December 31, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Dr. Kent: Welcome back to Sound Authors. It’s my great pleasure to welcome my next guest. He is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet who won the national book award. His latest books of poetry are called Strong as Your Hold, which has a CD of poems read by the author attached. It’s a New York Times notable book and a new selected poem. I welcome to the show Galway Kinnell, the poet.
Galway Kinnell: Hello?
Dr. Kent: Now you’re calling me from Vermont. How’s the weather up there?
Galway Kinnell: Perfect.
Dr. Kent: Isn’t it always perfect in Vermont?
Galway Kinnell: No.
Dr. Kent: I went to college at Middleburg College and was there for the big ice storm, so I know the bad side of Vermont too, but this time of year it’s so beautiful up there.
Galway Kinnell: Yes, indeed it is.
Dr. Kent: Now I saw you read some poetry at Middleburg College, it must have been in 1998 or so and I was really moved by the experience. I love your poetry and that was a great experience for me. Do you still go to Middleburg College now and again?
Galway Kinnell: Yes in fact I’m going there in about three weeks.
Dr. Kent: Wonderful; and your latest project, Strong as Your Hold, its got a CD of poems read by you. How did you get strong armed into that one? Do you enjoy that experience?
Galway Kinnell: Well, the experience of recording was easy. It’s like giving a reading without an audience and I thought it was a very good idea that my publishers had that many people who go to a poetry reading come away wanting to see the poems and so this book provides an opportunity to see the poems and then hear the reading at the same time.
Dr. Kent: I would love to hear you read a poem if you’re willing. Do you have a book in front of you?
Galway Kinnell: Well, let’s see if I do. I probably do; I have books lying around but I don’t have one in front of me.
Dr. Kent: Are you working on a new book? Is there a new project going on? Are you supporting these? What’s your plan right now?
Galway Kinnell: I don’t really have plans you know, usually. Occasionally I do. For example, when I wrote the book of nightmares, its one long poem and it self forms a book. So from the beginning of that until the end I didn’t write anything else and I considered that I had a plan to finish this poem and publish it but that was uncharacteristic. I just write poems and then publish them in magazines maybe and revise them from time to time and put them in a little pile and if the pile gets a little thick, then I think well, maybe I should put out a book.
Dr. Kent: So you mentioned the book of nightmares. I’m curious about and that was concerned with the Vietnam War. I’m wondering what your take is right now. Are you writing poetry that’s political then; that was back in 1971, are you still in that place?
Galway Kinnell: Well not really but partly. I think in some of these poems I’ve been writing this Iraq War has slid in and I don’t know provides a kind of context for what I’m writing about, whereas in the Vietnam war I wrote a lot of poems specifically about the war. Trying to persuade the young people from supporting it.
Dr. Kent: And now at the same time you also served in the military and from what I gather you were also in Iran?
Galway Kinnell: Yeah I was in the Navy in the Second World War and I spent about maybe ten years later I spent two years in Iran. Not quite two years. Two chunks of two years, maybe it all added up to a year and a half. I lived in Tehran and I went there as a Fulbright Professor, as a teacher at the university of Tehran and I did and made a lot of acquaintances among the students. Then my time came to go but I didn’t want to go, I was so attracted by this country and so I stayed around for quite a while after that and made my living by writing for the English language edition of the Tehran Journal. I translated a newspaper, the first prominent newspaper.
Dr. Kent: So it sounds like a painful experience through the years to see Iran in the news for the last 25 years.
Galway Kinnell: Yes indeed. At the time I was there the money, the oil money had not started to pour in the way it did later and the Shah who was very progressive in many ways in road building and removing any fines for people, women without fedoras and so on. He was very good in that respect but you could tell that he didn’t really connect with the people. He stood apart and he could not have stayed in there very long and then the oil money came in. This was after I left, and then he was able to do whatever he wanted without any fear and his fear, the fear of the Americans who were there and of the Iranian Regime; their fear was of the left. Everyone was caught by surprise when the revolution came from the right.
Dr. Kent: How did all of this turn for you into a career in poetry? Were you a poet even back at the very beginning in the Navy? When did you sort of start to own your poetness?
Galway Kinnell: I never call myself a poet. Robert Frost said that the term poet is a word of praise and therefore one must never apply it to oneself or it sounds like boasting. But in any case, I was serious about writing my poetry even before I went in the navy and when I was in boot camp I was put in charge of 120 men who had also come into boot camp at that time and I was put in charge because I had taken a semester of college. Then I fell into the habit at night when everyone was in bed and it was very quiet of reading one poem before the lights went out. So, I’ve been interested in poetry, in writing poetry basically all my life but I hadn’t published anything then. When I was in Iran my first book was published in this country and mailed to me. That was very satisfying to see that book.
Dr. Kent: I’ll bet and you’ve been in the industry many, many years. How has the industry changed? You know, its fascinating to me how different I guess the industry was 40 years ago.
Galway Kinnell: The publishing industry?
Dr. Kent: The publishing industry, the poetry industry if you would.
Galway Kinnell: No I wouldn’t. I don’t think that it’s an industry though in fact now that you say it; it has sort of become an industry. When I started everybody was on their own, there were little poetries and people kind of wrote the same way and they gave themselves names and so on but we were all friends and we were all poor and we all lived by. Some people had money, some of them had money of course like James Merrill and he used his money to help out other poets but basically we took some job some small job somewhere.
We also gave readings in bars and we also gave readings in colleges around the country. That was the time when this habit of poetry readings in colleges began and it was begun by a woman called Betty Craig who was head of the Academy of American Poets. And she would send out some of us to go on a reading tour of maybe ten readings in a row and we would come back with what we felt were riches and the universities and colleges we went to didn’t have to pay very much because there were so many of them banded together to give a poet a good fee. So the idea spread very fast over the country.
