Monday, June 28, 2010

Pennsylvania Grand Review - Honoring USCT - John E. Smith

African American Patriots and the Civil War. Imagine my surprise when a reader from Montana, George M.  brought to my attention that John E. Smith from Laurel Hill Settlement/Browns Farm is mentioned in the current issue of American Heritage. For more on the life of this one soldier from the Laurel Highlands click 3rd-usct-john-e-smith-laurel-hill
The Pennsylvania Grand Review will serve as a commemoration of the November 1865 event of the same name organized by the women of Harrisburg to honor the United States Colored Troops who were not permitted to participate in the Grand Review of the Armies, a military procession and celebration held May 23-24, 1865 in Washington, D.C., following the end of the Civil War.

The Grand Review will include exhibition, presentation, and conservation projects that will reveal the hidden histories of the USCT. This commemoration will culminate November 3-7, 2010 in Harrisburg.

Out of all the names they could have picked - John Smith's name was lucky enough to be listed. What makes it even more surprising is that poor old John never got his pension because he lost his discharge papers and couldn't remember which regiment he was in. He mistakenly said he was a member of the 4th Pa Cav and it was actually the 3rd.
For information can be found on the official website:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Music of Philip Larkin

A friend of mine put together a great new CD on the music of Philip Larkin.
In his Foreword to A Rumoured City: New Poets from Hull (Bloodaxe, 1982), Philip Larkin states that Hull is “as good a place to write as any”; and, further, that it is “Better, in fact, than some. For a place cannot produce poems: it can only not prevent them”. This is hardly a resounding endorsement of the city (the same could be said to apply to all cities); but it is, nonetheless, true.

Artistic inspiration can, evidently, be found in all places, and in all things: but not by all artists in the same things nor, indeed, the same places. Larkin took his inspiration from the temporal: advertising hoardings, photographs, posters, paintings, TV programmes; and from far more significant philosophical and spiritual concerns, such as existence, love, the ageing process and extinction. However, what distinguishes great artists is the art they produce, and not what inspires them to produce it.

As part of the 2010 programme to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of Philip Larkin, the songwriters whose work features on this recording were each asked to take as their inspiration a Philip Larkin poem, and to create from it a musical setting or interpretation. The contributors rate among the best contemporary songwriters working in (or associated with) this city; the place where Larkin chose to spend the last 30 years of his life.