By Kim Brawn, Thompson Free Library
DOVER-FOXCROFT — Characters are central to stories. But so is place. As we stare down a more hopeful March, the Thompson Free Library in Dover-Foxcroft is highlighting writers who have etched a memorable sense of place — including distinctive pockets of Maine — onto their pages.
Friday, March 5 at 3:30 p.m. TFL’s Philosophy Circle continues to examine the intersection of poetry and philosophy, focusing on Langston Hughes, the famed poet, social activist, novelist and playwright. Many believe that Hughes, more than any other black poet or writer, faithfully recorded the nuances of black life and its frustrations, especially in Harlem. His poems, as he put it, are about “the workers, roustabouts, and singers on Lenox Avenue in New York, or Seventh Street in Washington or South State in Chicago — people up today and down tomorrow, working this week and fired the next, beaten and baffled, but determined not to be wholly beaten…” (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/langston-hughes) So many possibilities for a compelling conversation. All are welcome. Prior attendance not required.
TFL’s Reading Group chats about Claire Ackroyd’s book “Murder in the Maple Woods” on Thursday, March 11 at 6 p.m. Claire, an independent organic farm inspector based in Orono, has written a murder mystery involving a boy’s suspicious death, that is set in and around the maple sugar camps in the remote woods that lie along the Canadian border above Jackman. She captures the unique sense of place from her own first-hand experience inspecting those camps.
Jon Knepp, TFL’s director, calls the March discussion “a preamble for our meeting in April, where Claire, along with another Maine author, Laurie Chandler, will join us to talk about Murder in the Maple Woods and Laurie’s book ‘Through Woods and Waters,’ about her solo canoe exploration of the recently-created Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.” For copies of the books, contact TFL.
Monday, March 29 at 6 p.m. TFL will host a virtual author talk with Gregory Brown whose just-released debut novel “The Lowering Days” is winning national acclaim with an emotionally powerful saga, set in 1980s Maine, that explores family love, the power of myths and storytelling, survival and environmental exploitation, and the ties between cultural identity and the land we live on. Kirkus Reviews calls it “a gripping tale. . . in Brown’s hands, the Penobscot region of the 1980s and 90s — with its eccentric cast of Vietnam veterans, hippy fugitives, gruff lobstermen, and Penobscot tribal members — comes wonderfully to life.”
And Greg knows this area well, having grown up in Belfast, along the Penobscot Bay. He refers to his hometown — the whole area — as Penobscot Nation territory. “No matter where your feet take you in this country, you are on indigenous land,” he writes on his website. Sharing the early stages of his creative process, “My work often starts with the interaction of place and people…The clearing nestled in a pine grove where a half-finished and fully forgotten wooden boat sits on stocks and has become a kind of feral jungle gym for kids.”
He told the Bangor Daily News that the book’s backdrop “is a mixture of all the various pockets of the midcoast and along the Penobscot River that I absorbed growing up. . . the fiction that often interests me the most is that kind that lets the mythology and folklore of a place shine out from behind the recognizable, real-life details.” “The Lowering Days’” narrative centers on the conflicts that erupt as a shuttered paper mill on the verge of reopening is set on fire as an act of defiance to prevent further harm to the land. Others see the mill as a working-class lifeline.
Finally, back at the library, our STEAM guide Alicia Millette has added an Arduino Kit to the collection for those who want to learn how to code and build mechanical creations, including robots. Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s available for a two-week check out (for those ages 10 and up) or you can use it on a library computer. Alicia has also created new STEAM kits for the kids (including a firefly LED & an origami project). Please share your project photos with us on Facebook!
March may signal spring, but we know Maine is a place that holds many surprises. Thankfully TFL has a deep bench of powerful and evocative reads and stimulating discussions to help us through the mud, potholes, and ever-shifting landscapes.
TFL is open to the public Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information (including Zoom links to our free virtual public programs), visit our website (https://www.thompson.lib.me.us), Facebook page or contact us at email@example.com or 207-564-3350. Find us on Instagram @tf_library.
