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Poetry in Las Cruces, February 22

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Do you remember when we celebrated Washington’s birthday on February 22?  This year February 22 is Poetry Day in Las Cruces, as one of the For Love of Art events that fill the month.  We are calling it “For Love of Lit.”

Where: Branigan Cultural Center, Swarz Room

When: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 22.

Eleven local poets will read their work: Dick Thomas, LeeAnn Meadows, Frank Varela, Christine Eber, Tim Staley, Ellen Roberts Young, John Muir, Joanne Townsend, Gerry Stork, Sarah Nolan, and Joseph Somoza.

Come hear a variety of voices and styles, in celebration of the art of poetry.

Dick Thomas reads at the event in 2013.  Photo by Susan Gomez

Dick Thomas reads at the event in 2013. Photo by Susan Gomez

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Second Anniversary Thank You

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Today is two years from the day I began this blog.  It has been an adventure for me, a learning experience, often fun and sometimes frustrating.  I began in order to publicize my biography, John Emerson Roberts: Kansas City’s “Up-to-date” Freethought Preacher.  I did make some connections and sell a few books through this effort.  Soon I will be using this space to do more publicity for my forthcoming book of poetry, Made and Remade, a set of poems responding to the God as Designer work of William Paley.

Those of you who follow and who regularly read this blog know all that.  Thank you all for your interest, for your “likes” and especially to those of you who comment – it turns blogging into dialogue in a very nice way.

The name for this blog was not carefully chosen; it came to me as a sudden inspiration, and I saw at once that it would stand for what I have made the subtitle: Two Sides of One Mind.  I may be doing poetry now, but I’m still thinking freely, and I am interested in conversations in both areas.  I promise more from both sides of my mind – at least for one more year.

Here’s another sunrise to suggest another new year.  These thin clouds are more typical of our skies than the big splashes I’ve posted before.

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Poem for a Winter Night

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Night reflects day, not
innocent of influence
as a true mirror,
but with all the shading
of long acquaintance.

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My son gave me a new camera for Christmas and I couldn’t resist trying it out on a night shot.  Not bad for a beginner like me with a relatively simple machine.  The moon was past full, though it looks very round in this shot.

A Tanka on Memory

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The camera’s click
a snap judgment
determines what
will be recalled
after memories fade.

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The photo is from a trip to Greece long ago.  It has stuck in my head as what Greek islands look like (though I think the color of the sea has faded slightly).  I had to look at the back to find out which island it is.  It is Thasos, the northernmost in the Aegean Sea, not far from Thessalonica.  Why did I go there?  I can reconstruct that it was to see some minor monuments from my studies of Greek archaeology.  But this, the green slope overlooking the sea, is all I really remember – or think I do.

A July Tanka in January

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Rocks become islands
rising from a table sea.
Cardboard ships sail in,
seize gold, quarrel over it,
cranky as housebound children.

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It was a rainy day.  This game was being played by adults, but the pirate characters they created to captain the ships were definitely argumentative.  And there is something about a summer place and memories.  It is as if the sounds of children of years past continue to hang in the rafters.

I got the picture when the players were away from the table; I like the wavy lines in the wood.  May we all have good fortune in 2014.

John Emerson Roberts: His Significance in Freethought History

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The Council for Secular Humanism has published on their website an article I wrote describing John Emerson Roberts’s pivotal position in the development of freethought from liberalism to radicalism.  You can find it at:

https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/articles/356994933_CoverFront

If the article makes you interested in more background, consider ordering my biography, which gives much attention to the context in which Roberts worked and what made him successful.  You can get a new, signed copy from me via Amazon, through ERYBooks, at:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aag/main/ref=olp_merch_name_9?ie=UTF8&asin=1462876919&isAmazonFulfilled=0&seller=AW0M3U1KS6UKI

J. E. Roberts in later life with his fourth wife, Frances (Hynes Bacon) Roberts

J. E. Roberts with his fourth wife, Frances (Hynes Bacon) Roberts

Poems in On Line Journal

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Lantern_Journal_Fall_2013_Issue_FlyerThere’s a small sample of my poetry collection responding to William Paley, Made and Remade, on the web.  It is in Lantern Journal’s Fall 2013 issue.  The overall theme of the issue is “Evolution.”  The selections chosen by the editors are extremely varied.  My entry is a set of three poems, two from the Paley collection. You’ll find the contents and introduction to the issue (Volume II, No. 3)  at: http://lanternjournal.org/category/v2-i3-2013/  There you will find my summary statement of Made and Remade and a picture of the Wearmouth Bridge, along with other photos.  Click on “View full ARTicle here” to read the poems.

