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Showing posts from September, 2015

On discovering Lola Ridge while visiting Terese Svoboda's website; or, Poetry, Personal Loss, and Remembrance


I wonder
how it would be here with you,
where the wind
that has shaken off its dust in low valleys
touches one cleanly,
as with a new-washed hand,
and pain
is as the remote hunger of droning things,
and anger
but a little silence
sinking into the great silence.

~ Lola Ridge from Sun-Up and Other Poems (1920)

Lola Ridge was a poet and activist; an advocate for immigrants, women, and the working class. I'd never heard of her until this afternoon, after spending some time on Terese Svoboda's website.  Svoboda, an accomplished poet, novelist, and activist herself, will publish Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet in early 2016, and I can't wait to read it, to discover more about this remarkable woman and artist, Lola Ridge.

Terese Svoboda is a remarkable author herself. A Drink Called Paradise remains for me one of the most memorable -- and poetic -- novels I've ever read. Juxtaposing the tragic consequences of a nation's shameful history of a…

Opening Remarks on Literary Outlaw: The Life And Times of William S. Burroughs by Ted Morgan

Have I mentioned I'm reading Ted Morgan's stellar bio Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs?  What an unusual life (to put it blandly, 'cos I can't think at the moment of an extraordinary way to put it) this sick -- meaning good and bad -- cat lived, and I've only gotten up to the time in the biography his first novel Junky came out.  And then Queer. Two books, whose titles themselves, encapsulate Burrough's life both literally and figuratively up to that point.  Junky got him a $1000 advance, which was right around the same time that Kerouac, his younger buddy, got the same for The Town and the City.  And even though Junky sold over 100,000 copies, the book gave Burroughs no fame.  Fame would come much later, after infamy.

Longest job Burroughs ever held was being an exterminator.  And from his experiences there later came, of course, Exterminator! Lasted eight months as an exterminator.  Long time for a man who was afraid of insects. Fa…

Mickey (Dis)Mantle(d); or, How Not to Teach Your Kid the Value of Priceless Baseball Cards

It's 1985 and a baseball card "convention" came to our local Lakewood Mall.  I was sixteen and while maybe I was a little old to still be interested in baseball cards, I had a good eye for them (in part, thanks to those bulky paperback Topps Baseball Card Price Guides I'd regularly get); a good eye for cards that had bona fide value and for rookie cards that were currently trending upward, such as Tony Gwynn's and Wade Bogg's cards at the time.  My Dad, learning of the baseball card convention, gives me fifty bucks and says "go find us an investment".  So off I went, with my newly minted California driver's license, in my Mom's 1977 Oldsmobile station wagon (with its rear seats reversed so that if you sat there and were anything like me you felt self-conscious with all those drivers and passengers in other cars staring directly at you while you awkwardly averted your eyes) to the Lakewood Mall.  A mall, in fact, named for a cookie cutter ci…