By Kim Brawn, Thompson Free Library
Escapism often gets a bad rap or is too narrowly defined. But it can serve as a great endurance booster. What seemed finite last March has turned into an ultramarathon of sorts with an uncertain finish line. Escapism comes in many forms, is wonderfully subjective and the Thompson Free Library in Dover-Foxcroft contains multitudes, from pure entertainment to engaging and thoughtful discoveries that will divert and grab your attention, energize your mind, and keep you movin’ right along.
TFL’s Philosophy Circle meets online via Zoom on Friday, Feb. 5 at 3:30 p.m. to discuss Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem, “Renascence” (www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/55993/renascence). Millay, an award-winning lyrical poet and playwright, was born in Rockland and grew up in Camden. Many believe that she is describing the view from Mt. Battie in the poem’s opening lines:
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
“Renascence,” whose title is synonymous with rebirth, explores immediacy and perspective and has been described as broadly encompassing the relationship of an individual to humanity and nature. Sounds ripe for a thoughtful, philosophical conversation! All are welcome — prior attendance is not required.
TFL’s Reading Group meets on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. via Zoom to talk about “The Night Watchman” by National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich. It’s a fictional tale based on the extraordinary life of Erdrich’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native American dispossession from rural North Dakota to Washington, D.C.
Elizabeth Toohey, in her Christian Science Monitor book review, wrote that “Erdrich’s blend of spirituality, gallows humor, and political resistance is at play … It may be set in the 1950s, but the history it unearths and its themes of taking a stand against injustice are every bit as timely today.” Copies of the book are available at TFL.
TFL’s STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) Guide Alicia Millette has created two new STEAM-themed displays at the library. They contain a collection of books that feature natural science including fossils and bones, 3D printing astronomy, coding with scratch and more.
Free Science Activity Kits (aimed for children 8-12) will be available to take home starting Tuesday, Feb. 16. Alicia has invented four different kits: Lungs (build a model that demonstrates how your lungs work), Hovercraft (learn how to make things move across the floor using just air), Fingerprints (use a balloon and some air to look at their fine details & unique features), and Yeast (learn why we put yeast in bread by experimenting with yeast, sugar, and water). There will be five of each kit. Each contains directions, all materials needed, and is yours to keep.
Kids can also escape into the fascinating world of Owls with Chewonki on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. via Zoom. This renowned school, camp and environmental education organization based in Wiscasset is known for their incredible children’s programs that teach appreciation and stewardship of the natural world. Learn identifying calls and characteristics of these amazing creatures of the night. Space is limited so please contact the library to reserve a spot.
If you can’t make it to the library during our weekday hours (Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), TFL is now open Saturdays (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) with all the usual COVID safety precautions and protocols to keep patrons, staff and visitors as safe as possible.
More good news: we have a Wi-Fi extender that allows you to access TFL’s Wi-Fi from anywhere in the parking lot at any time of day.
Are you obsessed with new books? Then visit the Bookshelves page on our website (https://www.thompson.lib.me.us/bookshelves/). Library Director Jon Knepp has updated this cool feature so you can see new arrivals ASAP and browse by category. Click on a cover to check availability and place a hold — all from the comfort of your couch.
A patron told me that she likes to read compelling stories where the characters face tremendous and complicated challenges, with plots that surpass the current tumult. Others prefer the twists and turns of an edge of your seat mystery, binge watching “Downton Abbey” or being carried away by an audiobook’s expressive narration. From our ever-evolving collection, to ongoing and special programs, to kids’ take-home kits, TFL offers an array of imaginative escape routes.
Curbside service is also available during business hours. For more information (including Zoom links to our free virtual public programs), visit our website (https://www.thompson.lib.me.us), Facebook page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-564-3350. Find us on Instagram @tf_library.
Thompson Free Library will be closed on February 2, 2021 due to the snow. See you Wednesday at 9 am!