Today is the start of National Library Week 2013! I like that they are pushing the importance of communities in conjuction with libraries across the country, as I think that libraries are the lifeblood of the community, which is why they are so important to keep funding. The spokesperson is Caroline Kennedy (President Kennedy’s daughter), who has just come out with a cool new children’s book called Poems to Learn by Heart, a companion book to her previous volume A Family of Poems. It is illustrated by the awesomely talented author/illustrator Jon J. Muth.

In celebration of National Library Week, I’ve selected three poems that have to do with libraries, poetry and librarians. I’ve not heard of the first two poets, but I loved Nikki Giovanni’s poem on Rosa Parks, which won a 2006 Caldecott Honor and the 2006 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrators. For more info on the book, check out this interview she gave to NPR.

by Molly Peacock
may favor obscure brainy aptitudes in youand a love of the past so blind you wouldventure, always securing permission,

into the back library stacks, without food

or water because you have a mission:

to find yourself, in the regulated light,

holding a volume in your hands as you

yourself might like to be held.    Mostly your life

will be voices and images.    Information.  You

may go a long way alone, and travel much

to open a book to renew your touch.

How to Read a Poem:   Beginner’s Manual

by   Pamela Spiro Wagner
First, forget everything you have learned, 
that poetry is difficult, 
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you, 
with your high school equivalency diploma, 
your steel-tipped boots, 
or your white-collar misunderstandings. 

Do not assume meanings hidden from you: 
the best poems mean what they say and say it. 

To read poetry requires only courage 
enough to leap from the edge 
and trust.  

Treat a poem like dirt, 
humus rich and heavy from the garden. 
Later it will become the fat tomatoes 
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table. 

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day. 
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands 
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun. 
When you can name five poets 
without including Bob Dylan, 
when you exceed your quota 
and don't even notice, 
close this manual.

You can now read poetry.

My First Memory (of   Librarians)

by Nikki Giovanni
This is my first memory:
A big room with heavy wooden tables that sat on a creaky
       wood floor
A line of green shades—bankers’ lights—down the center
Heavy oak chairs that were too low or maybe I was simply
       too short
              For me to sit in and read
So my first book was always big

In the foyer up four steps a semi-circle desk presided
To the left side the card catalogue
On the right newspapers draped over what looked like
       a quilt rack
Magazines face out from the wall

The welcoming smile of my librarian
The anticipation in my heart
All those books—another world—just waiting
At my fingertips.