Monday, August 31, 2015

Fifty Years On
Sidewalks filled with laid-off men uneasy with idleness,
Yearning for yesterday, terrified about tomorrow.
Smokeless chimneys stretching toward the sky,
Open hearths cooling longer between heats,
No rumbling of coal trains resounding beneath ridges:
The Valley drastically reduces steel production.

Searching for work, we visit a flat mill town
Punctuating the Illinois prairie, shade trees stretching
Across straight, level streets.
Farewells to classmates heading to Venezuela,
Rejected offers from Down Under and elsewhere,
We pass on the exotic and select Pennsylvania’s other side.

Heading eastward on the Turnpike, but not for vacation,
We listen to different sounds. Our own stand out. Words, also.
Trading buns for rolls, pop for soda,
Dahntahn for Center City, June 1964 is my immigration.

Leaving behind childhood’s things,
Moving parental accumulations
For the first of several journeys,
We carve our individual niches
With varying degrees of success.

Fondness of home remaining,
Reality settling in like humid summer air,
And we accept the best of the new homeland
Gradually blending old and new
Into the people we became.

Almost twenty years later, a University of Chicago
Genius who never sweat a day in his life
Lectures me about what my father should have done.
I suggest he confine his remarks
To whatever he actually knows.

Almost thirty years after that, someone lectures me
On the decline of the American steel industry.
Even though I tell him from where I come,
An orotund explanation still ensues
As I look for another drink.

Arthur Turfa, copyright 2014

For my newer reads! 


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Of Glass Bead Games, Peach Orchards, Prufrock, the Allman Brothers, and Stephanie’s Poem

Of Glass Bead Games, Peach Orchards, Prufrock, the Allman Brothers, and Stephanie’s Poem

    Somehow, I believe I can bring this into some semblance of coherence. Impetus for this post is another fine poem and recording by my friend, Stephanie Weisend. Among other things, we share a love for T.S. Eliot’s poetry, and try, in our own ways, to duplicate the way in which he expressed profound thoughts in simple, direct language, much like W.H. Auden, another mutual favorite.
     Stephanie paid me a nice compliment that when she read part of my Telos of Time she thought she was reading Eliot. This is another example of what I mean when I say that she “gets” what I say in my poetry more often than not.     
     After two years of Latin in junior high school, I broke with family tradition and troo German, primarily so I could read Hermann Hesse in the original. His massive 1943 novel Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game I had to read in English, along with others of his works. But I read Siddartha in the original on my own at university. During deployment, I read Das Glasperlenspiel, to use the original title of the previously-mentioned book/
     What I quote from next comes from Charles Cameron’s web posting from 1996,http://home.earthlink.net/~hipbone/Consider.html.  
Hesse himself claimed to have played the Game... To quote Ziolkowski again:

In the idyllic poem "Hours in the Garden" (1936), which he wrote during the composition of his novel, Hesse speaks of "a game of thoughts called the Glass Bead Game" that he practiced while burning leaves in his garden. As the ashes filter down through the grate, he says, "I hear music and see men of the past and future. I see wise men and poets and scholars and artists harmoniously building the hundred-gated cathedral of Mind." These lines depict as personal experience that intellectual pastime that Hesse, in his novel, was to define as "the *unio mystica* of all separate members of the *Universitas Litterarum*" and that he bodied out symbolically in the form of an elaborate Game performed according to the strictest rules and with supreme virtuosity by the mandarins of his spiritual province.
\and again:  
The Game, then, is playable in at least this sense. Furthermore, Hesse himself apparently based his description of the Game in *Das Glasperlenspiel* to some extent on a "game of ideas" involving optics, mathematics and music devised by his friend the painter Max Bucherer, incorporating the work of Bucherer's wife, Als Feustel -- whose theory of the correspondences between the musical and color scales Hesse mentions in the passage where Knecht reviews his first game in depth: ..he spent year after year sitting in lecture halls and libraries, studying Froberger and Alessandro Scarlatti, fugues and sonata form, reviewing mathematics, learning Chinese, working through a system of tonal figuration and the Feustelian theory of the correspondence between the scale of colors and the musical keys.
         Pretty heady stuff indeed, and it took me years to fathom it as much as I have. I remember being intrigued by how a painting inspires a piece of music or sonnet, At times I wonder how a language could be expressed as an musical instrument, or marvel at how a writer describes a natural scene, as Jardy and Updike, among others, do so well.
     Last week I am reading Stephanie’s poem, and listen to her reading it, grasping the allusions to Prufrock, and thinking of the peach orchards near where my wife and I live in South Carolina. Our peaches are not sweet like Georgia’s; they are whiter on the inside and taste better.
    Back to Eliot now: Poor Prufrock, like Hamlet, cannot make a decision. In the former’s case, it is not avenging his father’s murder, but rather acting on his desires for love. Age is catching up with Prufrock in many ways. His hair is falling out, he dresses in an old-fashioned way, and one could reasonably infer his technique of attracting women is the same way. Imagine a man in 2015 walking into a singles’ bar and asking a woman, “What’s your sign?”
    Various commentators correctly equate the peach with a sexual desire, sweetness, and a pleasing taste. Like all frits, the peach must be savored when it is ripe for full enjoyment. Prufrock’s hesitation dooms him to loneliness. The mermaids, and we assume, all women, mock him. They have flowing, splendid hair; he does not. They sing, but not to him.
     I have one more connection to make before going to Stephanie’s poem. The Allman Brothers Band was one of the heralds of southern Rock, to my mind the originators of the genre if I recall from my campus radio station days. “Eat a Peach” was released in February 1972, after Duane Allman’s death.  This site gives an interesting insight into the title: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eat_a_Peach
     (Butch) Trucks suggested they name the album Eat a Peach for Peace, after a quote from Duane Allman. When the writer Ellen Mandel asked Allman what he was doing to help the revolution, he replied:

I'm hitting a lick for peace — and every time I'm in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace. But you can't help the revolution, because there's just evolution. I understand the need for a lot of changes in the country, but I believe that as soon as everybody can just see a little bit better, and get a little hipper to what's going on, they're going to change it. Everybody will — not just the young people. Everybody is going to say, 'Man, this stinks. I cannot tolerate the smell of this thing anymore. Let's eliminate it and get straight with ourselves.' I believe if everybody does it for themselves, it'll take care of itself."[22][21]

Allman's comment was a reference to T. S. Eliot's poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."[21] An untrue story persisted for many years after the album's release that it was named after the truck Allman crashed into, purported to be a peach truck.[23

   The Allmans were either very well-read, or had really good English teacher or two! I vaguely remember the poem form high school; I do remember it from English 3 at Penn State during my freshman year. In the previous quote, Allman likens the indecision in the poem to society’s indecision to press for societal change. In Allman’s opinion, it will happen when we all get a “hipper”. In 2015, we need to make up for lost time, and perhaps we are.
     And now to Stephanie’s poem. She is the first poet to whom I dedicated a separate folder on AOL. There was a poem of hers about New Mexico, where my family also lived, that grabbed me. She alludes to Eliot’s classic, but extrapolates it into new rhythms and updates the images. The peach becomes a peach tree, indicative of a larger concern perhaps, or a living organism destined for a cycle like all living things are. Tis summer I remember driving in an around Aiken County, which borders on Georgia, looking at the growing peaches on the trees. We had a few peach trees in the Monongahela Valley south of Pittsburgh where I grew up, but nothing like these!
   Listen to Stephanie read her amazing poem and see what I mean! Her voice really captures the despair of this poor tree. I have tried to construct a Glass Bead Game from a novel, a classic poem, things I see while driving, Southern Rock, and a poem by a talented friend. Enjoy!


https://soundcloud.com/female-uninterrupted/lament-of-an-old-despondent

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thoughts on the 10th Anniversary of Katrina



     My family will never forget Katrina. The storm damaged the Pascagoula, Mississippi home where my wife lived in form the second grade on. My widowed mother-in-law, already showing signs of dementia, eventually agreed t let a nephew pick her up and take her to safety in Mobile, Alabama before four feet of water seeped into the home. (Disclaimer: this is NOT a picture of the home, but from another in the same community that was more heavily damaged. Her home was structurally  all right and was sold. It has been remodeled and look very nice).

