Meet the Poets: Maxine Kumin – Pulitzer Prize in Poetry 1973 and Poet Laureate of the United States of America 1981 -1982

Biography

Maxine Kumin (born June 6, 1925 and passed away February 6, 2014) was an American poet and author. She was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1981–1982. She received her BA and MA from Radcliffe College.

Publications

Her published books of poetry are many. They include Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010 (W. W. Norton, 2010); Still to Mow (2009); Jack (2003); The Long Marriage (2003); Bringing Together (2003); Connecting the Dots (1996); Looking for Luck (1992), which received the Poets’ Prize; Nurture (1989); The Long Approach (1986); Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief (1982); House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate (1975); and Up Country: Poems of New England (1972), for which she received the Pulitzer Prize in 1973.

Non-poetry works include a memoir, Inside the Halo and Beyond: The Anatomy of a Recovery (W. W. Norton, 2000); four novels; a collection of short stories; more than twenty children’s books; and five books of essays, most recently The Roots of Things: Essays (Northwestern University Press, 2009) and Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry (Copper Canyon Press, 2000).

Awards

She has received many awards and honors including the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern Poetry, an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Sarah Joseph Hale Award, the Levinson Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize from Poetry, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, and the National Council on the Arts as well as United States Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Robert Frost Medal, and Poets’ Prize.

She has served as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, and is a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She lived in New Hampshire.

Source: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/94 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxine_Kumin

I Love Rain!

The walking in the rainThe Spring of 2015 has been a wet one in north Texas. Back in 2007 we had another wet year. I wrote the below essay on July 3, 2007. While normally on Thursday’s I share speculative fiction I’ve written, but with all the recent rain, today rain came to mind. Enjoy!

I love rain. Most people hate it. I love it. Why should I love rain? It’s not easy for people to understand, but I will try to explain.

Rain is a precious gift from God. It falls from the sky. Sometimes it falls in large amounts. Sometimes it comes from the sky in small amounts. Sometimes it doesn’t visit us for weeks or months at a time. When it does visit it always brings its friend the clouds. Rain can also bring its noisy friend thunder and bright friend lightning.

Rain is like a guest in your home. At first you’re glad to see the rain, but if it stays around too long, it can out stay its welcome.

Rain can be refreshing. It gives the air and the countryside a shower. It washes the pollen from the air. It washes the pollen off the cars, sidewalks, and driveways. Rain removes the dust from the leaves of the flowers, bushes and trees.

The temperature drops when the rains come. Rain transforms the hot world into a cool, air conditioned environment in the summer and a chilly one in the winter. It helps you appreciate a warm, dry house.

It is a muse for Ray Bradbury as he writes short stories about it in “The Illustrated Man”.

Rain also helps a person forget their troubles. You worry less about how you look. After all, the water from the mud puddle may have splashed on you. You enjoy freedom from irritations. Only those people who truly want to see you will come see you in the rain. Most gripers and complainers stay away when it’s wet outside. They wait for a less rainy day.

It is fun walking outside when it rains, especially with an umbrella. Just singing in the rain. You can hold an umbrella in one hand, letting it prop on your shoulder. When the rain falls the propped up umbrella can be popped open keeping you from getting soaking wet. It’s fun to take a wet umbrella, hold it at a forty-five degree angle to the ground and spin it around and around. When you spin it around and around something magical happens. The drops of rain the umbrella has collected go flying off in a direction away from the umbrella holder. You can aim the umbrella where the drops spray someone or you can splatter the drops on the ground as you spin the umbrella ’round and ’round.

Even if you don’t own an umbrella you can still have fun in the rain. Shopping malls miraculously have parking spaces available closer to the door when it’s raining. The crowds are noticeably smaller. The joy of the mall is intensified as you experience less hustle and bustle. At church, better seats are available.

A sad not about rain is it sometimes cancels baseball games. While this is sad, though not to all wives, it does hold the potential of prolonging our great national pastime’s season or even giving us the rare double header baseball game.

Without rain, there wouldn’t be real green grass on the baseball fields, rain checks from baseball games, manageable crowds at the mall, or great seats easily available at church. Rain makes the world a nice place.

Why not enjoy the rain? Without rain the flowers would not grow. Without rain there would be no Fillet of Fish at McDonald’s Restaurants. Without rain there would be no people living.

