The First Folios II

I’m a lifelong Shakespeare fan. When I met my sister Pam in London, I’d already gotten us tickets for two of his plays. And once I saw a First Folio of The Tempest at the National Maritime Museum, I was on a mission. In the next ten days, I wanted to track down as many Folio Editions as possible….

We didn’t know it, but it was ‘Folio Season’ (4th March to 8th November). The year 2023 was the 400th anniversary of the printing of the First Folio which brought together 23 of the Bard’s plays. Talk about perfect timing to visit London and go on a Shakespeare hunt!

We saw both Macbeth and As You Like It in London and the Globe Theater displayed the ‘Munro’ copy in their main foyer. It was a pleasure to see the anonymous owner had made the copy available for the public to view.

The V&A Museum owns three copies of the First Folio. The V&A’s obsession with collecting (the Victorian “I want!” compulsion, we called it) proved too much for us. Pam and I made it to the room with their folio editions, admired them, and fled.

Image courtesy of the British Library website. Link provided in the NOTES

But the British Library displays copies of all the Folios (First, Second, Third and Fourth) in their superb Treasures Room. The Library was down the street from our hotel; this meant we were able to visit twice and take our time examining the cases with their rare copies of Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, the Brontë sisters’ teeny tiny book (it fits in a palm), Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, original notebook pages of song texts by the Beatles, the Magna Carta, and so much more.

It’s free to visit! Go! The Bard and I would approve!

PROSPERO

Sir, I invite your highness and your train
To my poor cell, where you shall take your rest
For this one night; which, part of it, I’ll waste
With such discourse as, I not doubt, shall make it
Go quick away; the story of my life
And the particular accidents gone by
Since I came to this isle: and in the morn
I’ll bring you to your ship and so to Naples,
Where I have hope to see the nuptial
Of these our dear-beloved solemnized;
And thence retire me to my Milan, where
Every third thought shall be my grave.

NOTES: “On 25 March 1616, Shakespeare revised and signed his will. On 23 April, his presumed birthday, he died, aged 52. On 25 April, he was buried at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.”The Royal Shakespeare Company.©2024 Jadi Campbell. Click here for more on British Library Treasures. For Uwe’s photos from our trips and his photography, go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

The First Folios

Fanatical Fan of First Folios ?

That’s me….

I’m in love with Shakespeare. [1] It all began with going to a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as children. The college show was sold-out, SRO. Or, in my sister Pam’s and my cases, sitting room only. The adults sat us on the edge of the stage and I remember watching spellbound. We were hit by the dew drops that Puck sprinkled on Titania and the hapless lovers, and I’ve been love with the Bard ever since.

Heading to London last September to meet Pam meant we were going to be busy. Pam’s wish list was long and broad. Mine was too, but the #1 item on my list was this: Make a pilgrimage to the National Maritime Museum and  the first folio of The Tempest they were exhibiting as part of the First Folio’s 400th birthday!

The exhibit The Tempest and the Thames: Shakespeare’s First Folio was closing a few days after our arrival, and my lovely sister agreed that we could head there before we did anything else in London…

Pammy snapped photos of me pointing in glee at the First Folio edition lent to the museum by Dulwich College. I made a point of leaning over the glass case and read aloud from the pages the curators had opened the folio to.  It begins with a terrible storm:

ACT I

SCENE II. The island. Before PROSPERO’S cell.

Enter PROSPERO and MIRANDA

MIRANDA

If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin’s cheek,
Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer: a brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her,
Dash’d all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart. Poor souls, they perish’d.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere
It should the good ship so have swallow’d and
The fraughting souls within her.

PROSPERO

Be collected:
No more amazement: tell your piteous heart
There’s no harm done.

It was an emotional experience for me. I swear my eyes were filling with tears by the time I finished reading out loud from a manuscript of a play performed 400 years ago.

Reading from a First Folio went from being a thrill to an obsession. I decided to track down as many folios as time allowed.

Part II to follow!

