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Political analysis launches
2008-09 program schedule
Jim Merriner, president of the Society of Midland Authors,
will provide an expert's insights into Illinois politics at
the first program of the Society's 2008-2009 season on Oct.
Merriner (see below) is author of The Man Who Emptied Death
Row: Governor George Ryan and the Politics of Crime (Southern
Illinois University Press). He also is author of other political
books, including Grafters and Goo Goos: Corruption and Reform
in Chicago and Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski's
The November program will feature tips from Tom Ciesielka,
president of TC Public Relations, on how to get Internet publicity
for your books. Tom's program will give authors a quick lesson
in the business of blogging, with several specific items authors
can implement to help accomplish the overall goal of generating
buzz about a new book in the blogosphere.
On Jan. 13, Lisa Holton will speak about her new book,
For Members Only: A History and Guide to Chicago's Oldest
Private Clubs. The city's private clubs have been around
almost as long as Chicago and have served as much more than
playgrounds for the rich. Their members have plotted against
Al Capone, grilled the world's most powerful leaders, and generally
worked to make Chicago the city it is today. This is the first
book to describe the fascinating history of all the major private
clubs in the Windy City with a convenient guidebook detailing
activities, facilities and costs. The SMA's current venue is
in fact one of those clubs – the Cliff Dwellers – so this will
be an interesting topic.
Lisa Holton is a former Chicago Sun-Times business
editor and reporter. Since 1998, she has run The Lisa Company,
a writing, editing and research firm for corporate, education
and nonprofit clients. She has written 11 books under her name
and for ghostwriting clients across the country.
This year's program lineup was assembled by Jim Schwab,
who is resigning as program chairman because of an increased
workload at his non-SMA job, the American Planning Association,
which keeps sending him for several weeks at a time to places
such as New Zealand and China. Jim also is a past president
of the Society.
(Note: Literary License has run low on capital M's and N's
in its California job case typesetting box, so we have changed
the name of this column from Member News to Biblio File.)
On Oct. 16, Stephen Bloom will receive the Iowa Author
of the Year Award. Also, he and co-author Peter Feldstein of
The Oxford Project (See New Books) on Sept. 16 will speak
at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Next, launch
events for the book will be held on Sept. 28 in the town of
Oxford, Iowa. And 10 international exhibitions of the art are
scheduled for Italy and China.
Robert McClory's book, As It Was in the Beginning:
The Coming Democratization of the Catholic Church (Crossroad
Publishing), won first prize in the history category in the
2008 awards by the Catholic Press Association in late May. Also,
he was inducted in April into the Medill Hall of Achievement,
which honors alumni of the Medill School at Northwestern University
for professional accomplishments. Other SMA members in the Medill
Hall include Jack Fuller and Richard C. Longworth.
Margaret McMullan's young adult novel When I Crossed
No-Bob (Houghton Mifflin) was named Indiana's Best Young
Adult Book of 2008 at an award ceremony at the Indiana State
Library in Indianapolis Aug. 16. The Indiana Best Book award
program was started in 2005 by the Indiana Center for the Book
to strengthen interest in Indiana's strong literary heritage.
When I Crossed No-Bob also received a 2008 Parents' Choice
Silver Honor and was named a 2008 finalist for the Willie Morris
Prize for Southern Fiction. The Parents' Choice Awards is the
nation's oldest nonprofit program created to recognize and honor
the best material for children. The Willie Morris Award for
Fiction is an annual award honoring the author of the best book
of fiction set in the Southern United States. When I Crossed
No-Bob is the sequel to McMullan's novel How I Found
the Strong, which won the 2005 Indiana Best Young Adult
Rita Emmett's literary agent, Danielle Egan-Miller,
has sold the audio rights to McMillan Publishing for her upcoming
book, Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress: A Handbook
for the Overworked, Overscheduled and Overwhelmed. McMillan
hopes to release the audio set the same day Walker & Co. publishes
Stephen Kinzer (see Writers on Writing, Page 3) now
has a Web site: http://www.stephenkinzer.com. A "Chicago
Lit" feature about him and his books written by Thomas
Frisbie was scheduled to run this month in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Ed Gordon has sent off the manuscript of his latest
book, Winning the Global Talent Showdown: How Businesses
and Communities are Partnering to Rebuild the Jobs Pipeline,
to his publisher, Barrett-Koehler. The book is scheduled for
publication next April.
