Interviewsand Articles


A Bouquet Medley: Conversations Newsletter #41

by Richard Whittaker, Sep 27, 2017



More Treasures going out—that’s how it always feels putting a new issue of the newsletter together. Our interview with Steve Georgiou will be featured in the upcoming issue of works & conversations, but I couldn’t wait for others to have the chance of reading this and discovering Robert Lax. For those who recognize that name, nothing more need be said. He was one of Thomas Merton’s important early influences. But Lax’s own life, far less known than Merton’s, was remarkable. He spent his later years living on the Greek Island of Patmos, and reading Georgiou’s recollections brings the poet-sage to life again.
     Our conversation with artist Daniel Hunter is another treasure. Sculptor Richard Berger's touching reflection on the artist's struggle (“To All Artists Known and Unknown”) came in the wake of a homeless artist's death on the grounds of the San Francisco Art Institute. Berger and Hunter, both exceptional artists, lived a couple of buildings away from each other in East Oakland for many years and they're sometimes linked in my thoughts. Hunter got his MFA at UC Berkeley. Later he worked as art director for Ramparts magazine. When I first met him, he’d turned his attention to photography and I published some of his work in The Secret Alameda. In recent years, he’s been working in ceramics. Recently, I happened to run into Jim Melchert, who was the head of the art department at UCB when Hunter was a student there. “I’m so glad you published that interview with Daniel,” he told me. Implicit was Jim’s recognition of the quality of Daniel’s work from early on. As Enrique Martínez Celaya puts it, "wide acclaim is not needed for something to be true." Featuring remarkable artists who may not have spent much time in the spotlight is a particular pleasure.
     Ronald Hobbs is a writer mostly known for his poetry. And his short prose pieces, are often poetry, too. After all, what is poetry, exactly? When it works, it’s a certain kind of magic. “The Honey Peddler” fits that description, but there’s also something uniquely elusive about it.
     David Milarch’s story crosses into the realm of the miraculous. Founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive he is on a mission to restore the lungs of the planet —a mission that now reaches close to 300 million people each year. As he says in this Awakin call interview, "Spend a couple of days in an old-growth forest and you'll come out different from when you went in. Those trees affect our physical, mental, and especially, our spiritual bodies.”
     In “The Coconut Monk” Peter Hagerty manages, with a great economy, to paint the background of his inspired project Peace Fleece. This is a remarkable tale. I know it’s a cliché to put it that way, but reading this story will give that word life again—as will each of our features in this edition. —Welcome.

About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founding editor of works & conversations and West Coast editor of Parabola magazine.      


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