Dr. Kent: Now there’s I have a PhD in music, so I know the academic world a little bit. How is it looking at the field of poetry, is there an academic world? Is there a pop poetry world? What’s your take on it? I know you served as the Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. What’s your take on what form poetry takes now?
Galway Kinnell: Well there are divisions in poetry now that are more broad and maybe a little more serious than the divisions before. I’m not sure but there is something you know there is a poetry that could be read and understood by anyone really and there is another kind of poetry, which is much more refined and worked, generally called language poetry in which even some poets get lost trying to make their way.
So I say it’s a serious division but actually there’s a lot of overlapping of it and sometimes I read with a language poet and the language poet tries to modify some of the difficult characteristics of the poem and I try to pick poems with some more of elaborate poems. Some language poets are also just regular poets so maybe their coming together a little bit more now.
Dr. Kent: Speaking of conflict I guess or of coming together, what’s your take on this political situation right now? It’s so vitriolic and all of that, do you see any connections back to your time being an activist in the 60s and 70s?
Galway Kinnell: You mean the election or do you mean the situation in Iraq and so on?
Dr. Kent: Well of the above.
Galway Kinnell: As far as the relationship of the parties and of the two people running for election, I’ve never heard anything like the words that are coming out of John McCain in this situation. It seems that he’s doing anything to get elected and there’s actually nothing holding him back. I think in the past truth was twisted and so on but in general there was a much better spirit between the two parties than there is today. It’s just been a gradual split I guess and so I don’t know what will come of Obama’s apparent hope to be a moderator in some way in the government between the two parties and so we’ll see.
As far as the situation in the Middle East goes, I think it was a mistake to go in and I think it could be Iraq could be held as a kind of friendly ally if we’re willing to keep a large military force there. And then the effect would be just like the British and the French and so on in the 19th century as they took over their colonies. So I think it’s a bad situation to be in and this country is having so much trouble and so much money is being poured into that war that it might undermine this country and we’ll find ourselves a banana republic before long.
Dr. Kent: Now I say amen from the choir. Your poetry is something that is universal and has been around in the public eye for so many years. There’s I guess lets say your most famous poems are ones that resonate with people the most, don’t tend to be I guess political poems but what do you see as poems? Are they a message to someone? Is this something that’s just coming out of you? What is your take on poetry in your own life?
Galway Kinnell: Well I think I’ve written a number of poems for specific purposes that were outside of poetry. For example, the poems I wrote about the Vietnam War, they were messages trying to persuade and I’ve written other poems, even some of the more personal poems. I wrote a poem about a student who wanted to commit suicide and she came in to my office one morning and said her love affair had broken up and she wanted to commit suicide. So I talked to her a little while and then I made her promise to come back and see me in the afternoon and this was long before they had counselors on campuses, at least on the small ones.
So as soon as she left I set about writing a poem for her called Wait. Because I just looking in my own experience and I’ve had some pain so bad that it made me think I didn’t want to live. I waited and then it went away and then I looked back and saw that was what I had done I think it’s the only thing the only absolutely necessary thing that has to be said following the problem after a while becomes possible but not right then. So I wrote this poem Wait and I gave it to her and she didn’t commit suicide and she thanked me later and so when I read at colleges I read this poem in case there’s somebody in the audience for whom it might have a special meaning and comes up and talks to me about it.
So those are examples of poems I wrote for specific persons but actually I rarely write poems for a specific person. I don’t write them to unload my emotions. I write them because they come to me and they seem to embody something that I didn’t quite know before and I try to perfect them and if somebody asks me why are you doing all that work? I say, for beings, and that seems to satisfy most people but I cant and I cant think of anything other to account for that effort put into writing a poem.
Dr. Kent: So I would love to hear you read one of your poems if you have a book handy now.
Galway Kinnell: Well I don’t have a book handy now, but I could get one but your audience might not like that.
Dr. Kent: Oh, it’s okay; I’ll fill a little space.
Galway Kinnell: Okay, fill a little space and I’ll come back.
Dr. Kent: Okay, I’m speaking with Galway Kinnell from Vermont. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winning poet; author of the latest book, Strong As Your Hold and it’s a pleasure chatting with him about his life and his poetry. Now he’s running to get a poetry book that he can read us something from. He was born in Rhode Island and drawn to the poets like Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe; he graduated from Princeton and he said in one interview that he felt a certain scorn that there could be course in writing poetry.
And of course as we’ve been talking about, he was an activist in the 60s and he joined CORE, The Congress of Racial Equality, and as a fieldworker and was involved in the civil rights movement as well as of course writing the book that he was speaking about, the Book of Nightmares. A book length poem about the Vietnam War as well as in 1968 he published a book called Body Rags and that was a civil rights book.
Galway Kinnell: I’m here.
Dr. Kent: Well I’ve been bragging about you for the last minute here.
Galway Kinnell: Okay. Now I’ve got a whole stack of my poems. I have a wonderful dog, he’s a mixture between a lab and what are those nice French dogs with white?
Dr. Kent: I’m not sure. He sounds very nice.
Galway Kinnell: Okay so I could read since I mentioned it, I could read the poem Wait.
Dr. Kent: That would be wonderful.
Galway Kinnell: Okay. I’ll find it here.
Dr. Kent: And you wrote this quite a while ago or was it fairly recent.
Galway Kinnell: Yeah, it was quite a while ago.
Dr. Kent: Are there poems that lets say have you had poems fall on their face? Do you have the one stack that are good poems and another stack that are ready to be burned?
Galway Kinnell: Oh you mean in these new ones I’m writing?
Dr. Kent: Any of them yeah.