NOTES: [1] I mentioned this fact in a post I titled Meet the One-Tracks. And today is William Shakespeare’s birthday. The Immortal Bard would be 459 years young today. He and his works haven’t aged a bit. ©2024 Jadi Campbell. For Uwe’s photos from our trips and his photography, go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

The Green Under the Snow

THEMA Literary Journal’s new issue Help From a Stranger features my short story The Green Under the Snow. This story is from my collection The Trail Back Out.

Here is their mission statement: “THEMA, the theme-related journal, has three goals. One is to provide a stimulating forum for established and emerging literary and visual artists. The second is to serve as source material and inspiration for teachers of creative writing. The third is to provide readers with a unique and entertaining collection of stories, poems, art and photography.”

THEMA was born in 1988 and is used by university writing programs across the USA.

To see more and order issues, here is a link to their website:  https://themaliterarysociety.com/

I’m one proud author and deeply honored THEMA accepted my story!

NOTES: ©2024 Jadi Campbell.

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was long listed for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe’s Banned Book

Author Chinua Achebe was born on November 16, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. He remains one of world literature’s most important African writers, widely read and studied.  When it first appeared, Things Fall Apart was banned in Malaysia and Nigeria. In my first year of college I read this devastating book. I recently reread it, and would like to think that our world has grown more aware of the destruction colonization brings. But attacks on books and ideas have only increased; Things Fall Apart was challenged by schools in Texas.

In honor of Chinua Achebe,  here is the post I wrote for Banned Books Week. – Jadi

I’d been warned: the 5-Star reviews couldn’t last forever. “Be prepared,” people cautioned me. “Trolls are out there and sooner or later one of them will pan a book. It’s going to be ugly.” I don’t check for reviews on Amazon much as I take the long view. Writing a book is a slow process, and building up a list of reviews can take a while. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to receive consistently solid, glowing reviews.

Until now.

I got my first 1-Star review. The German guy says Tsunami Cowboys is the worst book he’d ever read. He didn’t finish it. And, after page 56, HE BURNED IT.

WTF? Really?? In the 21st century, people are still burning books?!?

I went into shock. I was horrified. Shaken. Ashamed, even. In my worst nightmares, I never ever ever imagined someone would actually destroy my words like this. Until now, it was beyond my powers of imagination.

I got out a copy of the book. What could possibly be so offensive? I opened to page 56 and the peak of a chapter in which Coreen, one of the main characters, is trapped in a cult and can’t get out.

Ok…. Maybe the troll was upset by the topic. I sure was; that’s why I wrote about it. If he’d made it to the end of the book he would have learned the following: I’m religious. I believe in God. My heroine’s story continues well past the page where he stopped reading.

If he’d bothered with the author’s Afterword, he’d have learned my personal reasons for even including this thread in my book.

I’m appalled that someone would be so hateful. I questioned everything I am doing as a writer, and worried about the consequences of exercising my voice. Then I remembered: I just went to a high school reunion. It was a fantastic weekend spent seeing wonderful people again. By far one of the most lovely is a woman who was a missionary.

She’s read my books. At the reunion, she made a point of telling me that the story of Coreen and the cult disconcerted her, and she had to put Tsunami Cowboys down for a while. It hit a little too close to home. But, she said, she picked it back up a few months later, read it to the end, and liked the story I told very much.

So that reassures me.

Words contain a lot of power, more than we realize. My encounter with the troll really brings that realization home to me, and in the future I will pay closer attention. His other reviews have the same ugly caustic tone, so I’m not alone. I’m not sure if that makes me feel better, or worse.

As my dear writer buddy Nancy Carroll remarked: “You’re now in good company, Jadi. Think of the books that have been burned through the ages.”

Indeed.

Think about them.

