Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Poetic Profile: Jane Cassady

Join us this Friday, August 3rd, at 7:00pm as Jane Cassady reads from her newly released collection of poems For the Comfort of Automated Phrases.

1) How would you describe your poetry?

Romantic, surreal, silly, self-conscious, prone to magical thinking. I talk about flowers a lot. Social justice works its way in. I love pop culture references and words and phrases that might soon be obsolete. Right now I'm a little fixated on the general wildness of the world and how anyone manages to build a nest, make a home. Current muses include Demetri Martin, David Lynch, and Felder Rushing, The Gestalt Gardener.

2) How does poetry fit into your everyday life?

Having recently left almost two years of AmeriCorps service in Philly schools, my life is enjoying a lovely lacuna-- poetry is my everyday life. Every morning before I do anything else, I write three pages of anything that comes to mind, then affirmations, then a list of what I'm grateful for. Right now I'm writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month, so I spend a lot of time online reading friends' daily poems.

When I'm not writing, I'm dawdling around looking at stuff in thrift stores, libraries, art galleries, or walking the Wissahickon feeling lucky to live here. I spend time preparing lessons and helping organize events. I book and promote The Fuse at InFusion,The Philadelphia Poetry Slam, alongside the wonderful and charming Sherod Smallman and the Fuze Collective.

Also, I really enjoy television.

3) What poets and authors inspire you?

First and foremost, my students and colleagues, whose work reassures me that the writing process is really kind of a reliable thing. My favorite poets are all contemporary ladies: Patricia Smith, Rachel McKibbens, Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, and Tara Betts. My first muse was Brendan Constantine, out in LA, and my favorite mentor/co-conspiritor is Daniel McGinn, also in the LA area. The poets I started out with 10 years ago in Orange County remain the standard by which I judge all poetry...

I mostly read prose, though. I love Chuck Klosterman, Douglas Coupland, Sarah Vowell, and pretty much any memoir where someone does something weird for a year. (Beth Lisick's Helping Me Help Myself, about her adventures following twelve different self-help gurus, is my favorite of these.)

I highly highly recommend What It Is by Lynda Barry and Ordinary Genius by Kim Addonizio-- both are bottomless sources of writing ideas. And for the past 10 years, I've been following Julia Cameron's advice in The Artist's Way.

4) How does the community of Philadelphia play a part in your poetry?

Last Christmas, my brother gave us a 36 spice spice rack that came with endless refills. It came with a subscription: if one of the spices runs out (usually rosemary) they just send us more. The Philadelephia art and poetry community seems that endless and varied. I love that there are so many different scenes here: Poetry Aloud and Alive, The Lyrical Playground, Harvest, of course The Fuze just to name a very few.

The variety of artists, audiences, and images gives me such a nice feeling of abundance, like I'll never run out. For example, last weekend we went to an art show dedicated, for whatever reason, to Twin Peaks. Just knowing there's people around who came up with an idea like that just sort of fills me with hope.

5) What is the last book you have read that you enjoyed? Tell our Big Blue Marble community about it.

I just finished reading The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture. The author, Nathan Rabin, is the head writer for The Onion's A.V Club section. Pop culture memoirs are my favorite thing in the universe. Each chapter is characterized by a different, movie, song, or T.V episode. Rabin talks about going from a mental hospital to a group home, to a crazy co-op in Madsion, to the Onion staff, to a cancelled movie review TV show, all the while overcoming depression (which he refers to as Vice Admiral Phineas T. Cummerbund) and using A LOT of Simpsons references. Heaven.

Jane Cassady is the booking maven for the Philadelphia Poetry Slam. She has appeared in The November 3rd Club, The Comstock Review, Valley of the Contemporary Poets, and other journals. She has performed at such venues as LouderArts in New York City, Valley Contemporary Poets in Los Angeles, and The Encyclopedia Show in Chicago. She has taught poetry to all ages from pre-K to adult, and believes in coaxing out everyone's unique poet voice.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Jen’s Five Books of Heroism

Another list related to our summer movie promotion, which is still ongoing, despite the terrible and sobering events of last week's Dark Knight opening.

Thinking about superhero films and superhero books has led me to thinking about all sorts of real-life heroism -- and who counts as a hero to me.

