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A Reader's Guide to Langston Hughes

By Brian Hoey. Feb 1, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

In his seminal 1926 essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” then-burgeoning poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and all-around giant of American letters Langston Hughes argued passionately that Black writers across the world should be proud of their racial and cultural heritage. He says, towards the essay’s conclusion, “The younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly, too.” Even then, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, it’s hard to imagine that Hughes knew the momentous impact he would make merely by following his own advice.

     
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New Poetry from Wesleyan University Press

By Audrey Golden. Jan 24, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Pulitzer Prize, Awarded Books

Many university presses across the country publish poetry collections, but few university presses are as notable for their poetry publications as Wesleyan University. The Wesleyan University Press began its work in 1957, and although it focuses on a relatively broad range of subjects—from poetry to music and dance to Connecticut history and culture—it is perhaps best known for its important contributions to new poetry and poetics. As the press explains, it has “published an internationally renowned poetry series, collecting five Pulitzer Prizes, a Bollingen, and two National Book Awards in that one series alone.”

What books from the press should you seek out for your poetry collection?

     
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Collecting Editions of The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats

By Leah Dobrinska. Jan 20, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Book Collecting

John Keats is now largely considered one of the most influential poets of the early nineteenth century. He wrote poetry for only six years and published for only four years before his untimely death from tuberculosis in 1821. The final volume of poetry Keats lived to see published, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, is considered one of the most important collections of poems ever to be published, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. What follows are some noteworthy editions to consider adding to your Keats collection.

     
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Four Famous Self-Published Debuts

By Brian Hoey. Dec 22, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Poetry, Children's Books

Self-publishing has its detractors, and not without reason. For every success story like Andy Weir’s The Martian (2011) (now a major motion picture starring Matt Damon) or Sergio De La Pava’s PEN Debut Fiction-winning debut, A Naked Singularity (2008) (a sprawling postmodern masterpiece that was picked up by The University of Chicago Press four years after De La Pava’s wife convinced him to self-publish), there are thousands of self-published authors who will languish forever in obscurity. On the other hand, most of the works being published today by major presses will eventually go on to languish forever in their own slightly more prestigious obscurity. Both great and terrible works of literature can (and do) come from anywhere, and there’s no way to know what’s still going to be read a hundred years from now. For proof, here are four famous self-published debuts from literary history.

     
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The Devil's Party: A Readers' Guide to John Milton

By Brian Hoey. Dec 9, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

John Milton, a blind civil servant who narrowly escaped execution after the re-ascension of the English monarchy following the death of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, was one of 17th century England’s most daring public advocates for freedom of the press and non-monarchical government. He also, occasionally, wrote poetry.

     
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Norway's National Poet: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

By Adrienne Rivera. Dec 8, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Poetry, Drama

Poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson is considered one of the "Four Greats" of Norwegian writers. Besides writing the lyrics to the Norwegian national anthem, his peasant stories are renowned and well loved for their devotion to presenting the peasant class in a new light. Chief among his numerous honors is the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he was awarded in 1903. Interestingly, Bjørnson was one of the original Nobel Prize Committee members and was serving on the committee at the time he was given the award.

     
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A Snapshot of Great Eighteenth Century Poets

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 15, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, History

The written word has a long history of conveying our greatest passions. And poetry, in particular, has often been the chosen vehicle to express such feelings as love, hate, disillusionment, and snark. Poetry has looked different in different times, but no matter its form, it never ceases to convey a striking snapshot of the world surrounding it. Perhaps it is poetry’s economy of letters—that which requires the great poetic masters to pack more punch in, typically, less space—that makes it such an enduring form. It does, after all, hold immense power. Today, we’d like to explore a particular moment in history—the eighteenth century—and the poets who populated it.

     
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New Translations from the Margellos World Republic of Letters

By Audrey Golden. Nov 10, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners

Have you been hoping that an exciting book written in a language other than English will find an English-language translator? Or were you recently thinking that a work of “classic” literature could use a new and updated English-language translation? The Cecile and Theodore Margellos World Republic of Letters series, published by Yale University Press, might be exactly what you’ve been seeking. The series describes itself as one that “identifies works of cultural and artistic significance previously overlooked by translators and publishers, canonical works of literature and philosophy needing new translations, as well as important contemporary authors whose work has not yet been translated into English.” The Margellos series ultimately is “designed to bring to the English-speaking world leading poets, novelists, essayists, philosophers, and playwrights from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, to stimulate international discourse and creative exchange.”

Sounds great, right? There are currently more than seven dozen books in the series, with more forthcoming. We have some recommendations of our favorites for you to browse.

     
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Collecting Vladimir Mayakovsky in Translation

By Audrey Golden. Nov 3, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature, Poetry

Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893-1930) has long been a poet of interest not only in Russia, but in many different regions of the world. Mayakovsky was born in what is now Georgia and moved to Moscow during his childhood. He quickly joined the Bolsheviks and the Russian Social Democratic Party, which ultimately resulted in his arrest and imprisonment. Upon his release, he began studying art and writing poetry at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, and he published his first poems in 1912. He soon became tied to the Futurists and, ultimately, to the Russian Revolution. Mayakovsky’s poetry and later his works of drama made him famous in the Soviet Union, and following his death, Triumphal Square in Moscow was renamed in his honor. First editions of his books in the original Russian language are highly collectible, but so are a number of interesting translations.

     
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Hamlet and Opium: The Subtle Influence of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

By Brian Hoey. Oct 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is, quite simply, one of the most important English Poets. Full stop. He was praised in his time as a master of metrical techniques and wild imagery, helping to spearhead the Romantic movement (whose members would include Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Byron, and others), the impact of which can still be felt in contemporary poetry. Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798) remains one of the best known lyric poems in English (fun fact: the active member of Coast Guard with the most shipboard time and exemplary character is officially known as the Ancient Mariner), and its indelible image of the albatross around the mariner’s neck has entered the popular lexicon. In the midst of all of this praise, however, it is easy to overlook some of the stranger ways in which Coleridge has influenced and continues to influence Anglophone literature. Foremost among them: he was one of the fathers of the drug-induced poem.

     
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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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