Friday, February 17, 2017

Diane Mayr: Be Curious


"Curiouser and curiouser"
 Photo by Stanley Howe

Wondering what this band of bovines are curious about? 


I bet Diane Mayr knows... or if not, I bet she can find out. 
That's what librarians do best!

In today's post, the second in her "Ask a Librarian" series, Diane explores some terrific resources for finding inspiration. Her first post in the series, about ekphrastic poetry, can be found HERE.

Thank you, Diane, for feeding our muses and our brains! 

(Would you mind feeding the cows while you're at it?)

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Be Curious

I'm a librarian, but I'm also a writer who has done school visits. I have never visited a school where this question wasn't asked:

 "Where do you get your ideas?" 

The answer, for me at least, is everywhere! The key is to be curious--about everything! (Well, maybe not toenail fungus...)

Being a curious person, I subscribe to a number of general interest newsletters that deliver content to my inbox. Most times I don't read one completely, but I think it's fair to say that almost every link I click on is a path to an article or a story or a poem waiting to be written.

The other day, I ended up at a site on tactile paving as the result of a newsletter. [Tactile paving is a system of "textured ground surface indicators" found on sidewalks, train station platforms, and other areas that assist pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired.] It was fascinating. After reading, I couldn't help thinking about writing a mystery where a tactile paving surface became a clue.

Here are a few of my favorite newsletters:

Atlas Obscura.
Atlas Obscura is a collaborative project. We depend on our far-flung community of explorers (like you!) to help us discover amazing, hidden spots, and share them with the world.
In their newsletter I found an article on America as a nation of immigrants. It certainly is good to have a little background on issues being discussed today.


In the same newsletter is an article on the continuing search for the Holy Grail. Maybe it will inspire someone to write a novel of adventure and intrigue. Move over Dan Brown.

Subscribe on the home page.

Austin Kleon.

At the top of the 2/10/17 newsletter:
This week: productivity vs. creativity, amusing ourselves to death, and more...
Austin Kleon is a writer and illustrator. You may have seen his Newspaper Blackout book of found poems. He also wrote Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work!, both of which I have read and highly recommend! His newsletter is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Click here to see the 2/10/17 edition.

Subscribe here.

Omeleto.
Like an omelet, we believe in pulling together various ingredients to make something extraordinary. We share genuinely inspiring content to spark action and change. ....That's our mission: to inspire you to live a more purposeful life.
Many of the newsletter items are things I have seen on social media, but there's always something completely new to me. In one edition of the daily email there was a link to a video about a musician. His instrument of choice? Ice. Another link led to a video about someone who has collected snow data for decades. There is generally something that's going to make you grab box of tissues (I'm a firm believer in the value of a good cry), and sometimes there's poetry.


Subscribe here.

If you are a history fan, you're in luck! History newsletters abound!

Awesome Stories.
Whether in the classroom or the courtroom, people learn from examining evidence (primary sources) and hearing differing viewpoints, as all those items are pulled-together in a story format. When the stories are also interactive, as they are at AwesomeStories, learners are involved in the process.
Written for and by teachers, the articles are meant for classroom use, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't read them! A February Black History Month newsletter had links to topics such as Frederick Douglass (whose name has been in the news recently).

Subscribe on the home page.

New England Historical Society
(Become a member it's completely free, and I have yet to receive a solicitation for money.) There is no mission statement listed, tsk, tsk, but the articles cover the six New England states.

"There’s an old expression in New England that if nothing seems to go right for you, you have the luck of Hiram Smith." I learned that Hiram Smith died in many different ways. Say what? Find out here.

Subscribe here.

Most state and regional historical societies will have a newsletter. Sign up and learn about your own neck of the woods.

Here's a curious-history-buff bonus:

If you want to give your eyes a break, there is an ongoing series of history podcasts from Stuff You Missed in History Class that are lively and fun to listen to. Glance through the archives here.

Not a history buff? Then perhaps there is another topic that interests you? There are newsletters for practically every subject under the sun—and the sun, moon, and stars, too!

