RECOLLECTIONS: Negative Capability

(Winter 1982 ~ Vol 2:1)

These past issues of Negative Capability represent special memories through the years.  Sadly, some of the writers are no longer with us – and some are no longer on our radar screen.  If this note finds a lost friend, please get in touch.

Negative Capability  had three Advisory Editors – all three of whom are deceased – my friend from my graduate school days at Tulane University, Shameem Choudhury.  The pleases me that his son, Naseem Choudhury and my son, Jason still stay in touch and visit each other.  Eugene Walter, Mobile’s Renaissance Man, is singing his “Cholesterol Song” and complaining about “pepper paste” in the Great Beyond.  He is the author of the Southern Time Life Cookbook.  And finally, another graduate school friend, novelist Tom York, died young in a tragic automobile accident.  He sponsored Negative Capability’s first poetry competition. 

And speaking of Eugene Walter and Recipes, here is one of my favorite “quickies.”

            You Wouldn’t Believe It’s Cucumbers

                        Cut cucumbers in 4 pieces length-wise.  Remove seeds, peel and cut                            into cubes.  Saute in butter on low heat until soft but not mushy. Add

                        a little water & cover. Flavor with mace, dill, black pepper. Add more

                        butter & cream just before removing from fire. Voila!


Perusing the table of contents, the first entry in this issue is that of Marge Piercy’s “Inviting The Muse.”  I had recently met Marge when attending her workshop at Vanderbilt University.  Marge is one of the best readers I have ever heard.  Don’t miss a chance to hear her.

            Marge says: “If I were really and truly teaching poetry, I would probably drive everybody crazy by sending them off to notice the shades of sand on a beach.”

            I don’t know where Max Weatherly might be –or even if he is still writing his wonderful stories – like “First Star.”  Max was a friend of Carson McCullers.  As a young writer, he was hired by Mary Mercer, McCuller’s psychiatrist, to stay with her and keep her out of the liquor at night.  When I was writing my dissertation on Carson McCullers Max visited my husband and me in Tampa, Florida and later in Mobile, Alabama.  He gave me an autographed copy of one of McCullers’ books. Max is the author of The Mantis and the Moth.

            I like the idea of writing a story that is a letter.  Here is the first paragraph of Max’s “First Star.”

                       Dear Kat,

            It is six-thirty in the morning here in White Sands and the world is     unbelievably beautiful so I’ve got to tell you what has happened to me before      any impressions fade (and I lose my nerve) I ‘ve been out all night (if Mama             knew she’d turn over in her grave!) and I would absolutely kill myself if        

            anyone except you ever found out what I’m going to tell you . . .”

            A couple of William Stafford’s poems are in this issue.  He was so generous and humble when sending poems.  “If you don’t like these, there are others,” he would say.”

            Thanks to Sheldon Gottlieb, John Sokol, Ken Shaw, Ruth Herschberger, Ty Geltmaker, Jozo T. Boskovski, Archibald Henderson, Herbert Kuhner, John Mann Astrachan, Peter Thomas, Aldrew glaze, Peter Cooley, Vivian Smallwood, Nancy Weber, Lyn Lifshin, Tony Moffeit, Fran Barst, Jeri Kroll. Cynthia Cahn, Betty Spence, William Walter DeBolt, Mark Holmgren, James Blacksher, Neal Wilgus, Mary Jo Pride, Gary Skeens, Aloise Tracy Shoenight, Richard Harter Fogle, and constance Pultz –

Always . . .