I love rain!

Photo Source: By Pygarcia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AThe_walking_in_the_rain.JPG


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a writer of speculative fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews books. He’s written for Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Thinking About Suicide.com, Author Culture, FrontRowLit.com, The Baseball History Podcast, Writing After Fifty, Sunday School Leadership, Church Leadership, Motivators For Sunday School Workers, The Deacon, Preschool Leadership, Sunday School Leader, and The Baptist Program. For sixteen years, he wrote a weekly newspaper column. He has written five fiction and poetry books. All are available on Amazon.com. His blog “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews” was named a 100 Best Blogs for History Buffs and has had over 750,000 visitors.

Customer Care Tip – Give Your Customer Your Full Attention.

Customer Care Tip – Give your customer your full attention. Don’t multi-task!

MultitaskingAre you setting your employees up for failure? Is your organization unknowingly creating a climate for poor customer service? About now you’re saying to yourself I would never do that. I want my employees to succeed. I also want my customers to have the best service possible.

When dealing with the public or customer’s outside your organization, if you don’t give your customers your full attention, someone else will. Soon they will be the competition’s customers.

When dealing with the customer’s inside your organization, be they internal or remote, failure to give them your full attention will lead to unhappy customers or users. It can lead to a rift between the corporate office and the remote users. It can lead to a rift between the home office employees and customer/support service.

You’re probably thinking you don’t know me. I can do more than pay attention to the caller on the telephone support or customer service line while doing chat support with one or more customers. You may have a walk-up client while working a service request while assisting your caller and person on chat. You may be building or repairing a computer for deploying to a remote office at the same time as assisting a caller. They all require concentration.

You may be good at doing more than one thing at a time. Some people can listen while working on something else. Even if you can do two things at once, don’t multi-task.

We listen better when focusing on just one thing. The only way we can give our customer our best is by focusing on them, only them. When you multi-tasking you risk providing inferior service.

It is not okay if you’re helping a customer to do more than one thing at a time. Why not? When you’re not giving your customers your full attention, you are giving poor service. You leave them with a bad impression. You set yourself up for future failures. For example, you are helping a customer while building a new computer. You increase the odds of configuring the new machine incorrectly and thus receiving another service call.

We need to be at our best when we’re with customers. There can be no exceptions. There can be no excuses. Unfortunately, management often feels they are not getting the most from their employees if they are not multi-tasking.

Many times management unknowingly places their delegated tasks like daily metrics, license compliance, inventory management, etc. ahead of caring for their customers. Sometimes workloads are heavy.  We may feel we do not have time for customers. We don’t have time to get everything done. I completely understand. I’ve been there. Still am. Often this forces internal customers who have no option to accept the second-rate service they’re receiving. It can generate into a downward spiral when they give low marks on customer satisfaction surveys.

The good news is when your customers get your full attention good things happen. When you focus just on your customer, they will notice. The customers are happier. The complaints go down. People notice. They experience better service. They see how conscientious you are. You connect with them.

Additional benefits gained include providing a better level of service. Better customer care occurs because you understand their needs. You help them get what they want. They see the distinction between how you help them and how your competitors do.

There is a payback. Your customers will have increased loyalty. They are likely to refer business to your organization. You’ll get the reputation of caring. They will enjoy doing business with you.

Customer Care Tip – Give your customer your full attention. Don’t multi-task!

Image Credit: By Bart Everson (Flickr: Multitasking) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a writer of speculative fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews books. He’s written for Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Thinking About Suicide.com, Author Culture, FrontRowLit.com, The Baseball History Podcast, Writing After Fifty, Sunday School Leadership, Church Leadership, Motivators For Sunday School Workers, The Deacon, Preschool Leadership, Sunday School Leader, and The Baptist Program. For sixteen years, he wrote a weekly newspaper column. He has written five fiction and poetry books. All are available on Amazon.com. His blog “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews” was named a 100 Best Blogs for History Buffs and has had over 750,000 visitors.

K7JYX – My Mother’s First FCC Amateur Radio License Call Sign

201 Maco Terrace Greenville, SC in 2012
201 Maco Terrace Greenville, SC in 2012

The earliest memory of this military brat has my Dad stationed at Donaldson Air Force Base. Our family lived in a small, wooden framed house located at 201 Maco Terrace in Greenville, South Carolina.

