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Cat in the Stax: April Showers

By Ethan Shea

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Everyone knows the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” but how true is it? According to this weather blog, the saying actually comes from England. Although April is usually a fairly wet month, it isn’t always the rainiest. June and July often compete for the top spot in both the United States and United Kingdom.

All I know is that as I’m writing this blog and looking at the weather forecast, April looks like it’s off to a fairly damp start. To fit the somber mood that comes with this wet weather, I’ve compiled some of rain’s most famous appearances in literature. Everyone knows the best way to read is beside a rain-soaked window, so feel free to check out these recs and read them at your leisure!

"Canterbury Tales"Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

Perhaps the most famous invocation of rain is the opening of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The poem even directly calls upon April specifically as a month that brings rain. In direct contrast to Chaucer, over five centuries later, T.S. Eliot would begin his magnum opus, The Waste Land, with the phrase: “April is the cruelest month,” showing how incredibly deep Chaucer’s influence runs.

“The Rainy Day” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This somewhat depressing poem is worth reading when you’re down in the dumps on a rainy day. The most famous line from this poem is: “Into each life some rain must fall.” A quote worth remembering when bad weather and anything else going on in your life makes everything seem overwhelming. A little rain just makes the sun feel brighter afterwards!

“April Rain Song” – Langston Hughes

Hughes makes a refreshing change of pace here as he declares his love for the rain with this poem. His ability to find beauty in pools of rain on the sidewalk and enjoy the musicality of raindrops on his roof is inspiring. You just have to respect the ability to take something that may seem bad and turn it into something beautiful.

“Rain Poem” – Emily Dickinson

Although it is referred to as “Fascicle Thirty-Eight” in this collection, “Rain Poem” is another piece that seems not to mind the wet weather. While placing all these poets aside one another, it’s fascinating to see how nature inspires them in such dramatically different ways even when under the same damp conditions.

Hopefully you enjoy these pieces and are inspired to search for some more, as there is an innumerable number of literary works inspired by the rain. Moreover, April just so happens to be National Poetry Month! Not that you needed another reason to indulge in some classic verses.

Happy reading, and stay dry out there…or don’t!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 

 


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Introducing the 2022 Villanova University Literary Festival Lineup

The lineup for the 2022 Villanova University Literary Festival is listed below. All events will take place at 7 p.m. in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner, except for the Emma Dabiri talk, which will take place in the Presidents’ Lounge, Connelly Center. These ACS-approved events, co-sponsored by the English Department, the Creative Writing Program, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, the Center for Irish Studies, and Falvey Memorial Library, are free and open to the public.


JERICHO BROWN

 Thursday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m., in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner

Jericho Brown is author of the The Tradition (Copper Canyon 2019), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and he is the winner of the Whiting Award. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection, The Tradition, won the Paterson Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is the director of the Creative Writing Program and a professor at Emory University.

For more information on Brown, please visit his website: https://www.jerichobrown.com/

Livestream link: https://vums-web.villanova.edu/Mediasite/Play/d7c24d1b0ab3427da371d78e422ed08b1d


EMMA DABIRI

 Tuesday, March 15, at 7 p.m., in the Presidents’ Lounge, Connelly Center

Emma Dabiri, the 2022 Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair in Irish Studies, is an Irish writer, academic, BBC broadcaster, and social media influencer who has written two very successful non-fiction books: Twisted (published as Don’t Touch My Hair in Ireland) and What White People Can Do Next. Her work in the arts, fashion, and the media are complemented by her academic teaching and research in African Studies and Visual Sociology. She is currently completing her PhD at Goldsmiths University, London.

For more information on Dabiri, please visit her website: https://www.kbjmanagement.co.uk/emma-dabiri

 

 


CAMILLE DUNGY

 Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m., in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner

Camille T. Dungy’s debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019. She is a professor in the English department at Colorado State University.

