Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"The angels may love her / But surely they do not visit her."

By now, Library Society members should have received their 2009 Annual Appeal letters.  If you've got yours, then you have noticed that the Society now has a tiered membership structure. There is a basic Friend of the Library membership at $75 (the same as the old Adult Annual membership), a new Senior membership at $20, and a range of giving circles to recognize gifts from $100 right on to gifts of over $5000.  These circles have been named for figures either important in the history of the Society or whose work is an outstanding part of our collection.

All of this is prelude for something I've been wanting to do for weeks, ever since it was decided to name our $100-$499 giving Circle after her: talk about Beatrice Witte Ravenel.

Here goes: stop reading this blog, come down to the Society, and check out the poetry of Beatrice Witte Ravenel.  It's a quick read, and it's ridiculously great.  A wildly talented poet- during her time at Radcliffe she was an editor of the Harvard Monthly Magazine, and was published in Harpers and The Atlantic- Ravenel abandoned her poetry when she married.  During her lifetime she produced just one bound volume, The Arrow of Lightning: one more volume, The Yemassee Lands was compiled after her death.  Her three dozen or so poems stand as the greatest poems of the Charleston Renaissance; they easily equal any contemporary work on the national scene.  Today Ravenel is a largely forgotten part of the Charleston Renaissance, but her work is unforgettable to any readers who experience it.  An excerpt, describing Nicholas Trott's judgment of the Pirates from the view of the condemned, and then a full poem:

"And first he lifts from your shoulder the cover of common humanity,
Men?  You are not men.  You are hostes humani generis,
Enemies of all mankind.  Neither faith, nay, nor oath need be kept with you.  You were formerly ousted of clergy.
Now the law grants you this comfort; and, with a smooth lovingkindness
Equal to that of the law, he trusts you will profit.
But- he may allow you no council.

"He is telling you further
That the God of the land made the ocean,
(He swivels the Scriptures about like a gun, texts spitting for grapeshot):
That he parceled it out and place it under the thumbs of Kings and of lawyers.
(O ye fowls of the air, ye wild winds, ye waterspouts,
Praise ye the Lord!)
And against all these three, God, King, and Lawyers, have you offended."

-excerpted from "The Pirates"

"Salvage "

Three things in my house are my own.
Not the dark pictures whose blood runs in my veins,
Nor the vines that I trained round the windows,
Nor even the books.
But the curve of a shabby armchair that molded itself on your body,
And the echoes of songs that you sang,
And the square of sun
That comes as it came, first in the morning,
When you had opened the window.

There: there's a little poetry for a slow Thursday afternoon.  Stop by, pick up a copy of The Yemassee Lands, take it home, read the whole thing in forty minutes.  Connect with your cultural inheritance as Charlestonians; experience some of the best literary imagery of the Lowcountry ever penned; feel a little more civilized for checking out a book of poetry.

One last excerpt, from "Tidewater":

"Is Marathon richlier echoed
With voices of youthful heroes
Than the swamps of Santee?
When the bloom runs over the moss
In a lost gray glory of tarnished sliver,
  of shadowy pearl,
Riders furrow the night-
Marion, Marion's men,
Pass in a voiceless tumult,
Pass like the smoke from a torch,
With dark, unextinguished eyes."

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's not lupus. It's NEVER lupus.

Confirmed News: Lisa Sanders, faculty of Yale School of Medicine, NY Times Magazine columnist, inspiration for and technical advisor to the television show House, and author of Every Patient Tells a Story : Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis, will be talking at the Library Society on November 1st. This lecture should be informative and entertaining in equal measure, and the CLS is quite privileged to host it. More information-will be available soon.  The event starts at 5:00 PM and there is no admission charge.

Unconfirmed news: Hugh Laurie will also be along, singing novelty songs from A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and doing readings from Blackadder.

Okay, I just made the Hugh Laurie bit up. He's not coming. Though we would love to have him: I'm sure the man who claimed "[P.G.] Wodehouse Saved My Life" would be right at home here at a library where Jeeves and Wooster novels still fly off the shelf, sixty years after their publication.

ALSO: In much the same way that Generalissimo Francisco Franco remains dead, The Pat Conroy event is still sold out. Call or email, and we'll be happy to put you on the waiting list should tickets become available...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dies iræ! Dies illa!

Day of wrath! O day of mourning! Pat is sold out, booked, packed to the gills, jammed full. All seats have been accounted for by pre-sales to members. There are no more tickets; there is still much more demand...

This coming Thursday is the first day of sales to non-members, and we've already been informed, many times, "My whole book club is ready to come get tickets, first thing on the 15th" or "Everyone I know is chomping at the bit to get tickets" or "All my friends are calling at 9:30 on the 15th!", et cetera, et cetera.

Your loyal blogger -the Library staffer who sits closest to the telephone- feels he is about to become a very unpopular person. The general public might have no shot at tickets: hopefully they won't have a shot at me, instead.

Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla
judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus.
-Requiem, Tridentine Mass

Okay, enough lamentation, let's be positive: y'all sold out an event in a week's time. About two thirds of tickets were gone in the first 48 hours. With pre-sale available for members only, membership has jumped. Best of all, I had enough to handle last week concerning this event that I had to put off all the old work stacked on my desk. We knew that Pat Conroy is a draw second to none, but still, this is impressive.

If you haven't got your tickets yet, don't lament (but don't delay, either). Call us now, and we'll put you on our waiting list if tickets become available. It's a long time until December 10th...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"We're just a library, standing in front of a patron... asking you to love us."

For most of the year, Library Society fundraising is like a gawky and awkward Hugh Grant in a Richard Curtis movie... We quietly fumble about in the sidelights, all the while silently hoping you'll notice us for just long enough to see that we're madly in love with you. We're really quite charming, you see, and not at all anti-social; just rather shy, and awkward amongst pretty strangers.

Then comes the Annual Appeal Campaign (starting today)! Now we become climax/falling action Hugh Grant: it's almost the end of the movie, and we're racing across London in a friend's car, frantically trying to find you before you take off back to America, no longer moved by infatuation but earnestly longing for a deep, lasting relationship.

And what better way to define "deep, lasting relationship" than in monetary terms? Your gifts sustain our programmes, allow new accessions, provide for repairs and improvements. The year-round services the Library provides are possible because of this period Annual Appeal giving. In the past we have never failed to be both very impressed and deeply humbled by giving of our patrons, and we hope that generosity is expressed in the Appeal once again this year.

Also, if anyone has a Chagall they would like to donate, we would be more than happy to have it...

Because happiness isn't happiness without a violin-playing goat.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Suddenly, Monday appears again.

As promised last week, official details on the Pat Conroy event:

The night A South of Broad Evening with Pat Conroy (December 10th) will be divided into two complimentary events, one hosted by the CLS, and the other by the Gibbes. From 5:00 to 6:30 there will be cocktails and hors d'oeuvres with Pat here at the Library. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvers will be catered by the ever-wonderful Slightly North of Broad. In the interest of facilitating the best personal experience for all, and allowing every attendee time to talk with Pat, tickets will be very limited for this event. Tickets are $125 for members and $150 for nonmembers.

Tickets for members are available now. Tickets for non-members will not be available until the 15th of October.

Call us, right now, at 843.723.9912 and buy your tickets. Alternatively, email us at rsvp@charlestonlibrarysociety.org. Please give us more information than "My name is Mike and I would like tickets". Name, number of tickets, purchasing information and contact number should all be in there. Tickets are first come, first serve, and will go quickly.