THE THEME OF RESURRECTION
Many authors have pursued the theme of resurrection/rebirth over the years, notably Alexandre Dumas in his famous novel The Count of Monte Cristo. None were more relentless in that pursuit than the man known as O. Henry— probably because his own life was an example of same.
For this Easter we present an O. Henry classic, The Church with an Overshot-Wheel.
Thus, in memory of Aglaia, the old mill was converted into a blessing for the community in which she had once lived. It seemed that the brief life of the child had brought about more good than the three score years and ten of many. But Abram Strong set up yet another monument to her memory.
(Art: “Madonna of the Lilies” by Alphonse Mucha.)
DOES THE WORLD NEED POETRY?
The world right now more than ever needs poetry! We all need a few timeless bards speaking universal truths to take us away from those ills that– literally– plague us.
Today we present one of the best in the person of Frank D. Walsh, who’s been for decades an iconic figure on Philadelphia’s poetry scene. More than this, no one anywhere is a more dedicated student of the craft of, nor fiercer advocate of the necessity for, the magical musical undefinable phenomenon known as poetry.
We’re fortunate to present at this site a fragment of one of his works– “Spectre of the Rose”— BUT, you’ll be pleased to know, we’ll soon, perhaps in a couple weeks, be presenting more of it, inside a demo of a lit journal/print zine hybrid we call a “zeen.” Stay tuned for that. In the interim, dive into Walsh’s poetry. . . .
I have raked in your ashes
from the kiln of love gone cold
and dared your thorns,
and whirlwind of lips but
the gun sounded or time summoned
me to the arcade of its shrine;
still you arranged sanctuary for my kind.
ALSO, check out our new “Pop Quiz” Q & A, this one with talented young writer Fran-Claire Kenney. We’re out to locate and spotlight new literary talent before anyone else.
(Art: “The Bard” by Thomas Jones.)
CLASSIC SHORT STORY LITERARY ART
Someone referred to our recent presentation of an Edgar Allan Poe plague story as “old pop lit.” Well, it is. Writers should recognize the history of their art. We recognize the history of pop literature. In particular, the pop short story, which long before hit records became the rage was the popular American art form.
HOW did it become that?
Because short story writers were able to make an emotional connection with readers, in the same way pop singers today make an emotional connection with their fans.
One of the masters of the American short story was Poe. Another was the man known as O. Henry, who during his brief career became the most popular story writer of them all.
One of O. Henry’s masterpieces is “The Last Leaf,” which we present, in these challenging times, as our feature. The tale is about disease sweeping through a city– but it’s also about love, friendship, and hope.
The setting? A bohemian neighborhood in New York. The characters? Two young artists and an older artist who lives beneath them. All are participants in that era’s version of the gig economy– and so are uniquely vulnerable to the hostile swings of misfortune. As fragile humanity is vulnerable, in our time, or in any time.
In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the doctors called. Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores, but his feet trod slowly through the maze of the narrow and moss-grown “places.”
(Art: “Park Street Church in Winter” by Arthur Clifton Goodwin; “New York” by George Bellows.)
ON CORONAS AND CONTAGIOUS MUSIC
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s an unusual St. Paddy’s Day because of the fear the hysteria the caution protection prevention over a bug, so the parades are fewer, the parties calmer, celebration muted. This year. Unless there’s a final wild-and-masque’d Edgar Poe blowout someplace.
APPROPRIATE then that we have as our new feature a short story, “Townies” by Philip Charter, about six friends traveling to Majorca to party. And party they do.
But what awaits them?
A contagion, yes, but a contagion of a different sort. Not a virus, but having something to do with music and sex.
READ IT! drink it inhale it as you quarantine yourself against the onslaughts of panic and madness.
Within one minute of Gavin fading in the music, the dance floor was covered. It was as if the beat was ripping girls out of their seats, me included. The boys of course followed.
(Painting: “Party” by Emil Nolde.)
Everyone is talking about it so we thought we’d post it– one of the best short stories ever written, “Masque of the Red Death” by that master of pop writing, Edgar Allan Poe.
The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to think.
Strangely enough, our previous feature story, “Cracks“ by Wilson Koewing, was about masks (at Mardis Gras), and our next feature– due next week, by Philip Charter— is about partying. A different sort of partying– or is it?
(Painting: “Soldier at a Game of Chess” by Jean Metzinger.)
