Orphan in America celebrates one year!

Happy Birthday celebration! From an idea to a novel one year ago! Thank you to all my friends around the globe! Cheers! 

“The world of literature has no boundaries for words are lighter than air!” nl avery
Orphan in America front cover_with badge

“Bringing back to the twenty-first century an epic novel of substance and style, Orphan in America is a compelling fiction that follows three generations across vast distances and the impact of a dark and unfamiliar episode of America’s past; the Orphan Train.”

In the UK find it here!
In the U.S. find it here!
In France find it here!
In Australia find it here!
In India find it here!
In Germany find it here!
In Japan find it here!

If you see my book let me know…for those who are artists understand…creating is forever a part of one’s soul.

Esteemed thinker: William H. Seward

alaska 1869 Predicting the future; is it an art or is it a scam? There are people who make their living by claiming they can tell the future using such means as: reading tea leaves, examining “life lines” on a hand, or making predictions with the help of Tarot cards. Naturally, most of us would like someone to forecast our future, tell us what will happen tomorrow, if what we are about to do is a good plan or one that should be abandoned.

Yet, if we examine this notion of telling the future, just possibly there are among us individuals who can anticipate the likelihood of what may transpire at a later date; the ability to analyze a situation and project its outcome. Maybe they are simply individuals like you and I who can dazzle us with what we believe is ‘predicting the future’, but in reality they are merely patient enough to “see” the big picture. If so, then if we all stepped back and took our time…. we too could perform such magic!

Seward, William Today’s blog brings you the esteemed thinker: William H. Seward, (1801-1872) born in Orange County, Florida. He served as New York’s governor, a U.S. Senator, and secretary of state during the Civil war. He was an ardent abolitionist, and one of Abraham Lincoln’s closest advisors helping to ensure Europe did not recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation. On April 14, 1865, nine days after he was gravely injured in a carriage accident, the bedridden Seward was stabbed in the throat by Lewis Powell (alias Lewis Payne), a fellow conspirator of John Wilkes Booth, who had that night assassinated Lincoln. Seward made a remarkable recovery and retained his cabinet post under Pres. Andrew Johnson until 1869.

His purchase of Alaska from the Russians, became known as “Seward’s folly” though, his foresight to negotiate a deal in 1866 certainly proved him to be a man that could “see the future” way beyond those of his skeptics. By 1896 gold had been discovered in the newly purchased regions and Alaska became the gateway to the Klondike gold fields. Years later, during World War II, Alaska would prove to be a strategic importance for the United States and in 1959, earning itself a place as the 49th state.

From William H. Seward’s Alaska Speech of 1869, delivered in Sitka Alaska, I shall take you back to this historic occasion. Take a moment from your busy day and reflect on Mr. Seward premonition or “folly of 1866”…you can decide…

“… Within the period of my own recollection, I have seen twenty new States added to the eighteen which before that time constituted the American Union, and I now see, besides Alaska, ten Territories in a forward condition of preparation for entering into the same great political family. I have seen in my own time not only the first electric telegraph, but even the first railroad and the first steamboat invented by man. And even on this present voyage of mine, I have fallen in with the first steamboat, still afloat, that thirty-five years ago lighted her fires on the Pacific Ocean. These, citizens of Sitka, are the guaranties, not only that Alaska has a future, but that that future has already begun.”

Second photo: Portrait of Secretary of State William H. Seward, officer of the United States government,
Brady National Photographic Art Gallery (Washington, D.C.), photographer, Created/Published: between 1860 and 1865

William Hatzill and a moment in time

clock big benMoments are tiny elements of time… a cough, a sneeze, a glance…if we were to calculate how long it takes to react or to perform one of these events it would be correct to say…”just a moment”. And so we see that such a modest allotment, however, can manufacture an enormous memory…a memory so grand and so big that you can carry it about with you and resurrect that instant back into the present. A chance greeting with a dignitary in a receiving line, a hug from grandmother, or even the first time you listened to the air circling about in a conch shell…a moment that has endured for such a long duration that if it had been a rose it would have lost its brilliance and dried into a petrified flower.

Walk by a bakery and the wisp of baked goods will linger yet it was but a brief encounter that set the olfactory in motion. Small pleasures in comparison to big events do not always leave the same mark for it is not always the largest occasion that leaves the most favorable memory. Rather, there are moments which were not trifles happenings, but in its place have severed a wound or engraved a wedge so profound that its removal seems overpowering… a quick glib, a sarcastic comment, an angry glare… the same amount of time yet its effects we wish or hope would disappear as quickly as they were created. Moments in time happen in day and night and its effects are as different as its counterparts light and dark…

How often have we heard someone say… ”Oh, wait just a moment,” or “it will arrive in just a moment.” Yet we know deep down that the accuracy of the statement is not truthful; for the calculated “moment” dwindles in a quagmire of reinterpreted time.

