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2016 Reviews and Excerpts To-Date

2016 Reviews and Excerpts To-Date 

The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem - Reviews, Excerpts

The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem – Reviews, Excerpts

January 25, 2016. Excerpts from The Society of Classical Poets > “To put this in context, in my view the last complete and true epic poem in the English Language was Paradise Lost written by John Milton in the 17th century, and apart from that poem there are only two others: the anonymous Beowulf from old English, and the unfinished Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser from the 16th century. Don Juan, by Byron [unfinished], is perhaps a true mock epic and apart from that the only poet since Milton who has come remotely close to writing in the epic style is Keats with his two sublime, but unfinished and maybe unfinishable (even had he lived), Hyperion fragments…
This brings us to the 20th century and all the phoney poets (Brits and Americans alike) claiming to write epics, “modern epics,” but doing no such thing. The most egregious example of this would be Ezra Pound and his Cantos: unreadable and undecipherable rubbish masquerading as a work of genius in the manner we are nowadays too familiar with in conceptual art and music. Indeed, only two types of people ever read the Cantos: university professors who make a career out of untangling it; and wannabe poets who write just like that (except of course completely differently – solipsism smears the pane in its own way: there’s a brown smudge, but here’s a green stain) and naturally vote for models justifying their own inanities. (As for modern epics of the “human mind” – beginning Wordsworth, Whitman et al. – these, despite their odd purple patches, seem extended and tedious forms of narcissism)… The true epics delight all intelligent peoples throughout the ages because they speak to them in a language they can understand even when that language is “elevated.”
What is extraordinary, however, is the language, and so the style… One fabulous quality of this poem is its clarity and luminous quality. I love the fact that despite the wide ranging topographical and lexical references this poem is easy to understand and follow: it is a poet writing for people, not one trying to be clever, and not one concealing their lack of poetry in obfuscation.
There is actually a lot of humour in the poem. Thematically, too, it is epic: it is about the survival of the human race, despite—Dante-like—facing the full horrors of human history.
I take the view, therefore, and surprisingly to myself, that Glaysher is really an epic poet and this is an epic poem! One can hardly congratulate him enough, then, on this achievement, since it has been so long awaited…  Glaysher has written a masterpieceI strongly recommend Frederick Glaysher’s poem and hope he will find a larger readership for it.” —James Sale (UK), The Society of Classical Poets (2,272 words)
https://classicalpoets.org/review-the-parliament-of-poets-by-frederick-glaysher-earthrise-press-2012/

A remarkable poem by a uniquely inspired poet, taking us out of time into a new and unspoken consciousness…” —Kevin Mcgrath, Poet, Lowell House, South Asian Studies, Harvard University

Mr. Glaysher has written an epic poem of major importance… Truly a major accomplishment and contribution to American LettersA landmark achievement Mr. Glaysher. Bravo!” —ML Liebler, Poet and Senior Lecturer, Department of English, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

“It’s very contemporary, in some ways, and very much old school… This is really some cool stuff, I have to say, and I’m not just saying that, just to say it. It really is, and when you hear some of his epic poetry and poetry, hopefully you’ll agree and want to grab a copy of The Parliament of Poets. If you’ve done any study of classic epic poetry, this fits the bill. And don’t let that turn you away. It’s really good stuff.” M. L. Liebler, Poet and Senior Lecturer, Department of English, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan (At my reading from Into the Ruins: Poems and The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem. November 30, 2015. Hosted by M. L. Liebler. Funded by Poets & Writers, Inc. Poets & Pies Series: Special Holiday Edition. Hannan Cafe. Off campus at Wayne State University.  YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLUhnbp4QVs)

A great epic poem of startling originality and universal significance . . . in every way partaking of the nature of world literature.” Dr. Hans-George Ruprecht, CKCU Literary News, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

And a fine major work it is.” Arthur McMaster, Department of English, Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, Contributing Editor, Poets’ Quarterly (Spring 2015), in “My Odyssey as an Epic Poet: Interview with Frederick Glaysher.”

