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Author Archive for Maeve Clark



That Tree: An iPhone journal documenting a year in the life of a lonely bur oak by Mark Hirsch

by Maeve Clark on January 28th, 2014

Where can a challenge take you?  For Mark Hirsch, a photojournalist, it can take you to a familiar location or in his case, to a very familiar tree, and change the way you look at everything.  For 19 years Mark drove by a the same farm field near Plattville, Wisconsin and looked at the same bur oak tree.  A friend texted him to try out the camera in his new iPhone, he did and he posted it on Facebook.

“At the time I never even considered using the iPhone camera for anything more than a passing snapshot,” recalls Hirsch. “As a result of her text though, I stopped and trudged through a crazy snowstorm to make a picture of the tree… A friend posted a note to me on my Facebook page saying ‘Dude, what’s with you and that tree, you should do a photo a day with it.’ On his challenge, I officially started the project on March 24, 2012.”

Hirsch spent the next year photographing That Tree every day, documenting the changing of seasons and sharing the tree’s hidden world with a growing Facebook following.”   Hirsch,  now has nearly 36,000 followers and published a magnificent book, “That Tree”. For everyone who enjoys fine photography and  the beauty of the nature, Mark Hirsch’s book is one to be savored and returned to again and again.   Perhaps the best way to describe the That Tree project is from Hirsch’s introduction to his book, “My relationship with That Tree has awakened a newfound vision, and appreciation for the fragility of our world and the interdependence of even the smallest of its creatures. In turn, this fresh insight has inspired my commitment to share my photos and encourage others to embrace land stewardship as a means toward a more sustainable use of our resources.”

“That Tree” might serve as an inspiration to you, maybe not to take a photograph of a tree everyday for a year, but to open your eyes to the natural world around you.

Little Wolves byThomas Maltman

by Maeve Clark on November 5th, 2013
Little Wolves byThomas Maltman Cover Image

The 2014 All Iowa Reads title is “Little Wolves” by Thomas Maltman and I read it already!  Every year the luncheon speaker on the Friday of the Iowa Library Association is the author of the All Iowa Reads book for the year.  I am usually scrambling to read the book because I am not known for planning ahead.  When the book as announced at this year’s annual conference Friday luncheon the description caught my attention -  the intertwining story of a murder, a small town set on the Minnesota prairie and a Lutheran minister and his wife who studied early Anglo-Saxon literature.  Because  the Iowa City Public Library now lets users put a hold on an item not checked out and I had my cellphone handy,  I placed a hold and the book was waiting by the time I returned to work the next day.  It also helped that I was going on vacation in two days and could read Little Wolves in a couple of delightfully free days.

Thomas Maltman is a poet as well as a fiction writer and you can tell from his lyrical prose.  He places the reader in the late 1980s  in Lone Mountain, a town in the Minnesota prairie “about 200 miles west of the Twin Cities” where the “wind has claws”.  A drought has gripped the land and a monstrous murder has occurred.  The trajectory of the two families who settled the land and the different paths the families have taken is compelling and underpins the murder.    The novel is layered with words and stories from Norse myths and allusions to Anglo-Saxon narratives, in particular the epic poem Beowulf and the myth of Ragnorak.

“Little Wolves” is a wonderful selection for All Iowa Reads, an excellent book club title.  The library will have two book club kits with 10 books, perfect for a book club looking for book sure to generate a lot of conversation.  The library also includes discussion questions with the kits.  ICPL will also hold a book discussion in October of 2014.  It is the perfect book, at least I think so, to curl up with near the fire on a dark winter’s night and read, if the wind is blowing hard, all the better.

 

 

 

Celebrate our freedom to read

by Maeve Clark on September 25th, 2013

As Justice Potter Stewart wrote, “In order to be responsible citizens who have the ability to self-govern, we must be well-informed.” A well-informed citizenry cannot exist in a society where censorship is allowed. Each year the Iowa City Public Library along with many libraries across the nation celebrate our freedom to read and view and create.

In 1995, the Iowa City Public Library established the annual Carol Spaziani Intellectual Freedom Festival to honor her 26-year career at ICPL and her life-long commitment to the freedom of ideas. Spaziani believes that the public library’s role is to be a resource and a forum for an individual’s pursuit and expression of diverse points of view.  Intellectual Freedom is a basic human right, defined by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Intellectual freedom is central to a democratic society and libraries provide information, ideas and resources in a variety of formats, enabling an informed citizenry.

Whenever possible the Festival coincides with Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors among other groups and associations. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

At the Iowa City Public Library we have events for all ages, from stories for children from books that were banned or challenged, to activities for teens as well as programs for adults.  Thursday, September 26, at 7 pm we plan a public discussion of what censorship means in a our society and as well as in countries where the freedom of expression is not a right.  Join library staff, writers from the International Writing Program and a representative of the Hawkeye Area Chapter of the ACLU-Iowa as we discuss what it means to have this freedom and what it like to live in a society where opinions and words are suppressed.