Livestream link: https://vums-web.villanova.edu/Mediasite/Play/4086caf5425347eeafc1daac395a75c31d

 

 

 


TIPHANIE YANIQUE

Thursday, April 21, at 7 p.m., in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner

Tiphanie Yanique is a novelist, poet, essayist, and short story writer. She is the author of the poetry collection, Wife, which won the 2016 Bocas Prize in  Caribbean poetry and the United Kingdom’s 2016 Forward/Felix Dennis Prize for a First Collection. Tiphanie is also the author of the novel, Land of Love and Drowning, which won the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Award from the Center for Fiction, the Phillis Wheatley Award for Pan-African Literature, and the American Academy of Arts   and Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, and was listed by NPR as one of the Best Books of 2014. Land of Love and Drowning was also a finalist for the Orion Award in Environmental Literature and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. She is a tenured associate professor at Emory University.

For more information on Yanique, please visit her website: https://www.tiphanieyanique.com/bio

Livestream link: https://vums-web.villanova.edu/Mediasite/Play/a70b3ecc7e914b2f846dc273fc4e1ce01d


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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Maya Angelou Becomes First Black Woman on a Quarter

By Jenna Renaud

Photo courtesy of the New York Times / Chester Higgins Jr.

The U.S. Mint has announced that on Monday, Jan. 10 they began shipping quarters featuring poet Maya Angelou.  

This quarter represents the first in the American Women Quarters Program. This Mint program will take place over four years and includes issuing five quarters a year to honor women in fields, including women’s suffrage, Civil Rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, and the arts.  

Women to be featured in 2022 include physicist and first woman astronaut Sally Ride; Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; Nina Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood. 

Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

Women have previously been featured on coins, although never the quarter. In 2017 the Mint introduced a commemorative gold coin featuring Lady Liberty as a Black woman. Suffragist Susan B. Anthony was the first to be featured on a coin in circulation when silver dollars were released with her image in 1979. Other women featured on currency include writer and activist for the disabled Helen Keller and Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who helped Lewis and Clark across the plains.

Author, poet, and Civil Rights activist, Angelou rose to prominence with the publication of her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama. Although having passed away in 2014 at the age of 86, Angelou’s impact and writings live on.

The quarter design depicts Angelou with outstretched arms and was created by Emily Damstra, a designer, and Craig A. Campbell, a medallic artist. Behind her is a bird in flight and a rising sun. Both of these selected images are inspired by her poetry and the way she lived her life. 

Below we have compiled a list of some of Maya Angelou’s most important and impactful pieces of work, all of which are available in Falvey’s collection: 

Click here to find a full list of Falvey’s collection of Maya Angelou pieces and make sure you are on the lookout for these quarters over the next four years. 


jenna newman headshotJenna Renaud is a Graduate Assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a Graduate Student in the Communication Department.


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Dig Deeper: All About Birds

By Ethan Shea

"'Delafield's Ground-Warbler' by John James Audubon"

“Delafield’s Ground-Warbler” by John James Audubon

"Flyer for Bird Poetry Workshop"

Flyer for “A Bird Came Down the Walk: A Creative Writing Workshop”

On Nov. 4, Falvey Library will be co-sponsoring two events that explore the artistic potential of birds and birdwatching. A writing workshop with Nathalie Anderson, a Philadelphia poet who recently retired from Swarthmore College, will give attendees opportunities to consider the various ways of putting visual observations of these spirited creatures into words. This exercise will be supplemented by discussions of pictures and videos of birds.

A second event will celebrate the publication of a book titled Birds of North America. This book will be displayed at The Drawing Room in Philadelphia with images by Susan Hagen and poems by Nathalie Anderson and Lisa Sewell, who will all attend the event.

The first event will take place at 4 p.m. in SAC 300, and the second will occur at 6 p.m. in Falvey Library, room 205. Both will take place on Nov. 4.

To prepare for the upcoming festivities, I’ve provided a few links for those who want to dig deeper into the intersections of birds and art. In addition to literature regarding birds and bird-concerned artists, I’ve found some images of birds, all available in Villanova’s Digital Library, that will get your creative juices flowing.

