Monday, March 25, 2013

Reading and Writing of U.S. Presidents: Richard Nixon

Six Crises, first edition, 1962
The Committee Room returns by popular demand to the subject of the reading and writing of U.S. Presidents. In an earlier article we discussed George Washington, John Adams, Ulysses Grant, and John F. Kennedy. Now, in observance of the centenary of his birth and the fortieth anniversary of the start of his unfinished second term we take a look at the literary record of one of the most controversial and most prolific of the American Presidents, Richard Milhous Nixon.

Richard Nixon was born on a citrus ranch in Yorba Linda, California in 1913 to a devoutly Quaker family. As a small child he was taught to read by his mother. Already knowing how to read when he entered school enabled him to skip from the first to the third grade. In his book RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon Nixon writes of his early life in Yorba Linda -- "After homework and chores, I often sat by the fireplace or at the kitchen table immersed in a book or magazine. We took the Los Angeles Times, the Saturday Evening Post, and the Ladies' Home Journal. Aunt Olive, my mother's youngest sister, and her husband, Oscar Marshburn, lived in nearby Whittier and subscribed to the National Geographic. Nearly every time I visited them I borrowed a copy. It was my favorite magazine."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TCR Story of the Month for March: "Mentos" by Holly Thompson

Holly Thompson
The Committee Room is very happy to offer "Mentos" by Holly Thompson as TCR Story of the Month for March.

"Mentos" is a superbly crafted work of flash fiction. Employing masterful focus and a light touch, Thompson packs this very short story with insight into addiction, life in a global culture, and family relationships.

Holly Thompson is the author of two young adult novels in verse: Orchards, winner of the APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and The Language Inside, both published by Delacorte/Random House. She is also author of the novel Ash and the picture book The Wakame Gatherers. Her stories and essays have been published in magazines in Japan and the United States. She co-writes the column “Double Take” in ANA Wingspan magazine.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

TCR Poem of the Month: "Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]" by Frank O'Hara

Frank O'Hara, c. 1965
(Photo by Richard O. Moore)
The Committee Room begins its TCR Poem of the Month feature with "Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]" by Frank O'Hara.

O'Hara was a leading figure in the New York School, a group of poets living in New York in the 1950s and 1960s who valued spontaneity and outward-looking personal expression over polished technique and tortured emotional confessions.

According to O'Hara biographer Brad Gooch in City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara, O'Hara was inspired by a tabloid newspaper headline when he wrote "Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]" on a snowy evening in February 1962 while riding the Staten Island Ferry. Thirty-five years old and a poet of rising reputation, O'Hara was on his way to a reading he was to give at Staten Island's Wagner College. At the reading, O'Hara shared the newly written poem with an appreciative audience. Scheduled to read for twenty minutes, O'Hara read for an hour, much to the annoyance of his co-presenter, the somewhat older and more eminent Robert Lowell, whose poetry epitomized the confessional style that O'Hara disdained. When Lowell finally began his set he announced he would be reading for only a few minutes and facetiously apologized for not having written a poem on the spot.