ENTRY 1295 | JUNE
But we would not
have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep,
that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since
we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through
Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
from Thessalonians 4, from today's
Orthodox lectionary readings
First a few updates about my sojourn and then some thoughts about
poetry following onto last
week's post. Next week, my housemates, Ward and Marda Stothers,
and I are scheduled to be in a remote cottage on a bay on the upper
reaches of County Donegal. It is not, apparently, as remote as many
other spots on this island (and beyond this island to any of many
smaller Irish islands out in the sea), but remote enough that it has
no wifi available, no cell phone connectivity from our providers (it
being in "another country," our UK providers do not have
service there). And it's far enough to any sizeable town that we won't
likely be able to access wifi at a coffee shop or McDonald's; actually
about as remote as where I grew up on Redmill Road. So I won't be
able to send anything between Monday and Friday even if I want to.
(Although it's hard to imagine either Marda or me being able to stay
away from our iPads that long, as we seem tethered to them here in
of today, I am the proud possessor of a senior transit pass, a plastic
card that enables me to get free bus and train tickets all over both
Northern Ireland and the Republic, so I am at last an emancipated
man. I also have a new "favorite" coffee shop that I hope
to visit almost daily in downtown Belfast . . . it's neither a Starbucks
or a Costa's, but the only one I've found that has any type of coffee
(including my new favorite, cappucinos), for a pound, way less than
half price compared with the aforementioned. But it's also a hippy-bohemian-type
of place which has always appealed to me, since my days researching
my book on the hippies, The Youth Revolution, in the late '60s.
And ironically, as such venues were "youth culture" in those
days, most of the patrons here as I write this are much closer my
generation than to the pre-30 one. "Downtown Belfast" is
only about a mile from where I live, but that's longer than I can
comfortably walk in my current arthritic condition.
coffee (even espressos) at £1, Cafe Wah has to be my new favorite
cafe, but the good prices are only one of several reasons. I also
bought my stylin new-old cap at the Young Savage shop in the rear
I have also
found a literary agent willing to look at my second Lewis book with
an eye to trying to interest a publisher in it, so I have been putting
a lot of effort this week into revisiting that manuscript, which I
had not looked at for some time.
turning to my poetry ruminations, though I have been "hating"
Facebook almost from first visiting it, I have to finally relent and
admit that I use it more than I ever thought I wouldit actually
enhances my feeling of "connectedness" so far from many
old friends and family in the statesso I am going to put a link
to my Facebook and my Google+ pages at the bottom of these updates
so you can all see, especially, the photos I'm uploading directly
from my camera-phone. Google+ (pronounced Google-plus), is Google's
answer to Facebook, but less annoying. (I would say "less infuriating,"
but am trying to be nice.)
"Poetry slam," as
I said, was a revelation to me. It was a spoken-word complement to
karaoke, providing an opportunity for creative amateurs to show their
talents to an audience and, possibly, find through it a means of breaking
into acting professionally (probably as long a shot as being offered
a recording contract after a night of karaoke singing, but I'm sure
it can happen and most likely has happened). Though the acting (called
"reading") was more important at the slam than the poems
themselves, it was apparent that better poems generally lend themselves
to better rendering and, thus, better "acting." Obviously,
a poem with a strong message or story brings forth a more emotional
rendition than does a simple haiku or a humorous poem.
I said "I am [now] convinced that poetry can be put to
some good uses that I had barely known of before, and its cultivation
should be nurtured, not discouraged." It's ironicor is
it "fitting"?that I would receive such a revelation
here in Ireland? That's because Ireland has been for centuries the
land of poets; Irish literature is full of poetry and manyuntold
thousands, I dare venture to guesshave played the role of poet
in their neighborhood public houses or even at their backyard barbecues
or family gatherings around the fireplace on winter nights. Cf. Angela's
Ashes. Or do a Dublin or Belfast weekend "pub crawl."
Some only recite (or "read") the poetry of others, but many
thousands also write poems of their own that they share with whatever
audience they can attract. It's not always brilliant or stellarofttimes
it must be painful and even torturedbut it is part of the Irish
character and soul more than just about any other ethnic group. And,
despite the large portion of the Northern Irish population that tries
to drive wedges between them and anything from "the south,"
the Republic of Ireland, it's apparent that Belfast and the suburbs
and exurbs of Ulster share a great deal of that aspiration, that poetry
in their souls. Even C.S. Lewis, the most celebrated and literarily
accomplished Irish Protestant of all, is proof of that.
definition of a poem was that it was the "poor man's song,"
because it is the lyric without the music. That may be as good a definition
as any, especially in the light of poetry slams and the long history
of Irish amateurs reciting their poems in their pubs and their front
rooms. May this trend or fad increase.
§ § §
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Feedback is always welcome.
Today's readings, both together, give hope for being taken to the
Lord in His second coming and being raised in the resurrection. Many
believers, over the millenia since Jesus' ascension, have overremphasized
one teaching at the expense of the other, but God, not willing that
any should perish without the Good News, has been patient and even
though we tend to continue to think as Paul and Peter probably did
that we are in the "last generation," we may be yet another
millenium (or more, or less) from it. Be comforted but keep your hope
in the Lord only.
§ § §
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