The first of the poems, “Lost Leverage” while it fits the theme just fine, is from an earlier collection.  As the word “Lever” buried in the title may suggest, it is from my Archimedes series, which has yet to find a publisher.

The connection of “Evolving” to the theme should be self-evident.  I leave it to the reader to determine how “Headache” fits.  I hope it doesn’t give you one.

The Bridge Outside Paley's Door

The Bridge Outside Paley’s Door

Chronophobia: Fear at the Equinox

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Time always seems to be an issue at the fall equinox.  The shortening daylight gives a feeling of shorter hours, while the activities that resume in the fall take up more of those hours.  The tasks put off during hot weather have also accumulated.  There is one plus to this season: being up before the sun to see the dawn color.

September Sunrise

September Sunrise

 

The rest of the day time seems to run and leap, trampling the to-do list.  I may even suffer an attack of Chronophobia:

I’m on the monster’s back and I don’t dare get off.  Time is the enemy, a threat to all my projects.  Of hours in the day or days in the week there are never enough to keep up with all my chosen tasks: the writing, the meetings, the email, the sewing, the gardening.

Some weeks I wonder if I should even be spending Sunday morning at church.  I hear time growling, licking his lips.  Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do today that I must spend a long time in prayer.”  How could this be, I wondered.  Then I discovered the secret.  When I stop, really completely stop―not just sit down with a book, not just make a cup of coffee―when I really come to a full stop, time stops too.

It doesn’t last long.  As soon as I begin to move again, I have to get back up on the monster’s back and race toward the next task, the next deadline, the next chime of the hour. If I slip off I may be eaten.  This is Chronos, after all: the old god who eats his children.

Thanks to Ina Hughs, at last year’s October Writing Festival at Ghost Ranch, for her “sheet of fears” exercise.

More About William Paley and his Bridge

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Photo: Sunderland Public Libraries / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo: Sunderland Public Libraries / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

The bridge which William Paley admired at Wearmouth (see my post of July 26) tells us two important things about the time when Paley wrote his book, Natural Theology.  First, the smoke from the smokestack tells us that the industrial age has arrived.  Second, the sails on the ships tell us that engines which can move ships (or trains for that matter) have not yet been invented.  This is a world of commerce, but it is not our world.

William Paley came to live in Wearmouth in 1795.  He was then 52 years old; his most successful years were behind him.  Paley was educated at Cambridge and became a teacher there.  He was ordained in 1766 as an Anglican priest, and was appointed to various positions in the church.  He wrote three important books before Natural Theology, one on moral philosophy and two defending the historical accuracy of the New Testament.

In all his writing Paley emphasized reason, and wrote clear, logical arguments.  That clarity, and his use of language in general, makes Natural Theology a pleasure to read, in spite of the fact that, as the picture demonstrates, his world is very different from our present circumstances.

My collection of poems, Made and Remade, responding to William Paley’s writing, is to be published by WordTech Editions in 2014.

My Forthcoming Book and William Paley’s Bridge

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My collection of poems, Made and Remade, about William Paley’s book, Natural Theology, and the famous watch metaphor, has been accepted for publication by WordTech Editions.  In considering ideas for a cover, I came across a picture of a bridge, built in 1796, across the Wear River in Northern England.

Photo: Sunderland Public Libraries / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo: Sunderland Public Libraries / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

William Paley used this bridge as an image for the structure of the ribs in the human body.  He wrote (in 1802):

The manner of it is this: the end of the rib is divided by a middle ridge into two surfaces . . . . Now this is the very contrivance which is employed in the famous iron bridge at my door at Bishop-Wearmouth . . .

The new bridge delighted William Paley as all mechanical devices and constructions did.  He found in many of them analogies to natural forms.

Though new and wonderful to Paley, the bridge has been replaced, but the image still serves to represent Paley’s fascinations and interests. Until a cover is created for Made and Remade (due out in 2014) this image will serve as an icon for the book.

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