Aurora Public Library Blog

Welcome to Aurora Public Library’s Blog. A place where our library staff share their thoughts, insider knowledge and overall love of all things book and community.

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Recent Posts
July 2018 - Posts

Smartphone with the Instagram logo

 Post by Tessy W. 

Social Media and the Poet

As an introduction, I'll begin with a few disclaimers.

I don't read a lot of poetry. Other than a short phase in high school, dreaming of literary stardom as I scribbled profound thoughts in a rainbow colored notebook, I haven't had much to do with poetry. Even then, I did little but read a Frost poem or two, and thought myself risqué for buying a pocket-sized Arthur Rimbaud.

Additionally, I'll also note that I'm an odd millennial. Don't get me wrong, I have the trappings of your average millennial; Snapchat filters are necessary for everything, and I communicate almost exclusively via text.

But I'm not big on social media. Send me a wave on Facebook Messenger, and I probably won't see it for two months. I haven't checked my Instagram account in half a year, and I was never on Twitter to begin with.

Thus, this conversational gem:
"Have you seen the latest Rupi Kaur?"
"Umm... I don't think so?" I had no reference point to place the name, but had a vague notion that I'd heard of her before.
A phone was thrust into my face.
"On Instagram.... you know, the Instapoets?"

Having only just heard the term, I was confused. My friend sighed, already well-acquainted with my flaws, and the conversation moved on.

But I was intrigued. I'd vaguely heard of Rupi Kaur, later learning that she is a giant among this new generation of poets. The poem I had been shown was succinct and lovely; so, I decided to investigate.

Poem with illustration from Instagram

rupikaur_. Poem. Instagram, 25, Feb. 2018, www.instagram.com/p/BfoOHhYAQTt/?hl=en&taken-by=rupikaur_.

Instapoets present their poetry, often in stylized font and sometimes with illustrative imagery, on various forms of social media (including Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.), with an emphasis on Instagram. The result: clips of thought presented with instant shareability.

These poets are labelled "Instapoets" like they're frivolous. It’s a result of their medium.

Thoughts and ideas shared on social media hold less gravitas apparently. On occasion, this is a justified stereotype. Using technology can make us truly thoughtless.

It's easy to say something stupid when you share your first, and sometimes second thought, without ever pausing to reflect. Or if you parse that semi-serious thought with a meme.

However, the immediate sneering dismissal of Instapoets and their social media kin isn't often inspired by a well-reasoned, multi-point critique of the impact of technology on modern lifestyles. Instead, social media is paralleled with the younger generation it emerged with, and when are Millennials ever seen as anything but thoughtless?

A snowflake generation producing snowflake poetry.

However, as a non-poetry reader, I was impressed by Rupi Kaur and her fellow Instapoets.

Their poetry is heavy; the type of snow with weight. Flipping through "The Princess Saves Herself in This One" by Amanda Lovelace, I was smacked in the face by parental abuse, death, bad relationships, and an ever-present fantastical sheen that charmed the fantasy-reader within me. She cast herself as the hero that could overcome those pesky plot barriers that we call life. Emotions at the forefront, candid.

These poems are often as fast-paced as the modern society they're spawned from. The bold words and images, burned into your mind like afterimages. Pausing between the meetings and the endless string of e-mails, you remember the clipped stanzas that stole your breath, the imagery still blooming with color.

And by no means do these poets limit themselves to social media; if anything, their Instagram accounts are savvy marketing tools. Rupi Kaur sold over a million copies of her first book, Milk and Honey.1 R.H. Sin, with over a million followers and the second bestselling poet of 2017 (Kaur was the first)2, is nearly as popular with his characteristic fourth-wave feminism.
Wandering the poetry section of the library, I can pull a handful of slim volumes off of the shelf. Is there a difference between the poet and the Instapoet?

A mottled cover like sparks of flame, Wild Embers by Nikita Gill drew me in with a powerful reimagining of Grecian goddesses. Hera locking the door on Zeus, and learning to sleep by herself. Persephone exalting in her throne of fire. Gill has almost half a million followers on Instagram - a demigoddess in her own right.

Next, a slender green volume titled, Nature Poem by Tommy Pico. I flipped between poems randomly, forwards, backwards, and then back to the start; all the way through. Sharp and absorbing, with a solemnness like the overcast skies on his cover. You can find him on Instagram, but mostly for the common usage of filtered shots and life-moments, not specifically for his poetry.
Instagram is a modern day method of expression. If it encourages people to read poetry, everyone benefits. A line of verse on Instagram could spark a passion for words just as easily as a book.

Investigation thus completed, I settled on an easy conclusion. Poetry makes the poet, not the medium.

