Archives for posts with tag: history

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Silver Birch Press is pleased to announce the April 2014 release of BULL: The Journey of a Freedom Icon, a 106-page collection of poems by James B. Golden — the Poet Laureate of Salinas, California.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  My father’s recollections are the basis for BULL: The Journey of a Freedom Icon. While flawed, my father is a representation of what I’ve always considered the great Black American Man, the old school cat, the Bull. He falls in line with the icons that were raised during one of the most horrific periods in America for people of color. In many ways, writing this book has been a cleansing of my own soul. I feel more connected to my father than ever, and he’s someone I’d want to be connected to forever. As I experienced on the discovery of Rita Dove’s Thomas and Beulah, the stories of our elders heal our souls. My soul is healing.

PRAISE FOR BULL BY JAMES B. GOLDEN: 

Bull swaggers blues & rams through Klan days & lynch nights & he meditates & rumbles on Presley & Memphis, he stops visits, breathes family, chows catfish, gets hauled off to prison, alcohol afternoons & contraband inmate pruno drink. He is strong & lyrical, and most of all, Bull gores the veils & static stiffs of history. Bull is hungry most of all, to come back where he started, where he is, unafraid of pain, for he has suffered, he is suffering and because of that his virtue is courage, harmony, love, yes Bull is doused with the blues of love, where racism, segregation, slavery, are part of the double-dutch, hip hop scrim where Bull rises and transcends. A power-poetry here — a liberation heart-fire collection by our Salinas Poet Laureate, James P. Golden — no other like it.” JUAN FELIPE HERRERA, Poet Laureate of California

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James B. Golden was born and raised in Salinas, California, and received his M.P.A. and B.A. in English and Pan-African Studies Arts & Literature from California State University, Northridge. He has edited Kapu-Sens Literary Journal and the Hip Hop Think Tank Journal. He is the author of The Inside of an Orange, Sweet Potato Pie Underneath The Sun’s Broiler, and 2012 NAACP Image Award Winner Afro Clouds & Nappy Rain. He currently lives in Los Angeles, where he is a freelance music journalist. His articles have appeared in such periodicals as Vibe, The Root, Clutch Magazine, Jazz Times, and Los Angeles Our Weekly. Golden is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Salinas, California. Visit him at jamesbgolden.net.

BULL: The Journey of a Freedom Icon, poems by James B. Golden, is available at Amazon.com.

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RETURN TO ROME
by Stanley Moss

Today in Rome, heading down
Michelangelo’s Spanish Steps,
under an unchanging moon,
I held on to the balustrade,
grateful for his giving me a hand.
All for love, I stumbled over the past
as if it were my own feet. Here, in my twenties,
I was lost in love and poetry. Along the Tiber,
I made up Cubist Shakespearean games.
(In writing, even in those days,
I cannot say it was popular to have “subjects”
any more than painters used sitters. But I did.)
I played with an ignorant mirror for an audience:
my self, embroiled with personae
from Antony and Cleopatra. Delusions of grandeur!
They were for a time my foul-weather friends—
as once I played with soldiers
on the mountainous countryside of a purple blanket.

IMAGE: The Spanish Steps, Rome (1895 photo). Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stanley Moss, born in 1925, was educated at Trinity College (Connecticut) and Yale University. He makes his living as a private art dealer, specializing in Spanish and Italian Old Masters. He is the critically acclaimed author of The Skull of Adam (1979), The Intelligence of Clouds (1989), Asleep in the Garden (1997), A History of Color (2003), New and Selected Poems (2006), Rejoicing (2009), and God Breaketh Not All Men’s Hearts Alike (2011). In 1977 Moss founded Sheep Meadow Press, a nonprofit press devoted to poetry, with a particular focus on international poets in translation. He lives in New York.

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THE IDES OF MARCH: SOOTHSAYER = POET
Essay by Ada Limón

Speaking of art & politics…

CAESAR
: What man is that?

BRUTUS: 
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

CAESAR: 
Set him before me; let me see his face.

CASSIUS: 
Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.

CAESAR: 
What say’st thou to me now? Speak once again.

SOOTHSAYER: 
Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR: 
He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.
***
It’s hard not to think of Caesar on the ides of March. All those knives, all those men of politics. However, I often find that it is not Caesar or Brutus that I think of the most, rather, it is the Soothsayer. The poor nameless fellow who wanders in to warn his dictator of the coming fall only to be shoved out of the way as men with important business to attend to go about their day.

Mainly, I think, Hey, I’d like a soothsayer! Or an oracle. Or a Ouija board, a magic eight ball, even a good horoscope. Unlike Caesar (there’s really little comparison between us), I’d listen. Someone says, “Beware,” and I do, I pay attention.
 Maybe the soothsayers of today are the poets: Poor, often nameless, often shoved aside, often shouting something that no one is listening to.

