April 14, 2005 • Volume 13 Number 15
Speaking of poetry
While poetry may be beautiful to the eye, it is inspirational to the ear.
Rattigan Professor of English Emeritus John L. Mahoney Sr. has spent his lifetime teaching and writing about the works of great poets of the literary and religious genres. Over the years, Mahoney taught a course on The Poetry of Religious Experience, and at the urging of Burns Librarian Robert O'Neill, has brought a selection of favorite spiritual works to life on a newly released compact disc, "The Poetry of Faith."
The CD contains Mahoney's reading of 36 religious-based poems, several taken from Old Testament, New Testament and Koran writings; others from classical and modern-day poets' views of faith and the religious experience.
"I have written chapters and done books," said Mahoney, "but I never dreamed of this. I have always loved to read aloud, and if students ever remember anything about my poetry courses, they will remember that when they hear the human voice it really does bring literature alive."
Mahoney says he has received numerous letters from former students and poetry aficionados. One of these, from a woman who earned a Boston College graduate degree more than 25 years ago and now teaches at a university in India, was particularly meaningful: "It brings alive once again all the cherished moments in BC classes that I did so look forward to and loved and which have been an inspiration to me," she wrote.
"You have to be proud of someone like that," Mahoney said.
"The Poetry of Faith" is available in the Boston College Bookstore.
Lost and found
A Boston College graduate was able to add a special footnote to her family history, thanks to the recently launched Boston College-based Web site "Missing Friends" - a database comprising 90 years worth of weekly Boston Pilot columns asking for news of Irish immigrants being sought by relatives, friends or acquaintances.
As Eileen A. Kamerick '80 explains, her ancestors came to the United States from County Kerry in the mid-19th century, settling in Virginia. Kamerick's great-grandmother, Julia Dunn - then all of six years old - was to follow her parents and older siblings; her father Edmond had arranged passage for Julia and a cousin, and paid an acquaintance to meet the girls in New York City and transport them the rest of the way.
That's where the family history "turns a bit murky," according to Kamerick: "Apparently, the man absconded with the money and Julia and her cousin were left alone in New York City. The other passengers on the ship took them in and eventually they both found work as housemaids. As family folklore would have it, after some time had passed, her employer learned that Julia's father was searching for her. Somehow, he located my great-great-grandfather and arranged for Julia to travel to Virginia to rejoin her family.
"When she arrived, so much time had passed that she didn't recognize her family, except that she thought that one man resembled her grandfather in Ireland. That man was, of course, her father, my great-great-grandfather, Edmond Dunn."
Kamerick's older sister, Maureen, after hearing a National Public Radio report on the "Missing Friends" project, decided to visit the Web site and on a whim typed "Julia Dunn" in the database. Amazingly, said Kamerick, her sister found a plaintive "Lost Friends" missive placed by Edmond Dunn for his little daughter.
"One can only assume that this was the means by which Julia's employer located her father," said Kamerick. "How marvelous that this bit of family folklore takes on new meaning and resonance as a result of this wonderful project sponsored by Boston College. It makes me proud, once again, to be a part of the history of Boston College."
Not an "Idol" gesture
There was no hype, no drama, no British-accented insults, just some Boston College students putting on a show for a good time, and a good cause.
The first-ever "BC Idol" competition, sponsored by the BC Emerging Leader Program, took place at The Perch in McElroy on April 1. Seven acts vied for the honor, with Undergraduate Government of Boston College President Grace Simmons '05 and Craig Dorsett '06, an ELP coordinator, serving as judges.
Taking the top prize was the duo of Krysten White '07 and Charisse Gilmer '08, who also sing as part of the Voices of Imani gospel choir. They received $50 gift certificates donated by The Container Store.
But this BC spin-off of the popular TV show wasn't for a lark: It was the latest in a series of ELP fund-raising events to benefit the village of Mira Flor, Nicaragua. BC's connections with Mira Flor go back some years, explains ELP advisor Assistant Dean for Student Development Mer Zovko, who has co-led several spring break immersion trips there.
"The village is in the mountains, over an hour away from the closest paved road, and is home to a number of men, women, and children whose main source of income is the organic coffee that they grow on the land," she said.
"The community is a very poor one, with no electricity and no running water - people must walk up to two miles to get to the communal well. Many of the children in the community do not attend school, but the children who do are usually only able to attend through the sixth grade, at which time they begin to do agricultural work on their plots of land with their families."
Over the years, the Nicaragua immersion group has raised funds to support Nicaraguan communities such as Mira Flor, which has used the monies to support high school and college education for children in the village. But with the funds running low, Zovko says, ELP decided to sponsor several events during the 2004-05 academic year to raise more money for Mira Flor, "so other children would have the opportunity for an education."
With $400 raised by "BC Idol," Zovko says ELP's events have brought in nearly $3,000.
Putting the "e" in scholarship
Nearly 1,700 Boston College dissertations and theses may be downloaded at a new digital repository of scholarly material produced by BC scholars and researchers.
The repository, eScholarship@BC [escholarship.bc.edu/], is a central on-line system that manages the storage, access, and preservation of a variety of materials, including working papers, preprints, postprints, and theses and dissertations.
The pilot project of the Boston College Libraries aims to provide open and widespread access to scholarly literature.
As of this past week, 1,688 papers were available for full-text download. A trial search one afternoon turned up Hugh Alphonsus Gallagher's 1997 physics dissertation, "Radar and optical observations of plasma convection associated with very high-latitude auroral arcs," and Barry L. Bjork's 1995 history dissertation, "FDR and the American Character," as well as 20 papers on Boston College history by the late University Historian Charles Donovan, SJ.
During the current academic year, the libraries will be working with a small number of academic departments and research centers to demonstrate the capabilities of the repository, develop policies and procedures for participation in the repository, and develop a plan for a campus-wide rollout of eScholarship@BC.