Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: Hello, I’m Erin Kernohan-Berning from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
In 1996, the Academy of American Poets stood on the steps of a New York City post office handing out T.S. Elliot’s poem The Waste Land to people waiting to mail off their tax returns. The poem begins, “April is the cruelest month…” and there, April as National Poetry Month was born. Or so the story goes. National Poetry Month is now celebrated in both the United States and Canada, and is meant to celebrate poetry and it’s important place in our culture.
There are many great collections of poetry available at the Haliburton County Public Library, but for our April online book club we decided, in a twist on poetry month, to look at novels written by poets. So today, Sherrill Sherwood and I will each talk about a book written by a poet.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is partially based on Plath’s own life and has become a modern classic. Celebrated for its darkly funny and razor sharp portrait of 1950s society, millions of copies have been sold worldwide. The story is about Esther Greenwood winning an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953. She is elated, believing she will finally realize her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiraling into depression and eventually attempts suicide, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women’s aspirations seriously. As well as The Bell Jar, Haliburton County Public Library’s collection includes The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath: 1950 – 1962 plus the movie Sylvia starring Gwyneth Paltrow, celebrated for her portrayal of Plath.
Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: In The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep by Steven Heighton, Elias Triffanis – a Greek-Canadian – joins the military to appease his dying father. After a traumatic incident in Afghanistan, Elias is shipped to a facility in Paphos, Cyprus to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder – but also to keep him away from public scrutiny. A trip to the coast to visit relatives, a hook up in a bar, and a roll in the sand on a dark beach interrupted by punchy Turkish soliders result in Elias making a quick escape under a barbed wire fence into the abandoned city of Varosha – which is a real city, abandoned in 1974 during a coup that saw Cyprus ever since split between Greece and Turkey with Varosha frozen in time between them. But in the novel there are people living secretly in Varosha, living off the abandoned goods that still survive, under the occasional glance of Turkish Colonel Erkan Kaya – and Elias’ presence there is upsetting a delicate balance. In what has been dubbed a literary thriller, secrets and intrigue unfold among the ruins of Varosha. The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep has received mixed reviews, and it seems both the positive and the negative are owing to Heighton’s prowess as a well-decorated award winning poet and how that has influenced his writing in this novel. When I see mixed reviews, I often want to then read the book, just to see what is in it that has polarized readers so much.
Anyone can participate in Haliburton County Public Library’s Online Book Club by choosing to read one or more of four books selected each month. You don’t even have to read from a particular month’s selection you can just go online and make comments about books and reading in general. Just go to haliburtonlibrary.ca and click on the “g” for Goodreads.
That’s it for this week’s Library Moments. Thanks for listening here on 100.9 CANOE FM.
*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM.