Tag: poetry

You Never Said. We Didn’t Ask: A Legacy From World War I- Poems by Estella Lauter

June 5th, 2019 — 11:14pm

You Never Said. We Didn’t Ask: A Legacy From World War I

Poems by Estella Lauter

My freshman college roommate at the University of Rochester was Chuck Lauter. His dad was Charles F. Lauter (1890-1990) who was a World War I veteran. Chuck married one of our classmates, Estella who addition to becoming a parent and grandparent also became an accomplished award-winning poet. Just recently she has published this 24 page small book of poems about the World War I experience and the effects of war upon a small group of soldiers which included Chuck’s dad. As the title suggests she was not told directly about it by these men but was able to reconstruct their experiences from some subsequent writings about what they went through.

I don’t imagine that high school and even college students get grounding in the history and the personal experiences of those who fought in the Great War. This book is a wonderful introduction as well as a reminder of our heritage. At times it is a narrative, other times it is an emotional insight but most of all it is a beautiful tribute to the great soldiers who are embedded in American history.

If you wish to purchase this book on Amazon, please click here 

Comment » | HI - History, Poetry

Just Kids by Patti Smith

September 18th, 2011 — 6:56pm

Buy now on Amazon: Just Kids

Just KidsIf you don’t know much about Patti Smith and you look her up you will see that she is a very accomplished poet, visual artist, song writer and performer.   Her music is of the punk rock variety. She even co-wrote a song with Bruce Springsteen that made it to #13 and she has received all kinds of recognition for her body of work including being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This book touches upon some of the many things that she has done but it is really a story of  her relationship with a man who wasn’t her husband or the father of her children and wasn’t even a musician. The man however, was an artist and although I don’t believe she used the term about him, it is fair to say that he was her “soul mate.” The man is Robert Mapplethorpe and if by chance you don’t know much about him and look him up you will see that he was a preeminent photographer known best for mostly black and white photos, many Polaroid, and many  of flowers and nude men . His photos were frequently known for their homoerotism. He also took many portraits including  photos of Patti Smith and did the cover for many of her albums.

The both were born in 1946. Patti was born in Chicago and grew up in New Jersey in alower middle class religious family. At age 21 she left college and religion as she headed to New York City with  some vague ideas about being a writer and a poet.  Robert Mapplethorpe was born in Queens and went to Pratt College and studied drawing, painting and sculpture and then set about trying to figure out how to become the artist that he knew he was destined to be. Smith and Mapplethorpe literally ran into each other and became a struggling, symbiotic and literally a starving duo. They had no or little money, at times very little food but clearly had found each other. They shared whatever they had including their bed and themselves. They supported each other in every way. They understood each other and their aspirations. They both believed in each other’s art and destiny to be artists. One time they overhear an older couple talking about them in the park saying, “They are just kids.”

Although she barely mentioned it , Smith obviously kept a diary . She has written this book in a continuous flow as she tells about the everyday events of her life especially about the first several years of her relationship with “ Robert” During most of the book , Smith has not started to sing and is only writing mostly poetry. Similarly for  the majority of the narrative, Mapplethorpe has not picked up a camera yet  and is drawing, making collages and various complex pieces to express himself. We hear  of the names of the many people who were the underground artistic life in New York City. The reader is introduced to life at the Chelsea Hotel with all the great conversations at the big round table in the back room. Some people’s names are more recognizable than others at least to this writer, ie. Alan Ginsberg , Andy Warhol, Sam Shepherd but I am sure that many others would be recognized by the  aficionados of the poetry and art scene of that time  but such familiarity is not necessary to appreciate this story.

Things do happen, these people grow up, establish adult important meaningful connections, opportunities appear, but these two are also always there for each other. Robert begins to confront his own sexuality and establishes various relationships with men. His own art flourishes and he explores his expression through photography. Patti has success with her poetry, publishes, adds music to her work and eventually becomes an important singer. We watch them come into their own and by necessity drift apart but yet are always connected. It is Robert who can photograph Patti for the perfect picture for her latest album. When the deadly scourge of the 1980s especially for the gay community strikes Robert, he asks Patti to some day tell their story. It has taken Patti more than 20 years to be able to do it and we feel enriched by being allowed to share it.

Comment » | AM - Autobiography or Memoir

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