     Fortunately, my deployment to Germany ended in April 2005. Within a month I accepted a teaching position and in the summer had begun serving steadily in a small parish. Also, I resumed writing the dissertation that had been on a holding pattern for over a year.

     Then Katrina hit, and the post-storm debacle followed. A week after the hurricane, I drove a small truck with our son (not yet 16) riding shotgun down to salvage  what we could. My wife followed, driving her mother who had flow up to South Carolina. Her sister drove down from her home to meet us in Mobile.

     When I arranged at school to take a personal day, and explained the reason, someone who shall remain nameless told me to "Have fun". For once I held my tongue.

     When we arrived in Pascagoula, we were met by a combat zone. While I had never been in one, there was devastation all around. Damaged houses, fallen trees, piles of rotting garbage of all kinds along the curb, and housing shells for those who chose to stay behind.

     After a long day we loaded what we could in the truck and headed back to South Carolina. My mother-in-law went from an apartment to several assisted-living and full-care facilities. My wife juggled seminary and everything else with caring her her mother. Four years later she buried her in Pascagoula next to her husband.

     Katrina and the response to it exposed and/or worsened some rifts in America that have not been fully-mended. when I think that time will, someone says something about something else and the rifts grow wider.

     

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Very Nice Comment


     Today I was speaking to a colleague at school before classes began. He and I are form the same general area. We started at our current school at the same, almost a decade ago. Coach has done it all over his decades: taught, coached various sports, mentored hundreds of students. At first glance he appears not to be the type who likes poetry.

     But as we spoke this morning he pulled his copy of my book and said, "You know which is my favorite, Doc?  'My Two Paths' ". In the last months have heard or read some very nice things about "Places and Times", but this one really touched me. It was not at a poetry event, which makes it all the more significant.

     Coach's words proves that poetry is part of life, and works into those inaccessible places. wgere we by ourselves would never dare to go.  And so I post the poem and am thankful for the gift I have that inspires people in ways I could not have foreseen.

     Thanks, Coach, and good luck in the next game!

My Two Paths
My two paths do not diverge within a
yellow wood, unlike the famous poem
occasionally serving as basis
for a commencement, a five-paragraph essay
and sermon when infused poetry lifts
the banal to soaring tours de force
in ionospheres of profundity.
On the contrary, my two paths parallel
each other along ridges stretching as
far as can be seen, separated by
deceptively-shallow gullies and creeks,
blue ribbons between trees, bushes, and fields.
Once fog-lifted from the other path
as arduous shows the way I journeyed,
going downhill, strangers or friends pointed
out the trail, offering encouragement
as I began the ascent, not losing
too much ground as I resumed my route/
If I was alone, I sensed a presence
at every step, bend, or transition,
and when I encountered a very few
who insisted I decide on a trail
and do not lift my gaze to the other ridge

Later learned I not dally with them
or to allow their opinion become
my destiny. Instead I sought those who
stood just above me, encouraging me
to continue on my way to the crest
and savor the view that awaited me.
Now the path wends toward the goal awaiting
me, I turn my gaze to distant mountains
and valleys half-hidden by hanging mists.
Time now to rest under spreading branches

of pleasant trees and enjoy where I have been.

Arthur Turfa, copyright 2015
"Places and Times", eLectio Publishing


      

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Awesome , Atlantic Article on Springsteen and the Loss of the American Dream

      My wife Pam sent this to me last night and told me it was long. I finished it just now am posting it.  Springsteen's prominence stands more assured. I grew up in the Rust Belt and know what it is like to see dying towns and hopes.

