National Library Week starts at Cape library with 'Pied Piper'

Sunday, April 18, 2004

St. Louis storyteller and poet Jeff Miller ushered in National Library Week a day early with a performance at the Cape Girardeau Public Library on Saturday.

Miller, dubbed "The Pied Piper of Poetry," travels to perform and gather material through oral histories.

"I've never been turned down when I ask someone to share their stories," Miller said.

Using anecdotes from individuals of all walks of life, Miller's performance emphasized humor, inspiration and compassion. He encouraged the audience to share memorized poetry.

Miller shared the tribute he wrote for his late grandmother, with whom he spent much of his formative years. Never without her apron, Miller combined words and gestures to explain just how the protective apparel served to comfort, hold eggs, welcome visitors and much more. His thoughts were, "She gave us roots and wings and love by her apron strings."

He develops his material while writing in bed first thing in the morning and at night before sleeping because those are the times his mind is relaxed. He always keeps paper and pencil near the bedside.

On the heels of the "Pied Piper" were folk singers Fara McSpadden and Danny Wiethop, who began their performance with a song for children: a medley of nursery rhymes ending with a nontraditional twist.

Concerned that Americans were reading less, the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit organization in 1954 called the National Book Committee, which later developed the idea of National Library Week.

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