Americans Who Tell the Truth by Robert Shetterly (Penguin, $7.99)
“Stunning portraits and stirring words of brave citizens from all walks of life.” (Indiebound.org.) Here are paintings of fifty heroes (from an ever-growing collection) comprising folksingers, teachers, scientists, historians, writers, and leaders of resistance movements, among others...

After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance by Anne Sibley O’Brien (Charlesbridge, $24.99)
From 1908 to 2003, from Birmingham to Belfast to Burma, nonviolent resistance movements have made dramatic change in the world. After Ghandi gives excellent historical and biographical summaries of 15 world conflicts and the peaceful protests that confronted them.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Random House, $6.99)
This is a fictional account, but the history is true: a story of two families taking part in the Danish citizens’ determined -- and mostly successful -- attempts during World War II to smuggle all Danish Jews to safety and out of the Nazis’ reach.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House, $16.95)
Before reading this book, I knew about Jim Crow laws, about segregation and lynching, all as individual trends and incidents. Never before had I seen the vast scope of racism in the South, with overhanging threats pervading all aspects of life. Wilkerson sweeps it all together in a huge swath of motion: individuals fed up enough to leave everything and escape -- to an imperfect North, but with hope for better lives for themselves and their children.

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (Random House, $6.99)
When I was a kid, I didn’t understand that this book was fictional, and written outside its time. It’s just day-to-day life for first generation Jewish immigrants in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but its very difference from the modern world gave me a powerful sense of the kinds of struggle and fortitude my great-grandparents must have had when they, too, were building new lives in the same place, at around the same time.

Jennifer Sheffield, July 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Claudia’s Five Summertime Books

It's hot out there. Perfect books for a sultry, sweltering July.

Love In The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Random House, $14.95)

State of Wonder by Anne Patchett (HarperCollins, $15.99)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo (HarperCollins, $14.99)

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperCollins, $14.99)

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Random House, $15.00)

Claudia Vesterby, July 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Janet's Five Fairy Tale Picks for July

Sweltering weather passes almost unnoticed with a child seated on one's lap engrossed in the poetic text and artistic illustrations of a well written fairy tale. Come and browse (in air-conditioning) through a few of the following:

The 3 Little Dassies by Jan Brett (Penguin, $17.99)

Little Red Riding Hood, retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (Holiday House, $6.95)

Storytime by Stella Blackstone (Barefoot Books, $15.99)

Alice in Wonderland Giant Poster and Coloring Book (Abrams, 12.95)
12 prints to color and 12 prints to frame

Beauty and the Beast: A Pop-Up Classic
(Simon and Schuster, $29.99)

Ask us about summer discounts on all fairy tale books!

Janet Elfant, July 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

All sorts of summer promotions!

Summer Promotion: Save your movie stubs!
From now until Labor Day, bring in a ticket stub from a superhero or fairytale movie, and receive 20% off any superhero or fairytale book in the store! This includes everything from picture books for kids to folktales retold as novels (for an evolving set of staff suggestions see here) -- so have fun at the movies, and happy reading!

July Promotion: Redeem Your Frequent Buyer Card!
Is your frequent buyer card full? Will you fill one in July? Redeem it this month for an extra 5% off, for a total of 25% off a purchase of up to $150! If you're not sure how close you are, ask us!

New hours and receipt discount during Weavers Way renovation

Monday 11-6
Tues-Fri 11-7 (later during events)
Sat-Sun 10-6 (unchanged)
During this time, the co-op will become a "pop-up store" with numerous events for kids and adults. If you come to the bookstore with a co-op receipt whose time coincides with that day's event, we'll give you 5% off your purchase -- in addition to any other discounts! This includes the summer movie discount, the July discount, and the regular book club book discount!

Meanwhile, there's also the Co-op's Mt. Airy Village Loyalty Card:
Conversely, you can get a card punch from us (and other Village businesses) for a purchase over $5 (one per day) during the renovation, and when the card is filled you'll receive $5 off a Weavers Way purchase of over $50.

Summer Sidewalk Sales
Our upcoming summer sidewalk sales -- full of hardcovers and paperbacks at deep discounts -- are scheduled for the weekends of July 28-29 and August 18-19. Check our website for more details.

And of course we always have a selection of discounted books in our sale section, including many hardcovers for paperback prices!