Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. I had the great honor to read my favorite poem to the school assembly at Grace Academy in Hartford and at the Downtown Library this morning. It’s “Miracles” by Walt Whitman.
Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with anyone I love, or sleep in the bed at night with anyone I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships with the men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
Hartford Public Library will be throwing a party, One Big Summer Night, on June 12 for 700 of its closest friends, patrons and sponsors. This year our special guest and featured author will be Arianna Huffington. She joins a diverse literary constellation of previous featured authors, at this event that is the Library’s largest annual fundraiser: Dominick Dunne, Jacques Pépin, Wally Lamb, Francine du Plessix Gray, Colin McEnroe, Nora Pollard, Paul Weidner, Malachy McCourt, Julie Powell, and last year’s guests Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, stars of MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
In our discussions about who would be the best author for these challenging times, Arianna Huffington’s name kept surfacing. And why is that, you may ask? Because we believe that she represents what’s possible in America with the right set of personal tools — courage, chutzpah, knowledge, and a deep understanding of what it means to be American. With The Huffington Post, she has created a cyber meeting place for millions every day to get engaged in their world, their countries and in their communities. Clearly she understands democracy and the importance of civic engagement to forming a more perfect union — in a world that often embattles such a notion.
Hartford Public Library and all public libraries are on a similar quest to engage and enlighten the public. From traditional education services that provide valuable information and skills to broader political and civic roles, such as managing community services for growing immigrant populations, building databases that centralize vital community and government information for improved decision making, and helping to close the digital divide. You see, it’s all about understanding what’s possible and having the right tools to realize your dreams.
Our world needs to give a voice to those who seek to be heard. Arianna Huffington is giving the world a voice and public libraries give that voice opportunity to make things happen. The more we know the more optimistic we will be about the future. The more engaged we are the better decisions we will make to contribute to our community’s success and individual well-being.
We believe that Arianna Huffington shares a common vision to help people in our world achieve full and engaging lives for themselves and their families. That’s why we chose her to come to our party.
So if you plan to be in Hartford on June 12, we have a ticket for sale to the best party in town. Prepare to be inspired.
Remember you can download books from the library to your new shiny reader. Books are free, of course, and there are never any late fees because the book is returned automatically to the library. Couldn’t be easier or more economical!
And if we don’t have the book that you want, that’s simple too, just send in a request.
For more information go to www.hplct.org. Read a good book today.
Hooray for Downtown Dweller, Jim Rouman.
Kirkus Reviews, “The World’s Toughest Book Critics” (http://www.kirkusreviews.com/best-of/2011/indie/) has named Uncertain Journey, a new novel by author James Rouman published by Peter E. Randall Publisher of Portsmouth, NH, to this year’s “Best Indie of 2011.” Kirkus reviews more than 5,000 books each year but only named 50 as the top “Best Indie” books, honoring books from independent authors.
Kirkus editor Perry Crowe said this year’s list includes “books that caught our eye or blew our mind or touched our heart, some even earning Kirkus stars.” That includes Uncertain Journey, which earned a coveted Kirkus star review for what Kirkus called “a subtle, absorbing portrait of the immigrant experience.”
Peter E. Randall Publisher CEO Deidre Randall said, “Small press books are not always noticed by readers seeking a new favorite, but great writers all start out unknown. Jim is an ideal author; witty, thoughtful and tireless in his desire to find the next right word. Gaining the Kirkus recognition is just what Uncertain Journey deserves and I hope readers will pick it up, devour it and give it as a gift to other readers. We are so proud to be his publisher.”
Uncertain Journey is James Rouman’s second novel based in the Greek-American community he knows well as the son of Greek immigrants. But this “Greek” novel comes with a twist: the protagonist being an illegal alien—and a Muslim to boot—who has escaped from communist Albania only to find his best hope lies in “passing” for Greek both in Greece and later in America. Love soon complicates such subterfuges, as does the tight-rope act of beginning a new life based on an act that is, after all, a crime: illegal immigration.
Rouman pulls no punches in his depiction of his characters, both native and foreign-born. The author says he chose to deal with the theme of illegal immigration through the eyes of an Albanian to give readers the emotional space to step back from the politicized debate that treats illegal immigration as largely an Hispanic phenomenon. As reviewer Julia Ann Charpentier writes, “An illegal immigrant is a human being, not a statistic, and this is the most important underlying message…[Rouman’s] descriptions bring to dramatic life an individual who simply wants to escape the bad conditions in his homeland for a better existence.”
More information and links to reviews can be found on James Rouman’s website:
Uncertain Journey is 208 pages and retails for $20.00. It is available from National Book Network (http://nbnbooks.com/Catalog/SingleBook.shtml?command=Search&db=^/DB/NBN/NBN.db&eqSKUdata=1931807892), ISBN: 978-1-931807-89-0, from online retailers, fine bookstores, and from Hartford Public Library (great price-free!).