COWBOY TALK VERSION OF THE SLAM MASTER


Boulder’s Naropa University has me buffaloed.  The Naropian slam masters had never encountered Western Fiction or the Cowboy Poets.  I’m not a poet, but I registered for slam master Bob Holman’s class.  The New Yorker has dubbed Holman “The Ringmaster of the Spoken Word.”   He had us translating and slamming poetry written in dead and dying languages into contemporary English.  

They knew nothing of Cowboy Talk, an endangered language barely hanging on here in the West.  As an effort in preservation, I translated one of the slam master’s sonnets into our Cowboy Talk.

Birthday Praise Sonnet for Marc Levin, Original by Bob Holman, 2001

Mark my words

Leven the bread

Half a century’s nothing, the Wise Man said

When the slam slams

When the blowback blows

Lights speed action rolls rolls rolls

The Party will Last

                                The Future’s simulcast

And we’ll Babble On

                                With our Icon O’Class

Mark my words

Leaven the bread

Half a century’s something, the Wise Man said

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Birthday Praise Sonnet for Marc Levin, Cowboy Talk translation, 2010 

Mark my palaver

Leaven up the bannock

Your cinch ain’t getting’ frayed, the Ol’ Hoss brayed

When the rustlers rustle

When the coulies overflow

Foot up in the stirrup and getty-up-go

The Roundup’s gonna Last

                                        Ta’morra’s comin’ Fast

And we’ll jus’ Gallop On

                                         With our Cowboy Lexicon

Quit spittin’ on ya lasso

Saddle up the Paint

Your cinch is gettin’ frayed, the Ol’ Hoss brayed                           

                                                     

 
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JOHN STEINBECK’S PROPAGANDA NOVEL: The Moon Is Down


 

 

Viking Magazine’s recent issue on “The Unsung Hero of the Telemark,” reminded me that on April 9th, 1940, life changed for all Norwegians with the launch of Operation Weserübung, the invasion of their homeland by the Nazi’s. The country was taken entirely by surprise and it was a time of chaos for many Norwegians. Consistent with Germany’s Blitzkrieg doctrine, five divisions of Nazis invaded at once, Quisling was on the radio declaring himself Prime Minister and ordering all resistance to halt at once and the Norwegian military was left in a state of initial disarray due unclear mobilization orders from the government. The whole of the country was in a state of psychological shock from the Nazi invasion.

 

But did you know that John Steinbeck’s novel, The Moon is Down, was written as propaganda designed to encourage the resistance movement. In 1941, Steinbeck was working with a precursor of the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He was in close contact with refugees from Norway and Denmark and the information they gave him helped him decide what kind of propaganda to write.

 

Steinbeck’s method was far subtler than that of the overcooked rant. There are no heel-clicking Huns, no depraved, monocled intellectuals, no thundering sieg heils in his tale. Yet nothing can disguise the theft of freedom, and eventually the local patriots’ desire to regain their freedom impels them to resist.

 

In spite of the Nazis’ efforts to suppress The Moon is Down hundreds of thousands of copies of the Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, and French clandestine editions circulated during the occupation. Mere possession of it often meant an automatic death sentence.

 

 

 

 

Steinbeck’s explanation for the perceptiveness that made his propaganda so effective was simple. During his visit to Norway in 1946 to receive King Haakon’s medal, he stated, “I put myself in your place and thought what I would do.”

 

STEINBECK HAD A SURE SENSE OF AUDIENCE.

 

WHAT ALL US WRITER TYPES HANKER AFTER.

MORE NORSE AND VIKING STUFF: THE 13TH WARRIOR


Rethel the Archer

 

Enough of Steinbeck.  It’s these hot Viking types that are now giving me inspiration.  Here’s my favorite.  Rethel the Archer.  My gosh, he may be gray but he’s  not too old to be the 5th warrior to commit and take the bone from that nasty old seer, The Angel of Death.

Guess why I’m so taken with Rethel?  It’s because he keeps his mouth shut.  Only one line during the entire odyssey: “no wall, no moat, not even a presentable fence.”  And with this, he sums up the whole situation.  Bravo Rethel!

My saying for the day:  A book should be an axe to the frozen sea within us.   Some Viking should have said this.

 

 

JOHN STEINBECK’S advice to writers


 Every shattered writer should do a pilgrimage to the John Steinbeck birthplace in Salinas, California. Yeah, it’s true, I was shattered, not blocked exactly but every word sounded phony. My visit to John Steinbeck’s house set me back on the road to finishing my novel Burma Shave Days and Evangelist Nights. I’m taking his advice and it works. Steinbeck says:

 If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I made a rule—a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.

I thought about that while enjoyed the great lunch: mushroom bisque, bacon and tomato pie, and lemon cream cake. Or—was it that mysterious Steinbeck tea they served that boosted my creativity?  Anyway, hang in there, next time I’ll give you the recipe for the tomato pie.

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm  Comments (2)  
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