Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Sorry I have not  posted in a while. I have been dealing with the same distractions as all of us and trying to put our lives in order. Among the many changes has been restricted to our home for a few weeks. The poem below is a new one that reflects some of my conclusions from this new observation post. I hope you all stay safe in these difficult times.



March 22,2020
              Glenn K. Currie

I am a social distancer
On a walk to freedom.
Rip Van Winkle in a neighborhood
Where I have lived for thirty-five years.

I have passed through a stargate,
And awakened to televisions
With three channels and 800 numbers.
Phones that say the same thing.

My only conversation this morning,
A mourning dove nesting in my garage.
I gave her the weather report,
She ignored me with dignity.

Two fat robins gave me the stink eye,
Then returned to their search for food.
A solitary woodpecker broke the silence,
Then led an ornithological choir.

Earth seems to be enjoying
This humbling of humanity.
Her chance to replenish the air
And reestablish dominance.

Last night I stood beneath the stars,
Bathing in their ancient light.
They told me stories uncensored
By civilization’s white out.

Tales of a world overwhelmed by pestilence,
Fires that engulf continents,
Locusts promising famines,
Floods that would float our land.

This beautiful morning their message
Seemed lost in the quiet peace.
But as I walked
I noticed horsemen following.

Copyright 2020 Glenn K. Currie

Saturday, January 25, 2020


Education


It seems to me that we are always fighting yesterday’s battles in this country. We have let the quality of our education in the United States decay badly. We put up all kinds of political barriers in what we can teach, we give teachers no ability to maintain discipline in the classrooms, and we focus on issues that are relatively unimportant in preparing students for the art of being human.

The big emphasis that the bureaucrats are no demanding in school is math and science. These certainly have some importance in educating our children, but only in the broadest terms. But in most schools we are focusing on these areas to the almost total neglect of such subjects as history, music, writing, economics, civics, philosophy, and so many other subjects that are so integral to what makes us human, and has allowed us to create the great societies that currently exist but are fast disappearing.

Humanity, and by nature humans, has succeeded because it has been able to develop and evolve in unorthodox ways. At present we seem to be doing everything possible to create children who have no perspective on the world around them. They don’t know our history, or how our government works. They don’t really know or understand the finer points of the different societies embraced by the rest of the world. Almost no one is being raised to be cognizant of the origins or tenets of the different religions of the world, and why they play such a role in everyone’s lives. Our children wander through life learning hard lessons over and over, rather than learning what a great teacher the shared emotions and mistakes of the past can be.

They don’t know about the Civil War, or segregation, or Hitler, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, and the American revolution. They have no exposure to how science has evolved, the cycles of human emotion, the world before smart phones, or the stretching of the human mind that comes from philosophy, art, and the social sciences.

Instead we focus on the current trends in science and math which seem to occupy all of their time and yet yield many young people who can’t use any kind of initiative in unexpected circumstances. Their math requires many times more steps to solve the simple problems and leaves them in a world where they can’t even make change.

We are preparing them to compete with artificial intelligence, which is a battle they will surely lose.

As usual we are focusing on the wrong things at the wrong time. The flexibility and adaptability of human beings are what separate us from the robots of the world. We need to be giving our children the chance to develop the skills that can’t be easily duplicated by AI.

Let’s start exercising the other parts of the brain, where compassion, self-discovery, music, interpersonal relationships, and learning from our past makes us better citizens and better leaders.

Yes as a student and lover of the arts, I do carry some bias, but anyone who actually looks at our systems results and failures, should come to the same conclusion.

If we try to be computer processors, we will lose the battle. We need to maintain the special skills and aptitudes that have allowed humanity to succeed. Give our children a chance in this rapidly changing world.

I am including a poem Ghosts from my new book Ball of String , which in a very small way, alludes to the problems described. It deals with the need to understand our planets evolution and the price paid by those who lose the ability to respond to change in an unforgiving world. Most of all we need to understand our own humanity…and our vulnerability, if we forget who and what we are.

The caption under the photo reads: “Nothing occurs without what came before”.

