stephen page

Home of the Brave – Stories in Uniform-Edited by Jeffery Hess

.home of the brave cover

.

By Stephen Page

.

With Home of the Brave, editor Jeffery Hess puts together a collection of short stories about people in the U.S. military.  The period covered is from World War II to the present.  Although many of the stories refer to war, very few depict actual battles.

Let me reiterate that these are stories about people—humane stories, humanistic statements, reports about humanity.

This book will appeal to almost every reader, civilian and military alike.  Jeffery Hess does a fine job in choosing stories that have empathetic characters, hard-hitting human drama, and convincing plots.  The tales stick with you, the reader, long after you read them.   Some of these stories will shock you; some will hit you right where you live.

A portion of proceeds from each book sold is donated to USA Cares.

Read more about the book here: Home of the Brave

Read interviews with the editor: Mary Akers Blog

This book may be purchased here: Amazon 

.

Stephen Page is the  author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at

https://smpages.wordpress.com/

 

Advertisements

A Boat Full of Seagulls: 10 Poems and Tangos – Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Page

Stephen Page phot with muse (1)

Stephen Page and Muse 

.

Poet Stephen Page recently had this collection published at National Translation Month. Here is the link to the pdf file : http://nationaltranslationmonth.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Stephen-Page-Spanish.pdf

Summer Reading Recommendations

sunrise woods 1

Photograph by g emil reutter

 

Here are the top ten book reviews based on readership at North of Oxford for the first six month of 2017. Consider them for your summer reading.

 

Magnesium by Ray Buckley

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/magnesium/

Shoot the Messenger by John Dorsey

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/shoot-the-messenger/

100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/100-selected-poems-by-e-e-cummings/

Unmaking Atoms by Magdelina Ball

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/unmaking-atoms-by-magdalena-ball/

The Way Back by Joyce Meyers

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/the-way-back-by-joyce-meyers/

Seek the Holy Dark by Clare L. Martin

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/07/01/seek-the-holy-dark-by-clare-l-martin/

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’s Poetics

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/whos-afraid-of-virginia-woolfs-poetics/

Martin Fierro by Jose Hernandez

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/07/01/martin-fierro-by-jose-hernandez/

Bird Flying through the Banquet by Judy Kronenfeld

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/bird-flying-through-the-banquet-by-judy-kronenfeld/

Justine by Lawrence Durrell

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/justine-by-lawrence-durrell/

.

.

Versos de un Doctor Criollo (A Ranch Vet’s Verse) by Fernando M. Terrizzano

VesrsosDeUnDoctorCriolloBookCover

.

Review by Stephen Page

While I was in a veterinary store in Lobos, a neighboring town twenty kilometers north of a ranch I was visiting, I noticed a stack of brown and red books on the corner of the display-case divider that divides the tellers from the customers. I picked up one of them and recognized the cover illustration as a Gustavo Solari, a local, and internationally famous, artist. The title of the book was “Versos de un Doctor Criollo” (“A Ranch Veterinarian’s Verses”), and it was written by Fernando M. Terrizzano, a veterinarian who lives on a ranch that borders the same river my friend’s ranch borders, El Río Salado (The Salty River). I didn’t even open the book to read a few of the poems. I just decided to support the local artists by purchasing the book. I am glad I did. What I like about the book is the quality of writing, the attitude of the narrator, and the vivid characterizations. Terrizzano reveals the rustic realities that accompany pastoral settings while portraying the ranch workers as human beings. As Bruce Chatwin said once, “If you can’t maintain the dignity of the people you are writing about, then you shouldn’t be telling their stories in the first place.” Many scenes in the book are Wild-Western. More importantly the book has Green Appeal, as the narrator watches pastures and wetlands transform into biosphere-poisoning mass agriculture.

The book is available by going to or contacting anyone in the veterinary office “La Ensenada” San Martin 8, Lobos Province- Buenos Aires.  Telephone  02227 – 42-2009.

 

Stephen Page is the  author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at

https://smpages.wordpress.com/

.

