Spring Burial: The Legend of the Service Tree

We grew up thinking that if there wasn’t pavement under our feet, we were lost,” Marc Kaminsky said, as he sat with his longtime friend George Getzel, who lay dying in a hospital bed at Calvary Hospital, talking about spring. They were two Bronx kids who morphed into two aging, brilliant intellectuals. Struck by George’s tranquility in the face of mortality, Marc asked his friend, filmmaker Menacham Daum to videotape their conversation, and sent a copy to me.

In his better days, George told Marc, he’d loved to visit the New York Botanical Garden in all four seasons. Each time it would be a totally different world: the garden was a symbol of nature and birth and growth and decay.

“I was especially close to the service tree,” George explained. “It’s an indigenous tree in northeast America. It’s a tree that may be considered a bush—but it’s a tree. It actually fruits, and a sweet little fruit comes out of it when the weather warms up. It’s also the first tree to blossom in the woods. It has soft, large flower petals, light pinkish-white, and if you can reach out and smell it, it has the most delicate perfume.”

“Our ancestors had a real problem when people died during the winter, because they couldn’t bury them; the ground was too hard. So what they did was wait till the service tree bloomed, and then they knew that the ground was soft enough.”

That touched me deeply.

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The serviceberry tree in bloom, courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden.

“So for the last few years, when I could still walk, I would go into the Bronx botanical garden to walk on a trail through fifty acres of virgin forest, and there was the service tree. And I tried—it has a life of flowering of, like, three days— to imagine, ‘Is the ground soft?’ ‘Will I make it?’ And sometimes I made it and sometimes I didn’t, but I think that it is emblematic of my notion of immortality in life: a brief time, a beautiful fragrance, and then passing, disintegrating, falling to the ground, and renewal.”

Alone with his mortality in the hospital late one night, George spontaneously texted Marc some of his spiritual musings. It ended:

 

 

 

Humankind calls out for compassion

For one’s self and then the other

The spent perfume of the petals

Of the service tree

Fall to the forest bottom

When earth loses its chill

Back in the hospital room, George continued to express his deep and thoughtful perspective on life in the face of imminent mortality.“I remember holding my wife’s hand when she was dying,” George told Marc, “and having a great sense of intimacy, the same as when I held my hand over her belly when she was pregnant. There’s this mixture. Even in the face of the grim realities of life that nauseate you and shatter your dreams, I’ve found—with difficulty—deeper meaning.”

“We all hold down to something that we would hope would have permanence,” he continued. “Something that would lead us beyond our grave and have something of eternity tied to it. We discover that the idol—be it money, position, your own children, the neighborhood you live in—it’s not forever and it falls apart and isn’t what you thought it was when you were a young man. It becomes moth-eaten and dissipates, and then with that it’s followed by new growth, new possibilities.”

George Getzel died on January 7, 2018. The serviceberry tree he loved so well will bloom again this spring.

 

Related event: Spring Writes Literary Festival – May 3 to May 6, 2018

POETRYOF

About the author of this blog post: Steve Zeitlin is the founding director of City Lore, and the author or co-author of ten books on America’s folk culture. He has documented, recorded and fallen in love with carnival pitches, children’s rhymes, family stories, subway stories, ancient cosmologies, and oral poetry traditions from around the world.

You can purchase his latest book: The Poetry of Everyday Life, here

 

 

Spring Burial: The Legend of the Service Tree

This May 15th . . . Pay What You Want for Our Books!

On Tuesday May 15th, we’re going all out. And for one day only, you can put a price on our books.

Why are we doing this?!

One, we love books as much as you do. Two, we want to help spread knowledge. Three, we trust you!

How does it work?

  1. Visit our website
  2. Choose your book(s)
  3. Decide how much you can pay
  4. Email us with your offer at cupress-sales@cornell.edu
  5. Enjoy your new book(s)!

Simple.

Is my offer good enough?

Next, we’ll take a look at your offer. If we can do it, we’ll send you a special discount code to use online or by phone.