Regards,

Glenn K. Currie

Ghosts


Tall grass and ancient forests
Hide their origins and endings.
Rulers of the Earth,
Suddenly swallowed.
Dust to dust.

Transformed in deep graves,
By a universe that wastes nothing,
They rose again,
Born to be eaten
By their replacements.

New creatures, that breathe fire,
Burn the air.
They birth civilizations,
That make the ground tremble,
The stars blink.



They grow to the sky,
Eating the tall grass,
The oceans and the forests.
As they search for food,
They release the ghosts.

Ghosts who know the cycles,
Unencumbered by time.
And the universe
That wastes nothing.
They have seen it before.

Copyright Glenn K. Currie 2020

Sunday, January 5, 2020


Blog Piece-Start of 2020


Since I last posted here we have survived Christmas and New Years and are ready to face the daunting outlook of 2020.

I want to mention that late in the year the “fall” issue of The Poet’s Touchstone finally came out. The “Touchstone” is the journal produced by the Poetry Society Of New Hampshire. I was particularly happy to see it because I was listed as the first prize winner in both their annual national and member poetry contests. We have some very fine poets among our membership and the national prize is open to anyone who desires to enter. They are blind contests with different judges in each contest each year. I was delighted to read the judge’s comments, and you can probably find the info at the Society’s website, www.poetrysocietyofnewhampshire.org .

By the way, both of the winning poems, Ball of String(national) and Flight of the Owl (member) are included in my new book Ball of String.

At my reading at Gibson’s Bookstore in late November in which I introduced Ball of String I was asked by one of the attendees how I write a poem. I had to confess that it isn’t a predictable process. This last book took ten years to put together partly because poetry comes from a place over which we have little control. I have gone months without writing a poem and then will develop rough drafts for three or four in a weekend. But it can take weeks or years to finally develop a version that I am satisfied with. Sometimes we are never satisfied and a poem we have worked on for months will never see the light of day.

I can’t force a poem and, sometimes, when it reaches a stage that I am happy with the piece, I will look back and wonder where it came from. There is a force within many poets,( a muse?) that seems to work on its own. It rises from the subconscious, perhaps, or visits from an alien world, and just takes charge.

That’s why poetry is art, not science. I can’t just sit down and write for two hours and expect to regularly create something meaningful. It comes from the ether, and often I just feel like a passenger on the ride to the unknown.

Most of us need a little poetry in our lives to open our hearts and let ourselves travel to places far from the hard edges of the world. I hope you will let yourselves flow with the music, the insights, the humor and the discoveries that poetry can bring to people’s lives.
We may need it in 2020.

I am closing with a poem from Ball of String that brings a little humor to the new year. It is accompanied by one of my favorite photos, (which I cannot seem to publish on this blog site). The caption under the photo is “The other creatures of our planet are well-advised to fear us…and to wonder how we survive. Are we a brief curiosity in history, or will we finally achieve wisdom?” The poem itself is called Firefly Wisdom and is written in rhyme with humor and a layer of concern.
I hope you enjoy it.

Regards,

Glenn K. Currie


                       Firefly Wisdom


                                                The elephant said to the firefly
                                                No one could be as strange as I.
                                                I dare dispute what you decry,
                                                My tail on fire, your claim belies.
                                                And though we both are odd, it’s true,
There’s some more quaint than me and you.

Birds that swim and put heads in sand,
Fish that fly and walk on their hands.
But upon the Earth the queerest, methinks,
Is the human creature, who should be extinct.

He has no skills that I can tell,
No wings to fly, no protective shell.
Predators see him as a tasty treat,
And he only runs on two of his feet.
He has no claws to fend off foes,
No fur to warm him when it snows.

So keep perspective about your flaws,
Don’t let your appearance give you pause,
Though often we be of bizarre depiction,
There’s one out there who is stranger than fiction.

Copyright 2019 Glenn K. Currie








Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Blog- Uncut Hay


Those of you who have read Ball of String may wonder about why I included a poem of an event from the Civil War in a book of reflections from my life.

Sometimes we forget how closely connected we are to events that seem deep in the past. But it’s deceptive. Something that occurred 154 years ago is only one degree of separation from me as I write this.