     Not being a rock star, nevertheless the less I can relate to finding a creative outlet in literature, we, and listening to Rock and Roll. The lifestyle I have now was enabled b hard-working family members who saved what they could to help my brother and me. Now my wife and I do the same for our son.

    But America has changed. Springsteen sings of that, but also sings of hope. Enjoy!

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/08/born-to-run-at-40/402137/

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

40th Anniversary of Born to Run


     I have written about this previously, and I know some readers reach back rather far into my posts (for which I thank them very much). However, the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's "Born to Run" LP deserves a post. This is the album that the US Senate refused to commemorate ten years ago.

     Four decades ago I had not quite unpacked everything in the place I had moved to in Costa Mesa, CA. That was in the middle of Orange County. I found decent reception to an LA FM station, sadly I forget which one. They said they had a song from a new band that came from New Jersey. Full of my Pennsylvania pride and regionalism, I said to myself something like "I can't wait to hear it." Half-way through the title track, which is what the single was, I did not want it to stop. As soon as possible, I bought the album at a record store I came to frequent on payday from UC-Irvine.

     Without Springsteen I shudder to think of what music would have been like. The groups and artists I listened to in the 1960's were dead, withdrawn, or played out for the most part. Bruce revivified the scene, and gloried in Rock and Roll and life. Because of him, I pushed my 72 Duster a little faster on the freeways.

     The Rolling Stone interview with Bruce, where he talks about the band's situation at the time: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/bruce-springsteen-on-making-born-to-run-we-went-to-extremes-20150825?page=5

    The title track:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3t9SfrfDZM

    Thanks, Bruce and the E Street Band!

     

Monday, August 24, 2015

Re-post of "Innisfree" by Judy Collins



   Maybe it's because my adjunct class starts tomorrow night, completing the back to school and everything else cycle, but I feel the need for some peace. Actually everything is going well, but I thought of "Innisfree", The Yeats poem that composer-musician-actor Hamilton Camp
 ( http://hamiltoncamp.com/  ) set to music,.

    I remember Camp somewhat from back in the day,learned to like Yeats, and was enthralled by Judy Collins. We saw her in concert in Wilkes-Barre, PA, one December around the year 2000 in December.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TleIuj9xIYE


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Poem-a-day, thanks to a friend

     Thanks to my friend and fellow moderator at Words on Fire, Rick Andrew, for this link to a wonderful feature!   http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem-day   Each morning there is a poem for me to read.

     Last week there was one from someone I know, Amy King, from the Goodreads Poetry community. Some of the poems/poets I know, but some are gems previously unknown to me.

    Why not check it out? You will be glad you did!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Blatant Attempt to Obtain More Likes


     My Facebook author page is growing in popularity and outreach. If you haven;t liked it, please consider doing so. I will be more than happy to reciprocate if you send me the links. I use this page to talk about what I am doing, where I will be doing it, and what else I am planning. Additionally, I can link this blog to it, where, as you know, I share all sorts of thoughts.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arthur-Turfa-Poems-of-Times-and-Places-Reflected/293732337470677

Why am I doing this? Let's say it's because I did not have a pony when I was a child! Fro some folks, sadly, that would be something they never got over! Thanks! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Come to the Blythewood Butterfly Festival


     The community where I work (and used to live) hosts the first Blythewood Butterfly Festival on Saturday, 5 September, from 9am-6pm. I share the link to give you an overview of this happening, which will have something for everyone.

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blythewood-Butterfly-Festival/1484533905195221?fref=nf

      I will be there selling and signing copies of "Places and Times" as well as greeting friends and making new ones. Lovely Doko Manor is located right off of Exit 27 from I-77 in Blythewood. Tell a friend and come on over!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

On the eve of St. Stephen, King

     No, this is not the "feast of Stephen" mentioned in the carol "Good King Wenceslas". that would be St. Stephen, Deacon and Proto-Martyr, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. I am talking about the Hungarian king who adopted Christianity, who was named Istvan, which became the Hungarian form of Stephen.
   