“This Great Poem promises to be the defining Epic of the Age and will be certain to endure for many Centuries. Frederick Glaysher uses his great Poetic and Literary Skills in an artistic way that is unique for our Era and the Years to come. I strongly recommend this book to all those who enjoy the finest Poetry. A profound spiritual message for humanity.” —Alan Jacobs, Poet Writer Author,Amazon UK Review, London, UK

Am in awe of its brillianceEveryone must read this book.” —Anodea Judith, Novato, California, Amazon Review

Don’t be intimidated by an epic poem. It’s really coming back to that image of the storyteller sitting around the campfires of the world, dipping into and weaving the story of humanity, in the most beautiful, mellifluous language.”Miriam Knight, Portland, Oregon, New Consciousness Reviewradio

Very readable and intriguingly enjoyable. Frederick Glaysher’s hours of dedication have produceda masterpiece that will stand the test of time.” —Poetry Cornwall, No.36, England

“An attempt to merge the sciences and the humanities to reach a greater understanding of the human condition. …the poetry and language is rather beautiful. it’s really very readable.” Chris Hislop, Savage, London, UK

A uniquely powerful work.” —Spirituality Today, UK

The Parliament of Poets carried me on the journey of Universality and All is One with the melodic rhythm only poetry can bring. Everyone needs to take this visit to the moon and look about the universe and all that it encompasses with the Awe with which it deserves! read this magnificent epic that will raise your eyes to the sky and wonder how someone could capture it all so well!” —Cheryl B. Duttweiler, Fernandina Beach, Florida, Amazon Review

Bravo to the Poet for this toilsome but brilliant endeavour.” Umme Salma, Transnational Literature, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

“But possibly even the ambition of these [Odysseus Elytis and Derek Walcott] is dwarfed by what is attempted here.” Graham Mummery, Amazon UK Review

“An impassioned plea on behalf of humanity that reaches down and grabs the human longing for the Awakened Heart. …a very important book for our time.” Tina Benson, California, Amazon Review

“An exquisitely rendered epic poem that weaves ancient and contemporary vision into the heart of modern darkness and the light of eternal hope… For this reader it was like being enfolded into a glorious, celestial, orchestral song in which every instrument is finely tuned, timed, and vital to the whole, with different melodies coming together as a single motion to do something none of them could do alone… The Parliament of Poets is a worthy literary masterpiece… Once read, you know your life was impoverished without it.” Julie Clayton, Portland, Oregon, New Consciousness Review

“I especially enjoyed Don Quixote’s cameo appearances. Bravo. A fine and enjoyable read.” —Marylee MacDonald, Tempe, Arizona, Amazon Review

“It only takes the first few paragraphs of this modern epic poem to feel the mental gush of ideas,fascinating juxtapositionings, and unique symbolism for our time.” Dave Gordon, The Jewish Post and News of Winnipeg, Canada

Beautiful book.” Dr. Catherine Al-Meten, Portland, Oregon, The Examiner

Beautiful poem. an excellent piece of poetry.” —Nana Fredua-Agyeman, Ghana, Africa,ImageNations

“The main story is an interesting proposition, that maybe it is poets and philosophers, rather than activists and politicians, who can ultimately help transform this world into something better.” —Mr. P. J. Morris, Amazon UK

“Brilliant writing! I’m in awe… A perfect Christmas gift. But, buyer beware, you’ll want it for yourself! Bravo. Well done.” Michele Ficano, Las Vegas, Nevada, Amazon Review

AWESOME BOOK!! This was ordered as a gift and I have to admit I had a hard time letting it go! Highly recommend both the book and the seller!” Stanleys Mom, Amazon Review

Awesome is not a grand enough word to describe the timeless brilliance of these words.”Donna Surles, Florida, Amazon Review

“This masterful work goes well beyond the norm for literature of any type… Quite simply a masterpiece…” —Marv Borgman, Prattville, Alabama, Amazon Review

Longer excerpts below…

A great epic poem of startling originality and universal significance, ingeniously enriching the canon of ‘literary epics’ while in every way partaking of the nature of world literature. Glaysher is in a creative dialog with the greatest epic poets of all time. He is bringing together in beautiful verse form diverse visions of humanity from all over the world, frequently casting them in the form of spatial and cosmic imagery. A pure joy. Contemporary ‘world literature’ at its best.” Dr. Hans-George Ruprecht, CKCU Literary News, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