Dickinson Electronic Archives

These archives give curious readers the opportunity to explore anything and everything about Emily Dickinson. Her poem A Bird, came down the Walk is one of the most famous examples of bird-inspired poetry. In fact, the upcoming writing workshop is named after this piece of literature!

"Bird Talk Flyer"

Flyer for “Birds of North America: A Reading and Artists Talk”

The Raven

This poem by Edgar Allan Poe is another well known example of bird poetry. Published in 1845, The Raven is an incredibly eerie piece, giving a very different impression of bird imagery than Emily Dickinson.

Birds in Medieval English Poetry

Michael Warren’s book, Birds in Medieval English Poetry, takes readers back to the Medieval Ages in his discussion of birds as symbols in Medieval texts. The relationship between the poems Warren studies and the natural world is highly debated in this piece.

Here is a list of pictures and paintings of birds available for viewing in Falvey’s Digital Library:

Susan Hagen’s website is another great resource for bird images. I encourage you to check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Headshot of Ethan Shea

Ethan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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New Online Exhibit – “Rediscovering T. A. Daly: Immigrant Voices in Poetry”

Our latest online exhibit, “Rediscovering T. A. Daly: Immigrant Voices in Poetry,” is now available, just as April’s National Poetry Month draws to a close. The exhibit explores the life and works of Thomas Augustine Daly (1871-1948), a native and lifelong Philadelphian; an Irish-American and a Catholic; a journalist, poet, and prolific author; and an early Villanova University alumnus.

This exhibit brings together newly digitized materials from Falvey Memorial Library’s collections, including Daly’s notebooks from his Villanova days (1880-1887), a scrapbook documenting his early career, and the majority of his published books.

These items are also available in the Digital Library, while the exhibit provides context around the poetry—written mainly in Italian-American and Irish-American dialect—for which he was best known. His collective works give us glimpses into his own life deeply rooted in Philadelphia’s Irish and Catholic communities, with his poetry strongly themed around a broader American identity through the everyday characters he created.

Visit the online exhibit here: https://exhibits.library.villanova.edu/t-a-daly.

Thomas A. Daly (with wife and children)

Photograph, Thomas A. Daly (with wife and children), c. 1910. Villanova Photograph Collection. Villanova University Archives, Villanova University. Thomas Daly and Ann “Nannie” Barrett had eight children: Leonard (b. 1897), John (b. 1899), Tom Jr. (b. 1901), Anne (Nancy) Elizabeth (b. 1903), Stephen (b. 1904), Brenda (1907-1914), Frederic (b. 1908), and Frances Joan (b. 1914).

 


Rebecca Oviedo is Distinctive Collections Librarian/Archivist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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Dig Deeper: Nobel Prize in Literature 2020 Recipient, Louise Glück

Art courtesy of Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing

All Hallows

BY LOUISE GLÜCK
Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside

among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here,
Come here, little one

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

The recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, American poet Louise Glück “examines our compulsion to tell the same stories, again and again.” As Walt Hunter wrote in The Atlantic,One of the most striking qualities about the poetry of Glück, is the way it returns to the start of things—a story, a myth, a day, a marriage, a childhood. The question How do we begin anew? runs throughout the poet’s work, from Firstborn (1968) to her most recent collection, Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014).”

Glück is the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for writing poetry since the literature category was established in 1901. The author of 12 poetry collections and several essays, she has received numerous accolades for her work:

She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999, was appointed as the Library of Congress’s twelfth poet laureate in 2003, and in 2015 received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama. Glück received the Nobel Prize for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.” As Anders Olsson, Chairman of the Nobel Committee wrote, “In her poems, the self listens for what is left of its dreams and delusions, and nobody can be harder than she in confronting the illusions of the self. She seeks the universal, and in this she takes inspiration from myths and classical motifs, present in most of her works. The voices of Dido, Persephone and Eurydice–the abandoned, the punished, the betrayed–are masks for a self in transformation, as personal as it is universally valid.”

