Poet and author James Whitcomb Riley was born on October 7th 1849 in Greenfield, Indiana. Better known as the “Hoosier Poet” for his work with regional dialects, and also as the “Children’s Poet” Riley was born into an influential and well off family. However his education was spotty but he was surrounded by creativity which was to stand him in good stead later in life. His early career was a series of low paid temporary jobs. After stints as a journalist and billboard proprietor he had the resources to dedicate more of his efforts to writing. Riley was prone to drink which was to affect his health and later his career but after a slow start and a lot of submissions he began to gain traction first in newspapers and then with the publication of his dialect poems ‘Boone County Poems’ he came to national recognition. This propelled him to long term contracts to perform on speaking circuits. These were very successful but over the years his star waned. In 1888 he was too drunk to perform and the ensuing publicity made everything seem very bleak for a while. However he overcame that and managed to re-negotiate his contracts so that he received his rightful share of the income and his wealth thereafter increased very quickly. A bachelor, Riley seems to have his writings as his only outlet, and although in his public performances he was well received, his publications were becoming seen as banal and repetitive and sales of these later works began to fall away. Eventually after his last tour in 1895 he retired to spend his final years in Indianapolis writing patriotic poetry. Now in poor health, weakened by years of heavy drinking, Riley, the Hoosier Poet died on July 23, 1916 of a stroke. In a final, unusual tribute, Riley lay in state for a day in the Indiana Statehouse, where thousands came to pay their respects. Not since Lincoln had a public personage received such a send-off. He is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Here we present Songs of Friendship.
William Wordsworth was born on the 7th of April, 1770 and is rightly regarded as a major English poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature. His words have been proffered by many a tongue around the world. They stir, they inspire they create lyrical pictures and feelings as few others can. Wordsworth's was also Britain's Poet Laureate from his appointment by Queen Victoria in 1843 until his death in on the 23rd of April 1850. This volume brings together some of his finest verse and among our readers are Richard Mitchley and Ghizela Rowe.
“A collection of poems that are bold, inviting, charming, different, humorous, and irreverent. Often, they slip the bonds of common expectation.” —Northern Kentucky Tribune
When Kathleen Driskell tells her husband that she’s gone to visit the neighbors, she means something different than most. The noted poet—whose last book, Seed Across Snow, was twice listed as a national bestseller by the Poetry Foundation—lives in an old country church just outside Louisville, Kentucky. Next door is an old graveyard that she was told had fallen out of use. In this marvelous new collection, this turns out not to be the case as the poet’s fascination with the “neighbors” brings the burial ground back to life.
Driskell frequently strolls the cemetery grounds, imagining the lives and loves of those buried beside her property. These “neighbors,” with burial dates as early as 1848, inspire poems that weave stories, real and imagined, from the epitaphs and unmarked graves. Shifting between perspectives, she embraces and inhabits the voices of those laid to rest while also describing the grounds, the man who mows around the markers, and even the flocks of black birds that hover above before settling amongst the gravestones.
Next Door to the Dead transcends time and place, linking the often disconnected worlds of the living and the deceased. Just as examining the tombstones forces the author to look more closely at her own life, Driskell’s poems and their muses compel us to examine our own mortality, as well as how we impact the finite lives of those around us.
“Driskell has written her path to the Kentuckian sublime.” —Shane McCrae, author of Sometimes I Never Suffered
This marvelous collection brings together the finest of Nancy Willard’s work Transporting us from Michigan farm country to the streets of New York, from a family picnic by a stream to snow-covered fields peopled by angels, the poems gathered here represent the best of Nancy Willard.Willard’s gift for peeling back everyday existence to reveal something magical and wondrous is everywhere in evidence here. Ordinary trees become surreal landscapes “fanning the fire in their stars” and “spraying fountains of light.” Poems featuring Great Danes, donkeys, and rabbits reveal Willard’s love for all living creatures. “How to Stuff a Pepper” and “A Psalm for Running Water” coexist with poems about visits from God. The title poem tells the story of Willard at seven, while “Questions My Son Asked Me, Answers I Never Gave Him” explores the joys and pitfalls of being a mother.Offering imagery from mythical goddesses to pumpkin saints to wise jellyfish, these are poems of astonishing imagination and grace, and will introduce a new generation of readers to Willard’s remarkable body of work.
The Damon Runyon Theatre Hour. Damon Runyon is acknowledged as one of the great writers to come out of twentieth century America. Runyon's short stories are almost always told in the first person by a narrator who is never named, and whose role is unclear; he knows many gangsters and has no job that can be gleaned from his musings, nor does he admit to any criminal involvement; He’s a bystander, an observer, an average street-corner Joe. Runyon described himself as "being known to one and all as a guy who is just around". That line seems to say a lot about Runyon and his life. It was like you were with him on some street corner hustle or some shady dive and he was filling you in on all the angles, all the gossip, all of life. He was who so many people wanted to be with……or so many people wanted to be. Of course, the cliché about newspapermen and writers is that they are heavy drinkers, chain-smokers, gamblers and obsessively chase women with a sideline in the gathering of stories and facts and actually getting something written just before the deadline hits. That seems like Damon Runyon and his life summed up in one sentence. His stories became legendary ways of looking that bit differently at America, of soaking up the atmosphere of a glamorous and rip-roaring age and distilling it into black and white type or, in our case, The Damon Runyon Theatre Hour.
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