Archives for posts with tag: WWII

postcard hamlin lake1
Hamlin Lake, Michigan, 1940s
by Joan Colby

A smell of damp, of mildew
Permeated the cottage, lakeside,
Built of simple unfinished planks,
Nothing polished or complicated,
Floorboards, thin walls
So every conversation could be overheard.

A red pump by the chipped sink
That groaned to expel tinged water.
A woodstove my mother cursed
As we stood dripping from our lake baths
Holding bars of Ivory, thin towels wrapped
Around our waists.

The beds were headed with bars
Like jails. Hard in places,
Sunken in others so you could spend
The night spinning from one pole to another
Like a confused explorer.

Outside, the splintery dock
Where father diving into waters
Surprisingly shallow that year
Nearly broke his neck. A rowboat
With heavy recalcitrant oars
To tug us across the lake for supplies.
The splash splash of progress.
Our spitz shuddering in the prow,
He’d fallen in once and remembered.

White birch whose bark could peel
Into testaments on which we wrote
Our having funs and see you soons
Anything with a stamp could be posted
Father contested and was correct.

Rainy afternoons on the porch,
The screens plinging with out of tune
Instruments, we played Sorry,
The colored jacks marched on the board
In militant steps or landing badly
As paratroops were sent back
The way a child was sent to bed
Too early, sleepless, listening
To the mysterious things they said.

IMAGE: Hamlin Lake, Michigan, postcard, available at ebay.

joan colby

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010).One of her poems is a winner of the 2014 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 14 books, including Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize; Properties of Matter, Aldrich Press (Kelsay Books); Bittersweet (Main Street Rag Press), and The Wingback Chair (FutureCycle Press). She has two new chapbooks Ah Clio (Kattycompus Press) and Pro Forma (Foothills Press) as well as a full-length collection Ribcage (Glass Lyre Press), which received the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.

Ginaforchildhood2
We Are at War
by Gina Larkin

My brother set up his soldiers
in neat lines and rows
at the end of the long hall.
We are at war,

my mother says.
All my uncles are far away
and my aunts
wait each morning for the mail
and whisper to each other
so I can’t hear.
But I see the little flags
in the windows,
and the gold stars when
someone has died,
Mrs. Nunn has three stars
in her window.
There is one in Nana’s
for cousin Peter.
We are at war.

With so few cars now,
I can go alone
to Bill’s meat market.
Today’s ration stamps are for margarine.

Bill hands me the slippery plastic bag,
breaking the orange tablet in the center.
“Here,
squeeze the bag til you get home.”
My part in the war effort.
I push the orange color from center to edges,
turning the soft grey jaundiced;
only good for spreading,
it doesn’t melt
separates into water and yellow glue.
Now, I mix the color in
til my hands hurt.
We are at war.
Each night, the air raids screech life
to a dark halt,
blackout shades in place,
street lights extinguished.
There is silence except for
the ground shifting hum of the mills.
The mills never close,
their always blasting furnaces
turn out steel
for the war.
The sky’s constant red slag glow
mocks the air raid black.
If a plane flies over head
the rosary beads fly
through my mother’s fingers
praying it away;
we live a half mile from the mill
and we are at war.

My brother sets up his soldiers
in neat lines and rows
at the end of the long hall,
then lobs a ball at them.
Some fall and never get up again.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This photo was taken when I was three on the Greenfield Bridge (about 10 miles from Pittsburgh). This was before WWII began.

Ginaforchildhood1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gina Larkin has had poems published in more than 50 journals including Paterson Literary Review, Exit 13, Lips, and US 1 Review. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the founding and current Editor of The Edison Literary Review.