Glück was born in New York City in 1943 and was raised on Long Island. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University. She is a professor of English, Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence, at Yale University, and currently resides in Cambridge, Mass.

Learn more about Louise Glück:


Text by Kallie Stahl, Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. Links curated by Sarah Wingo, MA, MSI, the Liaison Librarian for English Lit, Theatre, and Romance Languages.


 


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Monday Mood: Falvey Library Staff Share Their Favorite Poems

Celebrating National Poetry Month, Falvey Memorial Library staff shared some of their favorite poems.


“Hope” is the thing with feathersEmily Dickinson
Submitted by Regina Duffy, Communication and Marketing Program Manager

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all -And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.


BalaenopteraJoshua Bennett
Submitted by Kallie Stahl, Communication and Marketing Specialist 


TodayBilly Collins
Submitted by Luisa Cywinski, Director of Access Services

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.


Lighthouse Keeping—Kay Ryan 
Submitted by Deborah Bishov, Librarian for Communication, Education and Counseling, Russian Studies. Bishov learned about the poem from Shauna MacDonald, PhD, Associate Professor, Communication; Co-Director, Gender and Women’s Studies. 

Seas pleat
winds keen
fogs deepen
ships lean no
doubt, and
the lighthouse
keeper keeps
a light for
those left out.
It is intimate
and remote both
for the keeper
and those afloat.


The Same CityTerrance Hayes
Submitted by Erica Hayes, Digital Scholarship Librarian

The rain falling on a night
in mid-December,
I pull to my father’s engine
wondering how long I’ll remember
this. His car is dead. He connects
jumper cables to his battery,
then to mine without looking in
at me and the child. Water beads
on the windshields, the road sign,
his thin blue coat. I’d get out now,
prove I can stand with him
in the cold, but he told me to stay
with the infant. I wrap her
in the blanket, staring
for what seems like a long time
into her open, toothless mouth,
and wish she was mine. I feed her
an orange softened first in my mouth,
chewed gently until the juice runs
down my fingers as I squeeze it
into hers. What could any of this matter
to another man passing on his way
to his family, his radio deafening
the sound of water and breathing
along all the roads bound to his?
But to rescue a soul is as close
as anyone comes to God.
Think of Noah lifting a small black bird
from its nest. Think of Joseph,
raising a son that wasn’t his.

Let me begin again.
I want to be holy. In rain
I pull to my father’s car
with my girlfriend’s infant.
She was eight weeks pregnant when we met.
But we’d make love. We’d make
love below stars and shingles
while her baby kicked between us.
Perhaps a man whose young child
bears his face, whose wife waits
as he drives home through rain
and darkness, perhaps that man
would call me a fool. So what.
There is one thing I will remember
all my life. It is as small
and holy as the mouth
of an infant. It is speechless.
When his car would not stir,
my father climbed in beside us,
took the orange from my hand,
took the baby in his arms.
In 1974, this man met my mother
for the first time as I cried or slept
in the same city that holds us
tonight. If you ever tell my story,
say that’s the year I was born.


When This IsLaura Kelly Fanucci
Submitted by Daniella Snyder, Graduate Assistant

When this is over,
may we never again take for granted;
A handshake with a stranger, Full shelves at the store,
Conversations with neighbors,
A crowded theater, Friday night out,
The taste of communion, A routine checkup,
The school rush each morning, Coffee with a friend,
The stadium roaring, Each deep breath!  A boring Tuesday.  Life itself.
When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be,
we were called to be,
we hope to be,
and may we stay that way — better for each other because of the worst.