In memory of Chinua Ochibe, 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013

NOTES: [1] https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/. Books by authors of color continue to be challenged and censored. Top 10 Banned Books that Changed the Face of Black History P.S. The trolls reviews have all been taken down! © Jadi Campbell 2023. Previously published as Someone Burned My Book. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

My  burned book Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Today’s Birthday: Abraham Stoker

Author Bram Stoker was born on November 8, 1847 in Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland. In 1897 Stoker gave the world Dracula, the vampire from Transylvania. Undead, the vampire must drink blood and transforms himself into a wolf or a bat at will.  In Stoker’s honor here is an excerpt from my first book, about the 2,000,000 wrinkle-lips bats Uwe and I saw when we visited Thailand. – Jadi

Gabe had seen places, either accompanied by a friend or alone, that were magic. All the hardships of individual travel had been amply rewarded as he stood with the driver and guide and watched while millions of wrinkle-lipped bats flew from a cave on a hill in central Thailand.

ThaiBats It was dusk when the car came to a stop on a plain with no one in sight, the sun a bright red disk sailing below the horizon. Gabe got out of the car just as the first bats emerged from the cave.

ThaiBats2These were followed by more, and more, and more, an impossible number of flying mammals swooping and looping in ribbons across the skies.

ThaiBats9 “Each bat will cover up to 200 kilometers of hunting grounds tonight before they’re done,” the guide told him.

Gabe heard them calling to one another, the rustle of millions of wings unlike anything he’d ever experienced. His view across the plain was filled with the streams of flying creatures dark against the crimson of the deepening night sky.

ThaiBats3ThaiBats7There was not a single other human being anywhere, no buildings, no roads, no signs of human civilization, only the twisting spirals of the bat colony in the air.

ThaiBats4The men stood for over two hours as the bats sailed overhead. Gabe waited until it was too dark to make out the shapes of the bats before he turned away, images of flight burned onto his retinas and his memory.

– from the chapter “Waiting” in Broken In: A Novel in Stories

In memory of Bram Stoker, 8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912

NOTES: ©2013 Jadi Campbell. Previously published as 2,000,000 Wrinkle-lipped Bats. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Story collection featuring Cranberry Lake wins award

I was interviewed recently by Adam Atkinson at North Country Now. He wrote a beautiful article. Click on the link to read about one of the most remote and serene places I’ve ever spent time in.

Source: Story collection featuring Cranberry Lake wins award

Epistemic Literary is Born

A brand new literary magazine has begun: Epistemic Literary. You can read an excerpt from my newly finished novel The Taste of Your Name, Food is Love, in their first issue.

I’m honored my work was chosen to appear in this magazine. It’s free, and a labor of love. I hope you’ll all subscribe and support the work of Kristin Houlihan & Melissa Rotert.

Click here to go Epistemic Literary: Epistemic Lit.com. Enjoy.

NOTES: ©Jadi Campbell 2023.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

The General Fiction Category!

A few months ago I submitted The Trail Back Out for a book award. The San Francisco Book Festival and its affiliated book festivals have been around since 1999 – the cost to enter wasn’t outrageous – and my book had already placed for five other book awards.

There was one major drawback. The festival doesn’t have a category for short story collections. I had to submit my book as General Fiction, and that meant it was up against novels, romances, mysteries, chick lit, thrillers,

and pretty much everyone else….

Imagine my shock when The Trail Back Out WON. I was named WINNER in General Fiction!

I wrote the festival administrators, asking for information about the honor my book had just received. They don’t give out figures on the number of entrants, but did tell me that fewer than 5% of the books considered ever place in their festivals. I did the math and figure The Trail Back Out was chosen as the best book in a field of more than 600 books.

Here is the link for the results for the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival: http://www.sanfranciscobookfestival.com/winners_2023.htm

Winner in General Fiction, everybody!

NOTES: ©2023 Jadi Campbell (still not entirely sure what the category of General Fiction includes).

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Today’s Birthday: Eric Arthur Blair

Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and keen social critic, born on June 25, 1903 in Motihari, India during the British Raj. His life and writings were strongly influenced by his years working as an imperial police officer in occupied Burma, at the time also still a province of British India. Orwell’s works include Burmese Days, Animal Farm, and 1984. In his honor I give you one of the posts I wrote after our visit to Burma, currently ruled by a military regime, currently known as Myanmar. – Jadi

We love travel. I refer to traveling to new cultures and places as connecting the dots. With each trip I feel a little more connected to the world at large and to the various dots that make up my picture of this planet and we who inhabit it.