1. Maher, J. (2018). Can Instagram Make Poems Sell Again?. [online] Publishersweekly.com. Available at: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/75976-can-instagram-make-poems-sell-again.html [Accessed 14 Jun. 2018].
1. April is National Poetry Month in bookstores – and on social media, too. NPD Group. https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2018/instapoets-rekindling-u-s--poetry-book-sales--the-npd-group-says/. Published April 5, 2018. Accessed June 14, 2018.

 

Posted by zsmith@auroragov.org  On Jul 26, 2018 at 11:23 AM
  

Plastic dinosaurs on a yellow background

Post by Steven K.

If you’ve been following events at Aurora Public Library this summer, you definitely know that libraries rock. Maybe you attended the classical piano concert with Ammiel Bushakevitz at Central, or the John Williams and American Film Music program at Mission Viejo, or one of the many Libraries Rock programs with Bradley Weaver. Whatever your fancy, this year’s Summer Learning Program has been a wild, musical success. (If you’ve missed all this, don’t fret! There’s still time to check out more of our musically-themed programs through the end of July. Visit our Programs and Events page for more details.)

But maybe music isn’t really your thing. (Hard for a musicophile to imagine, I know, but it’s totally a thing.) Or maybe you’re just looking for a change of pace, or a reprieve from the constant audio-bombardment from advertisers and disc jockeys and people who blast music from their smartphones sans headphones.

If so, another way to engage with our Summer Learning Program is to come to Central and check out our rocks! For while it’s true that libraries rock, rocks also rock, and our library’s rocks especially rock.

First, let me apologize for that. Second, allow me to explain.

There’s no denying that rocks have an image problem. They’re literally the most common thing on the planet. They’re used as a metaphor for stupidity. Breaking rocks was once a common form of punishment. And I mean, really, they just let people walk all over them. (Again, apologies.)

Sure, rocks might seem dull at first, but once you get to know them a little they can be positively fascinating. Layers of sandstone and limestone might not grab your interest at first, but let a river cut its way through them over several million years and you get the vast beauty of the Grand Canyon. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably watched the news and seen rocks being born before your very eyes on the island of Hawaii. Climbed one of Colorado’s 58 fourteeners lately? Imagine what the view would look like when the Rockies were new to the continent and twice as tall are they are today.

Canyons, volcanoes, and mountain ranges are all breathtakingly sublime. Sadly, we can’t fit these in our library—but we can fit something just as wondrous, albeit on a much smaller scale. Many somethings, actually, things that used to be very much alive but are now very much dead and have had all their living tissues completely replaced with rock. Yes, you’ve guessed it: we have fossils!

More specifically, we’ve got trilobites—and they are some of the coolest animals to have ever graced planet Earth. So what, exactly, are they? To put it plainly, they’re very ancient sea bugs. But they’re also so much more than that.

For starters, here’s what one looks like:

Trilobite fossil

 

You might recognize them from high school earth science textbooks or from a trip to your local natural history museum. In fact, they’re one of the easiest fossils to identify, thanks largely to their anatomical namesake. The word “trilobite” is deceptively simple; it just means “three lobes” and these lobes are easy to spot on a fossil. There’s a raised lobe in the middle (the “axial” lobe) and two other lobes to the left and right (the “pleural” lobes). Coincidentally, trilobites also have three main body sections: head (“cephalon”), body (“thorax”), and tail (“pygidium,” which is just stupid fancy Latin for “rump”). Depending on the species—and also on how well- preserved the fossil is—trilobites will have various forms of eyes, legs, antennae, and spiky spines (that were probably used for defense but could have served other purposes as well).

trilobite with anatomy highlighted














But to me, one of the most amazing facts about trilobites is how ancient they are. The oldest 
specimens paleontologists have found (so far) date back to the early Cambrian period, over 540 million years ago (Fortey, 2000). That’s almost incomprehensibly old. Just stupid old. 

Imagine that you could walk back through geological time, with each step you take accounting for one year of history. To get back to the Middle Ages and chill in a castle, you’d need to walk about 3 city blocks. Watching the pyramids being built would cost you 2 miles; seeing the end of our latest ice age would be 5 miles; meeting your first fully-modern human ancestor would be a punishing 88-mile trek. But to get back to the Cambrian and swim with the trilobites, you would literally need to walk to the moon—all 240,000 miles of it. They’re that old.

