I recently listened to several audiobooks in the car during my travels to work. Their theme was New York History. With the upcoming Labor Day, I have to say that New York has a very long history of “Labor.” In every book I listened to, I couldn’t get over the creative forward-thinking. All carried out with labor. Continue reading →
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My love for hiking was instilled in me as a child in the Austrian woods where I hiked with my parents on the weekends, searching for mushrooms which we then prepared with eggs for dinner. Nowadays, I do go hiking whenever possible and if it’s not possible then I “hike” the streets of New York City over the weekend–covering sometimes 10 miles or more. This means also taking advantage of the city parks.
But this time was different. I planned to trek the Inca trail that ends up directly to Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca citadel built in the 15th century by the Incas and discovered by Hiram Bingham of Yale University in 1911 with the help of a local boy. See for more history here. Continue reading →
If you lived in 1944, you would be in your 90’s today. The amount of history one would have lived through would be immense. For the 16 million who served in WWII, fewer than 500,000 American veterans of World War II are believed to be alive today according to John Long from National D-day Memorial.
During this year’s annual Touro College Library Staff Meeting, Brandon Harrington, the Library Assistant from Starrett City, presented to the group a new initiative being done at their library, a Library Tip of the Week. During Brandon’s discussion and presentation of this to all of the Touro College Library staff in attendance, something caught hold with the Librarians (Joan Wagner, Annette Carr & Heather Hilton) and Library Assistant (Kelly Tenny) over at the Touro School of Health Sciences Library. Soon after that, it was decided that the initiative would be continued at the Bay Shore campus. Continue reading →
National Library Week is a time to appreciate libraries and to celebrate those who make them vibrant and welcoming community centers – library workers! A few of our own library assistants (above) had the opportunity to attend this year’s 21st Annual Library Assistants Day Celebration, sponsored by the METRO New York Library Council. Continue reading →
Last evening, I had the great pleasure and privilege of attending an engagement entitled, “In Conversation: Dr. Carla Hayden + Tracy K. Smith”, held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The talk which was moderated by Kevin Young, the current director of the Schomburg Center, featured Dr. Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress, and Tracy K. Smith, the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, who was appointed by Dr. Hayden in 2017. This was a great way to wind down National Poetry Month while tying it into the work that we do as librarians. Continue reading →
We end our Faculty Poet blog series for this year with Professor Baruch November. Professor November has an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and has taught courses in Shakespeare, poetry, and writing at Touro College in Manhattan for more than a decade. His poems and short fiction have been featured in Paterson Literary Review, Lumina, New Myths, The Forward, Jewish Journal, Poetica, and Jewish Literary Journal, and his collection of poems entitled Dry Nectars of Plenty co-won BigCityLit’s chapbook contest in 2003. His newly released full-length collection of poetry is entitled Bar Mitzvah Dreams on which he gave an interview recently.
What prompted you to write poetry?
My mother says I wrote a poem as early as first grade about a chicken or turkey. I have no idea what prompted that, but I wish I still had the poem because it is not easy to write a poem about a chicken or turkey. However, I didn’t start writing poetry seriously until college where I took creative writing classes with teachers who encouraged me to take my writing seriously. They made me feel like I had a talent for writing that was worth pursuing. This was a different feeling than succeeding in other types of classes because it felt like I was creating something, instead of responding to class materials. It made me feel like what we were doing in those classes was unique and individualistic, rather than conforming to the concepts experts had written in a textbook.
In what form/style do you compose your poems?
My poems are written in free verse. I need the freedom. I never write in form. I am not attracted to form but someday I might be. Now, I really don’t even read poems in form anymore, except Shakespeare’s sonnets. Furthermore, I feel like my poems tell a story or share an idea. When I was younger, I explored language more. Now, I am more interested in telling a story and sharing something meaningful. However, the effective and creative use of language is still integral to my poetry– I just feel like it has to be the delivery system for powerful ideas or narratives.
What is the role of poetry in your teaching? Or how do you think poetry has an impact on students and their learning?
Well, since I teach both Introduction to Poetry and Shakespeare, poetry has a major impact on my students. I love interpreting poetry with students. It is always interesting to hear their analysis of a poem, even if I don’t agree with it. I think the close analysis of a poem– done word by word– helps students think more carefully about their own word choices and the ideas they are sharing in their writing. I hope it makes them realize the value of each written word.
Because of the nature of the poetry in my courses, it also allows me to delve into major philosophical questions about death, genocide, and how we treat our fellow man, among other things. Death and genocide are pretty grim, but I think in order to really understand the value of life such things need to be faced, and poetry is an arena for bringing up such matters, because, as Wallace Stevens explained, the job of poetry is to intensify life. What can be more intense than those topics? I think some students cringe at talking about death, but in order to truly live a meaningful and explored life, we have to delve into all parts of it. Furthermore, I hope those poems about death affect my students in such a way that they find more value in each day they live, knowing death is there lurking in the shadows somewhere in the distant future.
Contributed by Professor Baruch November, Language & Literature, NYSCAS, Touro College.
For more information on Professor November’s poems, please go to Touro Scholar.
Contributed by Baruch November, professor of Languages and Literature at the New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS) at Touro College.