“I’m not kidding! Get this book by Frederick Glaysher ASAP! Mr. Glaysher has written an epic poem of major importance that is guaranteed to bring joy and an overwhelming sense of beauty and understanding to readers who will travel the space ways with this exquisite poet. While the poem reads like the classic poetry of Milton, it has the contemporary edge of genius modernity. I am truly awed by this poet’s use of epic poetry that today’s readers will connect with, enjoy and savor every word, every line and every section. Frederick Glaysher is a master poet who knows his craft from the inside out, and this is really truly a major accomplishment and contribution to American Letters. Jump in. Taste and see if what I say (and many others are saying) about this tome is not the truth. Once you enter, you will not stop until the end. A landmark achievement Mr. Glaysher. Bravo!” —ML Liebler, Poet and Senior Lecturer, Department of English, Wayne State University, Amazon Review

“I’ve only just gotten ahold of this book and am in awe of its brilliance. Food for the soul, and answers to humanity’s most pressing problems, right where they belong, in the epic poetry of all the teachers, magicians, prophets, shamans, and poets of all time… Bravo, bravo, bravo. Everyone must read this book.” —Anodea Judith, Novato, California, Amazon Review

“In the classic epic poem, the hero suffers many challenges, meets many obstacles, and experienceswhat Joseph Campbell described as the Hero’s journey… A hero must meet obstacles, and in the case of the Persona, the obstacles are both internal and externalvery Jungian is our hero. The quest for individuation or the coming together in wholeness, is evident as we, the readers/listeners follow the trials and travels of our hero. Beautiful book.” Dr. Catherine Al-Meten, Portland, Oregon, The Examiner

The purpose of the spiritual journey of the Poet of the Moon is to seek deliverance of the modern human from the captivity of nothingness, nihilism and atheism, and from the resulting chaos and chasm of soul. From the versatile he gets scores of life-affirming lessons, yet the core meaning of all is that the Supreme Being as well as the earth is one, and so human beings are one nation irrespective of their clan, class, color, race, religion and gender. In this earth human beings are part of the Great Mystery’s creation and their duty is to keep the balance and harmony of the universe, to achieve union, to choose sacrifice, and to be self-controlled. In this manner Glaysher sings the song of ‘one Earth, without borders, Mother Earth, her embrace encircling one people, humankind’ (19)…. The lucid and placid feet of the language moves deftly and smoothly from the beginning up to the last line of the poem. Bravo to the Poet for this toilsome but brilliant endeavour.” Umme Salma, International Islamic University, Department of English Language and Literature, Chittagong, Bangladesh, in Transnational Literature Vol. 7 no. 1, November 2014, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
https://dspace.flinders.edu.au/jspui/bitstream/2328/35084/1/Salma_Parliament.pdf

The Parliament of Poets is an exquisitely rendered epic poem that weaves ancient and contemporary vision into the heart of modern darkness and the light of eternal hope…. For this reader it was like being enfolded into a glorious, celestial, orchestral song in which every instrument is finely tuned, timed, and vital to the whole, with different melodies coming together as a single motion to do something none of them could do alone…. ‘Always the world awaits the poet who can find the right words, more so now than ever,’ says Tolstoy, final words of counsel to the Persona after his many crossings. In this book are such words, and the author, like Gandhi, must surely be ‘wrapped in selfless practice’—dedicating thirty years of his life to finding them on our behalf. The Parliament of Poets is a worthy literary masterpiece, the author a curator of the human story, the book a living cultural artifact.Once read, you know your life was impoverished without it.” Julie Clayton, Portland, Oregon, New Consciousness Review, and Amazon Review

It only takes the first few paragraphs of this modern epic poem to feel the mental gush of ideas, fascinating juxtapositionings, and unique symbolism for our time…. The reader travels with the epic poem’s narrator, and hero, the Persona, exploring their journey throughout the seven continents – and transcending space and time – in order to acquire wisdom from mankind. In the case of the Persona, much of the struggle and the obstacles relate to whether or not he can find his way, or know himself. It is perhaps not a surprise, then, that The Parliament of Poets discusses a cross-cultural milieu, especially given Glaysher’s vast and varied experiences in his own life.”Dave Gordon, The Jewish Post and News of Winnipeg; Landmark Report (Toronto reprint) Canada

