Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year! 2016

    It was a wonderful year. Places and Times appeared from eLectio Publihing, I gave some readings, went to some book signings, and was blessed far more than I deserve.

   Thanks to all of you for dropped by this page, who follow it, who comment, and who spent some of your time with me chatting. I really enjoy it all! God bless and I hope to become more involved in 2016!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Article about Friend and Fellow Poet Al Black

     Free Times does a fantastic job in and around Columbia, SC. They often probe where the mainstream media does not. Al Black told me recently there would be an article about him appearing. I only wish they had mentioned his book I Only Left for Tea. I have appeared at Al's Mind Gravy, and will do so again. From him I borrow the term "transplanted". For me it help avoid the Southern Writer label, as if only those actually born here can so anything from a "Southern" perspective.

    What Al does for poetry in these parts is amazing. He has broadened the scope of poetry and brought it to more people. As he does it, he keeps a low profile and if very generous. I am proud to call him my friend.

    And by the way, he has a publisher for his book; he does not do it himself. He and I are both fortunate in having publishers who believe in us,

    Bravo, Al! 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Jim Autry "Life After Mississippi"

     What a wonderful day! A few errands with my wife, Pam, the new Star Wars movie, picking up Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti 40th Anniversary Edition (playing in the background), and now between sips of a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, blogging about a treasure I found at the record store in a FREE bin, Jim Autry's 1989 Life After Mississippi.

     Pam was not born in Mississippi, but moved there young enough for her to call it home. I picked up the book, showed it to her, and said, "Why not?" We are glad that I did. So far I have read only a few, but they are superb poems that convey an image/story in winsome language. From  "Ordination":  "They came through rain/ wrestling the wheels of their out-of-country cars.."

    I will certainly finish the volume in a few days, and also want to make contact with the
poet.   Only a few times I have done that, and while I do not always hear back for whatever reason, I know how important that is. Today I received a Chrsitmas card from a poet friend Down Under.

   Here is the poet's page:

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Powerful True Story

     One of the things I have enjoyed over the last year and more is interacting with fellow writers, especially from eLectio Publishing, my publisher. recently I was able to read a copy of Darcy Leech's book about the illness that devastated her family, but which did not prevent her from rising above the situation and finding fulfilment in her own life.

    From My Mother is a powerful story told in a straightforward fashion. Darcy's coming-of-age narrative will draw you in and will let you know how not even genetic disease can destroy the human spirit and a strong legacy.

And here is a link to Darcy's blog!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Blog Interview in the Works

     A Goodreads writer friend will be interviewing me on her blog sometime in 2016. More details later, but it is a great thing and I wanted to talk about it now. Speaking of Goodreads, you can ask me a question.   Scroll don to "Ask the author" and leave me a question. When I respond, it will all appear!

    Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, Happy Holidays for everyone else! Glad to be part of your lives!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"The Island" now on Soundcloud

     A friend said that she wished I would record this one. It has been well-received, and I am glad to post this. I hope that she, and everyone else, appreciates it. This is one of my favorites from Places and Times.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

      Of all the Christmas hymns, "O Come, All Ye Faithful" holds a special place in my heart. Those who know me well may wonder, since it is not German at all. Maybe it is because the first foreign language I formally studied was Latin. That someone actually wrote a Latin hymn in the 18th Century intrigued me. On Christmas Eve I still sing the first verse in Latin.

     Years later I learned the Jacobite origins of the hymn. Genetically it means little to me. I suppose I should support the Hanoverians. Perhaps the 2000 US presidential election caused me to think of Jacobitism. I remember at least one military dinner where I passed my hand over the glass for the "president in this care" across the waters. But it was not water! LOL.

   Two links about the theme:

Some good alternative history:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Solstice!

     This is a neat cartoon that came out when the song did! Now the days grow slightly longer. Whatever this season means to you, I think we could agree that light is better than darkness on several levels, and that light conquers darkness. My we all be the light where we are.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Another Five Star Review

Places and Times is a beautiful book, descriptive and revelatory as the poems take us along on travels and adventures in Europe and America. Walt Whitman and Robert Frost came to mind as I read, although the author's style is unique, expressing at once wisdom, nostalgia, reverence, and humor. An authentic and inspiring read, I highly recommend this collection.  - Robert Lampros, poet, autor of Fits of Tranqulity

Thursday, December 17, 2015

What or Who to do on 19 March?