Sel Yackley, who was born in Istanbul, was scheduled
to escort a tour group to Turkey, including stops in Cappadocia,
Istanbul and Ephesus from Aug. 29 to Sept. 14.
Here's what Booklist wrote on Feb. 1 about Michael
Allen Dymmoch's ninth novel, M.I.A., a story of violent
men and violent passions, of missing friends, of loss and discovery
(See New Books, Literary License, February, 2008), "Tautly
crafted, Dymmoch's bittersweet journey of discovery glimmers
with subtle tension."
Margery Frisbie, author of An Alley in Chicago:
The Ministry of a City Priest (1991), wrote in the Sept.
9 Chicago Sun-Times that writing about community organizers
had give her the highest respect for them and that they deserve
to be admired, not mocked. "Some failures don't gainsay
the fact that community organizers are some of the heroes of
our day," Frisbie wrote. The book recounts the works of
the late Monsignor John Joseph Egan of Chicago.
Ray E. Boomhower was scheduled to speak about his new
book, Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary,
on Aug. 25 at the Hancock County Public Library in Greenfield,
Ind. Boomhower says he often is asked how the country might
have been different had Kennedy survived and been elected president,
and he says in an interview on the Indiana University Press
blog that, "If Kennedy had won the nomination and beaten
his GOP opponent, Richard Nixon, in the fall, a Kennedy administration
probably would have removed American troops from Vietnam much
sooner than did the Nixon administration. Without Nixon as president,
of course, there would have been no Watergate scandal, and perhaps
Americans' mistrust and suspicions of politicians in Washington,
D.C., might have been allayed for a time."
Liesel Litzenburger's Now You Love Me was chosen
as one of five novels in the Schuler Books summer reading Mitt
Sue William Silverman's upcoming book now has a tentative
title: Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir.
It's about the craft of writing as well as the emotional
concerns writers face when telling family secrets. It is scheduled
for publication in spring 2009 by the University of Georgia
Paul McComas headed off to Los Angeles in early August
to do an author event at Book Soup in Hollywood and also to
meet with Jason Koornick, the lead producer for the duo that's
optioned his novel, Planet of the Dates (2008, Permanent Press)
for a feature film. Paul soon will add the 20th city
Rapid City, S.D. to the book's 30-stop,12-state bookstore
tour, an event that takes place the day after his Sept. 27 Badlands,
S.D., wedding to fellow Evanston fiction writer Heather Swartz.
Linda Nemec Foster's writing has been honored in several
competitions recently. She received an honorable mention in
contests sponsored by the journal New Millennium Writings and
the Springfed Arts organization; and she received first prize
(for her creative nonfiction) and second prize (for her poetry)
from Detroit Working Writers in their annual competition. Her
new chapbook (see New Books) was just published.
Alzina Stone Dale is awaiting a publication date for
her next book, When the Postwar World Was New (Tate Publishing,
Former SMA president and U.S. presidential historian R.
Craig Sautter has posted articles about historic national
political conventions at www.presidentialconventions.com.
Visitors can read about how in Denver 100 years ago, the Democrats
nominated for president a man whose national reputation had
been made by a single electrifying speech in front of the 1896
National Democratic Convention. Or they can press the "Minneapolis
1892" button and read about how Republicans challenged
a sitting president and how the party staked its electoral fortunes
on the success of it "protectionism" of American-made
Despite being chased into a Buffalo Grove motel while floor
and wall people crash about in their residence, Gerry and
Janet Souter this summer kept writing 1,000 to 2,000 words
a day, using a wi-fi laptop and e-mails to keep in touch with
overseas publishers and agents on the coasts. Gerry also recently
received copies of his 40th book, a lavish oversize hardcover
biography on the artist Kasimir Malevich from the Paris publisher
Parkstone-Sirrocco. The book was laid out in Ho Ch Minh City,
Vietnam, and printed in China. Carlton Publishing in London,
which published Gerry and Janet's Founding of the United
States (2006) and The Vietnam War Experience (2007),
have requested a sequel titled Our Founding Fathers
The Shaping of America. (The authors get a break this time
and don't have to locate and pay for all the graphics.)
