July 19, 2017

Poet Solmaz Sharif has been selected as the latest recipient of the Theodore H. Holmes ’51 and Bernice Holmes National Poetry Prize awarded by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing at Princeton University.

The Holmes National Poetry Prize was established in memory of Princeton 1951 alumnus Theodore H. Holmes and is presented each year to a poet of special merit as nominated and selected by the faculty of the Creative Writing Program, which includes writers Jeffrey Eugenides, Jhumpa Lahiri, Yiyun Li, Paul Muldoon, Kirstin Valdez Quade, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, and Susan Wheeler. The award currently carries a prize of $5,000, and was first made to Mark Doty in 2011 and has since also been awarded to Evie Shockley, Natalie Diaz, Matt Rasmussen, and Eduardo Corral. more

If I am a wild Beast, I cannot help it. — Jane Austen, from a letter

“Every time I read Pride and Prejudice,” Mark Twain once wrote to a friend, “I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” The sheltered drawing-room stereotype of Jane Austen that Twain is ridiculing only redounds to the power of her art. If anything, his vehemence suggests a kind of backhanded recognition of the “wild beast” of a writer she spontaneously and perhaps inadvertently reveals in a May 24, 1813, letter to her elder sister Cassandra. more

“SPIDER’S WEB”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Spider’s Web.” Directed by C. Luke Soucy, the play runs through July 23 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. From left: Jeremy (Peter Giovine), Hugo (Pablo Milla), Sir Rowland (Christopher Damen, seated), Clarissa (Abby Melick), and Miss Peake (Alex Yogelsang) examine a mysterious piece of paper. (Photo by Michelle Navis)

Princeton Summer Theater is presenting Spider’s Web at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Audiences will find much to enjoy in this polished production of Agatha Christie’s comic mystery, which — like Murder on the Orient Express — artfully undercuts thrilling suspense with lively characterization and witty dialogue. more

Julie Diana Hench

American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School announced that, after an international search, Julie Diana Hench has been selected as the organization’s executive director starting September 1, 2017.

“On behalf of the Board and the entire organization, I am very pleased to extend a warm welcome to Julie Diana Hench,” says Chuck Metcalf, chair of the organization’s Board of Trustees. “American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School are recognized as leaders in their respective fields throughout the tri-state area, as well as on the national landscape, and it is imperative we have an experienced leader to maintain and build on the excellent reputation of the entire organization.” more

James Moyer will conduct a community sing-in of Gabriel Fauré’s “Requiem” on Tuesday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton. Mr. Moyer is the artistic director of the Pennsbury Community Chorus and director of choral activities at Pennsbury High School. Soloists will be his wife and son: Katherine Moyer and James Moyer, Jr. The event is free and open to the public. Scores will be provided.

The Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps of Plymouth, Mich. will visit the Washington Crossing Historic Park in Washington Crossing, Pa. on Monday, July 31, 2017. During their visit they will perform their 2017 concert at 4 p.m.

The Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps’ annual summer concert tour has taken the Corps to many historical sites in the Eastern U.S. and Canada. The 2017 concert tour will also take the Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps to Fort Ticonderoga in Ticonderoga, N.Y., Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md., National Night Out at Fort Meade near Baltimore, Md., and to Annapolis Md. for performances at the Maryland State House and the U.S. Naval Academy Museum.  more

Some cast members are shown from Princeton Day School’s production of “She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen, that will be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. From left: Danielle Hirsch ’17 (Newtown, Pa.), Hope Ammidon ’18 (Princeton), Liv Sheridan ’18 (Lawrenceville), Emily Trend ’18 (Pennington), and Nate Jones ’18 (Princeton). (Photo Credit: Matt Pilsner)

In its ongoing commitment to contemporary music, every summer for the past four years New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has created a “laboratory experience” for four emerging composers to develop their craft and produce a unique work of music, subsequently presented to the public in Richardson Auditorium. Guided by Institute Director and Princeton University Professor of Music Steven Mackey, the four composers who participated in this year’s NJSO Edward T. Cone Composition Institute created pieces reflecting diverse backgrounds and talents. Led by conductor JoAnn Falletta, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presented a more casual concert atmosphere last Saturday night than during the regular season, but were no less serious about the music, executing well the sophisticated scores of these promising composers.  more