    In an earlier post I mentioned how early 2016 is getting busy.Today I agreed to present something at the March meeting of the American Association of Teachers of German-South Carolina meeting. Whatever I do will be poetry-based. Perhaps I will do something about Rilke.

    Next semester I will have my highest-level German class, so I can try something out with them. I have been reacquainting myself with Rilke, so this sounds like a plan.

    Here id a goof link to German poetry, with excellent readings:    

I have used it several times before.  Stay tuned for further developments.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I Twit, no, I Tweet....Well, I;m on Twitter     That's the account I use for school, writings, etc. Right now I have 71 followers. I wonder how many more I will get, and from how many places, after this?

A few years back PM David Cameron came a cropper with some remarks about people who twitter, as I call. The image in my mind was of Monty Python's Upper Class Twits. But I understand things better now.

I even used a hash tag twice today! And I even earned some badges!

That reminds me of a song from Cream:

Monday, December 14, 2015

Another five-star review for Places and Times: 

 "A collection of well crafted poems with an emphasis on sensory detail, Places and Times 

takes the reader on a word voyage across America. The author's voice is resonant and wise, 

soft and searching. My favorite was "The Island". I'd love the chance to hear Arthur recite 

some of his poetry as the smooth lines invite a personal connection and 

human aspect."

Thanks so much!

Any other reviews out there? I would love to see them! 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Fabulous Surprise! Thanks, Kathryn Robson@

   UK author Kathryn Robson paid me the honor (or honour, I should say) of devoting some of her blog space to me and directing people to my blog. I am genuinely touched and very appreciative. Many thanks, Kathryn!    I encourage everyone who stops by my blog to see Kathryn's. I am impressed and will be spending more time here reading about her YA works and anything else she posts. I will also link it to mine , making me even more international!
blog list

Saturday, December 12, 2015

At Another Milestone for the Blog...Some Words

     Since this blog has passed the 25,000 hits milestone, I want to reflect on a thign or two and also comment on what I hope to do here. Impetus for the latter point is that some of the Indi Autor groups I have joined on Facebook currently highlight members' blogs, and I want to welcome some people.

     A writer friend described  a blog as a "place to let your freak flag fly", as opposed to a Facebook author page. That flag waves high and proudly here. Certainly I have talked about my first book of poetry, Places and Times, as I counted down to publication. Since 7 April 2015, I have chronicied various readings, signings, and the like.  I will do the same for future publications.

     "Some Poetry: Poetry and Thoughts by Arthur Turfa" explores my preferences in literature, music, and anything else that comes to mind. I try not to be political or to pontificate. It has been my good fortune to have traveled a lot, met some amazing people, to have had some extraordinary experiences/influences, and I want to share them with you.

    Of those 25,000+ hits, about 80% have been from the USA. The next three countries are Russia, Germany, and the UK. I do have some regular followers from Portugal, France, and India. In all, 66 countries have at one time or another logged on.

    I am also on Goodreads and Amazon for author pages. Check me out on Facebook, both my personal and professional page. On Google+ I have over 261,000 hits, several collections, and serve as a moderator on Words on Fire and Peppered Poets communities. You can also find me on Twitter and Weebly. The latter two mix in some of my school-related events. I am not going to give you a plethora of links. You are savvy enough to find me and if there is a glitch, contact me here.

    Please let me here from you! I love the contact and love finding out what influences you!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fan Mail Today!

     Awaiting me in the mailbox was a letter from a reader of Places and Times. It was a very nice,m personal letter. Let me share a little of it with you:

     "You have a way of bringing poetry to life in the daily activities through word pictures. That is a splendid way to reach the reader's imagination."

     This reader perceives what I intend to do. While poetry indeed often has great thoughts and/or emotions, poetry can also imbue ordinary things with a sense of something else.  A few remarks follow about some of the poems, and it is a nice letter.

     What always interests me is what readers "find" in my poems, Sometimes I nod in agreement, and at other times, I nod and think "I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Good Time to Post This

     During my second year in seminary a friend lent me a copy of the Final Entries- 1945 by one of history's most malevolent figures, Dr. Josef Goebbels.

    Too many people in this world knowingly tell lies over and over again until some people believe them. Goebbels had a limp, and some German laughed behind his back, recalled the proverbs "Der Teufel hinkt."  (The devil limps).

    I pray that we are not descending again into barbarism and hatred. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2016 Events are lining up!

