For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
December 4, 2002 - A Child's Christmas in Wales
The library has a tape of Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, reading his "A Child's Christmas in Wales." I've been listening to it as I drive.
Thomas, the preternaturally gifted wordsmith, is mesmerizing. On the one hand, he's definitely telling a story, the story of many Christmases in Wales, from the standpoint of a young boy. It's funny and charming.
On the other hand, the sheer, compelling beauty and strangeness of the language sometimes overwhelms the listener with phrases like these:
"All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea." "We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows." "I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them." "...sometimes two hale young men, with big pipes blazing, no overcoats and wind blown scarfs, would trudge, unspeaking, down to the forlorn sea, to work up an appetite, to blow away the fumes, who knows, to walk into the waves until nothing of them was left but the two furling smoke clouds of their inextinguishable briars."
We Americans often lose track of the real meaning of poetry. It's too easy, particularly in the holiday season, to relegate it to greeting card sentiments. Real poetry -- and anything by Thomas certainly qualifies -- is about something else. It's about a heightened sense of reality, of language so pure and powerful that it changes us as we listen to it.
To celebrate this fine work, published in 1955, the Douglas Public Library District's own theatre troupe, Page to Stage Productions, will present several performances of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" around the district. The show will be presented by library staff in a reader's theater setting. All of the performances are free.
Here are the places and times:
December 3: The Lone Tree Library at 6:30 pm
December 4: The Highlands Ranch Library at 7 pm
December 5: The Parker Library at 7 pm
December 11: The Philip S. Miller Library at 7 pm
Page to Stage Productions presents theatre performances based on treasured literature throughout the year. The performances are recommended for anyone from the age of 8 and up.
It's my hope that such programs will encourage families to dig out more treasures from our collection. In fact, I hope they take it one step farther, and actually read them aloud to each other at home. While there's something to be said for gathering around the television in your pjs to watch yet another, "It's a Wonderful Life," there's something even more engaging about reading to each other by the fireplace, or the Christmas tree.
The season is a time to build memories, and what better memory than the sound of beloved voices, probing the rhythms and insights of great literature?