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.

2012 National Book Award winners have been announced

Last night, the The National Book Award winners for 2012 were announced at a gala event at the posh Cipriani on Wall Street.

The big winners were:

Louise Erdrich, 58, received the fiction award for The Round House. An adult Joe Coutts looks back in time when, as a teenager, he went in search of the man who brutalized his mother on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. This winning title is part two of a trilogy. The Coutts family was first introduced in The Plague of Doves (2008). Erdrich's win is especially poignant as, shortly after she started writing The Round House, she was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, which she has beat.Ms. Erdrich, who is part Ojibwe, delighted last night's audience by addressing some of her remarks in her tribal tongue.

Katherine Boo, 48, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the The New Yorker, received the nonfiction award for Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life,Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, a wrenching account of a teenage boy who lives in the slums that are hidden from view by some of India's luxury hotels.

Poet David Ferry, 88, tearfully accepted what he described as "preposterous pre-posthumous award" for his Bewilderment; New Poems and Translations. "We're all in this apart" (From FoundSingle-Line Poems). Ferry has a PhD from Harvard and is the Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley, where he taught for many years.

William Joseph Alexander, 36, is a first-time novelist who captured the Young People's Literature prize for his fantasy, Goblin Secrets. In this steampunk/witch-infested tale, Rownie escapes Graba who 'adopts' orphans to do her bidding, and sets out on a quest to find his missing older brother.

Rounding out the evening, host Faith Salie, a media star on NPR, the BBC and CBS Sunday Morning, bestowed two special awards. Detroit author, Elmore Leonard, 88, accepted the Distinguished Contribution to American Letters prize. New York Times publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., 61, was honored for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. NPR's Fresh Air host, Terry Gross, introduced Mr. Sulzberger and said the New York Times Book Review was like "...a shopping catalog...[for] authors I've overlooked."

Each winner received $10,000.

Banned Books Week Event: Poet And Publisher Mariela Griffor

Wednesday October 3, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Thirty Years Of Liberating Literature is theme for this 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week (September 30 through October 6). To observe the week, AADL welcomes acclaimed poet and publisher Mariela Griffor, who will read from her work and discuss her extraordinary life.

Griffor is the author of "Exiliana" and "House," and founder of Michigan's Marick Press, a not-for-profit literary publisher, founded to preserve the best work by poets of the American Midwest.

This event includes a book signing and books will be on sale.

Stories And Pictures From Inside The Grand Canyon

Monday June 18, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Journey through the Grand Canyon with Western writer and Canyon hiker Rick Kempa. He has been hiking the canyon since 1974 and will present a slideshow and reading to guide you through his explorations.

Kempa is the author of Keeping the Quiet and has a forthcoming book, Ten Thousand Voices. Copies of his work will be for sale at the event, which will include a book signing.

Natasha Trethewey to be named the 27th U.S. Poet Laureate

Pultizer Prize winning poet, Natasha Trethewey, 46, will be named the 27th Poet Laureate of the U.S. today.

Ms. Trethewey said her poetry career began as a response to a horrific tragedy -- when she was a freshman in college, her stepfather murdered her mother. Trethewey used poetry to help her make sense of her loss.

Ms. Trethewey is a professor of creative writing and English at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

Ms. Trethewey's appointment is noteworthy for many reasons -- she is the first U.S. top poet from the South since Robert Penn Warren was named Poet Laureate in 1986. (Prior to 1986, the position was known as U.S. Consultant in Poetry). Trethewey is the first African American PL since Rita Dove's appointment in 1993. She is the first ever poet to serve as poet laureate at the same time at the national AND state level -- In January of this year Ms. Tretheway was named Mississippi's Poet Laureate (a four-year appointment) by Gov. Haley Barbour.

In 2007, she received the Pulitzer Prize for Native Guard, a collection of poems that focuses on her lifelong fascination with the role of black troops in the Civil War.

Ms. Tretheway's official duties as the nation's Top Poet begin in September of this year which is when her fourth collection of poems, Thrall: Poems will be released.

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