Seamus Heaney, one of Ireland's greatest poets, has died

Seamus Heaney, one of Ireland's most revered poets, died yesterday in Dublin.

Mr. Heaney was born in County Derry, Ireland, 1939, the eldest of nine children. His gift for poetry received increasing recognition, beginning in 1964 when The New Statesman, Britain's 100-year-old political and cultural magazine, published three of his poems.

He wrote poignantly and in equal measure of Ireland's Troubles and of his deep love of family. One of his most famous collections, (North, 1975), has poems on both topics.

He was a gifted academician, having taught at Harvard and Oxford. At the latter, his lecture series turned into the book, The Redress of Poetry in 1995. Also, that year he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

He was also a renowned essayist. One of his most well-known collection, the 1980 Preoccupations: Selected Prose, 1968-1978, was a critical examination of such well-known writers, as Wordsworth, Yeats, and Sylvia Plath.

He also produced an outstanding translation of Beowulf in 1999.

In lieu of an autobiography, Heaney agreed to a series of interviews with poet Dennis O'Driscoll, his good friend. The resulting book, Stepping Stones, was published in 2008.

Two of the most moving tributes to Mr. Heaney's passing can be found here -- The Guardian and The New York Times.

Mr. Heaney, who was 74, had suffered a stroke in 2006 and had been in poor health ever since.

Giddy Read-aloud Picture Book: 'Dozens of Cousins'

This is my favorite book yet by Shutta Crum, the librarian, author, poet, and speaker who lives in Ann Arbor and has delighted so many readers with her writing. Dozens of Cousins, Shutta's latest picture book, is rhythmic, lyrical, warm, and hilarious.

As the annual family reunion approaches, the cozy chaos of cousins begins. "We are wild and fierce. We do not wait for invitations. We run through front doors, arms extended, slap dirty feet on cool linoleum, grab from plates thrust out at us -- and holler for more." Some wiggle their fannies toward distracted adults, in the cutest possible way. Splashy, rip-roaring illustrations are by David Catrow, editorial cartoonist and illustrator of more than 70 books for children.

Initial reviews are glowing, including one in The New York Times. Looks like another hit for the author, a former AADL youth librarian and storyteller. Check out Shutta's books and accomplishments on her website.

Author Mia Couto wins the 2013 Camoes Prize for Literature

Mia Couto, born in Mozambique of Portuguese parents, has won the Camoes Prize for Literature for 2013. The Camoes, one of the prestigious international literary awards, is given to writers of the Portuguese language.

Couto, who pens novels, short stories, poetry, attended medical school (he is a professor of ecology), was a key player in Mozambique's struggle to achieve independence which it did on July 25, 1975, in part due to Couto's articles in the newspaper A Tribuna.

His first poems were published at age 14 in a Mozambique newspaper. His first novel Terra Sonnambula was published in 1992; 16 years later it was translated into English (Sleepwalking Land. In 2000, he wrote O Ultimo Voo do Flamingo, which was translated into English, The Last Flight of the Flamingo in 2004.

Couto was the first African writer to receive, in 1998, the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

Couto, who is 57, has a home in Maputo, Mozambique's capital, but spends the majority of his time in the coastline forests pursuing his multiple interests in the legends, myths, and ecological offerings that he loves.

The 2013 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced

The Pulitzer Prizes for 2013 were announced today.

In 1917, Joseph Pulitzer established these awards to recognize excellence in 21 categories, which include journalism, fiction, drama, music, poetry, and non-fiction. More recently, online reporting was added.

Some of the winners this year include:

Fiction -- Adam Johnson, for The Orphan Master's Son, a timely choice, tells the story of Pak Jun Do, who is sent to the orphan camps in North Korea. First trained as a tunnel soldier (fighting in pitch darkness beneath the DMZ), he is 'elevated' to kidnapper.

History -- Fredrik Logevall, for Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam -- Logevall spent 12 years looking at primary diplomatic sources in the archives of Paris, Washington, D.C., and Hanoi to get at the heart of the conflict.

Biography -- Tom Reiss, for The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo -- Reiss delves into the life of the father of Alexandre Dumas, General Alexandre Alex Dumas. Born in Haiti, sold into slavery by his own father, the General eventually went on to military greatness when he reorganized the army of the French Republic.

In 20 categories, each winner receives $10,000 and a certificate. In the Public Service category, a medal was bestowed on the Florida newspaper, the Sun Sentinel, for its investigation into off-duty police officers who endangered the lives of citizens by speeding.

For a complete list, check here.

Maria Tallchief, brilliant 20th century ballerina, has died

Maria Tallchief, stunning American ballerina who danced to the choreography of Balanchine, Bronislava Nijinska, and Agnes de Mille, has died.

Ms. Tallchief was born of an Osage father and Scottish-Irish mother who, for a time, raised their family on a reservation in Oklahoma that saw overnight wealth when oil was discovered. When Maria was eight, they moved to Los Angeles where Tallchief began dance lessons with Ernest Belcher. Four years later, Bronislava Nijinska, a famed Polishchoreographer, took over.

In 1942, Tallchief joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where George Balanchine cultivated a personal and professional relationship with the young dancer. They married in 1946.

