Old Moon

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Perspective and Sharing

Lately I've been reading a lot of musings and commentary (not to mention complaints) from writers making valiant attempts to allow Humor (please note the capital H) to take the sting and/or self-pity out of what they are putting out there on the Internet for all to see. These are entertaining, even thought-provoking little essays.

Unfortunately (for me) they really don't do much to make me feel better. The authors have agents, they have been published more than once or twice, they can claim several categories (genres?) within their capabilities. Most of them are younger than my youngest child. It makes the likes of me want to have a small temper tantrum. DON'T THEY REALIZE HOW WELL THEY'RE DOING?

If they're bothering to write blogs about their rejections and trials and discouragements, I'd like to suggest they correspond with me and some of my cohorts to find out how well off they are. I'd be more than happy to correspond by snail or e-mail, by phone or face-t0-face, if we could arrange it, and give a lesson--for no charge--in perspective.

Any responders would have to agree to share their agent's name and interests with someone who could use that information with perhaps more gratitude than they seem to be able to feel!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Looking for a Better Analogy

I just received a much-forwarded email relating a supposed Cherokee tradition/legend. To boil it down, it tells of a rite of passage to manhood for Indian boys.

A boy must spend a night in the woods blindfolded without removing the blindfold until dawn is bright enough to shine through it. He is naturally afraid of many awful possibilities alone in the dark in the forest. When dawn comes, and he removes the blindfold, he sees his father sitting close by, where he has been keeping watch all night to ensure his son's safety.

It's a nice story. It is meant (according to the text that follows) to reassure us that though we can't see God, he is nearby. So, you may ask, what's my problem?

The message is lavishly illustrated with pictures of an Indian boy and his father, and later images of a more venerable native American. What really annoyed me at first was the fact that all the costumes and decorations depicted are those of Plains Indian tribes: breastplate of bird bones, eagle-feather war bonnets, beaded amulet, etc. I doubt if any Cherokee at the time before the Trail of Tears had even imagined such regalia. It seems that is just plain disrespectful--of both tribal groups, and by extension, of anyone outside the author's limited acquaintance.

If we want to use the history of our predecessors on this continent to illustrate Christianity, (if I don't mistake the author's intent) it seems to me that at least we should respect those whose traditions we use to turn into our own allegory. I happen to think that political correctness has become as silly as its absence was insulting. Now we have an example like this one (not the only one I've observed) of an attitude that implies less respect and more ignorance than ninety-nine percent of what we used to see before "PC."

This is quite apart from what might be construed as real hypocrisy in the appropriation of a convenient analogy from a completely different cultural foundation. Why couldn't the person who wanted so much to make a religious point have chosen a more appropriate and honestly respectful basis for the sermon?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Accessible Poetry

Recently I have had the pleasure of reading Glenda Council Beall's new collection of poems, Now Might as Well Be Then. I want to praise it in the most heartfelt way. If you aren't accustomed to the slower pace required for the appreciation of poetry, here is the place to begin to learn how.

These poems are sensuous and rhythmic and graced by lovely diction. Word choices are evocative. The poems are in no way difficult or obscure, and in no way are they simple. Loss, sorrow, humor, regret, joy and more reveal themselves in every one. We recognize and share emotion instantly and understand how the author was feeling about her subject while it was new, and while she was writing about it later.

Academic students of poetry will recognize certain techniques, but thankfully without the need to notice them. From "Summer Ballet in the Piney Woods:" We dressed, and left our innocence in the glade/ of the quiet forest. Metaphor and allegory are available if you like them.

From "My Father's Horse:" ...The horse/ is all we ever share. For he has sons/ and I am just a daughter. The beginning of this poem saves the lines quoted from giving the impression of a hard man. We know it is, as they say today, "what it is," and see the author knew this.

The book's title is the poignant last line in a condensed story of love and nostalgia that contains a whole life as a loved wife. Her loss is implied in a way few readers and no widows will miss.

Read this small book and read it again, unless you're afraid to commit to Poetry with a capital P. Even if you are, this will be just what you need to get over it!