These Are the Times That Try Men’s Souls

Flowers For Socrates

by Nona Blyth Cloud

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”

― Thomas Paine, The Crisis

Thomas Paine was born in England on February 9, 1737. Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to help spark the American Revolution. Virtually every rebel read (or listened to a reading of) his 47-page pamphlet Common Sense, proportionally the all-time best-selling American title, which catalysed…

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Instruments by Harry Partch

1960s: Days of Rage

“The American composer Harry Partch (1901-1974) composed using scales of unequal intervals in just intonation, derived from the natural Harmonic series; these scales allowed for more tones of smaller intervals than in the standard Western tuning, which uses twelve equal intervals. One of Partch’s scales has 43 tones to the octave. To play this music, he built many unique instruments, with names such as the Chromelodeon, the Quadrangularis Reversum, and the Zymo-Xyl. Partch called himself ‘a philosophic music-man seduced into carpentry’. The path towards Partch’s use of many unique instruments was a gradual one. Partch began in the 1920s using traditional instruments, and wrote a string quartet in just intonation (now lost). He had his first specialized instrument built for him in 1930—the Adapted Viola, a viola with a cello’s neck fitted on it. He re-tuned the reeds of several reed organs and labeled the keys…

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A Poem for International Preservation of the Ozone Layer Day 2022

Flowers For Socrates

International Preservation of the Ozone Layer Day marks the day in 1987 when 24 countries signed the Montreal Protocol to reduce emissions damaging to the ozone layer by the year 2000. The ozone layer makes life on Earth possible, because it acts as a filter of the sun’s deadly ultraviolet (UV) radiation.


Simon Armitage (1963 – ) was born in West Yorkshire, England, and is the author of over 20 poetry collections, including Zoom!; Paper Aeroplane; Seeing StarsThe Shout: Selected Poems (2005), which was short-listed for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and The Unaccompanied. He is professor of poetry at the University of Leeds.  In 2019, he was appointed as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom.

To read Simon Armitage’s poem “In Praise of Air” click:

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The Open Curriculum of the New York Correspondence School: Ray Johnson’s Pedagogical Mail Art

1960s: Days of Rage

“The New York Correspondence School is an alternative social network formed by the artist Ray Johnson who encouraged artists, friends, acquaintances, and strangers to share their art through the postal system. Johnson began sending aestheticized mail to his friends as a teenager in the 1940s, a practice he continued to develop while studying at Black Mountain College, and by the 1950s, these mailings, often called ‘mail art,’ had become a major aspect of Johnson’s work as an artist. In 1962, Ed Plunkett, one of Johnson’s correspondents, named the international network of participants ‘The New York Correspondence School’ (NYCS), a play on ‘The New York School’ of abstract expressionist painters. Johnson’s mailings to the NYCS turned forms of communication and education into artistic media in personal letters, mass-produced flyers, absurd packages, and everything in between. While a multiplicity of reoccurring images and references appear in Johnson’s work, from animals such as…

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Kilgore Trout

1960s: Days of Rage

Kilgore Trout is a fictional character created by author Kurt Vonnegut. In Vonnegut’s work, Trout is a notably unsuccessful author of paperback science fiction novels. ‘Trout’ was inspired by the name of the author Theodore Sturgeon (Vonnegut’s colleague in the genre of science fiction—Vonnegut was amused by the notion of a person with the name of a fish, Sturgeon, hence Trout), although Trout’s consistent presence in Vonnegut’s works has also led critics to view him as the author’s own alter ego. In a homage to Vonnegut, Kilgore Trout is also the titular author of the novel Venus on the Half-Shell (1975), written pseudonymously by Philip José Farmer. In 1957, Theodore Sturgeon moved to Truro, Massachusetts, where he befriended Vonnegut, then working as a salesman in a Saab dealership. At the time, both were writing in the genre of science fiction; Vonnegut…

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Kenneth Rexroth and Barcelona by the Bay