Mortal City—Dar Williams
Submitted by Shawn Proctor, Marketing and Communication Program Manager

I think I have a special kind of hearing tonight
I hear the neighbors upstairs
I hear my heart beating
I hear one thousand hearts beating at the hospital
And one thousand hearts by their bedsides waiting
Saying that’s my love in the white gown,
We are not lost in the Mortal City
We are not lost in the Mortal City

Nothing Gold Can Stay—Robert Frost
Submitted by Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing 

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Poetry Unbound podcast—by Pádraig Ó Tuama 
Submitted by Laura Bang, Distinctive Collections Librarian, “Ó Tuama reads a poem and discusses some of the meanings he finds in it. The podcast provides a short and lovely way to be introduced to new poems and new ways of seeing the world.”

Poetry Unbound


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 


 


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Celebrate: Read a poem!

By Daniella Snyder

I’m Daniella Snyder, a graduate student at Villanova University, and your ‘Cat in Falvey Library’s (remote) Stacks. I’ll be posting about academics–from research to study habits and everything in between–and how the Falvey Library can play a large role in your success at Villanova!

Hey, Wildcats! Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? NPM was first launched in 1966 by the Academy of American Poets. It began as a way to remind us that poets and poetry matters and that they play a vital role in society. Since 1966, NPM has attracted tens of millions of readers, students, librarians, publishers, and poets.

Now, in the midst of COVID-19, we face unprecedented circumstances. This particular NPM has taken on new meaning and importance, as more and more of us are turning to poetry to find solace and strength.

National Poetry Month poster 2020

While I certainly recommend that everyone pick up the work of their favorite poet this month, I hope you’ll find some new poems that give you comfort during this uncertain time. If you’re looking for even more ways to participate in NPM during COVID-19, the Academy of American Poets has come up with some ways you can celebrate, both online and at home:

  • Sign up for “Poem a Day” and get free daily poems delivered to your inbox each morning.
  • Read last year’s most-read poem, “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye.
  • Listen to the “Poem a Day” podcast.
  • Buy a poetry book from a local, independent bookstore.
  • Host a virtual poetry reading on Zoom.

As NPM progresses, tell Falvey if you’ve found a poem that has been a source of comfort, solace, or strength for you. Share that poem with us: DM us on Instagram (@villanovalibrary), tweet us (@FalveyLibrary), or message us on Facebook.


Daniella Snyder HeadshotDaniella Snyder is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the English department. Since she’s back in her childhood home, she’s picking up her favorite poem from when she was a kid: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

 

 


 


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‘Cat in the Stack: Brenda Shaughnessy

By Daniella Snyder

Cat in the Stacks logo or header

I’m Daniella Snyder, a graduate student at Villanova University, and your ‘Cat in Falvey Library’s Stacks. I’ll be posting about academics–from research to study habits and everything in between–and how the Falvey Memorial Library can play a large role in your success here on campus!

Brenda Shaughnessy Headshot

Source: PoetryFoundation.org

This week, Falvey would have hosted poet Brenda Shaughnessy for a public reading in Speakers’ Corner as part of the English Department’s annual Literary Festival. While we cannot be there in person to hear Shaughnessy read, we can still appreciate her work and learn more about her. This week, my stack is filled with her poetry.

Brenda Shaughnessy is the author of five poetry collections, including The Octopus Museum (2019, Knopf); So Much Synth (2016, Copper Canyon Press); Our Andromeda (2012), which was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award, The International Griffin Prize, and the PEN Open Book Award. 

Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Harpers, The New York Times, The New Yorker, O Magazine, Paris Review, Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere.

Recent collaborative projects include writing a libretto for a Mass commissioned by Trinity Church Wall Street for composer Paola Prestini and a poem-essay for the exhibition catalog for Toba Khedoori’s solo retrospective show at LACMA. 

A 2013 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Shaughnessy is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Rutgers University-Newark. She lives in Verona, New Jersey, with her family, according to her website.

Shaughnessy’s work is known for its ability to twin opposites: her poems are both playful and erotic, lyrical and funny, formal and strange. Reviewing Human Dark with Sugar, poet Cate Peebles noted that “Shaughnessy draws attention to the contradiction of being made up of so many parts while appearing to be one single body.”

