This is my 10-year-old granddaughter Phoebe reading a poem I wrote for her. The other day she decided she was going to disprove the existence of the Tooth Fairy. She took her loose tooth out on the sly (apparently) and put it under her pillow without telling anyone about it. The next morning she announced, "The Tooth Fairy doesn't exist!" Phoebe was minus a dollar, but her family was nonplussed, which was what she wanted.
A while earlier, she had written a story which I read. It sounded an awful lot like the fantasies I started writing at about her age, but I never wrote an ending as good as hers, which I think is great:
As a scientist, Phoebe has devised a successful experiment to disprove the existence of the Tooth Fairy; as a writer, she has devised a story ending that is symbolically wholly adult, and she is an artist as well -- the top image is hers:
Needless to say, I am amazed by Phoebe's talents, and I'm as proud of her as I can be.
As soon as I graduated from Meriden High School in 1952 I joined the Navy for two main reasons: Because I was eligible for the draft (the Korean War was going on), and I was sick of going to school and having other people tell me what I had to study. Even if I had wanted to go to college at that point in my life I couldn’t afford it, so I volunteered for the armed service to get the G. I. Bill eventually. I could have put in less time if I had joined the Army, but I didn’t want to spend any time at all crawling around in the mud, so I joined the Navy.
This turned out to be a wonderful idea because the Navy taught me how to touch-type, made me a Yeoman – a clerk – rather than a deck hand, shipped me around the country and then, aboard the aircraft carrier Hornet, around the world, quite literally. My friends all were attending college, but I was engaged in the Grand Tour.
In port Yeomen have lots to do, but at sea there is little to keep them busy, so I spent an amazing amount of time taking correspondence courses in fiction writing and journalism, in reading poetry and 100 classic books (there was a fine library aboard), and teaching myself all about the craft of versewriting. I began sending my work out to the little magazines, and I began to publish in 1953, one year after high school.
In 1956 I was released from active duty and just before I entered the University of Connecticut as a sophomore (I had done enough work in the service to have earned advanced placement), I had my first poem accepted by a major literary magazine, The Sewanee Review, which published it in 1959, the year I graduated from UConn and went for grad school out to the Writers’ Workshop of the University of Iowa. This was the poem (listen to Lewis Turco read his poem) "At Home"
John Hoppenhthaler has asked me to post a definition of the haiku, but there is more complete information on pp. 294-6 of the fourth edition of The Book of Forms. This is part of it:
By various stages the term "haiku" — a corruption and blending of the dissimilar words "hokku" and "haikai" — came to denote an independent tercet of 5-7-5 syllables. The haiku dropped all hankas, glosses, comments, and elaborations. It became a poem which had as its basis emotiveutterance, an image, and certain other characteristics as well, including spareness, condensation, spontaneity, ellipsis, and a seasonal element. A distinction has sometimes been made between the haiku and the senryu, though both have exactly the same external form. The senryu is an inquiry into the nature of humankind, whereas the haiku is an inquiry into the nature of the universe.
On Jan 30, 2014, at 2:40 PM, Gail McMichael (a.k.a. “Gail Le Grá (Facebook Moniker)” <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote me as follows (this is verbatim, without a greeting or other preliminary material, from someone I have never met nor even heard of; however, I found this on the Web:
"Gail Le Gra is a young 58-year-old mother of six. She is a writer and mixed media artist and is also a veteran of the US Army as well as a retired nurse. Gail describes herself as very impulsive and has had a fairly interesting life as she has walked both paths: dark and light. She is not religious but is spiritual and believes in Karma and in random acts of kindness."
Apparently, this is one of her "random acts of kindness:
Gail McMichael: Writing a novel with quite a bit of Celt mythology and wanted to write some poems as Fionn mac [sic] Cumhaill plays a significant role and as he is a file (NOT Bard...God forgive anyone who refers him to a lowly bard!) and want to know if this Casbairdne is satisfactory. Many thanks! Gail McMichael
Nimbus lights a diviner
Bright colours are ignited
While fire is your enshriner
Ash is life deems delighted
A new birth is a pleasure
Your nest on earth or heaven
A second chance, a treasure
Prayer, fire, ash sweet sweven
Purple, red, yellow and rose
Dread not death, the fire you chose
To promise birth from ash you rose
Fly with a clarion close
Lewis Turco: Sorry, Gail, I don't do criticism by mail.
Gail McMichael: Well how do you do it? Telepathically?
Gail McMichael: Holy shite!! Everywhere I go online and put Casbairne in the search box, YOUR name comes up! Gonna have to get that great gem of a book of yours. By the way, I have modified my aforesaid poem. Be well.
Gail McMichael: After much research, I have come across some dialogues, between you and others that you have posted [apparently on my “Poetics and Ruminations” blog]. I found these very abrasive and condescending on your part. You COULD have told me a Casbairdne needs Trisyllabic endings, BUT for whatever reason, you did not tell me this. I think you need a good dose of humility old man and emulate Socrates once in a while ""I know that I know nothing."
Lewis Turco: I don't know you, or who you think you are, but you have bigger brass balls than a statue of King Kong. I owe you nothing, and as you said yourself you could have gotten the information you wanted from The Book of Forms. Why you think complete strangers should be at your beck and call I have no idea.
From Wesli Court’s Epitaphs for the Poets, by Lewis Turco, Baltimore, MD: BrickHouse Books, 2012, paperback, ISBN: 978-1-938144-01-1.
R.I.P. JAMES DICKEY
February 2, 1923 - January 19, 1997
He caught his Muse upon the fly
Which made her howl and start to cry.
His evening dress got wet and sticky —
Thus they buried poor James Dickey.
From Wesli Court’s Epitaphs for the Poets, by Lewis Turco, Baltimore, MD: BrickHouse Books, 2012, paperback, ISBN: 978-1-938144-01-1. Published originally in The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Winter 2007.
Images by Tomie de Paola, all rights reserved 2014.
Wesli Court Self-Interview Wesli Court is interviewed by Lewis Turco about his new collection titled The Gathering of the Elders and Other Poems.
Traveler's Moon Photograph by Adel Gorgy
Three Poems “Domestic Duties Scorecard,” “Leftover Shakespearean Gnomes,” "Tsunami Strait."
The Virginia Quarterly Review "The Mutable Past," a memoir collected in FANTASEERS, A BOOK OF MEMORIES by Lewis Turco of growing up in the 1950s in Meriden, Connecticut, (Scotsdale AZ: Star Cloud Press, 2005).
The Tower Journal Two short stories, "The Demon in the Tree" and "The Substitute Wife," in the spring 2009 issue of Tower Journal.
The Tower Journal Memoir, “Pookah, The Greatest Cat in the History of the World,” Spring-Summer 2010.
The Michigan Quarterly Review This is the first terzanelle ever published, in "The Michigan Quarterly Review" in 1965. It has been gathered in THE COLLECTED LYRICS OF LEWIS TURCO/WESLI COURT, 1953-2004 (www.StarCloudPress.com).
The Gawain Poet An essay on the putative medieval author of "Gawain and the Green Knight" in the summer 2010 issue of Per Contra.
Fenn College - School of Arts & Sciences Lewis Turco's first creative writing class, with Loring Williams (left) and James L. Weil (right): the beginning of The Cleveland State University Poetry Center