If we can’t make it work, we’ll offer you free digital access to the book, or the chance to make a new offer. 

So, save the date:

May 15th, 9am-6pm EST, Pay What You Want, and enjoy your reading!

*U.S.A. only

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This May 15th . . . Pay What You Want for Our Books!

BROOKLYN BEFORE (cellphones)

There was a time when people didn’t have cellphones. And it wasn’t that long ago. Children played tag outside, lovers kissed in the park, elders sat around the table sharing stories or gathered around the TV. People looked up at the sky. And they weren’t taking pictures with their phones. How did this shape our environment, our relationships, and our everyday lives?

I believe that back then we were more present, more intimate, and more engaged. Nature was a place to get lost in, and the city was a playground waiting to be explored. When people gathered for an important event, they actually looked. The moments didn’t fly by unnoticed.

In a time when fewer people had cameras, every moment was singular, and most photos more candid, not posed for Instagram. The people who captured those moments often had incredible stories of their own. Here are two of them:

Scenes Unseen: The Summer of ’78

In a New York Times article posted today, Jim Dwyer presents a slideshow of long-forgotten pictures made in parks across New York City’s five boroughs late in the summer of 1978. Surprisingly enough, the pictures were a hidden treasure, and had been sitting around in two cardboard boxes for forty years. Unseen.

The images are astonishing: unleashed laughter, a group of little boys flexing their muscles, elderly people dancing in floppy hats, and young ones swimming in hardly anything. No one holds a smartphone.

Brooklyn Before: Photographs, 1971-1983

What did Brooklyn look like before rising to international fame? Photographer Larry Racioppo answers this questions in his upcoming book Brooklyn Before, a collection of 128 images that transport us to the place that was home to working-class community of Irish American, Italian American, and Puerto Rican families. And it is an intimate and rough insight, the kind that only an insider could provide.

The photographs cover a wide range of everyday scenes including balconies connected by clothes lines, children peering through a wire fence, a drum circle on the sidewalk, and a giant wheel, among others. They tell the story of a vibrant borough of neighborhoods, its communities, its connections and traditions. They talk.

So, here’s is an invitation to travel in time and immerse yourself in these stories. It’s an invitation, if anything, to put down your phone for a moment and see. To talk. To become an active observer and appreciate how the human connection is irreplaceable and binding. And hopefully, to learn something from it.

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Recommended watch: “How is your phone changing you?”

 

About the author of this blog post: Adriana Ferreira is the Social Media Coordinator at Cornell University Press. She wrote this blog post on a Friday morning and was eager to disconnect. In case you haven’t noticed.

BROOKLYN BEFORE (cellphones)

Inspiration for poets: a behind-the-scenes look at Yeats’s creative process

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The poetry of a great master such as William Butler Yeats marvels us. His written words leap off the page and dance. Evocative images and subtle emotions emerge from the act of reading it.

His poem “The Pilgrim”, from New Poems, is short and succinct but delves deeply into Yeats’s journey for the meaning of existence. In his pilgrimage, Yeats searches everywhere for answers, from worldly pleasures to the realms of spirit, but his questions are never answered in anything other than a nonsensical phrase – “Is rol de rol de rolly O!” Embracing what he has been given, he decides in the last stanza that this absurd wisdom is the answer he was looking for the entire time.

The ultimate understanding that Yeats was striving to comprehend can never fully be expressed in words alone. “Is rol de rol de rolly O!” is as good as any other answer when using the limited tools of language. It bypasses our logical side and opens us up to the great mystery that this life is. And it can also be used as a mantra when we are at work. Similar to one of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, the phrase can lift you out of stuck spot and inspire you to take a completely different direction. It can even be used to simply get you started on a creative endeavor.

