Wednesday, June 27, 2018

CRC Analysis on WELCOME TO SAINT ANGEL by William Luvaas . . .

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**Some of the links will have to be copied and then posted in your search engine in order to pull up properly

Welcome To Saint Angel excerpts in this font

William Luvaas quotes from Email Interview with CRC Blog on June 18, 2018 in this font

CRC Blog on William Luvaas’s
Welcome To Saint Angel
Home:  A Well of Everlasting Chances”
      Anaphora Literary Press published William Luvaas’s environmental fiction novel Welcome To Saint Angel on March 15, 2018, with book design by Anna Faktorovich, PhD. and copy editing by Clare MacQueen.
       Luvaas has published three other fiction novels:  The Seductions of Natalie Bach by Little Brown; Going Under by Putnam; and Beneath The Coyote Hills by Spuyten Duyvil.  He’s also published two short story collections:  A Working Man’s Apocrypha by University Oklahoma Press and Ashes Rain Down: a story cycle by Spuyten Duyvil.  

Anaphora Literary Press describes Welcome to Saint Angel as “a dead-serious comedy about development gone mad and townsfolk’s – sometimes lethal – battle to protect their precious rural community from bulldozers and climate change deniers.  Part environmental fiction, part social satire, it speaks to exurban sprawl and the heedless development of fragile natural areas – and to the value of community, another endangered species.” (Left-Box of Welcome to Saint Angel copies attributed and copyright granted by William Luvaas)
The idea for Welcome Saint Angel came to William Luvaas when he was living in Riverside County, California, 80 miles east of Los Angeles: 
It’s high desert country, chaparral and rugged mountains.  Summer days are extremely hot, but it cools off in the evenings.  This was at the height of the housing boom before the ‘07-08 crash.  
They were building huge housing tracts everywhere: ugly identical houses crowded together cheek by jowl out there in the wide open spaces, no landscaping, no soul.  It was painful to watch our peace and space being violated, the owls and coyotes chased off, olive and palm trees cut down. 
I have always lamented our lack of respect for the natural environment, which is the home we can’t do without.   What a foolish direction to be moving in: building houses a hundred miles from where people work and golf courses in the desert.  Madness.  We fought one of these developments in our own rural neighborhood.  And stopped it.  The whole neighborhood rose up, like people do in my novel.”
Wealthy and greedy developer and owner of Saint Angel Land Company Ches Noonen is buying everything he possibly can from Saint Angel so he can turn the small tight-knit community into a money making suburbia including houses, malls, swimming pools, and golf courses, which require a huge amount of water supply in a desert of 50,000 inhabitants that are already struggling to maintain a survival rate of water during the desert’s hottest drought. (Right:  An image of San Jacinto in Riverside, Los Angeles, California in what William Luvaas views as his Saint Angel.  This image has been given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog entry only.)

(The above two images have been given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog entry only.) 

Naturalist and preservationist and resident Al Sharp refuses to sell his lands right and water rights despite the pressure from Ches Noonan and his cronies.  Soon Al’s friends join him in the fight:  Soboba Indian married couple Sage and Wynona Littlefeather, Sam Jenson, Jesus freak Rob Thompson, Mexican-American computer hacker Tinkerspoon, and Vietnam Vet Little Lester.   
       Al Sharpe, the co-narrator of Welcome to Saint Angel, has had a life of losses – one of which is the loss of his wife first to her lover and then to her death in an airplane crash.  The one thing that saves Al Sharpe is their daughter Finley whom Al Sharpe christened after his favorite novel Finnley Wren by Philip Wylie.
Al and Finley live a simple existence to some others but to them it is a rich existence– Finley has her own 800 square foot tree house built on a 30-foot-black massive oak at the mouth of the canyon – the entrance to Al’s own farmhouse-turned-cottage, partially handmade by Al himself and made up of the desert’s own canyon walls.  (Right:  Al Sharp with his pet pig Wallers in his cave home after an argument with lover Mona.  This image has been given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog entry only)

Finley and I slept in a tent those first three months, while I salvaged what I could from the house and redid the roof and interior of an adobe cottage with two-foot-thick-walls built by some early mestizo squatter far back off the road.  I christened the place “Second Chance Acres.”
“Second chance for what, Daddy?”
“For doing it right this time. To be self -employed and avoid relationships where I’m considered comic relief, to love you as much as two people combined.”
Page 25.