Galway Kinnell: I mean in the past I couldn’t do anything about the poems they’re published and that’s that but in the case of the ones I’m working on and writing the new ones, I haven’t tried to judge them at all because sometimes the poem that you think is least promising suddenly comes around and its one that seems most interesting. So here’s this poem, Wait.
Wait for now. Distrust everything if you have to but trust the hour. Haven’t they carried you everywhere up to now? Personal events will become interesting again, hair will become interesting, pain will become interesting, buds that open up a season will become interesting. Second hand gloves will become lovely again. Their memories are what gives them the need for other hands. The desolation of lovers is the same. That enormous emptiness carved out of such tiny beings as we are, asks to be filled. The need for the new love is faitful and steady all. Wait. Don’t go too early. You’re tired, but every ones tired, but no one is tired enough. Only wait a little and listen. Music of hair, music of pain, music of loons, weaving our love again. Be there to hear it, it will be the only time. So that’s it.
Dr. Kent: What a beautiful poem and I imagine that did a lot to cheer her up.
Galway Kinnell: Yeah, I hope so.
Dr. Kent: You know your poetry, along with others is something that’s moved me over the years and it must be a good feeling indeed to have so many people that read your poetry and take away that spiritual feeling from it of I didn’t necessarily want to take my own life, but there were times when I was down, when I turned to poetry. So you must take great pride in that.
Galway Kinnell: Well I don’t take great pride but I’m glad of it, yeah.
Dr. Kent: Well it’s been a real honor speaking with you. If you have another short poem, I’d love to hear you read another.
Galway Kinnell: Okay, I can read lets see here’s a section from the book of Nightmares.
Dr. Kent: Is The Book of Nightmares still available?
Galway Kinnell: Yes, it’s always been in print and it’s sold about 120,000 copies.
Dr. Kent: My goodness and its especially timely now so The Book of Nightmares.
Galway Kinnell: Here’s a little passage about the birth of my son. A black bear sits alone in the twilight, nodding from side to side. Turning slowly around and around on his self, scuffing the four footed circle into the earth. He sniffs the sweat in the breeze. He understands a creature, a deaf creature watches from the fringe of the trees. Finally he understands I am no longer here. He himself from the fringe of the trees watches the black bear get up, eat a few flowers, trudge away. All his fur glistening in the rains. And what glistening? Sancho Fergus, my boy child, had such great shoulders when he was born his head came out. The rest of him stuck and he opened his eyes, his head out there all alone in the room. He squinted with pain, barely unglued eyes at the ninths months’ blood splashing beneath him on the floor and almost smiled I thought. Almost forgave it all in advance and when he came fully forth, I took him up in my hands and bent over and smelled the black glistening fur of his head. As empty space must have bent over the new born planet and smelled the grassland and the ferns.
Dr. Kent: Wow. What a beautiful poem
Galway Kinnell: Thank you.
Dr. Kent: The readings are so incredible. The newest book Strong as Your Hold has a CD of poems read by the author also. That’s put out by Mariner Books. Thank you so much for being on the show, it’s been my honor and especially to hear you read and tell about your life. Thank you so much.
Galway Kinnell: It’s been a pleasure for me; thank you.
Dr. Kent: Have a wonderful day.
Galway Kinnell: Thank you very much.
Dr. Kent: Now my next guest on the show is a musician and this latest album of his is a political diatribe. It’s called Anti-Bushism and I will have him on the show right after we listen to one track from his upcoming audio book, or if you’d like to call it, audio CD, called Capital. Listen to this.
December 30, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Dr. Kent: Welcome to Sound Authors! Today is Friday, September 19th, we’re in the thick of political season and it’s a blast for me and a little bit of fall is in the air. Its good to see outside that the weather is getting a little bit cooler and we’re all happy for that. I have three guests on the show today; one special guest in the middle is taking two slots. Galway Kinnell who is a poet is here for half an hour. The musician at the end of the show wrote a book actually called Anti-Bushism and his audio book is more musical than bookish so he’s on as a musician and my first guest, his name is Tawan Perry. He is the author of College Sense, what High School and College Advisors don’t tell you about college. So welcome to the show Tawan Perry.
Tawan Perry: Thank you, thank you. How are you?
Dr. Kent: Pretty good. Tell me a little bit, how did you get into this whole business, this college sense?
Tawan Perry: Well I currently work at ### College in Ashtabula as the assistant dean of student life and since I graduated from high school; I’m sorry college; my life has been really working in higher education. I’ve been at three different institutions prior to coming to this one so it’s really been my life and I decided to write the book because part of the work that I do, I really didn’t want people to make the same mistakes that I made. I mean I worked in the kitchen and giving the students an environment that is conducive to academics so to keep students from making the same mistakes that I did I thought what can I do about this issue and I decided to write a book.
Dr. Kent: So tell me about the book itself. What college and high school advisors don’t tell you about college?
Tawan Perry: Well it starts out talking about the application process and the different types of colleges that are available, things like that. Starting with the third chapter of the book, it really tells you what you need to know once you get there. So many of the issues students’ face once they get to college, nobody told them really what to expect. Usually it’s not what they had in mind. So the book covers much of that sort of thing and at the end of the book it tells my life story and how I got to be where I am.
Dr. Kent: Tell us about you a little bit more. What did you do when you applied for college?
Tawan Perry: Well I started out in community college so my path was a little different than starting off at a four-year college, living on their own. I went to college because I was going to go into the Marine Corps but it didn’t quite work out and I decided to make a statement at the local community college and from there I did what I had to do to get a degree, I filed for a scholarship and eventually I graduated and transferred to a four year institution and started living on campus. So my situation was a little different because I wasn’t going in as an 18-year old on campus, I was a 22-year old.
