Friday, December 21, 2012

Yes, Virginia

Each Christmas I like to revisit the following essay from the The Sun. My grandmother read it to me many years ago. I've always remembered it. If you don't already know this piece, I hope you'll enjoy it. I also hope you'll have a Merry Christmas if that's what you're celebrating. And I hope you'll have a wonderful New Year. Thank you for being a Blogalicious reader. And a special thank-you to all who have supported my poetry this past year.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's The Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial September 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

Here's Virginia's letter:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."

Here's the reply:

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Eating Poetry

I love literary food blogs. So I am very pleased that food blogger and writer Nicole Gulotta recently featured my poem, Blueberry, at her site, Eat This Poem. The site is fairly new but already includes an impressive list of poets, such as Jane Hirshfield, Li-Young Lee, Louise Gluck, and Jane Kenyon. You will find a delicious variety of poets and poems at the site.

But wait! There's more. Nicole includes a thoughtful discussion of each featured poem, stunning photos, and an appropriate recipe with a mouth-watering photo of the prepared dish. My poem is accompanied by a recipe for Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes, a recipe inspired by Nicole's memory of her grandmother.

Please pay a visit to the feature. Then also, if you're on Facebook (and who isn't?), go there and Like the Eat This Poem page. You can also subscribe to Nicole's email newsletter at the website.


Here are a few other literary food blogs to check out:

Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.

Jonelle Galloway's The Rambling Epicure.
While at The Rambling Epicure, be sure to check out the ongoing feature, Food Poetry.

Not a blog but the online journal, Alimentum, is another good place to visit. Considers previously unpublished food poetry.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Perfect Gift and Just in Time

Shafiq Naz has again published the Alhambra Poetry Desk Calendar. I can't think of a more perfect holiday gift, for poets and non-poets alike.

The calendar includes a poem for each day of the year. You will find more than 300 poets, classic and contemporary. Many poems are accompanied by commentary from their poets. This is a great combination desk calendar and anthology.

The price is $29.95

The best place to purchase the Alhambra Poetry Calendar 2013 is at the Academy of American Poets online store.

My poem, "Linguini," is nestled among poems by the following poets:

DICK ALLEN * MONIZA ALVI * NIN ANDREWS * ANONYMOUS * TALVIKKI ANSEL * RAE ARMANTROUT * MATTHEW ARNOLD * ROBERT BAGG * DAVID BAKER * CHRISTIANNE BALK * MARY JO BANG * JANE BARKER * WILLIAM BARNES * ELLEN BASS * DAN BEACHY-QUICK * THOMAS LOVELL BEDDOES * JACK B. BEDELL *AMY BEEDER * APHRA BEHN * CHARLES BERNSTEIN * AMBROSE BIERCE * LINDA BIERDS * DAVID BIESPIEL * SOPHIE CABOT BLACK * WILLIAM BLAKE * ADRIAN BLEVINS * ROBERT BLY * STEPHANIE BOLSTER * BRUCE BOND * TODD BOSS * WILLIAM LISLE BOWLES * ROBERT BRIDGES * GEOFFREY BROCK * CHARLOTTE BRONTË * EMILY BRONTË * RUPERT BROOKE * JOEL BROUWER * WILLIAM BROWNE * ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING * ROBERT BROWNING * WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT * COLETTE BRYCE * JOHN BUNYAN * ROBERT BURNS * KATHRYN STRIPLING BYER * THOMAS CAMPION * VAHNI CAPILDEO * CAROLINE CARVER * CHRISTINE CASSON * ANN CEFOLA * GEORGE CHAPMAN * THOMAS CHATTERTON * GEOFFREY CHAUCER * G. K. CHESTERTON * JOHN CLARE * ANDREA COHEN * SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE * MORTIMER COLLINS * CALLY CONAN-DAVIES * DAVID CONSTANTINE * WILLIAM JOHNSON CORY * ABRAHAM COWLEY * WILLIAM COWPER * GEORGE CRABBE * HART CRANE * STEPHEN CRANE * RICHARD CRASHAW * SAMUEL DANIEL * JOHN DAVIDSON * SIR JOHN DAVIES * JOHN DAVIES OF HEREFORD * W. H. DAVIES * JON DAVIS * DANIEL DEFOE * GREG DELANTY * SIR JOHN DENHAM * CARL DENNIS * TOI DERRICOTTE * EMILY DICKINSON * FRED DINGS * GREGORY DJANIKIAN * JOHN DONNE * ERNEST DOWSON * MICHAEL DRAYTON * JOHN DRYDEN * SASHA DUGDALE * DENISE DUHAMEL * IAN DUHIG * STEPHEN DUNN * STUART DYBEK * SIR EDWARD DYER * GEORGE ELIOT * ALISTAIR ELLIOT * RALPH WALDO EMERSON * EDWARD FIELD * ANNE FINCH, COUNTESS OF WINCHILSEA * ANNIE FINCH * JOHN FLETCHER * WILLIAM FOWLER * CAROL FROST * ROBERT FROST * JOHN FULLER * ALICE FULTON * JOHN GAY * DOREEN GILDROY * MARIA MAZZIOTTI GILLAN * DANA GIOIA * BARNABE GOOGE * GEORGE GORDON, LORD BYRON * THOMAS GRAY * JESSICA GREENBAUM * LINDA GREGERSON * EAMON GRENNAN * KELLE GROOM * IVOR GURNEY * MARILYN HACKER * RACHEL HADAS * KIMIKO HAHN * SASKIA HAMILTON * SOPHIE HANNAH * THOMAS HARDY * JOY HARJO * JAMES HARMS * DAVID HARSENT * DOLORES HAYDEN * WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY * JOHN HENNESSY * HENRY VIII, KING OF ENGLAND * GEORGE HERBERT* MARY SIDNEY HERBERT * DAVID HERNANDEZ * ROBERT HERRICK * BOB HICOK * BRENDA HILLMAN *  EDWARD HIRSCH * JANE HIRSHFIELD * H. L. HIX * TONY HOAGLAND * RICHARD HOFFMANN * THOMAS HOOD * PAUL HOOVER * GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS * JOHN HOPPENTHALER * A. E. HOUSMAN * HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY * ANDREW HUDGINS * GLYN HUGHES * T. E. HULME * MARIA HUMMEL LEIGH HUNT * MARK IRWIN * HELEN IVORY * AMANDA JERNIGAN * JAMES WELDON JOHNSON * LIONEL JOHNSON * SAMUEL JOHNSON * DEVIN JOHNSTON * LIBBY FALK JONES * BEN JONSON * JAMES JOYCE * MARILYN KALLET * LAURA KASISCHKE * JOHN KEATS * X. J. KENNEDY * WAQAS KHWAJA JOHN KINSELLA * SUSAN KINSOLVING * RUDYARD KIPLING * DEBORAH LANDAU * WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR * D. H. LAWRENCE * SYDNEY LEA * EDWARD LEAR * ELEANOR LERMAN * PHILLIS LEVIN * TIM LIARDET * SARAH LINDSAY * DIANE LOCKWARD * WILLIAM LOGAN * HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW * RICHARD LOVELACE * AMY LOWELL * JOHN LYLY * AMIT MAJMUDAR * RANDALL MANN * CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE  * ANDREW MARVELL * JOHN MASEFIELD * DAVID MASON * EDGAR LEE MASTERS * CLEOPATRA MATHIS * JOHN MATTHIAS * GARDNER MCFALL * JOSHUA MEHIGAN * HERMAN MELVILLE * GEORGE MEREDITH * RICHARD MICHELSON * JOHN MILTON * ROBERT MINHINNICK * CAROL MOLDAW * LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU * ELIZABETH MOODY * THOMAS MOORE * WILLIAM MORRIS * PAUL MULDOON * THOMAS NASHE * WILLIAM NEW * RICHARD NEWMAN * AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHIL * BARBARA NICKEL * EDWARD NOBLES * MARY NOONAN * CHRISTOPHER NORTH * KATHERINE NORTHROP * D. NURKSE * NAOMI SHIHAB NYE * JOHN BOYLE O’REILLY * WILFRED OWEN * ERIC PANKEY * JAY PARINI * ELISE PARTRIDGE * LINDA PASTAN * COVENTRY PATMORE * MOLLY PEACOCK * WALTER PATER * GEORGE PEELE * PASCALE PETIT * ROBERT PINSKY * DONALD O. PLATT * EDGAR ALLAN POE * ALEXANDER POPE * D. A. POWELL * MATTHEW PRIOR * ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER * SIMON RAE * SIR WALTER RALEIGH * JAMES RICHARDSON * ATSURO RILEY * ROBIN ROBERTSON * EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON * PETER ROBINSON * PADRAIG ROONEY * ISAAC ROSENBERG * J. ALLYN ROSSER * CHRISTINA ROSSETTI * DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI * MICHAEL RYAN * LAWRENCE SAIL * FIONA SAMPSON * CARL SANDBERG * REG SANER * GEORGE SANTAYANA * ROBERT SAXTON * GRACE SCHULMAN * SIR WALTER SCOTT * SIR CHARLES SEDLEY * WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE * RAVI SHANKAR * DON SHARE * PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY * ANDREW SHIELDS * VIVIAN SHIPLEY * ROBERT SOUTHEY * PENELOPE SHUTTLE * SIR PHILIP SIDNEY * JOHN SKELTON * ED SKOOG * TOM SLEIGH BRUCE SMITH * CHARLOTTE SMITH * LISA RUSS SPAAR * EDMUND SPENSER * ELIZABETH SPIRES * A. E. STALLINGS * ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON * DABNEY STUART * MATTHEW SWEENEY * JONATHAN SWIFT * ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE * J. M. SYNGE * ARTHUR SZE * GEORGE SZIRTES * MARILYN L. TAYLOR * SARA TEASDALE * ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON * WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY * EDWARD THOMAS * JAMES THOMSON * ADAM THORPE * RICHARD TILLINGHAST * DANIEL TOBIN * BRIAN TURNER * MARK TWAIN * WENDY VIDELOCK * KEITH WALDORP * SUE WALKER * EDMUND WALLER * ROSANNA WARREN * MICHAEL WATERS * WALT WHITMAN * OSCAR WILDE * JOHN WILMOT, EARL OF ROCHESTER * ELEANOR WILNER * TERRI WITEK * CECILIA WOLOCH * WILLIAM WORDSWORTH * BARON WORMSER * ROBERT WRIGLEY * MARY WROTH * SIR THOMAS WYATT * ELINOR WYLIE * WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS * STEPHEN YENSER * GARY YOUNG * MATTHEW ZAPRUDER *

