Some Prose and Poetry and Cowboys

Seminal Murder and author

Yeah, it's here. Mary is so excited. So am I.

Audrey and I attended an eclectic and fun program Thursday night at Mount Mercy University.

The student English Club hosted an “authors’ night” that featured five MMU English Professors.

Well, I enjoyed it all. The free food, the readings, the insight into James Joyce (whose novels I have not yet read, but I’ll check the Kindle site and see if Ulysses is a free classic), etc.

Christopher DeVault

Christopher DeVault speaks about his new book on James Joyce.

Christopher DeVault’s opening reflections on Joyce were the most cerebral part of the evening, but all five English profs had interesting points to make.

Jim Grove shared insights into one of the first movies I saw and enjoyed in the theater as a kid: The original “True Grit” starring John Wayne came out when I was 11 years old. Maybe it helped that I was 11 when I saw it, but I’ve always liked that movie. I’m not big into John Wayne, and the follow-up movie with Katharine Hepburn didn’t do much for me, but True Grit was colorful and captivating. Not all movies I liked as a kid have aged well, and I cannot honestly say True Grit is among my all-time favorites now, but I still find it a pleasant flick.

I think that one reason I enjoyed the movie when it came out was that it featured a strong female character. I was a lone boy in a family with seven children, and, surrounded by six sisters, I had plenty of real-life object lessons in proto-feminism. As Grove noted, the girl in the movie True Grit was not near as strong as the character had been in the source book, and the opening song cast her in a decidedly dependent role.  Still, even in the movie, the girl had spine.

His commentary was on the 1969 movie. I have not seen, but am now more anxious to see, the more recent version. Sounds like a DVD rental for the day after graduation.

Joy Ochs spoke compellingly about her work with a program at Zion National Park that takes honors students and gives them more insight into the natural wonder of that area. I have not been there, but now I want to be.

Yet, I have to say (well, I guess I don’t have to say—there is a First Amendment that provides both freedom of speech and freedom from speech—but I’m willing to say) that the night’s two other speakers were the highlights for me.

Carol Tyx has a new book of poetry and read a few. And Mary Vermillion shared the opening of her new mystery novel, due out in May.

Carol Tyx

Carol Tyx reads and talks about poetry.

Well. Tyx read poetry on topics that felt like an emotional roller coaster ride, to me. We got everything from the wonder of a grandchild to the gravity of death—thoughts about her father’s final moments and a poem about a racial murder in Texas. There even was an analogy of love in a cereal bowl. Trust me, it worked.


Cover of Mary's new book (and Paha)

And Mary’s opening scene felt like hearing from old friends. I think there was a visible stir of pleasure in the room when Mara’s flamboyant male gay housemate sashayed into the scene. I’m already ready to grab “Seminal Murder” as soon as it comes out, just to see what my favorite carrot-topped, radio host, lesbian amateur sleuth is up to.

Carol, I think you almost did the impossible. You’ve probably sold me a book of poetry. Mary, you’ve done the quite likely. I would have bought your mystery novel anyway, but am even more excited to do so, now.

Chris, I don’t promise I’ll rush to get a book of analysis of Joyce, but this half Irish boy is now more curious about him.  Joy, I think you and I share a love of nature, and it was a pleasure to finally see your fine photos at the end.

Mary Vermillion

Mary Vermillion brings back Mara, her crime-solving sleuth, in "Seminal Murder."

And Jim, Jim, Jim. Yeah, you rusty old cowboy. I’m going to rent the new “True Grit” soon. And watch the old one right after it. And probably enjoy them both, even the bad Glen Campbell song.

Thanks, English Club, it was fun. English profs, you have another year to write your next books. Let’s do this again.


1 Comment

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One response to “Some Prose and Poetry and Cowboys

  1. Thanks for writing this post, Joe! It was very lovely to have you and Audrey attend. Also…how miraculous that you were able to take photos that breathe life into Basile 203s’ [lack of] ambiance!!

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