     Even before 2015 ends, there are three events I already! more details as they come in, but for now, suffice it to say that:

  • late January the Coogler Festival in Blythewood, SC. Once again with students at lovely Doko Manor, scene of my first-ever poetry reading!  I can sell books there.
  • early March, a Meet and Greet for local authors at the Irmo Branch Library of the Lexington County, SC system. I can sell books there as well.    
  •  late April at an event in Aiken SC. I need to reserve and pay for that one, but I should be able to arrange that soon enough. It's a book signing event.     

     As always, if you would like a signed copy of "Places and Times for yourself or a friend/family member, message me and we can work something out!


Monday, December 7, 2015

Favorite Songs Collection Started

     So far there are five, and about five hundred more to come! I cannot help all of the "Skip after x Seconds" and all that. But you can ee what I like and has inspired me.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lovely Version of a Christmas Carol I Did Not Know

     One benefit of being on the road early Sunday mornings is the opportunity to listen to "the folk show on Sirius XM's "The Bridge". There used to be a separate channel, but that went the way of all radio channels with low ratings.

    Today I heard Steeleye Span's excellent recording of Edward Caswall's "See Amid the Winter's Snow" Originally a priest in the Church of England, Caswell was in the Oxford Movement and became a Roman Catholic priest. There are supposed to be some verses deemed "too Catholic" for Anglican and Protestant hymnals, but I could not find them.   Maddy Prior really lets loose on this one!

A brief bio on Casewall:

I include a picture of the Lady Chapel at St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Aiken SC, an Anglo-Catholic parish where I was fortunate to have filled in as supply priest for three weeks.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

How Many Songs Do you Know That Are Based on the "Song of Solomon"?

 There is this from Steeleye Span!

  The lyrics:

What a Day, What a Day

     After I woke up I eased into everything,went for a thorough workout, and got prepared for the Open Mic at the Richland County Northeast Branch. That's right, the one I've been posting all over the place!

    Between the gym and the library, I checked on how my consignment books were doing at 302 Artisans in Columbia.   I met the owners in September at the Bythewood Butterfly Festival, and we hit it off. I missed a local television station crew by a few minutes, but did discuss having a reading there in the coming months. In the back of my mind I am thinking about a March library regional author session, and an April fair.

     Not all of my student poets showed, and the general public did not show up, but we had a great time. I sold a few books but more importantly, helped nurture some young poets. They would have been fine anyway, but I am glad to have been there for and with them. Afterwards I spoke with the library about doing a workshop sometime.

     Back at home, I eventually got to the computer and found an invitation to become a moderator at Peppered Poets. PP considers itself to be a guild, where poets help each other perfect their craft. It is a wonderful idea, but it does require some time and commitment for everyone involved. since I consider it an honor to be asked, I accepted at once.

    Ironically, the timing is interesting. Yesterday I messaged a poet whom I respect . In the course of our conversation she noted she had not seen much from me. I explained how contractually, my publisher limits how much from the book I post. Other places to where I submit do not accept things already on the Internet. My comment to my friend was that I avoided sites, primarily on Facebook, that are "like-for-like" clubs. or are popularity contests. Take a look at the artists/writers whom I admire, and you can see why. Zappa, Waylon Jennings, Bukowski, et al.

    What a day, what a day!





Friday, December 4, 2015

Frank Zappa, RIP, 4 December 1993

     Twenty-two years already? So much has happened in this world, and there are times I wish Frank were here to cut through some of the nonsense and speak his mind, whether on music, politics, society, or anything. Of course he was not always correct; none of us is. but he had substance that is sorely lacking.

     I am going to post a link to his parody of "Sgt. Pepper", entitled "We're Only In It For the Money". the double irony is that there was not much money pouring in from the album, and that the Beatles admitted that the Mother of Invention's "Freak Out influenced their concept album.

    According to the liner notes, Zappa suggested that one read Franz Kafka's"In the Penal Colony" before listening to the album. My brother had a copy in an anthology of German short stories that he had for a college class, so I read it and got ready to learn about Camp Reagan. Oh, what Frank could have done about Trump et alia!

   A reposting of my poem about meeting Frank and the band:

When the Music of the Spheres Came to Town

Gliding past the ionosphere,
Equally at home in worlds
Little-known or undiscovered,
Transmitting music of the spheres
To anyone who dared dream
That such a thing existed,
His path was not less taken
But unimaginable, connecting
To others at crossroads
Only he could mark.

Music far beyond my ability,
But lyrics articulated what
I attempted to say. All of it
Commercially unacceptable
But available on the FM dial
And hipper record stores.

