Thursday, April 30, 2009

Presidential Libraries

Now that President Obama has achieved his One Hundredth Day and had his "Hallmark Holiday"--or was it his "Kodak Klap on the Back"? Or his "Kutsie Klap on the Barack"? I could go on if you don't stop me.

Seriously now, readers, the following was originally written as a letter to the editor at the Washington Post but was not picked up by them, so instead you have the chance to read my words of wisdom on the vexing topic of Presidential Libraries. Get ready.

Back on December 5, in that unearthly twilight zone between Barack Obama's November 4 election night victory, George W. and Laura Bush packing their stuff up and vacating the White House, and Obama's historic inauguration back on January 20, the Post ran an editorial entitled "President Got-a-Buck? Bill Clinton's secret fundraising for his presidential library was wrong--and so is George W. Bush's."

So (big intake of breath). . . let us ask the hard question, "Why should every single new U.S. President get a Presidential Library?"

President George W. Bush was our 43rd President and Obama is our 44th President. All presidents in the modern era have had a library built in their name, beginning with the 31st President, Herbert Hoover (per the National Archives website on such libraries; hit the title above to go there. . .). But imagine if a new library was to be built for the next 44 United States presidents? Isn't this getting a bit absurd? Each time a new presidential library is built it exponentially increases the number of staff needed, not to mention equipment and other requirements, at today's spiralling costs.

True the building of yet another such library creates jobs but surely the money for building and staffing the library could be put to better use if in future the papers of presidents were to be consolidated in one location. Doesn't that sound a more reasonable solution? So in these straitened financial times, will President Obama be public spirited and be the first modern era president to found a generic United States Presidential Library that will henceforth hold his papers and the papers of all succeeding presidents?

How about if former President George W. Bush, instead of founding his own library, agree to share the library of his father, past President George Herbert Walker Bush, our 41st president, in College Station, Texas? Actually, in those circumstances, the library could remain the "George Bush Presidential Library and Museum", could it not? Or would Hillary Rodham Clinton, if she should become president, agree to share a library with her husband? Something to think about.

In this perilous world economy when we citizens of the United States and people worldwide have to tighten their belts, how about if U.S. Presidents were to be reasonable about the need to build future presidential libraries each in their name? And one other thing, concerning the mere matter of bucks, to get back to the theme of the Post editorial, "President Got-a-Buck?", couldn't the donors who are donating to build yet another presidential library put their funds to much better use giving it to humanitarian charities or other worthy causes.

Dad Never Read Novels

He was more of a Newsweek-
Huntley-Brinkley-Cronkite man,
but before he died when ill he read
steamy big gamehunter type novels,
on the scent of rhino and cougar.

Dad would rage about the plots
just like he'd rage at the news and
the folk who "climb on the taxpayer's
back." I found a couple of saucy
paperbacks hidden in his closet,
checked the well-thumbed bits.

He read my would-be novel,
offered persnickety edits,
always missed the big picture,
complained that I was being mildly
porno (tho' it was more pun-
ography). He had begun in the UK as

an English socialist, grousing
about Harold Macmillan and
people who "never had it so good."
Argued about America's need for
socialized medicine. But latterly

he'd developed a passion for
talk radio. I feel certain
he'd long forgotten Labour.
I have the notion that today
he'd love Rush Limbaugh.

Christopher T. George

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Softly, Softly, April Morning

Softly Softly, April Morning

Ah! I'll settle for tulips, after
being told off last evening by
a fellow rider on the Marc train
for allegedly trying to photograph
passengers. The blooms won't object!
Won't sue or make me feel blue: I
just stand in the D.C. rain and snap
away in the Smithsonian Gardens,
just me and my cellphone cam
under my umbrella with the raindrops
pit-patter above my head, whoah whoah.

Christopher T. George

Poe's Statue, University of Baltimore

Newly out in The New Yorker is a fine essay, "The Humbug: Edgar Allan Poe and the economy of horror" by Jill Lepore in which Lepore provides a good perspective on the writer. The essay might anger some Poe fans since it paints him as a habitual liar and con artist. What else is new? Access Ms. Lepore's article through the link in the title to this post. Do NOT throw ripe tomatoes at your computer screen!!!! And don't forget my upcoming talk and tour on "The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe" in Baltimore. I am depending on you to sign up for the talk and tour. If I don't get enough people to sign up, I might just have to do it in cyberspace. Ha ha.

Don't Go Quite As Far

I don't drive quite as far, in the Spring air,
--travel north of Bel Air, to the old Booth
mansion, where John Wilkes dreamed his
dreams. At B and N, to promote my Poe talk
(coming class I hope to teach, signups low),
I hand out all my flyers, to each and each.

Deliver my fervent promo, keep dreaming
my dream. Then, seeing I am at B and N,
I pull my punches on that Larkin poem
(the one about parents who "eff" us up),
read the milder "Annus Mirabilis" instead.

But then, up springs a young pup, borrows
my yellowed High Windows, and, surprise!
thank God, bowdlerizes it for all it's worth!

Christopher T. George

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Issue of Loch Raven Review Is Published!

The Spring 2009 issue of Loch Raven Review is now live. To visit us go through the link in the title above. The issue features:

Poetry by Bob Bradshaw, Dan Cuddy, Dawn Dupler, Liz Gallagher, Bernard Henrie, Guy Kettelhack, Larry Kimmel, Andrea Potos, Casey Quinn, Doug Ramspeck, Paula Ray, Oliver Rice, Michael Salcman, Arthur Seeley, KH Solomon, and Ray Templeton.

Fiction by Stephanie King and John Riebow.

Five poems by Ernest Bryll translated from the Polish by Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka and a story by Al Mahmud translated from the Bengali by Ahmede Hussain.

Christopher T. George interviews C.E. Chaffin and reviews Chaffin's Unexpected Light: Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008, while Dan Cuddy weighs in on Stranger At Home, An Anthology: American Poetry With An Accent, edited by Andrey Gritsman, Roger Weingarten, Kurt Brown, and Carmen Firan.

Here is a powerful little poem by C.E. Chaffin:


It’s 4:30 AM, pitch-black and cold.
I spoon against your body
wishing there were no cotton
to separate us, not even skin.

I want to crawl up your tunnel
and hide deep in your belly
before the sun exposes me.
Let me re-gestate, please.

Maybe this time it will be better,
maybe this time I won’t end up
clinging to you like a life raft
in the shipwrecked night,
forty and terrified.

If you should wake
and want to make love
I may stay inside forever.

C.E. Chaffin

C.E. Chaffin with his dog, J. Alfred Prufrock, whom he describes as “my little English butler with a Japanese provenance.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

Upcoming Events Featuring Christopher T. George

Barnes and Noble Poetry Book Fair, Bel Air, Maryland, Sunday, April 19 at 2-6 p.m.

A smorgasbord of featured readers, open mic, and music hosted by Harford Poetry Society. Readers include Christopher T. George, Clarinda Harriss, Leslie F. Miller, Dr. Michael Salcman, and Colleen Webster. Barnes and Noble, Tollgate Marketplace, 620 Marketplace Drive, Bel Air, MD 21014. Tel. 410-638-7023.

Edgar Allan Poe in 1848

Also poet and historian Christopher T. George will be teaching a one-evening class with a day tour of sites associated with Poe in the Kaleidoscope program at Roland Park Country School on "The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe." The class will discuss the mystery of Poe's death here in Baltimore in October 1849 as well as his many connections to the city.

Class night Thursday, April 30, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, with field trip, Saturday, May 2, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Download the Kaleidoscope program in pdf form through the title to this blog listing or call (410) 323-5500 x 3045 with any inquiries.