My great grandmother lived with us when I was growing up. She had raised my mother and her three siblings, and in 1949, at the age of ninety-four, she often sat with me at age six and would tell me stories from her youth.

One of those stories was of when she was a young girl living in upstate Maine and watched the soldiers coming home from the Civil War. She talked about how they seemed like hollow shells, as they made the long walks back to their homes.

I have thought about her comments for years, and how it related to my own observations from the wars of my life. This is the basis for including “Uncut Fields” in my book.

The poem is about the aftermaths, the wreckage, that seems to follow every war, even the ones we think of as the “good wars”.

“Uncut Hay” is about the struggles of our survivors, the soldiers and the families, and all the potential from those who never returned…all the uncut hay that is never harvested in a world that is always the loser.

I hope you like the poem and understand why I have decided to include it in Ball of String.

May we find a way to avoid this kind of wreckage in the future.

Glenn K. Curie


1865-Fields of Uncut Hay


She stood barefoot in the dirt road
Watching a blue scarecrow approach.
The straw was missing from one arm,
And his bearded face framed eyes
That had seen too many fires,
Leaving them the color of ash.

Dust devils swirled around his legs,
Trying to swallow him, but their assaults
Fell beneath his plodding steps.
He passed the little girl without a word,
Disappearing slowly over the hill,
One of many ghosts, haunting the land.

She stomped her foot in the road,
Making the dust flee on the breeze.
Then she sat down by the white oak tree
And weaved a bracelet from the uncut hay.
Her father said he would meet her here,
When he came home from the war.

Copyright 2019 Glenn K. Currie



Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Skywriter


Skywriting


Anytime a writer puts his work out there to the public, he or she is exposing a piece of themselves that people often hide. It is especially true with poets. They are usually revealing a part of their soul.

It is a layer reveal that we take with trepidation, as we make ourselves vulnerable to an unpredictable environment. It is also exciting, however, like the brief moment when we first decide to go skinny-dipping on a deserted beach. The covers are off and we are as we were born.

My latest book, Ball of String, took about ten years to put together. It isn’t only about the writing and selecting of the poems. It is about determining what is ready. A typical poet probably revises a poem fifteen or twenty times or more, and we never know when it is finished. The end result may be totally different from what we start with, and each iteration usually involves putting it out to a small group of readers who are expected to find fault. We also sometimes enter poems in blind contests where we will get positive or negative reinforcement in the results. Every judge is different and every reader has preferences in style and form. All of this helps to decide what works may relate well to readers.

In my case, I also have found that collections of poetry work better if they are infused with some color that can bring the reader into a poetic world that has not been enticing to many modern readers. I direct most of my poems to subjects that are relevant to the lives of all of us, and I want to present an attractive product.

The color photos that I use in my books are all my own. I take a great deal of time searching for subjects that will relate to the poetry. This is often difficult because many poems are ethereal by nature and deserve a little shelter from a world that judges too quickly.

My photos are sometimes designed to bring a little humor to the book. Most usually just poke around the edge of the poem, and require the reader to actually do some work to see where the combination is going.

I am pleased and proud of Ball of String. It is a commentary of a lifetime passage as I have seen it develop, but it is also a gradual reflection of how all of us are connected to each other not only through our genes but through our interdependence as we live on this big ball of string.

In a world that is changing so fast, I have often felt like the “Skywriter” in my book. I float alone above a place I no longer fully understand. And I search for a familiar place to land. Ball of String is that place for me. I hope you like it.

May you all have a wonderful holiday.

The Skywriter


He climbed slowly into the weathered biplane,
Whispering to it in the late afternoon cold.
The engine coughed a tired greeting
Then settled into a rhythmic beat
That carried them into an azure sky.

The heavens were his canvas
His brush the noisy antique that carried him.
For decades, he painted in shapes and words,
Fighting the vagaries of wind and cloud,
Viewed by millions watching in anticipation.

But the world had moved on.
The audience looked to other canvases.
Clouds captured in boxes, had conquered blue sky.
Words hid in their own vapor trails,
And people looked in instead of up.