But if the ides of March has taught us anything (aside from never befriending a man named Brutus), it is that we must listen to the soothsayers. Perhaps it could save our lives.
That sounds dramatic, of course, and it is. I like a bit of the dramatic. I mean, I’m talking about Caesar.

But in all honesty, I do believe that we are often delivered a poem exactly when we need it—when we are unaware that we are asking. We’ve all been on those marble steps, thinking, Man I’m done with this whole Rome thing. Let’s throw in the toga. And just then someone hands us a note, a poem. Say it’s, “Listen” by W.S. Merwin and we read: 
“with the cities growing over us like earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving 
dark though it is.”
And we’re reminded to do so.

Thank you. Thank you Rome. Thank you Romans. And for one more day we walk up the steps and we’re reminded to be, well, alive and for the meantime, happy about it.
 If it weren’t for those many poet/soothsayers, I’d most likely have taken the wrong path numerous times. Maybe you’ll get a poem today, passed under the door like a note. Read it, and in honor of the ides of March, pay attention.

SOURCE: poetryfoundation.org

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ada Limón is the author of three books of poetry, Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from New York University. Limón has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and is one of the judges for the 2013 National Book Award in Poetry. She works as a freelance writer and splits her time between Lexington, Kentucky, and Sonoma, California (with a great deal of New York in between). Her new book of poems, Bright Dead Things is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2015. Visit her at adalimon.com.

AUTHOR PHOTO by Jude Domski

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THE IDES OF MARCH
by C.P. Cavafy

My soul, guard against pomp and glory.
And if you can’t curb your ambitions,
at least pursue them hesitantly, cautiously.
And the higher you go,
the more searching and careful you need to be.
And when you reach your summit, Caesar at last —
when you assume the role of someone as great as that —
be really careful as you go out into the street,
a conspicuous man of power with your retinue;
and should a certain Artemidoros
come up to you out of the crowd, bringing a letter,
and say hurriedly: “Read this right away.
It’s about you, and it’s vitally important,”
be sure to stop; be sure to put off
all talk or business; be sure to keep clear
of those who salute and bow to you
(they can be seen later); let even
the Senate itself wait — and find out at once
what vital news Artemidoros has written down for you.

SOURCE: Poetry magazine (August 1972)

IMAGE: Laurel leaf crown

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Constantine P. Cavafy (1863- 1933) was a poet of Greek extraction born in Alexandria, Egypt. When he was nine, his family moved to Liverpool, England. For most his his life, Cavafy worked as a journalist and civil servant. The author of 154 published poems, his most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday. He is widely considered the most distinguished Greek poet of the twentieth century.

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There are only two ways to get to Chicago. You either are born here or you arrive. Those born here have a natural claim, the automatic ownership that emerging into the world upon a certain spot has granted people, at least in their own view, since time began…Being a Chicagoan is not a matter of how long you reside here, but how it affects you. It is a process, an attitude, a state of mind.”

NEIL STEINBERG, You Were Never in Chicago

“I grew up in Chicago. And reading You Were Never in Chicago reminds me why I still think of Chicago as home even though I haven’t lived in the city for more than twenty years. Steinberg brilliantly explores the historical and contemporary city and how each of us makes (or loses) our way in it. Whether you’re a native or you just arrived at O’Hare, read this book: it will make you feel at home in Chicago. Even better, it will you make Chicago yours.” DAN SAVAGE

 ”[A] rollicking newspaperman’s memoir . . . and a strong case for Second City exceptionalism.” NEW YORK TIMES

Find the You were Never in Chicago by Neil Steinberg at Amazon.com.

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PHOTO OF A MAN ON SUNSET DRIVE: 1914, 2008 (Excerpt)
Groundbreaking Ceremony, City of South Miami, Sunset Drive Improvements
by Richard Blanco

And so it began: the earth torn, split open
by a dirt road cutting through palmettos
and wild tamarind trees defending the land
against the sun. Beside the road, a shack
leaning into the wind, on the wooden porch,
crates of avocados and limes, white chickens
pecking at the floor boards, and a man
under the shadow of his straw hat, staring
into the camera in 1914. He doesn’t know
within a lifetime the unclaimed land behind
him will be cleared of scrub and sawgrass,
the soil will be turned, made to give back
what the farmers wish, their lonely houses
will stand acres apart from one another,
jailed behind the boughs of their orchards…

Photo: ”Miami Sunset,” Bill Wisser Photography, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Blanco arrived in Miami shortly after his birth in 1968, the son of Cuban exiles. His acclaimed first book, City of a Hundred Fires, explores the yearnings and negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban-American, and received the prestigious Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press (1998). His second book, Directions to The Beach of the Dead (University of Arizona Press, 2005) won the 2006 PEN/American Beyond Margins Award for its continued exploration of the universal themes of home and place. In January 2013, he was invited to read a poem at President Obama’s second inauguration. Blanco’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, Michigan Quarterly, Best American Poetry 2000, Best American Prose Poems, and National Public Radio. Blanco earned both a bachelors of science degree in Civil Engineering and a Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (1997). He currently lives in Bethel, Maine, where he writes and works as a consultant engineer. (Source: Poetryfoundation.org)

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Photo: F. Scott Fitzgerald with wife Zelda and daughter Scottie, 1923, in the sports coupé the author purchased a few years earlier after selling his first novel, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE.

