Friday, December 31, 2021

Yes, Authors Need Those Reviews... So Write Them!


     The other day a renowned poet whom I know ( I am not a name-dropper ) posted that authors need those 5-Star reviews. Actually, poets/writers, authors, or whatever one calls us, need any honest reviews. 

     Why? Platforms like Amazon, Goodreads, and the rest attach much importance to them. An author's ranks can be determined by them. 

     If we find a great restaurant, see a fantastic movie, or hear an awesome song, we will not hesitate to tell people about it. But when we read a good book in any genre, well, that is another thing.

     Here are some of the reasons I have heard about why people even good friends, some of whom I care about deeply, have given for not reviewing one of my books.

     I'm not qualified.

     I do not have the time.

     I like to savor a few of your poems at a time.

     Oh, I will try to do it.

    You get the idea. first of all, you do not have to be a literature professor to review. Your opinion is as good as theirs. If you liked it, say why. It takes only a few minutes to log on, give the 5 stars or whatever, and say that you liked the book. Maybe even mention a poem or something specific. We all spend too much time playing a game or surfing the web, so we can write a review.

     Another thing or two. About these "Looking for Reviews" posts one sees. Sometimes people simply want a free e-copy of a book. That has happened to me. I generally try to get something reviewed quickly. Mostly I review poetry books or chapbooks. They do not take a lot of time to read, and so I usually can have something posted within a week at the most. So I do my part, and then I start hearing about all kinds of excuses why the other person is "too busy." Lately, I have taken to saying that it's all right, but if that person EVER asks anything of me again.....

     One last thing. IT is important not only to post in one place but in several. 

     Let's be honest; none of us is going to become wildly famous, win Nobels or Pulitzers and the like. But we all listen to our muses and render some of the beauty we sense in order to give pleasure and make the world better. All we ask is that people be willing to support what we do. 

     Now, is that too hard a thing to do?


Saturday, December 18, 2021

Thinking about a Past Advent/Christmas

      In December 2004 I was in the middle of my deployment to Würzburg, Germany. Better Soldiers were in Iraq or Afghanistan; I was in a place that was my second home: Germany. Not that the Army knew I spoke German and had been there often before. I was the chaplain with a hospital unit, and we were backfill for a unit that had gone to Iraq.

     We had the choice to spend one of these three holidays at home: Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's. Since my chapel worshipping community needed an ordained presider at the altar, I chose Thanksgiving. My family could not come for Christmas due to the medical needs of a family member. That meant I was going to be without them. A family from my chapel invited me for Christmas Dinner, so I was not alone.

     In the time leading up to Christmas, I did some typical German things in addition to my military duties. I attended a performance of Bach;'s Christmas Oratorio and went several times to the Adventsmarkt. 

     Last year I had the wonderful experience of participating in Tupelo Press' 30/30 Project for December. Along with several other poets, I agreed to write a poem for each day of the month. Here is one about that time:

     Adventsmarkt in Würzburg


Fifteen Decembers ago

separated from those I love,

facing a hollow Advent/Christmas,


comfort sought I near the sea

of bright lights surrounding

the Marienkappele, aswirl


in color, aromas of baked goods

and sausages. By Glühwein warmed,

 enraptured by familiar music sung and played,


 on a cold Franconian night thinking of years

 gone by and about my new home. Solace I

 found, solace tendered to others now possible.


 Only the lights of ambulances and police

cars illuminate the silent city in this somber

 December. Memories console, hope inspires.

   Arthur Turfa, ©2020

     Wherever you are now, and whatever you celebrate, I wish you joy, peace, and companionship!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Wondrium's "King Arthur" and Thoughts on Literart Criticism


     First of all, Wondrium (formerly Great Courses) is a fantastic way to learn or brush up on something, and they give senior rates. I started with them during the pandemic.

    Currently, I am taking "King Arthur", offered by Purdue's Dr. Dorsey Armstrong. In 2001 I took a course on him at Drew offered by Dr. Jeffrey Fisk, starting my doctoral program off well.

     When I was in graduate school at Berkeley and Irvine (UC system, mid-1970s, in German) I often ran afoul of the dictum to consider the text and the text only, which included the reader's interaction with guess what? Yes, the text! If I asked whether the text actually described a real-life, historical situation, I was told Bleiben Sie beim Text!/ Stay with the text!

