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National Cowboy Poetry Gathering collection, 1985-2018
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No credit cards and little to bank. My typewriter had just gone electric. Nights I returned after drink and talk To the punctuation of the white spark On the trackless trolley wire. And the slow-moving populace of summer And the naked sub-lessee In the lamplight flossing her teeth Whether I looked or not were there. Honks and voices and stereo speakers. Those were the windows of that life. Some faced a courtyard, the others a street.

I would like to visit who lives there now, See how my face remains there framed. Stuart Dischell sketches with so light a hand it's easy to miss the fact that Evenings and Avenues , his second book of poems, is a book of ideas, not impressions. The gem-like poems of the book return to a handful of considerations: the price of happiness, of fantasy, of relationships; the place of the self in the world; the definition of home; and the meaning of boundaries.

These knotty subjects aren't pushed to the fore, however, and at the beginning of the book, they're the last things one expects to confront. The poem ends on a Whitmanesque note, but without Whitman's grandiosity. Dischell's speaker is sincere, but campy, someone we like most at a distance-someone we're happy to indulge when he concludes:. The character wants to be both central, the object of attention as opera singer, sundial and universal and immanent as sky or neighborhood.

It's easy to write off his desires as dreamy and peculiar at first, but they are desires that recur more and more emphatically throughout the book. Themes and images hold this volume together on an abstract level; concretely, the book is unified by a series of poems entitled "Evening. It's as convincing a poem about a moment of complete contentment as Stevens' "A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts," continuing:. And like the Stevens poem, "Evening" hints at a darkness barely held off.

She was always the one. These sad characters are so common in the poems that they don't seem to be the objects of judgment; they're the scenery of a world view. Dischell's weaker poems can feel a little precious or rarefied. Though it's often interesting to see someone working in so denigrated a mode as allegory or fantasy, sometimes the poems end as riddles, closing out the reader.

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Also, Dischell has an unnerving tendency to be somewhat prodigal with meter. He seems, at times, to treat rhythms almost arbitrarily-to make a waltz out of a line here, drop an utterly flat one there. For the bulk of "Morning by the Sea," for instance, the rhythms are casually unobtrusive and varied, with no pattern or cadence asserting itself over the natural unfolding of the lines.

This feels almost aggressively flat, and one fishes around in vain to find some theoretical justification for it-or at least a good joke in it. Aside from these few notes, Evenings and Avenues is an interesting book of well-made poems. Dischell's imagination is broad, and he reinvigorates forms of fantasy like the allegory and the fairy tale with rare confidence.

Moreover, the book sparks with intelligence and wit, sadness and beauty. One of the last poems is one of the best; it shows off Dischell's gift gracefully. Short enough to quote entire and beautiful enough to end on, it is called "Psalm":. Into the depths we drowned, the familial and the animal, Paired on the deck of our craft going round. Into depths we drowned and we were lost among us. The opened cages, our bodies starving in the sun. Inspired by life in Atlantic City, N. I was Balboa. In synthesizing the dominant poetic strains of the s with those of the s, Dischell achieves an unpredictability that creates anticipation with each new page.

A delightfully deceptive debut. Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc. John For those us who have long admired Stuart Dischell's poetry, the publication of Good Hope Road, his first book-length collection chosen by Tom Lux as a selection in The National Poetry Series is a cause for real celebration. In a time when much of our poetry seems to spring full-blown from the self-congratulatory and self-absorbed confessions of tell-all talk shows or, at the other extreme, from the most airless and bloodless pages of literary theory, a book like Good Hope Road arrives like a tonic, filled as it is with carefully crafted poems reflecting the complex conditions of human experience and emotion.

The first section of Good Hope Road, entitled "Apartments," is comprised of twelve poems which form a loose but harmonic sequence. Each of the poems has a protagonist referred to as "he" or "she. In each of the poems from this sequence, the "he" or "she" emerges as a singular figure, a true character in all senses of the word, caught in the particular and often peculiar purgatory of his or her own life, even a little stunned at times by the nature of their own special states of limbo.

Slowly, around each of these anonymous pronouns, the details of experience and the reflective movements of narrative quietly coalesce, until we are left with a portrait that is rich, moving, and surprising. Dischell is superb at showing us the poignant secrets behind the masks of these pronouns. His characters, often trapped in the paradoxical fluctuations of their own thoughts, are driven both from and into their own solitude by their awkwardness, their self-consciousness, and the persistence of their desires.

As they stumble and stutter across the world's stage, used by others, confronted by daily indignities and cruelties, often crippled by their own passions and personal histories, Dischell's figures reveal to us how much we are like the anonymous "he" and "she" of these poems. Yet, what strikes me as highly unusual is that Dischell is unwilling to make any special or arrogant claims for the idea of the self. Instead, we find the absurdity and presumptions of selfhood mocked everywhere, as in the marvelously witty poem "Buddies," with its two friends who are both named Jerry and who tell each other's stories as if they were their own.

If they were not already members of the Fetter Lane Society, they now quickly joined. I with 10 Laborers and the 2 others with each 10 Sisters.

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I can make use of my little English here very well. All this success had its results.

