Archive for the ‘journalism’ Category

I am not writing poems and songs as frequently as when I was younger, in part because I am spending so much time developing AeroKnow Museum, and in part because I seldom have a reason. There’s no woman in my life (usually the best reason), and there is no call upon me to engage the process. It’s not a matter of having no time. When I have a reason, I make the time. When Springfield Poets and Writers Group (SPW) announced an opportunity for poets inclined to be moved by visual, framed, watercolor paintings created by members of the Sangamon Watercolor Society, and to write a poem that we would read aloud at a gallery reception November 3, I made the time.

Photos of the paintings had been posted at a Facebook site. The implicit hope was that every one of the 10 or so artists who had agreed to paint new works for the project would inspire at least one poet. Poets were to share the painting’s name (or a short description if there was no name) with our poetry coordinator, the current president of SPW. I was happy to learn soon after submitting my choice, that it was available.

Once “the table was set,” that I had seen the painting (or in my case a photograph on which the painting would be based) there was no worry or guilt trip over the first three of four weeks we had to write the poem and put it into a frame we could buy anywhere. A week before the deadline, I was at work when I was hit by an epiphany of words and vision. The words were the first three-line stanza of five I would eventually write, and the visual was the line structure that would be consistent in length and meter throughout. I also had the “voice” which would be one of the two people in the painting. It would not be about “faces” because the painting would show the backs fo two heads facing the other direction in a toy “Jeep” moving toward a simple green horizon under a blue sky.

Saturday morning, poets delivered the framed poems to the gallery site on the 3rd floor at Hoogland Center at the same time the visual artists would be arriving. The gallery hosts would determine how things would be arranged, but we all knew our poems would hang either close below or beside the paintings which had . . . . a  . . . . .mused us!

The event began about 5:30. Event emcee Jan Sorenson was talking to a fellow when I approached and asked if the artist who had created “my” painting had arrived. She said he was the gentleman she was talking to as I approached, and she introduced me to Mike Delaney of Decatur, Illinois. We had a happy intro, and then it was time for some quick pictures where his painting and my poem were hung.

The event went very smoothly, unhurried, and for most of it, sans speeches that began to drone on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on . . . as though some secret patron was paying the speakers not by the minute, but by the hour. At events without microphones and AMPLIFIED speakers, these days — and sometimes even with them —  my hearing is darn near shot to blazes anyway. What I did hear was very educational in the main. The artists spoke first following Jan’s fine introductions of paintings and artists, and then the poets were introduced. We all talked about what we liked about the paintings that had moved us and how we created our poems.

poet Job Conger (left) and painter Mike Delaney (right)

When Jan introduced Mike, his presentation was exemplary: informative, entertaining, and he even remembered how to correctly pronounce my first name!

Mike Delaney

Before I talked about my poem, I took a picture of the audience,

the audience

explaining how they are as important to me as a poet as my poem might be during the few minutes so it would take for me to share it. I said I had correctly anticipated the kids were sisters in the early photo, the basis for the poem I would write, and in the painting. I was delighted with the painting and for the opportunity two write about it. Then I read the poem . . .

We Wander!
                                 by Job Conger

So this will be the way we go:
We go to anywhere I know.
I know because my eager heart has told me so!

My sister is my friend; it’s true.
It’s true that life is all so new,
so new, and there is oh so much for us to see and do!

We’ll take the road less traveled by.
By serendipity we shall fly.
Shall fly so sweetly, fleetly, as we wander far and nigh!

What will Fate choose for us years hence?
Years hence may temper young confidence.
Young confidence shuns grownups’ fussy diligence.

And we shall dream, wandering free,
free, clownish,  cavorting, seekers ’til we . . .
’til we turn ten or maybe, let’s say, seventy-three!

To everyone’s credit none of the poets and artists exited the presentation before it was over. Open microphone nights at other local venues sometimes include “poetry prima donna’s” and “poetry prima daniels” who attend, read their poems and leave early. Not so November 3.

Another poet reads her poem about the nearby painting.

The readings were followed by recognition of the creations of other SWS member painters who had won prize ribbons in a recent annual contest. The event concluded with a “happy trails
from the sympatico emcee, and many of us elevatored down to the Prairie Art Alliances gallery reception on first floor.

Poet Mark Flotow talks about his poem and the colorful abstract painting which inspired it.

One of my favorites at the PAA reception was this by Delinda Chapman.

This photo of purchase information for Delinda’s painting has been slightly color modified.

Mark MacDonald (right), host of the public television program “Illinois Stories” chats with friends at PAA’s reception.

It was an evening well spent. Kudos and thanks to all who attended and participated.

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No dog of Pavlov has been more profoundly imprinted than the neighbor of Byron and Anne and daughter Wendy. (Those from the neighborhood, none of whom read this blog, as far as I can tell, will remember their last name. It’s not important here.) He and Wendy were born the same year. The dau was nice enough, but there was never any “chemistry” between the two. And though her mother never knew, as far back as he can remember, his first lasting impression of a woman who was not his mother or 12-years-older sister was a young married woman named Anne. She was the first really beautiful adult woman he met. Anne would come over for coffee some mornings in the really early years when both were stay-at-home moms. No movie actress resembled her and vice versa. Doris Day was of the same “carriage” (height, movement) and Dinah Shore (“See the USA in your Chev-ro-let”) had her voice; a patient, mellow, mid-range that never squeaked and never rasped. It was as smooth as mink. Sometime, during the early years of his life, Anne’s young neighbor three doors south made up his mind that he was going to marry a woman named Anne. He never confessed this to a living hummin’ bean.

