Sunday, February 28, 2010

Minivan Magic - MORE Magazine

Minivan Magic - MORE Magazine For all you want-to-be writers, check out this article by Claire Cook, who published her first bestseller at age 44.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2010 AViD Features Amazing Array of Authors

The Des Moines Public Library will kick off its tenth annual AViD Author Series on Tuesday, April 13 at Hoyt Sherman Place Theater, as writer and filmmaker Peter Hedges returns on book tour for his newest work, The Heights. Hedges grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa, and attended Valley High School. He is best known for his popular book and subsequent movie, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, as well as recent movies, Pieces of April and Dan in Real Life.

Poet Camille T. Dungy will stop by the Central Library on Wednesday, April 14 to share her recently published collection, Suck on the Marrow. She is also the author of What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison, was a finalist for the PEN Center USA 2007 Literary Award and the Library of Virginia 2007 Literary Award, and currently serves as editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for literature.

Legendary writer Ivan Doig will appear at Sheslow Auditorium on Monday, April 19. Doig was born in Montana in 1939, the grandson of homesteaders and the son of a ranch hand and a ranch cook. He grew up along the Rocky Mountain Front that has inspired much of his writing. His first book, the highly acclaimed memoir This House of Sky , was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his many books have received numerous prizes. Additional titles include: Dancing at Rascal Fair, Heart Song, Whistling Season, The Eleventh Man, and many more.

Music fans won’t want to miss a program by writer David Lipsky who will discuss his new biography, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace on Monday, April 26 at the Central Library. Lipsky is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Magazine Writing, the New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, and many other publications. He's the author of the novel, The Art Fair, a collection of stories, Three Thousand Dollars, and the bestselling nonfiction book Absolutely American.

Peter Bognanni, a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, returns to Des Moines on Monday, May 10 at the Central Libary to discuss his newly published book, House of Tomorrow. His mother, Kathy Bognanni, is the manager of the Franklin Avenue Library. The book, a debut novel, has already received considerable critical acclaim. Peter is currently Visiting Instructor of Creative Writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Last year, Carolyn Jessop, packed the house when she stopped by the library to discuss her book, Escape, the harrowing story of a woman who not only broke out of the confines of a fundamentalist religious sect but also wrested her children away from it. Her newest book, Triumph: Life After the Cult, details how Jessop overcame the challenges and tragedies that life has presented her and how she continues to fight for the women and children of the FLDS. Her program will be held at Hoyt Sherman Place Theater on Wednesday, May 12.

Investment banking is the timely subject of mystery writer James Grippando’s latest thriller, Money to Burn. Grippando, whom the Wall Street Journal calls "a writer to watch," will visit the Central Library on Monday, May 17. His newest novel explores a world where the destruction of financial institutions and the people who run them can occur in a matter of hours—perhaps even minutes. Grippando is the national bestselling author of sixteen novels that are enjoyed worldwide in twenty-six languages. His latest releases include Last Call, Born to Run, and Intent to Kill.

Best-selling author Gail Sheehy will visit Drake University’s Sheslow Auditorium on Wednesday, May 19 on book tour for her new book, Passages for Caregivers, about the crisis in care-giving. Author of fifteen books, Sheehy is world-renowned for the revolutionary Passages, which remained on The New York Times bestseller list for more than three years and has been reprinted in 28 languages. A Library of Congress survey named Passages one of the 10 most-influential books of our time. In The Silent Passage, she broke the taboo surrounding menopause and opened a dialogue vital to maturing women's health.

Journalist and native Midwesterner Nick Reding spent four years in Iowa prior to writing his New York Times bestseller. Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town tells the heroic story of the small town of Oelwein, Iowa and the epidemic of drug abuse in rural America. Methland was picked as a best book of the year by the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, the Chicago Tribune, and the Seattle Times. Reding’s presentation will be held on June 3 at 7:00 PM at Hoyt Sherman Place Theater.

Anyone looking for a great summer read will want to mark their calendar for Claire Cook’s upcoming visit to the Central Library on Tuesday, June 15. Cook, the bestselling author of Must Love Dogs and Life’s a Beach, promises to you on a rollicking getaway without leaving the comfort of your own home. Cook is on book tour for her new book, Seven Year Switch. the story of a woman content living a man-free existence, whose ex-husband returns. Then “it takes a Costa Rican getaway to help her make a choice—between the woman she is and the woman she wants to be.”

