“Poet, Prophet and Philosopher (Max Ehrmann)” by Fred Cavinder – selection #34 of Deal Me “IN” 2016


The Card: ♠A♠  Ace of Spades

The Suit: For 2016, Spades is my suit for “Short, Indiana-related works of Nonfiction”

The Selection: “Poet, Prophet and Philosopher (Max Ehrmann)” from Forgotten Hoosiers: Profiles from Indiana’s Hidden History  (more info on the book at https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781596297463)

The Author: Fred Cavinder. He has written several Indiana-themed books and was a long time reporter for the Indianapolis Star newspaper.  I’ve featured two other pieces by him in Deal Me “IN” 2016: “The Gentleman of the Press in Skirts” and “Politics and Poetry

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/storylegacy project seal of approval 2roster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

Poet, Prophet and Philosopher (Max Ehrmann)

“I am washing myself clean,” he said during one stay at Turkey Run (State Park), “of the mental dust of the city.”

turkey run.jpg

(Turkey Run State Park image above from visitindiana.com)

Learning about Hoosier Max Ehrmann has been one of the “great discoveries” of my 2016 Deal Me In project thus far.  If you’re like me, you may not recognize the name, but I’d almost guarantee that, at some point in your life, you’ve read – and appreciated – something he wrote. He’s particularly known for a prose poem titled “Desiderata.” Now, does that title ring a bell?  It’s pretty short so I’m going to include it below:

desiderata.jpg(Desiderata poem picture from: quotesgram.com)

Can you confirm whether or not you’ve seen this before? I’m guessing you have.  I’d never thought much about its origin until today, though, and what do you know, it was written by a Hoosier! 🙂  Anyway, I’ve always thought those were pretty good words to live by, even if I’ll admit it is often difficult to follow all the poem’s directives.  Ehrmann, however, seemed to have done so in his own life.

After reading this piece, I’ve decided Ehrmann was a man after my own heart, and he and I aren’t that much different (well, except for the fact that he was extremely talented, of course!).  His time spent working in more ‘traditional’ business (rather than arts and letters) were not times he enjoyed.  E.g. “His heart wasn’t in it. ‘Had it not been for some other enterprise of the mind in leisure hours, I should have died,’ he wrote.”  He also spent much of his time at home “surrounded by books, busts of Dante and Shakespeare and a bronze paperweight of Buddha.” and “A grade school teacher named Louis Peters inspired him to read. As an adult , his rooms in Terre Haute overflowed with books.”  And, finally, “He never quarreled with the need to earn a living, just the ‘brutal business world’ that it involved.” Yes, he sounds like a guy I would have liked to hang out with!

He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, and later become president of the Terre Haute Literary Club.  He seems to have been universally admired and liked by the people of that city (not surprising, if he did indeed follow the dictums of the Desiderata).  His other most famous work was a poem called simply “A Prayer” It may be read online here.

max-ehrmann-650x370.jpg

(above sculpture of “Terre Haute Treasure” Ehrmann  found at Wabash and 7th in that fair city. photo from wthitv.com)

Ehrmann is someone I’ll definitely be reading more of – and about – after my Bicentennial reading project has long since finished.  Cavinder sums up Ehrmann quite well in the following:

“In a sense, Ehrmann was a candidate to be forgotten. By all accounts, he was a man who lived austerely and simply. He never wanted fame or money, associates said. He shunned publicity and did not care for “things.” The stuff of philosophy and the soul were his palette.”

Thanks to Fred Cavinder for writing this book and for bringing this man to my attention. Mr. Ehrmann, it was nice to meet you, sir.

So, what about YOU, dear reader?  Are you familiar with the Desiderata?  Are you old enough to remember  a musical adaptation of it that was done in the ’70s?  I <cough, cough> might be… 🙂

(Below [photo from the book]: Ehrmann was also an archery enthusiast, something I’m sure fellow Hoosier literary giant Maurice Thompson would have approved of!)

ehrmann2

 

 

 

Advertisements

“Politics and Poetry – John Milton Hay” – Selection #21 of Deal Me “IN” 2016


The Card: ♠Ten♠ of Spades

The Suit: For 2016, Spades is my suit for “short Indiana-related non fiction works”

The Selection: “Politics and Poetry. John Milton Hay” from the 2009 book, Forgotten Hoosiers: Profiles from Indiana’s Hidden History.

