Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Evening (on film) with Eugene Walter!

"A student of human endeavors on this busy planet." --Eugene Walter

Join us at 7 pm on Thursday, November 20 in Gorgas Library room 205 for a fun-filled evening with a screening of the new documentary film by Alabama native, Bob Clem (Waterfront Pix) on fellow Alabama native and Renaissance man, Eugene Walter!

Eugene Walter: Last of the Bohemians documents the life and career of a writer, poet, actor, artist and raconteur whose work celebrates the art of living and personifies the culture of the coastal South. Living in Paris and Rome, Walter (1921-1998) lent his unique personality and wide-ranging talent to a number of different endeavors, many of them at the heart of the postwar artistic renaissance in Europe -- winning numerous awards for his poetry and fiction, helping start the Paris Review, working with and acting in the films of Federico Fellini and other Italian directors, editing the poly lingual literary magazine Botteghe Oscure and meeting and entertaining many of the most famous writers and cultural figures of his time.

From his beginnings in Mobile, Alabama, Walter was blessed with survival skills that enabled him to live the bohemian life, dedicating himself to artistic pursuits without visible means of support. He ran away from home literally as soon as he was able to walk, moving in with his grandmother, then receiving shelter from Mobilians who recognized his talent and his brilliance.

He lived for a time in a warehouse, then in the back of the city's famed Haunted Book Shop (its co-founder and dear friend of Eugene Adelaide Trigg passed away last month at the age of 89),
then as the ward of local theater patron Hammond Gayfer. Walter would later be honored by his native city as an artistic 'Renaissance Man' for his achievements in so many creative endeavors.

Eugene Walter was one of the last of an increasingly rare breed -- the freelance, wandering poet, living day to day in pursuit of art, truth and beauty. Paris and Rome are no longer the inexpensive cities they were in the aftermath of World War II, where artists and writers could survive on a few dollars a week.

Most writers and poets today have an academic affiliation, or else a full time job with little time left to write, to dream and to live in the fantasy world that Eugene Walter inhabited every single day, to the delight of most everyone he met. His story is not to be missed! The film was funded in part by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from the Sybil Smith Charitable Trust, A.S. Mitchell Foundation, M.W. Smith Foundation, Malbis Memorial Foundation and Ben May Foundation.

Eugene's books are included in the Hoole Library's Alabama Collection. There is also a small manuscript collection relating to Eugene Walter at the Hoole Library. You can review Eugene's author information and some of his tangible contributions to literature via This Goodly Land.

Watch a preview! And please join us for a fun opportunity to celebrate this treasured world citizen!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Roll Tide Roll!

The University of Alabama's football team is ranked #1 in both the AP and the USA Today Coaches Poll. This detail from a 1930s UA publication has newfound significance on this Monday in November. Congratulations to Coach Saban and the Crimson Tide!