 

 

Life after Life: A Novel by Jill McCorkle

by Maeve Clark on July 2nd, 2013
Life after Life: A Novel by Jill McCorkle Cover Image

It’s been 17 long years since Jill McCorkle published a work of fiction, but it’s been worth the wait. McCorkle, a North Carolina native, is an Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill author. That alone establishes her as a Southern author who merits attention.

Set in the Pine Haven retirement home in Fulton, North Carolina, “Life After Life”, is narrated by Joanne Lamb, a prodigal child who returns home to make amends with her father.   Joanna, a hospice volunteer at the home, tells the stories of the residents and neighbors of Pine Haven, their interactions with family, staff and other residents, and for some of them, their passing.  Interspersed among the chapters are mini-biographies of the recently deceased that Joanna recorded in her journal.  They aren’t obituaries, but reflections of the time Joanna spent with each of them.  McCorkle has captured the voices of Pine Haven, with all their quirks and idiosyncrasies.

While McCorkle has published short stories since her last novel, it iss wonderful to have her back with a longer work.  And she has promised that we will not need to wait for 17 more years for another one.

Readers note:  Two short weeks after Algonquin published McCorkle’s “Life After Life: A Novel”, Kate Atkinson’s book “Life After Life: A Novel” was published by Brown.  How very confusing.   I was talking about the book with a friend who was also reading it, at least that is what I thought, but when we started to discuss the characters, it was clear we were not on the same page nor even in the same book.  I now have a hold on “Life After Life” by Atkinson – it sounds like a winner too.

Civil War 150

by Maeve Clark on April 24th, 2013
Civil War 150 Cover Image

Iowa City Public Library begins almost three weeks of programming related to the Civil War on  Thursday, April 25.  ICPL is fortunate to be one of the two libraries in Iowa to receive a grant from the Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History to provide programming related to the Civil War and to host  the Civil War 150, a national traveling exhibition, (the Olwein Public Library also received a grant).  The panel exhibition is organized by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in partnership with The Library of America. The project Civil War 150: Exploring the War and It’s Meaning Through the Words of Those Who Lived It, has been made possible in part through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.

One of the many programs offered is a book discussion of the Civil War.  The title we selected is The Civil War : a concise history” by  Louis Masur.  A limited number of free  copies of  Masur’s Civil War book are available at the Reference Desk.  The discussion will be Saturday, May 4 at 10:30 in Meeting Room E.  I am sure we also talk about other works on the Civil War.  And if you are interested learning more about the Civil War the library can provide you with a wealth of both print and audio materials.

For more information about the other programs related to the Civil War 150,  visit www.icpl.org/civilwar150/.  Please join us for our opening reception Thursday evening at 7 pm.  Three local musicians, Guy Drollinger, Mike Haverkamp and Dave Hicks will play Civil War era music and Greg Prickman, head of Special Collections & University Archives at the UI Library, will give a presentation on the UI Civil War Letters & Diaries Digitization Project.

Safari:A Photicular Book Created by Dan Kainen and written by Carol Kaufmann

by Maeve Clark on March 5th, 2013
Safari:A Photicular Book Created by Dan Kainen and written by Carol Kaufmann Cover Image

Sometimes a book just reaches out and grabs me. “Safari: a photicular book”, grabbed me and I am having trouble letting it go. I had it with me for days while out at the Reference Desk because I wanted to write about it and couldn’t figure out how to describe it. But now it is ready for another reader and I  have to say goodbye.  At least while I had it at the desk I was able to share it with others, (whether they really wanted to see it or not).

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-9LuTp7HnU&w=460&h=315]

 

In the introduction Kainen he shares that his grandfather was an inventor, his father an artist and the curator of graphics at the Smithsonian, and that as a child, he was a magician. He explains that photicular imaging is an old technology, lenticular or integrated photography, done in a new way. His third patent is for the Motion Viewer, his first product in the field of integrated imaging and the Motion Viewer is what makes “Safari” so spectacular. The writer, Carol Kaufmann,  tells the story of the safari from its day of big game hunting to the important role it plays today in animal conservation and preservation in Africa.

While it isn’t a large book, it is thick. It contains eight remarkable photicular pages, each of an animal one might encounter while on a safari  on the Masai Mari in Kenya. Each time you turn the page you encounter another animal, and the animal moves. The lion is running toward you and you can control the speed.  The gorilla is chewing, slowly or very quickly, depending upon you the reader. The cheetah is my favorite  with its fluid stride. The image is from the side and it is as if you are running along side it. For each of the animals Kaufmann includes the size, land speed, habitat and distribution the current population, if known, and its lifespan in the wild.  Pick it up, you will want to see these animals move.

