Irish Journal by Heinrich Boll

irish jouranl

By Ray Greenblatt

Heinrich Boll (1917-1985) was a German novelist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972. He wrote a collection of essays about Ireland in 1957;  one might think it strange a German writing about Ireland. However, when staying with friends in Kerry in the 1960’s, I discovered that a number of German-run businesses thrived on the West coast; wisely the Germans employed local Irish workers.

Other than my personal interest in Ireland, what especially drew my attention to Boll’s book was his poetical flare, despite not publishing any books of poetry. He experimented with many marks of punctuation—colon, semi-colon, dash, quotation marks. He employed repetition of phrases like “throaty Celtic,” “lovely day,” “bog village bog,” “God help us,” in addition to other common poetic usage such as metaphor, alliteration, personification, etc. His style brings this book to life.


We would expect Boll to describe the vivid scenery. That is what so many visitors come for; the author does not disappoint, using many painterly techniques: “Darkness hung over Dublin: every shade of gray between black and white had found its own little cloud, the sky was covered with a plumage of innumerable grays.” (14) That was the capital; here is a major city on a river at low tide: “It almost looked as if Old Limerick were exposing itself indecently, lifting its dress, showing parts that are otherwise covered by water.” (46)

This is how Boll imagined a city at night: “I saw the street colored reddish-brown, as if smeared with unreal, stage blood: the piles of snow were red, the sky over the city was red, and the screech of the streetcar as it swerved into the loop of the terminus, even this screech I heard as red.” (18)

Then we move out into the thinly populated countryside. “The hills round about were covered with faded ferns like the wet hair of an aging red-haired woman.” (107) “In withered gorse bushes hung a yellow like dirty coins, shining quartz stuck up out of the moss like bones.” (35)

The coast is reached. “The coastline jagged and uneven like the cardiogram of an irregular heartbeat.’”(64) For some Ireland can become a mystical experience. “At this spot on the coast, whose beauty hurts because on sunny days you can see for twenty, thirty miles without a human habitation: only azure, islands that are not real, and the sea.” (66)

Being an island Ireland is dominated by the sea. “The sea was pale green, up front where it rolled onto the beach, dark blue out toward the center of the bay, and a narrow, sparkling white frill was visible where the sea broke on the island.”  (29) “Harpooned sharks lie like capsized boats in the mud at low tide.” (31) “Azure spreads over the sea, in varying layers, varying shades; wrapped in this azure are green islands, looking like great patches of bog, black ones, jagged, rearing up out of the ocean like stumps of teeth.” (56)

Light can play so many tricks on vision. “This clear, cold light does not penetrate the sea: it merely clings to its surface, as water clings to glass, gives the beach a soft rust color, lies on the bog like mildew.”  (70) A woman waits for her husband: “The naked coin of the moon that has traveled toward the western end of the bay; suddenly the headlight cones of her husband’s car: helpless as arms that find nothing to cling to, they writhe across the gray clouds, dip—the car has almost reached the top—shoot over the hill, landing first on the village roofs, dip toward the road.” (72)

Rain is more than plentiful in Ireland, often lasting for days on end: “When the first tongue of puddle licks its way under the door, silent and smooth, gleaming in the firelight.” (59) “Farmers were rowing outside across their flooded fields to fish up their hay from the water.” (103) “The train plodded wearily into the darkness, crawling as if through clouds of water.” (106) And then Boll uses some droll humor: “A barber was standing in his doorway, snipping with his scissors as if he wanted to cut off threads of rain.” (107)

One of the greatest tragedies of Ireland was the Famine of the 1840’s. Thousands died and thousands emigrated, leaving behind their homes. “Not a shred of material, no color anywhere, like a body without hair, without eyes, without flesh and blood—the skeleton of a village, cruelly distinct in its structure.” (31) “Everything not made of stone gnawed away by rain, sun, and wind—and time, which patiently trickles over everything; twenty-four great drops of time a day, the acid that eats everything away as imperceptibly as resignation.” (31)

Boll becomes almost possessed, as if he observed the ruins of his own city Cologne: “The main street, a little crooked like the spine of a laborer; every little knuckle bone is there; there are the arms and the legs: the side streets and, tipped slightly to one side, the head . . . Left leg: the street going up the slope to the east; a right leg: the other one, leading down into the valley, this one a little shortened.” (32) “Broad as shoulder blades were the two stone slabs sticking out of the wall where the fireplace had been.” (34)


