Lyrical, affectionate anecdotes about friends and family round out the author’s graceful reflections on creativity.


Tracing the evolution of a poet’s passion.

Growing up in Houston in the 1970s, award-winning poet Biespiel (A Long High Whistle, 2015, etc.) had no aspirations to be a writer. Even as a high school student, though, he loved language. He studied Latin with an inspiring teacher, and as an English major at Boston University, he was entranced by the poets he discovered in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry: Whitman, Yeats, Stevens, and Auden, among them. Working in a Boston bookshop, he writes, “nearly perfected the romance of myself as a liberal intellectual.” He was inspired, as well, by the elegant speeches of John F. and Robert Kennedy: “part of the reason I became a writer,” he writes, “comes in part from memorizing those words and wishing to embody them in my own.” However, for Biespiel, appreciating others’ words seemed a world apart from writing, a process that accrued “word by word, phrase by phrase, line by line.” He brought to the process lessons he had learned during training as a competitive diver; diving, “a sport of continual adjustments,” taught him “that every time I start a new poem I’m having to learn to figure out how to write poetry all over again.” Diving became “a peculiar sort of model for literary life—for training, for discipline, and for patience.” The author’s literary life began in a small town in Vermont, where he felt “far removed from the bright streets of my East Texas upbringing” and from his family’s Jewish immigrant origins. “It was like I was taking revenge against my life.” From the work of poets like Seamus Heaney and Yves Bonnefoy, Biespiel hoped to learn “how to get my poems to open up to me. And I could hear my poems pleading back to me to be patient. I was lit up with lust for my writing.”

Lyrical, affectionate anecdotes about friends and family round out the author’s graceful reflections on creativity.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-993-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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