Category Archives: Arts/Literature

Saturday Video Roundup: kids play the darnedest things…

Good morning, and welcome to this week’s edition of Saturday Video Roundup. I’m your host, Katie Couric.

You might remember last week, when we presented some talented teens laying the smack down on the Electone. Well, JS O’Brien one of my colleagues who shall remain nameless wasn’t all that impressed. He comes from a pretty serious music background, I think, and let us know that there are lots of kids out there who are even more talented. I said if that’s the case, we have a moral obligation to bring them before our readers.

So he hit the YouTubes and brought back some outstanding examples, as promised. Enjoy.

On this first clip, be sure to stick around at least as far as the 3:30 mark.

Continue reading Saturday Video Roundup: kids play the darnedest things…

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VerseDay: The “Song” of Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Not long ago I was bitching about how utterly banal I think a lot of contemporary poetry is. Shortly thereafter I got a note from scrogue JS O’Brien saying he thought I might appreciate a poet he knew a little about, Brigit Pegeen Kelly.

So I hit my Internets and tracked her down. The first poem of hers that I came across is called “Song,” and it’s the title track of her 1995 book. In the spirit of “show, don’t tell,” let me begin by asking you to read it. Continue reading VerseDay: The “Song” of Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Verse Day: an ode to banality and the poetry of consensus

We live in an unfortunate age artistically. There is more freedom than ever, more tools for creation, more outlets to publish and display, but we have largely used this freedom to fetishize banality. The great leveling, as it were – everybody is an artist, everything is poetry.

When I entered my Master’s program at Iowa State the prof who would eventually become my advisor, the estimable Dr. Neal Bowers, told my first poetry workshop that there was no subject unfit for poetry. Steeped in the traditions of the old masters, I guess I recoiled from that idea a bit. Continue reading Verse Day: an ode to banality and the poetry of consensus

VerseDay: The imperative of political poetry

I’m not a political poet. Not for the most part, anyway. I certainly never wanted to be one, and I had been writing for a number of years before this finally happened:

I don’t want to say too much for fear of being misconstrued
or maybe
for fear of being understood all too clearly

so here’s your warning –
flowers sometimes bloom quite literally,
unfurling in the dewfall to kiss
mother sky good morrow.

And sometimes wolves change their sheep
clothes for pinstripes.

Continue reading VerseDay: The imperative of political poetry

VerseDay: The futility of unconventional poetry

I’m a poet. Whether I’m a good one or a bad one is, I suppose, open to debate. But the fundamental fact of my life and career is that the business activities that define my professional existence these days are Plan C, at best. If the world worked the way I wish it did, I’d make my living writing, publishing and teaching poetry. (And ideally, I’d be earning a living wage.)

I thought I was on this track back in the late 1980s, when I entered the Masters program in English at Iowa State University (that’s Iowa State, not the Writer’s Workshop over in Iowa City). During those two years I immersed myself in writing and produced The Rainwater Chronicles, a pretty decent book for a 20-something student. I was on my way. I thought.

But then something happened. Continue reading VerseDay: The futility of unconventional poetry

It Came From Hollywood!

We went to see Once yesterday, and I came to an annoying realization.

First off, let’s get this out of the way: go see this movie right now. I guess it’s a musical, in that a huge portion of the film is conducted in song and that the music is essentially integrated into the narrative. The story is at once deftly simple and richly complex, and if you were unable to understand a single word of the dialogue you’d still get it. Completely. Rarely have I seen a film with quite this much pure heart. A+. Five stars. Run, don’t walk.

Now, to the bigger issue. As I watched this magnificent film, I kept waiting for the “something bad happens.” Continue reading It Came From Hollywood!

The majesty of rock

One of the reasons our mission here at S&R is as broad as it is – our writers address cultural forms like literature and popular music as well as the hardball political issues that directly shape our public lives – emerges in part from my own feeling that too much politics is tough on the soul. It’s necessary, of course, and eminently worthy, but even the good fight leaves an essential part of me hollow. Dry. Barren. So I seek balance between mind and spirit and try to seduce those around me into doing the same.

I’ve been doing a lot of ranting lately about politics and policy, so the part of me that’s been edging toward empty was feeling tremendous anticipation for last night’s Boulder tour stop by VAST. Continue reading The majesty of rock

22 Questions with Jim Booth

I’ve known Jim Booth since August of 1975, when I walked into my freshman English class at Ledford High School and ran headlong into a teacher one of my friends had advised me to avoid (that’s the problem with being 14 – you don’t yet know that your friends are idiots). Booth was different – aggressively different – from any teacher I had ever had, seen, heard about, or even imagined. He was in his early 20s at the time, greatly admired the masters of the British canon, and also played in a rock band (and a darned good band, too, it turned out). And we read stuff that I actually liked – Sherlock Holmes, for instance. I had never enjoyed an English class before. This was all pretty edgy stuff for Ledford.

I’ve gotten to know Jim pretty well through the years (at one point we were even roommates), and was ecstatic to learn recently that these two novels he’s been sitting on for years, Morte d’Eden and The New Southern Gentleman, had been accepted, finally, for publication. I asked Jim if he could find the time to answer 22 questions from the Pit, and he graciously complied.


1: Morte d’Eden has been “finished” since the early ’80s, but during that period it has also undergone some major revision. Can you talk about the process of taking what was originally a book of tightly-related short stories and evolving it into a more coherent novel?

JB: Like most writers, I didn’t know I could write novels until I got started. Most of us who begin writing fiction think we might have enough for a short story, but almost none of us go out of the gate thinking we have a novel coming out. Continue reading 22 Questions with Jim Booth