The Student Government Board here at KU works like mad to make the university a nice place for students. Case in point: here’s a crew of SGB stalwarts, in the lobby of Rohrbach Library right now sharing snacks, sweets, study tools–a surprising array of goodies. Thanks to these friendly student leaders for carrying on a great Finals Week tradition here.
Bill Gates was on 60 Minutes last night. Halfway through this two-minute clip of the interview with the world’s wealthiest dropout, you can see him proudly showing off his video lectures from the Teaching Company.
Rohrbach librarian Stephanie Steely points out that we have more than 60 titles produced by the Teaching Company, too. All but seven of them are DVDs.
Gates talks here about how he is inspired by the works of Leonardo da Vinci and why he watches Teaching Company lectures.
By: Taylor Dugan
Starting on Wednesday May 1st, the American Library Association (ALA) invites you to participate in Choose Privacy Week, a nationwide campaign providing you with the opportunity to challenge privacy rights and become educated on everything you can surrounding privacy. The campaign will take place for a week, beginning May 1st and concluding May 7th. This campaign invites you, the digital-aged-user, to answer this simple question: “Who’s tracking you?”
So Why ALA?
Libraries give students of all ages the opportunity to dive into a variety of resources for learning. This campaign allows libraries to educate today’s digital-age-users and to provide them with resources, teaching them to “think critically and make more informed choices about their privacy” (ALA).
What IS the Problem?
Today, we have unlimited resources that provide us an opportunity to gain information both physically and digitally. What we don’t know is who is monitoring our activity and what is being publicized without our knowledge. Choose Privacy gives you the opportunity to express your opinions and converse on how we as a society can change the way our activity is monitored. The video below (from the 2010 campaign) will give you an idea about the importance of privacy in today’s digital world.
As the spring semester comes to a close, finals are fast approaching. The Library will have extended hours to help you study or prepare for your finals. The extended hours are:
- Friday, May 10: 7:45am – 8:00pm
- Saturday, May 11: 9:00am – 5:00pm
- Sunday, May 12: 10:00am – Midnight
- Monday, May 13 – Thursday, May 16: 7:00am – Midnight
- Friday, May 17: 7:45am – 5:00pm
Graduation will be here soon as well. We want to wish our seniors good luck with your finals and in the future. Congratulations from all of us at Rohrbach!
For those of you who are you returning for the fall semester, stay tuned for upcoming events that the Rohrbach Library has planned and have a great summer! (Reminder: The library will have summer hours if you need us or if you simply want to visit the Elusive Sea Cow! Find them on our Hours page of the website.)
Now, get back to your studies! The semester isn’t over YET!
Right, you’re still looking for a way to celebrate National Library Week. Here’s an idea: open your own dang library. If you get busy right now you can probably finish construction by the time NLW ends on Saturday night.
The national broadcasting company of Japan, NHK, a couple days ago aired this story from here in the U.S. about what’s absolutely the cutest craze ever to take the book-loving public by storm.
A Little Free Library looks kind of like a birdhouse where novels and biographies and children’s books are nesting. You come along, you browse. You take a book or two; you leave a book or two.
The structure itself is an eminently DIY creation, one that thousands of people have installed on roadsides all across America and, yes, the world. The movement’s website offers plans and tips galore.
There are some of these libraries not far from here–one in Doylestown, for example–but what’s the closest one to Kutztown? Let us know if you find it. Or, better yet, build it yourself. And send us a picture!
Part 2 of our interview with Dr. Heather Thomas:
[Click here for Part 1]
6. Was it hard to get your poetry published? Where do you submit your poems to for publication? Does anybody read your poems before they get published?
My first publication was, ironically, in the KU journal Yarrow, which was edited for years by Harry Humes, my predecessor in the English Department. I was a newspaper reporter and met Harry when I interviewed him for a story. My next publication was in HOW(ever), now called how2, an innovative lit mag of modern and contemporary women’s writing. By that time I had left the newspaper for grad school at Temple and was a single mother. Like most writers, I have experienced plenty of rejection. I submit poems to lit mags, I’ve researched to see if it looks like there may be a fit, or to editors who ask for them. I workshop my poems with a group of friends who are also poets.
7. Do you notice anything about your writing style? (Example: do you use a lot of rhyme?)
I notice whether I’ve chosen the precise word and cut the wordy phrases. I notice how a poem looks on the page and how it sounds. I love the textures and tones of sound, but I don’t use end rhyme. It’s just not my thing. I’ve been told that my poems have a visual quality, and I attribute this to the fact that I myself have poor vision.
8. Does your family read your poetry? When you first started to write poetry, did your family encourage you? If not, why?
I wrote for some time before sharing my poems with anyone. My grandmother and stepfather were long dead before I had the publications that allowed me to call myself a poet. My mother considered poetry a futile pursuit because it did not earn any money. She used to send me classified ads for romance writers from The New York Times. She still asks how much I’m getting paid for a poem or a reading. My aunts and uncles have encouraged me in my work. Sadly I’ve written elegies recently for two of my aunts who died.
9. Did anybody inspire you to become a writer/poet? What made you want to become a teacher and teach writing and poetry?
Besides my voracious reading, I was inspired by an undeniable need to write. As a journalist, I learned about other people, my city, its systems, history, and biases. I learned how to write on deadline and to dictate a story from my notes while standing in a phone booth. Eventually I learned about myself. The great German poet Rilke says poets need to ask themselves in the dead of night if they must write to live. If so, he says, you must revise your life. I did that in becoming a teacher. Rachel Blau DuPlessis, my grad-school mentor, was my role model of the poet-scholar-professor. Other teachers over the years made a difference in my life. Mr. Milford, my high-school English teacher, instilled in me the rigor necessary for turning out weekly essays on Friday afternoons. Susan Sontag, who taught a graduate class at Temple, allowed that writing and literature are an obsession with love. She didn’t mean romantic love. I got that. More than anything, it is my students who make me want to teach. I teach for them.