Eager to be out on his own, Balanchine formed a dance company (with a patron of the arts, Lincoln Kirstein) which became the famed City Ballet in 1948. When Tallchief's contract expired with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (she returned to them in 1954, four years after her divorce from Ballanchine), she became one of City Ballet's biggest stars.

Her role in Stravinsky's Firebird in 1949 launched her celebrity, fame which was enhanced by roles as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake and The Nutcracker (the Sugar Plum Fairy).

Ms. Tallchief hung up her toes shoes in 1966, but stayed active the ballet world, notably as the artistic director of the Chicago City Ballet and as founder of the Lyric Opera's ballet school. She wrote of her fascinating life in her memoir, Maria Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina (1997).

Her daughter, Elise Paschen, with her third husband, Henry Paschen, is a renowned poet.

Ms. Tallchief, who was 88, died in Chicago.

Benjamin Alire Saenz makes history -- he is the first Latino to win the PEN/Faulkner literary award

Benjamin Alire Saenz, a novelist from Texas, has become the first Latino to win the prestigious 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his collection of short stories, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club (on order). Set along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, near the Rio Grande, Saenz's stories focus on the people who live and work along Avenida Juarez.

Saenz is no stranger to awards. Among the honors he has collected over the years as a poet and a novelist are the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry in 1993 and the Southwest Book Award in 1996, given by Border Regional Library Association, for Carry Me Like Water. 1995.

Saenz, 58, was born in New Mexico. A former Catholic priest, he is now the Chairman of Creative Writing at the University of Texas, El Paso. This latest honor comes with a $15,000 check.

Ann Arbor Observer: Meet Jacqui Robbins

The March issue of the Ann Arbor Observer has a particularly good article about Jacqui Robbins, who is a writer, director and teacher in Ann Arbor. This article profiles Robbins, author of the children's books The New Girl. . . .And Me, and Two of a Kind. She also has a piece in the new book Dare to Dream - Change the World, a poetry collection inspired by coverage of the 2011 uprising in Egypt. Around Ann Arbor, Robbins is active in many community organizations including 826 Michigan, where she is president of the board.

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Spider Magazine for Kids

Spider magazine is filled with stories, poems, and activities that are designed for newly independent readers ages 6-9 years old. Spider is the winner of the 2013 Parents' Choice Silver Honor for its advertising-free fiction, nonfiction, multicultural folktales, humor, recipes, games, activities, and puzzles. Take a look at an interactive Spider magazine sampler by clicking here.

The March 2013 issue features the story, Super Tulip, by award winning author Kate DiCamillo, as well as the Doodlebug & Dandelion series by Pamela Dell, The Giant's Wife, an Irish Folk Tale Retold by Laura Helweg, and the Tanner Mystery by Bonnie Katz, in addition to other engaging stories and activities.

Confessions of an Elder-in-Training

Join this unique interactive take on the passage of time we’re all trying to understand and make the most of. Local musician and workshop leader Jeanne Mackey offers a rare blend of emotional intensity, wry humor, and social commentary as she shares stories, songs, and reflections on the aging process. This adventurous gathering will be at the Downtown Library on Wed., Jan. 30, 7-8:30 pm.

Michigan Notable Books 2012

Looking for some local reads? Look no further than these books, hot off the press and certified fresh!

From absolutemichigan.com: "Each year, the Michigan Notable Books list features 20 books published during the previous calendar year that are about, or set in, Michigan or the Great Lakes region or are written by a native or resident of Michigan.

'This year's Michigan Notable Books bring to life the Michigan experience through vivid storytelling that creates portraits of the people and places that make Michigan great,' State Librarian Nancy Robertson said. 'Addressing Michigan's natural beauty, its innovative leaders or the faith of its people, these books celebrate Michigan as a place and a people that even in the most trying of times find transformation.'"

The AADL has most of these books in our catalog! Among some of the most popular include:

Non-fiction:
- Once Upon A Car, "the story of the rise, fall, and rebirth of the Big Three U.S. automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler," by Bill Vlasic, the Detroit bureau chief for the New York Times.
- Ghost Writers, a chilling collection of fantastical ghost stories written by Michigan authors.
- Vintage Views along the West Michigan Pike features beautiful "vintage postcards, photographs, maps, and ephemera" that give readers a glimpse into the history of Michigan's famous road, US-31.

Memoir:
- Magic trash: a Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art, reflects on Guyton's influence on the city of Detroit, and his arguably most inspiring and popular project, The Heidelberg Project.
- Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life by Michael Moore, a Flint, Michigan native who is best known for his unique humor and politically-themed documentaries.
- Elly Peterson: "Mother" of the Moderates, an inspiring story about Elly Peterson's journey as a woman heavily involved in politics during the 1970s; she was the first woman to serve as chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

Fiction:
- Once Upon A River, by Bonnie Jo Campbell, is a soul-searching tale about sixteen-year-old Margo Crane's adventures through rural Michigan as she searches for her long lost mother.
- Motor City Shakedown, by D.E. Johnson, tells a murder mystery set in 1911 about Detroit's first mob-wars.
- Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton is yet another in his series of mystery books set in Michigan's upper peninsula.

Poetry:
- Songs of Unreason, a book of poetry inspired by Michigan people and places, by Michigan native, author and poet Jim Harrison.

Click here for the full list of Michigan's Notable Books of 2012.

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