Sunday, May 13, 2012

What Came Back after the Blast

Last week I sent an “email blast” to give folks a heads up that Memories from Cherry Harvest will be released June 18 and is available for preorder from booksellers now. As a result of the email blast, I received emails from quite a few people about their own exciting work. In some ways, I feel as though I have been sitting on the sidelines all these years because I have not had the opportunity to fully offer my gift to others. Meanwhile I have been enjoying the gifts of other writers, artists, musicians, and creative souls. So this past week, when my little message about my own creation ventured out, and then returned with such abundance in its wake, I felt like it was at last a fair exchange. Here is a sampling of the discoveries the blast brought in.

I learned about two novels written by Rosine Nimeh-Mailloux. Rosine’s younger brother Mike lived with my family for a couple of years when he was in high school. Rosine and Mike are Chrisitian Arabs whose family was forced to flee from their home in West Jerusalem when Israel became a state in 1948. They moved to Bethlehem (where Mike was born). Rosine was an exchange teacher in the town where I grew up (she taught English). She befriended my parents, and when the INS forced her to leave the U.S., she went to Canada, and my parents took in Mike, whom she had managed to rescue from the war-torn Middle East and had brought to the U.S. Rosine and I have not communicated for many years, but when I sent Mike the email about my book, he forwarded it to her. A flurry of emails between Rosine (who lives in Ontario) and myself followed and  the upshot is that she is sending me her novel entitled The Madwoman of Bethlehem. Her is the link to find out more. She is also the author of a book of short stories about her family’s experiences in the turmoil of the Middle East entitled Mustard and Vinegar.

I have a friend, Professor James McIntosh, who taught American Literature at the U. of Michigan at Ann Arbor. I have never taken a class from Jim, but we became friends and enjoyed many an evening of literature-talk together. His wife was the curator of the campus art museum for many years. They are lovely folks. Jim’s area of greatest expertise is American lit. of the 1800s. This week I learned that Jim is the editor of a Norton Critical Edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short works entitled Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tales. The second edition is just out. Scholarly work, not “creative” writing, but Norton, well that’s quite impressive. Jim is sending me a copy so that I can read his foreword in the edition. Here is the link to find out more. 

In a completely different direction (not literary or high-brow.) My Cousin Joe’s teen daughter Emily is a singer and she is featured in a pop music video posted on YouTube last week to sell her song “The New Cleopatra” on iTunes. Here is the link to her debut on the music scene. (If you feel inclined you can view the page and click on the “like” button to give Emily a boost.)

Returning to literary connections, I want to mention Helen’s poetry and that of her daughter Dorothy. Although I did not first find out about my Scottish friend Helen Lawrenson’s new book of poetry this past week, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I learned of its release. I met Helen in Dundee in 1970. As long as I have known her, she has written exquisite poetry that uses the beauty of the natural world to teach life lessons, always delighting the reader with her keen eye for detail. Helen lives in Wormit, just across the Firth of Tay from Dundee. Here is the link to the information about her chapbook of poetry entitled Upon a Good High Hill. I already knew about Helen’s poetry book, but this past week Helen’s daughter Dorothy’s poem “September” was selected as one of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Best Scottish poems of 2011! Here is the link to Dorothy’s poem. Here is the link to it online. But I’m going to be so bold as to reprint her poem here in its entirety since it’s brief, beautiful, and reminds me so much of the poetry her mother wrote when I first met her over 40 years ago.

By Dorothy Lawrenson

This far north, the harvest happens late.
Rooks go clattering over the sycamores
whose shadows yawn after them, down to the river.
Uncut wheat staggers under its own weight.

Summer is leaving too, exchanging its gold
for brass and copper. It is not so strange
to feel nostalgia for the present; already
this September evening is as old

as a photograph of itself. The light, the shadows
on the field, are sepia, as if this were
some other evening in September, some other
harvest that went ungathered years ago.

[Published in Painted, spoken, 22]

Obviously, I am not the only one who has been busy. And as I send word out into the world about my humble accomplishments, word continues to come back to me about the accomplishments of others. We are all doing what we do, following our heart where it leads us. And that is a very fine thing.

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