Gerry also is writing The Earnhardts/History of NASCAR for
Greenwood Press in Connecticut, due in December.
SMA President Jim Merriner will speak about his new
book, The Man Who Emptied Death Row (See New Books),
at a City Club of Chicago luncheon at noon Oct. 6, at Maggiano's,
111 W. Grand Ave. Jim also was on Tom Roeser's talk show "Political
Shootout" Aug. 17 on WLS-AM 890.
Luisa Buehler will be at Centuries & Sleuths in Forest
Park. Ill., at 2 p.m. on Nov 23 with several other authors talking
about the short stories they penned for the anthology Missing.
She will be at the Vernon Hills (Ill.) Library at 1 p.m. on
David Hernandez on June 28 performed Latin, blues,
poetry and "all that jazz" with his group Street Sounds
at 2418 W. Bloomingdale Ave.
Steven Burgauer's first of his seven science fiction
books, The Fornax Drive (May, iUniverse), is back in
print, in paperback. It's about the inventor of light-speed
travel, Fornax Nehrengel, who is caught up in an adventure that
zooms from the moon to Mars and back.
Maurice Possley, a 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner, announced
July 21 he was resigning after nearly two years with the Chicago
Tribune because, he wrote in a memo to colleagues, of
the "stunning . . . dismantling of our newspaper in such
a short time."
Lisa Holton was on Chicago Tonight on Channel 11 Aug.
20 to talk about her book For Members Only: A History and
Guide to Chicago's Oldest Private Clubs.
A new Web TV pilot "Interview with a Broken Heart,"
hosted by Chicago author Anastasia Royal, was scheduled
be taped at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 in the Wilmette (Ill.) Theatre.
Royal, author Undoing I Do," (2008, St. Martin's
Press) planned to interview guests about their most heart-wrenching
and hilarious break-ups, with a panel of Chicago comedians,
filmmakers and authors providing color commentary.
Writers for "Dream Chicago," which was scheduled
to be presented Sept. 8 at Millennium Park, included Stuart
Dybek and Billy Lombardo.
Religion scholar Martin Marty lamented on the Dallas
Morning News religion blog the shrinking of print journalism
and the reduction of the number of print journalists, including
those who cover religion. "At 4:44 each morning four newspapers
bounce against our door for our reading," Marty wrote.
"The bounce is now lighter, week by week."
Ted McClelland wrote in Slate on Aug. 17 about Usain
Bolt, the 21-year-old Jamaican who set a world record in winning
the Olympic 100-meter dash.
Writing in DVDTOWN.com on Sept. 8, James Plath cited
a quote useful for any author: "When Irish poet Tony Curtis
was asked what he did to avoid writer's block, he quipped, 'I
just lower my standards.'"
Don't be afraid to employ recently coined words or even create
perfectly good new ones, Eric McKean advises in the Aug. 3 Boston
Globe. "In short, if it seems wordish, use it,"
she wrote. "No apologies necessary." (Literary
License has attempted at times in the past to coin a few
new words, but our copy editors recognized them as typos
not wordish at all and unerrorized them.)
Cage of Stars by Jacqueline Mitchard is the
title for September for the Readers Forum at the Clyde (Ohio)
On Aug. 22, Belief.net mentioned Marcia Z. Nelson's 2005
book, The Gospel According to Oprah.
In the Aug. 14 (suburban Chicago) Pioneer Press, 2008
James Friend Award winner Myrna Petlicki profiled Ruth
Spiro. Petlicki wrote: "A remark by her young gum-loving
daughter Sarah inspired Ruth Spiro of Deerfield to write her
first children's book. 'She was blowing bubbles and she said,
"Mom, wouldn't it be cool if I could blow a bubble like
that guy at the birthday party who made animals out of balloons,"
' Spiro recounted. Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist, the
story of a young boy with that talent, is being released this
month [August] by Dutton Children's Books."