The spirit of “Is rol de rol de rolly O!” is proudly anti-perfectionist. Not that it doesn’t admire an ideal, but it doesn’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. The wisdom lies not in the content but in the process. The Cornell Yeats volumes allow us to see this by providing us with Yeats’s unpublished drafts and manuscripts. Peel back the curtain on the creative genius of Yeats and take a look at the initial drafts of this poem:

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It’s a bit of a mess.

The additional pages are no better, with large sections crossed off and revamped:

Even the more orderly type-written final draft got revised:

Now let that sink in. The creative process of one of the greatest poets in history is messy. Chaotic. Confusing. Just like yours.

So embrace the mess, embrace the chaos, and the confusion. Let go, embrace your creativity and follow its meandering path to see where it leads. And if you run into obstacles in the road that stop you in your tracks, you now know the words to move yourself forward . . . “Is rol de rol de rolly O!”

Suggested post-reading watch:

 

About the author of this blog post: Jonathan Hall is the Digital Marketing Manager at Cornell University Press. He embraces chaos with his trusty saxophone, Taoist martial arts, and mountain biking.

 

 

 

 

Inspiration for poets: a behind-the-scenes look at Yeats’s creative process

The power of activism: speaking out for clean water in the Hudson River

Earth Day 2018 is around the corner. What can we take from it this year, what can we repeat from the past, and what can we do differently? The story of the Hudson River presented by David Schuyler in Embattled River is a great place to start. An investigative narrative filled with lessons to be learned, it is a call to action for all of us who want to live in harmony with nature, and an example of how important it is to raise one’s voice when it comes to leading change.

My dirty stream

Named Mahicantuck (or “river that flows two ways”) by native peoples long before Hudson’s arrival, the Hudson River has been a key battleground in modern US environmentalism since 1962, when Consolidated Edison announced plans to construct a pumped storage electrical generating power plant at Storm King Mountain. But the pollution and bleak future of the Hudson River was as clear as water even before that, and by 1950, the impact of humans and our abuse of the river’s natural resources was evident.

Still waters

Still waters run deep, and a loose coalition of activists were ready to act and defend the river. Led by Scenic Hudson, and later joined by groups such as Riverkeeper, Clearwater, the Hudson River Valley Greenway, and the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the coalition won the first of many legal and publicity battles that would halt pollution of the river, slowly reverse the damage of years of discharge, and protect hundreds of thousands of acres of undeveloped land in the river valley.

As Schuyler shows, the environmental victories on the Hudson had broad impact. In the state at the heart of the story, the victory resulted in the creation of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (1970) to monitor, investigate, and litigate cases of pollution. At a national level, the environmental ferment in the Hudson Valley contributed directly to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, and the creation of the Superfund in 1980 to fund the cleanup of toxic dump sites.

An ongoing battle

As a result of the Clean Water Act and some enforcement by the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Hudson River is cleaner than at any time since the dawn of industrialization in the nineteenth century. But the presence of so many chemicals in the water and the flesh of the fish that inhabit it—many of them known carcinogens—makes the efforts of the river’s defenders an ongoing battle, and today the struggle to control its uses and maintain its ecological health persists.

An arm of the sea where salty sea water meets fresh water running off the land, the Hudson River plays a pivotal role in the emergence of modern environmentalism in the United States. Embattled River is proof of what can be achieved when environmental activists stand for nature, and the stories of the pioneering advocates told by Schuyler provide lessons, reminders, and the inspiration to celebrate this Earth Day.

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Featured event:

Join the Olana Partnership from Saturday May 26th onwards, and be part of its First Ever Facebook Book Club with author David Schuyler, to discuss his newly published book Embattled River.

 

 

 

Recommended song  for this post:

 

About the author of this blog post: Adriana Ferreira is the Social Media Coordinator at Cornell University Press. She is passionate about sustainability and the environment, and as a kid was obsessed with a book called Mi hermana Clara ecologista.

 

 

 

 

 

The power of activism: speaking out for clean water in the Hudson River

Ithaca is trending. What does clothing have to do with books?