Those three days flowed
At different rates as Parnassus
Came to me one spring.
Hair brushed back, clad in
Turtleneck and blazer, I
Almost sat in on a panel on
An Educational TV show.
Afterwards we talked by
A baby grand about Varese
And I received an autograph
Finally framed decades later
Now hanging in my den.

Backstage at the concert
Mesmerized by jazz-rock-blues
Fusion, laced with
Classical overtones and drama
I watched among managers,
Groupies, and the rest.
At times the guitar
Stayed silent as he
Conducted the band
Never missing a beat.

The following day after classes
Hanging at the Sheraton
Illegally sipping screwdrivers
On the managerial tab,
Speaking and kidding with him
Being mistaken for
A member of the band,
Eventually I led some to
An impromptu basketball game
In the shadows of six-story
Pollock Residence Halls.

Years later living near
A city he called “a sealed tuna sandwich”
I relive those hours, thinking
On a life that heartened many
Behind the Iron Curtain and
Those of us here not content
To accept the status quo.
For progress demands deviation
(Those words posted outside
My classroom door along with
When I do what I do).

And some of us dare to differ
And seek our own unimagined paths
Leading to crossroads as
The beckoning ionosphere
Urges us to soar higher and higher
And where we converge
Into that music of the spheres.

Arthur Turfa © 2015

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rubber Soul is 50 Years Old

     I am not escaping from the headlines, necessarily, merely taking a break. The Bundestag will take a vote in my favorite city of Berlin that will have wide ramifications. Westminster had its vote yesterday, with a byelection in the Labour heartland. My family almost moved to San Bernardino 25 or so years ago.

     Rubber Soul marked a departure from the Beatles danceable music. The trend had been underway, but with this album there was a complexity about the music that made it all the more telling. Five years after the album's release I remember a high school dance where we all sat on the cafetorium floor and listened as though we were at a concert. The teachers panicked and thought we were holding a sit-in to protest something!

    "Norwegian Wood was the song John wrote to tell Cynthia that he was having an affair with Yoko. George's sitar was the first Western recording with that instrument. My favorite is "In My Life"; each year it etches itself deeper into my mind. 

   Thanks, Beatles!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Local Poet and Friend Pays a Visit at School

     Len Lawson visited two of my classes and the Blythewood Poetry Society this morning at the Blythewood High School in Blythewood, SC. He read some poetry, answered questions, and asked some himself. I am really proud of everyone, because they were very interested and respectful (I knew they would be).

     We met last summer at Ed Madden's Poetry Workshop in Columbia, SC, hosted by the Richland County Public Library. Since then we have heard each other read here and there. A poem of mine was included in a local poetry initiative about church burnings in the South,

     Len, Ed and I sell enough poetry books to keep our jobs. A student asked Len if he made a lot of money selling books.

Here is a link to Len's work:

and to Ports Respond to Race (which can be accessed from the above link also:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Remembering George Harrison

     George Harrison passed away on 29 November 2001. He was the quiet Beatle, but without much fanfare or publicity, he solidly established a considerable body of work that deserves respect in and of itself.

    I thought about his tribute to John Lennon, who would have been 75 had he not be murdered nearly 35 years ago. Here is a link to the song:

    Far be from me to judge, but could not Paul or Ringo have written something for George? Grief is a personal thing, and what works for one might not work for another. Fr
om an artistic point of view, not having a mediocre tribute is better than having a mediocre tribute.  This is Ringo from the 2003 Concert for George:

    Goerge, you are missed. May you rest in peace!

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Writerly Digest on Facebook

     If you like a creative, engaging site that combines the "greats" with the electic and sometimes offbeat, have I got on for you!

     The Writerly Digest can be found on Facebook:
Sometimes I think it has evolved more often than Proteus of Greek Mythology; for a time I was involved with it, now I read and learn. My friend and fellow writer, Stevie Lynn Weisend produces the WD, and does an outstanding job of producing readable, thought-provoking, and praiseworthy content. Find it, read it, like it, and let her know.

     Earlier on this blog I posted some of Stevie's excellent poems. She was one of a select group who received pre-publication galleys of Places and Times.In addition, she reviewed the book.  I can always ask her for an honest opinion, advice, and share a laugh or two along the way.

    Thanks for all you do and for you you are, Stevie!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Grey Cup Results Are In.....

