From my collection.
I have been rearranging the living room, and in the process of organizing the shelves discovered that I seem to be missing a few books by birthday boy, Shel Silverstein. Hopefully, they are at my boys’ house. You may not be aware that Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, was his first children’s story, published in 1963. It was a gift to me after my coming out, from a dear and intimate friend, a reminder that others, on all sides of the sexuality spectrum, would try to shape me into what they saw me as, an identity created by them to match their own stories. I think he wanted me to be aware of the danger, and to encourage me to continue to be brave, to write my own character, my own story, my own life.
Despite the enormous influence he’s had in our family’s reading time, and my own autonomy, I haven’t recorded much of his work. It’s hard to compete with his many recordings, his playful voice and guitar. But in celebration of his birthday this September 25th, here are a few videos for the occasion. Continue reading
That’s not a typo. I did say “bog.” You’ll understand soon enough.
Happy birthday to poet Stevie Smith, born Florence Margaret Smith. Had she lived she would be 114 years old today, though I’m sure she’d be annoyed about it. As it was she lived only 69 years, and while you may know nothing about her at all, I guarantee that she was an influence to many contemporary poets, maybe even you? Nobody, especially in the UK, was writing the way she was at the time.
Below, in the first video, I talk a bit about that and read her poem “Pretty,” originally recorded on my YouTube channel six years ago. The still shot for that is kinda weird, but I’ll leave it there for posterity. In 2012, I wrote more extensively about Stevie and recorded the second video, Continue reading
The battered copy that has followed me since my first semester in Indiana.
It was in September of 1987 that William Stafford’s little book, An Oregon Message was first published. So with the authority not even vested in me, I have proclaimed this William Stafford Weekend, and it shall be evermore known as thus. Well, if you promise not to forget.
Check out Saturday’s post to follow all the links to more of Stafford’s written words, as well as his videos and audio recordings. And if you’ve been hanging around the Dad Poet blog for any length of time you know that Stafford is, as our American Vice President might say, a “BFD” for me. I’ve written about him here no less than 17 times, and most often those posts included bits from my Soundcloud or YouTube channels.
Also, if you love Stafford, make sure you get a copy of this book while there are still a few new, but mostly used, copies of it available. Of course, if Amazon can get it, there’s a good chance your local bookstore can order it in for you too, and if you just have too many books on your shelf, be sure to ask your local library if they have a copy or can get it for you. Lots of libraries participate in inter-library loan programs and can get you a borrowed copy of almost anything.
I’ve noticed in book reviews, both the stodgy, official ones, as well as the casual “Good Reads” type of recommendations, people are fond of quoting from his introduction, “Some Notes on Writing.” In fact, Continue reading
Okay, so he was born in January. That actually might explain a lot about the icy, cold beauty in some of his poems, like his famous “Traveling through the Dark,” and “Ask Me,” which begins with those delicious words, “Sometime when the river is ice . . . ”
But I was born in September, and the changes that come about in my corner of the world, cool winds, migration, the softening of colors, these things make me think of William Stafford. I’m not sure I can say why. Something about his ability to dwell in the beauty of the moment puts me in an early autumn frame of mind.
And since we are within a week of my birthday, it feels like a good time to share a bit more of this favorite wise, old sage of a poet. I discovered him a mere handful of years before this world lost him in 1993. Luckily, so many of his many and beautiful words have been saved. A wealth of them can be found via the link in his name in the above paragraph. You can find even more, including audio and video in Continue reading
Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lots going on these last few weeks here in my world, including work on a new chapbook, and preparation for a live reading with the River Poets at the Bloomsburg Public Library this Thursday, September 1st.
I also went on a bit of a William Stafford reverie and recorded several lesser-known poems from his 1987 collection, An Oregon Message. I’ll share those with you this weekend as well.
Speaking of this weekend, I’m currently whipping a few dishes up in the kitchen, including pasta salad with peas, bacon and dill, and a batch of my new favorite, curried humus. All this is in preparation for a visit with my brother Jeff, who is visiting from Florida for his hundredth class reunion. Of course, he’d prefer I bring garlic ring bologna (a Pennsylvania-German thing), and a case of Genesee Light. But I’m sure he’ll get his fill of that somehow.
So while I am getting creative with green onions and mayo, Continue reading