While in Burma, we took a boat up the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Mingun for the day. Yet another fallen kingdom, Mingun is reknowned for the largest functioning bell in the world. It weighs in at 55,555 viss (90,718 kilograms or 199,999 pounds). The sound is a deep claaangg, rung by thumping the bell hard on the lip with a mallet. Mingun is also famous for the king who bankrupted his people with an attempt to outdo every shrine-builder who’d ever lived: King Bodawpaya wanted to build the huge stupa known as Mingun Pahtodawgyi.

It would be the highest in the world, a magnificent 150 meters tall, dwarfing everything built prior to it.

How the stupa would have appeared finished
How the stupa would have appeared finished

Work began in 1790.

King Bodawpaya never finished his religious edifice. He ran out of funds; or, halted construction due to a prophesy that his realm would end when the building was completed; or, that completing the stupa would signal his death. An earthquake on March 23, 1839 dislodged the huge bell and damaged the structure beyond saving. The Mingun Pahtodawgyi became the world’s largest pile of bricks…

D30_2884_0200
Mingun Pahtodawgyi. Can you spot the teeny tiny humans in the photograph?

The structure stands, all semi-finished 50 meters (150 feet) of it, roughly a third of the original planned height.

It’s a holy place and the faithful still come to worship. And the curious come to climb it [enter Jadi and Uwe, stage right]. Now, at any sacred Buddhist site, you remove your shoes at the base of the structure.

Going up, sir?
Going up, sir?

And you climb the stairs, barefoot, and then clambor on the ruins, barefoot, for one truly awe-inspiring view of the Irrawaddy River and the surrounding countryside.

View of the Irrawaddy River
View of the Irrawaddy River and several of Mingun’s gorgeous temples

Shan pilgrims in traditional outfits had also climbed the stupa and gave us the gift of their smiles and waves.

D30_2876_0200

Shan pilgrims
Shan pilgrims

It was a magnificent afternoon and yet another highlight of our four weeks in Burma.

Picnicking on the Edge
Picnicking on the Edge

It wasn’t until we were safely home again that I got a good look at Uwe’s photographs.

Go on, I dare you
Go on, I dare you
Just a few small jumps and you’re there

There was a photo I had taken, too.

Hope those bricks are stable!
Hope those bricks are stable!

In memory of George Orwell, 25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2013. Previously published as The World’s Largest Pile of Bricks. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. Reading this post is bittersweet. Burma is wracked by a terrible civil war. We wouldn’t be allowed to make this trip now. More pictures from our trip to Burma, and of Uwe’s photography, may be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Today’s Birthday: Maurice Bernard Sendak

Illustrator/author Maurice Sendak was born on 10 June, 1928 in England. In his honor I give you the post I wrote upon hearing that he had died. – Jadi

My Sister & Maurice Sendak

Our first experiences learning to speak seem to involve rhymes. [Twinkle twinkle and Dr. Suess, anyone?] We recite as children, loving language’s sing-song chants.

One of the very first pieces I memorized as a child (to this day I can recite it) was ‘The Cow’ from A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods by Robert Louis Stevenson, printed in 1913.

 The Cow
The friendly cow all red and white
  I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
  To eat with apple-tart.
She wanders lowing here and there,

         5

  And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
  The pleasant light of day;
And blown by all the winds that pass
  And wet with all the showers,

  10

She walks among the meadow grass
  And eats the meadow flowers.

Can’t you see her?? In my child’s brain she was white and a funny shade of red. (Who ever heard of a red cow? I mean, really.) She was named Flossie, or Maisie, or Bessie. Placid Maisie meanders in a huge field, chewing her cud and surrounded by fairy rings of little flowers.

I have to be in the right mood for poetry, but I still have the used copy of The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry from my college days of long ago. (How long ago? Decades. A couple of ’em.) My edition of Robert Frost’s complete works came to me when my mother died. When I read Frost, his poems of New England keep me linked to her, too.

