Touro Faculty Poet Series–Part IV

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.

Bar Mitzvah dreams
Cover of Bar Mitzvah Dreams by Baruch November

 

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.

BN
Professor November at the 6th Annual Festival of Touro Faculty & Student Poetry Reading on April 16 at Touro’s Main campus (31st Street)

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.

 

 

Best books to read on your summer vacation!

For the upcoming summer break, we asked two of our librarians to give some recommendations for thought-provoking and engaging books, all of which are available at one or more branch of the Touro College Libraries. Here’s what they had to say. Continue reading

Have You Heard Any Good Books Lately? (Part 2)

Copyright: Carol Schapiro
Audiobooks Can Be Moving

I am a late adopter of all things technological. I am not saying I am opposed to it; it’s more like I’m not exposed to it. So when Dr. Marianne Cooper, Professor Emeritus of Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, insisted that listening to audiobooks is considered “reading”, I insisted otherwise.  I refused to believe that listening to a book was more than a shortcut taken by those either unable or unwilling to read an ACTUAL book.  Despite this, an online search revealed that while some believe listening to a book is cheating, the brain processes audiobooks and text similarly.  Good to know!  So, for the purpose of this blog posting, I decided it is time for my brain to give audiobooks a chance, and to recount my experience with them to you.

Continue reading

The Passover Haggadah

On Passover night we read the Haggadah. The Haggadah sets forth the order of the Passover Seder and tells the story of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt.  Haggadah comes from the Hebrew word le-hagid (“to tell”); we are commanded in the Bible to “tell” over the story of Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the most popular Jewish book. There are more than 3,000 Haggadot to date and every year there are between 6 and 10 new ones, not to mention all the reprinted ones. The Haggadah has been written in many languages, including Hebrew, German, Yiddish, Spanish and Ladino. We at Touro College are fortunate to have in our collection 249 Haggadot. Most of them are located in the Women’s building (where I work), and we have some in Kew Garden Hills and at the Lander College for Men.  Continue reading

November is a month to celebrate authorship

photo-1429051781835-9f2c0a9df6e4November 1st was National Author’s day. Officially adopted by the Department of Commerce in 1949, the idea for the day originated with teacher and avid reader Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, but its observance was popularized by McPherson’s granddaughter, Sue Cole, after McPherson’s passing in 1968. Cole urged people to write a note to their favorite author on the 1st to “brighten up the sometimes lonely business of being a writer.”1 These days you’re probably more likely to tweet an author you admire (official hashtag: #NationalAuthorsDay), but showing your appreciation is still encouraged. Continue reading

Staff Profile: Kirk Snyder

kirkGreetings Touro community! I would like to introduce myself. My name is Kirk Snyder, and I am the new afternoon and evening Librarian at Touro College Midwood/Flatbush. I come to Touro from New York Public Library’s Harlem Library. Though I love public libraries, I am very excited to be in an academic library where I can help facilitate students’ and professors’ research. Continue reading

The Poetic Art of Weeding Books

No, not that kind of weeding! (CC image by Barbara Carr)
No, not that kind of weeding! (CC image by Barbara Carr)

At the Lander College for Women’s library, an ongoing weeding project is in effect to withdraw books. This reevaluation accomplishes a number of goals. It allows the library to make room on the shelves for new materials and to recycle books to where they will do the most good, either by reassigning them to a new location or donating them to Better World Books. Continue reading

Books On The Move

Empty books shelves—but not for long!
Empty books shelves—but not for long!

Over the summer we did a total library book “shift” at the library for the Lander College for Men.

You might ask: “Why would you do that?”

Or “Wasn’t that a lot of physical work?”  (Yes, it was.)

Or “How many books did you move?” (Over 15,000 books.)

So here is the story of why… Continue reading

With A Little Help From Our Friends

books
Scholarship shared, one book at a time (photo by Victoria Reyz, Library Assistant)

I’m not a big fan of numbers, but here’s one I found to be interesting.  In the calendar year 2013-2014, Touro Libraries added 8,364*  new books to our holdings.  (“Holdings” – from the language of librarianship, meaning stuff we own.)  That’s a load of books.  For the most part, these were items which we purchased, selected by site librarians to support classes taught at their specific Touro locations.  (For example, Midtown has strength in education, Jewish studies, social work, psychology, clinical medicine, and profession specific literature for physician assistants, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. To see the strengths of your location, find it on the list, then click on “more information”.) Continue reading

Summer Reading

"Summer" reading (photo by Carol Schapiro)
“Summer” reading (photo by Carol Schapiro)

With fewer (or no!) classes, longer days, and maybe a vacation or weekend getaway on the calendar, summer is the perfect time to fit in some leisure reading. Touro libraries can help you get started. Check out the list below for some summer-themed recommendations, stop by to browse the shelves, or explore the catalog online. Titles in bold are ebooks available immediately for your reading pleasure. Continue reading