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It's party time in Rutherford this Sunday: Happy Birthday William Carlos Williams

The William Carlos Williams Poetry Symposium (WCWPS) is hosting a special reading to commemorate its annual celebration of WCW's birthday -- and to acknowledge 25th anniversary of the renaming of the Williams Center.

The reading will take place Sunday, September 16, 2007 on the Terrace of Rutherford's Williams Center from 1:00PM to 4:30PM. A champagne reception will follow and poets will be available to sign books. Four of WCW's family members will be attending and sharing reminiscences.

Featured authors include Alicia Ostriker and Laura Boss, both of whom read at the WCW Centennial at the Williams Center in 1983; Lewis Warsh, a featured poet at the 2005 Symposium; Urayoan Noel; Jim Klein, WCW Poetry Cooperative member; and Tina Kelley, award winning New York Times reporter. Bill Zavatsky, poet and Williams scholar, will open the reading with a discussion of WCW's works.

Teaching 9/11: lest they forget

I don't like what I've been reading in the past week or two leading up to 9/11/07 about how "maybe it's time to move on" and "stop commemorating" the tragic events of six years ago "in such a public way."

Rather, as a college teacher whose daily constituency is predominantly age 17-22, I concur with my colleague Joanne Meyerowitz, professor of American studies at Yale, who has edited a superb book I am using in my classes this year, "History and September 11th."

"For historians, history is never set in stone," Dr. Meyerowitz told Janny Scott of The New York Times. "It's written and rewritten in each generation. The events of the present, of the contemporary age, always help us reframe the events of the past. And the events of the past always help us to reframe the age we're living in."

News is the first draft of history

All is in readiness around Glen Ridge High School, as it is indeed at every NJ suburban school today: hedges trimmed, grass cut, windows washed -- and on the white and black Welcome sign upon the green slope facing Ridgewood Avenue, a heartfelt quote inspires tomorrow's reluctant students: "THE JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES BEGINS WITH A SINGLE STEP."

OK, fine, I think, driving by...that works (for them)...But the inaugural mantra for my MSU American History classes this fall semester is the same as it was last year: "NEWS IS THE FIRST DRAFT OF HISTORY." I cannot claim authorship of this pithy declaration most often attributed to Washington Post publisher Philip L. Graham.

Back to school (for real)

Last year at this time, it was a whole different feeling. I was on the verge of starting my new job as the distinguished visiting professor of history at Montclair State University. To say I was apprehensive would be a vast understatement...tortured dreams, night after night, of losing my way along a twisting path strung between countless grey buildings...standing in front of a roomful of freshmen, and forgetting my lesson plan...sitting in my office during office hours, and nobody wants to visit me...all alone...

But today, ahh, today -- as I polish, revise, and amplify the syllabi for my two courses, Intro to American History and American Society in the Twentieth Century (surprise content will not be revealed herewith, because who knows if my enrolled students at MSU might read this?) -- and refine reading lists, and play out ideal class discussion scenarios in my imagination -- I am filled with hope and anticipation.

You say you want a revolution

I collect black T-shirts (how's that for a provocative lead sentence?)

Yesterday, for my grocery-shopping excursion, I decided to wear one of my cherished favorites. It was given to me last year by renowned scholar Dr. David Kohn after a personal guided tour of his phenomenal Darwin exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in NYC.

I need to describe the shirt for you before we get to the moral of our tale: it displays a schematic notebook drawing of Darwin's first intimations about the origin of species, a crudely-sketched multi-branched "tree" with the scribbled words "I think" in script at the top.

And along the bottom of the sketch is the word REVOLUTIONARY in all capital letters, with the beginning "R" and ending "ARY" in red -- and "EVOLUTION" in white.

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