“When I was a boy, I dreamed that I sat always at the wheel of a magnificent Stutz, a Stutz as low as a snake and as red as an Indiana barn.”

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

According to an insightful 1993 article entitled “The Automobile as a Central Symbol in F. Scott Fitzgerald” by Luis Girón Echevarría:

“The cars in Fitzgerald’s life provide a rough gauge by which to measure the discrepancy between the dream and reality of his life, as well as his waning fortunes, and his journey from careless, irresponsible youth to cautious, worried middle-age…

His first car, purchased in 1920 after the publication of his best-selling first novel, This Side of Paradise, was a three-year-oíd sports coupé; during the next two decades he would own a used Rolls-Royce, an oíd Buick, [a] Stutz, a nine-year-old Packard, an oíd 1934 Ford coupé, and, finally, a second-hand 1937 Ford convertible

It was Fitzgerald’s destiny to begin life dreaming of a magnificent red Stutz Bearcat and to end up driving a second-hand Ford. But during the interval he wrote of America’s dreams and of America’s enduring love affair with the automobile.”

Read more of this fascinating article here.

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“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change (as the poet said), windows on the world and lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.” BARBARA TUCHMAN

Illustration: “Monument of Books” by Anca Benera, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

On the last Sunday of each month, LAVA (Los Angeles Visionaries Association) hosts a Salon in downtown Los Angeles that features formal presentations on cultural and literary topics. On Sunday, June 30th, the Salon will explore Jazz Age Los Angeles with two presentations.

PRESENTATION #1: Martin Turnbull on The Garden of Allah
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Martin Turnbull, author of The Garden Of Allah novels will discuss life at the Garden of Allah hotel, including its infamous bungalow courtyard — and the bootleg liquor, fizzy flappers, all-night parties that defined the Jazz Age in Los Angeles. When F. Scott Fitzgerald arrived in  L.A. during the mid-1930s with his $1000/week contract at MGM, he settled in at the Garden of Allah. It was also the home-away-from-home for Algonquin Round Table refugees Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woollcott, and Donald Ogden Stewart. Martin will punctuate his talk with readings from his first novel in the Garden of Allah series, The Garden On Sunset.

PRESENTATION #2: Marc Chevalier on the Crescent Heights Shopping Center & the Ballyhoo Spirit of the Jazz Age

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Marc Chevailer, historian of the Oviatt Building in Los Angeles, will focus on the Crescent Heights Shopping Center, across the street from the Garden of Allah. Built in 1925, this towered, marble-trimmed and mansard-roofed Norman chateau housed Schwab’s Pharmacy and the Crescent Heights Market. It was where Hollywood’s movielanders shopped, schmoozed, strove, and scrounged for generations. While nothing remains of “the chateau that housed Schwab’s,” Marc will describe its halcyon era.

WHERE: Les Noces du Figaro, 618 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA, 90014. (213) 915-8687

WHEN: Sunday, June 30, 2013, noon-2 p.m.

PRICE: Free!

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Photo: F. Scott Fitzgerald with wife Zelda and daughter Scottie, 1923, in the sports coupé the author purchased a few years earlier after selling his first novel, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE.

“When I was a boy, I dreamed that I sat always at the wheel of a magnificent Stutz, a Stutz as low as a snake and as red as an Indiana barn.”

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

According to an insightful 1993 article entitled “The Automobile as a Central Symbol in F. Scott Fitzgerald” by Luis Girón Echevarría:

“The cars in Fitzgerald’s life provide a rough gauge by which to measure the discrepancy between the dream and reality of his life, as well as his waning fortunes, and his journey from careless, irresponsible youth to cautious, worried middle-age…

His first car, purchased in 1920 after the publication of his best-selling first novel, This Side of Paradise, was a three-year-oíd sports coupé; during the next two decades he would own a used Rolls-Royce, an oíd Buick, [a] Stutz, a nine-year-old Packard, an oíd 1934 Ford coupé, and, finally, a second-hand 1937 Ford convertible

It was Fitzgerald’s destiny to begin life dreaming of a magnificent red Stutz Bearcat and to end up driving a second-hand Ford. But during the interval he wrote of America’s dreams and of America’s enduring love affair with the automobile.”

Read more of this fascinating article here.