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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sea Rose fits in your pocket

Tomorrow is the Academy of American Poets' Poem in Your Pocket Day. To celebrate, select a poem, pocket it, carry it, and share it throughout the day.

I'll be carrying one of my favorites, H.D.'s "Sea Rose," from the collection Sea Garden:

Sea Rose

Rose, harsh rose,
marred and with stint of petals,
meagre flower, thin,
sparse of leaf,

more precious
than a wet rose
single on a stem—
you are caught in the drift.

Stunted, with small leaf,
you are flung on the sand,
you are lifted
in the crisp sand
that drives in the wind.

Can the spice-rose
drip such acrid fragrance
hardened in a leaf?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The geometry of rope

NPS Image of children hauling on a line on Balclutha

Ever wonder about the physical rules behind a good rope? Intrigued by the phrase, "zero-twist point?" Then you would enjoy Alexandra Witze's article in ScienceNews, Physicists untangle the geometry of rope.

Her article gives a basic, brief overview of the mathematics behind the process of turning strands into rope, as revealed in Jakob Bohr & Kasper Olsen's article, The ancient art of laying rope.

How did the researchers come to work on rope winding? From their work on DNA, of course!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On a few of Carsten Jensen's top 10 seafaring tales

Today the Guardian posted Carsten Jensen's top 10 seafaring tales. It's a wonderful list--I've read many of the titles, and am looking forward to reading many more.

He doesn't mention specific editions, so here are some of my favorite editions of a few of his top seafaring titles:

  • The Odyssey of Homer. Translated, with an introduction, by Richmond Lattimore. Lattimore's translations are are just beautiful, and have become the standard texts for students and pleasure readers alike. The Internet Archive has archived a biographical sketch by Deborah E. Kamen which includes a complete bibliography of his works, including his translations and poetry, if you want to read more.

  • Moby-Dick, or, The Whale, published by the University of California Press. This is a reduced, trade version of the Arion Press Moby-Dick, which was published in 1979 in a limited edition of 250 copies. If a library near you has the Arion Press edition, go see it--it's gorgeous. The paper is the most delicate watery blue, and the Barry Moser engravings seem alive. The typeface, in both editions is easy on the eyes, and the UC Press edition is large enough for comfortable reading, yet small enough to carry around in a satchel.

  • "The Little Mermaid," in: The annotated Hans Christian Andersen translated by Maria Tatar. I haven't yet read this edition, so I'm going out on a limb by recommending it, but I do so without hesitation having enjoyed Tatar's other translations immensely. Her list of publications includes academic titles as well as her beautiful editions of folk and fairy tales.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Seized by Max Hardberger

Michael Bono has written in about a new book by Max Hardberger, Seized! A Sea Captain's Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World's Most Troubled Waters. Available in hardback in the U.S. on April 6, 2010 and in the U.K. in paperback on June 13, 2010, the author:

... recounts his adventures repossessing ships and sneaking them out of lawless, third-world countries, often under threat of death or imprisonment. His journeys lead him from corrupt ports in the Caribbean to the ice-bound docks of Vladivostok. His adventures in rescuing ships pit him against a rogue’s gallery of antagonists, including Haitian rebels, modern-day Caribbean pirates, and Russian mobsters.

--from the author's website.

Want to learn even more? Check out the author's newsletter!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Stack fever

The following will be featured in the upcoming newsletter of the Friends of the San Francisco Maritime Museum Library, Relative Bearings. The discovery of this text was a happy coincidence, as librarians everywhere have been gearing up to celebrate National Poetry Month. It was decided to share it here, also, along with an editorial comment, in the hope of reaching a wide audience:

Stack Fever
by A. Poppet-Turning

I must go down to the Stacks again,
To the lonely shelves and bays,
And must take along some sustenance,
'Cause I could be lost for days.

I must go down to the Stacks again,
To page requested books,
That have been shelved hither and yon,
In overfull shelves and nooks.

Oh, I must go down to the Stacks again,
Where the light bulbs go to die,
And all I ask is an empty cart,
And a torch to steer her by.


A typescript copy of the above poem was found tucked into the Library's copy of English maritime books printed before 1801, apparently used as a bookmark. Examination of the Library's records failed to reveal either a staff member or volunteer bearing the name A. Poppet Turning, and further research yielded no fruitful results, although it is wondered, perhaps, if the author is related to the South Kensington Poppet-Turnings. (The use of the word "torch" for "flashlight" seems to indicate the author's mother tongue may have been British English.) It is hoped that further research may be illuminating. --Ed.

This is, of course, a parody of John Masefield's "Sea Fever," but that's about as much as is known. If any readers have any information on either A. Poppet-Turning, or his (or her) works, do get in touch--our researchers would be grateful for any leads.