.... and the Edmonton Eskimos take their 14th Cup! Since it's been a decade since the last one, they have had time to make room. The green-and-gold Eskimos beat the Ottawa Redblacks (Rougesnoirs) 26-20 tonight. Making it to the Canadian Football League championship in their second season is quite an accomplishment.

     Why all this CFL information? I am following up a previous post. Additionally, I am covering up disappointment at the Steelers' loss in Seattle today and the abysmal Penn State loss to Michigan State on Saturday.   Not that I am doing a good job of it, I suppose.

     On the the next week! See you there!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A New Poet- at least to me!

     My life has been enriched by meeting all sorts of people from all sorts of places. Whether friends or not, they have often, knowingly or unknowingly, expanded my horizons in many ways.,. The Rev. Dr. David Seymour, fellow Lutheran colleague, sent me a book entitled The Poetry of Yorifumo Yaguchi- A Japanese Voice in English

     The poet was trained in classical Buddhism and Shintoism, was a child during World War II in Japan. As as adult he became a professor of poetry, and a Mennonite pastor. To my mind, he is unique several times over. I look forward to reading him,; this dovetails with my interest
in Chinese poetry, which has not progressed that much farther since my mention of it.

    Thanks, David! I shall get to reading this later! And I hope you are enjoying my Places and Times.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I Am Now on Twitter

Now you can see what I do at school and beyond! A friend suggested I break down and join Twitter. Feel free to follow, and to invite me to follow you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Auden's "Shield of Achilles"

    Auden's ability to integrate deep thoughts with everyday speech and subtle rhymes has always impressed me. I came to appreciate him during that pivotal senior year in high school when I was allowed to explore literature in our Instructional Materials Center (as our principal insisted we call the library).

    Recently I explained in class how Homer devoted about 200 lines in the Iliad to Haesphestos making Achilles' new armor at the request of his mother, Thetis. We also listened to Auden reading the poem, and look at the structure, with its alternating between the time of the Trojan War and the aftermath of World War II. There are parallels to the current world situation.

Here is a link to him reading the poem. The text is on the screen, so I do not have to re post it here. Who is the poet to chronicle what happens today?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Almost Thanksgiving Day in the USA

     As a boy, I could not relate too much to the Pilgrims since my family came over much later on less famous ships. Turkey with all the trimmings, to include stuffing, we wonderful. Later a seminary professor explained how the Pilgrims had religious freedom in England, but were unsatisfied because others did not follow their lead.

     The hymn "Now Thank We All Our God" will be sung often during this week. But not many know the background of the story. Instead of being a triumphalist celebration of gluttony and much more, the origins  come from the utter devastation of Central Europe in the Thirty Years' War, were Catholics and Protestant fueled centuries of hatred and distrust which linger today unfortunately.    Martin Rinkart certainly knew how faith could survive in horrendous times. I wonder what he would have to say now about people who bewail every little thing that doe snot go their way.

I add the original German text, with English translation.

Be thankful everyday!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How I Wish Blind Faith Had Stayed Together

    I know, I know. I can hear you saying, "Don't you have anything else to think about?" Actually, I do, but yesterday Deep Tracks on Sirius XM played "Well Alright", Blind Faith's Buddy Holly cover, and I thought it would have been great if Cream at included Steve Winwood at the outset, or at least once Blind Faith formed, Jack Bruce and remained: noting against Ric Grech.

    The music not only was good when first released, but it has staying power. Oh well, at least we have what we have, and can enjoy that. Although I love history of all kinds, I do not dwell in the past.

    Here is a link to the studio album (the live Hyde Park performances are als
o awesome). The image is the original cover from the UK album, which was changed in the US.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Open Mic at Richland County Public Library Northeast Branch!

    There will be more about this to come. Some great student poets are lining up, and a few poet friends might also come by. The Library has been fantastic to arrange this, and I am really looking forward to this! I will of course read from Places and Times, but there will be some recent material also!

How to find the library?''/7490+Parklane+Rd,+Columbia,+SC+29223/@34.0755384,-81.0275941,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m8!4m7!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x88f8af3a79abb077:0x9052932385ec71c3!2m2!1d-80.957554!2d34.0755583

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Given up on your NFL Team Yet? O, Canada Awaits!

     With the exception of Patriots and Panthers fans (who might top reading out of spite), maybe you have given up on your NFL favorite team's chances. My Terrible Towel still waits for the next Steelers game, and I am sure in some cosmic way things will come through for them.

     But we are still Sixburgh evne if they don't.

