Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Honored to be in this fine publication

     I have three poems here! Thanks to Stacia Lynn Reynolds and all who made this happen!

Friday, November 25, 2016

About Nick Drake on the 42th anniversary of his death

     Truthfully, I cannot recall the first time I heard Nick Drake's music. While in St. Louis from 1977-1979 I listened to an FM station that played music like his. Most likely I first heard him on Sirius' Folk Village. He belongs to that small set of excellent songwriters-musicians-singers who left us two early, and intentionally. All losses of this kind are sad, and this one especially so given his immense talent. I often play the second link when doing work at home or school.  The third link is from a VW commercial.

     Drake was born in what was then Rangoon, Burma (now Yangbon, Myanmar).He died at the family home in Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire England. On our honeymoon in 1983, my wife and I spent the night about two miles away in Henley-in-Arden, a delightful village It was only tonight in preparation for this post that I made the connection.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"Nun danket alle Gott" with a fanfare, and some thoughts

    I have posted about this stunning hymn before, and here it is Whit a fanfare by John Rutter. Often this hymn is sung on or near Thanksgiving Day in America, while the nation eats, watches football, prepares for shopping for those must-have gifts, and hopefully appreciates what it has.

   Actually the text came from a horrible time in the German state (N.B. There was no Germany until 18 January 1871). Pastor Martin Rinkart experienced first-hand the devastation of the Thirty Years' War and personal loss. Nonetheless he was able to compose these soaring lines. Since then it has been used on occasions of thanksgiving in German regions and elsewhere.

   My hope is that everyone, especially in the USA, appreciates what we have and offer thanks to God for it.  Far too many people live precariously; my prayer for them is that they will soon be able to express deep thanks for deliverance from war, poverty, hunger, discrimination of all sorts, and whatever afflicts them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Am I Mellowing or Is Something Else Going On?

     I am a week or so from teaching TS Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in my college class. Already I think about wearing my trousers rolled, and how I can part retreating hair.

     Two days ago Angela Merkel announcement she would stand for re-election as German chancellor. She has outlasted such peer as Barack Obama ( we do have a two-term limit in the USA), Tony Blair in the UK, and many others.

   Were I a German voter (I tongue-in-cheek thought of being on in 2004!), I would be a Social Democrat (SPD). As a high school student of German I admired, and still admire, Willy Brandt. My great-grandfather was a Social Democrat when he left Germany in 1870. He was a war hero but became a Knight of Labor near Pittsburgh.

   Why the change? Merkel has smarts, is tough, and can hold her own with Donald Trump.CDU or not, it's the best we can do. Need I say more?

   And now, I have to decide whether or not I should eat a peach.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I hate to criticize Bob Dylan, but.....

     ...he really should go to Stockholm, make his speech, and personally receive the Nobel Priz
e for Literature. He can reschedule concerts and appearances. Being cool and aloof does nothing for him. On the contrary, his refusal to go gives strength to the arguments about why he should not have received the award. Even if he does deliver a speech within the required time frame, that will not be the same as doing it according to the customary method.

     I teach high school, and hear from a few students why they are not going to attend commencement. Very few, if any, actually make good on their intentions. Families pressure them, as well they should. It is not about the individual, be it a Nobel Laureate or an 18 year old. Rather it is about family, friends, and an institution. In South Carolina, where I live, many grandparents or other relatives did not graduate from high school because of poverty, remnants of Jim Crow legislation, and similar reasons. When a grandchild demurs abut attending commencement, I can easily imagine that the family talks about history.

    Can anyone talk to Dylan? I am sure than some voices were raised against him because he was not a novelist, pure port, etc. Now I can hear them saying, "I told you so!" 

Friday, November 18, 2016

I remember the Adlon, sort of

    The news of President Obama's meeting and dinner with Chancellor Merkel was in Berlin's fashionable Hotel Aldon. I remember the surroundings as the Akademie der K√ľnste der DDR, where I did research on Heinrich Mann in 1976.

    In 2005 my sergeant and I stopped for a drink at the new Adlon. I had a beer, he didn't.

Monday, November 14, 2016

302 Artisans Fall Festival Sunday, 20 November

     This promises to be even better than the Summer Festival! Come and see many creative people! Get a signed copy of Places and Times.  I will also have a reading.

     If you cannot come and want a signed copy, contact me here in a comment. We can work something out! 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thoughts on Leonard Cohen

   Yesterday I posted the New York Times obituary on my Facebook writer page:

    Tonight I am listening to a recording on YouTube of the 1968 BBC Broadcasts as I write these lines. In her autobiography, Judy Collins writes about how Cohen was so shy about performing that she had to lead him out on to the stage and stay with him as he performed "Suzanne".

     Cohen was one of several deep-thinking singer-songwriters from the 1960s. To my thinking only Dylan approached Cohen for being well-read and a mystic. He took seriously the priestly nature of his last name, and was an observant Jew all his life; but he was interested in other religions as well.

     An early ad in the Rolling Stone compared Cohen to James Joyce. My elder brother explained that to me. Actually another Irish writer, William Butler Yeats, was more of an early influence on Cohen. That I actually see more clearly, but it really does not matter. The two writers are not mutually-exclusive, and even if they were, it was up to Cohen to work it out for himself.

     Now I want to read some of Cohen's poetry and prose works. But like Proteus in mythology Cohen performed in other genres and broadened his appeal. That is very impressive, since he excelled in all of them. He performed art songs; at least that's how I think of them,

    It will not be too long until some collections of his work are complied, and we can step back and marvel again at all that he offered the world. Perhaps the greatest compliment was the number of singers who covered his songs.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Great Store in Downtown Columbia, SC

     The Nest is a wonderful gift shop managed by Valerie Smith. Hopefully Places and Times will be available there in the near future!

     Meanwhile, drop by for a visit and see all that they have to offer. It's great for holiday shopping, or at anytime!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Worst President?

     No, this has nothing to do with 2016! Steven Spatz' BookBaby site is always informative, and this time he had a link to an National Public Radio interview with Robert Strauss, author of a James Buchanan biography.

     Pennsylvania only produced one president (Winfield S. Hancock ran in 1880 and would have been a good one, but he lost to James A. Garfield). James Buchanan was elected in 1856, and allowed things to deteriorate enough to make the Civil War inevitable. Maybe that soured people on the Keystone State as a breeding ground for presidents.

     I take some comfort that my family immigrated well after Buchanan ran, so that none of us supported him.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday, Walter Cronkite!

     Google rightly honros this titan of journalism, integrity, and courage. For years Walter Cronkite wss the most respected public figure in America. His dedication to the truth is even more important in light of the current fiasco of politicized news.

    I miss you, Walter, and I fear we will never see the likes of you again.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Keep the bonfires burning!

   Guy Fawkes Day has morphed into a time to comment on contemporary politics. With the US presidential election a few days away, I sincerely hope do one takes the idea of explosions or fires literally. All things considered, the day reminds us that desperate people do desperate things.

   Be safe wherever you are!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Published in "Better Than Starbucks"

Thanks, Anthony Watkins! 

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, ...