10. If somebody does not understand how to read or understand poetry, but wanted to, what advice would you give that person?
Read with your heart. Read the poem aloud. Read it a few times. The meaning of a poem will unfold, based on what you bring to your reading.
11. Do you have a website that people can visit to learn more about you and your poetry?
Dr. Heather Thomas, http:faculty.kutztown.edu/hthomas
This concludes a question and answer with Dr. Heather Thomas. I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you again to Dr. Thomas for letting me do this interview and conduct questions for National Poetry Month. This was a great experience to get to know a poet here at Kutztown University. As the year comes to an end I hope you will enjoy your retirement.
Upcoming opportunity to go see Dr. Heather Thomas:
Saturday, April 20 “Broken Open, Breaking Free,” Ice House, Bethlehem, 7:30, with Craig Czury, Lisa DuVuono, John Fox, Susan Kerschner, and Michael London’s Rumi songs.
Here at Kutztown University, Dr. Heather Thomas is a professor in the English Department. She has taught students for 25 years in Creative Writing Exploring Forms, Creative Writing Poetry, Modern Poetry, Major Modern Poets, Theory and Practice, English Composition, Journalism, Introduction to Mass Communication, Archetypal Women in Literature, Creative Writing Short Story, and Introduction to Literature.
Dr. Thomas is the author of six books of poetry, including Blue Ruby (FootHills Publishing), Resurrection Papers (Chax Press), and Practicing Amnesia (Singing Horse Press). Poems she has written have been published in more than 40 journals and anthologies including the Wallace Stevens Journal; American Letters and Commentary; Cardinal Points; About Place; Press1; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania; Only the Sea Keeps: Poetry of the Tsunami; Liberty’s Vigil: The Occupy Anthology; and Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets.
Dr. Thomas has translated and published her poems into Spanish, Lithuanian, Bosnian, and Albanian. Throughout the years she has contributed scholarly essays that have appeared in books and journals including Approaches to Teaching H.D.’s Poetry and Prose; We Who Love to Be Astonished; Experimental Women’s Writing and Performance Poetics; The Emily Dickinson Journal; and The Writer’s Chronicle.
Her work has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the Gertrude Stein Awards in Innovative American Poetry, and as Berks County’s Poet Laureate 2008-2010.
Dr. Heather Thomas was nice enough to answer questions I have asked her
1.When did you first start to write poetry, how old were you?
I recited poetry long before writing it. My Scottish grandmother, a drama dialect coach in Reading, used to recite Robert Burns while cooking and cleaning. She encouraged me to memorize poems for family dinners. She taped my voice to send overseas to our relatives. Hearing the playback, I’d flee the room and hide under the bed, reading books like Shackleton’s Valiant Voyage with a flashlight. My stepfather used to recite sea poems in his den after a few drinks. He would phone his friend, Larry, and hold the phone receiver to the stereo speaker so Larry could hear the whaling songs on the record player. Poetry was in my blood well before I picked up the pen. I started writing poems in college during a creative writing class.
2.Did you have a reason to start to write poetry? What inspired you to write?
Well, I had to write my assignments for the course. The poets we read, the so-called confessionals such as Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, and the feminist poet Adrienne Rich inspired me. They appealed to me because I had a difficult family history that I was just beginning to grapple with. I saw how a poet could amalgamate language with any experience to make a poem. In another course, I was introduced to the English Romantics and loved Blake, especially his idea in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell that without contraries there is no progression. I puzzled over the mysteries of Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, H.D., and Marianne Moore and came to love them. Later I found out that I had lived as a little girl in the Reading row house where Stevens was born and grew up. In grad school I read the women writers of French écriture, including Kristeva, Cixous, and Irigaray; a wall fell down. I wrote my dissertation on contemporary American women’s long poems, focusing on Alice Notley and Anne Waldman, and this also inspired me creatively.
3.What does poetry mean to you? Can you remember the first poem you wrote?
My first poem was a limerick in fourth grade. I aspire to humorous poems, but they haven’t visited me since then. Poetry is a companion, a rebellion, a keeper through life’s ups and downs—like a house you carry in your chest, as I recently heard Hisham Matar, a Libyan writer, say. A poem is a force for inquiry and healing. I have lost and found myself, my selves, through writing poems. I remember who I was and what was happening in my life.
4.What inspires you to write a poem?
A phrase, an itch, an image, something I’ve seen, heard, felt, or read will get me going. When I began writing poems years ago, I was trying to hear some silenced voice in myself. Now I’m more interested in the place I inhabit. As the poet George Oppen wrote, “The self is no mystery, the mystery is / That there is something for us to stand on.”
5.How do you write your poems? Do you just sit down every day and try to write or do you wait until an idea pops into your mind? How long does it take you to create a poem?
I like to wake up early, get a cup of coffee, read a little, and then write. But this is not my usual routine while teaching; I write bits on scraps while running from one thing to another, or while driving. Usually I rough out a poem by hand in my journal before getting to the computer, so the journal is full of these scraps. Then I play the writing game. This involves thinking a poem is done, realizing it’s not, and then revising over and over until it feels right. This takes me a long time. My drafts need to rest out of sight before I can clearly re-see them and revise. The writing always goes best when I do it every day; my words can stay limber.
Stay tuned for more about Dr. Heather Thomas in our next post.