Emily Dickinson still knocks me out, and every word Shakespeare penned is poetry in exalted form.

Poetry is emotion and experience expressed in crystalline shapes, no matter whether it’s metered or free verse. Prose works by poets betray themselves through the beauty of the writing. Think of The English Patient. I read that book slower and slower, and found myself rereading pages over and over, savoring Ondaatje’s mastery with language. Or anything by Ray Bradbury: each of his strange magical visions contains a goodly dose of poetry.

Hmm. I just went back and read what I’ve got here so far… Scratch the comment about needing to be in a certain mood to read poetry.

***

The Muses pay a very special visit on those they gift with the ability to speak through poems. For me it’s the hardest of all forms of writing. Sadly, the poetic Muses Erato (love poetry), Calliope (epic poetry), Euterpe (songs and elegiac poetry), and their sister Polyhymnia (hymns and sacred poetry) just don’t knock on my door more than once a decade or so. An impulse to even attempt a poem is the sighting and citing of a rare bird. The last time, and it came over me in a total rush of surprise and inspiration, was the death of Maurice Sendak.

File:Sendak illustration.gif

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Mr. Sendak accompanied my childhood and probably yours, too, and he was particularly part of my sister Pam’s early years. I remember his Nutshell Library books, extra small to fit the hands of children. There were 4 of them: Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup With Rice, One Was Johnny, and Pierre (A Cautionary Tale). Pammy read them repeatedly, relating especially to the contrary Pierre. A few years ago I spotted an interview with Sendak in The New York Times (click here for the interview).

The article brought back those little books and how much my sister loved Maurice Sendak. I promptly sent the link to Pam and we spent several weeks emailing back and forth about his wonderful art and our childhood memories.

In May 2012, Maurice passed away. My sister was teaching in Japan; had she heard yet? For some reason I wanted to be the person to break the news to her. I debated how to contact Pam and gently let her know.

The next morning I awoke preoccupied with way too much to do. I began my tasks with the radio on. NPR mentioned that Terry Gross was doing a special Fresh Air show in honor of Maurice Sendak’s passing (a much older interview with Sendak and a more recent one recorded not long before his death). Despite really having no time to spare, I sat down to give 5 minutes to Sendak.

An hour later I still sat. By now tears were streaming down my face. Sendak’s wise, sweet old voice came over the airways, speaking of the secret fears of children, of his inability to believe in God after the horrors of the Holocaust (he lost his entire extended family), his more than half a century with the man he loved, Dr. Eugene Glynn, a NYC psychoanalyst his parents never knew about… Sendak told his story as the tears continued to pour.

I forgot everything, the chores that had seemed so important that morning, the things I had wanted to cross off my to-do list that day. The interview ended, I got shakily out of my chair, found some tissues and blew my nose, wiped my eyes, and sat down to write my sister. “Pam,” I said, “I just heard an incredibly moving interview with Maurice Sendak. He’s died, and I wanted you to get the news from me…. but really you need to hear this interview and listen to his voice.”

And as I sat, a Muse spoke. I wrote the first version of the following poem in one take.

Maurice

Maurice Sendak

Your words and drawings,

depictions transcribe

the soul&depths

of my sister, Pammy.

You died yesterday,

83 years old and not a day

older than the children now grown

adults weeping, mourning

your passing theirs passing

something of childhood gone beyond

retrieving.

Maurice.

I listen to recordings of your voice

You speak, the New Yorker

in you       so     obvious

I love your sense of place

your first generation voice

of Polish immigrants

of your humanity

your humility

your atheism

your embrasure of

a definition of the world

in which God is

everywhere

in the Wild Things

where they are

My Wild Things salute you.

My Wild Things weep.

Gnash our teeth.

Our King has left us.

Our island, and not just New York

is so much smaller with your passing.

We will cook a meal

Eat a supper and

wish

You were still with us.

In loving memory of Maurice Sendak, June 10, 1928 to May 8, 2012

NOTES: © 2013 Jadi Campbell. Previously published as My Sister and Maurice Sendak. To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, The Trail Back Out and Grounded.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

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