I use this site with students. For those who do not know German, there are translations available elsewhere for some poets one may or may not know.
Friday, January 29, 2021
What attracted me to The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams was that it is set in Richland County, SC, where I lived and worked. The title character is actually played by a descendant. So far so good.
The acting is uninspired and the plot jumps back-and-forth in time, As a result, it is hard to follow the thread of the story. There is a touch of revisionism in the longing for the Old South, which I suppose one would have if one's ancestors were white and well-off.
My wife and I met, married, and lived in Virginia for a time. We visited the New Market Battlefield Park and saw their movie.
This one is better, with an excellent cast. However it showed the revisionism all-too-common these days, The cadets and others are shown being opposed to slavery, but fighting anyway to "protect their homes".
Virginia was the last state to secede, and the anti-slavery sentiment was to the west of Lexington, VA, in what became West Virginia. I shake my head when Confederate characters talk about defending their country. They had one, but left it! And then they wonder what all the fuss is about!
Full disclosure: my ancestors arrived after the Civil War, and I was born in Pennsylvania.
Thursday, January 28, 2021
An awesome poet writing about another one, and also including the backdrop of pending international calamity.
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
My last event in Ridgeway, SC.... next one coming May 1, 2021!
Stya tuned for more details!
Saturday, January 23, 2021
Update: You can pre-order her coming poetry book All These Little Resonstrances from Finishing Line Press until September 24. I recommend that you do, and also that you tell someone who loves good poetry.
1 You are the newest a long line of people I know who excel in several artistic expressions. In your case, singer/songwriter, poet/writer. Which came first, music or writing?
This is a great question. Music definitely came first, as my mother used to sing to me regularly and my dad was a music enthusiast, so I was exposed to and listened to a lot of music from a young age, and I began playing the piano at age seven. My parents read to me every night as well and I had an interest in writing from a fairly young age. I remember working on my first “novel” when I was in fifth grade.
2. I read your blog post about your father. Tell a little bit about his influence on you here, please.
My father was a journalist and spent much of his career focusing on the arts and entertainment, reviewing concerts, and interviewing musicians. He had a great and eclectic taste in music and I grew up listening to a wide variety of jazz, folk and rock because of him.
3. Your music is very interesting and quite enjoyable. I like the way you transition from one musical genre to another and maintain the quality. How did you accomplish that?
Thank you! I play a number of instruments and because I listen to and appreciate so many types of music, I’ve gone through stages where I focused on a particular genre as a musician. Growing up I played western classical music, in my early twenties I mostly played jazz and blues, then got deeply into bluegrass and Americana and also sang with a Balkan choir in my thirties, so my interests have been all over the place. That has allowed me to jump around from instrument to instrument and genre to genre, sometimes blending them a bit into whatever sound I’m going for.
4. In songwriting, which comes first: text or music?
Sometimes I just hear a melody and go from there, but usually, the way I know that a song is a song and not a poem is when a line comes to me with a melody. I write poetry as well but when I hear a line with a melody, then I know it’s meant to be a song. So, they come at the same time if I’m songwriting, actually.
5. Who are some of your musical and literary influences?
That’s a big question because it’s quite varied. Some of my biggest literary influences include Dr. Oliver Sacks and Robert K. Massie. I love biographies and read more non-fiction than fiction these days. But I would also say writers like Amy Tan and Barbara Kingsolver have influenced me as I love a good family saga or character study.
When it comes to music, it could be a really long list, so I’ll just say: Beethoven, Bill Evans, Mose Allison, Nina Simone, Gillian Welch, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Patti Smith, and Dinah Washington as a start.
6 You have a poetry book coming out with Finishing Line Press. There must be a lot you want to say about it.
I find it really interesting that my poetry has been accepted for publication more than anything else because I think of myself as a writer and songwriter, but not a poet. The poems are most often deeply personal and so it feels strange to put them out into the world, as opposed to fiction, for example. This coming chapbook features a lot of poems about my dad and my daughter, as well as my experience over the past six years of being a single mother.
7. Your “novel in the wings”: what can you share with us about it?
Ah, my ‘novel in the wings’ is a mystery novel. I had been working on a manuscript for years that I was stuck with, and I thought, I should write something fun and light and something that would move along and that I knew I could finish and do well, so I switched gears and spent a few years focused on that, and actually finished it, which feels great! Now I just need a publisher. Meanwhile, I’ve gone back to the novel on the back burner and still don’t quite know where to go with it, but it’s starting to take shape.
8 . For me the concept of “place” is very important in my writing, especially in poetry. California is one of those places for me; you have lived there much longer than I have. How does “place” enter your creative work?
Place plays a really important role in my writing as well. My mystery novel is set in Santa Cruz, where I live, and many of my poems are ocean-centered. But all of my other fiction takes place in the Midwest where I spent my childhood. I love writing about old farmhouses in Wisconsin, for example.
9. We are both educators. What do you teach, where did you study, and how does it complement your music and writing?
I was trained as a Waldorf grades teacher, (in New Zealand initially, where I lived for a couple of years), and focused on remedial education for children struggling with reading, writing, and math. I also spent many years teaching piano prior to that, and these days I’m teaching from home and doing all three of those things online. It’s not ideal, but it’s been interesting and doable from home while we’re all sheltered in place.
