Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Afflatus Inaugural Issue

    April Mae Berza;s newest magazine, Afflatus , is now available.  she kindly included three of my poems; previously I have appeared in her Metaphor. I appreciate all that she does and recommend the magazine and its other fine writers to you. I am glad to see my name a little higher on the list. When your last name comes near the end of the alphabet, you appreciate anything!

Afflatus Issue 1

Monday, March 28, 2016

"Seven Stanzas for Easter"- John Updike

     In a recent post, I mentioned Updike's influence on me, and more importantly, his impact on the literary/artistic world. On Easter Monday I post his and refer to the excellent commentary on the site for further information.
Seven Stanzas for Easter ,

     From another favorite writer and a beloved novel:

     I would love to reference both of these in a sermon I will preach on the Second Sunday of Easter (the Low Sunday, speaking of the attendance). Hopefully, I can do so with some eloquence.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Favorite Easter Hymn

     There is a Facebook page for everyone and everything. While I belong to the one for clergy of my denomination (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for those who wonder), I do not spend time on it. The primary reason is that since I am retired, there is not much I can gain from it, and not too much that I can contribute. Also, I am bust with my educational career and poetry.

     Since my wife is an active pastor, I hear from her about some things. Recently a thread began about favorite Easter hymns. Of course there are several, but I single out "Come Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain."

     How many texts survive, and are still used, that were written by St. John Damascene (8th Century).? John Mason Neale did a wonderful translation, and while there are several tunes, I prefer the one here.

     I learned this lovely hymn at the first seminary I attended, Christ Seminary-Seminex, in St. Louis, Missouri. A lot of my piety was formed there, and still is rooted in the best of the Missouri Synod tradition. It was there that I became a "churchman", as they say, and it has served me well in several ways.

     One day in this blog, there might well be more about my seminary path and such things, but for now......

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Another Good Friday Hymn

    I neither include this hymn because it was written by a Hungarian nor because I had a few hits from the Old Country on the blog. It is a powerful, moving hymn not generally-known in the English-speaking world.

about the hymn a
nd composer:,%20There%20in%20God's%20Garden.pdf

the hymn:

     Pecsélyi Király Imre ( N.B. Hungarians, or Magyars, as I like to refer to us, are still Asiatic in that officially the last name is given first. I would be Turfa Artur Vilmos) studied at Heidelberg and was a Reformed pastor around 1600. My grandmother Adorjan's family was staunchly Hungarian Reformed (so much that my Lutheran grandfather has no choice in confession. About 11 % of Magyars today are Calvinist (Reformed), 2% Lutheran; roman Catholics at 39% still are the largest religious group.

     At a later date I might offer a few speculations about the subject. For now I will conclude that at one time I thought I might need to ask to join the United Church of Christ's Calvin Synod base don ethnicity. My grandmother would have been proud.\, but I remained Lutheran and on some Sundays, Episcopalian.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden"/"O, Sacred Head Now Wounded"

An earlier Latin hymn inspired Paul Gerhardt, Lutheran pastor, to compose his own poem which bears the title above. It is a mainstay of  not only Lutheran Good Friday services; its appeal spread beyond its origin.

     Traditionally, German Lutheran Good Friday services include singing all ten verses. Many people know the text by heart. Having been at several such services in the U.S., I can personally attest to the effect of singing the hymn in its entirety. Until rather recently, many, but not all hymns, were meant to serve as stand-along works of devotional impact; in too many cases "songs" in sacred setting merely repeat a phrase or phrases, and appeal more to the emotional. In the hands of someone like Gerhardt, the text can combine doctrinal potency with emotive effect.

    During the Three Days/Triduum, I try to listen to the entire "St. Matthew's Passion" (I received a version as a gift), and if I have time, the "St. John's Passion" (also a gift from a friend who sang the Evangelist's part in California).

from Bach's "St. Matthew Passion""

German text- ignore the English translation here!

This is a better English translation:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Johann Sebastian Bach, born 21 March 1685.

     One of the greatest pleasures I had was to easily visit the Lutheran sites in the eastern part of Germany post-reunification. I was going to go on a state-sanctioned tour during 1983 for the 500th Luther Birthday celebrations, but when my future wife and i planned a honeymoon, she wanted her first trip to Europe to be to an English-speaking nation, so we went to the UK.  Since I thought that there would be a time later for these sites, it didn't matter to me. Years later, I know I made the right choice.

     While I did not have a lot of time on my 2004-2005 deployment to Germany for travel, Würzburg was close enough to some of these sites for a daytrip. My wife and son came over and se saw Wittenberg. For that we rented a car, and I had my BahnCard 50 for those times when no one wanted provide a car.

