Vintage Allure: the Early American Radio Show

1940 Zenith radio dial
 

Imagine for a moment an American family collected in a cozy living room and gathered close for the evening’s entertainment. But instead of gazing expectantly at some oversized TV screen while battling the constant distraction of smart phones and mobile devices, the family hovers around the carved, wooden face of a console radio that broadcasts the latest news, stories from the War, and of course, serial radio dramas. This was exactly the sort of evening my father would have enjoyed in the 1940’s. Just recently, at a dinner party with friends, I spoke with a … Continue reading Vintage Allure: the Early American Radio Show

The Groundhog Has Come and Gone


 

Well, it’s over, the most important day of winter, Groundhog Day. And it’s still winter. How come? The groundhog, after being widely noticed, has gone back to sleep, which seems like a really good idea. Here in Central Virginia, we can’t complain too much. It hasn’t snowed yet. It doesn’t usually snow much. Unless you’ve been pining to go skiing, that’s good news. I haven’t seen any posters or bumper stickers saying “Pray for Snow,” yet this winter, but I have seen plenty in the past. I have to assume there’s a significant group in … Continue reading The Groundhog Has Come and Gone

Allen Forrest: Berlin in the 1920s


 

      “I have an attraction to Berlin, especially the 1920s, when it was an art and science haven for the best and the brightest. I am also fascinated with German Expressionism, and many of the artists who were in residence in Berlin during the 20s,” says Allen Forrest, a Canadian artist whose work spans drawing and painting as well as computer graphics, film and video. “Music and dance were a very big part of Berlin in that era. Berlin was also in turmoil in the 1920s. The Nazis were still in their fledgling … Continue reading Allen Forrest: Berlin in the 1920s

Interactions


 

  December is always a good time to add to my already long list of books to read. There are awards nominations, various reviewers’ choices for best books of the year, random recommendations for books people are giving or would like to receive as presents. One of the books that appeared frequently as I scanned these sources was Citizen by Claudia Rankine. I was already asking for Marilynne Robinison’s Lila and Richard Ford’s Let Me Be Frank With You for Christmas, so I bought Citizen for myself. I’m glad I did—sort of. Citizen was among … Continue reading Interactions

What Does a Poem Mean?


 

January is upon us and with it the start of several weeks of bone-rattling cold and snow-cancelled classes erroneously dubbed “Spring Semester.” For me, it heralds the beginning of a poetry class I teach at the University of Virginia, whose goal, to paraphrase the title of Edward Hirsch’s wonderful book, is to teach students how to read a poem and hope they’ll fall in love with poetry. This is a required course, so I can’t count on any initial enthusiasm on the students’ part. Instead, I expect to encounter resistance, suspicion, indifference, and even downright … Continue reading What Does a Poem Mean?

Conveyance by Julia Kudravetz

country landscape
 

Conveyance   Between the bones of the plat and the sale of our land, so much needs to be done to make the title clean. The deed marked what everyone knew then—the creek to the quarters to the graveyard; they agreed with a handshake and the natural boundaries quilled in red. No one recalls, so imagine those lives in metes and bounds. On the bank they pulled fresh water, broke ice in winter, carried evening hymns over the field to the arms of the great oak. And now we see encroachments, bramble, the soft roads … Continue reading Conveyance by Julia Kudravetz

Then I Returned to the House of the Slow Letting Go by Irene Wellman

dried flower
 

Then I Returned to the House of the Slow Letting Go   I went out into the evening, walked alone with my clippers to dead-head the marigolds the peonies, no longer spinning planets, and the now brown-leafed rhododendrons. I picked up my watering can to slake a thirsty fern, pulled yellow aromatic leaves off the pink geraniums, surprised a brown thrasher in the grass, bent to weed a circle of flowers. The house stood filled with the presence Of the dying man. It was his garden he’d brought back from wildness, tended with the dry … Continue reading Then I Returned to the House of the Slow Letting Go by Irene Wellman

Singing at Auschwitz by Diane Baumer


 

For close to thirty minutes that first evening, we danced recklessly and with joy, clasping hands, twirling, and twisting to the beat of the “Havah,” reveling in our freedom and singing with abandon. Our dance line snaked up the auditorium floor and into the Museum’s lobby then circled ‘round the brightly colored kiosks. Forming three smaller circles, we laughed and sang and bumped without grace into one another until finally, as the music died down, we collapsed onto the benches against the wall, out of breath and exhausted. After a few minutes, one of the … Continue reading Singing at Auschwitz by Diane Baumer

Catalogers of the Galaxy by M.X. Wang


 

Later, when asked to speak about what happened for the second time, Harlen recalled that it was in fact a single object, faint and blurry one second, close and vibrant the next. It hovered overhead: two blazing parallel rods, about a hundred feet across, connected by a transparent, egg-shaped disk that expanded and collapsed like an inflating and deflating balloon. There was a lot of pressure, as if giant hands were pushing down on his shoulders and scalp. “As soon as my knees gave, the pressure left and what I saw changed. I mean, I … Continue reading Catalogers of the Galaxy by M.X. Wang

The Highest Form of Flattery


 

I’m creatively constipated. That’s right, all input and no output. Binging on poetry, nothing to show at writing group. Forget the fifth round of revisions on that damn poem that won’t cooperate. Not inspired. Not even trying. Reading a favorite poem the other day, I detected a familiar aftertaste, a refrain in my head: I never come up with ideas this unique, this good. Intellectually, I know better than to let that thought discourage me from writing, but let’s be honest—it still does. So, I compromised with myself. If I couldn’t write something this good, I could at least copy … Continue reading The Highest Form of Flattery

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