New this year is a calendar for young readers. Here, too, there's a poem for every day of the year. Poems are by more than 200 poets. What a wonderful way to instill a love of poetry in young readers! At year's end, the calendar can be saved as an anthology.

The price is $22.95.

The Poetry Calendar for Young Readers 2013 is also available at the Academy of American Poets online store.

These are serious poems, ones written for adult readers but holding appeal for young readers.

My poem, "Blueberry," finds itself hanging out with poems by the following poets:

THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH * DICK ALLEN * WILLIAM ALLINGHAM * WALTER ANCARROW * NIN ANDREWS * ANONYMOUS * MATTHEW ARNOLD * DAVID BAKER * CHRISTIANNE BALK * MARY JO BANG * THOMAS BASTARD * DAN BEACHY-QUICK * JACK B. BEDELL * THOMAS LOVELL BEDDOES * HENRY CHARLES BEECHING * HILAIRE BELLOC * MARGARET BETHAM-EDWARDS * WILLIAM BLAKE * STEPHANIE BOLSTER * ANNE BRADSTREET * GEOFFREY BROCK * EMILY BRONTË *RUPERT BROOKE * TOM BROWN * ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING * ROBERT BROWNING * JOHN BUNYAN * ROBERT BURNS * KATHRYN STRIPLING BYER * BLISS CARMAN * LEWIS CARROLL * CAROLINE CARVER * ANN CEFOLA * G. K. CHESTERTON * COLLEY CIBBER * JOHN CLARE * SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE * SARA COLERIDGE * CALLY CONAN-DAVIES * HELEN GRAY CONE * GEORGE COOPER * RICHARD CORBET * WILLIAM COWPER * STEPHEN CRANE * W. H. DAVIES * CHARLES DICKENS * EMILY DICKINSON * GREGORY DJANIKIAN * JOHN DONNE * LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS * ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE * SASHA DUGDALE * PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR * GEORGE ELIOT * RALPH WALDO EMERSON * EDWARD FIELD * JAMES THOMAS FIELDS * ANNIE FINCH * JAMES ELROY FLECKER * ROBERT FROST * JOHN FULLER * ALICE FULTON OLIVER GOLDSMITH * GEORGE GORDON, LORD BYRON * KENNETH GRAHAME * KIMIKO HAHN * THOMAS HARDY * JAMES HARMS * DAVID HARSENT * FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS * JOHN HENNESSY * GEORGE HERBERT * DAVID HERNANDEZ * ROBERT HERRICK * WILLIAM HICKSON * EDWARD HIRSCH * HEINRICH HOFFMANN * THOMAS HOOD * PAUL HOOVER * GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS * JOHN HOPPENTHALER * A. E. HOUSMAN * RICHARD HOVEY * HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY * ANDREW HUDGINS * T. E. HULME * LEIGH HUNT * HELEN IVORY * HELEN HUNT JACKSON * AMANDA JERNIGAN * LIBBY FALK JONES * BEN JONSON * JAMES JOYCE * JOHN KEATS * X. J. KENNEDY * JOYCE KILMER * CHARLES KINGSLEY * SUSAN KINSOLVING * RUDYARD KIPLING * CHARLES LAMB * MARY LAMB * WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR * D. H. LAWRENCE * EMMA LAZARUS * EDWARD LEAR * ELEANOR LERMAN * PHILLIS LEVIN * VACHEL LINDSAY * DIANE LOCKWARD * HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW * JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL * JOHN LYLY * AMIT MAJMUDAR * KATHERINE MANSFIELD * WALTER DE LA MARE * CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE * JOHN MASEFIELD * DAVID MASON * JOEL MCCREA * GARDNER MCFALL * JOSHUA MEHIGAN * HERMAN MELVILLE * RICHARD MICHELSON * EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY * JOHN MILTON * CAROL MOLDAW * EDITH NESBIT * WILLIAM NEW * SIR HENRY NEWBOLT * RICHARD NEWMAN * AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHIL * BARBARA NICKEL * EDWARD NOBLES * CHRISTOPHER NORTH * ALFRED NOYES * NAOMI SHIHAB NYE * JOHN O’KEEFE * OTTÓ ORBÁN * ELISE PARTRIDGE * LINDA PASTAN * COVENTRY PATMORE * MOLLY PEACOCK * JOSEPHINE PRESTON PEABODY * HUGH PETERS * MARJORIE PICKTHALL * DONALD O. PLATT * EDGAR ALLAN POE * ALEXANDER POPE * SIMON RAE * SIR WALTER RALEIGH * SIR WALTER A. RALEIGH * WILLIAM BRIGHTY RANDS * JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY * PADRAIG ROONEY * CHRISTINA ROSSETTI * DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI * MICHAEL RYAN * LAWRENCE SAIL * CARL SANDBERG * JOHN GODFREY SAXE * SIR WALTER SCOTT * SIR CHARLES SEDLEY * ALAN SEEGER * WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE * PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY * ANDREW SHIELDS * SIR PHILIP SIDNEY * EDWARD ROLAND SILL * ROBERT SOUTHEY * EDMUND SPENSER * ELIZABETH SPIRES * A. E. STALLINGS * ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON * DABNEY STUART * MATTHEW SWEENEY * ARTHUR SZE * ERNÖ SZÉP * GEORGE SZIRTES * JANE TAYLOR * MARILYN L. TAYLOR * SARA TEASDALE * ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON * WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY * EDWARD THOMAS * ADAM THORPE * DANIEL TOBIN * MICHAEL WATERS * ISAAC WATTS * SÁNDOR WEÖRES * WALT WHITMAN * JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER *ELLA WHEELER WILCOX * JOHN WILMOT, EARL OF ROCHESTER * ELEANOR WILNER * TERRI WITEK * WILLIAM WORDSWORTH * SIR THOMAS WYATT * ELINOR WYLIE * WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS * GARY YOUNG * MATTHEW ZAPRUDER * ZOLTÁN ZELK

