Monthly Archives: April 2009
Last evening’s Poetry Slam at The Next Chapter was a great success!
Approximately 30 people attended, including the eight poets who performed their impressive original works, and very special guest, local bard Joe Plum.
The eight competing poets ranged from teens to professionals to retirees, and included: Alex Rusciano, Jay Immel, Clarissa Dorringer, Johoshua Dillinger, David Vanderpool, Dean Johnson, Jen Kuenstling, and Keith Ratzlaff.
After two tough rounds in which each poet performed one poem and was judged on a scale from 1 to 6 by a panel of three judges selected at random from the crowd, a final showdown between Rusciano, Johnson, and Immel was read for the appreciative audience. After careful deliberation, Mr. Jay Immel emerged as the winner! Congratulations, Jay!
Between rounds, Joe Plum regaled the audience with stories and recitations of his own original compositions. Every man, woman, and child in the building was riveted by his soft-spoken delivery and the rich imagery and thought provoking spirituality he conjured for our enjoyment and enlightenment.
What a rare treat in these often difficult times, to be reminded of what’s really important — in this case: self expression, learning, and community. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who came and participated. We have already heard from several people (some who weren’t even at the Slam) about how much fun it was, so look out for an announcement about another Poetry Slam at The Next Chapter soon!
The great books just keep on coming! Here are some that really caught my eye this week:
City of Thieves by David Benioff (Plume Books, April 2009)
Based on the experiences of the author’s grandfather, this is “a rough and tumble tale that clenches humor, savagery, and pathos squarely together on the same page.” Set in Russia during the Nazis brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev, a gawky Jewish teenager, is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell with a deserter. Instead of being exectuted, they are given a chance to save their lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, the two convicts embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.
Life’s That Way: A Memoir by Jim Beaver (Putnam Adult, April 2009)
“Jim Beaver, the laconic character actor best known as the appealing prospector, ‘Ellsworth’, on “Deadwood” has written a compassionate, funny, searing, and ultimately transcending memoir chronicling a year of tragedy, grief, and survival that would send the strongest of men, even an ex-marine and West Texas preacher’s son, to their knees. As Jim puts it, “I am no Job, though I think we went to the same school.” That his story is so compulsively readable, inspiring, and ultimately hopeful is due entirely to Jim’s bracing honesty, dry humor, and deeply felt humanity. Read this book, tell your friends about it, and then go hug your loved ones.”
Robert Schenkkan, Pulitzer Prize winner for “The Kentucky Cycle”
The Forgotten Garden: A Novel by Kate Morton (Atria Books, April 2009)
A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book — a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, “Nell” sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to fi nd her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book’s title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales.
The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin (Tyndale House Publishers, March 2009)
The Secret Holocaust Diaries is a haunting eyewitness account of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, a remarkable Russian-American woman who had seen and survived the unspeakable evils of the Holocaust as a young girl. For half a century, she kept her story secret while living a normal American life. She locked all her photos, documents, diaries, and dark memories from World War II in a trunk. Late in life, she unlocked the trunk, first for her husband, and now for the rest of the world. Nonna’s story is one of suffering, torture, and death-but also of incredible acts of kindness that show the ultimate triumph of faith and love over despair and evil. The Secret Holocaust Diaries is in part a tragedy, yet it’s also an unforgettable true story about forgiveness, courage, and hope. Born into an aristocratic Russian family, Nonna Lisowskaja fully expected to enjoy a cultured, privileged life. Her family had many advantages at a time when other Russians struggled to buy food. By her sixth birthday, Nonna spoke four languages. She had a good life. But then her life fell apart. The Nazis invaded Russia. And, though her family was not Jewish, she lost everything . . . except a few family photos and scraps of a journal hidden from the Nazis in a small pillow. This is her story.
We hope everyone had a lovely Easter! We both enjoyed spending time with family and friends, and have returned with new energy and lots of ideas for upcoming events here at The Next Chapter.
We have been so pleased with the turnout at our various events, and are looking forward to hosting more, and are happy for feedback on what sorts of events people are interested in attending.
Upcoming events include:
‘Real Books for Real Men‘ book discussion, Tuesday, April 14th, 6pm. This group meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, is hosted by Bob Leonard, and discusses how literature portrays and impacts the modern American man.
Poetry Slam!, Thursday, April 23rd, 6 pm, in honor of National Poetry Month, this will be a spirited ‘open mic’ -style evening of performance poetry. Bring your best stuff to share. Special guest will be local bard, Joe Plum.
Readers Anonymous Book Club, Thursday April 30th, 6 pm. This group meets the last Thursday of each month, and is a casual gathering of book lovers sharing their latest great reads.
Other events that are in the planning stages include a fresh edition of 30-in-30 with Kate Bearce just in time to stock up on summertime reads; a Fancy Nancy Tea Party for the young ladies, a variety of arts and crafts workshops, some author appearances, and much more. Do you have a great idea for a gathering at The Next Chapter? We are interested in hearing from you!
In honor of Easter, we’ve gathered together a selection of inspirational titles to celebrate the season. And don’t miss highlights of some of the fantastic and fresh new books listed on our Book News Page!
Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened
by Craig A. Evans and N. T. Wright
In this superb text, two of the world’s most celebrated writers on the historical Jesus share their greatest findings, conveying the drama and the world-shattering significance of Jesus’ final days on earth.
Bible Illuminated, The Book: New Testament
Check out this amazing new presentation of the New Testament! A homeless man walking, a soldier preparing for combat, a mother nursing her newborn child: never before has a publisher illuminated the Bible with such an array of striking, even provocative contemporary photographs. “The Book” uses the Good News Translation in a full-color, glossy magazine format.
A Book of Simple Prayers
by Gloria Gaither
Beloved songwriter Gaither shares the prayers she has prayed throughout the challenging moments in her life. At times questioning, playful, and trusting, this collection is a medley of honest and openhearted prayer poetry conversation with God.
Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography
by John Dominic Crossan
Jesus is a magisterial distillation of Crossan’s lifelong work on the gospels and Jesus. It deserves careful and extended consideration by everyone seriously interested in the enigmatic sage from Galilee. With his work on Jesus, Crossan joins the ranks of the truly great biblical scholars of the twentieth century. His ‘revolutionary biography’ is the biography of a revolutionary: the book and its subject are rebels in the cause of truth.— Robert W. Funk, editor of “The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus” and cofounder of the Jesus Seminar”
Crossan paints his Jesus with great warmth and power. He achieves a portrait that both takes in the contemporary background yet accounts for Jesus’ distinctiveness…This Jesus is a Jewish peasant, with a direct sense of God’s immediacy, who shatters all social restraints. — “New York Times Book Review
May your Easter be Blessed!
For more news on recent book releases, check out our Book News page!