     The first place I went with a friend and fellow officer was Eisenach and the Wartburg Castle. Eisenach was J.S. Bach's birthplace, and it was a delightful time in early spring. I attach some links and what I consider the loveliest of all melodies.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Happy Birthday, Henrik Ibsen! 20 March 1828

     Ibsen's influence on the modern stage is enormous. While associated with Norway, he lived abroad for many years, and composed his greatest works far from the fjords (I could not resist).

     In 7th grade music class I came to know Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, and by my senior year was aware of A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler, with their proto-feminism. Well-respected in Norway during his life, his renown has increased in the century-plus since his death.    Peer Gynt Suite

Rilke in Charleston

     Yesterday I spent too short a time in lovely Charleston, SC. The American Association of Teachers of German-South Carolina met there. In order to accommodate our members, we rotate between the Midlands, Upstate, and Low Country for meetings (I am in the Midlands, and Charleston is in the Low Country that's for international readers).

     We convened at the College of Charleston. How anyone can study or work there is beyond me! Charleston is a lovely, active city, full of tourists, full of local culture, and full of good things (usually- it has been a hard time since the events at Mother Emmanuel Church).

     My presentation's title translates as "Poems in the Classroom". I spoke about Rilke's Dinggedcht  "Der Panther" , and about some of the poems I use in the classroom and where I find them.        I was also asked to read something from my book, and I read this one, which actually came to me in a dream. From Places and Times I also include a translation.

Mein Traum
Die Namen der U-Bahnhöfe schweben
Vor mir in der nächtlichen Ferne
Wie bunte Sterne, im Himmel wehend,
Ein Paternosteraufzug in der Stadt.
Ich steige aus und sofort will wieder
Einsteigen zum heranwinkenden Licht
An Bellvue vorbei, dann Friedrichstrasse
Richtung Alex, dann Prenzlauer Allee.
Musik von Konzert oder Kneipe,
Vielleicht mal ins Kino oder Café.
Unbegrentzte Möglichlichkeiten reizen
Mich wie Lorelei oder Sirenen
Abhängig von ob ich mich befinde
Auf dem Rhein oder auf’m Mittelmeer.
Im Grunde bin ich unweit von der Spree
Und muss mich mal auf etwas entschliessen.
Auf einmal wach’ ich auf und bermeke
Dass ich Tausende von Kilometern
Westlich bin, inmitten einem Wald.
Keine öffentliche Vekehrsmittel
Stehen mir zur Verfügung, weder die
U-Bahn noch S-Bahn laufen nicht einmal
Busse. Noch wieder Träume von Berlin.
My Dream
The names of the subway stations hover
Before me in nocturnal distances
As colorful stars waft in the heavens,
Like an urban paternoster lift.
I leave the train and immediately
Want to take another to a beckoning light.
Passing by Bellvue Palace and Friedrichstrasse
Towards Alex, then Prenzlauer Allee,
Music from Cabaret or a bar,
Maybe from a cinema or bistro.
Unlimited possibilities tempt
Me like the Sirens or the Lorelei.
Am I on the Rhine or Mediterranean?
Acutally I am close to the Spree
And have to quickly make a decision.
Suddenly I awaken, realizing
That I am thousands of miles to the west
Deep in the woods without a U-Bahn,
S-Bahn, cream-colored double decker buses.
But I still have those dreams about Berlin

Arthur Turfa, copyright 2015, eLectio Publishing

     By the way I am fortunate to have a steady and itneresting intenrational following. Everyday there are some hits here from Portugal. Recently I have seen regular interest from Poland, South Korea and Russiant  Thanks!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Steve Young, RIP

     He released 14 albums even though he never cared to be on the road to ensure stardom. Steve Young, who passed away this week in Nashville, TN, was all right with that. He had the respect of his peers, which was enough for him. The link details the incredible artists with whom he worked.

     Young also wrote "Lonesome, On'ry, and Mean", recorded by Waylon Jennings. Waylon paid Steve the supreme compliment by saying (I paraphrase), that Waylon would commit homocide if Steve kept writing songs that good.

     I probably heard Ian Matthew's cover of the song before the Eagles version, because I remember thinking to myself, "Ihe Eagles took the song from Ian Matthews" or something equally as profound.

     But it's not a testosterone thing:  The Carter Sisters knock it out of the park, too.

    A few years back I wrote a poem entitled "Twelve Bridges Road," because that's how many there were on a drive I used to make regularly. In the back of my mind was this song.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Happy Birthday, John Updike!

