The Society of Midland Authors
has endured since 1915 while many other worthy literary organizations have faded
away. The explanation is that generations of leaders have succeeded not only
in recruiting new members year after year but also in replacing themselves.
All of the Society's functions
are carried out by volunteers. So there's always room for more workers
to join committees, find they enjoy helping out and perhaps move up to become
directors and officers.
One of the foundations that
help fund SMA once commented that we "certainly do a lot with a little."
Activities include sponsoring
annual awards in six categories, holding monthly public programs in season and
an awards dinner each year, publishing eight issues of Literary License
and a yearbook, and in general providing fellowship for Midwestern authors.
After the current season concludes
with the annual dinner May 9, SMA will begin focusing on next year and forming
committees to tackle the behind-the-scenes work that makes all this possible.
If you would
like to join one of the committees, please tell SMA what interests
you most and list your pertinent qualifications. Send this information
to Thomas Frisbie, president, 12 S. Owen, Mt. Prospect, IL 60056.
TRANSLATING "WHO CARES?" INTO SCIENCE WRITING
BY RICHARD FRISBIE
about science is like translating languages, Carol Rausch Albright
told the audience at the Feb. 14 SMA meeting in the Chicago
She knows, having spent her
career writing books like The Humanizing Brain: Where Religion and Neuroscience
, lecturing and editing scientific articles for non-scientists and vice
versa. A former World Book editor, she's now executive editor of Zygon:
Science & Religion
It's a field attracting
growing international interest, with more and more conferences, university courses
and grant money. The John Templeton Foundation alone awards an annual prize
currently worth more than $1.4 million for advancing "spiritual matters,
including research in love, creativity, purpose, infinity, intelligence, thanksgiving
The trouble, said Albright is
that in the debates between science and religion, neither party understands
the other without help.
Writers "have to think
more clearly what you're trying to say," and avoid jargon, with "compassion
While scientists tend to be
those who quit going to church as soon as their mothers let them, "religionists"
are the ones who "avoided science classes."
Consider the human trait of
anger. Scientists take an interest in measuring adrenaline and other physiological
components. Ethicists try to understand the effect on personality and human
An example of misunderstanding
is the statement by proponents of intelligent design that "evolution is
only a theory." To scientists, a theory is an explanation of natural phenomena
that was once a hypothesis but has since become widely accepted in the world
of science. Gravitation is still "only a theory," but if you drop
a rock it will land on your foot.
Albright conceded that seemingly
established theories do change, sometimes despite resistance of older scientists,
as new insights take hold. The Big Bang theory of the beginning of the universe
was an example.
"Science can tell us what's
out there," she said, "but it can't tell you how to live."
In the end,
the challenge for science writers is make the subject seem relevant.."Why
should readers care, anyway?"
BY CAROL JEAN CARLSON
Can You Top This?
Not all the winners are selected
yet in this year's SMA literary competition, but we certainly know who
wins for the heaviest book in the competition. The Return of Calvin and
Hobbes by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel Publishing) weighs in at 23 pounds
per three-volume, slip-cased set with a total of 1,456 pages.
first printing of 250,000 copies weighed 250 metric tons, and used 34,957
reams of paper and 12 metric tons of ink.
For die-hard Calvin and Hobbes
fans it will be well worth it because the set includes every Watterson strip
(3,160) from the cartoon's launch on Nov. 18, 1985, to its final run
on Dec. 31, 1995. During its syndication, Calvin and Hobbes ran in more than
Chicago Architecture Wellspring
OTHER MEMBER NEWS
Another hefty tome is Wilbert
R. Hasbrouck's The Chicago Architectural Club: Prelude to the Modern
(640 pages, The Monacelli Press), which documents "the history of the
organization and its role in shaping architectural education and modern architectural
The Club was founded in 1885
and provided a place where draftsman could learn, compete and socialize. The
book is rife with photos and illustrations. Stanley Tigerman contributed the
book's epilogue. Hasbrouck, FAIA, is a practicing architect in Chicago
and a founder of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, as well as a former
director of the Society of Architectural Historians.
His wife, with whom he works
closely, is founder and president of the Prairie Avenue Bookstore.
Golden Oldie Mysteries
Alzina Stone Dale will discuss
Golden Oldies here and abroad and their social settings then and now at 2 pm
Saturday, April 29, at Centuries & Sleuths bookstore in Forest Park, Ill.
She'll describe the "Upstairs
Downstairs" social scene between
the wars, with special mention of the recently published Dorothy L. Sayers'
short story, "The Travelling Rug" (with a female housemaid sleuth)
and a biography of Josephine Tey by her cousin UK mystery writer Catherine Aird.
