Tag Archives: creative expression

Creative Expression: Editors Galore !

Pamela Paul, Editor, N.Y.Times Book Review photo by Marv Snider

Pamela Paul, Editor, N.Y.Times Book Review
photo by Marv Snider

“The literary life is alive and well,” David Lynn, Kenyon Review editor, announced to the Chautauqua audience during the second day of Roger Rosenblatt’s interviews on Creative Expression. Joined by colleagues, Pamela Paul, Editor of The New York Times Book Review and Lorin Stein, Editor-in-Chief of the Paris Review, Lynn continued, “Today, writers and readers know each other, they’re in contact with each other. I think that’s a very vibrate movement, and I’m glad to be part of that.”

Stein pointed out that The Paris Review does not publish reviews but aims to discover writers through the long interview. I recall my first introduction to The Paris ReviewWriters at Work, The Paris Review Interviews, the first in the series with interviews of E.M.Forster, William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, William Styron, Truman Capote and more. How amazed and grateful I was to read the trove of essays in the dialogue of technique.

I am most grateful to these editors for their willingness to describe their process. Paul, in particular, was articulate about her job. The Times Book Review is published independently of The New York Times news staff. Every week, cartons of newly published books arrive at her offices. She and members of her staff consider each and every book though some, very briefly. Each independent and selected reviewer has carte blanche to write her own copy and voice her own opinion, even if Paul does not agree. Once a year, she and her staff make recommendations of their top choices.

Rosenblatt and the three editors weighed in on the state of the book industry today. Paul was optimistic about the statistics she looks at, stating that book sales figures have been really strong and that independent bookstores have rebounded. “People are yearning for community and bookstores have become a place for gathering of people who are interested in literature…”

I was most grateful for the discussion on “immersion,” how a book can take us to into situations and places unique and new, into a creative and evocative story, in contrast to the digital world of compression and sound bites. I am always searching for a literary voice, a situation, to stretch beyond my own experience.

When Rosenblatt asked what influences their work, answers varied from ”anything that gives surprise and delight,” to “literature is supposed to make you a little uncomfortable.” Paul questioned the new tendency to post “trigger warnings” for individuals with high sensitivity to certain content. She felt these warnings flew in the face of authors whose work makes you a little uncomfortable with yourself.

Lynn spoke to how The Kenyon Review’s May/June issue was focused on eco-poetry with emphasis on global warming, and human beings going forward. His greatest pleasure was to “wake up and read the stuff you love.” While Paul’s was “to read young writers she had never read before,” and Stein’s was “being with talented, wonderful people. At the end, the audience was on their feet with appreciative applause.





Creative Expression: Jane Pauley & Gary Trudeau at Chautauqua

Pauley & Trudeau Thanks to Mike Clark Chautauqua Daily

Pauley & Trudeau
Thanks to Mike Clark
Chautauqua Daily

“Our DNA indicates we are all stories waiting to be told,” thus Roger Rosenblatt began his interview with the married couple—Jane Pauley, journalist and Gary Trudeau, creator of Doonesbury— day one of five during my Road Scholar week at Chautauqua.

“Every story, in my book, is a different puzzle,” Pauley said, “and as we interview or read, we may think the story has little to do with you or me but then, inevitably, you find that connection— that illumination that reveals something about yourself.”

How gratifying to be among a community of 5,000 listeners and to listen, first hand, to the why and wherefore of the inclination to create, to tell a story.

Trudeau is motivated by curiosity. He writes Doonesbury as a week-long story. Often beginning in the middle, his inspiration challenges him to “reverse engineer” to begin at the beginning, to create Monday’s edition. He believes that people evolve with different skill sets, storytelling being one of them. He described the storyteller as “indispensable” because the storyteller chronicles events and memories that “helps the rest of the tribe understand how to move forward.”

Over and over, the theme returned to how stories enable us to drop into the story and shape our own meaning. Having seen Jane Pauley on television, her voice and style were not new to me. Live, she was witty, incisive and intimate as she spoke of how she is an early riser who needs immediacy. She checks her phone, the papers, makes coffee long before Trudeau arrives at the breakfast table.

At breakfast, Trudeau is quiet, while Pauley is eager to share. As they described their ritual, I perceived links to Marv’s and my story.  Like Pauley, Marv is up at dawn, in his sweats, checking his e-mail, writing a draft, then onto the elliptical long before I remove my sleep mask to open the shades. I am first at the table, eager to read the comics (yes, always Doonesbury), followed by the news. When Marv and I reconnoiter over fresh brewed coffee, like Pauley, I am eager to talk. Like Trudeau, Marv is quiet, but willing to listen.

Rosenblatt contrasted the complementary between men and women as he pointed out how women have a tendency to sense the whole of the story that allows them to pinpoint the essence. “That’s why I put puzzles together,” Pauley said. “That’s what I’m looking for. The story is part of the whole.”

When Marv has completed a working draft, I find it waiting at my place first thing— the unspoken request to read as soon as possible, to see the whole, ask the questions, so that he can get back to shaping and revising.

I am grateful for the remarkable opportunity to have seen Marv and myself in Pauley’s and Trudeau’s story, and to consider the communal patterns of story telling. For the rest of the month, I shall post more stories of Rosenblatt and friends, creative expression at Chautauqua.

Growth: While I’m Away

Lily Buds, June, 2016

Lily Buds, June, 2016

During the week of of June 26th, Marv and I will at Chautauqua, New York, attending a week-long program titled Roger Rosenblatt and Friends: On Creative Expression. It’s our third summer experience trip to Chautauqua through Road Scholar.

Every morning, I’ll be joining up to 5,000 folks— some from Road Scholar but mostly folk who book a vacation or come for the day — at Chautauqua’s open air Amphitheater. Roger Rosenblatt is a witty and delightful writer and raconteur who takes you right into the heart of things as he interviews each guest.

For example, the first morning, he will interview, Jane Pauley, author of Skywriting, A Life Out of the Blue and Gary Trudeau, creator of Doonesbury. On the second day, he’s booked Lorin Stein, editor-in-chief of The Paris Review, Pamela Paul, Editor of the New York Times Book Review, and David Lynn, Editor of The Kenyon Review.

To say that I am grateful for this opportunity is an understatement. The remainder of the presenter schedule will include songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, songwriters, Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Alan Alda, actor and author. It’s my habit to take notes and my hope is to share some of my learning and observations on creative expression in the summer blogs to come.

While I’m away, I would like to share some of my go-to readings, blogs and podcasts on mindfulness and gratitude in the hope that you might be inspired to dip in and begin or widen your gratitude practice.

Books and Magazines

  • Campbell, Don & Doman, Alex, Healing At The Speed of Sound
  • Emmons, Robert A., Thanks
  • Krech, Gregg, Naikan
  • Macy, Joanna & Johnstone, Chris, Active Hope
  • mindful magazine, taking time for what matters, http://www.mindful.org

Blogs and Web pages

I’m grateful for your taking time to read this blog and especially for the inspiration that you, as a reader, bring to me. The promise of connection and the possibility of sharing the everyday possibilities of gratitude is ever- present and helps to keep me alert and mindful of what enlivens and enriches my life. For this blog, marking the summer Solstice, I chose the picture of my lily beds filled with growing shoots. They are imbued with the promise of July blossoms and posts of creative expression.