     The Canadian Football League's playoffs are this weekend, with the Grey Cup set for 29 November. That's Super Bowl up North, if you didn't know. Brush up on what a rouge point is and load up on the Molson's or Labatt's.

    Former Penn State quarterback John Hufnagel is head coach of the Calgary Stampeders, who are in the semi-finals. But my support, such as it is, will go to the other game, and the Hamilton Tiger-cats. Hamilton is a steel town, or used to be I fear, and thus they have my best wishes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wonderful New Review for "Places and Times"

     Every so often a review comes along with captures what a writer has tried to convey. This week I received one. With a poetry book like "Places and Times", I hope that people who have traveled can relate to it, or that people who have not traveled can do so through my poems.

    Connie Jordan, a poet and writer herself, says some nice things:

Travel from the shores of California, to Pennsylvania and New Mexico - Beautifully written!! Descriptions of places in Europe expressed in ways that will make you feel you are visiting.

"Places and Times" is full of reflections of shared good times standing in places once visited in long ago eras and leaving travels tucked away safely in the recessions of an active mind that enjoys the memories looking back as in “My Two Paths”

“Time now to rest under spreading branches of pleasant trees and enjoy where I have been”

Thoughts and remembrances of long ago times, some of lost friends, classroom experiences, sights and sounds of nature lingering in the mind long after visitations. Memories coming in flash encounters of everyday task like pumping gas while being open to the people that he passes.

The entire book takes you on a journey ending in the reality of today.The author describes it all in verses that pull you inside his memories and you enjoy the view.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Time for some Baudelaire

     Had I know about Comparative Literature as an undergraduate, I might have been tempted to select that for my major. Not that I have any regrets; life has been fine, and I avoided the fate of having my scholarly career ending by shutting down a program or something of that sort.

     But if I had selected Comp Lit, of course I knew English, added German, and would have selected French for my third language. I needed to prove proficiency for my M.A. in German, and I would like to think that I went well beyond that. Not fluent, but capable enough to do what I needed to and then some.

     Along the way I encountered the works of Baudelaire. Symbolism attracted me for a time, and I was too German perhaps to become a decadent, but Baudelaire I suppose knew when to rein it in. His poem "L'Albatros" was one of the first I labored through. When I was morose, the image of being trapped somewhere while being destined for greater things appealed to me. Actually I was probably not as trapped as I felt, and I also likely thought I should have flown higher than I did, but it is an excellent poem. The link takes you to the original and several translations!  Maybe you can share some others with me!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thoughts on Paris Again

     Once more Paris has been the scene of terroristic attacks, and this time far worse than before. My intent is to offer a few personal thoughts, speak briefly to a fee reactions, and then to repost a poem written after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

     Genetically I am as Gallic as German, since my maternal grandmother was a Walloon. While my mother was proud of her heritage, I sensed she resonated a bit more towards the French=speaking side. Among other certifications she held a a teacher, she had one in French.

     Although I chose to take German, not French after two years of Latin, in high school so I could read Hermann Hesse in the original, I appreciated French. That language was mandatory for my Master's language in graduate school. I would begin in French, then slip into German, much to an instructor's dismay.

     My only visit to Paris left me with good memories; my French improved a bit and it was a great time. However, as impressive as Paris was, I never felt drawn to it as I do Berlin. That is how I am wired, but I have many friends who love Paris and I understand. For me, the smaller cities in France were wonderful, and I longed to linger in Chartres or Avignon.

    Through my brother I found a link that we maybe had an ancestor from our father's side of the family who was in Napoleon's army. It turns out I was not the first Lieutenant Colonel in the family!

4e Regiment de Dragons

Created in 1667, in 1684 they were named Chartres-Cavalerie. In 1724, they become Clermont and 1771 La Marche. Their name changed once again in 1776 to the Conti-Dragons, finally becoming the 4e Regiment de Dragons in 1791
Colonels and Chef-de-Brigade
1791: Migot (Laurent) - Colonel1792: Maillard de Landre (Innocent-Marie-Louis) - Colonel
1792: De la Coste-Duvivier (Jean-Laurent-Justin) - Colonel
1794: Turfa (Pierre-Fortune) - Chef-de-Brigade

Later I found out there were Turfas in Alsace-Lorraine earlier, most with a military connection. My working hypothesis is that they were Hungarians who wanted freedom and left the Austrian Empire. There are not many with that surname, and it is far better than finding out they were horse thieves!