Dr. Kent: So this book College Sense, now its out on the market, what inspired you to go into this arena and become a writer and all of that? Have you written other things or is this the beginning of that?
Tawan Perry: I’ve published a few things in some journals but I hadn’t written a book so this is my first book I’ve ever written. So for me again it was really trying to get to something that was really simple that would help them in ways that I felt other books wouldn’t because I read from the perspective ###. For the last six years of my life I’ve been working with students as an area coordinator so seeing it from that perspective; I didn’t just see it as an academic facility I also saw it through the student life perspective.
Dr. Kent: You are also a speaker along with your regular job so tell us about what you do at these universities?
Tawan Perry: When I get invited out and when I get opportunities I really try to get out and try to talk to high school age students and first year students of the importance of how to apply to colleges. For me personally I was a first generation college student and a lot of my audience is that’s who it’s a target for, someone whose never had a family member who had the opportunity for going to college and what I try to stress to them is that college is definitely a possibility and this is how you get into college. I can’t be there with them obviously but this is a way I can give them advice about some of the mistakes that I made or other students have made during their college years.
Dr. Kent: So what I’m curious about is when I went to college and I imagine when you went to college it was easier than nowadays, every year it gets harder. What do students say about it? Is it more stressful than it used to be?
Tawan Perry: I think in many ways it is more stressful because one so much information comes in at one time, you know, while you have a lot of choices, sometimes you have too many choices and it can become downright confusing. I think the other issue is students are facing a lot more tests than they were previously and a lot of older people tell me that when they first went to college they were just dropped off and they go see their family maybe on a break or something but now the students have a very close relationship with their parents so it creates a separation anxiety initially when they first come to campus. The other thing I think and I was reading an article about this the other day was that some students in K through 12 aren’t really adequately prepared.
A good example of that is let’s say a student has a 3.0 in high school. I mean a 3.0 is usually the honor roll so that means that they’re more than capable of doing well in college or should be. But the study actually suggested they are still unprepared because more students are going through remedial courses when they get to college. As a matter of fact, I think the entire higher ed industry is spending about 2.9 billion dollars on just remedial courses.
So it is something to consider. I think when you don’t have the proper foundation and grounding when you first go to college it shows down the road. I think in that way it’s definitely a little more difficult. Their expectations are a lot higher than what it used to be. The expectation used to be graduate from high school, get a job and get by. Nowadays you have to get a higher education and sometimes you need to get either a professional degree or some type of graduate degree. So I think in that way it’s a lot more difficult.
Dr. Kent: You have a masters degree in education; how do you use that information in your life everyday and how does that sort of end up in your book?
Tawan Perry: I attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and how I apply it to my real life is I thought about my objectives and diversity in a whole different light prior to going into that program. I believe with that program I was really able to think about impression and ways that I was prior to that. How I work with it everyday because I had my masters in higher administration, I’m really learning how to manage a college. At least in my position. I mean I have a department here. So it taught me a lot of management techniques and leadership styles and how to really work with students also. I think my degree and my education really prepared me for the position I’m in now.
Dr. Kent: Well the book is called College Sense: What the high school and college advisors don’t tell you about college. I’d like to ask you a couple of questions since you brought up the topic a little bit about the politics right now. I’m really game on watching it as it progresses, we’re down to less than two months, what do you think about the politics that are happening?
Tawan Perry: I think I feel like a lot of people. I mean this is probably the most important election in our lifetimes because of the economic situation we’re in. It’s very important that we as American people make the best decisions for our country. I think both parties obviously are choosing the people who represent them really well and just waiting like everyone else to see what will happen. I think no matter who is chosen things are about to change.
Dr. Kent: Yep; I’m excited to see what happens. I sure hope that Obama wins but I can’t imagine that it can be as bad with either candidate as its been lately so for educations sake lets hope for change. Tawan Perry it’s been great chatting with you. The book is called College Sense: What the high school and college advisors don’t tell you about college. Where can we find out about you?
Tawan Perry: The book can be purchased or previewed at my website, which is www.tawanperry.com or you can purchase it at Amazon or my publisher, which is iuniverse.com.
Dr. Kent: Wonderful! Well it’s been a real pleasure speaking with you and I wish you all the best with the book.
Tawan Perry: Thank you.
Dr. Kent: Now my next guest is the legendary poet Galway Kinnell speaking to us from Vermont. So come on back in a couple of minutes and we will be speaking with him.
December 29, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Dr. Kent: Welcome to Sound Authors. Today is Friday, September 12, 2008. We’re in the middle of the political season, it’s been an exciting fall for anyone that watches CNN and listens to the polls like I am. I’ve got four guests on the show today and my first guest will have something to do with the political race. His name is Eric Appleman. The second guest wrote a book called A Nation For All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division; that’s Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley. The third guest on the show will be Stop Clutter from Stealing your life. Of course that’s always a good thing in our lives at any time of the year. Mike Nelson wrote about clutter from stealing your life. Then I have a musical guest on the show at the end, The Boulder Acoustic Society, a great new band. So my first guest on the show I’d like to welcome Eric Appleman, who edited a book of editorial cartoons called the Race for the 2008 Democratic Nomination, and he also edited a book called The Race for the 2008 Republican Nomination. Welcome to the show Eric Appleman.
Eric Appleman: Thank you, it’s a pleasure to talk with you.
Dr. Kent: Tell me about these books.
Eric Appleman: Yes, so basically I run a website on the presidential campaigns, which I’ve been running since 1998. We have a section where we look at all the different books on the campaign and I noticed there were no books of editorial cartoons on presidential campaigns. There was one done in 1992 on Bill Clinton but there hasn’t been anything since then and so this struck me as a gap and I’ve always been interested in political cartoons. My background is in political communications and how you present ideas. So in 2004 I went to the association’s American editorial cartoonist and said you guys should do a book. I spoke to them at their convention here in Washington DC briefly and no one took me up on that.