Our across the street neighbors were Don and Doris Bedford. Don was a propane route salesman. Doris was a homemaker, part-time school crossing guard, and sometime honky-tonk girl guitar player and singer. They have three children. The oldest two were daughters Donna and Cheryl. The youngest was son Dee.

Doris Bedford considerably influenced my family and me. She sang like Kitty Wells and played an electric guitar. She frequently worked at area honkey-tonks performing to earn the extra dollars her family needed. She would become my Mother and I’s first guitar teacher. That is a story for another time.

Doris also held a FCC Extra Class FCC Amateur Radio license – K4AOH. She was a HAM. She had learned Morse code and obtained her license as a teenager during World War Two while working for the US government.

Me and my brother - 1957
Me and my brother – 1957

Mother became enamored with the possibility of talking around the world via code or voice on a radio. My father already held an Amateur Radio license earned through his primary military job specialty as a radar technician and secondary specialty as a radio technician. When Doris suggested Mother get her license, Dad encouraged her as well.

About this time my Dad reenlisted in the USAF, He was transferred across the USA to Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona. My parents were buying the house at 201 Maco Terrace in Greenville and decided to keep it. Their thought in 1958 was to move back to South Carolina in 1967 when Dad retired from the USAF.

The transfer to Arizona motivated mother to study harder and faster. No, she didn’t pass the tests and get her license before we left Greenville.

After we arrived and got settled in our rented house in Glendale, Arizona, Mother continued studying in hot pursuit of her HAM license. Doris Bedford introduced Mother to Ken and Gertrude Pond. They were an older couple who lived in Phoenix and both held their FCC license.

Me in 1960 at 2420 Navajo, Luke AFB, AZ
Me in front of 2420 Navajo, Luke AFB, AZ in 1960.

I still remember mother buying 78 RPM records that had the familiar dit dah of Morse code as she studied her radio theory and Morse code. I helped mother study playing the records for her and sometimes sending the code for her to practice using an old military surplus Morse code key. I was proud of how she learned the code. I also learned the code, but at five years old I couldn’t send or receive it as fast as was required to pass the license. I eventually would.

I remember how excited we were when mother passed her Novice Class license. She was given the call sign KN7JYX. The N meant she held a Novice class license. It meant she could only be on the airwaves using code. She would have to pass the General Class exams before she could use voice communication. The General Class license required sending and receiving code at 25 words per minute, as well as additional electronic theory. She passed the exam and he call sign dropped the N, becoming K7JYX.

We built the first HAM radio from military surplus parts. I still remember the first antenna. It was an inverted V. It had a center conductor and wires going down from each it, one on each side. I helped put up the antenna. The first time we tested it under a radio frequency load we took a Florissant light bulb outside and held it near the antenna. With a good foot between the glass tube and the wires, the antenna light up like a spotlight!

With her license Mother was able to talk to Doris back in South Carolina. Mother would remain active in Amateur Radio until her death. She went on to earn Amateur Advanced and Extra Class license. Her Morse Code speed was over 75 words a minute for the Extra Class license.

She was proud as I went on to earn the HAM radio and Morse Code merit badges as a Boy Scout. I also passed the exams for the Novice Class, Technician Class and General Class FCC license. My call sign is N5FRJ.

SkywarnOver the years, I have run a two-meter repeater from the steeple of one church I served and had my HAM rig in my office at three churches I served. For years, actually decades, I was also a National Weather Service Skywarn Certified Weather Spotter – a storm chaser.

One of the fun things of being a military brat was all the interesting people and lifelong friends you meet and make. The Bedford’s were friends until Don and Doris died.

When we moved to Texas in 1963 Mother had her HAM call sign changed for Texas and became W5MWO. HAM radio was so important to my parents that their call signs are on their tombstone. It was wonderful sharing a lifelong interest with my Mother.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a writer of speculative fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews books. He’s written for Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Thinking About Suicide.com, Author Culture, FrontRowLit.com, The Baseball History Podcast, Writing After Fifty, Sunday School Leadership, Church Leadership, Motivators For Sunday School Workers, The Deacon, Preschool Leadership, Sunday School Leader, and The Baptist Program. For sixteen years, he wrote a weekly newspaper column. He has written five fiction and poetry books. All are available on Amazon.com. His blog “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews” was named a 100 Best Blogs for History Buffs and has had over 750,000 visitors.

