Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday Music: Heart of the Heartland (Peter Ostroushko)

Peter Ostroushko is one of the treasures of the long running A Prairie Home Companion on American Public Radio. A master of the mandolin, he performs his own elegiac composition, "Heart of the Heartland" on A Prairie Home Companion, from May 15, 2004.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Charles Kinnaird Reads "Conscientious Objector," by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Celebrating the Spoken Word

Each year in Birmingham, the Birmingham Arts Journal, in collaboration with the Alabama School of Fine Arts, hosts a spoken word poetry event known as "My Favorite Poem." It is an opportunity for the community to gather to hear people from all walks of life reading their favorite poem. In 2016, it was my privilege to participate in the My Favorite Poem event. I read "Conscientious Objector," by Edna St. Vincent Millay. The video of the readings has been posted on the Birmingham Arts Journal website.  You can see the entire event here.

              In the the video below, you can hear my presentation of "Conscientious Objector,"                    introduced by Jim Reed, editor of the Birmingham Arts Journal.   


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Saturday Haiku: Clear Nights

a bright moon
expanding the heart
with clear nights


Image: A Mountain Pass: Karachi (1927), from the Eight Fine Views of Japan series
Artist: Hasui Kawase (1883-1957)
Medium: Woodblock print


Thursday, April 26, 2018

"Digging," by Seamus Heaney

Celebrating the Spoken Word

Seamus Heaney, who died in 2013, was considered the greatest Irish poet since William Butler Yeats. I first heard him on BBC Radio when I was teaching English at Hong Kong Baptist College in the early 1980s. In the video below, he reads his poem, "Digging."


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bill Murray Reads "What the Mirror Said," by Lucille Clifton

Celebrating the Spoken Word

Comedian Bill Murray has been a long-time supporter of poetry. Here he reads a poem by Lucille Clifton, "What the Mirror Said."

Here is a  clip from PBS NewsHour telling more about Murray's support of poetry:


Monday, April 23, 2018

Monday Music: Two Pauls

I'm not sure what it means, but two songs were in my head over the weekend, written by two different Pauls back in the 1980s. "Ballroom Dancing," is from Paul McCartney's Tug of War album (1982). "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes," is from Paul Simon's Graceland (1986).  Both are terrific albums!

I hope you enjoy each one as much as I have. Here's hoping it's "a recipe for a lovely day..."
and "I mean everybody here would know exactly what I was  talking about..."

(The McCartney video is the version from Paul's 1984 motion picture "Give My Regards To Broad Street")

*Please note that Monday Music is always enhanced by the use of headphones.

*   *   *


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday Haiku: Rare Beauty

rare golden beauty
stands out from the small flock of
cardinal virtues


Photo by Jeremy Black Photography
Downloaded from
"Auburn University researchers say this cardinal is yellow due to a rare genetic mutation. It's been photographed around Alabaster, Alabama in February 2018." (Jeremy Black Photography)


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"And Still I Rise," by Maya Angelou

Celebrating the Spoken Word

The Poetry Foundation describes Maya Angelou as "An acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer." The site goes on to say that she was "born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood's first female black director, but is most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet... She was also an educator and served as the Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University."

Today we will hear the late Maya Angelou recite her poem, "And Still I Rise."


Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday Music: Vivaldi

Classic FM posted this amazing Vivaldi Concerto in which the musicians use plastic recorders and a Cassio keyboard. They achieve a remarkable sound. On their Facebook page, Classic FM’s stated mission is “To bring classical music to the widest possible audience, no matter what their age, background or location.” According to the site, “Classic FM is the UK's favourite classical music station. Listen across the UK on 100 - 102 FM, digital, online at and in HD on our app.”


Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Wayward Way: A Book Review

The Wayward Way: The Power in Wilderness Journeys
New Hope Publishers
By Taylor Field

My friend Taylor Field, director of Graffiti Church and Community Ministries, sent me a copy of his latest book, The Wayward Way.  I was glad to receive it, having enjoyed his previous books including Mercy Streets, and Upside Down Devotion.  I am also glad to offer a brief review of Taylor’s latest book.

The New Hope Publishers promotional site for the book states:

Written primarily for pastors and ministry leaders in seasons of transition, The Wayward Way is the thirst-quenching encouragement needed for those longing to find their way back to purpose in the ministry. The relevant examples of wandering aimlessly in ministry, coupled with biblical principles and personal insights, offer inspiration to view the transitional seasons of ministry as opportunities for exploration. It’s time to find your way out of the wilderness and embrace the purposes God has for those called to ministry.
For my part, I found Taylor Field’s latest publication to be a helpful book for anyone who has experienced some rough patches along their life journey. “Wilderness” is a biblical term that harks back to Moses and the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. It also evokes the time when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.  The term has often been used down through the years to describe those dry periods in our lives, those times when the energy and excitement are gone and we seem to be plodding through a barren wasteland.

Field offers insight into navigating those “wilderness journeys,” that are sometimes chosen, but more often are thrust upon us when life takes an unexpected turn.  He draws from over 30 years of ministry on the streets of New York City for insights on how to find spiritual strength, courage and guidance from our personal wilderness encounters.   