     I cannot resist observing the Hungarian national holiday. As a boy, the family had reduced tickets for Kennywood Amusement Park from our Hungarian Reformed Fraternal Agency. The park still exists and has new life. But I am in south Carolina now, and we are in school.

Link to the park: https://www.kennywood.com/

    In 2004 I was in Budapest on the eve of the festival, needing to head back to duty in Germany on the Saturday, the actual day of the festival. Why was that? I was reluctant to take Sundays off, since my community needed me present; I was an Army chaplain. When I came to Würzburg I told them that I had been to Europe often enough; thus I would schedule my travel around Sundays. The largest part of my role was to conduct services, so I planned by travel around them.

    On the night before I left I walked around Buda, and returned to the Castle, where was were fantastic displays of folk art, music, food, and drink. I was mesmerized by the music and vocals, although I understood virtually none of it, despite my grandmother's wishes that her grandsons learn the language!

    I post a poem from "Places and Times" that tries to capture the evening. Have some tokay of Bull's Blood and enjoy!

    At Buda Castle
A gathering around Buda Castle
On the night before the national feast.
Vendors’ booths crowding narrow paths upward,
Inside green swath teems between the towers.
Aromas of goulash arising from
Huge black kettles. Colorful dancers swirl
As they have before coming to this ground.
Burly, deep-voiced singer, with red-golden
Fu Manchu leads guitars and violins
Through folks songs inaccessible to me;
But they mesmerize those who understand.
Gradually voice and tune envelop me,
The songs soar far beyond the heavens.
Summer sun wending westward toward Sopron,
Below the Danube shimmers flowing east.
I gaze at the glowing with sunset walls
And feel long-desired connection at last.

Arthur Turfa, copyright 2015




Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Few Quick Things While the Pace Quickens


     Back to school at secondary level, and next week at post-secondary. some adjuncts have only that, and I admire them a lot. For me, it is a valuable extra; in my mind I improve at one level because I am involved on another.

     Business cards came in and they are fine. Many thanks to a friend and fellow author who designed them! And I revised one poem and wrote another, shorter one for a timely submission. Fingers crossed for this one!

    I hope your week is going well, whatever you do, and wherever you do it! Why not let me know about it?

Monday, August 17, 2015

50 more Copies In Today

     I am stocked up now for the next few events. Yesterday I put some up on Facebook.

    First, selling locally at a fair in Blythewood, SC:
               
https://www.facebook.com/events/120372521642031/

    Then even closer to home at a Starbucks in Lexington, SC:

     https://www.facebook.com/events/120372521642031/

There is another arts fair in Columbia, SC for October, but more on that later.

    Books are availabel on consignment at these venues:

    Blythewood Arts Center:  https://www.facebook.com/BlythewoodArtsCenter

    White Rose Artisans Boutique:  https://www.facebook.com/whiterosesc

    Book on Main:  https://www.facebook.com/BooksOnMainNewberrySC

   I usually carry some in my car.

   If anyone would like a signed copy, contact me and I can find out about postage and let you know!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Happy Birthday, Charles Bukowski!



    Somehow I do not think he really cared about getting cards or presents, but I want to remember him on his birth. Born in Andernach, Germany, in 1920, he came with his parents to the United States, settling in Los Angeles in 1930. I do not know how much of German he retained; given the abusive atmosphere of his home, I don't think he would have had many pleasant associations with the language.

     A German friend whom I met in Berkeley read some works by Bukowski and introduced me to his writing. As I recall, they were prose and translations into German. A few years later I was in Orange County, but did not pursue an interest in the writer.