WHO ARE THE BEST NEW WRITERS?
We are going on a more relaxed posting schedule in the next so-many weeks, so we can focus on our behind-the-scenes activities.
-Creating a few print-zeen prototypes. The most ambitious aspect of the New Pop Lit project.
-Further development of our version of the “3-D” multidimensional story.
-Increased emphasis on locating striking new writing talent– with the proviso that talent isn’t enough. We seek ability to adapt to our artistic ideas of pop clarity and energy, as well as charismatic attributes.
Will we be staging an “NPL Combine” to access the best indie writers on today’s literary scene? Possibly!
We’re looking for the Billie Eilish of the literary world. Talent and pop attitude. If you’re that person, get in touch!
IN THE MEANTIME, we have much terrific writing upcoming– including a new fiction feature, more “Pop Quiz” Q & A’s, and for April, poetry and poetry-themed prose for this year’s Poetry Month. THEN, more excellent fiction. Not to miss.
(Art: “The Bach Singer” by Johannes Itten; “Portrait of Jean Metzinger” by Robert Delaunay.)
OUR OP-ED PAGE RETURNS
We are a free speech literary site. Which means an ability and willingness to express dissenting opinions. This includes dissenting opinions about literature.
TODAY we bring back our opinion page as an outlet, we hope, for a variety of opinions and criticism from all directions about today’s literary world and the products of that world. Starting with a biting review by G.D. Dess of Ben Lerner’s much-hyped novel, The Topeka School.
Holden’s voice echoes in your mind long after you put down the novel, whereas Adam’s voice becomes inaudible the minute you turn the last page.
(Art: “Brooklyn Bridge” by Joseph Stella, created 100 years ago.)
A MARDI GRAS STORY
Great 19th century novelists such as Victor Hugo, Charlotte Bronte, and Alexandre Dumas would often put a big scene of a carnival parade into their books. The feeling of uninhibited revelry, chaos, even madness was a way of heightening emotion and consolidating plot threads– as if the true hidden nature of their characters came out– came alive– amid the colors, music, drinking and shouting.
WE HAVE today in time for Mardi Gras 2020 a short story centered around carnival time in New Orleans, and it’s a good one: “Cracks” by Wilson Koewing. The story of course is about more than a parade. It’s about a relationship– more, it’s about life, about love, about being human and filled with the kind of chaotic mad emotions we flawed creatures are prone to. Put on your Mardi Gras mask and plunge in.
As we close in on St. Charles, the din of the crowd materializes. Carnival food smells ride on the breeze. You sense the impending madness. It rushes slowly, not towards you. You enter. It surrounds you. And you’re inside. There is a wall, and when it envelops you, there is no escape.
(ART: “The Peacock” by Natalia Goncharova.)
“Q & A” by Alan Swyer, our new feature, is an intriguing short story– it appears to be about one thing but is actually about something else, which adds a rounded quality to the work. A sense of dimension or depth.
Ostensibly the story is about a filmmaker agreeing to answer questions in a hostile environment. What happens when he steps on the stage to face that audience?
We hope you enjoy it.
Nor had a lengthy call with the festival’s program director put Donner’s mind at ease. “I like work that’s edgy and biting,” Todd Gallagher explained, which for Donner confirmed that his film was chosen with the hope that it would provoke. That belief was heightened when Gallagher added, “There’s nothing I love as much as a violent collision of cultures.”
(While you’re at it, please check out our two most recent blog posts: “Love Story Examined: A Writing Template” and “Miserable Love Stories by Alex Bernstein.”)
(Art: “Odysseus in the Land of the Dead” by N.C. Wyeth.)
THE SEARCH FOR LOVE
We all need it, we all want it, and those who’ve rejected the concept have built iron walls around their hearts to keep it out– so deadly to them is the fear of not being loved. Cynicism masks a thousand heartaches.
OUR ONLY ADVICE is: keep trying. The right person is out there for everyone, sometimes discovered when you’re not watching.
Is this the message of our new feature story, “A Wild Feeling” by Anne Leigh Parrish?
Well, kind of. . . .
He asks where love goes. She doesn’t know. She’s never known. Out there somewhere, with the waves and the sand. Maybe that’s what the gulls sing about every day, as they glide aloft.
(Art: “Large Poppies” and “In the Lemon Grove” by Emil Nolde.)