Each chapter is grounded in a biblical story that speaks to some plight that is all too familiar in our own lives. Rejection, fear, humiliation, neglect, betrayal, and loss are all things that can put us into a tailspin, or send us on a wilderness journey where we can emerge with a new outlook on life. In addition to scripture, the author draws from the wisdom of poets, philosophers, artists, psychologists, and other writers.

With a down-to-earth writing style and presented in  a very accessible format, Taylor Field has given us a guide in The Wayward Way that will be useful for anyone seeking advice for authentic living. His writing is refreshingly honest as he presents a real-world spirituality. Since he speaks from years of ministry on the streets of New York, rather than simply offering nice platitudes, he demonstrates a lived wisdom that only comes by trial and grace.

“Takeaways” listed at the end of each chapter and a section with discussion questions given at the end of the book will make this a useful volume for group study as well as for any individual who is interested in discerning God’s guidance in their personal journey.

The Wayward Way
New Hope Publishers, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-62591-538-2
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Size: 6 x 9 Inches
Page Count: 176

Publisher’s purchasing information at 


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Saturday Haiku: Above the Mist

above the spring mist
two trees stand upon the ridge
while the forest sleeps

Photo: "Two" by Andy Mumford
Taken in Val d’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy


Thursday, April 12, 2018

"The Lanyard," by Billy Collins


Celebrating the Spoken Word

Former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, shares a poem that brings some humor to the table while expressing a serious truth.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Michael Harriot Poetry Slam: My Mama's So Black

Celebrating the Spoken Word

Michael Harriot is a local spoken word artist. I first heard him at the Downtown Public Library in Birmingham at their monthly "Bards and Brews" poetry presentation. His heart-felt stories in poetry draw me in and have a powerful impact every time I hear him. There are many of his poetry slam presentations on YouTube. I am sharing this one from the 2017 Individual World Poetry Slam Finals in Spokane, Washington with his poem, "My Mama's So Black."


Monday, April 9, 2018

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Saturday Haiku: Dogwood

dogwood clouds
on small tiered branches
spring blossoms


Photo: Flowering Dogwood (Missouri Department of Conservation photo)


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Helen Mirren Reads "Ulysses" by Tennyson

Celebrating the Spoken Word

Continuing our celebration of National Poetry Month, here is Helen Mirren reading from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, "Ulysses," "to an emotional Stephen Colbert" on the Late Show. This clip has been popular lately across the social media, which is evidence of the beauty and the power of poetry.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Coleman Barks Presents Works by Persian Mystic Rumi

Celebrating the Spoken Word

To kick off National Poetry Month, here is a presentation by Coleman Barks reading his translations of the poetry of the 13th century persian mystic, Rumi. Barks has related the story of how he began his translations. Robert Bly handed him a book of Rumi's poetry and told him, "These poems need to be released from their cages." The book was a translation by the British academic, A.J. Arberry, who was a Persian scholar but not a poet. Barks then began over the next twenty years meeting with scholars of the Persian language who could translate Rumi's words which Barks would in turn craft into free verse poems.


Celebrating the Spoken Word in Poetry

Because April is National Poetry Month, I use this time each year to highlight poetry in some way. Poetry began as an oral art form, the spoken word delivered to an audience. The speaking and the hearing of poetry have always been central to its beauty and its effect upon people.

In literary circles, poetry will often be confined to the printed page of a book or a magazine. I will often post poems on my blog to be read by visitors to the site. This month, however, I will be emphasizing the spoken word as we celebrate poetry. It is a call to get back to the original intent of poetry: beautiful and powerful words, delivered out loud and in public with the intent to inspire, to transform, to amuse, to delight, to challenge, to lift the soul.

Below are examples of this celebration of the spoken word that will be featured this month. As each one is posted, a hyperlink will be attached to the title.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Monday Music: Homeward Bound (Paul Simon and Willie Nelson)

Paul Simon and Willie Nelson performing at Willie Nelson's 70th Birthday Concert celebration. They work well together singing Simon's "Homeward Bound," Willie playing his well-worn and beautifully resonant guitar, "Trigger."


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Sunday (Daybreak)

Paschal Triduum: A Personal Journey

Easter Morning

(A Song of John)

I can’t stay in there –
Not with all those bells ringing
And people singing.
In such a fragmented world
Full of pain and loss,
I am sickened by mindless joy.

A walk along the beach will help.
There was no sleeping last night;
Things are cloudy and dim today –
Mist out upon the water
And a numbing fog in my mind.

There is a fire up ahead
Back from the shoreline.
Smoke rises beyond the knoll.
As I approach,
I see a man tending the fire.
Drawing nearer, I see who he is.
I saw him once before,
But later told myself it was a dream.
Now here he is again.
The fog in my head jolts for a second.

“Have some fish,”
The man says,
Taking some fresh catch off the fire.

“I can’t eat.”

“You need to eat,” the man urges.
“It will do your body good
     – maybe shake that fog out of your head.”

“I don’t know...”

“It will let you know you are not dreaming.”

I stop to take a small bite.
“So now they are calling you
The Luminous One,”
I say to my friend.

“Perhaps there is truth in that,”
He responds with a comforting smile.
“We all carry light.”

                                        ~ CK

*     *     *

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus…When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.” (John 21: 4, 9)

Photo: Kinnereth (Sea of Galilee), Israel
Credit: Zachi Evenor
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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