With the leaves starting to fall, here are three autumnal pieces that popped up in my social media feeds.
Irish poet Pat Ingoldsby is known for taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary, in this case a single leaf in a tree outside his house. “All the other leaves are gone are you are still there.”
Help authors through the colder months, cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld says with this illustration, created for Guardian Review:
This month, there has been a fresh push from Kuwaiti citizens who are fed up with official censorship, both outside the Ministry of Information and online, with Kuwaitis posting photos of the banned books in their personal libraries at #صور_كتاب_ممنوع_في_مكتبتك. Kuwaiti MA student Abrar Alshammari has been researching about censorship in Kuwait:
By Abrar Alshammari
Kuwait is currently experiencing a serious crisis of censorship. To the sorrow of many, it depicts almost literally the nightmare that Ray Bradbury portrayed in Fahrenheit 451.
In 2016, at the annual cultural conference of Nuqat in Kuwait City, award-winning Kuwaiti novelist Saud Al-Sanousi announced the horrific discovery that the Ministry of Information was burning banned books en masse, thousands of copies of his own novel Mama Hessa’s Mice included. The audience gasped in horror at the unimaginable atrocity of the state-sanctioned burning of literature, a blatant disrespect to books and their value…
Libraries are truly amazing places. Here are five inspirational library moments (read the whole post at z4short.com):
1. Trapped in the library door
“Please let me out and please let me in.” Irish poet Pat Ingoldsby sweetly recalls a 1950’s childhood memory. He got stuck in the library door with The Famous Five in one hand and a penny in the other to pay the overdue fine.
2. A story about a boy and a teacher, an atlas and reading
In this post, children’s writer Dawn Finch, a strong advocate of libraries, books and reading, tells how a former student of hers approached her and told her that she had taught him to read by using an atlas. It didn’t all have to be about stories, she had told him. Guess what became of the atlas boy?
3. Library on wheels
With no library nearby, a bookmobile saves the day in some remote villages in the south of Italy. A bright blue three-wheeled vehicle carrying a book house with red roof and a chimney. Behind the wheels of Il Bibliomotocarro, retired Italian schoolteacher Antonio La Cava who, after 42 years of teaching, took it upon himself to bring books to children. His mission is to instill in the children not only a love of reading but also of writing. Alongside the books, he brings with him new empty notebooks for the children to write their own stories. A true everyday hero. Read the whole story: Library on wheels
4. Stuffed animal sleepover in the library
This is just as cute as it sounds and brought a broad smile to the Internet. Somerville Public Library in Massachusetts, US hosted the stuffed animal sleepover. Kids left their animal buddies there for what would become an eventful night, with the librarians sharing images online. The animals enjoyed snacks, Lego building, reading and much more before they were safely tucked into bed, some of them among the books in the bookshelves.
5. Knit and listen
No matter how old or young you are, it feels good to be read to. The Deichman Library in Oslo invited people to bring their knitting with them and pop in for a “knit and listen” afternoon. A librarian, in front of a fake fireplace, read short stories to us while we all sat attentively with our knitting needles. I started on a new sock, knitted 24 rows during the one and a half hour session. This year they changed the name of these events to “Sit and listen.” You can still bring the knitting with you.
I kicked off this year’s summer reading with Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), just because I stumbled upon the story about his rivalry with Rufus Griswold (1815–1857), and I wanted to know more. All I knew about Poe was that he wrote horror tales and was the man behind “The Raven.” The dive into his writing and the history of his life turned out to be a highly entertaining one, with the great Christopher Lee’s recitation of “The Raven” as the highlight — see video at the end of this post.
Among Poe’s horror stories, The Tell-Tale Heart became one of my favorites. The narrator/killer hides his victim under the floorboards, while at the same time he tries to convince the readers of his sanity: “If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismemb…” Then he starts hearing the dead man’s beating heart from under the floor, louder and Louder and LOUDER. Thump! Thump! Thump!
Another favorite is The Murders in the Rue Morgue, introducing us to C. Auguste Dupin who thanks to his deductive skills cleverly solves the murders. His friend narrates the story. Holmes and Watson, right? Poirot and Hastings. Before Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot there was C. Auguste Dupin.
Poe and Griswold
The infamous Rufus Griswold, literary critic and editor, and Poe’s arch-nemesis. The feud between the two is almost like a Poe story, and one is hardly mentioned without the other.
While Griswold was putting together the anthology that would become The Poems and Poetry of America, Poe submitted several of his poems, of which three were included in the collection. Griswold paid Poe to write a review of the book but didn’t get the praise he had expected. Poe questioned Griswold’s choice of poets, and the rivalry was on. The already strained relationship didn’t improve when Griswold not only succeeded Poe as the editor of Grahams Magazine but was paid more. AND WHAT DID POE DO? He openly attacked Griswold in a series of lectures.
Fast-forward a few years. Poe dies, and Griswold writes a less than flattering obituary, signed Ludwig. It starts like this: “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.”
The story doesn’t end there. Griswold somehow became Poe’s literary executor. AND WHAT DID HE DO? He attempted a character assassination of his bitter rival by writing a biographical article in which he depicted Poe in a very negative light, based on lies and half-truths. Luckily, this distorted view has since been rectified.
This is a clip from The Poe Museum: “Griswold’s distorted image of Poe created the Poe legend that lives to this day while Griswold is only remembered (if at all) as Poe’s first biographer.”
As I said, a highly entertaining experience. Who says research is boring?
Comedy Central’s Drunk History team dramatized the feud between Poe and Griswold in their own way, with a narrator telling the story in an inebriated state and actors re-enacting it:
And finally, “The Raven,” read by Christopher Lee.Enjoy!
You think characters vanish just because you ditch them from a story you plan to write? They don’t. They continue their travel from one writer to another begging to be heard: What am I to be?
Imagine you sketch an idea for a story on a yellow Post-it about an author who, while giving a presentation on a stage at the city’s Grand Hotel, suddenly sees a lady dressed in red being forcefully removed from the room by a scar-faced man with an ugly grin and taken away. She desperately turns her head to the author and he reads her lips: Help me! Then you sigh in resignation: O-M-G ― and put the Post-it in the drawer, stacked on top of your other Post-its outlining half-hearted ideas, and forget all about it.
Meanwhile, the abandoned author makes it his mission to find the lady in red and begins his journey from author to author. Sometimes he makes a brief appearance in a story, maybe standing on a crime scene looking for her. Sometimes he is brought in for interrogation before he is released and disappears from yet another story.
This is all unbeknownst to you until one fine day, a new book makes the headlines as a debuting author releases a crime novel called Lady in Red. Critics and readers alike are overjoyed: “Sensational!” “A new Mankell!” The novel is about an author who travels all over Europe searching for a lady dressed in red who was forcefully removed from his reading gig at the city’s Grand Hotel by a scar-faced man with an ugly grin. “Lady in red?” you mutter to yourself and a vague memory of a character on a yellow Post-it surfaces.