Art For the Happy Few

Speaking to a journalist in 1897, humorist Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) stated, “I have even heard on good authority that I was dead.” As I continue the April observance of National Poetry Month 2024, I’ve read similar statements related to poetry.

More than half a lifetime ago (August 1988), Commentary Magazine ran an article “Who Killed Poetry?” Written by Joseph Epstein, the article is still available to read online. Back in that time, Epstein’s commentary is said to have caused quite a stir in literary circles. The essay provoked necessary discussion about poetry’s relevance. Coincidentally, the highly-acclaimed film Dead Poets Society was released in 1989. Epstein’s death of poetry statement was published eight years before National Poetry Month‘s inaugural 1996 celebration. Continue reading “Art For the Happy Few”

Chit-Chat Colloquy

Three guys gather in a recording studio. They’re preparing to record the initial episode of a new podcast. Unbeknownst to them, their podcast episode (once released) will become subject matter for a poem. It will also be a jumping-off point for this post related to National Poetry Month 2024, rising out of a fledgling podcast.

One of the three men is married to my niece. The other two are strangers to me. Since I’m listening to their podcast, I must improvise by recreating the scene in my head. My mental image suggests each man is equipped with his own microphone and headset. Being long-time friends, they know each other well and share an obvious depth of affection which communicates through the audio. They treasure each other’s friendship, so their conversation is relaxed and warm.

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Basketful of Joy

Day seven of National Poetry Month 2024 and there were multiple poems I might have posted here today. However, since it’s a Sunday, I wanted to take a slightly more serious tone. (In general, I tend to lean more on the humorous side. If you can’t laugh in this life, it’s got to be pretty dismal overall. That’s not a world in which I’m very comfortable.)

Today’s sonnet celebrates my joy of living (joie de vivre). Some years ago, I remember a certain political candidate stating an opinion that there were many Americans (about half the country) who could be appropriately characterized as a “basket of deplorables.” Opinions differ, of course, and everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.

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Endergism

With the various apocalyptic pronouncements I’ve heard related to the upcoming “total solar eclipse” on Monday, April 8th, I decided there were definitely several poems I needed to post for National Poetry Month before the world is expected to be plunged into darkness for the foreseeable future! If April must have both its eclipse and National Poetry Month, then let’s go out with a bang, right?!

Of course, this possible world-ending event means I must take time to address the recent tempest-in-a-teapot kerfuffle  which occurred a week ago. It began with a Presidential proclamation which happened to intersect with the Christian observance of Resurrection Sunday/Easter, commemorating the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, our God come in the flesh. Continue reading “Endergism”

Hail the Court Jester!

Today is April first. It’s also April Fools’ Day. Additionally, it happens to be the first day of National Poetry Month. Maybe if I looked a bit further, I’d find several other items of notable consideration, but I’m going to stop there.

My first participation in National Poetry Month was in 2014, so ten years ago. It was mildly amusing for me to offer posts with original poems in this space. I also participated in 2015, but after that, I stopped. I didn’t cease writing poetry. I just didn’t find it necessary to use the month of April as an incentive. However, in the last year, I’ve conducted some serious study of poetry and thought this would be an appropriate occasion to share my thoughts.

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March On Women

In between my Beloved’s birthday (Friday, March 1) and Easter (Sunday, March 31), the March calendar for me has been filled with diversions! According to my desk calendar, we’ve observed Super Tuesday (3/5), the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (3/10), St. Patrick’s Day (3/17), and the First Day of Spring (3/19). Still ahead, this being Holy Week), we celebrate Palm Sunday (today), Good Friday (3/29) and the apex of Holy Week (Resurrection Day) on Easter Sunday. Phew! A busy month!

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Imagine my chagrin, then, when I realized the month of March had also been designated (by Congress) as Women’s History Month (WHM) in addition to the United Nations choosing March 8 as International Women’s Day (IWD) … though neither of these designations was deemed significant enough to appear in the notations on my desk calendar! Is it even possible I could be any more verklempt?!

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Time To Let Go?

New Year’s Day 2024 came and went swiftly, moving us into the freezing winter weeks of January. Belatedly, I bid all a Happy New Year! I expect this will be a year filled with promise as well as trials. May God teach us through both.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Considering it’s an election year, I couldn’t help focus on how quickly things have heated up (metaphorically, anyway). At least one presidential hopeful caught my attention with a description of the US Senate as a “privileged nursing home.” Though others are more cagey with their rhetoric, similar opinions abound. The leaders of our country are old. How old? I did some research.

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Culture As Report Card – Part II

In my previous post, I discussed how the culture has made an indelible mark on today’s Church. There’s a statement making its way around social media which addresses culture and the church. While there are various versions, the image (below left) is one I screen-shot from Facebook. 

Considering the number of places online where I’ve noticed this (and similar) expressions of concern, I think it’s safe to say many people are becoming more aware of the downward slide of the church. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, US church membership has declined sharply over the last two decades. An even more recent poll shows US church membership falling to its lowest level ever.

It’s difficult to identify the exact cause (or causes) of this decline. Some observers have even suggested the slide began in 1517 when a priest named Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the All Saints’ Church in Wittenburg (Germany). Luther was, after all, challenging church authority and doing so in a very public way.

Continue reading “Culture As Report Card – Part II”

Culture As Report Card – Part I

A pithy observation has tucked itself away within my memory. Though I can’t recall who said it (else I’d provide proper attribution), the comment begs for reflection and due consideration, especially as our social norms face new challenges almost every day.

Culture is the Report Card of the Church

Over the years, the terminology for a Report Card has morphed into something meant to sound less ominous:  Progress Report … Student Assessment … Quarterly Evaluation. Still, whatever it’s called, this periodic report often causes unnecessary dread for the person (or organization) being evaluated. Continue reading “Culture As Report Card – Part I”

Behold, The Rose

The old saying “Beauty is as beauty does” was a phrase my mother used often when I was a child. Naturally, she desired to impress upon me the maxim that outer beauty is mostly irrelevant (or worthless) if there’s no inner beauty. In my teens, I might have offered this observation about the rose. It doesn’t do anything. A rose is beautiful simply because it is.

a rose in all its splendor
Image by Bessi from Pixabay

Today, we have beauty consultants, beauty tips and trends, spas and wellness clinics … all these and more revolving around the pursuit of beauty. In fact, according to one source, the $532 billion beauty industry is “growing faster than ever before.” Indeed, multiple market forces combine everyday to expand this already-significant effort at satisfying consumer demand.

A SELF magazine post from 2017 indicates women spend amazing amounts on beauty products:  $15,000 during an average woman’s lifetime, including $3,000 on mascara, another $2,000 on eyeshadows, and a whopping $1,700 on lip colors to match the multiple shades contained within one woman’s makeup bag! These are averages; some women will spend more. Ah, the pursuit of beauty does come at a hefty price. Continue reading “Behold, The Rose”