Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Size & Shape of Evie Shockley's books

Many of the 250 or so volumes published since 2000 in my collection are primarily in the range of 8.5 x 6 inches to 9 x 6 inches. Evie Shockley's books are different. Shockley's a half-red sea (2006) is 8.7 x 6.8 inches and the new black (2011) is 9.6 x 7.2 inches. The size and shape of Shockley's books accommodate the designs of her poems, some of which spread far out across the page.

A Notebook on Book History
Evie Shockley

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Those Allison Joseph books

A few years ago, when I began developing a collection of volumes of poetry published since 2000, those Allison Joseph books were there. When I started actively blogging about poetry, those Allison Joseph books were there. And now, as I'm  imagining the book histories of contemporary poetry, you know what books are there.

1992: What Keeps us Here
1997: Soul Train
1997: In Every Seam
2000: Imitation of Life
2004: Worldly Pleasures
2009: Voice: Poems
2010: my father’s kites: poems
2014: Trace Particles

A Notebook on Book History
Allison Joseph

Monday, July 28, 2014

Nikky Finney's Head Off & Split

Talented, hard-working poets don't always get recognized for their creations, so I was pleased when Nikky Finney's Head Off & Split was awarded the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. The post-award printings of Finney's book include her moving and memorable acceptance speech.  

A Notebook on Book History
Nikky Finney

HBCUs, Technology & Vital Interventions

Institute participants listen during presentation on digital collections at the AUC library

It's one thing to talk about and even embrace the idea of interdisciplinary work; however, it's something else to get sociologists, a visual artist, literature scholars, a historian, an African American Studies scholar, a psychologist, a musician, librarians, a folklorist and poet, Communications scholars, and a film scholar together in the same room conversing and collaborating on interrelated projects. Well, Morehouse College scholars Corrie Claiborne and Samuel Livingston managed to make it happen for a UNCF Mellon Summer Teaching and Learning Institute focused on technology and digital humanities (DH).

During the 3-day institute "Mapping the Future by Mining the Past," participants from Claflin University, Dillard University, Morehouse College, Paine College, and Spelman College worked on projects that explored "the intersections of the Humanities and digital scholarship," as the program material noted. I served as a presenter, highlighting the value of blogging and utilizing the crowd-source annotation Genius site (also known as Rap Genius).

There were extended discussions about the possibility of using iTunes U, a popular Apple service that allows academic departments and universities to present a range of educational materials online for students. The participants studied possibilities for creating iBooks in order to present their research and make content available for their courses.

Vicki Crawford, director of the Morehouse College King Collection, discussed efforts to organize, preserve, and share the civil rights leader's writings and various other materials. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado -- founder of Preserve Black America, a research agency that seeks to identify and showcase African American history and culture -- discussed black histories of Atlanta, gave a tour of notable locations  in the city, and pointed out possibilities for utilizing digital technologies to enhance understanding of African American historic sites that have vanished over the decades. 

This institute was particularly important given the racial disparities concerning DH projects. For example, the National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced their latest round of  award recipients. Humanities scholars concentrating on African American topics were not represented among the approximately 28 DH-related projects that totaled more than $7 million. The recurring absence or exclusion of African Americans and black studies projects concerning DH could have long-term, troubling implications. Thus, an institute like the one Claiborne and Livingston organized serves as a vital intervention.

Digital Humanities

Friday, July 25, 2014

Claiborne and Livingston Convene UNCF Mellon Technology Institute at Morehouse

S. Livingston and C. Claiborne
July 24 marked the opening day of an institute on technology use and digital humanities among HBCU scholars."Mapping the Future by Mining the Past" is a UNCF Mellon Summer Teaching & Learning Institute organized by Morehouse College scholars Corrie Claiborne and Samuel Livingston.

The participants include scholars from Claflin University, Dillard University (including poet Mona Lisa Saloy), Morehouse College, Paine College, and Spelman College. Over the course of three days, the scholars will discuss best practices in digital humanities (DH), utilizing iPads for DH work, digital resources, blogging, documenting digital works, and working with archives.

Mona Lisa Saloy's Red Beans and Ricely Yours

Mona Lisa Saloy's Red Beans and Ricely Yours (2005) is a special work in my collection. Jerry W. Ward, Jr., introduced me to Saloy many years ago, and I was pleased to add her volume to the larger mix. Many poets with books are at Predominantly White Institutions; however, Saloy is a professor at Dillard University, an HBCU in New Orleans.

A Notebook on Book History

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

From Unforgivable Blackness and Samuel Jackson to The Big Smoke

Adrian Matejka's The Big Smoke (2013) is linked to two important sources -- Geoffrey C. Ward's Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004) and Ken Burns's illuminating documentary of the same name, which first aired on PBS in January 2005. For the Burns documentary, Samuel Jackson memorably presents the voice of Johnson, and it's often the sound of Jackson's rendering of the boxer that comes to mind as I read The Big Smoke.   

A Notebook on Book History
Adrian Matejka

James E. Cherry's books

I've enjoyed tracking some poets over the course of several years. In the case of James Cherry, I started reading his work in 2005, and I've kept track of his writings since that time. His books Bending the Blues (H&H Press, 2003), Honoring the Ancestors (Third World Press, 2008), and most recently Loose Change (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2013). 

A Notebook on Book History
Reading James E. Cherry
Honoring the Ancestors