Friday, April 29, 2022

Richard Wilbur's "First Snow in Alsace" 

     I taught this in my college class in my War Poetry unit. The poem is fascinating and about much more than snow. Wilbur was a young soldier in WW2 when he wrote it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

On Selling Novels and Poetry Books

      Last week in Aiken once again (my second literary home), I noticed that people gravitate towards a novel more than poetry.

     Now I realize that poetry is a niche market. Usually, I can tell if someone "looks like" a poetry-reading type. No, I am not giving away my secrets, LOL.

     Given the choice between looking at my novel or a poetry book, people seem to be attracted by the novel. My covers are done by the same person, the fabulous artist and person Carol Worthington-Levy. We go back a long way. Therefore it is not that the novel cover is better than the poetry book covers.

      You can decide for yourselves! First the noel link, then the poetry books:

The last one is on Blurb. Right now the link is down. Sorry!

Sunday, April 24, 2022

"Suicide Note" by Janice Mirikitani 

     When I was an undergraduate at Penn State it seemed that near the end of every quarter a student would jump off one of the new high-rise apartment complexes because of bad grades. In the early 1990s, the US Armed Forces noticed a disturbing spike in the number of GIs who took their lives. As a Pennsylvania Guard Chaplain, I was mandated to teach Suicide Prevention Classes. My battalion command resisted, but I was pressured by the senior chaplains. Fortunately, my stock was high in the battalion, and I managed to get the classes in. At two of the five sessions, Soldiers spoke about their personal connections to suicide; one even showed the scars on his wrists.

    The pandemic has not helped matters, especially for young people. Three of my students took their lives before the pandemic. I shudder to think what I would say if I were still teaching.

     The poem is powerful and even more relevant today. If you need help or know of someone who does, get help!

     1-800-273-255 National Suicide PRevention Hotline

Happy Belated Birthday to the Bard! 

    Yesterday was a wonderful day at Mead Hall Strawberry Festival 2022 in Aiken, SC. But I ignored William Shakespeare's birthday! Gadzooks!

Friday, April 22, 2022

A Ballad This Time: "Sir Patrick Spens"

      Several of my friends in high school and college were accomplished folksingers/-musicians. I tried to be one, but my talents were more in appreciation and knowing about the songs, especially the ballads. A few groups used electric instruments and reworked the tunes. Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span from the UK were the titans in this; I have seen both of them. Some Us and Canadian artists did the same but to less recognition.

     I would teach this ballad in my college and English 4 high school classes, reading Scots well enough. Western Pennsylvanian English is based on what the Scots pioneers brought with them. 

    Ballads were the sources for news and then the history of an event. First the text, then a link to Fairport.


Sir Patrick Spens Lyrics

The King sits in Dunfirmline town
Drinking of the blood-red wine
"Where can I get a steely skipper
To sail this mighty boat of mine?"

Then up there spoke a bonny boy
Sitting at the King's right knee
"Sir Patrick Spens is the very best seaman
That ever sailed upon the sea"

The King has written a broad letter
And sealed it up with his own right hand
Sending word unto Sir Patrick
To come to him at his command

"An enemy then this must be
Who told the lie concerning me
For I was never a very good seaman
Nor ever do intend to be"
"Last night I saw the new moon clear
With the old moon in her hair
And that is a sign since we were born
That means there'll be a deadly storm"

They had not sailed upon the deep a day
A day but barely free
When loud and boisterous blew
The winds and loud and noisy blew the sea

Then up there came a mermaiden
A comb and glass all in her hand
"Here's to you my merry young men
For you'll not see dry land again"

"Long may my lady stand
With a lantern in her hand
Before she sees my bonny ship c
Come sailing homeward to dry land"

Forty miles off Aberdeen
The waters fifty fathoms deep
There lies good Sir Patrick Spens
With the Scots lords at his feet

For Earth Day- "Remember" by Poet Laureate Joy Harjo 

   I was a high school senior on the First Earth Day and participated in an assembly that ran all day. We have made some progress since then, but much, much remains to be done.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

"Facing It" by Yusef Kommunyakaa 

     When the English curriculum changed at the tech college where I was an adjunct (stay around 16 years and a lot changes), I had to change from the Short-Story-Drama-Poetry format. But I always managed to use some poetry to meet the standards of Rhetoric. 

     Facing It was one of five or so war poems that I used. It was the one that students related to the most. Perhaps they had a family member who was in Vietnam, maybe because the poet is African-American, also the writing is so effective. The interplay between the War and the speaker's visiting the Vietnam Memorial is stunning.

Monday, April 18, 2022

George Herbert's Five Mystical Songs, Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams 

     I heard this a few weeks ago on Sirius XM's Symphony Hall; Martin Goldsmith played it, but I held back on sharing it since it was during Lent. Now I can use the poems for my daily National Poetry Month posts/tweets/etc.

     Click on the above link and for today at least, it is the first post on my main poetry page. Afterward, scroll down a little.

     From the pictures, you can easily figure out who is who!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Arthur Turfa poet/writer at Mead Hall Strawberry Festival 2022 in Aiken, SC, April 23, 2022 

     Aiken is my second literary home. I will be with most of the Aiken Writers Bloc on Saturday, April; 23, from 10am, to -2pm. Mead Hall Episcopal  School 619 Barnwell Ave NW, Aiken, SC 

     All of my books will be available. poetry and literary fiction novel!

     If you cannot come, contact me or use these kinks! Thanks!


One Day I Will Try To Write Like e.e. cummings 

But until that day, which may never come, enjoy this one I found for National Poetry Month today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Reading by Kelli Russell Agodon and Maggie Smith

     I saw this a day or two after it happened. Third Place Books in Seattle hosted. Kelli's book I had already read and enjoyed, and it was wonderful to see/her. Maggie I knew nothing about, but I would like to read her. When I clear some books from my coffee table, shelf,....

Kelli then Maggie!

Saturday, April 9, 2022

20% discount on "The Botleys of Beaumont County" from Blurb This Weekend

My online publisher Blurb is offering my book "The Botleys of Beaumont County" at 20% off from April 10-11, 2022. Put the code BOOKDEAL20 into the promo code box at checkout and click the “Apply” button to get the discount. What a deal! And you can pay in various currencies as well 

Monday, April 4, 2022

Auden's "Shield of Achilles" and Genocide in Ukraine 

     Auden wrote this poem after WW2 when the world was in upheaval. We appear to be heading that way presently. I taught this poem in my Mythology classes at Blythewood High School in Blythewood, SC.

     Link to the genocide in Ukraine:


Friday, April 1, 2022

Happy National Poetry Month! 

   This one tops the list of my Soundcloud recordings. Knowing German certainly helps with Middle English! Oddly enough, I read about Chaucer in Thomas Costain's The Last Plantagenets the other day!

    I have some more on Soundcloud if anyone has time to listen! Thanks!


   Links to my books:

Belated Happy Birthday, Pete Townshend!       Most Rock and Roll autobiographies are little more than a litany o...