1960s: Days of Rage

“By the time 22-year-old Kenneth Rexroth arrived in San Francisco in 1927, he had already developed a career as a professional bohemian and radical. Orphaned at a young age, he’d been living happily among the seedier elements of Chicago’s underground as a modernist painter, stage performer and poet, and using his natural born oratorical skills to soapbox for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Rexroth and his new wife, Andree, had arrived in San Francisco penniless and with no contacts whatsoever. … Rexroth’s home at 250 Scott Street, above Jack’s Record Cellar, became a magnet for this rapidly spreading mood of disaffection from American society, as all sorts of poets, artists, radicals, and notably conscientious objectors began to find each other and develop a common language and lifestyle in the Bay Area. … Eventually, Rexroth came to be regarded as something of a San Francisco institution. Out of the…

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Politico Was Bought by German Billionaire Who Prayed for Trump’s Re-Election

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Washington Post reported a new development in the media world. The influential and respected new site Politico was bought by a German billionaire who claims to be nonpartisan. But…

BERLIN — Months after his company bought Politico, Mathias Döpfner stood atop Axel Springer’s 19-story headquarters, gazing out at the double row of cobblestones that mark the outline of the demolished Berlin Wall, and explained his global ambitions. “We want to be the leading digital publisher in democracies around the world,” he said.

A newcomer to the community of billionaire media moguls, Döpfner is given to bold pronouncements and visionary prescriptions. He’s concerned that the American press has become too polarized — legacy brands like the New York Times and The Washington Post drifting to the left, in his view, while conservative media falls under the sway of Trumpian “alternative facts.” So in Politico, the fast-growing Beltway political journal, he…

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Jean-Luc Godard, Daring Director Who Shaped the French New Wave, Dies at 91

1960s: Days of Rage

“Jean-Luc Godard, the daringly innovative director and provocateur whose unconventional camera work, disjointed narrative style and penchant for radical politics changed the course of filmmaking in the 1960s, leaving a lasting influence on it, died on Tuesday at his home in the district of Rolle, Switzerland. He was 91. His longtime legal adviser, Patrick Jeanneret, said Mr. Godard died by assisted suicide, having suffered from ‘multiple disabling pathologies.’ … A master of epigrams as well as of movies, Mr. Godard once observed, ‘A film consists of a beginning, a middle and an end, though not necessarily in that order.’ In practice he seldom scrambled the timeline of his films, preferring instead to leap forward through his narratives by means of the elliptical ‘jump cut,’ which he did much to make into a widely accepted tool. But he never tired of taking apart established forms and reassembling them in ways that…

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Hair Color by Nancy Lubarsky (ONE GOOD MEMORY Series)

Silver Birch Press

women-with-red-hair-amedeo-modigliani.jpg!LargeHair Color
by Nancy Lubarsky

I never knew my father dyed my mother’s
hair. It happened at night, after I went to sleep.
Onetime their muffled voices woke me. They
didn’t know I was there. I sat in our small

apartment’s dark living room, peered around
the corner. They were in the kitchen, her back
to him, covered with old sheets, a few more
spread underneath. At first, I wasn’t sure—

there was just a sour smell. She leaned back
against his chest, her eyes closed, his thick
arms above her head. He rubbed her temples,
then one plastic-gloved hand picked up the

narrow brush, dipped it in the mixture. Slowly,
he parted her hair, dabbed at the white roots.
There was a swish sound as he stroked back
and forth, lifting layer after layer of hair. They

hardly spoke except when he whispered, tilt
your head. I saw him…

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Stony Brook – George Quasha

1960s: Days of Rage

George Quasha: “I began Stony Brook, ‘a journal of poetry, poetics and translation,’ in 1968 at Stony Brook University (SUNY), where, since 1966, I’d been teaching full time in the English Department while doing graduate work at NYU. I was inspired both by the poetry energy of downtown New York and the great variety of international poets who came through Stony Brook. A special opportunity to launch the journal arose at the June 1968 Stony Brook international poetry festival, organized by faculty poets Jim Harrison and Louis Simpson, who invited some twelve foreign poets—including Francis Ponge, Zbigniew Herbert, Czesław Miłosz, Eugène Guillevic, Nicanor Parra, and Kofi Awoonor—and some seventy American poets to listen to those twelve, but not themselves give readings—including Robert Duncan, Jackson Mac Low, Allen Ginsberg, Clayton Eshleman, Jerome Rothenberg, Anselm Hollo, Denise Levertov, Gary Snyder, Ed Sanders, Joel Oppenheimer, Milton Kessler, Bill Corbett, Charles Simic, George…

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