“What attracted me was the ambition in this work, which attempts to look at what poetic traditions, ancient and modern might have to offer to a world which perhaps has lost touch with its spiritual and ecological centre of gravity… But possibly even the ambition of these [Odysseus Elytis and Derek Walcott] is dwarfed by what is attempted here. …he is attempting to unify lessons from many traditions, eastern and western, and there are references to many poets from English language ones to ones from places as diverse as China, India, Mexico and Poland, as well as many times. This is an attempt to fuse a truly global vision drawing on many poetic traditions
“This is a highly stimulating read. The range of reading on display is impressive. It is refreshing to see poetry with a mission, and a suggested role in the modern world. This work is an impressive intellectual as well as visionary feat as well as being poetic. It will certainly be of interest to those of a philosophical, poetic and visionary frame of mind. …I will be getting a book version of this work. There is much to ponder on here as well as to relish.” Graham Mummery, Amazon UK Review

The Parliament of Poets is one of the most important books of our time. In this grand sweeping epic, Glaysher has managed to live up to the task given to him by The Parliament of Poets. …a new vision for humanity; one of Unity and Oneness of humankind. …synthesizing and integrating the great thinkers of all time. …a tangible vision of our shared humanity. …an impassioned plea that we WAKE UP before we destroy ourselves and our one precious planet. …an inspired epic that integrates the ancient wisdom teachings of the world’s greatest wisdom teachers and poets. …a new vision and sense of responsibility towards our shared humanity. An impassioned plea on behalf of humanity that reaches down and grabs the human longing for the Awakened Heart.Tina Benson,Amazon Review; Goodreads, California

“The plot follows a poet (presumably Glaysher himself, hinted at in the title of “Persona”), taken magically to the Moon, where a collection of the world’s greatest poets have assembled a parliament to consult on the “meaning of modernity”. …an attempt to merge the sciences and the humanities to reach a greater understanding of the human condition. …the poetry and language is rather beautiful. Glaysher has grasped epic poetry’s rhythms and cadences, favouring an iambic meter to create a pleasant, rolling pace to the piece. …it’s really very readable.” Chris Hislop, Savageonline, London, UK

“The power of a mythological tale is interwoven into the fabric of its narrative. The crescendo that builds, and which ultimately leads the reader to its climax of revelation, is the key ingredient that makes the epic poem so seductive as a literary form. With this in mind I shall not comment overly on the story in The Parliament of Poets for fear of spoiling its essential spiritual message and core dynamic for potential readers. This is more than simply trying to avoid ruining its ‘plotline’ or fear of introducing a ‘spoiler’ into the equation but is, instead, my way of safe-guarding the inherent esoteric value of the work for a reader – one which is invariably expressed within its whole rhythmic phrasing and textual structure….
“In this regard The Parliament of Poets – both as a story and as an independently-produced publication, is a success on many levels. It is a tale of, and about, our age of modernity and several contemporary themes have been woven into its narrative in such a way that remind us that perhaps the spiritual crisis humanity faces is an extension of the technological age that we now live in. On the other hand, the poem, it should be stated, is not without its odd flashes of humour and dry irony which, once again enriches its overall value as a dynamic and engaging piece of art rather than a dry academic exercise….
“This is a uniquely powerful work that introduces an established and powerful literary tradition to a world that is in desperate need of its essential rhythms and harmonies for spiritual sustenance.”Spirituality Today, UK

“The Parliament of Poets is, in the truest sense of the word, an epic poem. Whilst not grandiose in its execution it does deal with one of the greatest challenges to face humanity at this moment in its history – namely the desperate need for a spirituality context that serves humanity going forward. The style of the narrative is engaging and flows with colour and descriptive intent whilst not being overly ‘flowery’ in a way that so often befalls many other inspired poets. Indeed the story is grounded in contemporary issues and includes moments of humour and sardonic wit which are enjoyable. The main story is an interesting proposition, that maybe it is poets and philosophers, rather than activists and politicians, who can ultimately help transform this world into something better.” —Mr. P. J. Morris, Amazon UK

