A Selection of Poems by Alice Dunbar-Nelson

alice dunbar-nelson

Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875 – 1935; also known as Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson) was a multitalented writer, poet, journalist, and teacher. She used her writings to advocate for the rights of women and African-Americans and was considered one of the premier poets of the Harlem Renaissance.

In addition to her highly regarded poetry, Alice was known for her short stories and searingly honest essays, in which she expressed the challenges of growing up mixed-race in Louisiana. Her heritage of African-American, Creole, European, and Native American gave her a broad perspective on race, which she explored along with the varied and complex issues faced by women of color. Read More→

4 Book Towns in North America

Whether you call it a Boekenstad, Village du Livres, Bokby or Bókabæirnir, from Canada to Korea and from Iceland to Australia a movement is growing. In hamlets, villages and towns around the world, like-minded booksellers, calligraphers, bookbinders, curators, publishers, and architects are coming together to ensure a future for the printed book, defying the e-book onslaught, and providing a new future for fading communities.

This post is excerpted and adapted from Book Towns: Forty-Five Paradises of the Printed Word by Alex Johnson (© 2018, Quarto Publishing, plc, by permission). It’s the first book to bring all of these towns together, offering a unique history of each one, and encouraging readers to seek them out. By visiting these towns you are not only helping to save the printed book; you are helping to keep communities alive. Above right, Mysteries and More in Hobart, NY, guarded by shop cat Big Red. Read More→

Books for Book Lovers: Bookshops, Libraries, Reading, & Bibliomania

Bibliophile - an illustrated miscellany by Jane Mount

For bibliophiles, it’s not enough to be so obsessed with books that we’re reading four or five works of fiction or nonfiction at any given time. We also love books about books, bookstores, libraries, bookish places, and even books about reading. This might seem eccentric at first glance, but for the devout book lover, it makes perfect sense.

Here’s a slew of books for book lovers that celebrate the passion for the page. At left, Bibliophile: An Illustrated History by Jane Mount, which kicks off this list. In this list you’ll find a book about so-called “book towns” around the world; a celebration of libraries; a musing on the art of reading itself; a collection on the thrill of finding rare books; a few books on bookshops, and a book on the joy of  bibliomania. What perfect gifts these make for the book nerds in your life — or for yourself, if you fit that description!  Read More→

Poems by Gwendolyn B. Bennett, Harlem Renaissance Poet

Gwendolyn B. Bennett

Gwendolyn B. Bennett (1902 – 1981) was a multitalented American poet, artist, columnist, educator, and arts administrator associated with the Harlem Renaissance movement of the 1920s. 

Equally dedicated to visual and literary arts, her first published poem, “Heritage,” was published in the NAACP’s journal, The Crisis, in 1923. Her most productive period as a poet was from 1926 and 1927, producing poems that explored themes of racial pride and reflected African motifs. “Fantasy” spoke to the aspirations of African-American women. “Dark Girl” encouraged black women to love themselves and aspire to the nobility of African queens. 

Though Gwendolyn Bennett’s body of poetry wasn’t large, with around thirty of them published in The Crisis, Opportunity, and a few anthologies, they were impactful and earned her great respect from her peers. Here’s a selection for you to enjoy, from the pen of a creative woman who lived her life well and shouldn’t be forgotten. Read More→

Gwendolyn B. Bennett

Gwendolyn B. Bennett

Gwendolyn B. Bennett (July 8, 1902 – May 30, 1981) was an American poet, writer, artist, columnist, and arts administrator associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Giddings, Texas, she spent her early childhood on a Paiute Indian Reservation in Nevada, where her parents were teachers.

When she was four, her parents moved to Washington, D.C. so that her father could study law at Howard University, while her mother trained as a beautician. But all wasn’t well with this upwardly mobile couple; when Gwendolyn was seven, her parents divorced. After her mother gained custody, she was kidnapped by her father, who, along with his new wife, moved her around the northeast for several years. Read More→

Quotes from O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

o pioneers! by willa cather

The 1913 novel O Pioneers! by Willa Cather is written in the spare yet lyrical prose that came to define her style. One of her earliest novel, and one of the most successful on many levels, it explores themes of fate, love, perseverance, family ties, and community. The novel’s central character, Alexandra Bergson, is the daughter of Swedish immigrants who pioneer the harsh, unforgiving land of the Nebraska prairie.

In an unusual move, Alexandra’s father tasks her, in his dying wish, with taking the lead on managing the family farm. He tells his sons to honor the decisions of their sister. Of course, a novel doesn’t move along without conflict, but Cather delivers it without the sentimentality and overwrought prose characteristic of novels of that era. Read More→

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (1913)

O Pioneers by Willa Cather

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather is one of this esteemed American author’s most iconic novels. One of her earliest full-length works, it was published in 1913. Written in the kind of  spare, lyric prose that would become her trademark, the story explores themes of destiny, chance, love, and perseverance. It honors the ideas of community, family ties, and the dignity of work. Never sentimental or verbose, Cather delivers her plots with gentle forward motion. Her characters may be flawed, but they’re rarely weak. 

The novel’s central character, Alexandra Bergson, is her parents’ only daughter and oldest child. The Bergsons are Swedish immigrants working the Nebraska prairie land. The Bergsons encounter hardship, naturally. The unforgiving land is difficult to farm, the climate is harsh, and their neighbors, an amalgam of European immigrants, don’t always live harmoniously.  Read More→

All My Pretty Ones by Anne Sexton (1962)

All My Prettty Ones by Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton (1928 – 1974) was an American poet considered one of the pioneers of modern confessional poetry, though her artistry reached far beyond that genre. Her first collection, To Bedlam and Part Way Back, was published in 1960 to critical and public praise. It was followed by All My Pretty Ones in 1962.

During this period, Anne was receiving not only critical praise but prestigious awards as well. These included the Frost Fellowship, the Shelley Memorial Prize, a Ford Foundation grant, and many others. Sexton struggled mightily with mental illness during this fertile time in her creative life.

By the time she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1966, she had been hospitalized and attempted suicide several times. Her poetry resonated as much with readers as it did with critics. Following is a review of All My Pretty Ones from its time of publication: Read More→

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