Monday, March 30, 2015

Pentangle's "Lord Franklin", and "Three Dances" - RIP, John Renbourn

     John Renbourn, master guitarist who perfect a technical and appealing style, He died last week, a few years after his fellow guitarist and band-mate Bert Jansch.

    The song I uploaded is "Lord Franklin", from Pentangle's "Cruel Sister" of 1970. Renbourn
sings and of course plays on it. There is a wistful quality to the song, which commemorates the lost of Lord Franklin, his 129 sailors, and two ships in the 1845/6 expedition to find the Northwest Passage.

"Three Dances"

And the Guardian obituary for Renbourn:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Release Date for "Places and Times" is 7 April 2015

   Places and Times, my first book of poetry, will be released by eLectio Publishing on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. I am very excited, and hope you will go to this site:

   There will be more over the coming days and weeks, (all the way to eons), and more shared about this book and its amazing cover art.  But for now be happy for and with me! Thanks!

On Tomas Tranströmer, the Arts, Interconnections, and Friends

     In the 10th grade I started learning German in order to read Hesse's "Siddartha" in the original. I accomplished that during the first few months at Penn State; on my own, since Hesse was not in the curriculum. Much later when deployed to Germany I read "Das Glasperlenspiel" ("The Glass Bead Game") in the original, having read the translation in high school.

     That book, Hesse's last full-length novel, speaks to the synthesis of learning from various sources, such as music, literature, painting, and philosophy. As time passes, I see more clearly what that means as I read, reflect, talk with others, and write.

     S.L. Weisend shared with me a poem by Tomas Tranströmer, who passed away i n his native Sweden yesterday. He won the Nobel prize for Literature in 2011, and while I remember that, I do not remember reading anything more by him outside of whatever was in the news story. Tranströmer himself was an accomplished pianist who co ntinued playing with his left hand after a stroke paralyzed his right.

    When sharing the following poem with my, S.L paid me the huge compliment of seeing traces of the Nobel Laureate in some of my poems. I am honored, and agree; I will be reading more of him!
The work shared with my is based on an actual event involving two of my favorite composers, Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt. Wagner married Liszt's daughter, Cosima. I visited their graves in Bayreuth.

   What do you think? I provide a link to the poem, and pictures I took of the graves.


Friday, March 27, 2015

On Hearing Blind Faith's "Presence of the Lord" Today

    Thank goodness for SiriusXM's "Deep Tracks"! Today this wonderful song played as I drove for an oil change. Blind Faith is what Cream was to have been, only Steve Winwood could or did not leave Traffic and Rick Grech was on bass since Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were not on the best of terms then.

     Way back when  I thought this would be perfect to play in church, except who could play like Clapton? Sound systems were not then what they are now. Maybe someone will find the song again.Of course the UK cover art for the album was not acceptable in the US, and it really isn't acceptable now either.

    I would write a poem about wanting to play like Clapton, but I already did! It's posted somewhere on the blog. But enjoy the song!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

     Thinking about the need for an Innisfree right about now, so why not go to the source? It's a week past St. Patrick's Day, but William Butler Yeats is always in season! His voice reminds me of John J. McGuire, my ninth-grade English teacher, who did not have a musical lilt as far as I remember. Perhaps my class did not bring it out of him!

    Someone finally posted Judy Collins' lovely sung version of this poem. We saw Judy years ago in a Christmas concert in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Enjoy this song
in your deep heart's core!         

Saturday, March 21, 2015

     Soundcloud of "Fifty Years On", my poem from this past summer which commemorates/reflects/recalls my family's move from Western Pennsylvania all the way to the Philadelphia area. While a move of less than 300 miles ( or mile if I use my native dialect), it represented a pivotal change in my life, and essentially a positive one.
    I read this on a poetry hangout last night, and it stayed with me.
     Oddly enough, my elder brother acclimated culturally more than I did. He does not sound Western Pennsylvanian, for example. His wife is from the Philadelphia area, and they have spent most of their married life there.
     As for me, I will say this; after I performed a wedding in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the groom's family (they were from Pittsburgh), told me "We didn't know a thing about you, but when you opened your mouth, we knew exactly where you were from." Do I have to tell yinz any more?
    Enjoy the poem! It will  likely appear in my second book, whenever that will be!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

     John Updike was born 18 March 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. Shillington is a few miles from Reading, which Updike renamed Brewer for the Rabbit novels. Regrettably, Updike never won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which many people think he deserved.

     My introduction to him was his 1968 novel Couples, which showed that suburbia was not as straight-laced as it claimed to me (and also that the Summer of Love was not confined to the counterculture). I managed to check it out from the local library, or maybe read my mother's copy when she was finished and absorbed in something else while I read it.

     When in Reading for my seminary internship year in 1979-1980, I started on Rabbit, moved to the exquisite short stories, and was hooked! The poems are also superb, and I mourned his death in 2009.

      I add a link to the John Updike Society

and to my favorite poem of his which I have taught many times:

Finally, to my favorite short story of his, which I have also taught many times:

I do not admire him because he came form Pennsylvania and was born a Lutheran (he became an active Episcopalian and died one), but those facts do not lessen him in my view!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

   This is a day when everyone is Irish for at least 24 hours. To celebrate I have chosen a song by the seminal Irish music group Planxty. "Little Musgrave" is a version of "Matty Groves", from Fairport Convention's "Liege and Leaf".Musicologists can tell you which came first, or maybe what influenced both of these versions.