He didn’t have to go out with women named Anne. The first Ann he met who was his age was Anne Kessler, and she was vivacious and easy on the eyes, but he never asked her out. They were in junior high home room together, and probably a few classes too. During high school he dated around, always hoping to find and go out with someone attractive named “Anne with an e” but never searching for anyone named “Anne with an e” and still having a pretty good time, Almost anyone named Linda was great company, he learned.  The closest he came Anne was Jo Anne Walusek when both attended college.  She was from Chicago. It didn’t work out. Summer happened, and they never reconnected.

He was also smitten with Anne Morrow Lindbergh, famous poet, wife of New York-to-Paris aviator Charles. He read her poetry and Listen, the Wind, a book about flying with her husband.

He came close to getting married only twice: to a woman from Hobart, Indiana who had moved to Springfield and a woman who lived on Peoria Street in Lincoln, Illinois. Both were named Ellen.

That name might have worked for him and marriage, but he seems to have given his “man-soul” to a Mary Ann whom he loved passionately and reasonably well, but who would not consent to marrying him despite his hanging on like a breathless swimmer to a twig of hope in the middle of the Pacific.  He would make a new man-soul for Anne; maybe purchase one at a Salvation Army Re-Soul Store. Maybe return to the “faith of our fathers, living still.”

He’s still looking for a woman named Anne today. True, he’s not dated for years, more than he cares to admit. In his current employment circumstance, sans significant cash, sans significant future, despite generally acute powers of the mind demonstrable in journalism, verse and song, and a modicum of regard by those who still know him in his town.  Some would say he’s too OLD to get married, but he doesn’t believe it. A fellow misses the companionship which he used to consider akin to a hankering for Vlasic Mini-Dill Pickles or a thirst for Wild Turkey. He misses the wisdom, the aroma, the affirmation, the laughter, the validation of what he is. He’s still looking for a woman named Anne to complete his destiny, but he’s decided to stack the cards in his favor at this late phase of the game, so to speak. Today, he’s not looking for just any garden variety Anne, the kind who would walk a mile for a quart of gin and a pack of Camels . . . . or thinks Ezra Pound was a great poet. He’s looking for the ULTIMATE Anne, and what kind of woman is that, you may wonder?

He’s looking for a woman named Anne . . . who is looking for a man named Job.

Live long . . . . . . . . and proper.

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From an article I read recently — “The antique classic is reportedly one of only two in existence today.” I metaphorically squirmed. I chafed.

 f am a writer.  I carry a dictionary. I carry logic in a side pocket of my brain.

The statement that made me wish I had powdered more between my left and right was a short way of saying, “There may be more of these old cars out in the world somewhere: in a barn in Idaho; the upper floor of a downtown Stuttgart building abandoned in 1945, a freighter that went to Davey Jones’ (not the Monkee; the sailor) 347 miles east of Nova Scotia, the loser in a combat with an uncharted iceberg; it is hard to know for certain, but it is REPORTEDLY one of only acknowledged in resources available to the author of this photo caption by which to suggest the sum total in the universe as we understand it today.

Here’s a hot flash for writers: It is almost always hard to know for certain.
 “A witness reportedly said there was a blue convertible across the street when the bank was robbed.” What a LOAD. There is no “reportedly” involved! The witness said it. Maybe the “reportedly” goes with the blue car. More nonsense. The witness said it was a BLUE CAR. What else could it be? What if the sun partially blinded the witness who in different light would have recognized the color as “turquoise?” That possibility is not a factor in what should have been the simpler sentence: “The witness said there was a blue convertible across the street from the bank when the bank was robbed.”

It is acceptable journalism to report what we know without suggesting doubt where, by the standards of our day, no doubt should be reasonably expected.
“The sun will rep0rtedly come up tomorrow, metaphorically speaking.” We all know the sun is not moving in the context of our cozy little solar system. We all know our eastern horizon will be moving down, relative to the stationary sun. But we don’t think twice when we  say “The sun will come up tomorrow.” This is acceptable in the context of American communication.

Next week, I may read about the discovery of a 1912 Stutz Bearcat discovered in a barn near Mahomet, Illinois, and I might tell you about it by saying “One of only three Stutz Bearcats, the one discovered yesterday in a barn near Mahomet, Illinois will be raffled over the Christmas holidays by the Jones family who recently purchased the farm. ”  I say what I know.

Many years ago, the most brilliant “scientists” of a popular religious faith knew that the sun and all the stars in the heavens revolve around planet earth and especially those who love Jesus. Times changed: Copernicus, Galileo, Carl Sagan . . . . and the facts changed, though it wasn’t easy.

Journalists are okay when we say what we know. There should be no warning labels on newspaper. ATTENTION: The information shared in these pages should be considered FACTUAL only to the extent of our reporters’ ability to determine its factuality, and all information must be considered subject to change without public notice.”

I suggest we banish “reportedly” from our lexicon. What do you say?

Live long . . . . . . . . and proper.

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