     Not that I could do anything about it, at least in the seminar. Then as now, I believe that a text has some grounding or relevance to the world around it, both in the times in which it was produced and when one reads it. Perhaps my disenchantment with those studies stemmed from those times; more likely they were the catalyst for my doing other things.

    When Dr. Armstrong talks about how an author's contemporary times influence a text, I was excited. Vindication after all these years! The example I will give is her talking about how Sir Thomas Malory wrote his 15th-century classic Le Morte d'Arthur to offer an example of a nobler age than his contemporary times. Imprisoned during the War of the Roses, Malory lived during the end of the Middle Ages and saw negative changes to the old order. King Arthur and Camelot presented an ideal that could reinvigorate his contemporary times. Not a bad idea, actually, as other legends or actual historical times could do the same since.

    Brava, Dr. Armstrong! I conclude by giving a link to the title poem to my poetry book, Accents (now on Amazon KDP). At the 2:30 mark I talk about those days in graduate school

To most of my other books.....

And to my novel!


Thursday, December 9, 2021

Graeme Edge RIP- Moody Blues Drummer and Poet 

     This is late, but here it is all the same. While he wrote poetry for the band, it was usually spoken by members other than himself. There are links available on YouTube; generally, I try not to post too many links at a time. 

     Graeme added to the already-considerable presence of the band with his works. Maybe some parents and others of their generation saw something more here than just a bunch of long-haired freaks. 

     I think he would like nothing more than for you to read some poetry. Your choice!

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Remembering John Lennon, 41 Years On


     When the Beatles became famous, many of us in the 5th grade grew our hair longer. Only we had to push it back onto our heads at home, and then comb it down n Beatle Bangs at school, before reversing the process don't he bus ride home.

     Of all the Beatles, I am most like John. Not cute like Paul (whom we saw in concert in 2019), a musician like George, or constantly quirky, talented, and upbeat like Ringo (whom we will see in 2022, postponed from 2020). John and I share a love of language, a sense of wordplay, and I strongly suspect that we both used humor to mask some inner turmoil and dissatisfaction with things at times. 

    On the verge of returning to the public arena, John was senselessly murdered in a city he regarded as both home and safe. As I write this the US is gripped again in a plague of gun violence at school. Two schools in my former district near Columbia, SC, have had gun incidents with thankfully no violence or death, but the fear is of course there.

     Another reason I wished John was still here is that I would like to have seen him evolve. Not musically, but that would have been nice. Yes, of course for a Beatles reunion! What I mean though is his thinking on various subjects. Even back in the day, I thought he was incredibly naive about the peace thing and that "Imagine" has some lines with which I totally disagree ("Imagine there's no heaven" for one).  

    That being said the world is a poorer place for not having him here. The music I grew up with, and by and large still listen to (Yes, I do listen to newer music!) remains the best and partially because the people who made and/or performed it had more to them than musical./vocal ability. 

     There are a few songs about John (from George and Elton John), but here are some from Paul. The last one is especially poignant.


Friday, December 3, 2021

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Grand Tattoo

   No, it is not what you think it is! It is a military ceremony signifying the end of the day or in her case, the conclusion of her term in office. The term comes from the Dutch phrase for turning off the tap; drummers beat the command to innkeepers to turn off the taps on the beer kegs so soldiers could return to the barracks for the night.

   Angela Merkel's time in office is merely days shorter than that of Helmut Kohl's. She is unassuming, modest, but steady and earned respect and admiration from other political parties. 

   I hope non-German viewers do not shudder at the military nature of this. There really is no need to do so;  I will leave it at that.

   Her choice of music is interesting. Nina Hagen is a former East German singer whose song subtly criticized the drabness of that society.

  Hilfegard Knef was a famous chanteuse and actor.

    Merkel's father was a Lutheran pastor who moved to a parish in the East before the Berlin Wall and the inner-German border were constructed. "Grosser Gott, wir loben dich (Holy God, we Bless Your Name)is a paraphrase of the "Te Deum", the 4th Century hymn of thanksgiving.

Finally, the ceremony itself... 

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, ...