An author—like a painter—is a close observer of what is around him in the environment. Boll can pinpoint minutiae, endowing them with poetic uniqueness. Let us first observe human elements: “Names were tossed back and forth like balls.” (8) “My hands were as empty as the church, just as cold and just as clean.” (13) “Men made of bronze, solemn, holding swords, quill pens, scrolls, reins, or compasses; women with stern bosoms plucked lyres, their sweet-sad eyes looking back through the centuries.” (114) These statues are dedicated to Man, like a museum: “As on a ghost train in an enchanted forest, we plunged headfirst into it.” (113)

Boll notices the animal life too: “Rooks were flying round the tower, clouds of rooks, and from a distance they looked like black snowflakes.” (107)  “Donkeys bray in the warm summer night, passing on their abstract song, that crazy noise as of badly oiled door hinges, rusty pumps—incomprehensible signals, magnificent and too abstract to sound credible, an expression of limitless pain and yet resignation.” (58) A hint toward the humanness of Irish people.

A variety of objects strike Boll’s fancy:  “Cyclists whir by like bats on unlit wire steeds.” (58) Something dredges up his earlier nightmares in the form of a truck:  “ It was simply the ‘Swastika Laundry,’ which had painted the year of its founding, 1912, clearly beneath the swastika; but the mere possibility that it might have been one of those others was enough to take my breath away.” (21)

“Milk bottles in the doorways were white, almost too white, and the seagulls splintering the gray of the sky, clouds of white plump gulls, splinters of white that for a second or two joined to form a great patch of white.” (43) Like a painter he plays with the concept of colors.  “The milk bottles stood gray, empty, and dirty in doorways and on window sills, waiting sadly for the morning when they would be replaced by their fresh, radiant sisters.” (46)

So many miscellaneous “tings,” as many Irish pronounce it, hold a fascination for this creative writer. “The suitcase locks clinked gently to the rhythm of the moving ship.” (3) “Where the button had looked like a full stop, put there by the tailor, the safety pin had been hung on like a comma.” (1) Here are another pair of objects juxtaposed:  “Marbles roll against the step, snow-white drops of ice cream fall into the gutter where they remain for a second like stars on the mud, only a second, before their innocence melts away into the mud.” (47)

We will close this section with a sharp contrast of opposites. “In the slums dirt sometimes lies in black flakes on the windowpanes, as if thrown there on purpose, fished up from fireplaces, from canals.” (14) “A great rainbow arched over the sea; it was so close we thought we could see it in substance—as thin as soap bubbles was the skin of the rainbow.” (62) Heinrich Boll can span from the gross to the sublime.


I would conclude that Irish character is what fascinates Heinrich Boll the most. He has great respect and fascination for the average Irish working people.  Boll is the first to admit that his English is not perfect: “Using the English words with care, like a novice juggler handling china plates.” (26) But he has to work hard to understand another culture. With another touch of humor he tries to be courageous: “I made up my mind to do something which is the basis of the myth of masculinity: I made up my mind to bluff.” (28)

Two very different Irish men he encounters. One is a beggar:  “Epileptic twitching ran like lightning across his face . . . I almost felt as if I were furnishing a corpse with money.” (14) The other a simple farmer:  “The oldest son has stayed home: from far off, when he comes in from the meadow with the cattle, he looks like a youth of sixteen; when he turns the corner and enters the village street you feel he must be in his mid-thirties; and when he finally passes the house and grins shyly in at the window, you see that he is fifty.” (35)

Similarly there is a great contrast between types of Irish women: “She was very tall, fat, and pale, and sat there with her child’s face like a great doll.” (103) In counterpoint a grouping of women at church: “Mouths like India ink, eyebrows like delicate forceful brush strokes. The thirty women were assembled at Mass, at tea, at the evening rosary.” (68)

Tea is a very important part of Irish culture, which Boll grows to love too.  “If Continental tea is like a faded yellow telegraph form, in these islands to the west of Ostend it has the dark, glimmering tones of Russian icons, before the milk gives it a color similar to the complexion of an overfed baby.” (9) Jokingly, Boll names the lady who pours the tea “the tousled tea goddess.” (9)

And yet drinking, be it fine beer or aged Irish malt, is another important component of the culture: “The private drinking booth with the leather curtain; here the drinker locks himself in like a horse; to be alone with whisky and pain, with belief and unbelief, he lowers himself deep below the surface of time, into the caisson of passivity.” (14) Yet in a lighter vein, Boll learns that landlords in summer cater to the tourists:  “We drank, and the clock hands still stood as they had stood for three weeks: at ten-thirty. And they would stay at ten-thirty for the next four months . . . So time stands still, and rivers of dark beer flow through the whole summer, day and night, while the police sleep the sleep of the just.” (40)