I went back again in 2007 and said I’ll work on this book and you guys can get a substantial share of the proceeds; what do you think of that. They went through the Board and approved the idea and the next step was to find a publisher and there was a publisher in Gretna, Louisiana; Falcon Publishing and they’ve done a series every year called best editorial cartoons of the year. So they agreed to take on this project. The idea was to have them out in time for the convention since they describe and show cartoons on the road to the democratic and the republican nomination.
Dr. Kent: Where did you get into the world of cartoons themselves? Of course I guess most folks are more excited about political cartoons than articles and all the rest. They’re fantastic but how did you get this idea for yourself?
Eric Appleman: As I indicated, presidential campaigns is my specific focus, so even in 2000 I clipped a full box of these editorial cartoons and pasted them in a book. So its just basically these are some of the most incisive commentators around and really you can capture in one drawing what you might not even be able to capture in a full length article; the essence of a candidate or a candidacy or an event. So that’s why that’s particularly interesting. But once we got the go ahead to work on the book, it was a very great challenge.
We sent out emails to members of the AAC and I went even further afield to non-members soliciting cartoons. All sorts of cartoonists, over 120 cartoonists, sent in anywhere from one to four or five dozen cartoons and so you can imagine it was a huge challenge to sort through all those and decide which ones were the best ones. The original idea was for a book of 98 pages and we moved that up to 160 pages but even then, that was really not enough.
There were so many good cartoons that we had to cut out and I should really emphasize that this is a unique book because it has cartoons from the top editorial cartoonists around the country who you would see in the paper and news magazines and that was possible through this arrangement with the AACC and in which they receive a substantial share of the proceeds. They also have a very good website that I should note; its editorialcartoonists.com and Ted Rowe, who is the president of that association was extremely helpful in bringing these books together.
Dr. Kent: You have a website called Democracy in Action, the race for the white house. What do you think of it? Its fantastically interesting contest right now. Talk about the election and I guess the importance of political cartoons to us in the middle of what Obama calls silly season where it just seems like lipstick on a pig and all of this stuff. Tell me what you’re following right now?
Eric Appleman: Well, right now we’re just getting off the conventions. I was in both Denver and Minneapolis so I’m still recovering from those experiences, which can be very grueling and they were so close together that there was really no time to recover and so the books came out in mid-June and the idea was to have them available for the convention on the theory that they would be interested in seeing how these candidates emerged and Barack Obama and John McCain. I should note that there were different challenges in putting the two books together. As you can imagine there was a lot more interest in the democratic race and the Hillary / Obama contest. So there was just so much more material to go through and so many more painful cuts that could not be included to try in get in that 160 page limit.
Dr. Kent: And on the republican side?
Eric Appleman: On the republican side, the race ended earlier and so we have included some cartoons from those first few months when senator McCain was out there pretty much as the presumptive nominee but the interesting thing there are the cartoons that show the conservatives distrust of Senator McCain. There are many of those once he was the nominee he kind of distanced the conservatives from himself, which we now see has been somewhat alleviated by his choice for Vice President.
Dr. Kent: So tell me a little bit about you. you’re the author of many political CD ROMs, you’ve self published a field guide to the 1992 presidential campaign, now of course you’ve published these two books with the political cartoons. Tell me about the website, tell me about what you do, what you’re working on now, all of that?
Eric Appleman: Right, well the website p2008.org is really designed to educate folks about the political process and their role in making it work and the specific focus is on presidential campaigns and I really try to be very systematic rather than be turned to a new state where there will be a story on page one on a particular campaign and maybe a story on page B5. I try and lay it all out very systematically and reference original source material and point people to the best available resources by other organizations. So it has done fairly well as indicated by Monster-Sifford in May of 1998 after working on CD-ROMs before that.
The books reflect that approach, so you’ll see in the book that I have included cartoons on some of the candidates who really didn’t get very far, like Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and Ron Paul for example was a difficult one. The editorial cartoons in some sense reflect news coverage so I had to search far and wide to find some Ron Paul cartoons. I found four finally but you know, I included about 20 each for Giuliani, Romney, Thompson and Mike Huckabee, and really had to scrabble around to just find those four for Ron Paul. So I’m afraid I’ve forgotten your question there.
Dr. Kent: We can keep going. Ron Paul still interests me. He’s apparently still on the ticket out in Montana.
Eric Appleman: I’m not aware of that. I know that he was at the press club yesterday I think it was and had third party candidates on the stage with him and was encouraging people to eschew the two major party candidates and consider voting for a candidate of principle. It was kind of eye opening to see how few of these cartoonists took on a Ron Paul toon. And I should say that after all the editing was done, starting with these 125 or so cartoonists who submitted works, there are about over 75 cartoonists that represented in the books and over 250 cartoons in each book. It’s very rare that you would see such a collection.
Dr. Kent: Tell me the life of a political cartoonist. What do they do every day? How do they go about creating these incredible things?
Eric Appleman: Well, I talked to them and it’s interesting that some of them have very long careers. It’s remarkable they’ve been working for 30 or so years but they go into the office or some of them work out of their home and they face a blank sheet of paper and they’ve got to come up with an idea. Some of these guys are really geniuses and I should also note that the whole industry if one can call it that, or business, is under some pressure. You may have read about newspaper downsizing? And that does affect editorial cartoonists and some of these people have been downsized or offered buy outs.
One of the examples that come to mind is Layne Powell, a Raleigh news observer and a very good cartoonist. He’s been there I think for at least two decades, probably longer and they wanted to reduce his hours and he said no. Bottom line is he’s working there through the election and then after that it’s not clear what he will be doing. So there’s been a lot of stories like that. Another thing that’s very interesting is how cartoonists have tried to adapt to the pressure.