Martin Fierro by José Hernandez

Martin Fierro - Jose Hernandez
.
Review by Stephen Page
.
In order to delve deeper into the gaucho mind, as research for my poem project, I read José Hernandez’s Martin Fierro.  I have been told by many people that the fictional character Martín Fierro is a model for gauchos.  Argentine children are required to memorize the first part of the poem in grade school, and most everyone in Argentina sees Fierro as a kind of Robin Hood (though I see him as more of a Jesse James or a Billy the Kid).  To help you begin to understand, I translated the first part of the poem for you.  It is in the Criollo vernacular, so it required a lot of reference work.  The epic poem is a novel in verse, with character development and a thick plot. It is over 2,000 lines long, set mostly in six-line stanzas, the 2nd , 3rd and 6th lines rhyming, and the 4th and 5th lines rhyming; the first line is unrhymed, I think as a way for Hernandez to freely set up the stanza.  In my translation, I tried to maintain some meter, but the rhyme I disregarded in order not to bend syntax and meaning.   If Martin Fierro is an anti-hero for the Argentine people and a model for gauchos, I understand now why there are so many bad-guys that work on ranches.  Fierro deserts the army, raids Indian camps, picks one-on-one knife fights with other men just to watch how they die, and ends up stealing for a living, blaming the government and rich people for his actions.  Things are becoming clearer for me.  The poem begins as an anthem against colonialism and political war (you could parallel this with a ‘have-not’ rising against the ‘haves’), but it ends up an excuse for sociopathic behavior and pure anarchy.   (This is, of course, a culture issue, and I use my knowledge of this not to judge but to understand.)
.
I – Cantor y Gaucho
.
 1
Aquí me pongo a cantar
Al compás de la vigüela,
Que el hombre que lo desvela
Una pena estraordinaria
Como la ave solitaria
Con el cantar se consuela.
.
2
Pido a los Santos del Cielo
Que ayuden mi pensamiento;
Les pido en este momento
Que voy a cantar mi historia
Me refresquen la memoria
Y aclaren mi entendimiento.
.
3
Vengan Santos milagrosos,
Vengan todos en mi ayuda,
Que la lengua se me añuda
Y se me turba la vista;
Pido a Dios que me asista
En una ocasión tan ruda.
.
4
Yo he visto muchos cantores,
Con famas bien obtenidas,
Y que después de adquiridas
No las quieren sustentar
Parece que sin largar
se cansaron en partidas
.
5
Mas ande otro criollo pasa
Martín Fierro ha de pasar;
nada lo hace recular
ni los fantasmas lo espantan,
y dende que todos cantan
yo también quiero cantar.
.
6
Cantando me he de morir
Cantando me han de enterrar,
Y cantando he de llegar
Al pie del eterno padre:
Dende el vientre de mi madre
Vine a este mundo a cantar.
.
7
Que no se trabe mi lengua
Ni me falte la palabra:
El cantar mi gloria labra
Y poniéndome a cantar,
Cantando me han de encontrar
Aunque la tierra se abra.
.
8
Me siento en el plan de un bajo
A cantar un argumento:
Como si soplara el viento
Hago tiritar los pastos;
Con oros, copas y bastos
Juega allí mi pensamiento.
.
9
Yo no soy cantor letrao,
Mas si me pongo a cantar
No tengo cuándo acabar
Y me envejezco cantando:
Las coplas me van brotando
Como agua de manantial.
.
10
Con la guitarra en la mano
Ni las moscas se me arriman,
Naides me pone el pie encima,
Y cuando el pecho se entona,
Hago gemir a la prima
Y llorar a la bordona.
.
11
Yo soy toro en mi rodeo
Y torazo en rodeo ajeno;
Siempre me tuve por güeno
Y si me quieren probar,
Salgan otros a cantar
Y veremos quién es menos.
.
12
No me hago al lao de la güeya
Aunque vengan degollando,
Con los blandos yo soy blando
Y soy duro con los duros,
Y ninguno en un apuro
Me ha visto andar tutubiando.
.
13
En el peligro, ¡qué Cristos!
El corazón se me enancha,
Pues toda la tierra es cancha,
Y de eso naides se asombre:
El que se tiene por hombre
Ande quiere hace pata ancha.
.
14
Soy gaucho, y entiendaló
Como mi lengua lo esplica:
Para mí la tierra es chica
Y pudiera ser mayor;
Ni la víbora me pica
Ni quema mi frente el sol
.
15
Nací como nace el peje
En el fondo de la mar;
Naides me puede quitar
Aquello que Dios me dio
Lo que al mundo truje yo
Del mundo lo he de llevar.
.
16
Mi gloria es vivir tan libre
Como el pájaro del cielo:
No hago nido en este suelo
Ande hay tanto que sufrir,
Y naides me ha de seguir
Cuando yo remuento el vuelo.
.
17
Yo no tengo en el amor
Quien me venga con querellas;
Como esas aves tan bellas
Que saltan de rama en rama,
Yo hago en el trébol mi cama,
Y me cubren las estrellas.
.
18
Y sepan cuantos escuchan
De mis penas el relato,
Que nunca peleo ni mato
Sino por necesidá,
Y que a tanta alversidá
Sólo me arrojó el mal trato
.
19
Y atiendan la relación
que hace un gaucho perseguido,
que padre y marido ha sido
empeñoso y diligente,
y sin embargo la gente
lo tiene por un bandido
.
 