Boll wonders: “Are not all the Irish on the west coast almost like tourists, because the money for their support is earned elsewhere.”(72) Also about cursing: “His curses do not belong to the sexual sphere like those of the wine-drinking races, his curses are those of the spirit-drinkers, more blasphemous and cerebral than sexual curses, for don’t spirits contain spiritus.” (87) And the realm of make-believe: “Folklore is something like innocence: when you know you have it, you no longer have it.” (100) Likewise, “The man who has no time is a monster, a fiend: he steals time from somewhere, secretes it.” (54)

This highly intelligent German thinker arrives at the conclusion about the Irish, deciding they are people of paradox: “Strange mixture of passion and equability, to that temperamental weariness, that indifference coupled with fanaticism.” (10) He tells an Irish friend his conclusions: “You are happier than you know. And if you knew how happy you are you would find a reason for being unhappy. You have many reasons for being unhappy, but you also love the poetry of unhappiness.” (37)

In Limerick “we saw the skepticism flowering in hard, sad eyes: melancholy shining in blue eyes, in the eyes of the gypsy selling pictures of saints on the street, and in the eyes of the hotel manageress, in the eyes of the taxi driver—thorns around the rose, arrows in the heart of the most devout city in the world.” (46) “’It could be worse’ is one of the most common turns of speech, probably because only too often things are pretty bad and what’s worst offers the consolation of being relative.” (110)

I surmise that Heinrich Boll took a keen liking to Ireland because it reminded him of Europe devastated after World War II, but in fundamentally different ways.  Ireland had never been directly involved in that costly War; in the past it had been invaded by Vikings, Normans, English. But a major point is that Ireland had never attacked another country. When Protestant landowners were finally driven out by 1920, the Catholic working people reclaimed their land. Boll being a German Catholic and always considering himself an average working man, could comfortably relate to that fact, too. I’ll leave you with a final statement by Boll: “The man who lives poetry instead of writing it pays ten thousand percent interest.” (50)

You can find the book here:

Ray Greenblatt is an editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and for a decade now has taught a “Joy of Poetry” course at Temple University-OLLI. He spoke at the John Steinbeck Festival in Salinas, California. His most recent book—From an Old Hotel on the Irish Coast (Parnilis Media, 2023)—is a compilation of poems and fiction, with drawings by Philadelphia artist Michael Guinn.




Pleasures and Landscapes by Sybille Bedford


The Secret Poetry of Sybille Bedford as seen  in her book Pleasures and Landscapes

By Ray Greenblatt

During a long life (1911-2006) author Sybille Bedford wrote in various genres such as: novel (The Legacy) and biography (Aldous Huxley); she also explored a more unusual category: legal systems (The Faces of Justice). But her writing career began with a travel book The Sudden View and ended with a travel book Pleasures and Landscapes. It is in this latter book that I discovered her poetic tendencies.

Most of these travel essays were written in the 1960’s; that is when I, too, began to travel to Europe. Although I did not have the wherewithal to indulge in high-end food and drink, I can certainly attest to what Ms Bedford writes about the various cultures at that time: Switzerland, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Portugal, France and Italy.


Bedford’s style is unusual in that she writes in broad swathes of painterly words as if she is composing a living picture.  Let us examine an early chapter as she observes how travel has developed over time. “A part, a large part, of travelling is an engagement of the ego v. the world. The world is transport, the roads, the clerks behind the counters who deal out tickets, mail, messy money, keys; it is the porters, the waiters, the tourist industry, the natives, the weather. The world is hydra-headed, as old as the rocks and as changing as the sea, enmeshed inextricably in its ways.

“The ego wants to arrive at places safely and on time. It wants to be provided with entertainment, color, quiet, strong coffee, strong drink, matches it can strike, and change for a large paper note. It wants to find a room ready, warmth, cool, hangers, the right voltage, an ashtray, and enough clean towels.” (13) Notice the catalogue of elements that attempt to give a full overview to so much that constitutes travel. Nouns and adjectives jostle together with semi-colons loosely joining them. Bedford will use this device again in different ways.

