Thursday, May 23, 2019


Approximately nine years ago, I met a handsome black Labrador Retriever through photographs with accompanying text by Gary and Susan Entsminger, co-publishers of Pinyon Publishing in Montrose, Colorado. The Entsmingers sent me pictures of this lovely dog perched on mountain slopes and rocky ledges and standing in fields of wildflowers. One cover of Pinyon Review showed Garcia dressed in red jacket and matching red collar in a forest of yellow-leafed aspens, his head turned as if looking back toward his admiring owners. He was the dog of a breed I wish I could own but because of allergies to animal dander, cannot. So I owned Garcia vicariously and felt deep loss when he recently died during a harsh winter.

Three photographs of Garcia taken by Susan Entsminger appear in the latest issue of Pinyon Review, along with several poems featuring him; e.g., “Afterglow:” in which Susan describes her fondness for this canine companion that climbed mountain trails with her and Gary: “If I can I will/criss-cross those snowy woods/for eternity with you…walking into low late-day winter sun/maybe that’s what the light of afterlife feels like /blinding brightness soothing dreamy eyes/[I] felt I could walk straight into it/drawing us up the gentle slope to the cabin/slowly to coax our breathing calm/still you’d gallop in the last/to Gary waiting with a treat/three proud hearts bursting/like a flash of summer sun/sparking the heart of winter.”

Almost at Garcia’s heels in this fifteenth issue, photographs of Mark Sanders’ work of oils on canvas at Blue Creek in Nebraska appear. They represent artwork that Sanders rendered of the Nebraska Sandhills. Also, an oil on gesso over plywood entitled “Fireflies” shows Sanders’ range of painting talent — not to be eclipsed by his writing — his non-fiction biography, The Weight of the Weather: Regarding the Poetry of Ted Kooser, won the 2018 Nebraska Book Award. Sanders’ use of orange, yellow and blue color combinations feature brush strokes reminiscent of Van Gogh — he appears to use palette knives in his depictions of the harsh faces of both winter and spring in Nebraska. 

As I have been reading and observing the ballooning egos of artists and writers in our present culture, the poem of Scott Wiggerman in “Self Portrait As Collage,” spoke to my feelings about the narcissism rampant in the so-called “Academy of Poets” today: “You are still stuck on being an I,/as I was before I lost myself. Can/you hear how I am barely a murmur/of my former self? I, torn and broken,/in hundreds of pieces, learned to master/the art of assemblage. Like all art, it/was the stuff of trial and effort; it was/a matter of rearranging the no-longer I.” This brief but cogent verse is a brilliant assessment of practicing the art of egolessness.

Robert Elliott continues his work restoring and archiving glass plate photographic images of Yosemite National Park and California Missions from the early 20th century. In this issue of Pinyon Review, he and Susan Entsminger contributed photographs of Harold Taylor’s “Meeting of the Waters” featuring digital scans of the glass plates of Overhanging Rock, Half Dome Overlooking Tenaya Canyon, Mt. Lyell, and Vernal Fall below Emerald Pool. Taylor’s sister, Winifred, hand-painted prints made from his glass plate negatives. This restoration work by Elliott, who lived near Yosemite for over 45 years, is also featured in 5 x 7 greeting cards published by Pinyon Publishing. The legend on one of Elliott’s reproductions relates how Taylor walked all the trails carrying an 8 x 10 camera, tripod, and glass plates “and would often outwalk the mules.”

Luci Shaw’s many readers will welcome a return of her poetry in this issue of Pinyon Review. “Incoming Tides” focuses on the act of writing and ends in an evaluation struggling poets often make of their poetic contributions: “…By beauty/we may not mean perfection.” In “Rhythms,” she speaks of the balance we strive to achieve as we grow older, sharing the wisdom that overarches most of her work: “We need this steadiness, this/faithfulness, in realities we/have learned to welcome. Like rains/in a dry season. Like the way/every night we are content,/eager to creep/under the fringes of sleep.” Shaw, an accomplished poet and essayist, is Writer-in-Residence at Regent College, Vancouver and received the 2013 Denise Levertov Award for Creative Writing.

