Today's post is another in an occasional series offering something you might not know about poets, poetry, or poetry-related organizations.
Did You Know. . .
✦ Poetry gets its own set of wheels. In 2013, Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf (PJOS), in partnership with Madison B-cycle (a bike-rental program) and Cowfeather Press, launched "Poetry Bikes", an initiative that placed on 30 of B-cycle's red bikes 10 poems with a Madison, Wisconsin, theme. Produced on decals affixed to the bicycles, the poems were among the submissions for Echolocations: Poets Map Madison (Cowfeather Press, 2013), an anthology of more than 100 poems referencing Madison locations and benefitting the Madison Poet Laureate Fund. (My thanks to Verse Wisconsin from which I learned of the project.)
The PJOS project for 2014 is titled "Up to the Cottage". Poets from the United States, Canada, Israel, England, and Norway sent in poems that, following selection, will be reproduced in one of two ways: on bookmarks or mailable postcards that will be made available to house guests of rental colleges in Wisconsin, Florida, and Vermont, or on note cards that will be attached to handles of maple syrup containers sold at farmers' markets and in stores. PJOS has undertaken such wonderful projects for years; see Past Projects for descriptions.
✦ Every so often rare-book librarians come across volumes whose bindings are, shall we say, a bit delicate. Three books in Harvard's collection are bound in human skin; one is a volume by French poet and essayist Arsene Houssaye (1815-1896). The director of the university's libraries can't say with any degree of certainty whether more such bindings exist among the 15-million-volume Harvard collection. Read "The Skinny on Harvard's Rare Book Collection". (My thanks to GalleyCat and the March 31, 2014, edition of Paris Review Daily for the link. Read "Reader warning: Harvard experts say book is bound with human skin", CNN, June 5, 2014.)
✦ Poet and writer Maya Angelou, who died May 28, 2014, was San Francisco's first African-American female streetcar conductor.
✦ The Postal Poetry Society is dedicated to sharing poetry via postcards sent around the world. The society's headquarters are in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom.
✦ The youngest person to recite a poem at a president's inauguration is Richard Blanco, who was 44 when President Barack Obama was sworn in in 2013. Blanco also is the first Hispanic and the first gay person to be selected for the honor.
✦ Ghanaian Nii Ayikwei Parkes was the first African poet approved for inclusion on iTunes. Read "Ghanian Poet Becomes First African Poet on Apple's iTunes".