Nikos Kokonis, who traveled to Tripoli, Arcadia, in
Greece's Peloponessos last Easter for a lengthy stay, is working
on a sequel to Arcadia, My Arcadia, which is now in Greek
translation with the title Ellada Mou, Patrida Mou. Kokonis
told the Greek News, a Greek-American newspaper, that writing
the sequel has proved to be "an enormous undertaking."
Arcadia, My Arcadia, which also is under movie option
consideration, drew favorable comments from SMA members S.
L. Wisenberg and Harry Mark Petrakis.
On Nov. 16, the Monroe County (Ind.) Public Library, will
show a film made from Elsa Marston's story, "Santa
Claus in Baghdad," at which the filmmaker (from Boston)
and Marston will speak. The showing is part of a new project
called "Voices and Visions: Islam and Muslims in World
Contexts," run by the Center for the Study of Global Change
at Indiana University with a Social Science Research Council
grant. Marston has agreed to serve on project's the advisory
council and to make a related podcast.
Author Neal Samors, wearing a different hat this time,
has published through his Chicago Books Press Rock and Roll
Radio: The Fun Years: 1955-1975. The book is written by
Clark Weber, Chicago disc jockey and program director
at WLS-AM and other stations in the '50s, '60s and '70s. Samors,
who has written and published several books about Chicago, interviewed
Weber for the 2006 book Chicago in the Sixties, and Samors
told Weber he should write a book, Robert Loerzel reported
in the (suburban Chicago) Pioneer Press on Sept. 4.
Rick Kogan and James Finn Garner were
scheduled to be featured guests Sept. 8 at El Jardin Restaurant
in Chicago. They will meet with a group of local writers, musicians,
filmmakers and others who review the highs and lows of the Chicago
Gerry and Janet Souter recalled in the Aug. 20 (suburban Chicago)
Daily Herald driving on the fringes of the 1968 Democratic
National Convention melee. On their way home from watching a
movie in Old Town, the couple "saw the flashing lights
and all the people, the cop cars and the paddy wagon,"
recalled Souter, who then was a freelance photojournalist. "Suddenly,
this great cloud of gas rolled over the car." Janet cranked
up the windows, and as Gerry slammed the sunroof shut the metal
handle broke and cut his hand.
On Aug. 18 the Manitowoc (Wis.) City Council appointed Kerry
Trask to the Board of Ethics.
Historian Ann Durkin Keating was quoted in the Aug.
26 Daily Herald about 1968, the year of the Prague Spring,
the Vietnam War and the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther
King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.
Kate Klise was scheduled to hold a Sept. 8 writer's
workshop at the Library Center in Springfield, Mo.
Scott Turow will announce the 20 finalists for the
National Book Awards Oct. 15 at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.
Q&A With Jim Merriner:
Making an honest living writing about corruption
Jim Merriner, political historian and former political editor
of the Chicago Sun-Times, will discuss his new book about
former governor George Ryan at the Society of Midland Authors'
Oct. 14 program. Literary License caught up with him
over the summer for an interview:
Literary License: Why did you choose to write about
a disgraced governor?
Jim Merriner: My publisher asked me to write a book about
the Chicago public schools, and without thinking I said, "No,
that's not the story. George Ryan is the story." Actually,
I had hardly thought about Ryan for years. If he were just
another crooked politician, he wouldn't be worth a book. But
he was a crooked politician who single-handedly overturned
the death penalty in Illinois. That was a truly radical act,
especially for a conservative Republican. So why did he do
Literary License: You also wrote about a disgraced
powerful House Ways and Means chairman. Were there parallels
Jim Merriner: One big parallel is that both Dan Rostenkowski
and George Ryan to this day believe they are innocent of the
crimes for which they were convicted. Rosty told me that he
might have violated some House rules but he never committed
felonies. Years later I asked Ryan, did there come a moment
when you knew you were going to be indicted? They're indicting
all your friends left and right, you must have thought, they're
coming after me? He said, no, he never believed he would be
indicted until his defense attorney actually called him with
At first I thought, well, he's just maintaining a posture
of innocence because his case is still on appeal. But the
more I studied the man and his career, the more it seemed
clear that he never understood that fixing all those contracts
and scamming all that money amounted to crimes. I guess that's
what they mean by a "culture of corruption."