A few days ago, Ithaca hosted its first Fashion week and as I strolled downtown, I encountered all sorts of enthusiastic fashionistas. Two women were sketching designs with chalk on the sidewalk, a runway rehearsal was happening at Dewitt Mall, and I thought people in general looked quite stylish. But what does clothing have to do with books?

Casanova_ButtonedUp copy

When it comes to men’s fashion and the workplace, the research presented in Buttoned Up, by author Erynn Masi de Casanova, can help understand this relationship. Casual Fridays is an institution, telecommuting is sometimes the rule, and a decrease in formal dress codes is evident. And even though many workplaces now encourage a business casual dress code, men high on the food chain tend to prefer the traditional two-piece suit. The Boston Globe pointed out that the homogeneity in men’s work attires throughout decades shows this conformism. So why do men feel constrained in their choices about how to look professional?

Masi de Casanova interviews dozens of men in three US cities with distinct local dress cultures—New York, San Francisco, and Cincinnati—and asks what it means to wear the white collar now. Her findings suggest that, aside from recent changes in gender expectations, the suit lingers as a symbol of status, gender, and class privilege.

The Conversation argued that “stereotypical men, especially older men, are thought not to actively engage with fashionable clothing.” And regardless of the incipient niche market that seem to be willing to challenge this assumption, a quick peek into the most well-known fashion shows can prove that the target for male fashion garments is overwhelmingly, young men.

Finally, the Harvard Business Review asked the crucial question: What happens when men don’t conform to masculine clothing norms at work? It turns out that when picking out an outfit, most men fear that crossing gender boundaries and traditional clothing norms will pose identity dilemmas and ultimately, lead to conflict.

All in all, men are happy to strategically blend in when it comes to dressing up for a job, the freedom provided by the business casual code resulting in anxiety. So how can we turn the tables? How to foster workplaces that allow for their male employees to express themselves, and how to get rid of traditional ideas of masculine power? Buttoned Up provides with an interesting insight into men’s feelings and explains why when at work, they embody the idea that “fashion is not really for us”.

Check out the latest review for this book!

Recommended watch for this post: Dr. Ben Barry’s “The Refashioning Masculinity Project”:

 

About the author of this blog post: Adriana Ferreira is the Social Media Coordinator at Cornell University Press. She is originally from Uruguay and often wonders how she ended up in Upstate New York. Her dream is to own an ice-cream shop. She doesn’t have Wi-Fi at home.

 

Ithaca is trending. What does clothing have to do with books?

Bird Feeding: 4 mystifying facts you didn’t know

Backyard Birds of NewYork by Kate Dolamore
Original watercolor courtesy of Kate Dolamore Art

A recent 1869 Cornell University Podcast revealed that an astonishing one third to a half of the homes in Northwestern Europe, the United States, and Australia are feeding wild birds. We get it, bird feeding is a huge trend. And yet . . . should we do it? Well here’s some food for thought:

Birds of a feather flock together. Or not. When it comes to feeding wild birds, different species that would not necessarily mingle, come together in an unnaturally small area to share food. The dangers of such unique turnout include the spreading of diseases, the attracting of predators, and the consuming of rare foods.

Food for thought. According to the author of The Birds at My Table Darryl Jones, birds are much like humans, and will jump at the opportunity to indulge in sugary or salty foods. In Australia, for example, people often feed birds meat. The Australian Broadcast Corporation asked Jones about this practice, which can lead to obstruction in the bird’s beak and ultimately to bacterial infection. And it gets worse. Birds eating at feeders are now exposed to foods that are intended for human consumption; such as cereals and stock foods, pumpkin seeds, chicken eggs and eggshells, fat, rind, lard, marrow, and table scraps. With an increasing demand for more convenient products and ready-made feed mixes, an entire corporate business dedicated to bird feeding is growing to the detriment of the actual well-being of the birds.

The sky is the limit. Jones roots himself in the idea that mindfulness is key when it comes to bird feeding: “Your feeder is one link in a gigantic chain . . . Your private, personal action of providing food for birds changes the structure of an entire, interconnected ecosystem.” The Conversation joined this debate and posted an article including simple rules to follow when taking part in an activity that “has become acceptable, widespread, and even a sign of moral expression.”