Hotels were often a mixed blessing.” The hotels (where there were hotels) were well built, the bedrooms were larger, the wardrobes deeper, a door shut stayed shut. The Victorian plumbing across the corridor was first rate, but in the room itself there was likely to be a stand with a pitcher and basin, slop pail, and carafe. Horror of present horrors: no running water.” (19) You can often catch a whimsical twinkle in her eye.

Then automobiles came at the turn of the century. “The car took him into market towns, to the waterfronts, to the rock pool in the next bay, to the village where they’d found the fresco, into the mountain woods to the inn by the stream.” (22)

But there was the pain of new airports. “It would not have been a long, traffic-bound drive to the airport . . . There would have been no herding, channeling, queuing, standing, waiting, hanging about . . . You didn’t have to live through the takeoff; you didn’t have to think about the landing. Wind and weather, except in the extremes of blizzard, were none of your concern.” (18)

English airports were the worst. “My fellow travelers at the airport (English side) looked short-sleeved and disheveled. Tea slopped in the saucers, ashtrays overflowed, the counters stayed unwiped.  The food displayed was predominantly shredded processed cheese on margarine and white. There were also on sale some of those dead-meat pies, the full soggy weight of which has to be eaten to be felt.” (28)


In Berne Bedford encounters a fountain that is almost too perfect. “This person in armor and pink gloves on the fountain is a bear. And here, on another, is a belted lion in azure, gold-laced boots, and his cloak piped with scarlet, sword in paw, lifting a trusting muzzle to the plumed Good Duke, and on this emerald-and-crimson pillar sits a man in splendid wooden clothes playing bagpipes to a goose, and everything is spouting water and geraniums, and the clock faces are painted too and as large as cartwheels, and there are doves and hares and princes to strike out the hours, and everything is picked out in gold and scarlet.” (62) Bedford overuses “and” on purpose to underscore how overdone this statuary is, a kind of European Disneyland.


The author is often able to catch a cultural trait that typifies the country. We just saw the saccharine quality of Swiss art. Here is something about a Danish couple that is more satisfying. “His face was placid and honest, the face of an honest fellow, with that look one finds in the North, in any North, on hardworking people of good stock, on peasants, on sailors, and also on laboring and contented beasts. Her face was goodness incarnate. We all have become used to the ease with which we can convey nastiness and horror; their opposites have no such ready currencies. I can only try to put down what in fact I saw. This woman’s face, then, shone with pure, sheer, golden goodness, with gentleness and innocence and patience and a kind of grave alertness; it was an open face, water-clear, and one could watch the movement of the slow, good thoughts across it.” (88)


When Sybille Bedford visited in the 1960’s, the Yugoslavs were working through Communism. “Lava tides of people both receding homewards and seeping in, sluggish and determined, a dark, compact mass oozing over the pavements, stagnating at corners, filling up the squares. Their overall aspect is one of sallowness, burdens, and poor clothes—raincoats and exiguous suits in muddy colors, mustard, gritty gray, off-brown. It is the all pervading drabness of one’s image of the streets of Moscow.” (121) The negative words too numerous to repeat dominate this passage.

And yet nature in Yugoslavia is untouched and teeming. Here is a partial description of the famous Sixteen Lakes. You will be dizzied by the flow of water as well as words. “The dominant, the all-pervading, element is water, live water in every phase—water on the move, on the roll, foaming, whirling, swishing water, rapid water toppling over cliffs in suicidal dash, still water, majestic water, horizons of water, tinkling water splashing in elegant quicksilver rays, hissing water spouting from stone and earth, thunderous vertical water roaring skyward in strong jets, folds of creamy water descending in soft cascades.” (131) You feel as if you have been body-surfing after that passage.


This country has its special beauty also. “The lifting of a barrier brightly painted like a lozenge at a fair, and we were in a river valley shining with new leaves—there were magnolia and oleander, fig and eucalyptus, water chestnut and spring maize, haystacks pressed like sugar cones hung from the boughs, and along the roadside the young birch trees were garlanded with vines. Lyre-horned oxen, under painted yokes, advanced hoof before slow hoof; women moved by with forests on their heads . . . we had entered into an Arcadian dream.” (103)

The challenge for tourists in this country was the language, says Bedford playfully. “Change any consonant into one easier to say, replace all s’s with a double shsh, aim at a nasal twang (a blend of Cockney with Meridional French will do), sing the whole like Welsh, explode it to sound like Polish, and do not forget a hint of Dutch.” (106)