10. Is there anything else that you want to add? How can people contact /follow you? Thanks!
Thank you so much! The chapbook through Finishing Line Press will be out sometime in 2021. I have a website where links to my writing and music can be found, which is http://www.auroresibley.com, and I can be followed on Twitter @auroresibley7
When I was in Kindergarten, there were 40 pupils and one teacher. No aides. One teacher whom I later learned was hungover because she had marital problems. Some of the other boys and I would roam the halls or hide in a large closet and play games.
If I had a teacher like Ms. Adams, I would have been in class all the time! She is amazing!
Dave Grohl's (Foo frontman) mother was a teacher, as was mine. Maybe it's time for a poem about her.....
Thursday, January 21, 2021
My father was from Donora, PA, a town in Pennsylvania's Monongahela Valley built around a steel mill and named for its owners. A few miles to the south around the same time a group of Belgian from the Walloon region established a town named after a place in Belgium, which was also industrial.
Around that same time my grandmother, Sadonie Schollaert, came with her family and siblings from Belgium to settle closer to Pittsburgh, While the surname was Flemish/Dutch, the family was French-speaking.
She was the last of my grandparents to die. I never remembered hearing her speak French, although my mother was certified to teach the language. But I do remember the smell of baking white bread and the Belgian waffle cookies long before they were sold in convenience stores from coast-to-coast!
Verlaine's poem brought back memories of when the Mon Valley hummed with energy and industry. While I have been to Brussels, I have yet to visit Charleroi (the original) or Gille, where my grandmother was born I add a few pictures of an early schoolbook
she used and some family information..
Audio for the poem:
The poem en françaiis:
In 2009 Bruce appeared with Pete Seeger (and Pete's grandson). I think that Pete was there in spirit last night.
Sunday, January 17, 2021
1. What inspired you to become a writer, and to write what you do?
I never remember a time that I did NOT want to be a writer. I think for encouragement my mother was my greatest encourager because for as far back as I can remember she would buy me THE BIG INDIAN CHIEF notebooks every payday (every two weeks). I never ran out of paper or pencils or pens because of her and I was always prolific even though most of the stuff was no good – it was still such a relief, a way of expression. I always had a journal everywhere I went – literally everywhere – and would spend most of recesses and lunch breaks writing in class (if the teacher let me stay there) or writing outside or in the library.
Growing up the one thing that inspired me most was watching The Waltons and I had the biggest crush on John-Boy Walton (portrayed by Richard Thomas who has published two books of poetry). My favorite scene was watching him at night, writing at his desk with the window open and the breeze coming in. It was like a writing adrenaline rush for me.
Another thing that inspired me was to read – I’ve always been a voracious reader and once again I’m grateful to my parents for letting me read whatever I wanted (literally).
At first I only wrote fiction – which I found to be so easy at the time. But later (in high school and college and especially in my 30s) I fell hopelessly in love with poetry in such a way that it changed everything about me all good ways. I was able to express myself in every way imaginable and feel exposed and vulnerable but yet safe all at the same time.
The first poet I remember being so enamored by was Sylvia Plath and I learned about her when we watched 1979 film THE BELL JAR movie with Marilyn Haslett as Esther – but only when it showed on the local television station. I don’t remember much but that I related to Esther – her sense of mental breakdown and her need to be a writer.
I then knew about Sylvia Plath and my greatest encouragement was from my mother when she bought me THE NEW YORKER issue of Sylvia Plath’s poetry. In high school I felt free to write poetry about the darkness I felt from within me and outside of me. My first poem was “THE RED APPLE OF CHANGE” which deals with mental illness but never good enough to publish.
Most what I write now is poetry and feature stories in what I like to call victimology writing – where I write for the benefit of the victim. I always had a fascination with crime, the criminal justice system and the Constitution, but my heart always went out to the victim. Most of my poetry is dedicated to these voices and can be deemed violent.
Also, I have a deep Christian faith not in a church or people but in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Most of my most intimate compelling poetry (at least in my opinion) somehow involves Jesus. I love to focus on the human aspect of this God in the flesh and it so healing and so intimate and yet a love song I sing to Him.
Recently my writing of poetry has been focused on what I like to call the Orange Man in the White House and the betrayal I feel by the far-right Christian community and the far-right Republican Party for not taking what I view as a necessary Constitutional stand against this unlawful man.
2. You write in several genres, and also express yourself in other artistic ways? Shed some light on how that happened, and how the multigene/-media influence you? I am a poet/writer, and that's all there is to me. Working with/knowing people like you leaves me in awe.
I think when it comes to being published the most successful (when it comes to being paid and having the most readers) are my feature stories or newspaper articles. I’ve been writing feature stories now for over 30 years. My major was Criminology but I always wanted to write.
