Broken Turtle Blog

Broken Turtle Blog

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Merely a Table of Contents

Below is the Table of Contents for my completed book, Valdemar's Corpse, about Delaware's secret literary history. It is more than a mere survey. It is a 106,491 word story of Delaware's literary legacy:

1. Introduction: Delaware’s 20th Century Griswold

2. John Lofland: Delaware’s First Literary Pariah

3. Two Articles by John Lofland While Living and Working in Baltimore

4. Lofland the Progressive

5. The Milford Bard and the Mysterious Woman of his Final Romance

6. Two Tales from the Novels of Robert Montgomery Bird;

“Searching for the Body of Sheppard Lee,” and,

“The Confession of Ralph Stackpole, Horse Thief”

7. Delaware Author George Alfred Townsend’s Novels about Slavery & Murder

8. George Alfred Townsend: Between Twain and Able

9. New Castle Hi-jinx; Charles Heber Clark’s Out of the Hurly-Burly

and Ella Middleton Tybout’s Poketown People

10. Henry Seidel Canby & Christopher Ward:

Forerunners of Wilmington’s 20th Century Literary Movement

11. The Novels of John and Mary Biggs and Poe’s Karma

12. Nothing Ends in Life: Mary Biggs’ Lily-Iron

13. The Great Gatsby’s Delaware Connection:

A Review of Gatsby, GATH, and Gault by David W. Meredith

14. Bunny, The Judge and The Last Tycoon

15. Anne & Dillwyn Parrish, And The Roles of the Interloper

16. James Whaler, Wilmington’s Most Successful 20th Century Poet

17. Haunted by Home: The Life and Works of Charles Wertenbaker

18. Boojum’s Books: Green Peyton’s

Black Cabin and Rain on the Mountain, and Other Stories

19. First Crash: The Earliest Literary Works of G. Peyton Wertenbaker

20. Victor Thaddeus' Unpublished Comic Opera, ‘ORRIBLE 'ARRY and THE COURT TIGER, and lost novella, LEO REX

21. Children in the Maelstrom: Two Post War Novels by Anne Parrish

22. Where Evil is Stronger Than Love: The Wartime Novels of Two Delaware Authors

23. The Patron Saint of Baynard Boulevard: A Personal View of the Life and Times of Wilmington Poet David Hudson

24. The Legacy of Delaware’s Poets and the Post World War II Poetry Movement

25. The Hoax Nobody Noticed

Sound interesting? Curious? Even if you might be interested or curious, you may never have the opportunity to read it. Valdemar's Corpse has been rejected by the University of Delaware Press twice, Oak Knoll Press twice, as well as by Greywolf Press and Schiffler Publishing Ltd. Most of it has been serialized in The Broadkill Review but not in sequence, so the "story" doesn't emerge. I don't even know how widely read those chapters have been. I can no longer afford to self publish. What should I do? Should I send files of the manuscript, along with selected pictures, to people who might be interested? I don't know who'd be interested or curious. Should I keep trying to find a publisher? How long will that take? I've done all this work and I'm really tired and sinking deeper into poverty. I'm frustrated that what I consider to be valuable information is not being made available, especially for the sake of discovery by others who never knew there was such a thing as a Delaware' secret literary history. Or should I conclude that no one's interested in past Delaware literary artists and give in to the prevailing amnesia? Could that be some reflection about the prevailing interest in current Delaware literature? Or should I conclude I've deluded myself with my own conceit, wasted my time, and just delete the file?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our e. jean lanyon: Still Indestructable

Our e. jean Lanyon, Delaware Poet Laureate from 1979 to 2001, Dreamstreets Magazine founder and illustrator, Pea Patch Island imager, and driving force behind the First State Writers for 50 years, will be featured in a timely retrospective of her art work April 6 through May 23 at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware.

Mystic Tree, watercolor by E. Jean Lanyon
A true plein air artist, E. Jean Lanyon (so spelled when painting) has carted her easel and brushes for half a century into the glittering undergrowth of the Diamond State bioregion from Brandywine Springs Park to Pea Patch island and brought back a treasure trove of evocative canvases. The opening reception will take place from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. April 6. There will be a Gallery Talk by Curator Ryan Grover and e. jean will read her poetry at 6:30 p.m. The Biggs Museum is located at 406 Federal Street, Dover, Delaware 19903.

I just pulled down a sample of e. jean lanyon’s literary work from my bookshelf. On top is Woman Scrapbook, a blue 1979 chapbook filled with poems and collages from the life of the mother, widow, feminist, poet, and artist. “For Flip Bannowsky,” she wrote on the title page, “in sisterhood for a fellow poet.” The book is an artifact of the era of the ERA—the Equal Rights Amendment—which flashed in the pan of American politics until it was shouted down by the traditional values claque of the day.

Our e. jean was no flash in the pan, however, and she has persevered as a Delaware institution since she first published her work in the University of Delaware’s Grover back in 1955. She began as a practicing professional fine artist in 1958. In 1970, her first volume of poetry, The Myrno Bird came out. Her People Garden appeared in 1976. She has continued to publish, edit, mentor, teach, paint, speak, garner awards and honors, and organize readings through all the vicissitudes of her productive life.

Someone once said that there would be a poetry reading in Browntown when pigs fly. Browntown is a traditional working class Polish Community on Maryland Avenue where it runs into Wilmington. She and Peg Clifford took the challenge and organized a reading in the back room of Browntown’s Cedar Tavern for several years running. They called it, appropriately, Pigs Fly. That whimsical nature is visited in the occasional pocket-sized musings of one Nezzra O’Possum of lanyon’s Possum Garage Press, now up to #12. Nezzra laments the inhumanities, insanities, and insults of an insufferable world, but just can’t bring herself to buy into the self-righteous pessimism of the professional pity-me class. The annals of e. jean Lanyon appear in her annual newsletter, illustrated and printed in her own hand to recount her many juried exhibitions, life challenges, and victories.

Of course I am prejudiced. We have been friends ever since I interviewed her for an article in the September 1980 edition of The Delaware Alternative Press. It was called “Indestructible e. jean lanyon.” She was challenging the sexist employment practices at the University of Delaware, where she had worked as a draftsperson in the Facilities Planning Office for eight years. She was living penuriously and frugally, raising funds for her case by selling signed prints of her drawings.  Since then e. jean lanyon has been ubiquitous in Delaware’s artistic and literary scene. I have seen her at almost every Second Saturday reading since the Eschaton Writers, of which she was a founding member, inaugurated it over thirty years ago.

The art and poetry of e. jean lanyon is direct, accessible, honest, contemplative, and beautiful. Ever refusing to be obscure, she has portrayed her life and the natural environment of Delaware as something for everyone to experience. How she has led her life is an inspiration to every artist struggling to be seen and heard in a tiny state that can be insular and suffocating. But our e. jean remains indestructible.