revolutions. A single well-turned phrase can capture the hearts of the world or turn a nation against its leader. Poetry is nothing more or less than words, words precisely chosen and artfully arranged to form linguistic music. The words of a well-crafted poem are needles that pierce the superficial skin of our self-made differences to touch the universal human heart that beats below.

Poetry has power, and that power has long been harnessed by activists and revolutionaries as a tool for raising awareness, inciting action, and lending support to the oppressed. Poets like Hayan Charara, Emmy Perez, and Nikki Giovanni write about their experiences with discrimination and injustice in order to raise awareness for societal problems, shaking awake complacent readers. “My phone is tapped my mail is opened,” Giovanni writes in “My Poem.” “[but] if they take my life it won’t stop the revolution.”

Some poets go further, issuing calls to action. “These walls oppression builds/Will have to go!” Langston Hughes declares in his poem, “I look at the world.” “Let us hurry, comrades/The road to find.” In “Let America Be America Again,” Hughes details the plight of the “poor white, fooled and pushed apart;” “the Negro bearing slavery’s scars;” and “the red man driven from the land.” He cries out to the downtrodden that “We must take back our land again, America!”

Other poets, like Gwendolyn Brooks and Diane Di Prima, offer encouragement, support, or practical advice to those who share the ongoing struggle against oppression. In her poem “Speech to the Young,” Brooks reassures those fighting toward progress that they “will be right./For that is the hard home-run. Live not for battles won…Live in the along.” Di Prima doles out survival tips in her poem “Revolutionary Letter #3,” advising those who find themselves in the midst of an uprising to “store water…they turned off the water/in the 4th ward for a whole day during the Newark riots.”

Some, like Denise Levertov, use poetry to explore ways to end oppression and create peace. In her poem “Making Peace,” Levertov dissects society as if it were itself a poem, applying literary vocabulary to her description of our world and the changes it must make in order for peace to flourish. “Peace, like a poem,” she writes, “can’t be known except/in the words of its making/grammar of justice/syntax of mutual aid.”

While literary activism harnesses the power of poetry on a national or even international level, poetry’s power can resonate on the individual level as well. For someone struggling with mental illness, for instance, there is catharsis to be found in articulating that struggle through poetry. By naming a thing – by describing it, making it tangible through language – you contain the thing, you pin it down, you own it. Poets like Sabrina Benaim, Bharath Divakar, and Yashi Brown draw on their personal struggles with depression, bipolar disorder, OCD and other conditions in crafting their poetry, and in so doing empower themselves to cope with and overcome those struggles. In her spoken-word piece “Explaining my depression to my mother,” Sabrina Benaim explains how “depression always drags me back to my bed/Until my bones are the forgotten fossils of a skeleton sunken city.”

The value of expressing one’s pain is not just found in the poet’s own empowerment at sharing their troubles with readers. Naming and describing mental illness through poetry helps to wear down the longstanding stigma surrounding mental illness. Poets who highlight ignored or misunderstood conditions lend validation and solidarity to readers with those conditions.

If you want to experience the power of poetry firsthand, you can find collected works by these and other poets in the Pratt’s collections. Click on the title below to reserve your copy and get you started. Happy #NationalPoetryMonth!

Reading a poetry book you checked out from the library? Share on social media with #atthepratt.

Artists & Love: Famous Art Couples and Their Work

by Flory Gessner, Fine Arts and Music Librarian

Art Visionaries by Mark Getlein and Annabel Howard. When happening upon Félix González-Torres’ work in a museum, the un-indoctrinated might not recognize the twin clocks, piles of candy, or strings of lights as portraits of his partner Ross. Read more about the art that has come to symbolize love during the AIDS crisis and the life of Félix González-Torres in Art Visionaries by Mark Getlein and Annabel Howard.

I Will Never Forget You: Frida Kahlo to Nickolas Muray, Unpublished Photographs and Letters by Salomón Grimberg. While Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera had a notoriously stormy and treacherous marriage, Frida enjoyed a long and meaningful relationship with the Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray. This book of photos and letters creates a portrait of an affair between a highly-mythologized artist and one of the pioneers of color photography.

The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: a Legacy of Invention by Donald  Albrecht. The married team of designers, Charles and Ray Eames, created some of the most unique and enduring furniture and architectural design of the last century. Explore the legacy of this productive partnership in a book assembled by the Library of Congress and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.

Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies by Nell Beram & Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky. For nearly 50 years John Lennon received full credit for the song “Imagine,” which is directly based on the art of his widow, Yoko Ono. While formal credit has only recently been acknowledged, Ono’s conceptual art and place in the international experimental art scene spans decades. Read about Ono’s body of work and discover a new perspective on this prolific artist and her influence on art and music in this concise biography.

Widow Basquiat: A Love Story by Jennifer Clement. In Basquiat’s 1982 painting “A Panel of Experts,” the name Madonna is crossed out below the name Venus. The “Madonna,” may be referring to pop-star Madonna (whom Basquiat briefly dated), but Venus is referring to his long-time girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk. Read about their life together in Widow Basquiat by close friend of both, Jennifer Clement.

Elizabeth Catlett: An American Artist in Mexico by Melanie Herzog. American multi-hyphenate artist Elizabeth Catlett chose the ex-pat life when she fell in love with fellow artist Francisco Mora in the 1940s. Read about how her move to Mexico expanded her view on the Black Experience in North America, and her boundary-breaking life and career in this book.

When Marina Abramović Dies by James Wescott. While Marina Abramović is a highly visible presence in the contemporary art world, she began her career as part of a duo with an artist known solely as Ulay. Even their breakup was a dramatic performance piece: in 1988, after over 12 years together, they walked towards each other from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China, met in the middle, and vowed never to see the other again.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: in /out studio by Christo. This catalog spans the dramatic and whimsical collaborations of the couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Together, they transcended the limits of sculpture, architecture, and performance for over thirty years.

Just Kids by Patti Smith. Though their relationship began as romantic and turned largely platonic, Just Kids is a love story about Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Patti Smith’s memoir is a love letter to art, New York, poetry, and a magical time spent developing as an artist with her close friends.

Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture, edited by Aaron Rose, Christian Strike, Alex Baker, Arty Nelson and Jocko Weyland. In this tome of graffiti and youth culture, see how artist couples like Ed and Deanna Templeton, Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen, and Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson created diverse bodies of work that transcended old art world boundaries of street art, folk art, skateboarding, painting, photography, and video.