Coming Soon: American Indian Film Talk

ISU Lectures Program is co-sponsoring “American Indian Film Talk,” a discussion panel featuring filmmakers Jon Proudstar, Mary Goose, Rean Goose and Lucas Goose.  When / where:  April 25, 7:00 pm, Gallery, in the Memorial Union.

Proudstar has appeared as an actor in numerous movies (including Sterlin Harjo’s indie film Barking Water), shorts, and various TV series.

More recently, he has written and directed the award-winning short film Dude Vision (2005) and the feature-length drama So Close to Perfect (2009).

Visit IMDB for a full list of his many projects and credentials.

The Goose family are Meskwaki and Chippewa, and based in Iowa.  Mary Goose is also a published poet and writer.  Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and journals, including the following anthologies that you can find in the Library:

   The Remembered Earth: An Anthology of contemporary Native American literature, ed. by Geary Hobson.
Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1981.
Parks Library GEN COLLECTION:  PS508 .I5 R4 1981

   Songs from this Earth on Turtle’s Back: Contemporary American Indian Poetry, ed. by Joseph Bruchac.
Greenfield Review Press, 1983.
Parks Library GEN COLLECTION:  PS591.I55 S64x 1983 

This event is co-sponsored by the American Indian Studies Program, and the Center for Distance and Online Learning.  Plan to attend and show these filmmakers your interest and support!

Upcoming lectures

April at ISU features a number of upcoming Lectures of interest.

On Tues, April 10, writer Susan Power (Standing Rock Sioux) will deliver a lecture entitled “Thinking Indian: The Urgency of Native Stories in the New Century.”  7:00 pm @ Great Hall, Memorial Union.  (See Lectures Program for more information.)

Selected Works by Susan Power available in the Library include:

  • “Miss Indian Chicago” (short story), Southern Review, June 1, 2010, pp. 345-356.  (Full-text available through Academic Search Premier and other subscription databases.)
  • “The Table Loves Pain,” American Indian Quarterly 28(1/2): 115-117.  Personal essay on creative writing, Native American literature, and inspiring college students.  (Full-text available through Academic Search Premier and other subscription databases.)
  • Roofwalker, published by Milkweed Editions, 2002.  A collection of 12 short stories organized in two parts – Stories and Histories.
    (Available:  PS3566  .O83578  R66  2002)
  • The Grass Dancerpublished by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994.  A collection of interwoven short stories.  This collection won the prestigious PEN Literary / Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award for first fiction in 1995.
    (Available:  PS3566  .O83578 .G73  1994)


Also on Tues, April 10, professor and author Olúfémi Táíwò will deliver a lecture entitled “Africa’s Second Struggle for Independence: What’s Modernity Got to Do with It?”  8:00 pm @ the Gallery, Memorial Union.  (See Lectures Program for more information.)

Selected Works by Olúfémi Táíwò available in the Library include:

  •   How Colonialism Preempted Modernity in Africa, published by Indiana University Press, 2010.  This scholarly work examines colonialism in Africa, legal and constitutional aspects, and globalization.
    (Available:  DT14   .T35   2010)
  •   “The Love of Freedom Brought Us Here: An Introduction to Modern African Political Philosophy,” South Atlantic Quarterly 109(2): 391-410.   (Full-text available through Academic Search Premiere and other subscription databases.)

On Thurs. April 26, Dr. Gretchen Bataille will lecture on the topic of “Women and Leadership: Career Success and Satisfaction.”  Dr. Bataille has published on Native American literature as well as ” diversity, civil rights and ethnic studies.”   7:00 pm Sun Room, Memorial Union.  (See Lectures Program for more information.)

Selected Works by Gretchen Bataille available in the Library include:

  • Faculty career paths: Multiple routes to academic success and satisfaction (with co-author Betsy E. Brown).  Published by Praeger Publishers, 2006.
    (LB2331.72  B38  2006)
  • Native American women: A biographical dictionary (with co-editor Laurie Lisa). Published by Routledge, 2001.
    (REF E98  W8  B38  2001)
  • Ethnic studies in the United States: A guide to research (with co-authors Miguel A. Carranza & Laurie Lisa).  Published by Garland Pub., 1996.
    (E184  .A1  B275  1996)

Help welcome these visitors and support campus programming by attending these Lectures!

Adrienne Rich: Teaching the walk

Prolific poet and feminist activist Adrienne Rich passed away last week on March 27.  Years ago as a freshman undergraduate, I attended by chance a poetry reading she was giving at my campus.  The reading was held in a large auditorium – large enough to hold maybe 500 attendees.  As I recall, the room was quite full.  In the midst of her reading, a young baby began crying – loudly.  Adrienne Rich read on, accompanied by the wails of the baby.  A number of attendees began craning their necks in growing annoyance.  Where was that baby?  Why didn’t the mother have the decency to get up and leave?  The nerve – we’re here to listen to poetry!