The Gaucho Martín Fierro
.
I – Singer and Gaucho.
.
1
Here I begin to sing
with the company of guitar,
like a man who is sleepless
from an extraordinary pain
that like a solitary bird
sings to be consoled.
.
2
I ask the saints in Heaven
to help me with my thoughts;
I ask them during this moment
that I will sing my history
to refresh my memory of me
and clarify my understanding.
.
3
Come Holy miracles,
come all to my aid,
the language tongue-ties me
and clouds my vision;
I ask that God assists me
in so crude an occasion.
.
4
I have seen many singers,
who obtained good fame,
and after they acquired it
did not want to keep it;
it seems that without realizing
they got tired of the games.
.
5
Further than any gaucho
has Martín Fierro gone;
nothing he does is cowardly
or is he frightened by ghosts,
and since they all sing
I also want to sing.
.
6
Singing I will die
singing they will bury me,
and singing I will arrive
at the foot of the Eternal Father:
because from the belly of my mother
I came into this world to sing.
.
7
Because my speech is not perfect
and words are hard to find:
through singing my glory shines
and  by setting myself to sing,
singing they will find me
even when the Earth chasms.
.
8
I am in the plan of a lowly one
to sing out  in protest:
like when the wind blows
it makes the grass ripple;
with all the cards in a deck of tricks
my thoughts will play there.
.
9
I am not a learned singer,
and when I start to sing
I do not know when to stop
so I age while I am singing:
the songs are flowing from me
like a water from a spring.
.
10
With a guitar in my hand
the flies do not bother me,
nobody is above me,
and when my chest intones,
I make the strings moan
and cry with the chords.
.
11
I am the bull of my own herd
but visit other herds;
I always thought myself quite good,
but if they want to test me
in contest with another,
they will see who is the better.
.
12
Do not place me in the ranks
when they come cutting throats,
with the friendly I am friendly
but with the tough I am tougher,
and none in any confrontation
have ever seen me walk trembling.
.
13
In dangerous situations, Christ Jesus!
my courage enlarges,
and because all the world is a battle-field,
no one can be astonished:
that who he who is a real man
stands with his legs splayed wide.
.
14
I am gaucho, and understand
like my language will explain;
for me the Earth is small
and should be much larger,
but the viper never bites me
and the sun never scorches me.
.
15
I was born as a fish is born
at the bottom of the sea;
none can take from me
what God gave to me;
what the world gives to me
to the world I will return.
.
16
My glory is to live free
as the bird in the sky:
I do not make a nest on this ground
where to walk is to suffer,
and no one has to follow me
when I veer in my direction.
.
17
I do not have love
for those that come to quarrel;
like those beautiful birds
that jump from branch to branch,
I make my bed with grasses,
and the stars are my blanket.
.
18
And know when you listen
in empathy for my pain,
that I never fight or kill
except when it is necessary,
and when I am so badly treated
I have to give in return.
.
19
And they who make the rules
that persecute a gaucho,
who though father and husband
has been loyal and diligent,
have created for themselves
a bandit for the people
 .
.