Our trilobites aren’t quite that old, but they’re still ancient. Based on the identifying characteristics of the species we’ve got, they’re probably about 400 million years old—about three-quarters of the way to the moon in our thought experiment—which places them in the middle of the Devonian period (Gon III, 2009). (Take this with a grain of salt, though. I’m not a paleontologist—I’m just a nerd.) They’re also probably from Morocco, which today is a serious hub for trilobite fossil hunters. But 400 million years ago, what’s now Morocco would have been unrecognizable, because at that time it would’ve been in the Southern Hemisphere and covered by a shallow sea—which was good for our trilobites, since they were exclusively marine animals. It’s also good for us, because seafloor conditions are great for making fossils. Well, relatively speaking.

In reality, fossilization is tricky business. As Bill Bryson puts it in his delightfully accessible "A Short History of Nearly Everything"(2005): “It isn’t easy to become a fossil. The fate of nearly all living organisms—over 99.9 percent of them—is to compost down to nothingness. [...] Even if you make it into the small pool of organisms, the less than 0.1 percent, that don’t get devoured, the chances of being fossilized are very small” (p. 403). Scavengers, microbes, oxygen, and exposure are generally unforgiving to the recently deceased. The key to successful fossilization, then, is quick burial, which prevents things from nibbling away at them long enough for minerals to slowly replace all the once-living tissue. And as it turns out, quick burial is more common on the seafloor, on account of falling sediment, changing tides, churning currents, storms, mudslides, and the like. Had trilobites been land-dwelling creatures we might not have known much about them at all.

But there’s something else about trilobites that makes them the “old reliables” of the fossil record. Unlike many of their contemporaries, trilobites’ shells were infused with calcite—the same hard mineral present in clam shells and limestone. Even their eyes were made of calcite, in a crystalline form that made them some of the first animals to see complex images. In life, these rocky shields protected them from predators; in death, they staved off decomposition and, through the eons, preserved an amazingly rich fossil record for us to study.

And how very rich it is! Paleontologists have identified and cataloged about 20,000 distinct species of trilobite belonging to 10 fantastic orders. The smallest species could be as small as a millimeter long, while the biggest could grow to over 2 feet long. (Most were 1-3 inches long, though, including those we have in our small-but-charming collection.) They were also tremendously successful animals, in terms of evolutionary success and global distribution.

Collectively, they scuttled about our oceans for 300 million years—that’s twice as long as the dinosaurs ruled the earth—and their remains can be found on literally every continent on earth, even Antarctica. They were at last defeated 250 million years ago by the Permian Extinction, the so-called “Great Dying” that wiped out 95% of marine life. Since then, no trilobite has crawled along the seafloor or looked through their remarkable crystal eyes.

They may be long gone, but thanks to trilobite fanatics around the world they’re certainly not forgotten. If I’ve piqued your interest and you want to see what all the fuss is about, come visit us at APL Central in July! You’ll find our trilobites on the lower level near the 750s in the nonfiction stacks. Also, if you’d like to learn more about our ancient friends or more about prehistory in general, come visit me at the Reference Desk and I’ll be happy to indulge you.

Don’t take this opportunity for granite! (That’s the last one, I promise.)

References:

Bryson, Bill. (2005). A short history of nearly everything: Special illustrated edition. New York,
NY: Broadway. Pp. 403-417.

Fenton, Carroll Lane and Fenton, Mildred Adams. (1989). The fossil book. New York, NY:
Doubleday. Pp. 192-212.

Fortey, Richard. (2000). Trilobite! New York, NY: Knopf.
Gon III, Samuel M. (2009). “A Pictorial Guide to the Orders of Trilobites.” Retrieved from
http://www.ps-19.org/Crea11Phyla/References/TrilobitePictorialGuide2009.pdf.


Posted by zsmith@auroragov.org  On Jul 20, 2018 at 10:04 AM
  

emojis surrounding blog title post

Post by Sara V.H.

It's World Emoji Day! party popper

When words just aren't enough, emojis are there to help you really say what you mean!
World Emoji Day is celebrated each year on July 17 because that is the date shown in the calendar emoji. 

calendar of July 17






To celebrate World Emoji Day, let's play a game of "Guess that Book: Emoji Style!" Guess the titles below portrayed by emojis (scroll to the bottom of the post for answers). Leave a comment with how many you were able to accurately guess!

Ready...go!

emojis depicting book covers

 




























































The answers are below...







Answers:
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2. Dragons Love Tacos
3. Turtles All the Way Down
4. Holes
5. Grapes of Wrath
6. Water for Elephants
7. The Scarlet Letter
8. War and Peace
9. Frankenstein 
10. Twilight
11. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish 
12. The Secret Garden
13. The Time Travelers Wife
14. A Tale of Two Cities
15. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Thanks for playing! Please comment with how many you got correct and which one was the hardest.

Posted by zsmith@auroragov.org  On Jul 17, 2018 at 9:39 AM