Veterans Day Column

I often discover inspiring reads in the new books section at The A. K. Smiley Library in Redlands, CA. Adam Sol’s “How a Poem Moves” started me thinking about what to write for my Inlandia Literary Journeys column that was scheduled to appear in print just before Veterans Day.

Published in Canada, Sol’s book may be purchased online or ordered from your local book store. The book may be marketed to readers of poetry, but will inspire many a poet to consider the moves they might make with their own poems. Sol maintains a blog by the same name as the title of his book.

Taken with Lucia Galloway‘s “Ten Miles from Home” while reading her new book “Some Words for Meanwhile,” I was excited when I learned she would be reading at the DA Arts Center in Pomona. At her reading I asked her if I might use her poem for my Veterans Day column. She agreed and kindly added the poem to the poems she read that evening.

Galloway at the DA Arts Center in Pomona

My column, “How a poem captures the dissonance of drone warfare” appeared in four of the Southern California News Group’s papers: The Press Enterprise, The Redlands Daily Facts, The Sun, and The Inland Valley Bulletin.

On Sunday, November 10, 2019, the column ran in the print editions. I enjoy driving around the region to purchase a copy of each of the papers to see how they varying in their presentations.

Photo of Wilfred Owen in public domain

I allude to the British World War I poet Wilfred Owen in my column. For my undergraduate thesis to earn my BA in English, I utilized James Fowler’s faith development theory to analyze the life of Owen and consider how his transitioning stages of faith appeared in his poetry. I was privilege to meet one of the major Owen biographers and scholars, Dominic Hibberd, when he came to Atlantic Union College to visit with Professor Deborah Leonard who had taught with him in China. Ms. Leonard served as advisor to my thesis.

Commonplace Books

Recently, I’ve been exploring the use of a commonplace book for myself and for my students. My Inlandia Literary Journeys column for this morning appeared in The Press Enterprise, The Inland Valley Bulletin, and the San Bernardino Sun.

The Letter that Made Me Write

My mother’s failure to write me for three months after she had written me regularly for over thirty years scared me.  I feared I had received my last letter from her.  My Inlandia Literary Journeys column this Sunday, December 14th in the Press Enterprise came from my personal reflections and research into the world concern about the decline in personal letter writing.

Not All Is in the Cards for Sure

Unsigned Christmas cards disappoint me. Digital ubiquity has inverted my heart’s rate—one handwritten word is worth a thousand pictures. A sentiment I expressed in a poem earlier today:

Unendorsed

Your glossy photo card

bore my address,

but wasn’t worth the

envelope’s rip without

a single letter written

by your hand.

I feel doubly disconnected when my family and friends who live afar don’t write or call. I’m addicted to social media like most Americans, but likes and emoticons are not enough. I crave audible conversation and handwritten correspondence. I cherish slow exchanges. That’s why I write something personal in each of my cards, even though I include a typewritten Christmas letter.

When my older brother Benny spent over forty minutes on the phone with me this past weekend, I was ecstatic. I felt valued when he called me back the two times our call got dropped.

In Essays After Eighty Donald Hall reflects, “Apparently Facebook exists to extinguish friendship. E-mail and texting destroy the post office. eBay replaces garage sales. Amazon eviscerates bookstores. Technology speeds, then doubles its speed, then doubles it again.”

We can sidestep the destructive impact of technology. Take a tech-free afternoon this weekend. Turn off the television. Disconnect from your electronic devices. Take a nap. Buy a card or create your own. Postage is more expensive than it used to be, but with its relatively higher price comes the sense that you care enough to pay.

Some, like Miles Brignall of the British newspaper The Guardian, worry the 147-year-old tradition of Christmas cards are endangered, as others fear for the older art of letter writing. (See my forthcoming column in this Sunday’s Press Enterprise.) Let’s make a future for personal cards and traditional correspondence.

If your budget is tight, consider sending just a few cards. If time and money allow, send a bundle. Imagine how festive you make others feel as they place your card above their fireplace or hopefully if they have received enough cards, to ornament a doorframe. But best of all, will be your signature, your personally chosen words.

Orangelandia

Over a hundred and fifty people gathered at the Sunkist Activity Center of the California Citrus State Historic Park for the launch of the anthology edited by outgoing Inlandia Laureate Gayle Brandeis. Orangelandia: The Literature of Inland Citrus.

More than half of the anthology’s contributors read from the anthology which includes poetry, fiction, essays, drama, memoirs, and recipes.

Reading my own poems included in the anthology (“Wishing for a Ladder,” “Redlands’ Sunset,” and “The Navel Line”) and listening to the writings of others reminded me how much oranges are symbols of the golden dreams so many of us have formed in the fertile landscape of Southern California.

David Stone and Inlandia Laureate (2012-2014) Gayle Brandeis at the launch of the anthology she edited, Orangelandia:  The Literature of Inland Citrus

David Stone and Inlandia Laureate (2012-2014) Gayle Brandeis at the launch of the anthology she edited, Orangelandia: The Literature of Inland Citrus

David Stone and Anne Chaffee

David Stone and Anne Chaffee

Ben and Naoma Stone on their first visit to California in 1996

Ben and Naoma Stone on their first visit to California in 1996