Notes from an Open Book

a collection of notes from the Maine Humanities Council

Dec 2 2010

In These Hard Times, Where Can Maine People Turn?

by Carolyn Sloan

It is a dark and stormy night, so stormy, in fact, that the traffic on the turnpike slows to 55 mph between Biddeford and Kennebunkport.  I am on my way down to York Public Library to attend the last session of the Let’s Talk About It poetry series American Traditions; American Innovations.  When Baron Wormser developed the series, he designated the last session as a sharing of modern American poetry by the participants.  My own possible contribution lies on the car seat beside me.  I had attended other wonderful sessions of the series, but never this last session of sharing.  Would it work?  Would the participants be reticent?  come unprepared?

› Continue reading

May 25 2010

Spotlight on: St. John Valley

image of the St. John River

View of St. John River from Edmundston, New Brunswick toward Frenchville, ME (credit: Daniel Picard)

The St. John Valley in Aroostook County is an area rich in history and culture. When I visited it two years ago for the second time in my life, I saw rural lawns mowed in straight rows, houses painted perfectly, and window boxes full of flowers. Fields of grass, clover, potatoes, and broccoli were everywhere. The landscape spoke of an idyllic life with a shared pride in community, and the people I met reflected this, too.

The MHC has always had programming in the St. John Valley, from a children’s literature seminar last year in Fort Kent to many New Books, New Readers adult literacy groups to several grants awarded to, among other projects, the development of a cultural tour (“Voici the Valley”). And recently, we’ve had Let’s Talk About It library-based reading and discussion groups.

› Continue reading

Dec 10 2009

Exploring the Caribbean, New England, and Modern Ireland

Let’s Talk About It, the MHC’s library-based reading and discussion program, has three new series available for 2010. Contact your local library if you’d like to participate; the series are free to libraries and patrons.

carribbean short storiesParadise Revealed: Readings in Caribbean Literature

This series examines Caribbean literature throughout the Caribbean archipelago, from the Lesser Antilles to the Greater Antilles, from Trinidad to Jamaica. Using a variety of genres (short fiction, the novel, creative non-fiction, and poetry), texts will examine the issues which have shaped the islands and still influence them today: colonialism, island rivalries, politics, the heritage of slavery, connection to Africa, gender roles, and economic development/exploitation. The works emphasize the uniqueness of the individual islands and the powerful and innovative talents of Caribbean writers.

› Continue reading