In the New Yorker, Hilton Als said of her book, Our Andromeda: “it further establishes Shaughnessy’s particular genius, which is utterly poetic, but essayistic in scope, encompassing ideas about astronomy, illness, bodies, the family, ‘normalcy,’ home.”

Hilton Als’ description of Our Andromeda, and the mention of illness, bodies, the family, normalcy, and home, sounds like Shaughnessy’s poetry may help us work through our current moment.

Want to read Our Andromeda, but cannot access the collection online? Watch this 2013 video from the Chicago Humanities Festival, in which Shaughnessy reads a fair amount of her poetry from the collection.

If you want to stay connected with Brenda Shaughnessy, I recommend following her on Twitter (@brendashaughnes). Like many other authors, artists, and musicians, she shared that she will be posting about the books getting her through these uncertain times:

A Tweet by Brenda Shaughnessy, described in paragraph above. "I'm going to post about the books getting me through. #1: How is Jenny Offill such a genius? First page of Weather and I can barely turn to the second because it is so perfect and luminous and luscious I don't want it to be over, ever."

Here’s the page she’s referencing:

The first page of Weather by Jenny Offill.

While it is certainly disappointing that we will not be able to see Shaughnessy in person, I hope this brief overview offers a chance to get to know one of our Lit Fest authors a little better.

 


Daniella Snyder Headshot

Daniella Snyder is a graduate assistant in the Communication & Marketing department at Falvey Memorial Library, and a graduate student in the English department. This week, she’s reading Call Me By Your Name, a book that was recommended to her by the VU Book Club (@vubookclub).

 


 


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Dig Deeper: Remembering Maya Angelou

image

Whenever a public figure passes away, I can expect that for the next few days my social media will be abuzz with articles, remembrances and general mentions of said person. So it has come as no surprise that since Maya Angelou’s death on Thursday May 28 my Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds, as well as many other websites and blogs that I frequent, have been brimming with content on the life, works and death of Angelou. However, as I have scrolled through the many posts and tweets in response to Angelou’s life and death over the past few days I have been struck by the genuine outpouring of emotions people are expressing. It felt somehow unique, somehow more personal than the usual “rest in peace” and “they will be missed” messages I usually see.

I was particularly moved by a Facebook post by a good friend of mine who teaches high school English who posted late in the day on the 28th long after all of the initial posts of surprise and sadness had flooded my news feed, she said:

“I spent some time today thinking about what I love so much about Maya Angelou, and I’ve decided it’s the fact that she made me feel powerful, in all the positive connotations of that word.”

Go to Angelou’s Wikipedia page or any site detailing her biography and you can learn that “she published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows spanning more than 50 years” (Wikipedia). And Angelou’s resume was as varied and interesting as her writing. In her lifetime she was a poet, civil rights activist, dancer, film producer, television producer, playwright, film director, author, actress and professor, just to name a few of the occupations she held in her 86 years of life.

But put all of that aside; remove the titles, labels, accomplishments and honors, and consider a simple sentence: “She made others feel powerful.”

It’s hard to think of a better epitaph for a woman who once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Dig Deeper: Maya Angelou

If you’re interested in learning more about Maya Angelou, we have some resources to recommend:

Books in our catalog written by Maya Angelou

Books about Maya Angelou and critical companions to her works:

 

Maya Angelou’s official website (pretty bogged down right now, may not open due to heavy traffic)

 

Dictionary of Literary Biography (Available through Databases A-Z) has the following entry on Maya Angelou:

Maya Angelou (4 April 1928-). Lynn Z. Bloom

Afro-American Writers After 1955: Dramatists and Prose Writers. Ed. Thadious M. Davis and Trudier Harris-Lopez. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 38. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. p3-12.

 

JStor:

Remembering Maya Angelou: a 1977 interview in The Black Scholar.

 

YouTube:


SarahArticle by Sarah Wingo, team leader- Humanities II, subject librarian for English, literature and theatre.


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Last Modified: May 30, 2014