“Frederick Glaysher is truly a genius poet! The Parliament of Poets carried me on the journey of Universality and All is One with the melodic rhythm only poetry can bring. Everyone needs to take this visit to the moon and look about the universe and all that it encompasses with the Awe with which it deserves! I wish I had half the talent to express in poetic verse all the many perspectives and beliefs and visions that were incorporated in this book! It is so worth the time for each of us physically, emotionally, psychologically, mentally but even more spiritually to read this magnificent epic that will raise your eyes to the sky and wonder how someone could capture it all so well!Congratulations Frederick Glaysher….it was an honor to read this book!” —Cheryl B. Duttweiler, Fernandina Beach, Florida, Amazon Review

“A book for the upliftment of spirit…and purpose!! If you’re looking for inspiration, for the upliftment of your Spirit, for a meaningful connection with the direction of evolution as divinely guided by Unity Consciousness, for a sense of renewed and heightened purpose, read The Parliament of Poets by Frederick Glaysher. It will make your day, week, month, year…and Life!!” —Mike Schwager, Florida, Amazon Review

Frederick Glaysher has written a truly epic poem. Over a 30-year period, he crafted a story of history, archetypal energies, famous writers and poets from around the world, spiritual lessons, personal growth, adventure, and beauty. His writing takes you soaring across space and time, and his wealth of knowledge and wisdom shine through on every page. It makes me wish I could study at his feet, or that I could sit at his feet and listen to him weave this tale in person. ‘Look Inside’ and you’ll be hooked – just as I was.” —Lion Goodman, Marin County, California, Amazon Review

“It seems that an epic poem is just about the perfect container for works that provide insight, humor, and speculation about the bigger issues of life, and I’m so glad I found THE PARLIAMENT OF POETS. The poet’s narrator is a seeker, and he has sought to understand both the philosophies that have guided poets and sages, and to understand the Earth from the perspective of a narrator looking down on it from the moon. The narrator makes several trips through outer space and goes back and forth to the moon, as if he were an astronaut. That trope is, indeed, a vital part of this epic poem, a poem that asks us to gather our collective wisdom (as if we were Buzz Aldrins) and apply it to saving the planet and ourselves. The poem is, at times, amusing, serious, philosophical, lyrical, and entertaining. I especially enjoyed Don Quixote’s cameo appearances. Bravo. A fine and enjoyable read.” —Marylee MacDonald, Tempe, Arizona, Amazon Review

“Faced with great suffering and overwhelming obstacles, the journey of the hero is beautifully portrayed in this classic epic poem ‘The Parliament of Poets’ by Frederick Glaysher. Can poets and philosophers be the key to transformation of the world? Discover what happens when the greatest poets and philosophers that ever walked the Earth gather on the moon and create a new vision for humanity.” —Rebekah Rose, Amazon Review

“Glaysher…has shown…that with the right subject matter and the right language, one can create an epic poem even in today’s age. …a beautiful poem that falls off the tongue smoothly. All through this epic poem, the Poet of the Moon is addressing or discussing the Buddhist concept of Itai Doshin or the unity of the mind in the midst of diversity, which is also the concept that underpins theUbuntu philosophy, which translates into ‘I am, because we are’. …In effect the poet wants to see the unity of what he calls ‘false dichotomies’: science and religion, reason and intuition, material and spiritual, white and black, and others. …an excellent piece of poetry.” —Nana Fredua-Agyeman, Accra, Ghana, Africa, ImageNationsGoodreads

I found this book to be up to the standards set by Homer. …very thought provoking as it brings into question what humanity is doing to the Earth and each other.” —LibraryThing, USA

“Certainly wowed the crowd at the library with the performance and the words themselves.” —Albany Poets News, New York

Most of the contemporary poets and critics claim that epic is not suitable for our modern age. But Frederick Glaysher has proven them wrong… ‘The Parliament of Poets’ has all the grandeur, all the loftiness and qualities which make an ‘effort for an epic’ a ‘true epic.’ In essence, ‘The Parliament of Poets’ is a song of unity, an audacious declaration that unity does not mean conformity, it means being in harmony. The poet himself is the main character of this epic poem, who travels to the moon, meets a large number of great poets and writers of the world, comes back to earth to have some glimpses of bygone times. Throughout the entire journey, many poets, writers, sages guide the poet and share their invaluable knowledge and insights.” —Ratul Pal, Rajshahi, Bangladesh, Goodreads