The baby continued crying, and more attendees were visibly looking this way and that, searching for that baby.  At last, a young woman, red-faced, stood up with the fussing baby – of course they were in the middle of the auditorium and in the middle of a very long row.  The mother began slowly inching her way down the long row, headed for the exit aisle, swaying from the weight of the wriggling and fussing baby in her arms.

While reciting, Adrienne Rich noticed the standing woman and her baby, and immediately stopped reading her poem.  Urgently, she said into her microphone:

“Stop!  Don’t leave!”

The atmosphere throughout the auditorium was electrified.  The anonymous young woman indeed stopped in her tracks, extremely shocked to be addressed directly by the famous poet.  We all stared dumbly at Adrienne Rich, who also seemed a bit embarrassed by her own outburst.

She explained earnestly, urgently, in words I will never forget:

“I mean, if you are leaving because of your baby, DON’T.  Because your baby isn’t bothering anyone.”

The audience was momentarily stunned.  Of course, the baby had been bothering quite a few attendees.  But in a second, Adrienne Rich had taught us all a vital lesson.  A split second later, the whole auditorium went wild with cheers and a standing ovation.

I remember this lesson frequently.  I certainly remembered it when I was a single parent struggling with my own crying baby at public events and lectures I desperately wanted to attend.  I thought of it again when I learned of Adrienne Rich’s death.  She really was a poet and feminist who talked the talk, walked the walk, and in surprising ways taught the walk to all of us who could listen, reflect, and understand.  Rest in peace, Adrienne Rich.


From Poetry Everywhere (Public Television)


Selected Books by Adrienne Rich in the Library:

  • Tonight no poetry will serve: Poems, 2007-2010
  • Telephone ringing in the labyrinth: Poems, 2004-2006
  • The School among the ruins: Poems, 2000-2004
  • The Fact of a doorframe: Selected Poems, 1950-2001
  • Arts of the possible: Essays and conversations
  • Midnight salvage:  Poems, 1995-1998
  • Dark fields of the republic: Poems, 1991-1995
  • An atlas of the difficult world: Poems, 1988-1991
  • Time’s power: Poems 1985-1988
  • Diving into the wreck: Poems, 1971-1972
  • What is found there: Notebooks on poetry and politics
  • Collected early poems: 1950-1970

Adrienne Rich – Selected Multimedia in the Library:

  • Spoken Word: American Poets (Audio CD:  Media Collection – Disc 008 016)
  • Readings & Conversations: Reading by Adrienne Rich (Video: Media Collection – VIDE 003 699)
  • Adrienne Rich (Audio CD:  Media Collection SOUN 000 367)
  • The Language of life: A festival of poets, with Bill Moyers (Video: Media Collection – VIDE 002 143)

An e-press? No! A press with an “e” at the end!

Ugly Duckling Presse has been making waves* in the world of literary translation during the last few years. Elena Fanailova’s The Russian Version (translated by Stephanie Sandler and Genya Turovskaya), published by UDP (and reviewed here), won the 2010 “Best Translated Book Award for Poetry.”** This book is part of UDP’s Eastern European Poets Series (EEPS), which the press started in 2003, and which now boasts a back catalog of 27 publications, many of which are bilingual editions, ranging from the iconic (an edition of new translations of poems by Osip Mandelstam) to the very new (recent MFA graduate Natalie Lyalin’s book Try a Little Time Travel). (The latter (reviewed here) isn’t translated, so I’m cheating a little bit, but Lyalin did emigrate to the United States from Russia, having grown up in Leningrad.) Oh, and then there’s a new translation of The Song of Igor’s Campaign. According to UDP, it is “one of the foundational works of Russian literature. In muscular, expressive language it describes the disastrous campaign of 1185 waged by Prince Igor of Chernigov against the pagan Polovtsians.”

Ugly Duckling Presse also has a “Lost Lit” series, described as being “dedicated to publishing neglected works of 20th century poetry, prose, and important & resonant works that fall outside those confines.” Lost Lit was initiated in 2006 and has far fewer titles than the EEPS series. However, of its nine titles published to date, six are translations (two French and two Spanish poetry volumes, one collection by an 11th Century Chinese poet, and an unclassifiable pamphlet by a German author).

Virtually all of the UDP books are owned by the Iowa State University Library. The best way to get an overview is to type Ugly Duckling Presse in the Quick Search box on the e-Library home page, and then select “everything but articles” from the first drop-down column, “with my exact phrase” in the second column, and “anywhere in the record” in the third. After you enter the search, you can use the “Refine Results” section on the left side of the screen to limit the results by language, topic, or author.