     The knee-jerk reactions from right and left, and from other groups, concern me. First, allow Paris and all of France to mourn. Then as those in power decide what to do, let us realize that there are no perfect options. Prior to World War II, the democracies and the Soviet Union realized that they had a common enemy, but still united. That is a long, convoluted tale, but at least Fascism was defeated.

    Some assert that the recent Beirut bombings have been ignored in the mas media. Sadly, that city and region have been combat zones for decades. In my opnion there is enough tragedy and horror to go around. Now is the time to act decisively.

     I re-post my poem about Paris:

Thoughts about Paris

L’Auberge de Jeunesse à Suresnes (1)
Lies to the west of central Paris
Near a suburban train line
Separating streets of
One or two-storied buildings.

Rain poured down each day
As we gathered from five continents
Drawn to the wonder and grandeur
Of the City of Lights as so many
Generations, lost and otherwise,
To the grey city,
Cement-towered and massive
Punctuated by green parks,
Sliced in two by the Seine.

In and around the hostel
A Babel of tongues and accents-
A California coed on summer fling
With Turkish manager
(I too then was Californian)
A sodden South African enthralled
By my unfamiliar accent,
The Pair of Scandinavian girls,
This time Norwegian with
Flags on their backpacks,
A hitch-hiking Brit en route to Riviera.

Down the street at an Algerian bar
The Brit and I offer colorful franc notes
For deux bieres á pression. (2)
Behind us a brightly-lit juke box
Topped by a television screen
Blaring Arabic songs and videos
Of Coptic crooner amid pyramids
And belly dancers in a harem
(Wish we had that at home I think)
This proto-MTV, this Ur-Video.
(Quite exceptional back in 1976!)

I remember the people and places;
A mass of humanity passing the Mona Lisa,
WWI poilu (3) pumping my hand in Versailles
Exclaiming Vous etês American! (4)
as medals dance on his lapel,
Drinking morning tea from a large bowl-like cup,
Slaking thirst with limonades (5) in the Luxembourg,
Searching for Sartre in Left Bank haunts.

Recently surfing through the news
In three languages, listening to the BBC
Both ways on long commute,
Horrified by havoc, saddened by scenes
I never could imagine, wondering
What it is like now
In that Algerian bar down the street from
L’Auberge de Jeunesse à Suresnes.

(1)        Youth Hostel at Suresnes, northwest suburb of Paris
(2)        Two draft beers
(3)        French soldier from World War I and UU
(4)        You are an American!
(5)        Not like the sweet yellow US soft beverage. This is uncolored seltzer water with a lemon taste.

   Arthur Turfa, © 2015


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Happy Birthday, Neil Young! 70 years old

     Neil remains one of music's most enigmatic figures. He is capable of mellow, introspective folk, hard rock and roll, biting satire/commentary, and much more. From his Canadian roots, to his Buffalo Springfield Days, time with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (which sort of continues, as far as I can figure), and the Crazy Horse days, he has been ahead of the pack in artistry and trends.

     Back when Sirius XM still had Book Radio, I heard David Carradine read Neil's "Waging Peace". While I thought the book was a bit disjointed, I did like Neil's perception that he could have stayed in Buffalo Springfield and step outside of the group to make his own music. Hindsight is always 20/20.

     I never saw Neil, but I saw Crazy Horse and Crosby, Stills and Nash. There must be a reason, but it eludes me, Below I have a link to this "Country Girl" trilogy from "Deja Vu". What still impresses me (yes, I have the vinyl) is the different musical textures and the story line. Listen, whether for the first time or the milliionth!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Helmut Schmidt, RIP

     My first two trips to Europe were primarily to Germany, in order to learn he language and culture first-hand. Actually, to the two German states, the Federal Republic in the West, and the Democratic Republic in the East.

     In the West the talk was of detente, prosperity, and determination. Two of my political heroes were chancellor for most of that decade: Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt. Today Schmidt died in his native Hamburg at the age of 96.

     Schmidt was urbane he spoke excellent English, and with the ever-present pipe or cigarette appeared as a genial, sophisticated person who knew what he was doing. Although a  Social DemocratOstpolitik but could challenge the Soviets. Strongly pro-Western, he could disagree at times with the United States (but allow rockets to be placed in West Germany in the 1980s. Committed to a strong Europe, he helped lay the groundwork for the Euro, and began a partner with the former German archenemy, France.
, he could direct policies that supported business. He continued
Domestically, he stood firm against the Red Army Faction. I remember seeing the wanted posters, bright red, plastered all over the Bundesrepublik.