I think the most profound genre happened in April of 2013, when my husband and I were stationed in Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. It was a miserable time. And I was going through so many bouts of mental illness. My publisher died in a car crash the previous year in Los Angeles, so I lost my writing job and honestly have not been paid for writing since them. But this despair led me to start my blog where I do feature stories on all individuals – it’s like a magazine of feature stories really. Lately, I’ve been focusing on fiction writers and especially poets, my most passionate love.
3. Which artists/writers inspired you?
There are so many writers I admire. It’s too many to count so I’ll focus on books – To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and so dear to my heart The Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene - that book – still affects me to this day and I still have the same copy I purchased when I was in the 6th grade from the bookstore at the Houston Mall in Warner Robins, Georgia. It is now wrapped in a rubber band.
Other books that touched me deeply is Sophie’s Choice by William Styron, Lancelot by Walker Percy, and The Sunflower Forest by Torey Hayden.
The writers I admire I will limit to writers that I will buy their books the moment they come out in hardback – Wally Lamb (all of his – and each book gets better), Donna Tartt, and Martha Hall Kelly.
And I love non-fiction – particularly focused on some aspect of crime – one of which is Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. I went to Barnes and Nobel and passed this book and I swear to God this book was calling out my name and I had to get it.
Another book that called out my name is Deep River by Karl Marlantes that called out my name and I purchased it right away. I swear to you this is not a natural occurrence but these two books reached out to me and I devoured them- writing features on my blog about these works.
The one poet I admire the most is Carolyn Forche – I did my analysis on her and her works while I was working on my Master’s in Creative Wring. I devour her work and have her memoir (though yet to read it) and believe she is a champion for social justice. To be honest there are so many poets and poems that affect me so deeply – I’m even hesitant to mention her name but want to bring a poet into this response.
4. How and where did you develop your skills?
I think I practice my skill by doing it –writing and sketching. And I love to read which is vital in order to be an effective writer.
When it comes to artwork recently I can’t really say who I admire as of late because I’m so focused on the artwork that I don’t always see the name. The one artist that I love though is Frieda Kahlo – she had such deep dark struggles, such intense pain all of her life, and she painted how affected all parts of her life, especially her body.
I think one way to develop one’s skill is to read biographies (by journalists and not some Hollywood columnist) about the works of people you admire. If you want to learn how to paint – find a painter you admire and read about them; the same with writing.
The most vivid and literally the thing that saved my sanity and I mean this literally happened in the fall of 2013 – we had moved from a small house on the base to a bigger one and I was still miserable. It was a horrible time and I decided I needed to do something desperate. I needed to try a new art form I never tried before to save my brain, literally my mind. I took a course sketching drawing course – mixed media art – and I felt some sense of relief from this darkness. I was immediately compelled to focus on sketching faces,
Then In 2016, I took a course called LET’s FACE IT 2016 with Kara Bullock (https://karabullockart.com) and it changed my life. I’ve been sketching and painting ever since.
5. The concept of place is central to what I write. We share St. Louis in common. Does that city/region figure in what you produce?
I am embarrassed to say that place is not central to what I write – not as much as I like to. I’m terrible when it comes to narrative poetry and narrative fiction and I’m working on a novel now where I’m focusing the story in St. Louis area where I reside. I’m hoping this exercise will teach me to appreciate place more.
6. Is there anything else you wish to add? Thanks so much!
Thanks so much for this opportunity and a fantastic way to connect! People can read my blog at Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, January 15, 2021
So honored by this! Thanks, Chris Rice Cooper!
Not only because he gave William Penn Land to start Pennsylvania and started South Carolina, but he was politically savvy. How else could he have survived the Interregnum?
The First Churchills featured him prominently and piqued my interest in him and many other things about that era. This week I had some downtime, and I watched the four episodes of this series in two days. Wow!
Thursday, January 14, 2021
The Trump Era will be over soon. Trumpism is sadly not over, but the healing can begin, even if some resist it.
Click on the links for some poetry.
Monday, January 11, 2021
It is not too far-fetched, and I sincerely pray it does not come to this. Given the climate that we have in the USA right now, and with 45 acting the way that he has been, I could see Proud Boys and their ilk trying to take over state capitols and failing to prevent President-elect Biden from taking the oath fo office next week (as he is legally entitled to do), trying to secede.
What will I tell my grandson when he asks about it later?
I am a proud Democrat and supported Joe Biden from the South Carolina primary on Had he lost, I would not be plotting against his opponent.
But this is sadly a different America than the one in which I was born. My prayer is that we get back on course.
Thursday, January 7, 2021
What the Confederacy could never do, a group of malcontents and criminals did! Thank God Joe Biden will be president soon!!
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
My thanks to VP and Rep Cheney for doing the right thing. I am a confirmed Democrat, but I want a sane Republican Party. Let the Trumpists depart!
Saturday, January 2, 2021
When my first poetry book was published seven years ago, I dutifully asked readers/friends to review it. That book, Places and Times, ...
I spent much of my early years with Thomas Mann and his family. As a teenager, I read him in translation, then as a German major in the...
We all are solicited in one way or another to contribute to a cause. In the US there are phone calls, either programmed or live, aski...
Any university/college student has encountered professors who add their books to the syllabus and either 1. never use it but are glad fo...