Category Archives: Books

Robert Pinsky and the Favorite Poem Project

By Vanessa Nesvig
Coordinator of Special Projects

In a week Robert Pinsky, the three-term U.S. Poet Laureate, will speak at the Holiday Inn By the Bay. I always look forward to the opportunity to learn more about the great speakers we have come to Portland, and for this event I had to get going! Poetry is something I don’t know much about but realize that I would love it if I just allowed myself the time to read more. But what, and which poets? Combing poetry sections of book stores with my poet friend Emily Koehn, I thought I knew where to start, but time went by quickly and I was overwhelmed again.

Then I looked into Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project…something he started as Poet Laureate, where he recorded Americans, from all walks of life reading their favorite poems and explaining why they mean so much to them. Kids, teenagers, men, women, all reading something that spoke to their heart. Listen to some of these videos and you will get inspired again to find what speaks to your heart as poetry has for so many thousands of years. Pinsky shows us through others, that poetry can be a part of everyone’s life, their everyday life. I learned the place to start is here.

For more information about the Favorite Poem Project, visit

2011 Bernard A. Osher Lecture: An Evening with Robert Pinsky: Is Vision The Twin of Speech?
Monday, March 7, 2011, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets: $15/$10 members. Holiday Inn By the Bay. Purchase tickets here.

Photo by Emma Dodge Hanson.

The Desire of Botany

By Vanessa Nesvig
Coordinator of Special Projects

Coming up this spring, we have a book club meeting featuring Michael Pollan’s book The Botany of Desire. I read this book close to 10 years ago, being a huge fan of this now famous writer. His witty and enlightening insights, as he describes his subject, make everything he writes very entertaining. In this book, he presents what was a new concept for me at the time…that plants might choose US for their propagation and gene advancement, instead of the other way around. He uses as examples, four plants and how they use their traits to appeal to us: the apple its sweetness, the tulip its beauty, the potato its nutrition, and cannabis, which mimics our own natural endorphins to attract us. So instead of adapting to soil and weather environments, these plants have made themselves so attractive to us that we feel compelled to cultivate them. Wow, it gives one a whole new perspective on gardening! I can’t wait to read this book again and talk with all of you about it. This discussion will be a great precursor to viewing our Objects of Wonder exhibition. Hope you can join us!

Book Group: The Botany of Desire
Thursday, May 20
Free with Museum admission
Noon to 1 p.m.

Kids’ Favorite Books

Posted by Julia Einstein, Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs

Here’s a stack of my favorites books with my most favorite on top! Mostly because I love looking back at my first grade self. I remember this being my first book purchase–it was when the scholastics (or was it R.I.F.?) came to our classroom.

This week, in our Museum kids’ morning and after school program, Artsquad, we were inspired to look at the Kertész photographs through the lens of our “reading cameras”! Then, we took turns photographing each other in the act of reading.