Author Archive

It is with great sadness that the world learned today of the passing of poet, memoirist, and American icon Maya Angelou.

Among Angelou’s works are seven autobiographies, including the seminal I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, collections of poetry (And Still I Rise, I Shall Not Be Moved, Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women, and many more), and personal essays, such as Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.

Maya Angelou was a highly acclaimed artist, civil rights activist, and humanitarian.  Among the many awards she received were  the Mother Teresa Award, the NAACP Image Award, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a National Book Foundation Literarian Award, and the Norman Mailer Prize (Lifetime Achievement.)

Angelou moved countless people with the compelling power of her words, her images, and even her voice.  Many of us remember her powerful reading of her poem On the Pulse of Morning at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993.  If you haven’t experienced this performance, or would like to relive it, you can find a video of it here (courtesy William J. Clinton Presidential Library.)


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Somerville Public Library has added a new database for your enjoyment – Zinio!  Zinio is an online database of full color, interactive digital magazines available for downloading and viewing on the electronic device of your choice.  Titles offered include Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Popular Science, Seventeen, GamesMaster, The New York Review of Books, and more.

  • Get Current Issues — New issues are released simultaneously with the print edition – many are available for download before the print version arrives at the library.
  • Browsing is Easy — Browse the collection, search for your favorite magazines by title, or use the convenient category feature to find new magazines which meet your interests.
  • No Limits — Check out as many issues as you want and keep them for as long as you want.

To create your free account and get started using Zinio, go to the Library’s database page, scroll all the way to the bottom, and click on Zinio.


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Today is 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.  It is also a rainy day, and a day that falls within National Poetry Month.  So without further ado, I give you a rain-themed poem by Shakespeare:




When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate
For the rain, it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain, it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain, it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our play is done.
And we’ll strive to please you every day.


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Flags will fly at half mast around the City today in remembrance of the victims and families of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.  For details about support services available to community members on the one-year anniversary of these tragic events, click here.

In Boston, a tribute ceremony for survivors and first responders will be held at the Hynes Convention Center at 12:00 p.m.  You can watch the ceremony online here.  Community members are also invited to gather along Boylston Street this afternoon, and to share in a moment of silence which will take place at 2:49.


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April 10th-13th is  the 14th annual  Boston National Poetry Month Festival, hosted primarily by the Boston Public Library in partnership with Tapestry of Voices and the Kaji Aso Studio.

The Festival begins on Thursday evening, April 10th, with a program of Poetry, Music & Dance at Old South Church, produced by Berklee College of Music professor, Lucy Holstedt.  Friday, April 11, National Book Award winner David Ferry is just one of 15 prominent “Keynote Poets” reading in the Commonwealth Salon room.  Saturday and Sunday, 60 established and emerging poets read in Rabb Lecture Hall: they range from Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish and State Rep. Denise Provost to gifted students from Boston Latin High School and Boston Arts Academy as well as a Harvard University student.

The entire Festival is Free, and includes two Open Mics, plus a workshop with noted poet Tom Daley.  For specifics on times, locations, and more, click here.


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Based on values identified in SomerVision, Mayor Joe Curtatone invited residents to share their ideas for investing in four key areas:

  • Public Health
  • Arts and Culture
  • Community Engagement and Immigrant Outreach
  • Recreation

The City held three Community Budgeting meetings and solicited ideas online.  Now, they’ve gathered all the ideas and need need your help to prioritize them!

Click here to see the list of ideas that were generated by the community.  If you see an idea you like, vote it up. If you see an idea you’re not keen on, vote it down.

And if you’re interested in learning more about Somerville’s budget, click here.


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You know how sometimes all you want to do is celebrate the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter?   Well tomorrow is the perfect day to do exactly that: it’s March 14th, aka Pi Day!

Here in Somerville there are a few events planned that should make this Pi Day the best one ever.

  • Petsi Pies is having their annual Pi Day celebration.  Recite the digits of pi from memory and win free pie!  More digits = more pie!   Starts at 1:59 p.m.
  • The East Somerville Community School is hosting Pi Night for SPL students in grades 6-8 and their families.  Win a pie at various pi-related activity stations, eat pizza pie, and take home a small pie of your own!
  • Artisan’s Asylum is hosting a Pi Potluck.  Bring pie and eat pie!  Prizes will be awarded for people’s choice and most pi inspired.  This is an unofficial event, so if you’re not a member of the Asylum, you’ll need to coordinate with someone who is to go as their guest.

For more Boston-area Pi Day options, click here or here.  Happy Pi Day!



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Have you heard about the Digital Comic Museum? It’s a free online resource that allows users to download public domain golden age comics!  The goal of the project is to archive these comic books online and make them widely available. All files have been researched by DCM staff and users to make sure they are copyright free and in the public domain. It’s easy to register for a free account and start downloading and reading right away. That ought to keep you busy for a while!

Want more? Check out the 741.5s for some cool books about comics, golden age and otherwise. Here are just a few to whet your appetite – there are many more!

Foul Play!: the Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics! by Grant Geissman

Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones

1,000 Comic Books You Must Read by Tony Isabella

The Ten-Cent Plague: the Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America by David Hajdu


Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution by Ronin Ro

The Will Eisner Companion: the Pioneering Spirit of the Father of the Graphic Novel by N.C. Christopher Couch and Stephen Weiner

Comic Book Culture: an Illustrated History by Ron Goulart


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Neil deGrasse Tyson How much do I love astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson? Well for starters, I forgave him for the part he played in the demotion of Pluto.

Why do I love Neil deGrasse Tyson?  One reason is because he’s an eloquent advocate for science education (and for learning in general),  and a fierce warrior in the modern fight against ignorance.   Another is that he has such an abundant sense of what is wonderful in the universe and that he communicates that to anyone who is willing to listen.  Below are a few of my favorite Tyson quotes.

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” [source]

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” [source]

“Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.” [source]

Many of Tyson’s books are available in Somerville and throughout the Minuteman Library Network.  Here are the past decade’s worth:

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

The Pluto Files: the Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet

Death by Black Hole: and Other Cosmic Quandaries

The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution

One Universe: at Home in the Cosmos

Tyson also appears on TV frequently (he formerly hosted PBS’s Nova scienceNOW).  He has a new show coming out next month – an update of Carl Sagan‘s beloved 1980s series Cosmos.  I can hardly wait!


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As part of our ALA/NEH sponsored series Muslim Journeys we are pleased to host a screening of the documentary Dear Bawa Muhaiyaddeen by filmmakers Kythe Heller and Peter McMurray. This event will take place on Thursday, February 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Library.

How can one film something that cannot be seen? Unlike traditional documentaries, which typically view religious experience as a metaphor for something else–whether socially or psychologically construed–this experimental film explores religion on its own terms by engaging the formal possibilities of filmmaking to consider the contemporary Sri Lankan Sufi teacher M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen and the trans-national and inter-religious community that has grown up around him in the U.S. and Sri Lanka.

Following the screening, filmmaker Kythe Heller will lead a discussion.

This program is free and all are welcome to attend.


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