France, where she had lived on and off for years, Bedford considered a quality country more conducive to human comforts than most. “The French are both soft and stoic. They are above all resilient.  Their losses in the 1914 war were on such a tragic scale that it left them with a private and a national sense of irreversible bereavement. If they managed to keep a glow on life it was because of their sensuous vitality, their readiness to enjoy what life had to offer, or what they made it offer; their cultivated and articulate capacity for taking life physically: their passion for food, their due regard for bed, that perennial saving streak that is also an undoing.” (24)

What could be more French than a vineyard. “We are shown around the chai (storeroom), the sheds, the cellars, slowly, talkatively. What strikes is the order, the sacred immaculateness, the quiet. The steel vats gleam; the long, straight lines of barrels look as if they have been waxed; the bungs are glass. The whole has the aesthetic appeal of geometry plus spit and polish raised to an nth degree.” (151)

And then there is the all-important tasting.  “We look, we inhale, we draw in our mouthful: we chew, we think. It is a slow process (one is standing, if not always standing still), utterly absorbing and near an ordeal—the raw tannin puckers the inside of the cheeks, rasps the throat like claws, while at the kernel one finds a notion of . . . what? texture, structure, multiplicities of scents, analogous tastes; divines staying power, future harmonies. How? It’s a mysterious process, essentially private, individual—who can ever get inside someone else’s palate?” (151)


Bedford seems to think that the twentieth century Italian male has adopted the car as his symbol. “The automobile must be God’s special gift to the Italians. He even created it noisy. The Fiat, the Lancia, the Alfa are the young man’s fine feathers; at the wheel, he is a bird of paradise displaying a dance of courtship—love my car, love me. Courtship in the animal kingdom is competition. So it’s a battlefield. On narrow roads. Plenty of blind corners. And precipices. Tanks, too: double-decker buses, oil trucks triple-linked.” (42)

All of this leads to excessive noise. “In Italy when the weather is right it is joy it- self; when it fails the single wet day is dismal and dead; just so, existence in this unique country is at times Elysian and at others like a sojourn inside a power-driven mincing machine. Like other travelers, we were alternately floating along in elated bliss or reeling off the streets felled by combat fatigue . . . The noise! There are no two ways about it, either you are Italian or Italian-built and don’t hear it, or you are not and you do and it is unbearable.” (47) Clever wording here!

It is Venice that truly bewitches Bedford. Moving through the maze of streets can highly stimulate.  “Come from the sumptuous shop-lined street into a dramatic square, plunge under an archway, follow the boy with the trolley of tangerines, emerge into a triangular piazetta, cross the bridge, pass the colonnaded church, over the next bridge, up more steps, through a long street where cabinetmakers are chipping at their trade. “ (168) Can you feel the dynamic movements?

She revels in the Venetian food barges. “And for whose eyes? The shopkeepers’ and the greengrocers’ and the restaurant keepers’ who come morning after morning to buy their day’s supply—surely we have here one of the purest examples of art for art’s sake? Perhaps there is in the people of Venice still something of the human sprit that conceived of the tour de force of building a city in the sea and then, far from contenting itself with a primitive dwelling or a Spartan fortress, went on to create a place of incomparable fantasy and splendor.” (172)


While in Italy, Sybille Bedford met Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998), a world-famous journalist and third wife of Ernest Hemingway. The women became fast friends for the rest of their lives, and Bedford aspired to be just a bit like Martha. “Meeting Martha Gellhorn, being addressed, being taken notice of by her, was like being exposed to a fifteen-hundred-watt chandelier: she radiated vitality, certainty, total courage. Add to this the voltage of her talk—galloping, relentlessly slangy, wry, dry, self-deprecatory, often funny . . .” (5)

She looked like an animated statue. “I saw her as the (very feminine) image of the Pierro delle Francesca Archangel in the National Gallery, the presented sword, the heroic yet angelic look, the slender foot poised on the dragon’s head: a shining defender of the just, the oppressed, the poor.” (6)

But Gellhorn was restless. “Before the week was out, Martha said that Rome had had it. (I was yet to learn about those barbarous spurts of restlessness).” (6)

And yet on the island of Capri in their hotel Gellhorn retuned to her inspirational self. “Owing to the peculiar topography of Capri back streets, the windows were near ceiling high: to get to them and undo those shutters one had to climb onto a pair of wooden stools. This we did and reached the small squares of open window-–and there were Mauresque rooftops, stars, night air.

‘Isn’t this delectable?’ Martha said. It was. Jasmine, citrus, oleander, warm stone, a hint of sea . . . We drew it in, leaning into the night, our elbows on the windowsill, our toes on the wobbly stools.

