Commentary

This is all commentaries on WVPE including Friday's Michiana Chronicles Feature and occasional one-time contributors.

Ken Smith

My hobby last year was writing little six-line poems. That was a surprise. Even more surprising was that I wrote ninety of them. They each have a rhyming pattern modeled after a very moving poem by W. H. Auden called “Epitaph on a Tyrant.” Auden wrote it in the 1930s about Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini. He was trying to figure out how a tyrant’s brain works. His poem goes like this: Epitaph on a Tyrant. Perfection of a kind was what he was after, and the poetry he invented was easy to understand.

April Lidinsky

I knew I was in trouble when a gentle question floated by another activist cracked the thin shell of tension holding me together, and I burst into manic laughter. The question was: What are you doing for self-care?

Heather Curlee-Novak

I am reeling lately from the social media frenzy of friends and fake news and divisive politics and all of the powerful words from a Martin Luther King Day workshop I attended at Valparaiso University.  Forgive my fumbling through a few of these thoughts as I try to figure out how to find peace and live well in our current world and circumstances.

God is My Co-Pilot

Jan 27, 2017
Columbia Pictures

Telling stories became a part of my routine when I was teaching. Over time these stories developed into what you might call stock pieces … I had a few in my pocket for when transcendentalism and agreement in number just weren’t cuttin’ it that day……and in each telling they evolved….the plot arc is bending toward justice…..

I know the importance of detail, and in teaching writing I told high school students that they should consider being uncertain in a memory detail as a story-telling opportunity, an opportunity to remember things the way they ought to be.  

This week is framed by two events that seem to be in tension with one another. Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and today is the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The simmering tension between these two events boiled over in the conflict between Donald Trump and Georgia Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis. That conflict reveals a troubling trend in American culture.

The Dutch Luthier - WordPress.com

The trouble with teaching is sometimes your students force you to learn things you never wanted to learn.  For some, this can mean new forms of exercise – like piloxing – for others, mastering technical terms in foreign languages. For me, the unsettling territory into which I have been thrust this month is… the banjo.

Going Home

Jan 6, 2017
Christopher Manson

“Over the river and through the wood, to grandfather’s house we go,” so says the 120-year-old song. (Although I always thought that it was Grandmother’s house, but I seem to have got that wrong—more about that later.) Given the song’s New England roots, its age, and the mental pictures of folks in horse drawn sleighs, it’s amazing that it continues to work here in fly-over land in the 21st century. Turns out that here in the Midwest, there still are rivers and woods and grandfathers too, for that matter. And, trucking off to visit folks for the holidays happens as well.

Good Riddance, 2016

Dec 30, 2016

I get the last Chronicle for 2016. [sings] “Fast away the old year passes,” couldn’t end fast enough for me. It was a leap year, if you’ll recall, and altogether too much “leap” for me. That extra day, I think, was the tipping point; that meant .2739726 per cent more fake news, unkeepable promises, odious posing—did you notice the candidates had their own unique arm, hand and finger gestures? When we were kids we called that “fakey.” Now I call it posturing—same thing only a two-dollar word.

Wrestling with Twitter

Dec 23, 2016

Now here is a question that would have been absolutely meaningless eighteen months ago. Should I read Donald Trump’s tweets or not? Wild as they are, do his little messages matter? One web-savvy friend of mine says, No, don’t waste time on his tweets, he’s a troll and the tweets are a distraction. Others say we have to monitor to these brash and pithy Twitter pronouncements. Read or not read? How to decide? I find my answer in some cherished memories of professional wrestling.

A Radical Age

Dec 16, 2016
April Lidinsky

The curse of the English major is that everything’s a metaphor. It seems to be catching.  Bleak political prognosticators have been warning, “Winter’s coming!” apropos of, well, everything in the news. Fear and division hang like a chilling haze —  but I’ve been kindling my spirits by digging into my family’s roots for lessons of diversity, warmth, and empathy. Deep down, our families — together — hold this wisdom for us to recall.

Thanksgiving for Snow

Dec 9, 2016
Sid Shroyer

It’s good to see the snow back this week. It quietly reminds me that warmth and community are essential for survival. When I was eight Dad decided on the way home from the Grant County high school basketball tourney that U.S. 35 was drifting shut so he turned the Chevy around and the family spent the night with Aunt Emmy and Uncle Howard back in Marion. They were happy to have us.  A cold bed in a lonely room returned to life and we didn’t have to go to school the next day.

Heather Curlee-Novak

I am embarrassed to admit this, but I am spoiled. Spoiled rotten and maybe a skosh lazy.  And again, pampered and spoiled.  Our front door is to blame for this revelation.  We live in a lovely little bungalow from 1920 and all of the things do not work all of the time.  This front door of ours actually still has the original doorknob and skeleton key slot.  It is quite the physical challenge to close it, involving several slammings and a hopping leg dance to get the key to slide the deadbolt.

Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays. The turkey dinner reminds me of the pilgrims at New Plymouth and the rich cultural contributions of the native tribes. I think of the Revolution and the achievement of the U.S. Constitution. Although I acknowledge the harshest and most disappointing elements of our history, what sustains me always is the sense that our Constitution can change and has changed over time, opening new freedoms for African Americans and women, for example.

Dear Mum,

Greetings from Plymouth.  Not the one from my childhood on the south coast with the ships and the ocean breeze, the fish and chips and the fog.  The other one – the one here in Indiana.

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

Have you looked out there in the past couple of weeks? It’s been gobsmackingly beautiful.  In Michiana, it’s as close as it gets to Tahiti. No, not the heat, although it had been fairly warm, and not the Gauguin semi-naked ladies, but the Gauguin color palette of reds and yellows and oranges: the leaf-turnings on the trees have been just breath-taking. No need to take a road trip, the local color has been a delight. Truly, it’s been something to have seen, remembered and be prepared, in a couple of weeks, to offer as an example of “what I am thankful for.”

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