A moment -in -time is a constant measurement like the twenty-four hours it takes the Earth to rotate; it is always the same yet the impact we feel in a given moment can be small or big, tiny or enormous, it can leave us feeling light in thought or heavy with burden, so little like a whisper yet so strong like a hurricane….strange …isn’t it?

William HazlittToday’s blog invites you back to revisit our esteemed thinker: William Hazlitt, a Romantic era writer. This English author and philosopher turned criticism into an art form. His prose and essays were eloquent in style and language, although not without controversy for he was a most principled and outspoken in his thinking.

Let us now take “a moment of time” to read a portion snipped from his essay, “Great and Little Things” (1821) . Here is the ever so expressive Mr. Hazlitt…

“ … The great and the little have, no doubt, a real existence in the nature of things; but they both find pretty much the same level in the mind of man. It is a common measure, which does not always accommodate itself to the size and importance of the objects it represents. It has a certain interest to spare for certain things (and no more) according to its humour and capacity; and neither likes to be stinted in its allowance, nor to muster up an unusual share of sympathy, just as the occasion may require. Perhaps, if we could recollect distinctly, we should discover that the two things that have affected us most in the course of our lives have been, one of them of the greatest, and the other of the smallest possible consequence. To let that pass as too fine a speculation, we know well enough that very trifling circumstances do give us great and daily annoyance, and as often prove too much for our philosophy and forbearance, as matters of the highest moment. A lump of soot spoiling a man’s dinner, a plate of toast falling in the ashes, the being disappointed of a ribbon to a cap or a ticket for a ball, have led to serious and almost tragical consequences…

The truth is, we pamper little griefs into great ones, and bear great ones as well as we can. We can afford to dally and play tricks with the one, but the others we have enough to do with, without any of the wantonness and bombast of passion—without the swaggering of Pistol or the insolence of King Cambyses’ vein. To great evils we submit; we resent little provocations. I have before now been disappointed of a hundred pound job and lost half a crown at rackets on the same day, and been more mortified at the latter than the former…”

Esteemed thinker: P.T. Barnum

P.T. Barnum

There are very few things that everyone likes however if I had to make a guess, I would have to surmise that a bit of “civility and politeness” would be such a pair we all yearn for. For who does not enjoy receiving a simple “please and thank you,” which are delivered without monetary cost. And knowing that all persons like these bits of politeness added to a conversation one would think that they would be scattered about like ants at a picnic. Yet, to our dismay, civility is not the norm everywhere, but rather present in some places and vacant in others. Like climate, we find that some folks are generally pleasant, spreading their politeness about like a summer breeze, while in other regions we find the population lacking in their pleasantries like a late winter storm.

But let us look at civility not as a luxury but as something that can be freely expressed; and so if we give it away, let us hope that the recipient will forgo their miserly disposition and reciprocate with an equally pleasant bit of civility. It is curious to see that though it is free, it can reap benefits beyond its original façade.

PT Barmun portrait

Today’s post introduces the esteemed thinker: P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) a man whose life encompassed the entire nineteenth century, a man who employed and some say exploited the culture and technology of his era. Barnum was an author, showman, and visionary that often scandalized his contemporaries.

Born in Connecticut, Barnum was both a brilliant and shameless promoter often accused of fraud as well as believing there was no such thing as bad press. Barnum’s success will always be connected with the great American circus, although it is believed that his greatest success arrived when he presented European opera star Jenny Lind to the American public (1850). “The Swedish Nightingale” sang 95 concerts for Barnum.

1881, Barnum joined promotional forces with James A. Bailey and James L. Hutchinson creating “Barnum & London Circus.” In 1885, Barnum and Bailey went their separate ways, but revamped their business relationship again in 1888. That year, the “Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth” first toured America.

And so, I bring to you the advice from a successful but often scandalous showman; from his book, The Art of Money Getting or Golden Rules for Making Money here is a snippet from “Be Polite and Kind to your Customers,” Mr. Barnum! (For the curious… P.T. stands for Phineas Taylor)

And though we may not agree with his methods, we all must agree that he obtained success.

“Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly. The truth is, the more kind and liberal a man is, the more generous will be the patronage bestowed upon him. “Like begets like.” The man who gives the greatest amount of goods of a corresponding quality for the least sum (still reserving for himself a profit) will generally succeed best in the long run. This brings us to the golden rule, “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them” and they will do better by you than if you always treated them as if you wanted to get the most you could out of them for the least return. Men who drive sharp bargains with their customers, acting as if they never expected to see them again, will not be mistaken. They will never see them again as customers. People don’t like to pay and get kicked also…”

Second image: Charles D. Fredricks & Co., photographer, between 1860 and 1864, 1 photographic print on carte de visite mount: albumen; 10.1 x 6.0

Edgar Allan Poe and poetic sentiment

annabel_1850The soul of poetry and the soul of art originate from those persons who are sometimes identified, knowingly or unwittingly, as sentimental idealists. And though this label may have pinched the reader, for there are some who would not wish to be considered sentimental, it bears further scrutiny. This ‘sentiment’ is not to be confused with being soft, sappy, nor mushy, but rather a sentiment that indulges the senses and emotions excessively. Such feelings can influence our intellectual or emotional consciousness and depending upon the value we extend to it, we assign these sentiments different names: beauty, pleasure, awe, love, and the like.

As we look back through time and then proceed again forward to the present, opinions of what we believe as having artistic merit and sentiment may have changed. It is here that sets us to wonder; why some artists and authors and musicians were elevated to the highest level of admiration, why some continue to balance upon the pinnacle of fame even after so many centuries, and why those who were once considered great have been relegated to a mere footnote. How is it that our tastes have been so radically altered through the ages, for that which was considered sweet is now bitter? Such a paradox, for sugar still sweetens our tea and a lemon still puckers our lips, yet a poem that once heightened emotions of our ancestors now lies dormant upon the pages like a solemn epitaph.

Alas, there seems to be no real answer only opinions and ideas to be considered. Yet we will continue to nourish our imaginations and hope that we will be roused by those who remain timelessly sentimental…

Edgar Allan Poe 2 Today’s blog brings back America’s great author, the esteemed Edgar Allan Poe (b. Boston 1809-1849). One of the greatest and most influential poet and short story writers of the early 1800s, Poe’s literary genius crosses over into other genres of writing which include critical essays.

In his essay titled “The Poetic Principal”, Poe indulges the reader by providing his critical view and rational pertaining to contemporary poetry and fundamental elements of poetry. I now present a bit of Mr. Poe, and hope that you will take time from your busy day to enjoy his thoughts about Poetic Sentiment and the poet.

“… The Poetic Sentiment, of course, may develop itself in various modes—in Painting, in Sculpture, in Architecture, in the Dance—very especially in Music,—and very peculiarly and with a wide field, in the composition of the Landscape Garden….

We shall reach, however, more immediately a distinct conception of what the true Poetry is, by mere reference to a few of the simple elements which induce in the Poet himself the true poetical effect. He recognizes the ambrosia, which nourishes his soul, in the bright orbs that shine in Heaven, in the volutes of the flower, in the clustering of low shrubberies, in the waving of the grain-fields, in the slanting of the tall, Eastern trees, in the blue distance of mountains, in the grouping of clouds, in the twinkling of half-hidden brooks, in the gleaming of silver rivers, in the repose of sequestered lakes, in the star-mirroring depths of lonely wells. He perceives it in the songs of birds, in the harp of Aeolus, in the sighing of the night-wind, in the repining voice of the forest, in the surf that complains to the shore, in the fresh breath of the woods, in the scent of the violet, in the voluptuous perfume of the hyacinth, in the suggestive odor that comes to him at eventide from far-distant, undiscovered islands, over dim oceans, illimitable and unexplored. He owns it in all noble thoughts, in all unworldly motives, in all holy impulses, in all chivalrous, generous, and self-sacrificing deeds. He feels it in the beauty of woman, in the grace of her step, in the lustre of her eye, in the melody of her voice, in her soft laughter, in her sigh, in the harmony of the rustling of her robes. He deeply feels it in her winning endearments, in her burning enthusiasms, in her gentle charities, in her meek and devotional endurances; but above all—ah! far above all—he kneels to it, he worships it in the faith, in the purity, in the strength, in the altogether divine majesty of her love…”

First Image: The cover of the January, 1850 Sartain’s Union Magazine, Philadelphia, which contained the first publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee”.