AWESOME BOOK!! This was ordered as a gift and I have to admit I had a hard time letting it go! Highly recommend both the book and the seller!” Stanleys Mom, Amazon Review

“The poets that are identified in this fascinating book see a universal brotherhood….” —Amazon Review


Radio Interviews

NEW Radio Interview > 01/11/2015 Epic poet/visionary Frederick Glaysher… “Frederick Glaysher, he is the epic poet and visionary, and the author of two extraordinary books, The Myth of the Enlightenment and The Parliament of Poets. I recommend both.” Mike Schwager, The Enrichment Hour, POETRY, PEACE, ENLIGHTENMENT… Interview WSRadio 23 minutes.

August 5, 2014, by Miriam Knight and Julie Clayton, for the New Consciousness Review radio. Portland, Oregon. 27 minutes.
“You know how on space probes they have these little goodie bags full of things. It is my feeling that they should include a copy of The Parliament of Poets, because you give this overview, this panorama of the best of human civilization, the voice of her poets, the voice of her dreamers and thinkers, and done it with great honor to each of them, and so I do want to commend your book to our listeners.Don’t be intimidated by an epic poem. It’s really, coming back to that image of the storyteller sitting around the campfires of the world, dipping into and weaving the story of humanity, in the most beautiful, mellifluous language. So kudos to you, sir! Thirty years were not wasted. If anybody listening has contacts to NASA…”Miriam Knight
“I was so impressed with The Parliament of Poets. …I love the vision of Apollo calling all poets and wise people to the moon to debate the meaning of modernity. I mean it’s such a contemporary question and it’s so deliciously wrapped in history and culture, and the poet, the persona character, he travels many journeys to find the answers to the meaning of modernity. …so the vision, essentially, is one of a global vision. …an amazing, wonderful book.” Julie Clayton

“FREDERICK GLAYSHER in conversation about his great epic poem of startling originality and universal significance, THE PARLIAMENT OF POETS, which is ingeniously enriching the canon of ‘literary epics’ while in every way partaking of the nature of world literature. …a truly universal epic.”Dr. Hans-George Ruprecht, CKCU Literary News, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. June 2013. Includes two excerpts from The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem. 26 minutes (Skip BBC). Here

“With his new book, THE PARLIAMENT OF POETS, Frederick GLAYSHER is in a creative dialog with the greatest epic poets of all time. He is bringing together in beautiful verse form, tending, as he writes ‘to the iambic pentameter, depending on thought and need’, diverse visions of humanity from all over the world. Frederick Glaysher’s poetic imagination is frequently casting them in the form of spatial and cosmic imagery. That is very exalting to the reader’s spirit. What is more, in reading his new book one is not only compassing, beyond the horizon of empirical facts, a borderless world, but one is also beholding the ‘oneness’ of humankind in a different light. • ‘The Parliament of Poets’ (Earthrise Press, 2012) by Frederick Glaysher is a pure joy; embodied in a literary work of fine verbal art, it is contemporary ‘world literature’ at its best.” Dr. Hans-George Ruprecht, CKCU Literary News, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. August 6, 2013. — a Radio CKCU/Literary News ‘encore’ 26 minutes (Skip BBC). https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/414/13077.html

London > Epic Poetry Reading. Colourful Radio, with Lester Holloway (London morning drive time). February 5, 2014. Reading a short excerpt set in London, outside Westminster Abbey, a British Parliament of Poets! 5 minutes

Frederick Glaysher

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Epic Poetry Reading, Birmingham Unitarian Church (UU)

Reading at the Birmingham Unitarian Church (UU),  Birmingham, Michigan, April 6, 2013

Reading at the Birmingham Unitarian Church (UU), Birmingham, Michigan, April 6, 2013

Epic Poetry Reading, Birmingham Unitarian Church (UU)

Frederick Glaysher reading from The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem, at the Birmingham Unitarian Church (Unitarian Universalist), Birmingham, Michigan, April 6, 2013.

From BOOK I (in medias res), BOOK II (Black Elk and Chief Seattle; Japara, Australian Aborigine), and BOOK VI (Buddhist Mogao Caves, Dunhuang, China). Copyright (c) 2012-2013 Frederick Glaysher.

