But Stauffer and his students soon realized that was just one story being told in these volumes. While looking at nineteenth-century copies of work by Felicia Hemans, a poet wildly beloved at the time for her sentimental verse, the students were immediately drawn to everything else happening in these books: not just the expected underlining and dog-ears, but bookplates, diary entries, letters, quotes, pressed flowers, and readers’ own poetic flights of fancy. One reader had even penned an elegy for her daughter Mary, who had died at age seven. What they found in the Hemans books “opened our eyes,” Stauffer says. “It suddenly clicked. This wasn’t noise or damage— this was augmentation.”
In 2014, Stauffer founded the Book Traces project to investigate what else the library might be hiding in plain sight. He started an online archive of his findings at booktraces .org, and has since invited anyone from around the world to submit photographs of the “traces” they find in library books published before 1923—meaning books that are in the public domain—in circulating collections.
Interested in formally expanding the project, Stauffer and Kara M. McClurken, the library’s director of preservation services, successfully applied for a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources. He recruited Kristin Jensen to manage the project and hired research assistants to comb through thousands of books on the open shelves of UVA’s libraries and catalogue the extra material the books yielded.
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Saddle Up and Read
A young reader finds an attentive audience during a July 2020 farm visit.
SOME THOUGHTS ON ORDER—IN POETRY, IN LIFE
A Decade of Women Who Submit
For the past decade an international community of women and nonbinary writers have been working to claim space for themselves in an industry historically dominated by men. Known as Women Who Submit (WWS), the group supports and empowers its members to submit their work in spite of publishing’s inequities. Their achievements have been extraordinary: This July, the organization celebrates its tenth year, with twenty-seven chapters across the United States and Mexico, more than one hundred fifty successful book and magazine publication credits by its members in 2020, and a devoted community of writers, editors, and publishers.
Ehrlich Speaks to Mother-Writers
Lara Ehrlich, author of the short story collection Animal Wife (Red Hen Press, 2020), has a deep narrative investment in the ways the world denies women power and agency. In October 2020 that commitment took a new shape with the first episode of her podcast, Writer Mother Monster, a much-needed balm for those of us balancing mothering and writing in the midst of a global pandemic. Aimed at dismantling the myth that women can “have it all,” her podcast is a series of interviews with mother-writers working in all genres, at varied points in their careers, who candidly discuss the joys and complications of that dual identity. Ehrlich, herself a mother-writer—her daughter turns five this year—spoke about what she has gleaned from these exchanges and how they’ve influenced her own approach.
What We Ought to Do: THE SONG OF IMBOLO MBUE
In her second novel, How Beautiful We Were, Imbolo Mbue uses the chorus of voices in a small African village fighting for justice in the shadow of an American oil company to sing in celebration of community, connection, and enduring hope.
Pandemic Pen Pals
Nupur Chaudhury, a public health strategist living in New York City, grew up in the nineties sending letters through the mail. She received weekly aerograms from relatives in India; she corresponded with a pen pal in Texas; her father even took her to admire the post office’s new stamps every month. But as she grew older, Chaudhury says, “E-mail became more popular, and I really put that writing part of me to the side”—that is, until she came across the pen pal exchange Penpalooza on Twitter in August 2020.
Neither muscle nor mouth
Neither muscle nor mouth / devoted to one way of speaking. Every language // I borrow from somewhere else,” writes Threa Almontaser in The Wild Fox of Yemen (Graywolf Press, April 2021), winner of the Walt Whitman Award. In her debut Almontaser summons the language of her ancestors and family members, poets both contemporary and historical, experimental rock bands and rappers, and many more, to fashion an idiom that is both rebellious and reverent. Dedicated to the people of Yemen, the book offers a portrait of a country and its history and future. “Yemen has such an ancient and rich history, but with its current collapse, search engines show only the sad photos of starving kids,” says Almontaser. “I wanted to portray not only the war, but the beauty of Arabia Felix, of what it could still return to being.”
Writers Confront Climate Crisis
Author and activist Toni Cade Bambara has said the role of the artist is “to make revolution irresistible.” So when Jenny Offill, author of the novels Dept. of Speculation (Knopf, 2014) and Weather (Knopf, 2020), heard about the work of Writers Rebel—the writers’ arm of Extinction Rebellion, an international activist group that works against climate change—she felt compelled to get involved.
Revising the Dream
Publishing a debut novel in an uncertain world
Pandemic Writing Group
Finding Creativity, Community, and Play
MOM & DAUGHTER UNASHAMED TO SHOWER TOGETHER!
‘SMOTHERED’ VIEWERS WEIRDED OUT BY SUPERCLOSE PAIR
INTO THE DEEP
Introduced in Turing cards, DLSS promised better images via machine learning. PHIL IWANIUK plumbs its depths
Lindblad Cruise Ship Designed To Get Guests Close To Nature
Some cruise ships are so packed with amenities that guests never want to leave. National Geographic Venture is designed and outfitted for passengers to get off the vessel and explore their surroundings.
BRIDE of the MONTH - AROOSA KHAN
Studying for her final year law, at Mithibai College Mumbai, Aroosa Khan is currently curating digital content for Media Magic, a digital media house, promoted by Vikram Razdan, a pioneer with 25 years experience in the entertainment business. Having the advantage of been bred in a family where Aroosa's sister Warda is married to the Bollywood movie mogul Sajid Nadiadwala, the soon-to-be law graduate, is also all set to make a mark as a multi-media professional, Her strengths are her overall looks, personality & confidence, besides orating and communicative skills.
Head over heels
Why Ashley Jensen is delighted to return as stiletto-wearing sleuth Agatha Raisin
Jensen Huang - Making His Own Reality
Today, we keep hearing that “technology is advancing at breakneck speeds” or “every year there are new technological innovations.”
FA Youth Cup: Wigan Athletic 2-0 Spurs
FA Youth Cup: Wigan Athletic 2-0 Spurs