Literary License: Are Chicago and Illinois really
the capitals of corruption, or are the reporters and writers
here just better at finding it?
Jim Merriner: As much as I love reporters and writers, let's
not give them too much credit. Most of the credit goes to
the U.S. attorneys here and especially the incumbent, Patrick
Fitzgerald. And, yes, Chicago and Illinois really are capitals
of corruption. In my books I've tried to explore what exactly
constitutes public corruption and why Chicago and Illinois
have so much of it. "Culture of corruption" is just a slogan,
not an explanation. If there is such a culture, why does Illinois
have it and not, say, Wisconsin? In the Ryan book I reached
some conclusions about all this. But if you want to know the
conclusions, you have to buy the book!
Literary License: What makes readers interested in
Jim Merriner: In my experience, they're not that interested.
Besides trying to define corruption, I've also been interested
in what makes up a scandal. The public's "scandal fatigue"
seems to increase with every election cycle. There's this
general overlay of disgust and cynicism, the attitude that
all politics is dirty. I think that attitude is more dangerous
to a free republic than all the nickels and dimes stolen by
the likes of Rosty and Ryan.
Maybe some kind of critical mass of corruption has been
reached so that people will demand clean government, but I
Literary License: What's your next book?
Jim Merriner: People always ask me, am I writing about Gov.
Blagojevich now? I say, no, that would be redundant. Is this
my existential task in life, I have to write about every crooked
politician in Illinois? Actually, I am hoping to retire next
Publishers Weekly wrote that Kevin Mattson's
new book, Rebels All!: A Short History of the Conservative
Mind in Postwar America is a "slim, scathing study of the
right's trajectory [that] argues that conservatives co-opted
the utopian radicalism of the left to brilliantly position themselves
as political underdogs, while efficiently consolidating power.
... The author skillfully links the invasion of Iraq with the
new conservative utopianism ("a new city on the hill in the
Middle East") and identifies conservatism's ideological family
tree, detecting the echoes of Bill Buckley in Ann Coulter and
The San Francisco Chronicle on Aug. 31 called the book
"highly readable, concise yet meaty analysis of the conservative
Linda Nemec Foster, the first poet laureate of Grand Rapids,
Mich., 2003-2005, has just published Ten Songs from Bulgaria
(June, Cervena Barva Press), her eighth collection of poetry.
The collection, a top finalist in the press' national chapbook
competition, opens with these lines:
I. Two Vladimirs at the Window
Small lives, small lives,
we are trapped inside
small lives. Call this window
a prison of rotten wood; the hinges
a broken lock that still won't release us.
Call us the curse of clouded mirrors,
the blank faces of the soul
stuck inside an old kaleidoscope.
Small lives, small lives. We hum and chant
to the silence outside the frame.
Jack Ridl, the Society of Midland Authors' 2007 poetry
co-winner, writes about the book: "In line after line, we encounter
the depths and reach of those who live outside the zones of
everyday safety. Foster makes herself vulnerable to a world
'as tangible as fog' with her own penetrating observations.
She walks 'the long journey' and her poems reflect the haunting
music of ode and elegy."
Here's what former Illinois Gov. Dan Walker has to say about
Jim Merriner's new book, The Man Who Emptied Death
Row: Governor George Ryan and the Politics of Crime (Southern
Illinois University Press): "A gripping factual account of real
life crime in government by now-convicted and sentenced Gov.