The last several minutes include questions and answers on epic poetry, world religions, and other background material and reflections.

Frederick Glaysher

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A Decade of Disaster. Lu Wenfu.

Lu_Wenfu

Lu Wenfu

The Gourmet and Other Stories of Modern China. Wenfu Lu.

A Decade of Disaster…. June 25, 2000

I want to review The Gourmet and Other Stories of Modern China by focusing on one jewel of a story by Lu Wenfu (1928-), who suffered long and hard from the horrors of the communist regime and understands in his fiction, as in the writings of Fang Lizhi, Wei Jingsheng, and Harry Wu, that Chinese communism’s most egregious crime is its stifling of the human spirit. As a young man, he fought in the Red army against the Koumintang and dreamed of the “happy society” socialism would usher in. Like so many writers, in 1957, he was denounced as a Rightist, during the Hundred Flowers purge and the Great Leap Forward, and sentenced to manual labor to reform his thinking. After three years of running a machine lathe, he was deemed reformed and allowed again to write. Then, in 1965, Mao took China down the violent path of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and Lu Wenfu was once more denounced and sentenced, this time, to the life of a mechanic. He later wrote of his experience during the Cultural Revolution:

“I was ’struggled against,’ forced to confess my crimes and paraded through the streets with a placard around my neck. I was already numb to the pain, and worried about when this disaster for my country would end.”

Finally, in 1969, he was sent out to the countryside where he farmed for several years. For more than a decade, Lu Wenfu wrote nothing until after the Cultural Revolution ended with Mao’s death in 1976. What little was left of the traditional culture had been trashed; the ruthless persecution of “stinking intellectuals” like Lu Wenfu had been encouraged by Mao himself; thousands of Taoist and Buddhist temples and relics had been destroyed; millions of lives ruined; perhaps as many as 400,000 individual human beings murdered.

In 1979, Lu Wenfu wrote his brilliant short story “The Man from a Peddler’s Family.” Into it he poured all the sufferings of his life. The story begins with the protagonist, Mr. Gao, reflecting on Zhu Yuanda, a seller of wonton. Thirty-two years ago, Mr. Gao had heard for the first time the sound of his bamboo clapper, announcing the advance down the lane of the little kitchen stove on its carrying pole, figuratively “calling or relating something.” Zhu Yuanda came from a long line of street vendors, generation after generation, reaching back into the distant dynasties. Following in the footsteps of his father, he continues the family trade. At the time, apparently 1947, Mr. Gao is out of regular work and must sit up late at night, in an unheated room, grading student notebooks for a bare existence. After the Beijing Opera let out late, Zhu Yuanda would bring him “a little warmth,” a hot bowl of wonton to his “main customer.” Though formerly friends, after the liberation of 1949, Mr. Gao, now a cadre, considers Zhu beneath him. Occasionally, he would still hear the clapper, “calling, saying something.” Gao remembers, as the Anti-Rightist campaign and Great Leap Forward raged, “I never bought anything from him and I wouldn’t allow my wife or children to go. I believed that buying his things was aiding the spontaneous rise of capitalism.” The Anti-Rightist struggles continue, disturbing Gao, until, in what may be an allusion to Buddhism, he ponders how “The world seemed out of joint.” Lu Wenfu is clearly suggesting there is something more to the business of the clapper than just petty bourgeois capitalism.