The one thing that Al has at Second Chance Acres that is more valuable than gold and money is water – in the form of his own well – one of the few wells that are not in the control of the greedy developers.  Al describes his well as having its living source from below his own ground, deep in the ocean, which has been drinking snowmelt from the mountains for millions of years. (Above Left: diagram attributed to  Fair Use)

Fossil water.  It tastes like time, our water.  Mine, one of the few remaining wells in the valley that doesn’t belong to the major ranchers and land magnates (which is to say Ches Noonan and Cal Hale and associates) or wells on the rez.
Page 10

Al’s abode is in the beautiful high desert in a valley of Southern California known as Santa de Rosa de Los Angeles, also known as Saint Angel.  Al’s physical, emotional, and spiritual ties to this land and his home is part of his identity.  (Right:  This image has been given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog entry only)
It only seems fitting that Luvaas gives Saint Angel its voice as co-narrator along with Al Sharpe in the novel Welcome to Saint Angel: It occurred to me that since the town of Santa Rose de Los Angeles is one of the most important characters in the book, and the most endangered in a way, it should have a voice.  Moreover, I wanted to be able to look into the lives of characters beyond Al Sharpe, who narrates much of the story in first person, to tell the reader things about them that Al couldn’t know.  So Saint Angel is the omniscient, all-seeing perspective.”  (Above Top Left:  William Luvaas during the time he was writing Welcome To Saint Angel.  The two images on the left have been given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog Entry only)  

Saint Angel is not my formal name as you will find it on the map, but I prefer it.  In 1864, J. Mayberry Haynes stood up on the mountain with his party of Indian scouts and San Francisco entrepreneurs and declared, “What you see below us, boys, is the Valley of Angels.”  He christened me Santa Rosa de Los Angeles.  Indians in the rancho days, watching their horses sicken and die after drinking from my black soughs, named me “La Cienega del Diablo.”  Devil’s Swamp.  Sam Jenson calls me Saint Ain’t.  By whatever name, I am a high desert town – and the valley wherein it lies- of 12,000 souls (at story’s outset), nearly 50,000 at mid-point), diminished to 8,000 at the end.  All within the space of two hectic years.
Pages 17-18

Al and Finley have always been close but just as the fight between suburbanization and naturalization begins Al and Finley face their own battles when Finley turns 17, the age he promised her he would tell her all he knew about her mother.  But despite his words that she died in an airplane crash Finley is convinced he is lying, that her mother is still living so she goes on her own quest against her father’s wishes and warnings to find her own mother whom she believes she has met on Facebook. (Right: image attributed to and copyright granted by Christal Ann Rice Cooper)  

In the meantime Al is losing his self-control and falls into a dangerous affair with his enemy Ches Noonan’s manipulative wife Penny while maintaining an authentic relationship with lover Mona Sahlstrom, the loan officer at Saint Angel Federal Bank. (The image on the left has been given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog entry only) 
Al’s world darkens to include beatings, shootings, attempted murder, murder, the illegal loss of his land and water rights, his missing daughter, the loss of his daughter’s college fund, and the loss of his community.  In the end there is redemption and salvation because Al realizes home is NOT just a place you inhabit from without yourself, but a place within yourself and with the people you love. (Right:  Clip from Welcome to Saint Angel book trailer attributed to Lucinda Luvaas.  This image has been given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog entry only)

       I wake to Finley leaning over my bed.  “I missed you, Dad.  I missed Second Chance Acres.  They’ve like totally trashed it.”  Her voice convulses in a sob.
       “Where have you been?”  I ask my daughter.  “I’ve been worried sick about you.”
       “Doing something stupid, okay, brackishly stupid.  I’m over that now.”
       I take her hand.  “We haven’t spent all our chances yet.  Not by nearly.”
       Page 224.

In the end Welcome to Saint Angel is about home – something every human being, plant, creature, and landscape needs in order to abound.  “Yes, the book is definitely about home and how precious it is to us, how threatened we feel when someone infringes on it.  Maybe it’s partly our territorial instinct, because we are animals, after all.  All animals protect their nests.  (Left:  This image of William Luvaas and Mimi is given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas for this CRC Blog entry only.)  
     There is the old proverb: “Home is where you hang your hat.”  That’s part of it.  We all need a place to call our own, where we feel comfortable and where we belong.  A place for our kin and, yeah, our stuff.  Thus many homeless folks cart their meager belongings about in shopping carts. (Right Fair Use) They have mobile homes, because all of us need certain bare necessities to survive.  Beyond this, home is where we hang our hearts–where we belong or start out.  It feels like a birthright.  
As Robert Frost said , (Left)  “Home is the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”  Something we can’t be denied.  Our safety zone, our welcome zone where we can be exactly who we are, as we sometimes can’t out in the world.  We enter the front door after a tense day and relax.  Home can be a simple shack or a mansion.  Or we may even refer to a town, state, or country as home.  “I call Oregon home.”  “Maryland is my home state.”  “I’m a New Yorker.”  It’s also a way of seeing things.  My work is always colored by where I live at the time I’m writing.  The atmosphere of the place bleeds over onto the page.  
     I suppose I look at home a little like my big akita Mimi (Right:  this image has been given copyright permission by William Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog entry only)  does.  She always curls up in the old, unused fireplace in our living room because she loves the cool tile floor, and she feels safe there; it’s her place, even though only about ½ of her big body fits into it.  She is fiercely protective of her territory if someone trespasses on it uninvited, just as the characters in my novel are.”
It only seems fitting to end this 
piece with the last paragraph of the last page because it is this excerpt that Luvaas found the most emotional and compelling to write: (Left: this image has been given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog entry only)
So we are back to normal again here in the Kingdom of The Excessed.  Waiting, Rob Thompson says, for the next onslaught. I disagree with him. Disaster is never inevitable. We go about life in our separate ways which tangle together in a single ravel, one strand inextricably linked with the others. We are never isolated, never fully alone. So I believe I speak for all of us when I say, If you ever pass Saint Angel way and think of visiting, you’d be more than welcome.