He circled beneath unseen stars,
Searching, in the fading light, for a place
Where he could come to rest.
Where messages were still floated in bottles
And words were still written on the wind.






Thursday, October 24, 2019





Divided We Fall

The news media and politicians have been doing everything possible lately to pull us apart as a nation,
It’s all about dividing us into tribes and losing track of all the ways we are connected to each other.
They want to know the color of our skin, where we are from, and the nature of our politics. No one wants to notice that beneath our various colors and flags, we are pretty much the same with many hopes and dreams that fit anywhere. And the politics of things change faster than the weather. Anyone who hooks their hopes to a particular party for any length of time is going to have a difficult and frustrating life.
We should search in life for the things we have in common, not look for things we can use to cause hatred and division.
If we could stop for just a moment from trying to control each other’s lives because some politician or angry soul is trying to achieve power, we would begin to understand that communities and good neighbors are created by compromise and cooperation. Lawsuits, single party dictates and  denying the individual traits among all the broad members of our humanity does not change the fact that they exist.
We are letting the purveyors of doom and domination destroy the common core that makes America great and gives so much hope to the downtrodden nations of the world.
In my new book, Ball of String, I try to search for those things that connect us as a nation and as members of world community.
The following poem is about all the “scarecrows” that the power-hungry of the world try to use to turn us inward and afraid.
Thanks for reading. I can’t seem to put my photos on this blog (a major issue) but there is a great photo that goes with this poem in my book.
Regards,
Glenn K. Currie

Scarecrows

They are everywhere, flapping in the wind,
Dressed to accomplish their role.
In fancy suits worn like armor to intimidate,
Or in old sneakers and wifebeaters,
Complaining about restricted access.

Soldiers filled with straw, hang from hooks,
Under careful orders to do nothing.
Guardians for a negligent nation
That has spread its seeds in fields
Too fertile to go untouched.

Predators use deceit to elude them.
Monsters see their vacant stares
And pillage without proscription.
The breeze that rattles the tin pans
Only serves to call invaders to the feast.

Politicians and professors fill volumes
Praising the accomplishments of scarecrows,
Certain they will frighten away visitors,
With their hobo hats and souvenir sweatshirts,
While the ravens quietly eat the seeds.

Copyright Glenn K. Currie


Wednesday, October 16, 2019



Now that the print version of Ball of String has been released, I think my blog is a good vehicle to provide a little more information on the new book.
 BOS is structured in a very similar way to the other three previous photo and poetry books that I have published.
The photographs are designed to help establish a mood for the poem. I include them to add some color to the book and also establish a more intimate relationship with the reader.
The poems all stand on their own, but readers tell me they like the mix with the photos, and particularly like the one-liners that are included beneath the photos to link with the poems.
The photos are all my own and have been carefully selected by me from my collection of thousands.
Most of these poems have been written since the publication of In the Cat’s Eye in 2009.
About that time, Susanne began to urge me to submit some of these poems to “blind” contests which are each judged by different writers and are provided without names to the judges.  
During this time, I submitted poems in about 25 contests, both national and local. The results were extremely encouraging as ten were prizewinners and another five won honorable mention. That was a very encouraging success rate given that all judges have different tastes and often tend to select in the areas of their prime interests (rhyme, free verse, prose, etc.).
I was also asked by friends to name the prize winners. I want to leave a little mystery for the reader so, at least for the moment I am going to refrain from doing that, although I will say that five were first prize winners, two won second prizes and three won third prizes.
It was that success rate that encouraged me at seventy-six to publish one more book. Poets get very little support in present society and so it doesn’t take much to fill us with hope that there might be someone out there who likes what you are doing. And Ball of String is a way to get the poems out to the public. Please forgive me for this indulgence.
I hope you like the new book and please give me any feedback that you may have.
Regards.
Glenn K. Currie

Friday, October 4, 2019

Hi, thanks for checking up on me and staying with me. I have been working on a new book, Ball of String, which will be available for purchase in the next week. I have also totally revamped my website which will be in place next week and will be found at the old address, www.snapscreenpress.org.