Although much of what UDP publishes is not translated material, it is one of the increasing number of smaller presses that are becoming “found in translation,” if you will.

*Among the waves UDP has been making is an Ugly Duckling Presse podcast, featuring UDP authors reading and being interviewed.

**This award is given by “Three Percent,” a “resource for international literature at the University of Rochester,” that is closely tied to another up-and-coming publisher of literature in translation, Open Letter Books, about which, more… soon.

Piri Thomas – RIP/QPD. Punto.

Piri Thomas en El Barrio

Piri Thomas en El Barrio: Loisaida / Lower East Side NYC, 1970

Writer / poet  Piri Thomas, author of the urban autobiographical classic Down These Mean Streets, died October 17, 2011.  His was one of several leading voices that helped define the Nuyorican generation and literary movement of the 1960s-70s – Puerto Rican authors and poets born and raised in NYC ghettoes.

Piri was born and raised in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem), protected by a strong and loving Cuban-Puerto Rican family but also surrounded by intense poverty, racism, and discrimination.  In a 1995 interview with Carmen Dolores Hernández, Piri recalled:

“Yes, and what I noticed first when I came into my age of awareness -it left quite a trauma on me- was death. All around me I constantly heard fire engines because people were burning up in those old apartments, that were old when we Puerto Ricans got to them in the early 1900’s. The violence, the sirens, the police cars and the stories that you heard and the brutalities that you saw led you to arrive at the conclusion that we didn’t need police protection, what we did need was protection from the police.”  (

Like many Latinos of his generation and since, Piri was forbidden to speak Spanish in school.  Like so many New York Puerto Ricans, he learned about an idyllic Puerto Rico through the stories of his mother, huddled in a cold New York apartment.  The oldest and darkest child in a multiracial Caribbean family, Piri faced a brutal racism outside the home that his white-skinned siblings did not know.  Piri grew up to become a teenage gangbanger and junkie.  He was arrested during an attempted armed robbery, and sentenced to 15 years in jail.  He served 7.

Trailer for Every Child Born a Poet

Like Malcolm X, jail time became a period of reflection and education for Piri.  He had long been a voracious reader, and recalled that in his early school years …

“… I had this beautiful, kind teacher introduce me to this beautiful, kind librarian in the 110th street library and I begged her to let me take out books from the library and they gave me two books to take out every time. I found that it wasn’t enough for me. I gobbled them up right away. Then I went to the library and got two books again but this time I picked three and put them under my jacket. I was coming out the library pregnant and I would walk in pregnant again.  Years later, when my book Down These Mean Streets became a success, I was invited to a conference in Connecticut on censorship because they were censoring my book along with others. I heard someone call me “Mr. Thomas” and I readily recognized her as the librarian that was letting me get away.  And she said “I was that librarian and I knew that you were taking those books and Oh! I was so glad because you were reading. I was more glad that you were bringing them back.”  (

Down These Mean Streets

30th anniversary edition

Piri began writing his classic Down These Mean Streets while still in jail, and finished it after his release.  It was published in 1967 by Knopf.  He wrote numerous autobiographical works, short stories, and poems, but remains best known for his gritty blockbuster début.  Thank you, Piri – Rest in Peace / Que en Paz Descanse.  Punto.


Here are some books, DVDs, & websites for learning more about Piri Thomas and early Nuyorican literature:

Thomas, Piri.  Down These Mean Streets.  New York: Vintage Books, 1997.  ISU LIB: General Collection F128.9 P8 T366d

Thomas, Piri.  Savior, Savior, Hold My Hand.  Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972.   ISU LIB: General Collection F128.9.P85 T5.

Thomas, Piri.  Seven Long Times.  New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974.  ISU LIB:  General Collection HV9468 .T55

Thomas, Piri.   Sounds of the Streets.  Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2005.  (ISU LIB owns but for the life of me I can’t grab the URL today) 

Thomas, Piri.  Stories from El Barrio.  ISU LIB:  General Collection PZ7 T366s

The World of Piri Thomas (Official Website). Accessed Oct. 21, 2011.

Hernández, Carmen Dolores.   Puerto Rican voices in English: Interviews with writers.  Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1997.  ISU LIB (ebrary ebook):

Mohr, Eugene V.  The Nuyorican experience: literature of the Puerto Rican minority.  Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982.  ISU LIB: General Collection:  PS153.P83 M6 1982

Robinson, Jonathan Meyer, director.  Every Child is born a poet: The life & work of Piri Thomas.  Latino Public Broadcasting.  New Haven, CT: When in Doubt Productions, Inc., 2003. ISU LIB:  Media Collection DVD 002 044