‘We must stay up here,’ Martha said. ‘We don’t have to go to bed yet in those stuffy rooms. Let’s stay up here by the window. Let’s watch the dawn come up. I want to talk.’ We did talk. Martha talked. I can still feel us as we stood balanced on those stools, heads out in the air, like two characters in a surrealist stage production.” (9)

Sybille Bedford began her writing career rather late, at 43 years old. I had my first poem published at age 37, my first book at 45. So Sybille Bedford shows us it is never too late to begin to write–provided we live to be ancient. I can’t think of an apter ending for this article on Sybille Bedford’s poetic writing by quoting from the first page of her book: “Left at dawn, driving south chanting poetry to myself in the car.” (3)

You can find the book here:

Ray Greenblatt is an editor on the Schuylkill Valley Journal. His book reviews have been published by a variety of periodicals: BookMark Quarterly, Joseph Conrad Today, English Journal, the Dylan Thomas Society, and the John Updike Society. His new book of poetry, Nocturne & Aubades, is newly available from Parnilis Press, 2018. Ray Greenblatt has two books out for 2020: UNTIL THE FIRST LIGHT (Parnilis Media) and MAN IN A CROW SUIT (BookArts Press).



North of Oxford – Open for Submissions


North of Oxford is always open for submissions of reviews/essays and poetry. Please follow the guidelines located here:




Open for Submissions


North of Oxford is open for submissions of poetry, book reviews and essays. We are currently reading for 2023. Please feel free to send for consideration of publication. Follow the guidelines on our about page:

Regular Submissions are Always Open


Submissions to our regular monthly schedule are always open. Please view the guidelines on the about page here relating to poetry, book reviews, essays etc.



On Autumn Lake – Collected Essays by Douglas Crase

autumn lake

In this wide ranging; cohesive collection of essays Douglas Crase presents four decades of critical writing and lectures in an intense poetic prose style that is also conversational. Crase brings his subjects to life on the page. Ashbery; O’Hara; Schuyler and Niedecker are but a few. He restores Emerson to the forefront of American writing as well as the commonwealth of creating prose and poetry.

Crase provides detailed accounts of the artistic/literary landscape that became the New York School as well as the Tibor de Nagy Gallery that was the hub and inspiration of the movement. He traces its history to Jean Connoly and its benefactor Dwight Ripley.

Honest writing is the key to an ongoing democracy and thanks go to writers of truth such as Douglas Crase and the documentation of the past. The future awaits us and Crase has set the bar high for all of us. May we live up to his example.

You can find the book here:

g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories and on occasion literary criticism. He can be found at:




Cuban Health Care – The Ongoing Revolution by Don Fitz


By g emil reutter

I am not a fan of the oppressive government of Cuba where there is no vote, no guarantee of freedoms we here in the United States take for granted. As with all the revolutions in the last century based on Marxist philosophy the Cuban revolution devolved into a cult of personality. Unlike the others, Russian elitism and Chinese embrace of corporate identity to support the establishment as opposed to utopia, Cuba did establish two elements foreign to other Marxist revolutions. Cuba established an outreach of medical care for the poor and rural and a literacy campaign to educate the population.

The United States began to assert care for the elderly and unemployed with Social Security and Unemployment Insurance under Roosevelt, morphed into Johnson’s Medicare and Medicaid and finally the Affordable Care Act under O’Bama. Yet health care remains out of reach for millions of Americans. For profit health care seems to dominate the nation as drug companies charge outrageous prices for medicine although most all appear to be produced overseas at cheap rates. Health insurance rates remain high. Political attacks on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid continue even as the programs continue to assist millions and for those who have forgotten we do pay our share for these programs through taxes.

Fitz provides a fascinating read of the history of Cuban health care and its outreach to the poor and needy. It is one of only two bright lights of Marxism in Cuba and coupled with the literacy program should be deemed replicable in other nations throughout the world and yes here in the United States. Health care and literacy are basic human rights.

Through a series of essays, Don Fitz lays out the amazing story of Cuban health care from its infancy, elimination of disease on the island to the export of health care to poor nations around the globe. In this time of corporate and university medical systems control of health care in the United States; the lack of basic health care and hospitals in rural areas, unaffordable care in urban areas, Fitz’s essays are timely and an essential read.

You can find the book here:

g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. He can be found at:

Submissions Are Open

232 1

Submissions are open at North of Oxford. Please follow the guidelines and send your best.