One of the most fun chapters in my new book A Taste of upstate New York concerned the Upstate food festivals. Boy, we have a lot of them and I gave as many as I could their very own chapter. Take tiny Phelps, NY for example. They used to be known as “The Cauliflower Capital of America” for all the sauerkraut they produced in the many big manufacturing plants in their area. They are long gone now, but Phelps still celebrates with an annual “Sauerkraut Festival” that is charming and fun. They even crown a King Kraut and a Kween Kraut. And don’t forget the annual Bagel Festival in Monticello. Do you know that the NYS legislature declared Monticello as the official state “Bagel Capital?” One of the great events at this festival is trying to create the world’s largest bagel chain. They string a rope up all along Main Street, get hundreds of volunteers together and then thread real bagels along it to try and hit the record. These are just two of the wonderful food festivals in my new book from Syracuse University Press.
July 11th is one of the biggest days in the sport of tennis, the ladies final at Wimbledon. Arguably the most famous tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon not only provides the highest level of tennis in the world but also 138 years of history. In honor of this long history, we explore how race has shaped the sport through Blacks at the Net by Sundiata Djata.
While much has been written about black triumphs in boxing, baseball, and other sports, little has been said of similar accomplishments in tennis. In this final volume of his ambitious and thorough examination of black achievement in international tennis, Djata comprehensively fills that gap. Exploring the discrimination that kept blacks out of pro tennis for decades, he examines the role that this traditionally white sport played in the black community and provides keen insights into the politics of professional sports and the challenges faced by today’s black players.
Recently we spoke with the author of Gene Basset’s Vietnam Sketchbook: A Cartoonist’s Wartime Perspective, Thom Rooke.
April 15th is recognized as a special day in Major League Baseball and American history. On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson crossed Baseball’s color barrier by becoming the first African-American to join a major league baseball team, the (then) Brooklyn Dodgers. Today, the industry celebrates Robinson on his debut day by hosting commemorative games across the nation known as Civil Rights Games and resurrecting his retired 42 jersey (only during Civil Rights Games are professional athletes allowed to wear his number).
Also in remembrance of this hero, activist, and great talent to baseball, we at SU Press take this day to share our titles that revere all of Robinson’s accomplishments. Among them is Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson on Life after Baseball edited by Michael J. Long. This documentary is an eye-opening read that explores aspects of Robinson’s pre and post career that leave reviewers proclaiming what they “thought was impossible”: “a new way to think about Jackie Robinson” (Los Angeles Times). On April 15th especially, Beyond Home Plate holds an even more meaningful place in our hearts; for we can see the depths of Robinson’s contribution to racial equality on and off the field.
Similar books from us include Black Baseball Entrepreneurs: The Negro National and Eastern Colored Leagues and Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1890-1901: Operating by Any Means Necessary, both by Michael E. Lomax.
We encourage everyone to get to know one of our nation’s most influential athletes and activists not only on this day, but throughout the year. These books are a great way to start!
Enjoy and happy (belated) Jackie Robinson Day!
April is an exciting time in the literary world. In these 30 days, poetry is given center stage in the hearts and minds of poets and readers across the globe. We, at SU Press also bring poetry to the forefront by featuring inspirational selections from our favorite collections. In 2015, we celebrate National Poetry Month by highlighting the work of 2011 Nobel Prize winner Tomas Tranströmer. His Inspired Notes captures facets of life that are mysterious yet familiar, possessing the same timelessness that has allowed his work to be nominated for this prestigious award for 18 consecutive years. Tranströmer , in his subtle intensity, transforms the common meanderings of life into complex experiences that beg our attention and awareness.
A Woman’s Portrait, 19th Century
The voice is smothered in her clothing. Her eyes
Follow the gladiator. Then she herself
Stands on the arena. Is she free? A gilt frame
Constricts the picture.
Beneath our enchanting play of features waits
Always and ever the skull, the pokerface.
While the sun rolls slowly on across the sky.
The chess game proceeds.
A hairdresser’s clippers sound from the thicket.
And slowly the sun rolls on across the sky.
The game of chess comes to a halt, it’s drawn. In
The rainbow’s silence.
During this month, we would also like to acknowledge the work of early 20th century, Irish poet Francis Harvey. Collected Poems is a beautifully written anthology, showcasing the best of the poet’s scenic lyricism. Much like the work of Tranströmer, we gain new insights of the simplicities of life, seeing within and outside Harvey’s personal and environmental experiences. Needless to say, the read is worthwhile.
Consider the unblinking perfection
Of this utterly pitiless eye.
An eye being an eye to the heart of stone.
Consider an eye that has never shed a tear
For being what it is and for what others are.
Consider a piece of matter ground out of a glacier.Consider the eye of this falcon and the world as it is
And the eye of God flinching at the peephole of a star.
Enjoy, Happy Poetry Month!