What Good Is A Group Like This?
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I don't want to lead the discussion one way or another, but my thought is that people who love art sometimes exist in a wonderful world of the mind but sometimes don't have a chance to connect that much with others. There are conferences like AWP, but I dislike crowds and the expense of going. (I loved AWP Chicago, seeing Cisneros, especially, but I never entered into a deep conversation with anyone there.)
As usual, another writer has expressed my thoughts better. I was leafing through an old copy of SULPHUR RIVER LITERARY REVIEW (ed. James Michael Robbins, Austin, TX), which I have kept a subscription to ever since he published a couple of my pieces in 2000, and ran across this poem by John Humma. Here is an excerpt:
Like all the helpful voices over the years
on the other end of the line,
I ask, "How may I help you?"
I ask the supermarket checker, who looks
stumped and forgets to ring up my beer.
"How may I help you?" I ask the priest,
and he is mystified.
I ask my students, and not one of them knows.
I ask the janitor and he just smiles.
"Sure is a nice day," He says.
I make an appointment with the Dean.
"What is on your mind?" he asks,
without getting up. I say, "How may I help you?"
Excuse me? He asks how long I have been teaching here
then suddenly remembers a meeting he has to get to...
I ask my dog. He puts his head back to be scratched.
I like this poem a lot. We've been so conditioned by our service culture to shirk off any real kind of reaching out.
What is my point. It's in there somewhere.
MAYBE THE POINT IS THAT WE CAN MAKE THIS ANY KIND OF PLACE WE WANT IT TO BE. IMAGINE THE KIND OF PLACE YOU WOULD WANT OR NEED. IN YOUR WILDEST IMAGINATION, WHAT WOULD THAT PLACE BE LIKE? WE CAN MAKE IT.
What i loved most about ragtime is how he worked each of it's stories around the theme of how chance plays such a great part in our lives, how a wagon takes the left turn as opposed to the right and so many lives change ...
but yeah, Jimmy Cagney. and that Robinson guy was pretty great too, although I can't put my finger on a book that became a movie he was in ... go figure.
E. G. Robinson was in The Prize, The Devil and Daniel Webster, The Sea Wolf and others I'm sure.
What about Wallace Beery?
And, I nearly forgot: Jimmy Cagney was in one of my favorite weepers, Mister Roberts, originally a play rather than a book, but if you look I my library, it will attest the value of drama to literature.
When Nick Charles, uh. . .William Powell, The Thin Man reads the letter that announces the death of Mister Roberts in the war he so desperately wanted to get to, it just breaks my heart.
All I can say is, Thank God for Turner Classic Movies.