So you see a lot of animation, people working on animations, and that’s very time consuming. Also another thing that you see from editorial cartoonists is some of them have very good logs and they show you some of their early sketches and ideas that they started out; thrown out rather. The newspaper maybe said this is too strong, we can’t do that. So I would be encouraged to take a look at those kinds of things. One in particular was Matt Davies and you can just Google him and he has a very good blog. There are others out there like that.
Dr. Kent: How has it been supporting this book, getting into this world of editorial cartoons so much that you have to have this book and you’re out on the road talking about it and all that? I can imagine it’s like a kid in the candy store.
Eric Appleman: Well you have a fervid imagination there! I haven’t really done much in the public arena; it’s not really my cup of tea. I’m more of a content person so I did you know an appearance out there in Minneapolis at the Civic bash but I have not really done much promotional stuff; I’m not really the most articulate person and I think the books really do speak for themselves. If you are in a bookstore and have a chance to look, just thumb through and you’ll see on any one or two pages there’ll be one that really brilliantly captures the essence of some of these candidates.
Dr. Kent: Well it’s been a real honor speaking with Eric Appleman. He edited two books; one for the democrats, one for the republicans. The Race for the 2008 Democratic Nomination, a book of editorial cartoons and The Race for the 2008 Republican Nomination; a book of editorial cartoons. With all of the recent happenings in the presidential race, wouldn’t it be great if we had a chance to automatically have another book full of the recent happenings but I guess we can check out all of the artists that are within these books on their own websites and blogs. It’s an exciting book, I love reading all of these cartoons. It’s been a great thing speaking with you.
Eric Appleman: Well thanks very much and again I would just refer people to the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, which were essential in putting these books together and their website editorialcartoonists.com.
Dr. Kent: And your website again?
Eric Appleman: That is www.p2008.org.
Dr. Kent: Wonderful, well thank you so much for chatting with me today and I look forward to the next 60 days.
Eric Appleman: Thanks very much, it was a pleasure to be with you, take care.
Dr. Kent: My next guest on the show is going to be Chris Korzen from the book A Nation for All: How the catholic vision of the common good can save America from the politics of division. Come on back for that.
December 28, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Dr. Kent: Welcome back to Sound Authors. The next guest on the show is Chris Korzen, the co-author of A Nation for All: How the catholic vision of the common good can save America from the politics of division. It couldn’t be a better time of year to talk about this book and this topic. We’re in the thick of the election season. It’s September 12th and we’ve got less than two months to see what happens here. Welcome to the show Chris.
Chris Korzen: Oh, thanks for having me on today, I appreciate it.
Dr. Kent: Tell me a little bit about your opinion on what’s going on in politics right now.
Chris Korzen: Well right now you know we’re seeing a situation in which Americans are desperate to move beyond what we call in the book the politics of division and this is where folks are put into these little boxes called republican, democrat, liberal, or conservative. Instead of uniting behind these challenges as a nation we’re yelling at each other on cable news shows and campaign attack ads. So we think Americans are desperate for new solutions to the problems that we face and need to come together now more than ever.
Dr. Kent: Its just I love Obama’s statement, the silly season. It really is amazing what’s happened the last couple of weeks during this campaign. It’s really out of control it feels like.
Chris Korzen: Yeah, it sure has and that’s really unfortunate, especially considering the important challenges we face and 47 million Americans don’t have healthcare. We’re a nation at war on two fronts; we have this economic crisis that we’re facing and a looming global climate crisis. These are the issues that Americans are concerned about and we desperately need solutions to.
Dr. Kent: Now what does catholic teaching tells us about all of this?
Chris Korzen: Well catholic teaching starts first and foremost by encouraging people of all faiths to realize our common humanity. In a catholic context it means that we’re created equal in the eyes of God and the image of God, but this is also a principle that under girds the founding of our own country and if we believe we are all equal we have to take steps to treat each other in ways that reflect that. For too long we’ve been led to believe as a nation that the highest virtues are taking care of number one and ensure that we have the biggest house, the biggest car and not really concerned about how our neighbors are faring. We think as Catholics that the fundamental measures of society should be how the poor and less fortunate are doing and not CEOs and stock markets.
Dr. Kent: Is there a difference between the candidates that you see? I see a difference of course, but I know this book is written for the general audience. Do you make a distinction between the two campaigns?
Chris Korzen: The organization I direct, Catholics United, and in writing this book, we’re committed to being non-partisan. It’s not necessarily our goal to comment on one candidate or another. One thing though that we have been doing a lot of work around is abortion today. Obviously abortion is very important for Catholics as an issue and its something that most Americans have some degree of concern with. We feel however that for the past 35 years this issue has been framed in ways that are generally unproductive to the kind of solutions that Americans can rally around.
We understand as an organization that the best ways to address this issue are not by focusing on Roe vs. Wade and criminalization but really addressing the root causes. Most women who seek abortion do so because of economic reasons and we studied this for some time and when we have strong supports for families we can actually reduce the abortion rate. So we’re encouraged by how the Obama campaign and the democratic party is addressing the issue right now adopting platform groups that calls for focus on common ground, common good solutions to bring Americans of all political persuasions at the table.
Unfortunately the republican campaign rejected some of the language from their own platform. So that’s probably as far as I’ll go to comment on how these campaigns are matching up but its an issue that’s very important for us and we’d like to see some results.
Dr. Kent: You are the co-founder and executive director of Catholics United. Tell me what’s the goal of the organization, how did you get into it, and how did the group start?