Two birds with one stone. People may think that by putting up a bird feeder they are both helping the birds while undertaking an enjoyable activity, but Jones concludes that the feeders are actually for us. In providing information on how to feed birds responsibly, he is getting the discussion on the table. And he’s not alone. The Sydney Morning Herald featured an article on bird feeding that focuses on doing so with care.

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All things considered, The Birds at My Table conveys the idea that bird-feeding, done conscientiously, can be a valuable experience. On a human level, it provides with pleasure and personal fulfillment. It allows the average person to connect with nature within the confinements of their own garden and in a sense, bond with the birds. Jones’s book helps fill in the information gaps on how to feed the birds and challenges us to do so with awareness, and to become good hosts.

Find more information on the author or to purchase The Birds at My Table, here.

 

As the American Ornithology Meeting 2018 #AOS18AZ and the Northeast Natural History Conference #NENHC18 are happening, discover more ornithology titles from the press:

 

 

 

Recommended song for this post:

 

About the author of this blog post: Sierra Grazia is a senior writing major at Ithaca College with minors in comparative literature and writing for film, television, and emerging media. When Sierra is not writing or reading, she enjoys spending her time running for her college cross country and track team, taking photographs, and traveling.

 

Bird Feeding: 4 mystifying facts you didn’t know

Won’t you celebrate with me? 31 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month

It’s National Poetry Month and the Academy of American Poets have come up with 30 different ways to celebrate it. The ideas are creative and include subscribing to a daily digital poetry series featuring more than 200 previously unpublished poems, chalking a poem on a sidewalk or memorizing one, and listening to Mark Doty’s talk, “Tide of Voices: Why Poetry Matters Now.” NPR has claimed that “you can bet we’re not letting April slip by without a nod to the art of the verse,” inviting listeners to submit a 140-character poem on Twitter together with the hashtag #NPRpoetry, and at Cornell University Press, we feel the same.

Our 1869 podcast interviewing author Susan Eisenberg on her latest book, Stanley’s Girl, a collection of touching poems about gender inclusion, sexual violence and women in the workplace, has inspired us to add one more idea to the list. And for that purpose, we have invited two women at the Press to contribute their own poetic visions of the world. The result is insightful and exciting, and together with our selection of fine poetry books, they make us part of what has become the largest poetry celebration in the world:

 

Baltimore, You Are a Pocket Full of Copper Nails

by Cheryl Quimba

A lot of the time I want to push people

into giant manholes then fly down

to save them, introduce myself as their

long-lost sister who has finally sold everything

to come home. They would be confused but then

so happy for having found something they didn’t know

was lost, and it would feel like a piano playing

beams of colored light against the wall.

In your poems I’m always sad and saying

sad things but in real life I say I am the mountain

sitting on this park bench, so small a microscope needs

binoculars to find me. Baltimore is filled with dirty bathrooms

but no one cares because fun is happening.

Where I live the places where

people die are marked with stuffed animals tied

to lamp posts. There is a store called Hair Strategies

and little kids push strollers filled with

cans of soda up and down the medians.

I like to cross the street like

I’m walking through a casino.

The bells are ringing and ringing

and ringing goodbye.

Quimba, Cheryl. (2015). Nobody Dancing. Publishing Genius Press

 

Meticulous Landscaping

by Ana Carpenter

Here in the passenger side lie Wendy’s bags crumpled by boots

The gentle pungent mulch compacts beneath each nail

Picking at the leather seats to stroke the tattered brail

And decode Dad’s lesson of the day like stringed stray roots:

The ones you mulched over the mornings of summer through July.

Disembarking the diesel F450 with silver smokestacks,

You’re mapping on your hands the clay-dried, thorn-bruised cracks

Wiping the Wendy’s grease on your sister’s off-brand “Nike” slacks

Step out into the cicada-thick air where, like Wendy’s, you fry.

