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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The power of words

“Language is what makes us human. It is a recourse against the meaningless noise and silence of nature and history.” – Octavio Paz
Octavio Paz Lozano, born this day in Mexico, held the rare distinction of being both a diplomat and a writer – primarily focusing on poetry.  For his body of work he won three major awards, beginning with his own country’s Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 1981, then the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1982, and capping it with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990.
At the age of 23, while studying law and politics, Paz first tried his hand at writing, working on the first of his long, ambitious poems, "Between the Stone and the Flower." Influenced by the work of T.S. Eliot, it explores the situation of the Mexican peasant under the domineering landlords of the day.  The writing led to his focus in the diplomatic world, but first Paz co-founded a literary journal, Taller ("Workshop") in 1938, and wrote for the magazine until 1941 when he entered the diplomatic corps.  That move set the path for the rest of his life, serving his country diplomatically while eloquently and boldly writing about life, the land, and the people around him.

"The poetry of Octavio Paz," wrote the critic Ramon Xirau "does not hesitate between language and silence; it leads into the realm of silence where true language lives."
Here are a couple examples of his work.

The Bridge

Between now and now,
between I am and you are,
the word bridge.

Entering it
you enter yourself:
the world connects
and closes like a ring.

From one bank to another,
there is always
a body stretched:
a rainbow.
I'll sleep beneath its arches.

And a link to, “As One Listens To The Rain.”  

Powerful poetic writing at its very best and great examples for all who would write.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Don't miss your chance

“My doctrine is this: If we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt. Cruelty and oppression … is everybody’s business to interfere with when they see it.” – Anna Sewell 

Born this date in Great Yarmouth, England, Anna Sewell embedded herself in our culture and concern for animals with her classic novel Black Beauty, written in 1877 while she was nearing death from tuberculosis.  It is her only published work.

The novel, made into several movies as well, became an immediate best-seller.  Sewell died just five months after its publication, but lived long enough to see its impact and success. With fifty million copies sold, Black Beauty is one of the best-selling books of all time. Although originally written for those who worked with horses, it also teaches us how to treat people with kindness, sympathy and respect.

Anna Sewell

About people, she noted, “It is good people who make good places.  Never miss an opportunity to tell someone how much they mean to you.”

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Invite your readers to 'Your World'

“As a writer, you have to believe you’re one of the best writers in the world.  To sit down every day at the typewriter filled with self-doubt is not a good idea.” – Jo Nesbo

If the Norwegian writer and singer Jo Nesbo lacks any of that self-confidence it’s not evident in his work.  He has parlayed it into two highly successful careers during his 55 years.  The first, of course, is for his creative fiction where he writes about Norwegian and international crime solver Harry Hole, a gritty detective known for his ability to not only solve perplexing crimes but also “save the girl,” much to the delight of the legions of Nesbo readers.
 Jo Nesbo

On his birthday today, Nesbo also is celebrating that his books have now surpassed 25 million in worldwide sales and been translated into 40 languages.  Many of his readers also tune in to hear him sing.  Nesbo is one of the most “known” front men in the performance world as lead vocalist and songwriter for the rock band DJ Derre.  The personable Nesbo, who grew up in a small town and has not forgotten his roots, says his readers and listeners think of him as “a family member made good.”

As for writing:  “I’ve always said that you can’t visit readers where you think they are, but instead you need to invite them home to where you are,” he said.  “They need to join you in your world.  That’s the art of storytelling.”

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

A tale of two rivers

Two rivers – 200 miles apart – and yet worlds apart in their makeup and the wildlife that lives along them. 

 Above are scenes from the Platte River near Grand Island, Nebraska, where we saw thousands and thousands of sandhill cranes either preparing to take flight and head to the nearby fields to spend the day “fattening up” for their continuing migration to Canada, Alaska (and even Siberia), or landing for the night.  Three different days we went to various blinds along the Platte to watch the cranes either at  dawn, or coming in at the end of the day to settle on the river for the night.

The Platte has the reputation of being “a mile wide and an inch deep,” perfect for the cranes to be “in” the water as well as “on” the water – and safe from predators.  The migration during the last couple weeks of March and early in April brings upward of 700 thousand of them to this stretch of river and is one of the great animal migrations in the world.