COMING THROUGH: Jordan Glover bulls through two defenders in playoff action last year in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. On Monday, Glover scored 12 points to help top-seeded and defending champion Majestic Foundation top eighth-seeded King’s Pizzarama 59-38 in a quarterfinal clash. In other quarterfinal action on Monday, seventh-seeded Packer Hall All-Stars upset second-seeded LoyalTees 58-51. The two other quarterfinal games take place on Wednesday at the Community Park courts with third-seeded Princeton Special Sports facing sixth-seeded NJAC and fourth-seeded PEAC Performance playing fifth-seeded PA Blue Devils. The semifinals are slated for Friday with the best-of-three championship series starting on July 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Majestic Foundation posted an 8-0 record in regular season play in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League and is the defending champion, the squad wasn’t overconfident as it opened its title defense last Monday.  more

July 12, 2017

The annual summer picnic in the Cuyler/Dempsey Avenue section of Princeton is just one of the regular events that have been bringing neighbors together for decades. This year’s party, held last month, was an unofficial sendoff for Judy Koubek and Luke Hilgendorff, longtime residents who are moving to Chicago. See page 7 for more about the neighborhood and its residents. (Photo Courtesy of Rekha Arapurakal)

The fate of the house and cottage formerly owned by the renowned mathematician Oscar Veblen and his wife, still standing in Princeton’s Herrontown Woods nature preserve, continues to hang in the balance. Mercer County, which owns the buildings, “is still contemplating demolition,” but the administration, according to Mercer County Deputy Director of Communications Michael Boonin, “is still internally discussing the Veblen matter.”  more

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM: Commuters prepare to board the 7:45 New Jersey Transit train in Princeton Junction heading to New York Tuesday morning. After encountering surprisingly few delays on Monday’s first day of a major Amtrak infrastructure repair project in Penn Station, commuters were hopeful that their good fortune would continue. (Photo by Don Gilpin)

On day two yesterday of the predicted “summer of hell,” with two months of major infrastructure repairs underway at Penn Station in New York, Princeton Junction commuters were calm, pleasantly surprised so far and even, perhaps, hopeful. more

Improvements to Princeton Public Library, a new group home, and a possible revival of efforts to ease traffic woes on U.S. 1 were among the topics at Princeton Council’s meeting Monday evening, July 10. The governing body voted on several ordinances and resolutions.

The Council voted to switch to a new cleaning service for government buildings, replacing the organization Arc Mercer, which provides employment to the developmentally disabled, with CNS Cleaning Company, a private vendor. Though CNS provided a lower bid, the move was based on the quality of work rather than cost, Council members stressed. more

GIVING BACK: The Do Something Club at John Witherspoon Middle School is committed to making the school and the world a better place. Rising seventh grade club members (from left) Georgia Hansen, Maya Lerman, and Nina Esteghamat collect contributions for the club and its many initiatives. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Riely)

Partisanship, conflict, rancor, and frustration may characterize the contemporary national political climate, but at John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) the members of the Do Something Club are making positive differences in many ways, inside the school and in the larger community. more

Music and movie lovers were on the lookout for special finds on Saturday at the Princeton Record Exchange on South Tulane Street. The popular spot has been one of the leading independent record stores since 1980. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

Back in the mid-1950s, a group of citizens became aware that Princeton realtors were not showing houses to people of color. Organized as the Princeton Housing Group, they purchased a tract of land in the Walnut Lane/Dempsey Avenue neighborhoods and arranged to offer private mortgages on 25 newly-built homes.

Some six decades later, the neighborhood originally known as Maplecrest has expanded, stretching from Mount Lucas Road to Ewing Street. More ethnically than racially diverse these days, it remains a welcoming cluster of homes where people make an effort to know each other and get-togethers are a regular occurrence. more

Springdale Golf Club of Princeton was one of four New Jersey Golf Clubs to host the New Jersey State Golf Association State Open qualifying tournament. The event took place on June 15 and 103 golfers participated. The golfers (professionals and amateurs) had to have a USGA index of 5.0 or less to enter the qualifying tournament.

Reid Bedell of Manasquan River Golf Club and Logan Sabins of Jumping Brook Country Club led the field with scores of 69. A total of 20 golfers qualified at the cut line of 73, which was two over par. The State Open Championship will be played at Metedeconk National Golf Club located in Jackson, New Jersey. more

Local wait staff will put their tray-balancing skills to the test at The Princeton Merchants Association’s 7th Annual Waiters’ Race on Thursday, July 13 at 4 p.m. at the Princeton Shopping Center. This year, there are 15 participating restaurants with over 70 racers. The fastest racers (who don’t spill their teetering cargo) will take home cash prizes, gift cards, and more. The start line of the race is located next to the Main Street Cabana.