Gary Entsminger focuses on feet in “Sandals” that carry “waves of energy” [that] rise from the ground/into the soles/of our feet/a friendly charge/ from Gaia/but we usually retreat/into hard resistance/shoes that neutralize/the vibrations…[but]Indians knew/to walk in harmony/in moccasins/letting the vibrations/from their feet/alert the snakes/to slither elsewhere/feel the earth/from the soles/into the soul…” As a hiker and a mountain climber, Entsminger knows how to care for his feet so that he can achieve those peak moments while ascending rocky ground — fodder for his philosophy, poetry, and artwork. He's presently working on another book of poetry, and I’d put money on the fact that he’s probably working sans shoes of any kind this moment.

Of interest to followers of Stuart Friebert is a paper he presented at AWP Panel in Portland, Oregon this spring, celebrating an anniversary of Field magazine of which he was a founding editor at Oberlin College, Ohio. The Field magazine has featured such notables as Anne Sexton and Denise Levertov, and under Friebert’s guidance, The Field Translation Series developed. Friebert produced 14 volumes of translations in this series. His paper about the inception of Field magazine will be followed by a forthcoming article concerning the birth of the translation series. In Pinyon Review #15, Friebert also writes a memoir about his association with Michael Mann, son of the famed German author, Thomas Mann. A prolific writer who owes allegiance to no genre of literature, his eclectic work is often showcased in Pinyon Review.

Self translations of work by Chinese poets Ye Rugang, Yin Xiaoyuan, and Lang Tianya, and other international writers are included in this latest issue of Pinyon Review. 

Order this fulsome literary journal of high quality work from Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, CO 81403.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


There are times when writers of any genre get up in the morning, primed to write, go into their writerly lairs, turn on their computers and…and end up staring into space looking for the sun to appear and shine in their brains. On such occasions, many of us resort to writing about writing and feel mildly satisfied that we’ve been vigorous enough to produce a few sentences. 

Today is such a day, and I’m armed with tools I read about in a recent article concerning composing poetry. The poet said that he got first draft results from writing with a fountain pen — a good one — in a journal containing high quality paper and, sometimes, from using an old manual typewriter. So, a friend gave me a quality fountain pen (no, not a Mont Blanc, but a good pen) for my birthday, and I bought a moleskin journal a la Hemingway style with graph paper lines and for awhile, the fountain pen produced a fountain of language. I haven’t purchased an old Olivetti like the one I used in Iran when I wrote columns to send back to a newspaper in New Iberia, Louisiana, but this morning’s bout with writer’s block has inspired a search for the typewriter.

In the foreword to Strunk and White’s 4th edition of The Elements of Style, Roger Angell tells of E.B. White’s Tuesday morning battles with words for White’s “Notes and Comments” column that appeared in The New Yorker and how he was often silent and preoccupied at lunch time, excusing himself early to get back to working on this column. “He rarely seemed satisfied,” Angell writes. “It isn’t good enough,” White said at times. “I wish it were better.” I might add, would that any writer could compose such pithy, humorous, and wide-ranging topics once a week for fifty years!

Angell also says that although White’s prose was celebrated for its ease and clarity, he had to be eternally attentive to style to maintain that celebrated standard. Early White essays showcased what Rebeca M. Dale regarded as “life’s little adversities — short, frothy, witty, even sometimes flippant, articles,” but his later pieces became longer and more serious. In either case, White was a dedicated author who for more than fifty years, practiced his craft despite mornings when he felt dissatisfied with the finished product.

When I was writing Their Adventurous Will: Profiles of Memorable Louisiana Women, I interviewed Shirley Ann Grau, author of The Keepers of the House, a book that won a Pulitzer Prize, and she confessed that she often cooked to avoid beginning any writing. She further explained that writing was “making a structure,” an art that required work and honing of technique.

Oh well, my trouble with blank spaces this morning could be worse. E. B. White says that “life is apt to be translated more accurately by a person who sees it break through the mist at unexpected moments, a person who experiences sudden clear images…his eyes are poppy and tired, and his sensitized mind has become fogged by the frequent, half-stimuli of imagined sight…he knows he must invite his soul…” And, White quips, “especially when he has received a thousand dollar advance from a publishing house.” 