With my mother during WWII
THE AIR RAID
By Irina Dimitric

When I was nine years old, the war was on.
The enemy drowning fast at last; the end
Was near, but first the Allies had to bomb
Our town to drive the fiend aground, and so
We hid below in shelters, praying loud
While bombs were shaking walls and breaking hearts
And windows; I was always first to grab
My bag with sugar when the siren howled,
Then ran as fast as arrow; sheltered well
Beneath, I thought; the drone of bombers near,
Then whizz through air, then once again, three times
Before the end — the siren shrilling flat.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: With my mother during WWII. This photo was sent to my father, a POW in Lamsdorf, Germany.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I chose this poem as this year we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. My father was in a POW camp in Germany, and while the bombs were falling on us, he was trudging through deep snow with his mates, forced to march at gunpoint with the retreating German army for about four months before being liberated by the Americans in Nuremberg on April 17, 1945. This poem won The Poem of the Week award in Susan Budig’s Mindful Poetry Contest 2013. The challenge was to write a poem about our childhood in blank verse and iambic pentameter. It now appears in my book Dreams on my Pillow.

dimitric

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Irina Dimitric is a retired teacher who lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and a canary. She migrated to Australia with her family in 1964. Writing poetry and photography are her recent passions. Her work has appeared in narratorAUSTRALIA online and in print. In 2014, she published her first book of poetry, Dreams On My Pillow, accompanied by her photographs. Visit her blog, Irina’s Poetry Corner, at http://irinadim.com.

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In the above photo, author Ernest Hemingway (left) dines with director Frank Capra at the Paramount Studio commissary in 1941. Capra holds a copy of Hemingway’s then-latest novel — FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS (1940). Set during the Spanish Civil War (1933-1939), the book became the basis for the 1943 film of the same name starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman — actors that Hemingway selected for the roles.

Whether or not Capra was pitching his services during this lunch with Hemingway, he did not end up with the director’s slot — instead, Sam Wood assumed the role because shortly after this photo was taken, the United States entered WWII. Frank Capra served as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where he remained during the war years (1941-1945) making a variety of military films, including many shot during combat. Hemingway spend much of WWII as a war correspondent in various parts of the world.

After the war, Capra’s first Hollywood assignment was to direct James Stewart in the now-classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946). Hemingway did not release another major novel until 1952, when he published THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 and was cited for “his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.”

OPENING PASSAGE FROM FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees. The mountainside sloped gently where he lay; but below it was steep and he could see the dark of the oiled road winding through the pass. There was a stream alongside the road and far down the pass he saw a mill beside the stream and the falling water of the dam, white in the summer sunlight.”

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“Hemingway, a great American writer, taught me the finest trick when you are doing a long book, which is, he simply said in his own words,’When you are going good, stop writing.’ …if you stop when you are going good, as Hemingway said…then you know what you are going to say next. You make yourself stop, put your pencil down and everything, and you walk away. And you can’t wait to get back because you know what you want to say next…” ROALD DAHL, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Photo: Roald Dahl (left) and Ernest Hemingway (right) in London during 1944.

NOTES ON THE PHOTO: As far as I’ve been able to learn, no one knows why Dahl and Hemingway were together in London during WWII. Dahl, a member of the British Royal Air Force, worked as something of a spy during the early war years—when Britain was fighting Germany and hoping the U.S. would enter the conflict. In this period (1939-1941), Dahl was stationed in Washington D.C., and attended social functions with politicians and other dignitaries, hoping to learn useful information about U.S. plans vis-a-vis the war.

At the time of the above photo, Dahl was 28 and Hemingway was 45 (though he looks much older). At first, I was puzzled when I looked at this photograph — thinking it couldn’t be Hemingway because “Papa” wasn’t that short. Then I realized that Roald Dahl must have been well above average in height to make Hemingway appear diminutive. Further research revealed that Dahl was 6’6″—while Hemingway was 6 feet tall.

At this point in his career, Hemingway was a world-famous author and had written three of his most important books — The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls – while Dahl had not yet written anything of note (Random House had published his children’s book entitled The Gremlins in 1943). Perhaps the young intelligence officer and aspiring author (Dahl) wangled a meeting with the old lion (Hemingway), hoping to gain some writing advice or just bask in the presence of the great author.

While Hemingway at some point (I’m not sure when) wrote about his method of stopping before you’re written out for the day, perhaps he gave this advice to Dahl first-hand when they were chumming around London in 1944. (For the record, Hemingway was in Europe from June-December 1944 and became involved in a number of allied initiatives while acting as a journalist.)