George Ryan. Merriner tells in graphic and readable detail why
Illinois is No. 1 in the nation in bipartisan corruption aka
pay to play government. All the way from Paul Powell's grossly
simple $800,000 shoebox to today's much more sophisticated stealing
from taxpayers' pockets. Read it and weep for good government
For The Oxford Project (September; Welcome Books) co-author
Stephen Bloom conducted interviews with the 676 residents
of Oxford, Ohio, who were photographed first in 1984 and then
in 2004 by Peter Feldstein, creating a book that documentary
filmmaker Ken Burns called, "a marvelous way to get at 'who
we are' as a people. This powerful confessional book draws its
strength from the truth that so-called ordinary people, not
those with bold-faced names, are actually the heroes of our
Photographs for the book first appeared in 2004 in the New
York Times and Smithsonian Magazine and on ABC News.
Scorsese by Ebert (University of Chicago Press) is
Roger Ebert's new book. It includes his reviews of every
Martin Scorsese film (Ebert wrote the first film review that
Scorsese ever received – for 1967's "I Call First.") "Of special
interest," Publishers Weekly wrote in its July 21 edition,
"are interviews with Scorsese over a 25-year period in which
the director candidly discusses his body of work." Library
Journal wrote: "This unique book is an invaluable study
in the canon of both film and criticism."
Author and photographer Raymond Bial, who has published
more than 80 books of photographs, has a new book: The Shaker
The School Library Journal wrote: "Mirroring the simplicity
and elegance of a Shaker chair, this book captures the spirit
of a very special people." Bial shows how the Shakers have lived,
worked, worshipped and evolved. His text and photographs feature
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Ky.
Booklist wrote: "This handsome volume introduces the
traditional Shaker way of life in a thoughtful text and well-composed,
The First Vice Lord: Big Jim Colosimo and the Ladies of
the Levee by Arthur Bilek tells the story of Chicago's
infamous red-light distinct, the Levee, from the Columbian Exposition
to the Roaring Twenties. Bilek has been chief of the Cook County
Sheriff's Police, a member of the Chicago Crime Commission and
a professor at Loyola University Chicago. Bilek wrote a previous
book in 2004 with William J Helmer titled St. Valentine's
Day Massacre in hard and soft cover, also by Cumberland.
Sovereignty: God, State, and Self, Jean Bethke Elshtain's
Gifford Lectures, examines the origins and meanings of "sovereignty"
as it relates to all the ways we attempt to explain our world.
Elshtain argues that political theories of state sovereignty
fuel contemporary understandings of sovereignty of the self.
Elsa Marston is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction,
mostly for young adults. She is author of Santa Claus in
Baghdad and Other Stories About Teens in the Arab World
(2008, Indiana University Press), Women in the Middle East:
Tradition and Change (2003,1996, Watts), Songs of Ancient
Journeys: Animals in Rock Art (2005, George Braziller) and
other books. She got her B.A. in American civilization at the
University of Iowa, an M.A. in international affairs at Harvard
University, studied Middle Eastern history at the American University
of Beirut, and got another master's degree in art education
at Indiana University.
Women in the Middle East was on the New York Public
Library list of Books for the Teen Age for three years. Her
1996 book, The Fox Maiden, (Simon & Schuster) was selected
for the 1997 Bank Street College Best Children's Books list
and was runner-up for the 1997 Friends of American Writers award
for juvenile fiction.
She also received the International Reading Association's
short story award in 1994 for The Olive Tree.
Dues cover mailings and other organizational expenses, but
the Society always needs additional money for programs such
as the awards at the annual May banquet. Thanks to these members
who made contributions along with their renewals: Frank Gonzalez-Crussi,
Harriette Gillem Robinet, Anne J. Barry, Beverly Offen, Bill
Barnhart, Carol B. Gartner, Matthew A. Eck, Michael Argetsinger,
Carol Madden Adorjan, Charles J. Masters, Eldon Ham, Elinor
P. Swiger, James H. Mallon, James P. Barry, Janet Hickman, John
F. Wasik, Marianne Forrest, Pat Rahmann, Robert J.R. Follett,
Ron Offen, Scott Turow, Stella Pevsner, Thomas Frisbie, Timothy
Gilfoyle, Donna Boonstra, S. Dow Mossman, Nathan Kantrowitz,
Joseph Epstein, John Callaway, Sue Harrison, Christopher Leland,
Shirley Christian, Fern Brown, Alzina Stone Dale, Cranston Knight,
Ted Anton, Marcia Nelson, Carol Felsenthal, Robert Hinshaw,
Mark Pulsifer, Elizabeth Fama, James Schwab, Rebecca Johns,
Milton Nieuwsma and Dick Simpson.