You let the grass prick your bare calves and adjust in the sticky bed

Wiping soil across your forehead, swatting away flying things

And quietly recoiling from the grubs unearthed as dad sings,

Something he beat-boxed under his breath about marriage and rings-

Wash your hands in the cold hose-water until they turn Wendy-hair red.

 

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Order Stanley’s Girl here

 

Other suggested media for our readers on #NationalPoetryMonth:

 

Cheryl Quimba is the Publicity Manager at CUP. She eats, sleeps, and breathes books (but loves a good movie or music debate any day). Follow her on Twitter @ cheryl_quimba.

Ana Carpenter is a member of the Cornell University Class of 2019 and Student Publishing Associate at Cornell University Press. In her free time she likes to sing, salsa, be in the company of dogs of all shapes and sizes, and collect mugs to home-brew cheap coffee.

 

Won’t you celebrate with me? 31 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month

You Know How It Is

You know how it is. You go to school, you get a degree, find a career, maybe you meet some cute girl . . . 

Wait—what? If you’re like me, you only too often find yourself reading something like this sentence above, describing some supposedly potential universal human experience only to find out mid-message that it’s been crafted, explicitly or implicitly, by and for men (at least, straight men). From novels to scholarly texts to departmental advertisements language that is meant to appeal to people in general too often ends up excluding over half of the population. And it’s not some little thing—the exclusion is felt like an invisible punch to the gut. At least, that’s what happens to me. I’ll start reading a work of philosophy, or a [male] academic’s webpage, or really pretty much anything at all, and at some point, usually right when I’m starting to empathically nod along to the flow of the narrative, I’ll stumble across an often unintended reveal of the male-ness of the intended “you,” and I’ll get a jolt of recognition. It’s not the interpolated recognition of inclusion into the larger social narrative that I thought I was part of, but the recognition that I’m actually not included after all—that I’m an “other,” the extra category that people are too often trying but failing to incorporate into the thread of society. It reminds me that the protagonist of popular culture and academia is too often men, and that the implicated reader is male, too. In the era of #MeToo and Times Up, when the ubiquity of explicit forms of sexual harassment is becoming more and more visible (more visible, that is, only to those in power who had previously convinced themselves it wasn’t so pervasive), let’s take a moment also to consider the more invisible, even unconscious obstacles that women face while working to succeed in their chosen paths in life. As we know, language matters. Saying “he” to mean “everyone,” or “man” to mean “human,” isn’t some quaint shorthand for the universal person, to be dismissed with an eye-rolling shrug when exclusivity is pointed out. Talking about “you” when the you being talked about isn’t everyone excludes as much as it includes. This is why virtually all academic journals no longer allow the use of “he” to cover “all”—and it’s why we need to do even more to recognize the unstated assumptions that go into our words. This is as true for Black History Month as it is for Women’s History Month, reminding us as always of the fact that when we talk about one month to represent such a large amount of people it may be better than nothing in our current era, but also that the rest of the months are unmarked as belonging to straight white men.

As a psychological anthropologist I struggle with how much to fight against these issues, especially when there is so much more to think about in life. As an Ithacan I was lucky enough to grow up in a place where the truck driver driving in the lane next to me was as likely to be female as male, and where I rarely felt constrained by my gender. I was fortunate to receive an undergraduate education at a women’s college, too, where it wasn’t an issue whether and how a professor would give more opportunities to the male student than the female one next to him. But my upbringing couldn’t prepare me for the dense, ubiquitous layers of sexism in my professional life, even as I surround myself with men and women who are actively working to change it. I try to be mindful of my language in writing (choosing, for example, the still-contentious single “they” instead of “he” or “he or she”). I point it out when a man says something a woman just said and is listened to more. And I stop my students mid-sentence if they ever accidentally talk about “man” when they mean people. In my work on Buddhism in Southeast Asia I write about gender as one among many of the factors that influence how people are understood, trying when I do to avoid the liberal feminist assumptions that may not play out the same ways I’m used to with informants. Yet I often take pause with the idea that because I’m a woman I should spend extra, precious time on women’s issues when men, simply, just don’t have to.