Yet Mr. Gao goes through his own internal struggles and battles. For a time he attempts to correct or reform Zhu Yuanda, and later tries to ignore or forget him, hoping to save his own skin from the social upheavals. They had, though, formerly shared “a genuine affection,” one that Gao cannot entirely forget despite his position within the communist order. Back and forth, he meditates on Zhu, finding him sometimes to be a capitalist, at others, one of the proletariat: “And then a thunderclap split the earth. The bugles of the Cultural Revolution were sounded, announcing the end of all capitalism.” Gao himself becomes implicated in the madness and is “publicly criticized and denounced.” He manages to avoid his own destruction but happens past Zhu Yuanda’s house one day to find it and him in the midst of a horde of Red Guards smashing the “Evil Den of Capitalism.” Gao, himself a cadre, knows better. He knows Zhu is a simple, decent man attempting only to feed his father, mother, wife, and four children, by, as he says, “my own efforts.” In brilliant words, Lu Wenfu undercuts with scathing irony the pious, radical beliefs of decades of revolutionaries like Lu Xun, when Gao thinks, of the Red Guard’s destruction of everything Zhu Yuanda owned, “How could a noble theory produce such piracy as this!” The worst offense is when the “wonton carrying-pole was dragged out,” “a thing of exquisite workmanship,” a thing redolent of the past, of the best of Chinese traditions, and shamelessly hacked into splinters. Zhu’s family is reduced “to picking up garbage in the streets” in order to make ends meet. Lest the reader imagine Zhu was an exception, Lu Wenfu emphasizes that the seller of wonton was only one of many on the same street who suffered when he mentions the hot water boiler, the cobbler, the barber, and the flatbread seller as all meeting the same pitiless fate.

Like hundreds of thousands of real human beings, Zhu is sent to the countryside for reeducation. Eight years go by. Gao hears nothing of Zhu. Unexpectedly one day Gao hears that Zhu’s sons are working in a local factory and later that Zhu himself is back. Before leaving, Zhu had given Gao the only thing that had somehow escaped destruction, the bamboo clapper. Gao, imagining he’ll now want to return to his old business, begins to anticipate it. In a moment of fantasy, Gao remembers how as a young man he heard the sound of the clapper coming up the lane and thinks that now people will hear again Zhu Yuanda’s approach: “Their lives, too, demand that there be others bringing them warmth and convenience. It had taken me more than twenty years to learn this elementary lesson.” It had actually taken more than thirty years, and I wonder if Lu Wenfu is not hoping here that China itself has finally learnt the lesson after its “decade of disaster.” I myself am not so sure. No longer interested in his clapper or selling wonton, Zhu longs only for an iron rice bowl for his children and himself. As Zhu leaves, Gao watches him walk down the street and poignantly thinks, “In these past years I and others had hurt him. We had stifled so much spirit.” All the dreams and theories brought to naught by the broken stature of a ruined man. As in other modern Chinese writers, such pathos takes place against a social background intentionally drained of Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist morality and transcendence.

Frederick Glaysher

My epic poem, The pp_150Parliament of Poets, is partly set in China, at Dunhuang, in the Mogao Caves, Chang-an, at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and on Taishan. Many Chinese poets and sages are characters, on Earth and on the Moon… including Du Fu, Bai Juyi, Li Po, Sun Wukong, and others.
Read a free chapter online at Amazon USA. Also available on Amazon China.
https://www.amazon.com/Parliament-Poets-Epic-Poem/dp/098267788X/

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Human Rights in China. Fang Lizhi.

Fang Lizhi

Fang Lizhi

Bringing Down the Great Wall: Writings on Science, Culture, and Democracy in China. Fang Lizhi.

Fang Lizhi and Human Rights in China, April 13, 2000

Since the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, Fang Lizhi has often been regarded as the foremost advocate of human rights in China. As one might well imagine, his championing of democracy and human rights has a long history going back as far as thirty years before Tiananmen Square. In 1957 he argued political ideology had nothing to contribute to scientific inquiry, which initially led the Chinese government to identify him as someone in need of correction. From time to time, several other clashes with the government took place. In 1986 the communist authorities believed he helped start the pro-democracy student demonstrations of that year. In 1987 he was dismissed as vice-president of the University of Science and Technology in Anhui province and thrown out of the Communist Party. His dismissal was clearly in retaliation for his fearless pro-democracy speeches throughout China and statements in the foreign press…..

Now available in

The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays
Forthcoming, September, 2014.

https://www.earthrisepress.net/myth_of_the_enlightenment.html

Frederick Glaysher

My epic poem, The pp_150Parliament of Poets, is partly set in China, at Dunhuang, in the Mogao Caves, Chang-an, at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and on Taishan. Many Chinese poets and sages are characters, on Earth and on the Moon… including Du Fu, Bai Juyi, Li Po, Sun Wukong, and others.
Read a free chapter online at Amazon USA. Also available on Amazon China.
https://www.amazon.com/Parliament-Poets-Epic-Poem/dp/098267788X/

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