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In 1949, Kurt Vonnegut sent three writing samples to Atlantic Monthly — hoping for publication or a writing assignment. Instead, he received the following letter:

Dear Mr. Vonnegut,

We have been carrying out our usual summer house-cleaning of the manuscripts on our anxious bench and in the file, and among them I find the three papers which you have shown me as samples of your work. I am sincerely sorry that no one of them seems to us well adapted for our purpose. Both the account of the bombing of Dresden and your article, “What’s a Fair Price for Golden Eggs?” have drawn commendation although neither one is quite compelling enough for final acceptance.

Our staff continues fully manned so I cannot hold out the hope of an editorial assignment, but I shall be glad to know that you have found a promising opening elsewhere.

Faithfully yours,
Edward Weeks

From one of the rejected writing samples (‘account of the bombing in Dresden”), Vonnegut developed his masterwork Slaughterhouse-Five. Toiling away at a variety of jobs (newspaper bureau, General Electric public relations department, Saab dealership) to support his large (and extended) family (six children), 20 years transpired between the Atlantic Monthly rejection and the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five (Delacorte, 1969). Modern Library has ranked the book as the18th greatest novel of the 20th century.

Photo: A first edition of Slaughterhouse-Five issued in 1969, when Vonnegut was still using “Jr.” Signed first editions of the novel currently sell for around $8,000. See this link.

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QUEEN ANNE’S LACE
by Ruth Moon Kempher

My Gramma knew the names of all the field
flowers, but I didn’t always listen.  The lavender
lilac was French, she said, which I knew was far off
where there was war, which wasn’t fitting.  Peace—
there were Peace roses in her garden, and Ramblers—
that made sense somehow, since everybody went out
somewhere, but could come home.  Three-Star flag
in her window for three boys, one was for my Dad—
Lily-of-the-Valley and Mock Orange by the porch.
Too long in the south now, where it hardly
grows anything without stickers or violent smell
my favorites were Queen Anne’s Lace and
Dutchman’s Breeches, sometimes called, if I
remember rightly, Butter and Eggs, in lots miscalled
“vacant,” where grasses congregate—bugs
and milkweed pods, oozing moths and butterflies—
the moths that drift, white over dry rows of pea vines
like early snow.  Summer was the best time, then.
Carrot smell, vague, of Queen Anne’s lace
embroidered my days, easy.  Looking up under
its umbrella, kaleidoscope curds, white knurls
on green spokes, turned slowly—Summer
was for hiding then, mostly, looking up.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Moon Kempher, an ex-navy brat who was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, has had her poetry and short prose appear in journals and other periodical publications since 1958, and has published many other people’s work since 1994 through her Kings Estate Press in St. Augustine, Florida. She is retired from owning a tavern and from teaching—first for Flagler College while attaining her BA and graduating with the college’s first class; and later, after achieving her MA at Emory University in Atlanta, in the English Department of St. Johns River Community College. The latest of her thirty-three (mostly small) collections is Key West Papers (Casa de Cinco Hermanos Press, Pueblo, Colorado). Her poetry, including “Queen Anne’s Lace,” will appear in the Silver Birch Press SUMMER ANTHOLOGY (June 21, 2013), a collection of poetry and prose written by over 70 authors from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Europe, and Africa.

PHOTO: “Queen Anne’s Lace” by LupenGrainne — prints are available at etsy.com.

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In the above photo, author Ernest Hemingway (left) dines with director Frank Capra at the Paramount Studio commissary in 1941. Capra holds a copy of Hemingway’s then-latest novel — FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS (1940). Set during the Spanish Civil War (1933-1939), the book became the basis for the 1943 film of the same name starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman — actors that Hemingway selected for the roles.

Whether or not Capra was pitching his services during this lunch with Hemingway, he did not end up with the director’s slot — instead, Sam Wood assumed the role because shortly after this photo was taken, the United States entered WWII. Frank Capra served as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where he remained during the war years (1941-1945) making a variety of military films, including many shot during combat. Hemingway spend much of WWII as a war correspondent in various parts of the world.

After the war, Capra’s first Hollywood assignment was to direct James Stewart in the now-classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946). Hemingway did not release another major novel until 1952, when he published THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 and was cited for “his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.”

OPENING PASSAGE FROM FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees. The mountainside sloped gently where he lay; but below it was steep and he could see the dark of the oiled road winding through the pass. There was a stream alongside the road and far down the pass he saw a mill beside the stream and the falling water of the dam, white in the summer sunlight.”