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Anna was considered to be working as the Vice-Regent of the Holy Spirit. Rather he focuses on the theory and practice of women in the church. Women in Christianity, he argues, are blessed by the fact that they can hold inside them, contained and gestated, God, the Divine. Resonant of the Orthodox name for Mary, the Theotokos, Zinzendorf calls on women to conceive of themselves as carriers of the Divine. His sermons on women should also be heard by men, as men need to learn from women the way of the divine. I return to the image of Anna receiving the two prominent churchmen at the spinning wheel and in front of the floor loom.

In these SS choir houses the spinning and weaving of cloth were two of the most prevalent economic and artisanal activities.

As we know from classical and medieval literature, the image of women at the loom has for s of years signified an alternative realm of knowledge generation. Whether Penelope in the Odyssey, Clytemnestra in the Oresteia, or Christine de Pizan in the City of Women, the creation of cloth is also a creation of knowledge and narrative. Listening to the words of the visiting Pietist scholars, Anna continues to work. If the choir houses are to be considered as the workshops of the divine, then it is no surprise that Zinzendorf also considers them to contain prophets and priests.

By his definition, prophets are those who further the work of the choir; they have the authority to lead the choir in the right direction; and priests are those who work with the spiritual well-being of the choir. But for Zinzendorf, Anna Nitschmann was both a priestess and a prophetess,. Although severely under-researched, archival evidence reveals that her interactions with American Indians in Pennsylvania were effective and long lasting, and her work establishing the Girls School in Philadelphia with Anna Margaretha Bechtel m. By , just five years before her untimely death, the minutes of the Synod of Single Sisters Choirs, at which both Anna Nitschmann and Zinzendorf spoke, show that the membership around the world of the choir that Anna had founded totalled approximately , with SS choirs in Greenland, England, North America, the German states, Ireland, the Baltic states almost just there.

The registers for the following year show a growth to At this synod, Zinzendorf remarks that he himself wishes he were a single sister! There is archival evidence from the diaries of the Single Sisters choirs established in the mission world that portraits of Anna were distributed as far afield as Greenland. We might well ask why when she never visited those places? And the archival records show that Anna Nitschmann corresponded with the Single Sisters throughout the mission world: North America, naturally, as she was well remembered for her leadership here; the Danish West Indies, Greenland, South Africa, West Africa, Persia and Egypt, and even in the diaspora, such as Poland,.

Why is a reconsideration of Anna Nitschmann important? For women today she can act as a role model, as a paradigmatic female leader, as a pioneering female missionary to the Native Americans of Pennsylvania and New York, as the composer of hymns, as a woman who not only valued the agency of women but who worked with single women throughout most of her life to ensure that they saw their own strength and salvific value to the redemption of the world.

Anna Nitschmann as a reader and thinker is perhaps a new icon that needs to be added to her gallery of tropes. Thank you for the invitation to talk about one of the best and least known figures in Moravian history, Anna Nitschmann. She and her father were among the founders of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, years ago.

However, although her position as a leader among women in the Moravian Church of the 18th century is often cited, little has actually been written about her that is based on archival sources in her own hand. Scholar after scholar who has attempted to write her biography has come up against two major problems when working on Anna Nitschmann. The other problem is the almost complete lack of a scholarly biography of her, due not least to the deliberate purging of her personal correspondence, diaries, and papers after her death in Furthermore, this precious memoir Lebenslauf did not appear in print in German until 84 years after her death and then in extracts and the only translation into English is years old, appearing in the Messenger in , again in abstracts.

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Why is a new look at Anna Nitschmann important? As a role model, as a leader, as a pioneering female missionary to the Native Americans of Pennsylvania and New York, as the composer of hymns, as a woman who not only valued the agency of women but who worked with single women throughout most of her life to ensure that they saw their own strength and salvific value to the redemption of the world.

She worked in close conjunction with brothers and sisters and, I would argue, moved easily in and out of mixed groups in terms of gender and race. She was an intrepid explorer, a gifted poet, an inspirational leader. But so little is written about her! This semester, as Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Moravian Studies, I have been working in archives and libraries to research Anna Nitschmann and to bring in the lives of other Moravian women of the 18th century such as Benigna v.

Zinzendorf, Eva Spangenberg, Anna Johanna Piesch to try to build up a full picture of this remarkable woman.

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I have gone through uncatalogued packages of papers in the London archives that revealed, quite by surprise, that someone else wanted to write a biography of her in the 19th century to celebrate the Single Sisters Festival. And that ministers in small British Moravian congregations are remarkably helpful when they discover what I am trying to do. So, despite the ravages of post-Zinzendorfian archival culling and the s London Blitz there is hope! Not a passive heroine, who allows things to happen to her, Anna is a doer, truly a mover and shaker, which is probably why her papers were all destroyed.

At a time when to be a single woman in society meant either destitution, servitude, or cloistering, Anna Nitschmann refused marriage multiple times so that she could follow what she felt called to do; namely, provide spiritual guidance to women, especially young women.

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And her efficacy in this calling can be measured by, as Beverly Smaby has pointed out, the success of the Single Sisters Choir in the mission congregations, especially here in Bethlehem. Originally there was not supposed to be a large Single Sisters Choir here, as the Sisters who came from Europe were to be married in order to work in the mission field. In , Anna Nitschmann became the companion to Benigna von Zinzendorf, 10 years her junior and thereby became even closer to the Zinzendorf family.

The following year, marriage was proposed for her with Leonhard Dober, but because of a mutual reluctance, these plans were abandoned.