We writers should all have the latter problem! Meanwhile, I think about purchasing an Olivetti manual typewriter and walk out on the porch to ruminate on Sherwood Anderson’s words: “Writing is not an occupation.”

Thursday, May 9, 2019


Savage Falls Trail by Andy Gay

Andy Gay of Cowan, Tennessee wears a lot of hats — musician, minister, photographer, writer, painter… I was introduced to him at St. Mary’s Convent, Sewanee, Tennessee when he and his wife Mary Ann began attending services in the chapel there. A former Presbyterian minister, Andy began playing his guitar in the Convent’s special programs about environmental issues, and he’s been a guest preacher at several St. Mary Sunday services. At breakfast in the refectory, we often talk with him about Ghost Ranch, New Mexico where he and Mary Ann have been vacationing for over thirty years. We only recently discovered that he has been creating paintings of Orphan Mesa, Canyon de Chelly and other sites near Ghost Ranch, which is, of course, the territory of the famed artist, Georgia O’Keefe. 

Andy’s passion for painting the natural landscapes of southern middle Tennessee; Alaska; the Isle of Skye, Scotland; Ghost Ranch, and other areas, worldwide, has resulted in a fascinating exhibit at the Artisan Depot Gallery in Cowan, Tennessee. There, we learned that he has also exhibited his art in the Tennessee All State Exhibit at the Parthenon Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee. As a retired minister, he claims time to paint, pursuing work in transparent watercolors after exploring the art of acrylic and pastel chalk painting. 

Andy’s exhibit at Artisan Depot Gallery was inspired by places he’d often visited or lived and dates back to the 1990’s; however, his venue at the Gallery is a “first.” Viewers learn that whatever the setting, Andy says he looks Between the Rocks (the title of his exhibit) where “the great and tiny, the hard and the delicate, the momentary and ancient, co-exist in beauty and are illumined by the multifarious moments of changing light and texture…”

Readers can see that the commentary accompanying paintings in this exhibit is as poetic as Andy’s paintings and reveals Andy’s writing talents; e.g., a description of “Into the Light” on the Savage Falls Trail in the Savage Gulf Natural Area, Tennessee : “On this trail to the falls one passes through masses of light filtered through rhododendron, and laurel stands bracketed by shaded passages. This bridge carries us from one issue of light into another. Every bend harbors some kind of mystery, no matter how many times you have been there…” The eloquent text reminds me of John Muir’s Wilderness Essays and, like Muir, it reflects the writer’s passion for places of endless variety that inspire wonder — natural formations, weather changes, light shows…

Andy’s description of the painting, “Sundance:” expresses his fascination with scenes of his New Mexico visits: “During the monsoon season, when clouds tower and sift the sky over Chimney Rock, light dances. Celestial celebrations go into the night in the forked lightnings over Pedernal, and to the east, the Milky Way unfolds itself, spilling stars now and again into our world…”

Andy reports that he has probably been inspired to paint more Shake Rag Hollow scenes in Sewanee, Tennessee through the years than any other region he’s visited. He writes that “the sun, in the last hour of the day, finds a path, here and there, to penetrate to the forest floor, spilling out in pools of light in the darkening wood. At the last, especially in September and October, the light becomes golden. You may step into these little pools of gold and bathe in them…”

Between the Rocks is a show that lovers of outstanding landscape art will appreciate. Whether Andy is writing songs and playing them, indulging his passion for watercolor painting, nature writing, or preaching an eloquent sermon, in my lexicon he’s a Renaissance man whose art shows “beauty in all its forms, both novel and familiar.”* 

*From Wilderness Essays by John Muir

See the Artisan Depot Gallery website for hours, exhibit announcements, and events scheduled.