     Although I knew his short stories, it was not until I lived in Reading, PA during my seminary internship year that I started reading the Rabbit novels. When I read his descriptions of Brewer, Reading was instantly recognizable. Years later, I finished the novels, He had a brilliant career, and should have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

     Like Updike, I am a Pennsylvanian, and we also shared the same spiritual sources to a very large extent.The link will share the relevant information:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

This Came in Today's Mail

     Tomorrow it will be posted in my classroom. You can find out about the Blythewood Poetry Society by click on this link:       Click on the lines on the left and see, among other things, some great poetry by students. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day

    I'm not Irish, and even wore a green shirt a day early accidentally, but my wife is Scots-Irish, so here is a wonderful song, performed by Paul Brady and Dolores Keane:

    Some people might think, however, that I French-kissed the Blarney Stone. Wherever you are tomorrow, may the road rise up to be you and all that!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"Stained Glass" byJoanna Kuroswka Released Today

     Joanna Kurowska is many things to me. She is a fellow poet, a mentor, a friend, and possesses great talent. Her new book, Stained Glass has been released by eLectio Publishing (our publisher) as of today.

     I urge you to sample the poems she has posted on her blog, and then see my review on Amazon. Buying from the publisher is the better deal since the e-book is included with the purchase of a paperback.

     Congratulations, Joanna!!/Stained-Glass-Paperback/p/63144099/category=4758361

Following is my review which I posted on Amazon:
Having read and enjoyed three books of poetry by Joanna Kurowska, I can say without reservation that “Stained Glass” is the best. Her style is more robust, and there is a deeper examination of familiar themes: Poland, God, immigration, and life in general.
In the poem “visitations”, she references the “wild strawberries”. While that may or may not be an allusion to the Bergman film (I rather suspect it is not), the life review of that movie fits in perfectly with his volume of verse poems.
Kurowska has four sections here: “Youth”, “Time of Grace”, “File #3”, and “Nothing”. The first three correspond to stages in her life, while the last, which is not as pessimistic as it sounds, provides an intriguing conclusion.
When she writes of the vanished Jewish presence in Poland (which was 10% Jewish prior to WWII), I am reminded of Johannes Bobrowski’s treatment of the same theme. Kurowska is as her best when writing of the old Poland, of Grandpa Witold, maiden aunts, and sleigh rides. She captures the transition to the Communist state whose rigidity forced her to flee to the West, taking her heritage with her.
There are a few recurrent themes here. The stained glass is something that she has rearranged. But is it to put back as it was, or to make something new? And with what is it indeed stained? She references attempts to return to the garden, to fly (“Icarus”), and the every-recurrent search for God as a being more of a reality than the figure as contained in childhood prayers.

Certain poems spoke to me, and bear one’s notice ” . All of the first section—“Youth”—and, from the following sections, “Mount Tabor”, “Icarus”, “the Berlin Boys”, “Christmas Now’, and “a thread”.
“Stained Glass” is an excellent volume of poetry that cries out to be read.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Ed Madden "Ark" Now Available

     Last summer I took a workshop let me Ed Madden at the Richland County Public Library on Poetry. There were quite a few people who participated, and I made some good friends among fellow writers. In his other life, Ed is a Professor of English at the University of South Carolina (the original USC), and is also Poet Laureate of Columbia.

     Yesterday I was fortunate to be at the Columbia Museum of Art for the local launch of Ark, a powerful book of poetry. I post a link to the trailer and some other things, such s Ed reading from the book. Of the several dozen people in attendance, I was pleased to see various friends, mostly other poets or other artists. I still feel good about the experience.

     Last month I bought a signed copy from Ed at the Deckle Edge Literary Festival, and it is in that pile of things to read. But savor what I post now, and then experience it yourself.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Enough Melodrama

   There are two events in the coming months that I am excited to tell the world about. One is a return, the other is brand new.

    On 23 April I will be in lovely Aiken, South Carolina, for the Aiken Wine and Sign 2016, which benefits the Aiken Arts Center and the Diann Shaddox Foundation for Essential Tremor. Aiken is about an hour from where I live, and is a charming town. It is in the heart of South Carolina's peach region, and is situated about halfway between our state capitol of Columbia and Augusta, Georgia.
Here is my Facebook Event link. I am not actually hosting the event of course, but I created the event!

     My first ever public poetry reading was courtesy of Jim Lundy's Monday Night Poetry on E. Bay Street in South Carolina;s first city. My wife and I went down together, and plan to spend some more time there on 27 June.

Friday, March 11, 2016

I hate melodrama.......