Esteemed thinker: Edgar Allan Poe

raven Producers of creative works, may they be literary, visual, theatrical, musical, or any other artistic forms, are all open to interpretation. There are no disclaimers on their product such as those printed on food labels containing peanuts: “this product may cause allergic reactions”. Rather, the work is completed and delivered like an artist stepping out of the shower nude; for without any coverings or explanations the receiver simply accepts or rejects what is presented to them.

The hurried visitor at a museum may scan the walls as one may scan the shelves of the grocery store looking for just the right item that will satisfy their gastronomical craving. The patron of the book store may glance at the illustrations on the book covers searching for just the right image that catches their eye, and the driver in the car may select a song to listen to at the same pace they are driving. Yet regardless of how the selection was chosen, the hours spent during preparation by the artist may never be known nor revealed. For works of art often take on the persona of “a grown up” even though they were nurtured and developed like “someone’s baby”.

For those who create the element of time to arrive at the end product is the “art”. The ponderings, the self-musings, the formal course of action, the step by step workings; all these intimate processes are embedded into the work. And though not noticeable to the eye, or audible to the ear, they are invisibly woven into the piece like a soul.

edgar allen poe Today’s post invites you to join a most esteemed thinker: Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849 b. Boston, Massachusetts) American short story writer, poet, and critic; a most remarkable author whose individual name alone sets our very own minds reeling with wonderment. A man who claims so much interest to readers that many of the tales about his life often rival in fascination the stories he has written. Poe earned the title of “father of detective stories,” when in late 1830s, he published “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque”, a collection of stories containing several of his most sensational and macabre tales, one of which was “The Fall of the House of Usher”. In 1841 with the publication of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” a new genre of detective story was discovered inviting the solving of crimes with the help of codes and ciphers. Poe became a literary sensation in 1845 with the publication of the poem “The Raven,” considered one of the great American literary works.

I now give you a portion of his essay snipped from his piece “The Philosophy of Composition”; a work that will neither tingle your spine nor keep you up at night, but rather tempts you to look at his ‘critical’ side. I present to you Mr. Poe, not the story teller, but rather the observer and examiner of the art he understood and created so perfectly… writing.

“…I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would—that is to say, who could—detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say—but, perhaps, the autorial vanity has had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers—poets in especial—prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy—an ecstatic intuition—and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought—at the true purposes seized only at the last moment—at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view—at the fully matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable—at the cautious selections and rejections—at the painful erasures and interpolations—in a word, at the wheels and pinions—the tackle for scene-shifting—the step-ladders and demon-traps—the cock’s feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio…

I am aware, on the other hand, that the case is by no means common, in which an author is at all in condition to retrace the steps by which his conclusions have been attained. In general, suggestions, having arisen pell-mell, are pursued and forgotten in a similar manner.

For my own part, I have neither sympathy with the repugnance alluded to, nor, at any time, the least difficulty in recalling to mind the progressive steps of any of my compositions; and, since the interest of an analysis, or reconstruction, such as I have considered a desideratum, is quite independent of any real or fancied interest in the thing analyzed, it will not be regarded as a breach of decorum on my part to show the modus operandi by which some one of my own works was put together…”

First image: U.S. Lithograph Co., c1908.
Second image: 1896, Edgar Allan Poe, head-and-shoulders portrait by William Sartain, mezzotint

William Wordsworth and the reading of poetry

map Claudius_Ptolemy-_The_World The concept of reading poetry for some is like translating text from an ancient language. Often it is equated as a chore rather than its intended purpose of enjoyment. On a page poetry can appear rather distant and unfamiliar, like an antique map one intends to chart. The words are disjointed and phrases short of meaning, arranged before the reader like crudely drawn ports-of-call; and our eyes, though wanting to decipher the text are drawn to the unstructured form, its lack of punctuation and deficiency of capital letters.

Poetry conjures up those dreaded days of English classes, red-inked marked papers, and scowls of disapproval. How something so lovely can bring memories of scorn is much like a spring flower settled upon a stem of thorns.

And though it has been brushed aside with the same aversion as a child pushes away a plate of calf’s liver, it continues to be relished by some. Poetry has endured the scrutiny of time, manipulation, reconstruction, interpretation, and criticism. And while it may not be the favored literary genres by many, for those who have allowed its presence to fade away, it is well worth giving it another go. Think of reading poetry as taking a leisurely walk over a path that is laden with gold… only to be discovered if you observe with all your senses the journey set before you.