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

True Crimes and Misdemeanors

Click Cover for Amazon
I'm a big fan of true crime books. Not mystery books. I want the real thing. I'm sure most people would find this predilection out of character and I admit I've wondered about it myself. Is there something wrong with me, something ghoulish? I've even written a poem about it, Why I Read True Crime Books, a sestina, of all things, a form that I wrestled with for months. 

So when I heard that Joe McGinniss had a new book in progress, my ears perked up. This new work is of double interest to me because it's being released in serial form. McGinniss says the old way of publishing books is on its way out. Of course, publication by serialization isn't new; it's an old method resurrected. Charles Dickens, for one, published his novels chapter by chapter in magazines and newspapers. This "new" way seems ideal for people who love their Kindles. And while some of us might feel frustrated and impatient waiting for the next installment, don't we already do that for TV series?

The series title is 15 Gothic Street which is the address of a courthouse in Boston. That's the setting where each episode, a criminal trial, takes place. My impression, then, is that each episode will be self-contained. Each episode gets its own title. The first is "Primitive," which sells for $.99. The second episode is "The Human Circus," which is now available and sells for $2.99. It looks like subsequent episodes will be released at 2-3 month intervals. At the completion of the series, McGinniss plans to release the entire book in traditional book form. I wonder if this will boost sales?

The work is published by Byliner Serials. The press offers this description of their work: "Byliner commissions, collects, and curates quick-read stories from the world's best writers." Visit the website for a list of the authors on board. Apparently, getting on board is by invitation only. I wonder if this will start a hot trend?

I also wonder if this could translate to poetry. How would you price a single poem? Just think, as I often do, if a poetry book contains 40 poems and sells for $15, the poems are going for less than $.40 a piece. And yet how many people shell out money for novels but won't do the same for poetry books? Surely, a poetry book is one of the best bargains around, especially considering that the poems so often bear repeated readings.

So let me end with a reminder that the perfect holiday gift is a poetry book. Let's all buy at least one poetry book for someone we care about. It would be a crime not to.
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