Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mark Twain born 30 November 1835

     There is a picture of Twain in my classroom, from a series of Great American Authors. Occasionally someone remarks that I resemble him. Usually that means that it is time for me to get a haircut, because when the white shows and curls over my ears and collar, that is when I need a trim.

    Twain (born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri), wrote some poems, but is of course far better-known for his novels and short stories. My fourth-grade teacher read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to us, and all of the boys dreamed of rafting on the Mississippi. The nearby Monongahela was not as exotic, but it did flow into the Ohio, which in turn flow into the Mississippi. We contented ourselves with roaming the woods.

     He skewered the excesses of The Gilded Age; I wish he could shed lite on our current state of affairs! I offer one of his many famous quotes:
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

Friday, November 28, 2014

William Blake, poet, artist, visionary, was born in London, England, 28 November 1757. Here is the text for his beloved "Jerusalem". Blake alludes to the legend that Joseph of Arimathea took the young Jesus on trips to Britain (Joseph supposedly having interest in some mines there). However, Blake talks also about the negative effects of the Industrial Revolution.  If only Blake could talk with Pope Francis and Senator Bernie Sanders!    I

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Lovely Tribute from Amrita Valan on Seriousl Lovers of Poetry

When I saw this, I was thrilled, honored, and humbled. Actually, I still am. What a joy to be part of so many communities stretching all over the globe!

I share my first tribute ever from Amrita Valan as posted on the Serious Lovers of Poetry site. Thanks, Amrita! 
Arthur Turfa
Warren Goff
Existentialist or absurdist
Isms are minor dust motes in your dreaming eyes
You see through life and all its lies    -  Amrita Valan, Seriousl Lovers of Poetry Facebook Group.

Amrita honored a group of us, and I am sure that I speak for all included when I offer her my thanks.Below is a picture of the interior of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church in Paincourtville, LA. My wife and I visited there this summer and I have written about the church.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pearls Before Swine's musical setting of W.H. Auden's "Footnote"

Not quite a significant song, but I was fascinated by a contemporary group writing music for a poem whos author was still alive and who appeared in my textbook.

Rapp went on to be a lawyer, but I liked Pearls Before Swine. They really did not tour, but maybe tht added to their mystique.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Promotion at Words on Fire google+community

I am extremely honored to have been promoted to Owner at Words on Fire on Google+, along with a few other fine poets: M Macharia and Frederick Andrews. Thanks, Michael David Saunders Hall!    This is not our logo, but it is impressive!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Berlin Wall Opens

A Quarter Century after the Wall Fell

Early each November
Watching programming she knows
And never could forget:
A cast of dour, sullen satraps
Reading from scripts others wrote
Totally incapable of ad-libbing
To hundreds of thousands
Totally tired of hearing mendacity.

Her tears flowing like the Elbe
Northwestward, through the border
Whose permanence was endured,
She sits a half-day’s drive
From when she watched long ago.

Born the year the Wall arose
That decisively sundered the city,
She waited in line for a future
Drabber than what she deserved
But as inevitable as the next dawn.

Sudden stumbling toward unity
Granted her what she most desired.
Her tears are not only for the past,
But also for the unexpected life she has.

Arthur Turfa © 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Significant Song Number 12
"Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way?"   Waylon Jennings 1975

     I wish I had caught this when it was released. Springsteen broke out that year, and as a graduate student living all right but not comfortably well at University of California-Irvine, I could not afford all o fthe records I wanted to buy. Actually I was slowly replacing what was lost in my move West from Pennsylvania (sad story).
     Waylon wrote this song which took the glitzy trands in Country music to task. He was moving toward Outlaw status, and wrote this really as a rock song. When I reflect on how something is deviating from its roots nowasays, this song comes to mind.
      For me, it was important to find out how something or some movement was done from the beginning. German historian Leopold von Ranke concentrated on "wie es eigentlich gewsen" (how it actually was), and I felt that way long before I knew about him.
     As a teenager that interest led into the early years of Christianity (it srill does). Concerning poetry, it is in searching older forms but also caputring newer inspirations to retain their vigor and freshness.
     Enjoy the song!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Significant Song Number 11

Joni Mitchell turned 71 on 7 November. Born in Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada, she deftly weaves through musical genres and has always been esteemed for her lyrics. "Song for a Seagull", her first album, especially shiens in that regard; she dedicated it to an English teacher.  Tom Rush covered this song well, but I do homage to the songwriter now. Since I have written lyrics for one song, (that's an earlier post!) I hope do some small fraction as well as those whom I admire.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dulce et decorum est

Kenneth Branagh reads Wilfred Owen's classic poem "Dulce et decorum est". Owen died in combat 4 November 1918 in Belgium one week before the Armistice. My great-uncle Edmonds Schollaert died in France of pneumonia a month before that. My only quibble with the recording is the non-classical pronunciation of "Dulce", which should be "Dule-Kay".

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sonnet for All Saints Day caption
Sonnet for All Saints Day

Annually attention focuses
On those beyond our communication.
Spaces imbued now with their silence,
Hallowed for one or hallowed for many.
The consolation is we must not wait
That long; whenever necessary we
Can commemorate them upon hearing
A certain song, seeing a photo or place.
Not yet can the dividing veil rise up
So that we now see as clearly as they.
But the veil acquires a translucency
Allowing a glimpse of uncreated light.
For an instant, eternity flows through.
We behold in them what we shall become.

Arthur Turfa, © 2014

Significant Song Number 10

The Mothers of Invention

from the double album "Freak Out"

I had known about protest music before 1966, but not with a rock beat. Here was actual social commentary and satire interwoven with good contemporary music, not something good to an old-fashioned beat!

The more I listened to the Mothers and learned about Zappa, the more I was excited. In 1973 I actually met the band when they played Penn State. Using my campus radio station credentials (which consisted of, "I'm with WDFM"), I managed to hang out with the band for a bit over two days and received Zappa's autograph, which hangs framed on my wall. My son says that when I do not need it anymore, it is going on Ebay in an instant.

Zappa evolved into a type of statesman, astounding many but not me. What i took from this is that I should not be afraid of who I am or what I think. that was a good message for a teenager/young man, and is not bad today!

Reviews Are So Very Important to Writers, and So Hard to Get

      When my first poetry book was published seven years ago, I dutifully asked readers/friends to review it. That book, Places and Times, ...