Chris Korzen: We started sort of by serendipity. It was back in 2004. the Catholic Archbishop released a document called Faithful Citizenship ahead of every presidential election and in 2003 as always they issued this wonderful document that called Catholics to consider the range of issues from abortion to poverty or the environment, stem cell research, healthcare, immigration, it goes on and on. We were encouraged by this document and discouraged by what we saw as a blatant partisan attempt by groups on the far right that politicize catholic teaching and use it as a wedge in that election.
Specifically they were going after Senator John Kerry, trying to portray him as a bad catholic and in doing so diminishing the fullness of that document Faithful Citizenship of down to just a handful of issues that worked to support that partisan agenda. So what we did was we started a website as a voting guide, where we took those issues and went out and researched all the positions of both the Bush and Kerry campaigns on those issues and provided that as a resource for Catholics. It got a lot of press and many folks were encouraged by it and we felt that we had a duty to continue it. So we incorporated about a year later, we’re called Catholics United.
We’re ### non-profit, which means we can do lobbying and political work unlike your traditional non-profits. We do a little bit more edgy work, we call it hypocrisy when you see it and we encourage a truthful, honest and productive debate on a number of issues including abortion and things like that.
Dr. Kent: Well here’s my question; now in the primaries when it was Obama against Clinton there was a lot of talk about the Hispanic vote and now of course there is with Obama and McCain. Now Hispanics are Catholics to a great extent. What’s your take on is there a difference between different groups within Catholicism and how do you address all of that?
Chris Korzen: Well there’s tremendous diversity within our church to be racially ethnically even in terms of political ideology and I think it’s a good thing. We’re stronger when we’re more diverse and when we can bring as many different voices to the table as possible. Beyond that though, there is a constant catholic teaching that applies to all Catholics and our challenge as an organization that deals with the intersection between religion and public life is to translate that catholic teaching into policies and proposals and ways of acting in a democratic society that can achieve real results.
So we don’t make those kinds of distinctions in our political work between different constituency groups or different members of the Catholic Church. We’re all one family under God and we’re all facing the same reality in this world right now and the same challenges. It’s up to us to achieve solidarity as human beings and act in ways that can move us all forward as a society in the world.
Dr. Kent: I was listening a couple days ago, it might have been yesterday and Joe Biden came out and spoke about abortion and he said, “Well my personal beliefs as a catholic are this way, but I believe that in public life this is what we should be doing.” What is the take of the Catholic Church on abortion? I mean I know that officially this is not allowed, its whatever, but what is in the case of rape, in the case of things like that, what is the take of the church or your organization on abortion?
Chris Korzen: We follow church teachings to the letter so that would teach in the catholic doctrine it is very clear about abortion and how we feel as Catholics that its morally wrong. Now the question that we face though in dealing with how to translate that into public policy and this is what senator Biden is referring to is what policy proposals, how can we actually implement solutions that can convince the church teaching but in ways that can be acceptable to all Americans. Most Americans have some degree of moral concern about abortion, but most Americans and the polls bear this out time and again are uncomfortable with making abortion illegal. That’s the reality that we live in.
That might not be an ideal situation but its saying that were dealt what we have to work with. I think the challenge for someone like Senator Biden who is a catholic, who has no qualms about expressing the state and how it informs his public policy is to show how we will bear out those church teachings and ways that are consistent with the faith. I believe that one can pursue policies beyond criminalization of abortion that make that teaching present in the world. I think senator Biden might have to do a better job explaining that.
When we start saying things like I believe this but I’m going to do that, it sets off red flags in the minds of voters. He went on to say in that interview that he supports and is inline with his party of comprehensive common ground solutions for abortion, such as making sure families and children have healthcare and essential economic support. I think that the Democratic Party in general should be doing more of that right now.
Dr. Kent: So the common good is what your book is about. A Nation for All: How the catholic vision of the common good can save America from the politics of division. There’s a quote out there from Sister Helen Frejan, someone I admire very much, and she says that it’s something that Americans of all faiths can draw inspiration from. She says, to build a culture or economy in politics where everyone rich and poor has a place at the table and everyone has a voice. That’s such an important message, is that something that people on both sides are responding to?
Chris Korzen: Yes it is and I started by saying I think Americans now more than ever are desperate to move beyond this divisive and acrimonious political debate that we’ve had. Really at the end of the day serving the interests of the few at the expense of the many and we’ve heard this as a theme just in this election in general when folks talk about things like change.
Like the need to move beyond the tired policies of the past and embrace shared solutions to the challenges of the future. This is what we’re talking about when we mean moving beyond the politics of division and embracing the common good. You know and in general I think folks are tired of this sense that we should all be looking out for number one and taking care of ourselves as a virtue. That there is a greater purpose to that, be it as people as Americans are just as human beings in general.
Dr. Kent: Well the book is called A Nation for All, written by Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley, with a foreword by Senator Robert Casey Jr. It’s called A Nation For All, How The Catholic Vision Of The Common Good Can Save America From The Politics Of Division. It’s been a real honor speaking with you and I’m very excited about the next 60 days. I’ll keep watching and I think we all will.
Chris Korzen: Oh likewise and thanks so much for having me on the show – have a great day!
Dr. Kent: My next guest on the show will be mike Nelson, author of Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life. It’s a little different than politics but something that’s nevertheless very important to our lives in the fall before winter clamps its hands down on us so come on back for that and we’ll keep talking.
December 27, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Dr. Kent: Welcome back to Sound Authors. My next guest on the show has little to do with politics but of course I’ll probably ask him about politics in this political season. It’s September 12th and the next guest on my show is Mike Nelson. He’s the author of Stop Clutter from Stealing your Life. Welcome to the show. Do we have Mike on the line?
Mike Nelson: Hello!
Dr. Kent: Hi welcome to the show Mike Nelson. Tell me a little bit about your book “Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life”.