Distinguished Alum Reads
Every month Chicago's
Columbia College presents a distinguished alum in a reading series called Literature
& Libations. On March 7, the speaker was Arnie Bernstein, who offered a preview
of the new book he's working on.
Fellowship for Prose
Barbara Croft has been awarded
a 2006 Illinois Arts Council fellowship for prose, based on the submission of
a portion of her unpublished novel, Tree of Heaven.
Returns for Lectures
Kathy Stevenson writes,
"I am currently dividing my time between Lake Forest and Haverford, Pa.,
and enjoy getting the SMA newsletter even though I can't attend meetings right
now. I hope to be back in Lake Forest permanently in a few years."
She will be back in Illinois
long enough to speak during National Library Week for the Lake Forest Library
Cross Currents program on Tuesday, April 4, at 10 a.m. at the Deer Path Inn
in Lake Forest on "How Place Informs Fiction." Also at the Algonquin
Public Library that same evening at 7 p.m. on "From Idea to Publication."
She has been publishing commentary/essays
regularly in the Philadelphia Inquirer and editing her second novel, Clear
Kathy Stevenson's essays, feature
articles and short stories have appeared in such publications as Newsweek
The New York Times
, Los Angeles Times
, Chicago Tribune
, The Writer
, The Christian Science Monitor
, American Way
, American Book Review
and many others.
She is also the author of The
, a historical novel published in 2001, and Lake Forest Moments
a collection of essays about Lake Forest.
Poet Collaborates With Photog
Linda Nemec Foster's new
book, Listen to the Landscape
, is a collaboration with fine arts photographer,
Dianne Carroll Burdick. Foster's poetry is coupled with Burdock's hand-colored
landscape photographs to produce an effect that writer Jack Driscoll describes
as filled with "clarity and grace." The book will be published in
September by Eerdmans Publishing.
Foster recently received more
good news from The National Poetry Review
. The literary journal selected
her poem, "The Field Behind the Dying Father's House," as first runner-up
in its national competition, The Laureate Prize for Poetry.
The poem will be published in
the summer issue.
New Novel from Award Winner
Robert Hellenga, an SMA
fiction award winner, has just published a new novel, Philosophy Made Simple
(Little Brown & Co.)
The publisher's blurb says,
"In what he interprets as a moment of transcendent vision, Rudy Harrington
buys an avocado grove in the Rio Grande Valley and takes up philosophy. The
wisdom that emerges from his struggles with Plato and Aristotle, Schopenhauer
and Sartre is put to the test when he enlists the neighborhood elephant to preside
over his daughter's Hindu wedding and falls in love with the groom's
Hellenga was scheduled to read
at Barbara's Books in Oak Park, Ill., on March 16. He also recently received
an Illinois Arts Council finalist award.
Lawyers in Love
Alan H. Neff's new
book, Blauser's Building
(Denlinger's Publishers, Ltd.), is described
as "a comic, dark and fast-moving David-and-Goliath story about lawyers
in Chicagolawyers in love (but not with the law)."
Two Books This Fall
June Sawyers has two books
coming out this fall. She's the editor of Read the Beatles: Classic
and New Writings on the Beatles, Their Legacy, and Why They Still Matter
which Penguin is scheduled to publish in November, and Tougher than the Rest:
The 100 Best Bruce Springsteen Songs
, which Omnibus Press will publish some
time this fall.
Playwright Does Novel
Robert Vivian, whose collection
of creative nonfiction, Cold Snap as Yearning
, won the SMA Nonfiction
Award in 2002, has a first novel, The Mover of Bones
, due out from the
University of Nebraska Press in fall of 2006. He also has had more than 20 plays
produced on and off Broadway.
Reads from New Novel
Award-winning Chicago poet
Beatriz Badikian Gartler will read from her new novel, Old Gloves: A 20th
, Wednesday, March 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Harold Washington
Chicago Authors Room on the seventh floor.
Soupçon of Danger
Blue Balliett, author of
the much-acclaimed Chasing Vermeer
, has a new children's book out
in April from Scholastic.
The Wright 3
sixth graders who foil a plot to destroy a Frank Lloyd Wright house.
says, "Those who enjoyed the first adventure will be quickly
drawn in once more by...a sophisticated subject spiced by puzzles,
codes and a soupçon of danger."
RECENT NEW MEMBERS
BY THOMAS FRISBIE
Argetsinger is past president of the Publicity Club of Chicago
and a past officer of the Chicago Area Runners.
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