Thursday, October 16, 2008

Literary Contest Where Ogden Nash Wrote

The Portsmouth Antheneum will launch a literary version of 'American Idol' on as part of the upcoming Portsmouth Literary Festival. Writers will read their best short fiction before a live audience and judges. The Festival, now in it's 20th year, runs from October 23rd - 24th.

Legend has it that Ogden Nash would seek out its cozy nooks to write during his summer's there. In 1962 Nash extended his residency to 6 months out of the year when he purchased an Atlantic Avenue home big enough for his daughters and their families.

Not that Nash necessarily needed a quiet oasis to write his humor. Visitors to his Little Boar's Head home were surprised to see that Nash was comfortable versifying for publication in the midst of chaotic child's play!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ogden Nash and the '69 Mets

I remember New York City in the summer of 1969 as an electric time. Neil Armstrong touched moon dirt on July 25th. In mid-August, Up the Thruway in the Catskills, there was a revolutionary music festival at Yasgur's farm.

Six weeks later, the Mets won the Eastern division after being in last place for much of the first half of the year.

Bypassing Woodstock & Apollo 13, Ogden Nash chose to memorialize the 'Amazin's. Nash, like many New Yorker's viewed the Mets as the National League successors to the turncoat Giants and Dodgers. Upon learning of their victory Nash penned the following thank you to Joan Payson, the Mets owner, and sent it to the New York Times.

A Poem

Whence camest thou, Mrs. Payson, dear?
Out of nowhere into the here.
At last thy patient, loyal clients
Can forget the Dodgers and the Giants.
Then what about O'Malley and Stoneham?
De mortius nihil nisi bonum.

Ogden Nash September 24, 1969

As a fan of both the Orioles and the Mets, Nash must have enjoyed the ensuing World Series immensely.

In a 1957 New Yorker poem, Nash expressed the following about the Giants moving to San Francisco:

Lines to be Carved on Coogan's Bluff

The candle's out, the game is up;
Who has heart for a stirrup cup?
Farewell Giants and Horace Stoneham
De mortius nihil nisi bonum.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Preparing for Flu Season with Ogden Nash

Nash persevered with his writing and lecturing despite many stomach related health issues throughout his career. By lampooning the challenges and foibles of every day life, Nash made them easier to face. The Germ, was quoted this week by Eleanor from Malaysia in her blog:

The Germ

A mighty creature is the germ

Though smaller than the pachyderm

His customary dwelling place

Is deep within the human race

His childish pride he often pleases

By giving people strange diseases

Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?

You probably contain a germ.

Ogden Nash Says Thonx to the Bronx

Geographical Reflection from Hard Lines in 1931 is oft quoted.

Lesser known is the 1964 story featuring Nash from the New York Times:

Contrite Poet Gives A Cheer for Bronx On Golden Jubilee

Give the Bronx their due,
Say the poet, with rue.

That was more or less the posture assumed yesterday by Ogden Nash.

Back in 1931, Mr. Nash recalled, a "line popped into my head for no reason." It was bought by The New Yorker, which penetrates to New York's northernmost borough, where some residents were consternated by the couplet:

The Bronx?
No Thonx.

The lines lingered on the fringes of Bronx lore for many years. Dr. Abraham Tauber, dean of the faculty at the Bronx Community College, remembered it recently.

Dean Tauber is a Bronx booster. He wants the borough's golden jubilee, currently being celebrated, to be a success. The Community College, a unit of the City University of New York, will even offer a course next fall in the history of the Bronx.

The dean wrote Mr, Nash, recalling the couplet, and asked if the poet would not "consider writing a little piece in your inimitable style, not to make amends but to help us smile over our own foibles and yet to walk, with head held high and quickened step, the streets in the place in which so many fine people live and work and play."

Back came this reply from Mr. Nash:

Dear Dean Tauber,
I can't seem to escape the
sins of my smart-alec youth;
Here are my amends.

I wrote those lines, "The Bronx?
No thonx";
I shudder to confess them.

Now I'm an older, wiser man
I cry, "The Bronx? God bless

Contritely yours,
Ogden Nash.

- New York Times, May 25, 1964

As excerpted from If Fun is Fun, isn't that Enough? Nash sought to educate audiences to what extent a poet's license could go in generating smiles:

"They'll sell their birthright every time.
To make a point or turn a rhyme.
This motto, child, is my bequest:
There's many a false word spoken in jest."
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