All programs will begin at 7:00 PM and seating is first come, first serve. Books will be available for sale and signing following each program. For more information about the great authors featured in the 2010 AViD Author Series, watch the library’s web site at: Funding for the AViD Author Series is provided by the Des Moines Public Library Foundation with support from Humanities Iowa, Nationwide, Wells Fargo, Douglas and Deborah West, Drake University, Iowa History Center at Simpson College.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Celebrate the History of Jazz

It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms... It has calmed us with its rich harmonies. The musician returns to the roots to affirm that which is stirring within the soul...and creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument. Jazz is exported to the world from America...This is triumphant music.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Join us at the Central Library on Wednesday, February 24 at 6:30 PM as the African American Museum of Iowa presents jazz musician Ray Blue. Blue has been described as a natural connector - a conduit, a channel, a bridge and as an intuitive communicator who speaks eloquently, in and through his music. With a brilliant balance between passion and precision, Ray Blue swoops and soars through a melody then launches into a spirited solo, engaging a soulful communication that leaps off the bandstand and speaks deeply to the audience. Blue has shared the stage with a host of world-renowned musicians, including Steve Turre, Eddie Henderson, Gary Bartz, T.K. Blue, Blues Legend Bob Gaddy, Wycliff Gordon, Benny Powell, Sun Ra Arkestra and The Cotton Club All-Stars. He currently holds a chair with the Spirit of Life Ensemble, and tours annually with The Ray Charles Show.

Early on, Ray Blue's Junior High School music teacher introduced his class to Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, proclaiming, "This is your music". That simple statement set his whole program into motion, ensuring that "passing it on" would always play a large part of Ray's program.

As passionate about passing on the legacy of jazz to young musicians as he is about letting loose on stage, he is one of the art form's most inspiring mentors. An educator/clinician, Mr. Blue consults at colleges, universities, schools and communities around the world. Since 2002, Mr. Blue's Pro-Am Ensemble, which grants student musicians the opportunity to prepare, rehearse and perform with professional musicians has been conducted in a workshop setting, and presented in the U.S., Germany, Finland, South Africa, Gabon and China.

Ray Blue is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Wm. Penn University, which annually presents The Ray Blue Jazz Award to a graduating senior. In addition, Wm. Penn University hosts the annual Ray Blue Jazz Education Festival for High School and College musicians.

Blue's roaming spirit led him to forge a European alliance in 2000. His frequent tours through Europe led him to establish dual residences in Berlin and NYC, with his wife Riitta, who hails from Finland. With a long-held desire to establish a connection in Africa, in 2003 Mr. Blue made his first trek to South Africa. While performing with South African musicians, conducting jazz and educational workshops, a unique synthesis of musical language began to unfold, resulting in a fantastic fusion of American and African cultures, rhythms and melodies. People listened, danced, and profoundly resonated. For Ray this was like coming back home. Ray returns to Africa each year to perform, study and conduct workshops. This experience has led to Cross-Continental Spirit (Afro-Jazz Project).

Blue regularly performs on numerous world stages with musicians from many different cultures, throughout Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. As a leader, he has conducted U.S. State Department tours to Zambia, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Gabon. His festival performances as leader and featured artist include: Zanzibar International Film Festival, Zanzibar, Tanzania; North Sea Jazz Festival-Cape Town, South Africa; Macufe Festival-Bloemfontain, South Africa; European Union Annex Festival-Dublin, Ireland; Audi Jazz Festival-Brussels, Belgium; Macao Jazz Festival, China; The Newport in New York Festival, New York, NY; New York State Black Arts Festival-Albany, New York; Koepenick Jazz Festival-Berlin, Germany; Midi Music Festival-Beijing, China; Pori Jazz Festival, Finland; Foix Jazz Festival, France; Bayonne Jazz Festival, France and many others.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Jouney Series Begins on Wednesday, February 17

In planning programs to offer at the library, it's always a special privilege to hear about a native Iowan who has gone forth into the world and made a difference. Such was the case with next week's program featuring film-maker and writer Chip Duncan. Chip, who grew up in Shenandoah, Iowa, had planned to come back to Des Moines to speak at Rotary so he agreed to come a day earlier and do a program for us on Wednesday, February 18 at 6:30 PM at the Central Library.

Finding hope in the face of international crisis isn't easy to do, but according to one review, Chip's book is "an engaging new account of humanitarian efforts in the world's most challenging and deadly trouble spots"..... that "chronicles his travels to some of the most heartbreaking and desperate places on the planet. He introduces us to displaced inhabitants of refugee camps in Darfur, homeless children and widowers following a devastating earthquake in Pakistan, and the strong survivors of a generation of warfare in Afghanistan. What Duncan finds are compelling and hopeful stories of people who defy the word victim while embracing the future."

In a recent email, Chip shared that he had just returned from working with Haiti Relief so he will, most likely, have new stories to share beyond the ones in his book. I hope to see you Wednesday!