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Stephanie Brown
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I have a staff of thirty-seven people who work for me at a public library in Irvine, California and nearly half of them are immigrants to the United States. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of the patrons are recent immigrants and their children. There are large Korean, Indian, Persian, Taiwanese and Chinese communities in Irvine, and smaller groups of people from eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Japan. Neighboring cities have other large identified neighborhoods, the most well-known being Little Saigon in the northern part of the county. I had lunch recently with some of the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
I wasn’t sure what to write about today, so I asked my boss, Trish, for a suggestion, and she replied, “Summer,” and enumerated all the things I could write about: the last day of school, long days, freedom, watermelon, slamming screen doors, fireflies. She paused. “Do people in California even know about fireflies?” she asked. “No, we didn’t have them and I didn’t have slamming screen doors,” I said, thinking of the mid-century cuboid I grew up in, all sliding doors and sun decks. It was a place for cocktails, white lace minidresses and adultery, and how my conservative Catholic... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
I admit to spending an afternoon perusing skateboarding and Roomba-riding cats and have also had a go or two with I Can Haz Cheezburger. My son likes Longcat, just about the tallest thing on the planet. I also love the dark humor in Grandma's Dead: Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals and Why is Daddy in a Dress? Asking Awkward Questions with Baby Animals by McCall and Schwarz. I'm not alone of course: someone's uploading the videos and the dog and cat profiles to Catbook and Dogbook. Zany and silly pets may be outnumbered by cute ones, as we seek... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
One of my favorite poems is Kenneth Koch's "Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams" which spoofs (mocks?) "This is Just to Say" by Williams, the famous poem about the juicy, ripe plums the speaker ate, which hinges on his phrase "Forgive me," and is likely directed to someone he lives with (a little too loving to be the kind of workplace refrigerator note one finds on Passive Aggressive Notes)--it finds beauty in a mundane domestic moment. Koch's variations are a funny four stanzas which grow more zany and preposterous, to wonderful comic effect. Here are Koch's stanzas one... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
In college I developed a crush on Nathaniel Hawthorne. I not only liked his books, I liked his looks, too, at least as he appeared in a painting at the Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts. I used to take regular sojourns to see it. When people visited from California I was sure to take them to Salem so that I could tour the House of Seven Gables again and sit in its gardens--as I recall the docents' spiel mentioned him and his wife which was very romantic to me as well--and then we'd walk over to the Essex Institute to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
"Nothing human is foreign to me" and that's because I live in Orange County, California. I live behind the orange curtain, as it goes in an old local joke, home of The Virgin Connie Swayle and Gob Bluth instead of, say, Hester Prynne or Captain Ahab. Equidistant between Los Angeles and San Diego, we have beautiful beaches and mountains, an international population, mild weather, safe cities, noted bio-technology research (among much else) at our local University of California, and there is amazing shopping, but who needs any of that? It's our dubious distinctions that put us on the map and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
In graduate school for library science my favorite class covered the history of printing and publishing. We read a book called The Coming of the Book by Febvre and Martin. "The coming of the book" is a phrase that has stayed with me: it acknowledges that the slow and steady impact books had on human beings was transformative. Replicated books and broadsides, the ability to pass along those ideas physically to another person, created the desire to read and encouraged the ability to do so, for both sacred and secular purposes. One could read just for the hell of it.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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Jun 25, 2010