William Wordsworth 2 Today’s post invites back our esteemed thinker: William Wordsworth (1770-1850), one of England’s most respected writers of both prose and poetry. Much of his greatness is expressed through his belief that the ideal could be experienced in everyday life. He was at home with nature, which is effortlessly revealed through the intensity of these feelings expressed in his works.

For your reading pleasure I have extracted from The Prose Work of William Wordsworth a snippet regarding his principals of poetry (1798). I now give to you the illustrious, Mr. Wordsworth….

“… I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of re-action, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. In this mood successful composition generally begins, and in a mood similar to this it is carried on; but the emotion, of whatever kind, and in whatever degree, from various causes, is qualified by various pleasures, so that in describing any passions whatsoever, which are voluntarily described, the mind will, upon the whole, be in a state of enjoyment. If Nature be thus cautious to preserve in a state of enjoyment a being so employed, the Poet ought to profit by the lesson held forth to him, and ought especially to take care, that, whatever passions he communicates to his Reader, those passions, if his Reader’s mind be sound and vigorous, should always be accompanied with an overbalance of pleasure. Now the music of harmonious metrical language, the sense of difficulty overcome, and the blind association of pleasure which has been previously received from works of rhyme or metre of the same or similar construction, an indistinct perception perpetually renewed of language closely resembling that of real life, and yet, in the circumstance of metre, differing from it so widely—all these imperceptibly make up a complex feeling of delight, which is of the most important use in tempering the painful feeling always found intermingled with powerful descriptions of the deeper passions. This effect is always produced in pathetic and impassioned poetry; while, in lighter compositions, the ease and gracefulness with which the Poet manages his numbers are themselves confessedly a principal source of the gratification of the Reader. All that it is necessary to say, however, upon this subject, may be effected by affirming, what few persons will deny, that, of two descriptions, either of passions, manners, or characters, each of them equally well executed, the one in prose and the other in verse, the verse will be read a hundred times where the prose is read once…”

First image: (1482 ) Claudius Ptolemy, cartographer, Johannes Schnitzer, engraver

Vincent van Gogh and his thoughts on art

van gogh museumMuseums are the windows to the past. They house treasures that have been unearthed, borrowed from other civilizations, reassembled from a time long ago, or displayed for the very first time. They are a wonderland of things that allow each of us admission to a time, place, or experience where we can become intimate with another. Museums come in many forms, some are for objects such as furniture, some are for prehistoric relics like dinosaur bones and fossils, some are for paintings and sculpture, and there are even museums for the news. Whatever the pleasures of men and women there is likely to be a collection somewhere displayed in some building…and fortunately saved for posterity.

Let’s look more closely at the fine art museum, a place where differing sets of values have decidedly created the spaces for viewing. There is modern art, classical art, ancient art, abstract art, and so on and so forth…and with each generation that visits and for each group of curators that have established the exhibitions, so has the appreciation for what we determine as “art” run the gambit. If we were to examine works through the ages we would find that a vast number of contemporaries often yearned for what came before. Many who lived during the age of “modern art” in the 1960s either liked the “new” works or scorned it… many longing for the look, feel, and style of “the past”. So it is with so many things, we often desire a return for what came before… and the appreciation for art is no different.

flower buds van gogh Today’s blog revisits the words of our esteemed thinker: Vincent van Gogh, a Dutch artist that hardly needs any introduction. A kind and troubled man who graced us with his gifts…where his paintings will forever be noted as “a Van Gogh” and we will all understand what that means…. although he lived a pauper’s existence he never extinguished his calling, art…

Let us now take a few minutes to look over his shoulder and read the words from a letter (1883) to his brother Theo …and we reaffirm that time stands still and often things we feel today have really not changed….

“… It makes me more nervous than is good for me to try to talk with people about my work. And what is the result? A refusal or being put off with fair promises. I assure you that I feel less energy for my work when I have been among people. …….I do not doubt that my wok has fault, but neither do I doubt that I am not quite wrong, and that I shall succeed, be it only after long seeking. And I do believe that it is dangerous to look for success elsewhere.
I think there is a difference between art appreciation today and that of earlier years. There used to be more passion both in the making and in the judging of works of art. This or that work was chosen deliberately; one side or the other was energetically taken. There was more animation. Now I think there is a spirit of capriciousness and satiety; people are in general more lax. Some time ago I wrote that I had noticed there was since Millet* a marked decline, as though the summit had been reached and decadence had begun. This has its influence on everybody and everything. …”

*Jean-Francois Millet (1814 – 1875) French realist painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France; best known for his paintings of peasants.