Letters to the Editor
| Thank you so much
for writing the obit about my mother [Elsie Ziegler, May-June,
2008 Literary License]. You put together a wonderful
article, and my sisters and I really appreciated your doing
that for mother.
I am sure that she
would be very pleased to know that your article about her
was published, especially from someone who cared from the
Society of Midland Authors.
Thanks for the nice
write-up on my film deal. Who knew I'd one day be an LL
"cover boy" – ?!? ;-)
Mark Perlberg, 1929-2008
Mark Perlberg of Chicago, a longtime member of the
Society of Midland Authors and a co-founder of the Poetry Center
of Chicago, died 23 June in Midwest Palliative and Hospice Care
Center in Skokie. He was 79.
Mr. Perlberg was author of four poetry books: The Burning
Field (1970), The Feel of the Sun (1980), The
Impossible Toystore (2000) and Waiting for the Alchemist,
which is to be published next spring. The Burning Field
received the Robert L. Ferguson Memorial Award from the Friends
of Literature in 1970.
Mr. Perlberg, a frequent contributor to the Society of Midland
Authors' annual awards fund, taught a poetry workshop at the
Newberry Library for 20 years and for 13 years was president
of the Poetry Center, now based at the School of the Art Institute
"Mark had the demeanor of a gentle, soft-spoken man. But beneath
that exterior was a core of passion for poetry, social justice
and life," said SMA member Ron Offen, editor of Free
Lunch: A Poetry Miscellany. "Up until the last weeks of
his life, he was working on a poem about the illness that would
eventually overcome him.
"For me, Mark's poetry is a mix of poignancy, humor and insightfulness,
achieved through keen observation and a mastery of language.
As an editor, I feel honored to have published his work."
Mr. Perlberg was born Feb. 19, 1929, in New Jersey. He attended
Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y., and then Columbia University,
where he took graduate classes in English literature. There,
he met his wife, Anna Nessy Perlberg. He was drafted into the
Korean War in 1952, serving two years, and after he was discharged,
he was hired by Time magazine in 1956. He covered the
arts for the magazine while based in Chicago. Among his subjects
were former Chicago Symphony Orchestra conductor Fritz Reiner
and Italian opera soprano Renata Tebaldi.
"He had a gift for weaving poems out of life experiences,"
Anna Perlberg told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He would take something
that had happened and really, it would become a remarkable poem."
Mr. Perlberg also was an editor for World Book Encyclopedia,
Encyclopaedia Britannica and Prism, a journal on
medicine's socio-economics. "He was a very fine and very serious
poet," Lisel Mueller, another co-founder of the Poetry Center,
told the Chicago Tribune.
Besides Anna, Mr. Perlberg is survived by two daughters, Katherine
Friedberg of Wilmette and Julie Farwell of Denver, and four
grandsons. A memorial service was scheduled for Sept. 10 in
the ballroom of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago,
112 S. Michigan Ave.
G.E. Murray, 1945-2008
G.E. Murray, a former SMA member and author of eight
collections of poetry, died June 23 at Rush University Medical
Center in Chicago. He had a liver transplant three years ago
and suffered from diabetes. He was 62.
His most recent book was Arts of a Cold Sun (2003,
University of Illinois Press). Mr. Murray also co-edited, with
Illinois poet laureate and SMA member and award-winner Kevin
Stein, Illinois Voices: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century
Mr. Murray, a native of Buffalo, got a bachelor's degree in
1968 from Canisius College in western New York. He earned his
master's degree in English from Northeastern University.
Visions and Voices, his recollection of people and
places in Buffalo, is scheduled to be published this year.
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