Martian Mondays: The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Eleven: Night Meeting

This story first appeared in The Martian Chronicles. This story begins with a conversation between an old man and a young traveler, Tomás Gomez. The older man explains that he came to Mars because he appreciates the new and novel. Even everyday things have become amazing to him once again. He has returned full circle to his childhood. Later, Tomás encounters a Martian named Muhe Ca. Each can see the Mars he is accustomed to, in his own time frame, but the other person is transparent to him and has the appearance of a phantom. The young man sees ruins where the Martian sees a thriving city while the Martian sees an ocean where Tomás sees the new Earth settlement. Neither knows if he precedes the other in time, but Bradbury makes the point that anyone civilization is ultimately fleeting. “Night Meeting” is the only full-length story in The Martian Chronicles which had not previously appeared in another publication.

A 1997 edition of the book advances all the dates by 31 years. This story advances from 2002 to 2033.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing is Stephen King’s book about his learning and living the craft of writing. It is an enjoyable book. It took me six days to read. He organizes the book in three sections.

The first section is an autobiography. It centers on King’s early exposure to fiction. We learn of his childhood attempts at writing. We learn of his writing for his brother’s newspaper that the published in the basement. We learn he was editor of his high school paper his sophomore year in high school. We learn how he was told to accept a job at the local newspaper by the school faculty after he wrote a satire newsletter about the school faculty. He tells of the nail on his bedroom wall where he placed his rejection slips. He shares how he learned from the rejections. He tells of his early tries to get published. We learn how his teaching high school English and his summer jobs played a role in his breakthrough success with the novel Carrie ($2,500 advance on the hard cover release and $400,000 for the paper back rights), and his later development as an author. King also discusses his problems with drugs and alcohol. He shares how his wife has played a major role in his personal and writing life. From the book you can tell he loves and respects her very much. She plays the key role in his life.

The second section is no-nonsense instruction on writing, from tips on grammar to ideas about developing plot and character. King explains it as a guide for how “a competent writer can become a good one.” He stresses his beliefs that a writer should edit out unnecessary details. He also points words ending in “ly”, adverbs, should be avoided with the use of unnecessary adverbs avoided. We learn how he writes first drafts and second drafts.

The third section is autobiographical. It is discusses the 1999 accident where King was struck by the driver of a van. The van driver was trying to keep his Rottweiler dog was getting into an ice chest of raw meat while not paying attention to his driving. King describes his brush with death. We learn about his painful recovery. He tells of his struggle to start writing again.

I highly recommend purchasing and reading the book.

Customer Care Tip – Thank Your Customer for Bringing the Problem to Your Attention

Customer Care Tip – Thank your customer for bringing the problem to your attention. Few people enjoy dealing with customer complaints. Human nature has us wanting to avoid painful situations. It is not pleasant to hear our product is defective or our service is substandard.

We can learn a wealth of information from our complaining customers if we approach the situation as an improvement opportunity. How can we do this? We need to view the information as positive feedback rather than a negative complaint. We must prove to the customer through our response that their sharing their problem is valued.

Do not take it personal. Do not get defensive. They are not attacking you! It is simply business. Make sure you listen to their issue. Take notes. Repeat their concerns back to them. You are verifying you heard the issue correctly.

Thank them for bring it to your attention. It is okay to apologize to the customer. Apologizing is not accepting blame. It is simply being courteous. It’s accepting responsibility to move past the current issue to a resolution

Work to resolve the issue in a timely manner. Thank your customer for bringing the issue to your attention.

Never forget that unhappy customers tell their friends about their bad experience. They do it by posting on Twitter or Facebook their bad experience.

You must let them know how much you appreciate them telling you they had an issue. I believe all they really want is a listening ear, an acceptance of the issue, and a satisfactory resolution. Many times it is as simple as saying I am sorry and correcting the deficiency.

Always tell them thank you. You say thank you even when they share problems you wish you didn’t have to handle.

Customer Care Tip – Thank your customer for bringing the problem to your attention. 


Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com.