Stephen Page is the  author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at

https://smpages.wordpress.com/

 

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

a poetry notebook covr

Reviewed by Stephen Page

.

As I am browsing around a bookstore, I pick up Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook, because another writer recommended the book to me.  It is simplistically written. It is geared for high-school or freshmen-college students (but, I am sure that is Oliver’s intent). The first couple of chapters are short and low-attention spanning, but by chapter 7 they expand and deepen.  There are some important points made in the book, even in the first six chapters:

Everyone knows that poets are born and not made in school.  This is also true of painters, sculptors, musicians.,  something that is essential can’t be taught; it can only be given, or earned, or formulated in a manner too mysterious . . . still, painters, sculptors (poets) and musicians require a lively acquaintance with the history of their particular field and with past as well as current theories and techniques.  Whatever can’t be taught, and there is a great deal that can, and must, be learned . . . This book is about the things that can be learned.  It is about matters of craft . . . this book is written in an effort to give the student a variety of technical skills.

The book is written with the idea of teaching basic poetic skills, philosophies, and exercises, so it’s a great book for novice writers, or for teachers of novice writers.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Poetry-Handbook-Mary-Oliver/dp/0156724006/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Stephen Page is the  author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at

https://smpages.wordpress.com/

 

 

The Philosopher Savant

ps

.

Review by Stephen Page

.

In the first poem of the book the narrator, as a young boy, skips church and wanders the countryside, discovering new truths, learning he is able to think for himself, coming to his own conclusions about himself and the world, and finding out he is not bound by non-secular dogma. This is where the Philosopher Savant comes into being.

The book follows the remembrances, dreams, fears, evaluation, assessments, and vision of the Philosopher Savant. He is an average person, a father, a householder with a job—but he has a vagrant soul and the fugue vision of a shaman.

Larson writes in the veins of Whitman and Shakespeare. Some of his poems read as contemporized sonnets, and they have as much genius entwined as Shakespeare’s.  While reading the poems, I had a feeling of transcending my self, a oneness with the “all”. The thesis of the book parallels and paraphrases the consciousness of the diffused identity, an identity much like Whitman’s—putting that in other words, “If you want to find me again, look for me in the silence between your thoughts.”

Larson’s intention with the book is to hold the consciousness of the reader, and never let it go, completely—as the images and stories of the poem remain in the minds of the reader after the book is read. Larson wants to say to the reader that everyone and everything share the same consciousness, they always have, and there is only one being in the universe.

What works wonderfully in this book, aside from the brilliant poetics, is that the reader becomes aware that linear time is insignificant. Similar to how memory works. The Philosopher savant is allowed to say what he wants, when he wants, the way he wants, wherever he wants. He remembers things in an anti-chronological manner. He remembers between lifetimes, previous lifetimes, the present, the past, and he forecasts the absurdity of the future.

A while back, I read an earlier book written by Larson, “The Wine-Dark House,” and I was mesmerized. Each poem in “Philosopher Savant” is packed with as much detail as a short story.  Larson’s writing style is multifarious.  In the great library of the universe, this book would be there on the top shelf. If the great library of Alexandria still stood, this book would also be there.

I look forward to reading Larson’s next book, “Pavement”.

.

Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, North American Review, Poetry East, and The American Entomologist Poet’s Guide to the Orders of Insects. He is the author of The Wine-Dark House (Blue Light Press, 2009), Crazy Star (selected for the Loess Hills Book’s Poetry Series in 2005), Bum Cantos, Winter Jazz, & The Collected Discography of Morning, winner of the 2013 Blue Light Book Award (Blue Light Press, San Francisco), and The Philosopher Savant (Glass Lyre Press, 2015). His website is: https://rustinlarson.wordpress.com/

.

Stephen Page is the  author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at

https://smpages.wordpress.com/