The Author: Fred Cavinder (pictured below from The Southside Times), who has written several Indiana-themed books, also worked for the Indianapolis Star for 37 years, serving in many positions, from reporter to feature writer to editor.

img_7287

What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/storylegacy project seal of approval 2roster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is now also officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

Politics and Poetry – John Milton Hay

I had heard the name John Milton Hay before reading this profile, but was quite impressed with the resume of this Indiana-born politician/statesman, diplomat and man of letters. He is actually the third Indiana writer I’ve read about this year who also spent time in the diplomatic service (the others being Lew Wallace and Meredith Nicholson). I had no idea that granting diplomatic posts to writers was such a “thing” – although Hay’s accomplishments in the political world would certainly warrant an appointment if he’d never written a literary word.

Hay’s initial career options were “between law and the ministry.” He explained why he chose the former in the following:

“I could not do as a Methodist preacher, for I am a poor horseman. I would not suit the Baptists, for I dislike water. I would fail as an Episcopalian for I am no ladies man.”

Thus “limited,” he served, remarkably, in government under every president from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt, and not without distinction. His later duties included that of Secretary of State – often a stepping stone to the presidency, but he seemed not to have those aspirations. Somewhere in there he found time to be a writer as well, and much of his poetry appeared in Harper’s Weekly. Here’s an example – a sweet one about a doubt-plagued love:

DREAMS – John Milton Hay

“I love a woman tenderly,

But cannot know if she loves me.

I press her hand, her lips I kiss,

But still love’s full assurance miss.

Our waking life forever seems

Cleft by a veil of doubt and dreams.

But love and night and sleep combine

In dreams to make her wholly mine.

A sure love lights her eyes’ deep blue,

Her hands and lips are warm and true.

Always the fact unreal seems,

And truth I find alone in dreams”

You can read other John Milton Hay poems at http://www.poemhunter.com/john-hay/
So, what about you? Are you familiar with John Milton Hay, either as a politician or a writer? I wonder how many recent Secretaries of State have written poetry…
Ten of spades image from https://playingcardcollector.net/2013/06/27/piatnik-jugendstil-art-nouveau-playing-cards/
John Milton Hay image from Wikipedia

The Gentleman of the Press in Skirts – Post #15 of Deal Me “IN” 2016


The Card: ♠♠♠Six of Spades ♠♠♠

The Suit
: For 2016, Spades is my suit for “Indiana-related short nonfiction works”

The Selection: “The Gentleman of the Press in Skirts” from “Forgotten Hoosiers” (I have two other biographical vignettes – still waiting to be drawn – from this book on my 2016 Deal Me “IN” roster)

The Author: Fred Cavinder (pictured below from The Southside Times), who has written several Indiana-themed books, also worked for the Indianapolis Star for 37 years, serving in many positions, from reporter to feature writer to editor.

 

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/story roster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in thislegacy project seal of approval 2 year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is now also officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

 

“The Gentleman of the Press in Skirts”

I’d been wondering if I would ever draw any more spades this year! Perhaps “The Deal Me In Gods” were displeased that I included some short nonfiction works in my annual project for the first time in 2016? Whatever the cause, I’ve finally drawn one and it let me to this piece on Janet Flanner, a “forgotten” Hoosier from a book of “Forgotten Hoosiers.” 
I was familiar with the name Flanner from growing up in Indianapolis because of “Flanner and Buchanan” mortuary – a still active business in the Indianapolis today. Janet’s father, Frank, was one of the founding partners in this business, the kind of which her mother, Mary, was “always a bit ashamed.”

Janet herself, however, became a literary star of her day, and a groundbreaking one at that, as that business was still almost exclusively the domain of men. She became famous for her series of “Letters from Paris” beginning in 1925, when she began writing for a new magazine at that time – one you may have heard of called The New Yorker. She wrote under the pen name of “Genet” Flanner – chosen because it “sounded more French” – and also allowed her some of the freedom that an alter ego often facilitates. Of her time in Paris, she wrote:

“Americans with little private income, like me, who wanted to write, could afford to live on their hopes and good bistro food on the Left Bank.”

(below – as pictured in the book – Flanner and Hemingway – perhaps reviewing copy?)

This time in Paris also led to her meeting and working with Ernest Hemingway among other literary luminaries. Later, still for The New Yorker, for which she worked for fifty years, she wrote a series of profiles on artists of the day, one of which was for Edith Wharton, which I intend to seek out and read, as that author has had a couple turns during previous years’ iterations of the Deal Me In challenge.

I look forward to meeting two other “Forgotten Hoosiers” before this project is over. The two I’ve included in my Deal Me In roster are John Milton Hay and Max Hermann. Now, I’ve heard of one of them, but the other one I’ve, er, “forgotten”…

Playing card image from https://playingcardcollector.net/2013/04/27/the-colour-printing-plant-nevskie-playing-cards/