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!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Facebook Page at 500 Likes!

     It has not been a year, and I have reached this milestone. Although I started it for the book, I use ti for other things, and will likely keep it whenever the second book comes out; but that is at least a year away.

     What pleases me the most is the contact with people. Some of you are old friends, some newer ones. some of you are fellow writers, some of you are artists of anot
her kind, or appreciate art in its many forms. Stay in touch and feel free to introduce me to new friends.

     And while you are at it, also follow/like/whatever this page, also! Every so often I think I should delete some older posts, but I notice that many people like to dig deep, so there must be something worth keeping!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Exquisite Mare

Exquisite Mare
for R.M.

Undaunted, she plays along
With the pretense
That she has been tamed.

Raising her head high,
Stretching the slender neck,
She gazes over the fence
That she could leap
Effortlessly and flawlessly.

That she deigns to stay
Speaks of volition
And nothing else.

In a flash, she springs,
Clearing the corral,
And strides over hills, seeking leafy trails
Along the distant ridges.

Arthur Turfa, copyright 2015

    Since I have been on Google+, it has been my pleasure and joy to have maintained connections with some talented and amazing people. Rebecca Mandeville is one of them. Hopefully, our paths will cross one day. She writes Cowgirl Haiku ranches, has many interests, and can always be counted on for intriguing writes and posts. 

    Recently she posted a picture of her around the time that I showed my Mythology classes Bernini's ApolloDaphne and Daphne. Right away I wondered what Bernini could have done with Rebecca as a model. His statue is superb, and so is the picture that inspired me. 

     When I wrote the poem, I shared it privately with Rebecca, was had some very nice things to say about it. She graciously allowed me to post it, for which I am grateful. I intend to add it to my Some Poetry Collection on Google

      Many thanks, Rebecca! I am glad to have you as a friend and a fellow poet!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Poetry on Bus Wheels, all over Columbia, SC

     Several of my friends were involved in this project, and I wanted to share the story with you. Ed Madden is on the faculty at the University of South Carolina and is also Columbia's Poet Laureate. A few other friends were involved: Al Black, Len Lawson, and HR Hook

   The intention was to bring poetry to a very public place. I believe that they succeeded.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Nice one from Poem-a-Day Today

   Thanks to Amy Lowell for the poem about those mornings when you know the seasons are turning. No frost of any kind here in South Carolina, but it was cool and rainy, Because of the rain, the migrating birds were grounded.

    If you have not subscribed to Poem-a-day, the site tells you how to do it. Most of them are fine, and seeing a poem each day in my inbox expands what I would normally read.

    Lowell was a well-connected New Englander; one of her brothers was president of Harvard. She never married, was thought to be a lesbian, smoked cigars, was a friend of Ezra Pound's, and championed vers libre. Quite a lot for barely more than a half-century on this earth.

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, ...