     This weekend I am going to announce two events, one in April, and one in June. Now all I need is one in the merry month of May. If you have any ideas, do let me know! I hate the melodrama, but a is in a good cause.

     That being said, here is a link from Poem-a-day to one of my favorites. We had some poplars in the back of the house, and they were cut down in case the wind caused them to fall towards the house.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Buried deep in that pile of things to read......

     My fascination with the US Civil War stems from that fact that its Centennial began when I was int he second grade. Already I was an avid reader, and absorbed everything I could about that conflict. My family was not here at that time. A great-grandfather from the German part of the family was in the Prussian Army, the Hungarians were flexing some muscle and worked out the Double Monarchy with their Austrian overlords, and I have no ideas what the Belgians in the family where during that time.

     From my wife's side of the family came S.C. Gwynne's Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson. I read about 60 pages before my events began. The book is comprehensive and full of detail. So far one things has really stayed with me. At the outbreak of the war, Jackson, thinking that the South's only chance was for a quick victory, advocated killing Union prisoners of war. That idea was promptly rejected, but to me it rather punctures of myth of Southern gallantry and Northern brutality. 

     Eventually I will read some more, and maybe share some insights.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sir George Martin, RIP

     There have been several Fifth Beatles; original drummer Pete Best, Billy Preston, who played with the band in the studio, and the late Sir George Martin, who passed away yesterday.

     Best and Preston belong to the past. But Martin leaves an indelible mark on the music written by the band. He pushed the limits and in what was a once-in-a-lifetime-moment, altered the world in a positive way. His arranging, musicianship, and artistry took music to new, unheard-of levels.

    Around the time that "Sgt. Pepper" came out, I was eating lunch when my mother shoved a copy of TIME magazine under my nose. (I believe she was one of the earliest subscribers to the magazine). "See? This is the man who knows music who does everything for the Beatles. All they know is yeah-yeah-yeah, but he actually knows music!"

    Mom thought that the USA should use the money the Fa Four earned here to pay of Britain's WWII debt. Had it not been for America, she said the Beatles would be singing in German. I am not making this up!

    I waited a few days. It was summer, and my brother and I, along with our teacher mother, were home from school. Dad was at work. He didn't like the Beatles either, but said nothing.  I passed through the living room where Mom was enthralled by a Perry Como appearance on a show.

     Perry was from Canonsburg, PA. Any Western Pennsylvanian was all right in Mom's book, especially after we moved across the state to the Philadelphia vicinity. Had there been an axe murderer from, let's say, Sewickley, Mom would have thought him far superior to any criminal.
Como had once been a barber, hence the sobriquet "The Singing Barber". He dressed casually by the standards of the day, and often sat on a stool while he sang.

    I thought Como was all right, but, here was my chance to say something in defense of my idols.
"Who's singing?" I inquired. "Perry Como." "He's not so good."  Nuclear blasts were more tranquil than what transpired next.

     After the mushroom cloud, I said. " He doesn't play an instrument, didn't write the song, had as a whole orchestra backing him up. He sings all right," but the Beatles write and play their own songs. George Martin helps them with orchestration, but it is still their music."

     With that, I walked away.Cheeky teenager, but I appreciated good music.   Perry's signature song, to show there are no hard feelings.

Monday, March 7, 2016

"Punch" by Ray McManus

     Last Saturday Ray and I swapped signed copies of our books: my first, his third. Punch talks about the blue-collar work world. When I read it, I will think about Bruce Springsteen, Philip Levine, and John Steinbeck. As I read it, there will be more from me about it.

     But there are some other things I have promised to review and write about, so......Ray understands.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

     Today's Author Meet and Greet at Lexington County Public Library Irmo Branch was a huge success! There were sales, promised sales, (handing out bookmarks with information is a good thing), meeting the public, and seeing old friends. In that category is Ray McManus, with the English Department of the University of South Carolina-Sumter.

     About a decade before I came to Gilbert High School as an English teacher, Ray was there as a student who unexpectedly came to appreciate poetry. We met t an inservice in my current school district, Richland 2, about seven years ago. Our paths have crossed, most recently at the Deckle Edge Literary Festival last month. Today we swapped books (more on that to come) and caught up with each other. I appreciate his collegiality and his friendship. 

Off to Meet and Greet Soon!

I'm leaving soon. More later! 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Very Nice Tweet!

It is really affirming that a school district with about 24,000 students and so much going on pauses to share my good news! Thanks so much!

If anyone wants to follow me on Twitter or and/or wants me to follow them, here I am:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

PR Release....from my school

What an impressive job they did with my copy! Thanks, Mr. Ware of Blythewood High School! 

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, ...