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“One of the vital things for a writer who’s writing a book, which is a lengthy project and is going to take about a year, is how to keep the momentum going. It is the same with a young person writing an essay. They have got to write four or five or six pages. But when you are writing it for a year, you go away and you have to come back. I never come back to a blank page; I always finish about halfway through. To be confronted with a blank page is not very nice. But Hemingway, a great American writer, taught me the finest trick when you are doing a long book, which is, he simply said in his own words, “When you are going good, stop writing.” And that means that if everything’s going well and you know exactly where the end of the chapter’s going to go and you know just what the people are going to do, you don’t go on writing and writing until you come to the end of it, because when you do, then you say, well, where am I going to go next? And you get up and you walk away and you don’t want to come back because you don’t know where you want to go. But if you stop when you are going good, as Hemingway said…then you know what you are going to say next. You make yourself stop, put your pencil down and everything, and you walk away. And you can’t wait to get back because you know what you want to say next and that’s lovely and you have to try and do that. Every time, every day all the way through the year. If you stop when you are stuck, then you are in trouble!”

ROALD DAHL, author of The Witches

Photo: Roald Dahl (left) and Ernest Hemingway (right) in London during 1944.

Notes on Photo: As far as I’ve been able to learn, no one knows why Dahl and Hemingway were together in London during WWII. Dahl, a member of the British Royal Air Force, worked as something of a spy during the early war years — when Britain was fighting Germany and hoping the U.S. would enter the conflict. In this period (1939-1941), Dahl was stationed in Washington D.C., and attended social functions with politicians and other dignitaries, hoping to learn useful information about U.S. plans vis-a-vis the war.

At the time of the above photo, Dahl was 28 and Hemingway was 45 (though he looks much older). At first, I was puzzled when I looked at this photograph — thinking it couldn’t be Hemingway because “Papa” wasn’t that short. Then I realized that Roald Dahl must have been well above average in height to make Hemingway appear diminutive. Further research revealed that Dahl was 6’6″ — while Hemingway was 6 feet tall.

At this point in his career, Hemingway was a world-famous author and had written three of his most important books — The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls while Dahl had not yet written anything of note (Random House had published his children’s book entitled The Gremlins in 1943). Perhaps the young intelligence officer and aspiring author (Dahl) wangled a meeting with the old lion (Hemingway), hoping to gain some writing advice or just bask in the presence of the great author.

While Hemingway at some point (I’m not sure when) wrote about his method of stopping before you’re written out for the day, perhaps he gave this advice to Dahl first-hand when they were chumming around London in 1944. (For the record, Hemingway was in Europe from June-December 1944 and became involved in a number of allied initiatives while acting as a journalist.)

Image

In 1949, Kurt Vonnegut sent three writing samples to Atlantic Monthly — hoping for publication or a writing assignment. Instead, he received the following letter:

Dear Mr. Vonnegut,

We have been carrying out our usual summer house-cleaning of the manuscripts on our anxious bench and in the file, and among them I find the three papers which you have shown me as samples of your work. I am sincerely sorry that no one of them seems to us well adapted for our purpose. Both the account of the bombing of Dresden and your article, “What’s a Fair Price for Golden Eggs?” have drawn commendation although neither one is quite compelling enough for final acceptance.

Our staff continues fully manned so I cannot hold out the hope of an editorial assignment, but I shall be glad to know that you have found a promising opening elsewhere.

Faithfully yours,
Edward Weeks

From one of the rejected writing samples (‘account of the bombing in Dresden”), Vonnegut developed his masterwork Slaughterhouse-Five. Toiling away at a variety of jobs (newspaper bureau, General Electric public relations department, Saab dealership) to support his large (and extended) family (six children), 20 years transpired between the Atlantic Monthly rejection and the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five (Delacorte, 1969). Modern Library has ranked the book as the 18th greatest novel of the 20th century.

Trivia Tidbit: In 1970, Slaughterhouse-Five was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards — losing out in both competitions to Ursula K. Le Guin‘s The Left Hand of Darkness.

Photo: A first edition of Slaughterhouse-Five issued in 1969, when Vonnegut was still using “Jr.” Signed first editions of the novel currently sell for around $8,000. See this link.