     I post a link to his official site, and a link to a poem.

http://bukowski.net/      http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/kind-fire

If you don't mind, many of you follow this blog and my Facebook page. If you don't would you mind following this blog and liking my FB page? Thanks so much! Here's the link:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arthur-Turfa-Poems-of-Times-and-Places-Reflected/293732337470677


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Spoken Word Redux

   I am editing some new ones, but here is my voice again with a favorite. I hope you will enjoy it also.

https://soundcloud.com/arthur-turfa-1/the-conversation

Thursday, August 13, 2015

And Now for a Completely Different Genre.....


     I am playing on Monty Python's "And Now for Something Completely Different" line. Earlier this summer I thought I would try something in the Young Adult vein, based on my childhood experiences. The names have been changed because I thought that was a good things to do. But what I describe actually happened. Let me know what you think! So far it is untitled. Thanks.

Introduction

     Everyone has a place they remember with fondness. They older they get, the more places they have to choose from. I’ve been in 41 states on three continents, and in 17 countries. The place I think of the most is a neighborhood full of hills and woods outside of a series of mill towns along a river flowing north. I have loved several other places where I have lived, but this neighborhood and its surrounding area laid the foundation for who I am today.
     Hopefully you have such a place of your own. Maybe you are still living there. Or maybe you are like me, and you had to move away. That’s what happened to me. After a time of adjustment,  felt at ease where I lived then. But I still sound like I never left the place I grew up. I still follow the teams I used to follow, and am proud of the place.
     These days people pay a lot of money to live on a cul-de-sac. They like the privacy, and it sounds better than a dead-end street. That is what Atherton Drive was. It still ends in some woods. On our side there are five houses on one-acre lots across the way there are seven because some of the lots were half an acre. Atherton was not even a quarter-mile long, but there was a hill rising to the right of our lot. That was great for strengthening leg muscles, and for bike riding. Our land sloped downward for the back yard, so that is where we went sledding. No traffic that way.
     We called out street the United Nations, but a more accurate description would have been the European Economic Community. No other continents were represented. There was no EEC at the time I lived there, and no one ever imagined there would be, since the Iron Curtain split Europe into two camps.
     One summer night in 1957, three generations of my father’s family stood in the back yard by the tall poplar trees to look at the sky. The only trees were from the orchards, and they were not tall. As the yard sloped gently past the vegetable gardens and the large cement structure that others would have called a barn, we saw something moving in the heavens. It was not a star or planet, nor was it a spaceship like I saw on television.
     We watched Sputnik, which the Soviet Union had launched. The Space Race was in its early stages, and the United States was far behind. One of my aunts or uncles said that next year the Russians would have missiles up in space to shoot at us. My grandparents talked of last’s years Hungarian Revolution, which chased some of our relatives out of the country. I also thought I heard someone say that others were killed, by my brother remembers it differently. Sometimes we do have different memories.

     Atherton Drive had its own Cold War, which occasionally heated up, and it did involve local Russians, actually second-generation Russians. That means their grandparents immigrated, just as mine did.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Back to School Poem, after a Fashion


     When I say that my wife and I have been through Oxford, it was only by walking through some of it one night on our honeymoon. We stayed at the RAC Hotel and strolled through the town, eating at a fantastic Italian restaurant downtown that was super elegant!

     I can describe my foreign study in this way: I have in Germany studied....in Frankfurt, Trier studied, and in Berlin researched.

     Enough levity. If you do not know any German, you will wonder about the previous paragraph.

     But here is a poem by Hopkins. I love the mood he sets. To go back to Germany, I even happened upon Dun Scotus grave in a church in Cologne. Actually, I believed I elaborated about that in a previous post.

     Here's the link to the poem:

   http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173658

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Last 48 Hours.Until School Begins

     I thought I had better add to the title since I did not want people to assume the worst. Now I enjoy what and where I teach (both locations). But this has been a fantastic summer, as I basked in the glow of Places and Times, gave some readings, participated in a workshop, relax, work out, spent five Sundays in a fantastic parish, had lunch with my wife, family, and friends, enoyed a great vacation with my wife, wrote, followed the Pittsburgh Pirates, and watched Netflix.