Mike Nelson: Yeah, what’s different about this book than most books in the same genre, which would be organizing type books is that I have come to realize from personal experience that cluttering is more of a psychological issue, a psychological and emotional issue than it is about how to organize so I approach things from the viewpoint of we’re cluttering for a reason and its usually a manifestation of what’s going on in our lives; frustration, anxiety, ADD, or just being overwhelmed.
Dr. Kent: Now I tend to be a fairly cluttered person lets say but when I do clean I clean extremely. You know, are there different kinds of clutterers?
Mike Nelson: Oh there certainly are and the types that you’re describing is like if you’re trying to overcome anything in your life, sometimes we go to when we finally make the effort to do something about it then we make a supreme effort. Most of us aren’t that way, we tend to be perfectionists so that when we do clean we’ll do it well, but we don’t want to get into completely cleaning up all the clutter all of the time because it’s just too stressful.
Dr. Kent: Now have you ever tried to declutter the government?
Mike Nelson: (Laughs) No, I don’t have the skills for that. I think that’s going to require more skills than I have.
Dr. Kent: So tell me about how you came about getting into this genre and this book in particular? How it differs from the rest of your books.
Mike Nelson: Well this book in particular is a very personal book in that I had a battle if you will with clutter pretty much all my life and I came to an epiphany when I was living in Los Angeles when my cluttering got between me and a relationship and at one point it actually cost me a very good job. I finally realized that there was more than just organizing that needed to be changed and so I started dealing with the emotions of it and saw there were no other books that dealt with that aspect, so that’s why I wrote it. I found that the support groups, clutterless recovery groups who deal with to help us clutterers try and find another way out of the same box.
Dr. Kent: So is it like an addiction? I mean you talk about the group and all of that, is it a compulsion, an addiction, what is it?
Mike Nelson: I think addiction is probably too strong of a word and compulsion is probably closer to the mark. It’s like hoarding which is a recognized psychological condition. It affects a very small percentage of the population, maybe 1.5 to 2 percent of the people in the United States. Cluttering probably affects about 40 percent but I think its more of a potpourri of an expression of other disorders; anxiety and depression being the biggest one and that clutterers don’t have their coping mechanism is to try and express some kind of control over their lives through their stuff so they feel that if they hold onto everything, they’ll never lose the past, they’ll never lose the affection of other people and the paradox is that it literally forms a barrier between us and the rest of the world.
Dr. Kent: How did you get into this? Lets say at some point you realized I’m someone who is dealing with clutter all the time, but how did you go from that to creating these stories, creating these methods and analyses?
Mike Nelson: When I started dealing with my own issues and with cluttering and I had been in 12-step programs for other things in my life and so in Los Angeles there was indeed a 12 step program that dealt with this and that gave me a start to understand what was going on and I later parted ways with them because as I started doing the decluttering I realized it was more psychology where we had to deal with the why than just the how. And I began interviewing psychologists and psychiatrists as well as professional organizers, people who are on the front lines of this and hundreds of other clutterers in order to form a comprehensive world view of the clutterer’s world if you will.
Dr. Kent: Wow, so let’s say that I’m a clutterer. What do you tell me? How do I go about controlling my life?
Mike Nelson: Well the very first thing is that one, you’re not alone, there’s a whole lot of us and we feel isolated because we are physically isolated. We isolate ourselves and two, the biggest phrase that comes out of a clutterers mouth is that of being overwhelmed. It’s normal to be overwhelmed by most peoples clutter because their whole rooms or whole houses are full of stuff and when you look at that, the disarray; it’s just a normal human emotion to be overwhelmed.
So we can’t deal with the big picture, we’ve got to deal with the small picture. So you pick a very small area, visualize what you’re going to do, write down what you want to achieve, and then as you declutter a very tiny area, maybe work for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and you keep a clutter diary, a decluttering diary of what’s going on. What emotions are going through your head when you’re trying to get rid of something if you’re having a problem with it so that you can work on the real problem, not just the physical manifestation, which is the clutter.
Dr. Kent: Hmm, and what is your daily work? I know you of course are an author and you deal with this, how does this manifest itself in your daily life? Are you working on a new project? Tell me about everything.
Mike Nelson: Well I pretty much make a living as an author and as a consultant and clutter is one aspect of what I do. Another aspect is research, I write books relating to Mexico, the sociology of Mexican citizens and of travel in Mexico and things like that. So I have to maintain some orderliness in my life or I’d never be able to do my work and that’s how the clutter books have helped me to prosper if you will and to move forward with the rest of my life. Then I am the executive director of clutterless recovery groups, which is nationwide, but a very tiny organization. Its difficult to get clutterers to do anything, there is the 12-step group Clutterers Anonymous, which is much larger than we are and probably people are more likely to find a meeting of that than with our group.
Dr. Kent: So your organization is called Clutterers Recovery Group?
Mike Nelson: No, I’m Clutterless Recovery Group.
Dr. Kent: Where can people find out about you?
Mike Nelson: At our website, clutterless.org.
Dr. Kent: That’s great.
Mike Nelson: We try and keep it simple and we do have a social networking with blogs and online meetings and stuff like that.
Dr. Kent: Well it’s a fascinating topic and it really is a part of a lot of our lives. I’ll certainly check out clutterless.org and I think many others will as well. Its been an honor speaking with Mike Nelson, author of Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life and its available in just about any possible editions, including audio so its been wonderful speaking with you and I hope you have a great day.
Mike Nelson: Thank you doctor.
Dr. Kent: My next guest on the show as always, the fourth guest is a musician. The Boulder Acoustic Society will be joining me and I’ll play a track from their newest record. This tune is called Maggie’s Farm, of course we know the tune, but here’s a version by the Boulder Acoustic Society.