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Talking Story: A Morning on the Set

April 27, 2013

There is nothing that Hummingbird Review publisher Charles Redner and I like to do more than get together and talk about books and writers – particularly poets. Whether we’re planning issues or just talking by phone or email, one or the other always brings up a piece of work, or a writer, and away we go.

I wouldn’t say Charlie is merely in love with poetry. He’s obsessed by it. That’s why this country has a literary anthology as great as The Hummingbird Review, which by the way went on sale this week (including an exclusive conversation with former Poet Laureate of the US Billy Collins). You can order through any bookstore or pick up on, if you show up at Festival of the Arts or Pageant of the Masters this summer in Laguna Beach, you can pick it up; the anthology will be on sale there – a major coup, by the way.

So Friday, Charlie and I sat together again, but in slightly different roles. Charlie joined Judy Saxon as co-hosts of Write NOW!, a wonderful half-hour show produced by Channel 6 in Orange County. I was the guest.

Reading "Paths on a Face" from "The River Fed Stone" for Write NOW! and co-hosts Charles Redner (center) and Judy Saxon (right)

Reading “Paths on a Face” from “The River Fed Stone” for Write NOW! and co-hosts Charles Redner (center) and Judy Saxon (right)

Judy, Charlie and I covered some ground in our half hour. Boy, did we cover ground! We talked about my origins as a creative writer (third grade), my first newspaper jobs (The Breeze and Blade-Tribune, both while in high school), my poetry books (I read a fan favorite, “Paths on a Face”, from The River Fed Stone), the collaboration work I’ve done and am doing with everyone from George Lucas to the late Payne Stewart to Marty Balin, former U.S. ski team coach Steve Victorson, and now, guitar virtuoso/TV producer Stevie Salas and surfer extraordinaire Clay Marzo. We took quick stops at my work with the Apollo astronauts, playing moon rock catch with Apollo 12 commander Pete Conrad, my forthcoming novel Voices, and so much more. Then we dove off the resume and talked about two of my favorite sayings for all writers with whom I work:

“Take your reader by the hand so they can join you on the journey”; and

“Trust everything that you write. Trust yourself to write what you think and feel.”

As we carried on, I felt like we were in a Parisian salon 100 years ago– the salon of creative spirits, artists and writers, not the hair and nails variety. Judy and Charlie are both voracious readers and unabashed fans of the written word (Charlie also is a purveyor of it, with three books under his belt, six issues of The Hummingbird Review, and a screenplay making its way around).  So, a question-and-answer interviewed turned into one of those conversations that leaves you pumped for the rest of the day. (Well, it’s 6 a.m. the next morning, and I’m still pumped).

The other thing that struck me was this: we need more shows like Write NOW! We are in a creativity crisis in this country; all you have to do is look at the criss-crossed school curriculums, overdose of reality shows, kids addicted to smartphones, texting and video games, and lack of musicianship in most pop music to see that. When I was a kid, we had shows on writing, drawing, painting, the arts, reading (the great Reading Rainbow), and some of the most creative television programs ever. We were taught to aim for the stars, to put no limits to our imaginations. We read until our eyes popped out, drew Secret Cities, wrote stories, practiced ten different forms of art in art class, sang songs weekly in school-wide assemblies.

When you infuse children and society with creativity, you develop greater appreciation for shows like Write NOW! Which makes the show even more of a gem. And the opportunity to appear on it an honor and privilege.

Hopefully, in other cities throughout the country, these shows can spring up, whether on affiliates, cable or the Internet. When people talk about writing, or any creative art, with the passion that comes from a life of living the work, people not only listen, but they take up pen and paper (or computer or tablet), and they dive in. That’s the plan. That’s the joy of writing, and of talking about it with an old friend and a wonderful co-host on a show like Write NOW!





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