A Working Man’s Apocrypha 

Lillian Able

Anaphora Literary Press Facebook

Anaphora Literary Press Web Page

Ashes Rain Down: a story cycle

Beneath The Coyote Hills

Sammy Corrado IV

Anna Faktorovich

Going Under

Little Brown

Lucinda Luvaas Facebook

Lucinda Luvaas Web Page

William Luvaas Facebook

William Luvaas Web Page

Clare MacQueen

Putnam Facebook

The Seductions of Natalie Bach

Spuyten Duyvil 

University Oklahoma Press

Welcome To Saint Angel

Leonard Kelly Young

Saturday, June 23, 2018

#20 Backstory Of The Poem "At Last I Can Start Suffering" by Charles Rammelkamp

*The images in this specific piece are granted copyright privilege by:  Public Domain, CCSAL, GNU Free Documentation Licenses, Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law, or given copyright privilege by the copyright holder which is identified beneath the individual photo.

**Some of the links will have to be copied and then posted in your search engine in order to pull up properly

***This is the twentieth in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

#20 Backstory of the Poem
At Last I Can Start Suffering
by Charles Rammelkamp

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?  I must have watched SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (Top Right.  Fair Use.) with my children a hundred times.  So linking the quotation from Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) (Bottom Right.  Fair Use) with my family was intuitive.  
We learned that our granddaughter was going to be at regular daycare and would no longer be in our care in January of 2017, just shy of her first birthday.  I wrote a draft.  The ultimate product was published in May 2017 and underwent tweaks during the submission process. (Left:  Charles Rammelkamp with granddaughter Paloma in February of 2017.  Copyright granted by Charles Rammelkamp)

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem?  And please describe the place in great detail.  I was probably in my dining room, because that’s where the actual writing takes place, scribbling in notebook at the dining table, one of those marbled kind.  But I have no actual memory of writing the draft.

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?)  Hard to say. One scribbled and re-scribbled in a notebook, but then revised on the computer various times.  I don’t often keep old copies of discarded drafts.  They’ve been replaced.

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version?  And can you share them with us?  I couldn’t say with certainty which lines, but looking at the photograph of the first draft, some comparisons can be made.  

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem?  The pang in the heart of the passage of time.  

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why?  I wrote a series of poems on the same subject.  Some were more emotional than others.  I like this one for the lighthearted touch it provides.    (Left:  Granddaughter Paloma today.  Copyright granted by Charles Rammelkamp)

Has this poem been published before?  And if so where?  Yes, in Red River Review.

Anything you would like to add?  A lot of this is guesswork, really, the number of drafts where I was writing , since I’m usually working on various things at the same time.  But to the best of my memory, this is an honest response, and thank you for the opportunity! (Right Charles Rammelkamp's Facebook Logo Photo  Fair Use)

At Last I Can Start Suffering
by Charles Rammelkamp

“At last I can start suffering,” I joked,
channeling Cosmo Brown in Singin in the Rain,
when he thinks he’s lost his job,
“and write that symphony.”

My daughter had just broken the news:
our granddaughter, whom we’d been babysitting
for the last nine months,
was going to start attending daycare
so she could learn to be with other children.

I hadn’t really noticed until then,
but I’d become quite attached to her
baby’s sunny wonderment, her delight,
reaching her arms out to be lifted,
falling asleep on my lap, like a cat.

Not since my daughters left home for college,
more than a decade a go,
had I had such a sense of wistful loss,
not even when my mother and twin brother died.

But I’d adjusted, hadn’t I?
This, too, would become “normal”
My writing had taken a hit, it’s true,
not that I particularly minded,
but now at least I can write that symphony.

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives and Reviews Editor for Adirondack Review. His most recent books include American Zeitgeist (Apprentice House) ( and a chapbook, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts ( Main Street Rag Press). ( Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. (Left:  Charles Rammelkamp at the Baltimore Museum of Art in February of 2017.  Copyright granted by Charles Rammelkamp)


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s (It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”