January 18, 2013 |
Siduri Beckman, 14, swoons over George Eliot's Silas Marner with a passion many girls her age reserve for, say, One Direction boy-band phenom Harry Styles. "I loooove that book," she said, sitting in the auditorium at her school, Julia R. Masterman. Correction. She loves Eliot's Middlemarch first, then Silas Marner . But Philadelphia's first youth poet laureate - Mayor Nutter announced her title this week - has never read Harry Potter. If her tastes seem a little serious, Beckman herself is not. She explains that her parents, Karen and Michael Beckman of West Philadelphia, named her Siduri after the "bartender to the gods" in the Epic of Gilgamesh . The literary Siduri knows the secret of everlasting life, Beckman says.
January 15, 2013 |
I LOVE MY CAT. It sat on a mat. It's OK that it's fat. I love that. That was the first poem written by Siduri Beckman, then 6 years old. It was terrible, she says now. But eight years later, her poetry has landed her a one-year gig as the city's first youth poet laureate. Mayor Nutter and Gary Steuer, the city's chief cultural officer, will make the announcement Monday evening in City Hall. Beckman, 14, a student at Julia R. Masterman School in Spring Garden who aspires to be a district attorney and eventually a Supreme Court justice, stood out among the 30 applicants.
January 14, 2013 |
THE CROWD ROARED as Kai Davis walked toward the stage and took her place behind the mike. She stood there for a moment, silent, her wavy locks glistening beneath the spotlight. She rubbed her eyes, took a deep breath and released a stream of poetic verbiage before an intimate audience at a poetry slam Friday night inside Studio 34, in West Philadelphia. The spoken-word poetry scene (also known as slam poetry) is booming in Philadelphia. After the sun sets, the poetically inclined and curious file into venues throughout the city to share their work or, as some poets call it, to "get free.
January 8, 2013 |
If Muhammad Ali's approach to the boxing ring was to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, Philadelphia's Jon Barthmus sounds as though he's thinking likewise when it comes to making music. Yet rather than treat his audience to pummels and poetry of insults, Barthmus - as the main man and singing compositional center of Sun Airway - soothes and romances his listeners with an insistent and constant flutter. Two albums of Barthmus' chirruping tones and sparse lyrics - 2010's Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier and last year's Soft Fall - are as metrical as any Ali rant and doubly melodious to boot.
January 6, 2013 |
Tom Quinlan calls her "one of the great wonders of the Western world. " Her name was Sister Marie St. Joseph, and she was a nun who taught fourth grade at St. Bartholomew's School in Wissinoming. Every Friday afternoon, she would pull out a little green book. "She would read great poetry, Longfellow and Kipling, people of that nature, and she did it with such depth and such feeling," Quinlan recalls. Every once in a while, when she was called to the office, she would ask a student to take her place.
December 1, 2012 |
Aylisha Brown has been writing poems since age 16, when she found it the best way to make sense of her crazy world. One of her first poems was included in a news story about her mother, Crystal Brown - a narrative of tragedy and triumph - published in The Inquirer in 2006. It was then that Aylisha learned that her biological father was also her grandfather, that her mother had long been abused by her father, and that that relationship had caused the progressive genetic disease leaving Aylisha in a wheelchair.
November 17, 2012
Libya question The writer of the letter "Questions that need answers" (Tuesday) posed interesting questions that journalists need to ask of former CIA Director David Petraeus. Although the list of questions is thoughtful, another significant one needs to be added: Did Petraeus' testimony to the House Intelligence Committee about the attack on Benghazi relate to the pending disclosure about his affair? Given Petraeus' sterling military career and fine reputation as CIA chief, his strange support of the White House theory that the attack was a spontaneous demonstration is shockingly disingenuous.
November 12, 2012 |
November 11 will forever remind Dorothy Blair of the Armistice Day celebration her beloved uncle captured on paper in 1918. Thomas Staller Edwards was 19 and at work in Center City when news arrived that World War I had ended. "When the mad crowd went rushing and roaring past . . . I completely lost my head. I grabbed all the papers from my desk and dumped them out the window," he wrote. "I wanted to kiss someone. I ran out on Chestnut St. and kissed all the pretty girls.
October 7, 2012
Stolen Air The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam Selected and translated by Christian Wiman Introduction by Ilya Kaminsky Ecco. 128 pp. $15.99 Reviewed by Frank Wilson This is a book not simply to read, but also to treasure. It takes the form of a triptych, Ilya Kaminsky's introduction ("Osip Mandelstam: A Lyric Voice" and Christian Wiman's translator's note ("Secret Hearing") bracketing Osip Mandelstam's poems. Kaminsky's introduction is itself a kind of prose poem, which is hardly surprising.
September 30, 2012 |
Bernhardt "Bernie" Blumenthal, 75, a graduate of LaSalle University who chaired the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures there for more than 40 years and wrote poetry in German, died of cancer Monday, Sept. 24, at home in Philadelphia's East Oak Lane section. "He was a magnificent teacher and a great editor," said Leo Rudnytzky, a friend and colleague who also taught German at LaSalle. "He was a consummate stylist with great editorial skills. His great love was German poetry.