While the website will have all the info on Ball of String, I want to describe it a little here. BOS has fifty poems and corresponding photos. Ten of the poems were prize winners and the others are all ones I love and fit with the general theme of the book.

The book is about the many ways that we are all connected in our journeys through life and our experiences on this beautiful planet. We are all connected by our genes or the many other interdependent parts that life on this planet demands.

The advance reviews on the book have been wonderful and all are available on the website.
I hope you will take the time to read them and the sample poems I have included.
In the future I plan to be making comments on this blog fairly frequently and I hope you will log on and say hi.

I welcome feedback at Glenn.snapscreen@gmail.com or on the website where I have included an easy way to contact me.

Best regards,
Glenn

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Hi

Just checking in to let you know that this site will be retained and added to in the future. I am currently working on publishing a new collection of poems and photos and will be at a
manuscript conference in Vermont this weekend.
Glenn

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The following post was also published in the Concord Monitor on 5/17/18

I have been watching the slow but steady demise of the Boy Scouts of America and as an  Eagle Scout of this former organization, I have decided to write a sad goodbye to an institution that played a major role in helping me grow up.

The new organization, the Scouts of America, no longer caters exclusively to boys and their change of approach marks the last of the major organizations that worked strictly with boys and young teens in their formative years. (Yes, I am aware that Explorers and Sea Scouts have been coed for years but they cater to an older group of Scouts).

There are many coed organizations that provide wonderful services to children and teens and I commend them on the great work that they do. And there are many organizations that still work strictly with girls and young women. But I think we are leaving many young boys to fend for themselves in the difficult task of learning how to be functioning young men in our society. What they learn on the streets or filtered through a coed screen, will not necessarily completely serve them in adult life. 

The Boy Scouts was a life-changing organization for me. They provided me and many others with scholarships to attend a camp where we learned about teamwork, living in the outdoors, swimming, life saving and many other skills. I learned from counselors and cabin mates, and was able to talk frankly with others about the very confusing aspects of the transition to adulthood.

I am saddened to see that the Boy Scouts of America no longer exists. Generations of young men grew up learning about the need to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind and many other positive traits. New generations will be taught other things by a nation that seems to no longer value these qualities. For years Hollywood has been denigrating what it means to be caring and honest, using the term “boy scout” to tag someone as clueless and impotent. Well, it has finally taken hold. We have trashed them out of existence.

Even though I am sure the new coed organization will do its best to help develop good citizens, its role will be very different. The pendulum has swung in recent years to dismissing men’s and boy’s organizations as unnecessary to our culture. Somehow young men are expected to have all the answers just by the act of growing up, while young women, who mature much earlier than boys, are expected to be helpless in dealing with the new world. That attitude is not good for either sex. I sincerely hope the trend doesn’t continue to the point that the many young women’s organizations also disappear. Adolescents of both sexes often need time and space to figure things out.

We need to pay attention to the special needs of boys who are facing a very confusing period as to their role in society. Losing the Boy Scouts as an organization has added a significant gap in the opportunities for this development. Learning on the street and from video games or Hollywood films will not serve our young men or our society well.

I am including a poem from my book “In the Cat’s Eye” (Snap Screen Press 2009) called Boy Scout Camp as a short reminiscence of what will be missed. I finish with a thank you to BSA for all you did for me. May you rest in peace.

Glenn K. Currie

Boy Scout Camp


Rain pounded
The cabin roof.
Drum beats on snares
That Shrouded
Rabbits trapped.
It was scary at first,
Then soothing,
As we fell asleep
To natural rhythms.

It was us
Against the world.
Capture the flag,
Or clean latrines.
Learn nature’s secrets
Or bleed in its barbed wire.
We played games of life
In pastures
Where children grew.

We lay on battlefields
Of crushed grass,
Reading secret messages
Sent to us by a million stars.
And we found our way
Through dark forests,
To the sanctuary
Of  friendly campfires.

In the end
We learned about life.
Trappers
Taught us
To survive the snares.
And to see
The world
Outside
The rabbit hole.

Copyright 2009

Glenn K. Currie