   Regardless, pour yourself something to drink: tea, Jameson's, a Guinness, a Black and Tan from Yuengling and enjoy!   Erin go bragh!

The song:

About the group:

15 Words a Day

     If I remember correctly, friend and fellow poet T Knott invited me to 15 Words a Day, a Google community where one is supposed to guessed it. Initially I thought it might be too limiting, and then the daily pressure of writing; you can imagine yourselves what thoughts raced through my mind.

   Over the years I have told students that learning a world language requires daily practice, much like lea ring a sport or an instrument. Poetry can be that way, also. Some of my posting become longer works, some are tossed away, others may be...who knows?

   Today's coincided with my being able to take a sigh of relief and the coming of Spring to the Midlands of South Carolina. Yes, we have more than beaches, and there are also mountains! For the first  time I included an image of one of those lovely Bradford pear trees that burst into whiteness for a few weeks.

   Soon after I posted it, another poet friend messaged me and said that she liked the message and the image. Then it occurred to me; maybe I write for others, and not myself.

Anxiety fades after dawn
Bradford pear trees blossomlike clouds descendingtransforming earth to paradise

Arthur Turfa,  © 2015  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

This is a repost because a poem by my friend Amrita Valan (posted on Facebook's Serious Lovers of Poetry) reminded me of this from last summer. Thanks, Amrita!

My catalyst for this was Teilhard de Chardin's Le Milieu Divin. " All the communions of a life-time are one communion.
All the communions of all men now living are one communion.
All the communions of all men, present, past and future, are one communion."

The Telos of Time
If all time is indeed
Eternally present, somehow
Past and present coexisting
With future that has been
Will have been
And contained in every moment
That was, is, or will be,
How is any moment discerned?

Am I soaking my sneakers
In morning’s dew
In early coolness
With the sunrise over the hill
And sitting in the den
Composing these lines
As darkness shrouds the tall pines
Or as I do whatever it shall be
In the years granted
Wherever, however I will spend them?

Blissfully unaware of the connection
We remain
Separating them by tenses and times
Compelling time into a flowing stream
Into whose waters we step only once
At any given time.

Every so often, some of us
Glance at distant stars
Whose fleeting constellations
Show connections we perhaps
Suspected and set our course anew

At the axis mundi
Where the veil between
Eternity and time
Is somewhat lifted,
We experience the
Moment above time,
The transcendent moment
Where Creator and creature
Redeemer and redeemed,
Sanctifier and sanctified
From all places and times,
Host holding a host
Shatter time as it is measured
Transitioning into timelessness.

Through action long ago
Continuing, never repeated,
We stand on the verge
Of was-is-will be and
Never-changing now
Ever onward-rushing
To consummation.

© Arthur Turfa, 2014

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Two recordings from Soundcloud: one from S.L. Weisend, and the other from me.

There is even a little French in this one! She has a soothing voice, one that is great for poetry.

This is a poem from my coming book, Places and Times, Reflected. eLectio Publishing will release this in early April 2015.

There is no French in this, and my voice may not be soothing, but I do my best to keep the listener's ear!

This picture is of Doko Manor, Blythewood, South Carolina, site of my first public reading, but not my last!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Thoughts on Aldous Huxley

   Originally posted on Facebook's The Writerly Digest by Writerly Digest  (I know that's complicated, but it is all good), the quote spoke to me. Additionally, it revived long-held respect for Huxley.  Here are, as the BBC would say, the main points of that:

  • Huxley, C.S. Lewis, and John F. Kennedy all died on the same day and the same year. 
  • I read "Brave New World" in high school, long before it was controversial.
  • At that time I read several others by him, and read more at university even though I was not an English major!
  • On my first trip to Europe, I bought a German copy of "The Doors of Perception", which according to rumor was banned in the USA. Whether it was or not, I do not know. But it was a good read and helped my German.
  • Reading the post (thanks, Stephanie Weisend!) got me thinking about a poem.
  • And reading the post showed me that Huxley hit the nail on the head. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday, Buffalo Springfield!

     On 3 March 1966, one of the most influential groups of all time was formed. However, it took some time for their influence to be appreciated. Had the music industry been a little more understanding they would have lasted longer as a band.

     Buffalo Springfield took its name from a steamroller parked near a friend's home in Los Angeles. Canadian Neil Young, Texan Stephen Stills, and Richie Furay from Ohio formed the nucleus of the group. The first two were of course in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the latter in Poco.

     What attracted me to them was their musicianship, lyrics, and overall sound, which blended various genres in a unique way. I post Stills' "Bluebird", which has become his signature song. Maybe I post it because I saw a bluebird here on Sunday while walking the dog.

Monday, March 2, 2015

     Lou Reed was born in New York City on 2 March 1943. Co-founder of the Velvet Underground, which was under the aegis of Andy Warhol, the band attained a cultic and influential following, but commercially failed.

    His solo career began in 1972 and lasted until his death in 2013. Even if one did not share his lifestyle and personal preferences, the lyrics and music left an indelible impression. A roommate once criticized him for speaking instead of singing. Reed consciously developed that deadpan style of delivery. At Syracuse University he studied under and became a friend of the poet and writer Delmore Schwartz. Reed's intention was to write the American novel in a song.

    I can relate to that. Several friends and readers have commented on my storytelling in poetic form. At least one has recently suggested that I resume writing prose as well. Maybe I will!

   Here I post two of Reed's "novels in song":  Enjoy!  And no, they are not from "Berlin", which may surprise some of you!

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, ...