Monday, May 6, 2019


By Frances Perea

That headline is the leitmotif of the artist Frances Perea, and visitors to the Artisan Depot Gallery in Cowan, Tennessee would agree that her newest collages reflect a whimsical spirit and strong interest in mythical/magical subjects; e.g., folklore surrounding fairies. Perea has captured the spirit of these creatures in various art forms, but one glimpse of her trading cards of fairy collages made me laugh aloud. I also thought of my mother who believed that these magical  beings could tell fortunes, prophesy births, foretell deaths, and intervene in household “goings-on.”

Perea also paints religious icons and attributes her inspirations for folk art to Latin American artists like Frida Kahlo of Mexico whom she regards as her most serious Muse. However, her latest creations reflect a whimsical spirit just on the edge of being mischievous. She’s also written a pamphlet that relates How the Fairies of Lullymore Came To Live in America and features a poem by Yeats on the back cover that begins with the lines: “Fairies, come take me/out of this dull world…” 

In antithesis to former stories about sinister fairies in folklore, Perea’s creatures are more well-intentioned and are generally protective beings who dance on household hearths. Actually  my mother claimed they danced in the flames of various space heaters in our home before central heating put them out of business.

by Frances Perea

Frances Perea is a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico and became involved in art at San Jose City College in San Jose, California. She began to exhibit in El Gatito Gallery in Los Gatos, California, then returned to Santa Fe and painted designs on furniture and pottery. She relates that one of her pieces was bought by Bono from the Band U2 and shipped to Ireland. Later, she initiated a line of religious icons and sold them through various museums, including the famous Smithsonian Institute, and through shops and galleries throughout the U.S. After she and her husband moved to Winchester, Tennessee, she began exhibiting through the Franklin County Arts Guild at the Artisan Depot Gallery. Perea also has a site called My Art Place on Etsy showcasing her collages, fabric art, recycled and digital art, and jewelry.

by Frances Perea

I’m trying to find frames small enough for the fairy trading cards shown on this blog and named the two I purchased after my two daughters who often read my blogs. I’m wondering if they can identify themselves in the pictures shown. The cards “leave a little sparkle” in my mornings, and I’m transported by Perea’s depictions of the diminutive sprites that inhabit her Tennessee fairyland.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


The Beach by Diane M. Moore

The above picture is one of the very few pictures I’ve painted during my lifetime and, of course, is in the rank of "very amateur art.” Now that summer is approaching, it represents my envee (desire, yearning, etc., in Cajun French) for beach life. The picture was executed on a visit to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and my visit there actually occurred in late spring almost twenty years ago. 

I recorded this experience in a journal, then painted the picture. A week spent in sun and sand engendered a feeling of peace, which being near the ocean often does, and I was unencumbered enough not to care if my art “got out there,” as we often say about the dissemination of artistic effort. I wrote: “The umbrella lady comes at high tide, unlocks a painted white box, and many umbrellas, royal blue, spill out, accompanied by matching chairs. Set up, they represent linear thought, each bather’s pole placed in the sand in line with neighboring umbrella, plumb bob straight. A grove of blue palms under which lobster red legs jet toward the sea becomes visible. Waves vibrate monotonously… the sands are heavy with leisurely thought…On the beach everyone searches for something…gifts of the tides.”

This part of the calendar year I live on The Mountain, as it is called here at Sewanee, Tennessee (April 1to October 15) and develop a yearning for water and beach every year. However, we’re likely to schedule leisure time at other elevations; e.g., this weekend in a state park called Pickwick Landing on Pickwick Lake, not too far from the Shiloh National Military Park where my great-grandfather fought as a captain in a Tennessee regiment.

One of the recreational perks Tennessee offers is its state park system—56 of them located in all corners of this wide state. We’ve visited only four of them during our eleven-year sojourn. Many were built by members of the CCC and WPA who were part of programs instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt established both programs in an effort to provide employment for indigent young men who needed jobs following the Great Depression.
Anyway, I won’t get to the beach this early in the season…and probably not at all…but we’ll enjoy a few days near a lake in a 1516-acre state park a few miles away from historic Savannah, Tennessee and the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge. I doubt if any art will result from the experience, but the thought of relaxing near a grand body of water is enough to satisfy my yen for sun and sandy beaches…for awhile.