     Teachers normally do not have the summer free, contrary to popular misconception. Fortunately I am at the point where I do not need to take classes for re-certification. I did spend two days doing school-related activities, so I can be off on two in-service days during the school year. Additionally,  also had Annual Training for over two decades.

     Ah, so what to do? I need to review an advance copy of a friend's book of poetry, hope to start reading another friend's draft of a book of poetry. Hopefully I can go to Ft. Jackson for some shopping, hit the gym, meet a poet friend, take care of some loose ends, and then report on Wednesday for a week or meetings and working in the classroom.

     For my Northern friends, school down here starts well before Labor Day, which means that we are done early in June.

     I actually accomplished mot of what I intended to. I read what Johannes Bobrowski I could access on the web, read about Rilke and some of the poems (more to do), read about Henry Clay, the '"new" Harper Lee, lots of other things.

     All in all, it was a great summer, but what has a beginning also has an end. I look forward to teaching, selling books at two venues, give more readings, and whatever comes my way.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

This is What We Did at the Poetry Workshop.


     A friend asked what we did at the "Tell the Truth, Tell It Slant" workshops at the Richland County Public Library, arranged by Sarah Gough and led by D. Ed Madden, Columbia, SC's Poet Laureate and professor at the University of South Carolina (that is the original USC, but not the nationally-known one).

    Held over four Tuesdays in July. attendance fluctuated but there there an average of 20 people each week. My wife and I were on vacation for the second one.

     The first week we looked at Line Breaks by looking at Louise Glück's "The Red Poppy" and Li-Young Lee's "I Ask my Mother to Sing" not in their published forms, but as paragraphs. Ed asked us to ink or pencil in where we thought the line breaks should be. Then he showed the published forms to us. We spoke about flow and how poems can look when written or printed.

     During the second week there were several handouts,. but since I was not there, I cannot say a lot about what was discussed. Poems were Dana Levin's "In the Surgical Theatre" and Pearse Hutchinson's "Bright After Dark",

     During the third week we made two columns. One was a list of abstract nouns, and the second contained names of historical or fictional characters. Then we wrote a poem from the title of "When Abstract Noun came to Me as Historical/Fictional character". That actualkly was a lot of fun once we got into it. The concluding activity was looking at a picture that accompanied a patent application and writing a poem. We only saw the picture.

     There were also some shorter exercises in all of these sessions, and we could read what we wrote if we wanted to. I geld back to let some of the newer poets have a chance, but responded when asked.

    We concluded with an Open Mic, where members of the class and others who came presented. We had three minutes. I did the Batman poem I wrote for the class. Some of us had done this before, but some were brand-new. It was a warm, supportive group and everything worked well.

     The Richland County Public main library will be undergoing major renovations, so some of their events will have to wait or be relocated. But at least I know people, and they know me. Later on I will talk about how I arranged for a December reading at a branch location.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Interesting Music Video shared


        Friend and collaborator Denise Baxter Yoder shared a neat video, that I share with you She was asked to sit in with Centerpiece Jazz. It's very well done, and easy to listen to. I share it with you in the hopes that she might agree to collaborate again!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjzq7Q6Gs-I&feature=share

Enjoy! May you have a mellow weekend!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"Go Set a Watchman" Finished- NO spoiler alert needed


     I finished it today and passed it along to my wife. No need to worry; I am not spilling the beans about the plot. When someone does that for me, I really hate it. Tell me if you liked or hated it, but don't tell me what happens, be it a book, movie, television show or game. I will figure it out!

     Amid myriad errands and things to do today, I stopped at Jersey Mike's for lunch. Todau I went healthy, with the Chicken Philly. I had my copy of the book with me, since I wanted to spend a little but of time reading it, partially to check out my new glasses.

     While waiting in line, a young woman behind me said that she was not going to read the book. We got to talking. She was an English minor but was not teaching (she had been in South Korea for six weeks, so I told her about my three weeks there for Team Spirit in 1988). I told her that I taught English, and used to teach "Mockingbrd".
 