     My brother spend four years working in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. His secretary asked him in Manchester when she learned that he had spent some time in West Germany, "Is it true what they say? That the Germans have it better than we do?" In the 1970s, it was the case, thanks in no small part to Schmidt,

   Ousted from office by a no-confidence vote, and not an election, Schmidt let his feeling be known (he was not Schmidt-Schnauze (Schmidt the Lip) for nothing, he went on to become co-publishers of Die Zeit, recorded as a classical pianist, and became a revered national figure who smoked even where no one was allowed to smoke.

     Chancellor Angela Merkel is also a native of Hamburg. Although she is a Christian Democrat, she had some very gracious things to say as she conveyed condolences to Schmidt's survivors. They are contained on the link, and are subtitled for those who need it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Favorite John Updike Poem

    Basketball is a sport I liked to play instead of watch. Updike accurately touches on what any athlete, or any student, needs to know; the time will come when sports/studies end and one has to move on. Flick does not, and that is sad. This poem catches an observer's view; but I always wonder if Flick finally wised up. 

Ex-Basketball Player

Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,
Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off
Before it has a chance to go two blocks,
At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth’s Garage
Is on the corner facing west, and there,
Most days, you'll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out.

Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps—
Five on a side, the old bubble-head style,
Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low.
One’s nostrils are two S’s, and his eyes
An E and O. And one is squat, without
A head at all—more of a football type.

Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards.
He was good: in fact, the best. In ’46
He bucketed three hundred ninety points,
A county record still. The ball loved Flick.
I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty
In one home game. His hands were like wild birds.

He never learned a trade, he just sells gas,
Checks oil, and changes flats. Once in a while,
As a gag, he dribbles an inner tube,
But most of us remember anyway.
His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench.
It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though.

Off work, he hangs around Mae’s Luncheonette.
Grease-gray and kind of coiled, he plays pinball,
Smokes those thin cigars, nurses lemon phosphates.
Flick seldom says a word to Mae, just nods
Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers
Of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads.
Share this text ...?
John Updike, “Ex-Basketball Player” from Collected Poems 1953-1993. Copyright © 1993 by John Updike. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: Collected Poems 1953-1993 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Another review on Goodreads for "Places and Times"

 And it's also on Amazon!  Always glad to hear what readers think! What thrilled me about this one is the closer reference to the appeal to the "younger adventurous generation". This proves thta I am still young at heart!

  Goodreads is a wonderful community which I am getting to know better and better. If anyone among you is a member, or would like to be, please feel free to seek me there and contact me. I certainly wold love to hear from you!

More later on, I promise!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday Doings

     Today was not an ordinary Saturday: there was no trip to the gym, the errand left over, or anything like that. I wrote a homily for a parish that called me Thursday morning after their previsouly-laid plans fell through, and then I readied myself for a book signing locally.

     There was one book that I signed for someone who pre-ordered it, and that was the only one I signed. Someone who worked at the bookstore said he would buy it when he got paid (some are on consignment, so there is no problem).. Another person came close, but offered to take my card with her to show some other people. the other author I had met in another setting and I planted the seed for a reading later on out her way.  Otherwise there was not much foot traffic, but it was only two hours.

     So I arranged to swap books for reviews on Goodreads, followed my son's text about what would be the Penn State loss, Then I watched some football on TV while my wife went out to do some things. I read some of Po-Chu-I that a poet friend suggested:
He and others influenced Ezra Pound and other Imagists. Perhaps I will try to write in that style for a bit. Perhaps i will share some of the poems if I like them.

    Cooked dinner for my wife and me, and now am catching up on several things and relaxing. Certainly I wished I had signed more books, but all in all, it was not a bad day.

    And it's Joni Mitchell's 72 birthday today. when I was in high school there were three dominant female singers in the music I liked: Mitchell, Judy Collins, and Joan Baez. To my thinking, and I liked all of them, Joni was the best song-writer.

    Her debut album from 1968, "Song to a Seagull" is generally considered her best, as far as those thoughts go. David Crosby produced it, and Stephen Still plays bass on a track. How could I not like an album dedicated to a high school English teacher?

    Speaking of that, a few years ago a student came into the room one day when we stored the chrome books in carts. I had the album on and she stopped to ask me about the album. Maybe I even sent her the link.  Dr. Turfa, sharer of cool music from way back when....that's me!

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, ...