Stay curious, my friend.


Diane Mayr is a long-time public librarian and a freelance writer.  She is the author of a storyhour favorite picture book, Run, Turkey, Run! (Walker & Co., 2007).  Since 2007, she has concentrated on haiku and other short form poems, and works to improve her graphic skills by illustrating them. Find out more about Diane at her website.

Jeannine Atkin's DMC challenge to write a poem using personified feeling is going gangbusters! Featured poems this week included ones by David McMullin, Bridget Magee, Kathleen Mazurowski, and Keri Collins Lewis. Post yours on our February 2017 padlet, then come back next Friday for our end-of-month wrap-up.





Jone Rush MacCulloch has our Poetry Friday roundup this week at Check it Out. Thanks, Jone!

23 comments:

  1. I love how curious you are, Diane! It makes your poems so interesting :-) (Have you seen Open Culture? I think you would like it.)

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    1. I ran across it once, a long time ago and forgot to go back to it. I'll have to remember to do that when I get home from work, later. Thanks!

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  2. Thanks for allowing me to share my curiosity today, Michelle! I hope there's something here for everyone. As for the bovines, they're undoubtedly as curious about the viewer as the viewer is about them.

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    1. You and your curiosity are always most welcome, Diane! A+ on the bovine assessment. :)

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  3. Great ideas for inspiration, Diane.

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  4. Thanks for all these great links, Diane. I love having more resources at hand. You are the cutest Cheshire Cat. :)

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  5. What a storehouse of wonder! Thanks so much.

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  6. Wonderful links to explore--thanks for sharing your curiosity!

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  7. I feel as if I already receive a lot of feeds, but these are all new to me, and I thank you for your curious mind that shares, too! They look wonderful, Diane.

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  8. Curiosity feeds the cat (and our minds)! Great line up links to explore, Diane! Thanks for highlighting Diane's expertise today, Michelle! =)

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  9. I love this idea of the world just brimming with potential ideas and inspiration in even the unlikeliest of places!

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  10. Diane, Thanks for these uncommon links. I chased one (now subscribed) & found a groovy article on "Library Hand" the certain way of writing oh, so legibly, for the old paper cart catalogues. I already stand (sit?) with you, as a subscribed member of the N.E. Historical Soc. One of my works-in-progress has an abolition theme with Boston-set characters, so I had found my way to this boosting newsletter. Michelle thanks for showcasing Diane's curiosity & her generosity.

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  11. I'm going to come back and follow some of these links to see where they lead me. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  12. Thanks, Diane. I have the Atlas Obscura book, and look at it all the time. So many amazing things out there in the world to be curious about.

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  13. Thanks for your chock-full-of-links Diane! I'd definitely enjoy checking a few of them out.

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  14. Curiosity needs to be more than just a sponge. It needs the filter of artist or writer in order to make something new with all that is absorbed!

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  15. I'm bookmarking this post, Michelle and Diane - so much inspiration here!

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  16. Thank you, everyone. I'm always amazed at how much I don't know and will never know, but these links should keep us all learning, and, lead us to new revelations. Any day you learn something new is a day well-spent!

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  17. What a storehouse! Thank you, Diane & Michelle, for these enriching new paths to meander along. (I do get the Austin Kleon newsletter; need to actually READ it more often!) ;0)

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  18. Oh, my gosh! I feel like Michelle and Diane put this post together expressly for me. I'm curious to the point of annoyance for some. These links are great. And, I love seeing how you distill curiosity into writing. A great Poetry Friday share. I've already shared the link to the map and Eleanor Roosevelt's My Day ... now I'm off to sign up for some of the other news letters. You both are fantastic for sharing creative fodder and process this week.

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    1. I signed up for the Atlas Obscura newsletter....and then remembered twitter. It's tough to take the time to surf through newsletters. I'm already struggling to keep up with blogs of friends. But, all these sources are also on twitter. I can click on what seems interesting from there.

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  19. How fun is this? The newsletters all look like I could get lost in them.

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