    (Interesting sidelight: once a student asked me what I studied at Penn State. I told him I was a German major. He was rather surprised and said, "But I thought you were in OUR Army!" Fortunately, most of the class told him what he needed to know.)

     As I spoke with the young woman, I said it was a backward way of reading, but that's how it happened. "Watchman" came back to Harper Lee with the recommendation that she develop Scout's childhood more. In "Watchman" Atticus Finch is not the stalwart, progressive figure of "Mockingbird".  That's all I'm going to say; but that had some people beside themselves in confusion and maybe rage.

     For a first novel, "Watchman" is quite good, although we do not know what Scout/Jean Louise actually does in New York City. Most likely the editors saw that, and some other things, and made the right suggestion. It is worth reading, however, and I recommend it unless one is so enamored of "Mockingbird" that any alteration is blasphemy.

     Speaking personally, I would hate to see an earlier version of "Far From the Madding Crowd" where Bathsheba Everdene moves to London and works as a made for the Duke and Duchess of Something-or-the-Other.

    I will post this from the Guardian. Since the General Election, I only do the Quick Crossword, but eventually I will scan the rest of the paper.  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/04/us-bookshop-offering-refunds-for-go-set-a-watchman-harper-lee

Open Mic and the White Rose Artisan Boutique and Other Thoughts


     Since the Release of "Places and Times on 7 April 2015, I have given two solo readings locally and regionally, and participated in two Open mics, one in connection with a poetry workshop. I have also registered for two arts fairs to sell books, and connected with one large branch of a local library. There will be more details on all of this forthcoming, but I want to make a point.

     Going out like this is necessary for any artist, especially a poet. Emily Dickinson would not have done well at all doing so, for obvious reasons. However, it is a wonderful experience to do so. I now know several people when I come into something, and most are friends now. Additionally, I make new friends, and I get my poetry out.

    I post a link to the Facebook page of the White Rose here: https://www.facebook.com/whiterosesc?fref=ts

If you live in the Midlands or are passing through, it is worth a visit. It is not far at all from downtown Columbia.

And I post one of the two poems that I read from my book:

The Island
No islander am I, but all the same
I wander green fields that go forever,
Rolling on towards a distant tree line
Or extending along to a sheltered cove.
At times I am invited, encouraged
Even, to stay for longer duration,
Taking my place alongside the others,
Savoring the stillness of hallowed space,
Watching colors brightening with the sun
And listening to wafting songs of praise
Resounding over and over again.
Contentment I find there from distant waves
And storms that come clashing onto the coast,
Until the stinging subtle reminder
That I am sojourner, not citizen.
Then turns my gaze once again to the strand
And beyond to the mainland, hovering
As it were above the waves, beckoning
Me to return and remain there.
On the mainland I indeed have a place
High on a hill. From its wooded crest my
Gaze penetrates the mists which are covering
The island. I have memories of the
Green pleasant hills but now I turn inland

To see the beckoning and distant hills


Monday, August 3, 2015

"New" Harper Lee Novel Now Being Read


     Over the years I have taught "To Kill a Mockingbird", and have also shown the movie. Years ago at Penn State I met and participated in a group interview with William Windom, who played the district attorney in the film. Windom was then starring in a one-man James Thurber show.

     Since those days I have wondered aloud how one can be a Great American Novelist having written only one novel. Maybe make it two, now. J.D. Salinger left some manuscripts, but is known for "Catcher in the Rye", and Truman Capote (Dill in "Mockingbird") wrote only three.

     No, I have not succumbed to envy. These writers have written more novels than I ever will. I do have a rough draft that I was going to toss before I deployed as my wife and I sorted out the basement.

    So far,  "Go Set a Watchman" has caught my attention about 75 pages in. We will see!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24817626-go-set-a-watchman

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hanging out with Frank Zappa and the Mothers

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



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, ...