 

 

 

Help! There are 24 people coming and I have dog fur everywhere.

by Maeve Clark on November 28th, 2012
Help!  There are 24 people coming and I have dog fur everywhere. Cover Image

American etiquette expert Letitia Baldrige died recently, and it is the end of an era.  Ms. Baldrige was known as the “doyenne of decorum.”  What she truly espoused was kindness and making others feel at ease. That advice will keep us all in good stead for holiday entertaining.

Entertaining at any time is stressful for me. I don’t like to clean, I’m disorganized, I love to eat, but can’t much cook and I have a white dog that sheds her weight in fur on a daily basis. If you are like me and have worries about getting through the holidays or you just want to have fun when folks drop by, the Iowa City Public Library might just be able to help.

You can’t go wrong with anything from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. A good party is not about the food,” says Garten, “it’s about the people.” Her “Barefoot Contessa Parties!“ will ensure that your next party is a fabulous one, regardless of your guest list.  Garten offers tips to reduce stress by providing recipes that are make-ahead and uncomplicated as well as ideas on how to make your home welcoming to all.

Where do I begin?  That’s the question we ask when thinking about throwing a party – and for many of us, that’s the question we end with, too. The idea of entertaining friends and family in our home sounds fun, but the details – the specifics of planning the party, making the food, and playing hostess can be overwhelming, (and don’t forget the fur).  Kimberly Kennedy’s “The Art and Craft of Entertaining” provides all the information and inspiration you need to plan, organize, and carry out a successful no-stress event.

“You’re So Invited: panic less, play more, and get your party on” by Cheryl Naijafi had a title that drew me right in. Naijafi inspires hosts to infuse their own personal style, humor and whimsy into any occasion. In “You’re So Invited” she shares her fresh approach to entertaining to get you planning your next, or maybe your first party, without fretting or fussing.

And if you want to throw caution to the wind, borrow Amy Sedaris’s “I Like You.” Read it for laughs, but exercise caution in following her advice.

My Name is Bond, James Bond

by Maeve Clark on October 4th, 2012
My Name is Bond, James Bond Cover Image

October 5th marks the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film, Dr. No.   Take a trip through the Bond filmography at ICPL. We have 20 of the  Bond films, from the earliest, Dr. No, to the most recent, Quantum of Solace.  The newest Bond film, Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig debuts in theaters on November 9.  Ian Fleming’s novels and short stories served as the inspiration for Bond and you can borrow all of them from the library.  Other authors have penned 007 works from Kingsley Amis , (writing  under the pseudonym of Robert Markham)  to Jeffery Deaver.

Friendships have been lost arguing over who is the best Bond, I am torn between Connery and Craig.  How about you?  Take the “Which James Bond are You?” quiz to see if you are a classic Bond or one of those pretenders.  Let’s not neglect the toys.  Morning Edition interviewed Neil deGrasse Tyson on which gadgets might really work  and some just might.  And last but not least, let’s all raise a toast to 007, and remember, the martini is shaken, not stirred.

100 Years of Homecoming

by Maeve Clark on September 18th, 2012
100 Years of Homecoming Cover Image

2012 marks the centennial of Homecoming at the University of Iowa.  Come learn about the corn monument, pageants and parades when David McCartney, University of Iowa Archivist, shares football related materials from the collection, including homecoming buttons,  programs, and videos of early football games, from the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections and University Archives on Wednesday, September 19 at Noon in Meeting Room A.

The Iowa City Public Library has a number of items to whet your interest in Iowa football including Ellen Buchanan’s 1992 interview with Coach Hayden Fry from ICPL’s Tell Me Your Stories series.  The interview can be streamed from icpl.org or borrowed from our collection.  Other Iowa football materials include “Fields of Glory” a DVD history of Kinnick Stadium as well as a number of books on Iowa football including two on Nile Kinnick, Iowa’s great football hero and only Heisman trophy winner.

Building Sandcastles

by Maeve Clark on August 9th, 2012
Building Sandcastles Cover Image

This weekend is Sand in the City and this year there is a mini sand sculpting competition for the public.  ICPL can help you with ideas on how to craft a sandcastle or other sand creations.  Sandcastles Made Simple by Lucinda “sandy feet” Wierenga offers step-by-step instructions from extremely simple to very elaborate structures.

Her suggestions for tools are to look no farther than your kitchen drawer or toolbox – a pastry knife, spoons and forks, a paint scraper, a melon baller, toothpicks, measuring cups, a soft bristled paintbrush, a a spray bottle and a plastic straw will all come in handy.   If you are not participating in Sand in the City and are going to the beach or just hanging out in the backyard sandbox, you will need a shovel with a small scoop and of course a bucket or two.

If you get bit by the sand sculpting bug there are competitions all across the United States.