This year’s field of competitors includes wait staff from Agricola, Alchemist & Barrister, Blue Point Grill, Ivy Inn, Jammin’ Crepes, Main Street Bistro, McCaffrey’s, Mediterra, Nomad Pizza, Teresa Caffe, Triumph Brewing Company, Winberries, Witherspoon Grill, and the Yankee Doodle Tap Room.  more

The Rocky Hill restaurant ONE 53 is partnering with Housing Initiatives of Princeton (HIP) on a Bastille Day Bash fundraiser on Friday, July 14.

Patrons at lunch and dinner can buy a $10 glass of Aix Rosé, and $10 will be donated to HIP. This will end when the bottle is empty – and the bottle is an enormous 15 liter Nebuchadnezzar, which equals 20 typical size bottles of wine. more

It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar.

—Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Today is Thoreau’s 200th birthday. It’s unlikely that the author of Walden would find all the hoopla “worth the while” — a three-day bicentennial gala in Concord, Mass.; inns and motels booked three years in advance; as many as 750,000 people estimated to be making the pilgrimage to Walden Pond in this celebratory year; the publication of new biographies and numerous books; a full-scale exhibit, “This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal,” at the Morgan Museum and Library in New York.  more

Gregory Nobles will be talking about his new book, John James Audubon: The Nature of the American Woodsman (Univ. of Penn. Press $34.95) at Labyrinth Books on Wednesday, July 19 at 6 p.m.

According to Scott Weidensaul, author of Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding, “More than a century and a half after his death, John James Audubon — flamboyant, intense, garrulous, insecure, and yet gifted beyond measure — remains one of the most compelling figures in American history. In this fine new biography, Gregory Nobles brings ‘the American Woodsman’ back to full, vivid life, capturing the artist’s many facets as Audubon himself captured the essence of his beloved birds.” more

On Wednesday, July 19, Civil War historian and retired National Archives Regional Director Kellee Green Blake will present “No Slave Beneath that Starry Flag: Civil War Heroes of the Pennington African Cemetery.” Ms. Blake’s lecture will share stories of Pennington’s own as they fought with the Union Army as part of famed, yet segregated units, including the United States “Colored” Troops (USCT). These local men won battles in Virginia, defended Union territory in Louisiana, and even led in the April 1865 liberation of Richmond. With disparate pay, inconsistent support, and overwhelming demands, they nevertheless dared all to “smite for liberty.” Those who returned to Pennington were irrevocably changed by their wartime experiences and assumed new roles in the community. more

ASPIRING FILMMAKERS: “The Last Playboys,” directed by Luke Momo (son of local restauranteur Raoul Momo), is among the entries in the 2017 Princeton Student Film Festival, on screen at the Princeton Public Library July 19 and 20.

Everett Shen isn’t sure he wants to make filmmaking a career. But the rising Princeton High School senior, who will do an independent study in film next fall, has plenty to think about as he considers his future.

Mr. Shen is among 22 filmmakers showing their work at the upcoming Princeton Student Film Festival, screening at Princeton Public Library July 19 and 20. He also served on the selection committee, helping to decide which of the nearly 60 short films, culled by librarian Susan Conlon from nearly 150 submitted by young people across the globe, would be included in the annual gathering. more

OPERA TRAINING PROGRAM: Opera coach and conductor Kathleen Kelly will lead a master class with aspiring opera singers participating in Westminster Choir College’s CoOPERAtive program on Monday, July 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Robert L. Annis Playhouse on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton. The event is open to the public and admission is free.

The Westminster CoOPERAtive Program, Westminster Choir College’s three-week intensive opera training program, is in full swing at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton. The public is invited to attend an array of free recitals, concerts, and master classes featuring talented singers and accompanists from around the world who are taking the next step in their operatic careers. more

The Lawrence Headquarters Branch of the Mercer County Library System will host a lecture by rock historian Vincent Bruno that will showcase Bob Dylan’s life through the turbulent decade of the 1960s – from his childhood in Minnesota to international fame. His extraordinary artistic achievements as a songwriter, poet, and cultural icon will be discussed in-depth. The event will be held on Thursday, August 10 at 7 p.m. Advance registration is suggested by calling (609) 989-6920. The Lawrence Library is located at 2751 Brunswick Pike in Lawrenceville.