In the end, Women’s History Month reminds us all to do our part, in whatever ways we can. It reminds us to speak up for equality and diversity, to not stand by when small and large obstacles are put in the way of our own or anyone else’s success, and to advocate for change in whatever ways we’re able. From questioning our assumptions about who the “you” is that we’re writing for, to drawing attention to the many insidious ways that words work to cause harm—in everything from women’s name changes at marriage to the feminized voices responding to A.I. commands to whatever we each find important and possible to address—this month is a time to remember that we can each call attention to gender inequalities, in whatever ways you and I can. Maybe that can be how it is.

J.L. Cassaniti is the author of Living Buddhism: Mind, Self and Emotion in a Thai Community, and Universalism Without Uniformity: Explorations in Mind, Self, and Emotion. Her new book Remembering the Present: Mindfulness in Buddhist Asia is out this month.

You Know How It Is

A Parade of Books for Irish-American Heritage Month

While there were many a St. Patrick’s Day celebration this past weekend, few can ever match the annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade up Fifth Avenue. Now in its 257th year, the parade features an estimated 100,000 marchers and two million spectators, and has for decades been traditionally reviewed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York on the steps of the architectural masterpiece that is St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

It wasn’t always so.

The streets of SoHo were in fact the original route in the early years of the parade, and marchers stopped at the steps of the first St. Patrick’s cathedral, now called the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. This all changed with the dynamic leadership of Archbishop John Joseph Hughes, who, among many things, founded the construction of the current St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Street.

DaggerJohn

Archbishop John Hughes’s galvanizing work in the creation of the Cathedral as well as St. John’s College (now Fordham University), and his controversial political battles on behalf of Irish-Americans and Roman Catholics are the subjects of the riveting new biography, Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America. Written by Pulitzer-nominated author John Loughery, the new book has been praised by the New York Times which stated, “Loughery prodigiously profiles the most transformative archbishop of them all…He has written a comprehensive, insightful and robust biography of a transcendent but neglected figure.”

The Irish Times also praised the book, calling it “a fascinating glimpse of the world of Irish America in the 19th century,” and America magazine applauded Loughery for telling the story of John Hughes “with verve and just enough detail to keep the reader moving eagerly forward to the next chapter.” The popular history podcast Backstory also just interviewed John Loughery, and we encourage you to listen to it here.

Discover more about the rich legacy of Irish-Americans in our additional books below.

On the Irish Waterfront by James T. Fisher
This book provides a remarkable and engaging historical backstory to Elia Kazan’s classic 1954 film On the Waterfront. The central protagonist in the story is John M. “Pete” Corridan whose courageous and selfless actions were the inspiration for the film’s character “Father Pete Barry.”

Becoming American under Fire by Christian G. Samito
The experiences of Irish Americans during the Civil War helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad.

A Union Forever by David Sim
Focuses on how Irish nationalists and their American sympathizers attempted to convince legislators and statesmen to use the burgeoning global influence of the United States to achieve Irish independence.

United Irishmen, United States by David S. Wilson
Among the thousands of political refugees who flooded into the United States during the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, none had a greater impact on the early republic than the United Irishmen. They were, according to one Federalist, “the most God-provoking Democrats on this side of Hell.” This lively book is the first to focus specifically on their experiences, attitudes, and ideas.

The Orange Riots by Michael A. Gordon
Examines the causes and consequences of the tragic and bloody “Orange Riots” that rocked New York City in 1870 and 1871. The violence of 1870 left eight people dead; the following year, more than sixty died.

Jonathan Hall is our Digital Marketing Manager. March 17th is a special day for him as he celebrates both his son’s birthday as well as St. Patrick’s Day.

A Parade of Books for Irish-American Heritage Month