Chesstastic this Sunday at Traverwood

Black and White King

Woody at Howell’s Nature Center and Punxsutawney Phil are staying put in their holes for another six weeks of winter. However, with Sunday’s forecast of 40+ degrees, you just might want to come out of your hole for some chess.

Whether you know a little or a lot about chess drop by for a game or two.

Chesstastic | Sunday, February 8 | 1-4:00 PM | Traverwood Branch | All Ages

Luminous writing marks Phillips' latest

I just finished reading Jayne Anne Phillips' latest novel, Lark and Termite, which is one of the best books I've read in the past year. Her language sings. The story moves back and forth between a week in July, 1950 and 1959. During the earlier week, soldier Robert Leavitt is slowly dying in a tunnel during the Korean War. In 1959, Lark, a daughter by a different father and Termite, her half-brother and Leavitt's son, are living with their aunt Nonie in a small town in West Virginia. Phillips masterfully weaves these two stories together: the tunnel where Leavitt dies, helped by a North Korean girl and her blind brother and the tunnel under the bridge where Termite who cannot speak loves to listen to the trains and the movement of the river. Phillips creates characters who are brave and humble in their willingness to help one another through hard times. And her language carries you inside their minds where Termite, for example, is all sensation, and Lark, a mix of longing and love for family.
The New York Times says: "Jayne Anne Phillips renders what is realistically impossible with such authority that the reader never questions its truth."

Former anti-war activist to speak at U of M

Remember all the hoopla surrounding Obama's supposed relationship with William Ayers who was involved in a bombing during a Vietnam protest by the Weather Underground in the 1960's? Ayers, currently a professor of education at the University of Illinois in Chicago, will be speaking and then reading from the re-publication of his 2001 book, Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Activist, at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery, Room 100. He will be joined by his wife, law professor Bernadine Dohrn. To read some of Ayer's recent thoughts on education and Obama's cabinet picks, check out his blog.

A humble spirit

Poet William Stafford was born on this day, January 17, 1914 in Hutchinson, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas and received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Stafford was a conscientious objector during World War II and worked in a civillian service camp as his alternative service. This experience led to his first prose work, Down My Heart. He taught at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. Stafford wrote every morning and produced several collections of his work, all reflecting his joy in the magic of the moment and his great love for the natural world. He offered questions, not answers. Here's an example:

Level Light

Sometimes the light when evening fails
stains all haystacked country and hills,
runs the cornrows and clasps the barn
with that kind of color escaped from corn
that brings to autumn the winter word—
a level shaft that tells the world:

It is too late now for earlier ways;
now there are only some other ways,
and only one way to find them—fail.

In one stride night then takes the hill.

Cohousing opportunities in Ann Arbor

This Sunday, January 11, at 2 p.m., Nick Meima, founder of the Sunward cohousing community will be talking on "Community, Health, and Well-Being" and leading a tour of the three local cohousing communities. Cohousing is an innovative approach to living in which residents have separate dwellings but share activities and where the physical environment encourages a strong sense of community. Inspired by Danish experiments in intentional living, cohousing has taken off in this country, spawning a diversity of communities that each have their individual character based on needs and goals of residents. The meeting and tour will be held at Sunward Cohousing, 424 Little Lake Dr. Free. Preregistration required. Call 763-2177.

Chesstastic this Sunday, January 11

Black and White King

Drop in to play chess this Sunday at the Traverwood branch. Players of all ages are welcome to try their luck on the chess battlefield. Chess sets are provided but you are welcome to bring your own set.

Chesstastic | Sunday, January 11 | 1:00-4:00 PM | Traverwood Branch | All Ages

Inaugural poet

Poet Elizabeth Alexander has been chosen to write and read a poem in honor of Barak Obama's Presidential inauguration. Her selection has been lauded by fellow poets because of her writing about civil rights from the standpoint of the ordinary person but with surprising twists. Alexander is curently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She has been the first chairperson of the poetry center at Smith College and has held posts at other universities including Haverford College and the University of Chicago. Rita Dove, a former U.S. poet laureate, says of Alexander's poetry: "Her poems bristle with the irresistible quality of a world seen fresh." Following are the first two stanzas of her poem, "Ladders" which tells of an experience of racism in an unexpected place:

by Elizabeth Alexander

Filene's department store
near nineteen-fifty-three:
An Aunt Jemima floor
display. Red bandanna,

Apron holding white rolls
of black fat fast against
the bubbling pancakes, bowls
and bowls of pale batter.

An outsider's look at college towns including guess who?

Blake Gumprecht is a geographer who has written the first and definitive book on college towns called, not surprisingly, The American College Town. Gumbrecht studies several town and gown locations including Ann Arbor. In thematic chapters, he explains what makes each of these towns unique whether it be the political and cultural enviroment, their emergence as high tech centers and their enrichment as well as detraction from their local communities. (Take the current plan by the U of M to occupy Pfizer's campus). The book has been praised by collegues as an insightful, very readable look at this geographic phenomenon.

Yet another "Best Books" list

Maureen Corrigan, book reviewer for Terry Gross's NPR program, Fresh Air, has come up with her favorite picks for 2008. Most are on other lists like the New York Times 100 Notable Books but one I hadn't heard of is 'Say You're One Of Them,' a collection of short stories by Nigerian writer Uwen Akpan. Read rave reviews besides Corrigan's. And get on the waiting list for other titles she recommends.

Laughter Blast!

One of my favorite creative teams is coming to town to give you a chuckle and a lift this holiday season on Saturday, December 27 at 2:00 pm Downtown. Talented storyteller and Hopwood Winner, Badria Jazairi, is joining her theatrical expert husband and Pioneer teacher, Phil Walker, for laughter yoga and creative play for the 9 year old and up crowd. Adults and teens are very welcome!

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