Sunday, September 11, 2011

NASH-ional TREASURE Events in Rye, NY

Disappointed at the lack of recognition that Ogden Nash has been given by his home town, novelist and Rye resident Alan Beechey has led an effort to organize two wonderful events at the Rye Arts Center.

On Saturday, September 17 from 10:00 – 12:00 pm there will be an Ogden Nash literary workshop for ages 8 and older. Participants will explore the words and unique styling of former Rye resident, Ogden Nash, through a variety of projects that incorporate both the literary and visual arts. The first half of this class, attendees will work to create their own poems and verses in Nash’s style. For the second half, they will create an original art piece inspired by their creation. Artwork will be on display during the September Ogden Nash event the following Saturday.

The cost is $30 for non-members. Space is limited. Register at the Rye Arts Center website.

On Sunday, September 25th, there will be a celebration entitled NASH-ional TREASURE at the Rye Arts Center featuring selected readings of some of his most popular poems, along with performances of music from “One Touch of Venus, which Nash wrote. Artwork inspired by Ogden Nash’s poetry, and created by the students of The Rye Arts Center’s art school, will be hung on the walls of the Performing Arts room as an accompaniment to his literary masterpieces.

Alan Beechey, is chairing the event. He will give a brief presentation on the history of Ogden Nash and the legacy that he has left for his hometown of Rye, NY.

Kudos to Mr. Beechey for his efforts to raise awareness and appreciation to Rye’s accomplished native son. He is further advocating creating a permanent memorial to Nash by renaming one of the town’s blandly monikered common areas to Ogden Nash Park. He outlines the case well for doing so in an OpEd in the Rye Record and on It’s surprising that no place in the world, much less his birthplace, has yes to dedicate a patch of earth to this poet who has brought so much joy to the world. Nash appreciated the individual connections he created with his readers and took time to show his thanks to fan mail with notes like this to Mildred Davis in 1941, who apparently requested an autograph:

This short, silly poem will never appear in a Nash anthology. But you can bet it was treasured by the recipient. It is one of dozens of individual letters to fans that I’ve read where Nash went above and beyond to show his correspondent that he was grateful to them and to make them smile. What star today would take the time today to compose a custom bit of their craft for a fan?

Other than a street in California, the only memorial I’m aware of is the bottom right hand corner of a window in St. Andrews by the Sea in Rye Beach, NH.

It so happens that a friend of mine was in that area last weekend visiting family. He visited Nash’s grave nearby in North Hampton and shared the snapshot below:

Hope you can join the celebration on the 25th and add your voice to effort to rename the Rye park in honor of Ogden Nash!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Immortalizing Heroes of the Gridiron and Diamond

Recognizing Nash's passion for his hometown NFL team, Life Magazine offered Nash the opportunity to showcase his poetry in 'My Colts - Verses and Reverses', their December 13, 1968 cover story.

Nash penned a poem about Bubba Smith, the 6' 7", 280 lb defensive end who passed away last week, ensuring that Smith's legacy will live on:

Bubba Smith

When hearing tales of Bubba Smith
You wonder if he's man or myth.
He's like a hoodoo, like a hex,
He's like Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Few manage to topple in a tussle
Three hundred pounds of hustle and muscle.
He won't complain if double-teamed;
It isn't Bubba who gets creamed.

What gained this pair of underminers?
Only four Forty-niner shiners.

'Verses and Reverses' was as much a tribute to the nation's adoration for Nash as it was to the Colts. How many contemporary poets have ever been featured on the cover of a popular national magazine?

Nash wrote several poems about baseball in his career. As the story goes, when the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore in 1953, the versifier composed this poem for a testimonial dinner:

You Can't Kill an Oriole

Wee Willie Keeler
Runs through the town,
All along Charles Street,
In his nightgown.
Belling like a hound dog,
Gathering the pack:
Hey, Wilbert Robinson,
The Orioles are back!
Hey, Hughie Jennings!
Hey, John McGraw!
I got fire in my eye
And tobacco in my jaw!
Hughie, hold my halo.
I'm sick of being a saint:
Got to teach youngsters
To hit 'em where they ain't.

Copyright © by Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Fine Synthetic Brogue

Well over a half century ago, Nash lamented how the St. Patrick' Day celebration, as was happening with Christmas, was overshadowing the higher meaning of the day.

It’s a Grand Parade It Will Be, Modern Design

Saint Patrick was a proper man, a man to be admired;
Of numbering his virtues I am never, never tired.
A handsome man, a holy man, a man of mighty deeds,
He walked the lanes of Erin, a-telling of his beads.
A-telling of his beads, he was, and spreading of the word.
I think that of Saint Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick hadn't heard.

The saint was born a subject of the ancient British throne,
But the Irish in their wisdom recognized him as their own.
A raiding party captured him, and carried him away,
And Patrick loved the Irish, and he lived to capture they,
A-walking of the valleys and a-spreading of the word.
I think that of Saint Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick hadn't heard.

He defied the mighty Druids, he spoke them bold and plain,
And he lit the Easter fire on the lofty hill of Shane.
He lit the Easter fire where the hill and heaven met,
And on every hill in Ireland the fire is burning yet.
He lit the Easter fire, a-spreading of the word.
I think that of Saint Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick hadn't heard.

Saint Patrick was a proper man before he was a saint,
He was shaky in his Latin, his orthography was quaint,
But he walked the length of Ireland, her mountains and her lakes,
A-building of his churches and a-driving out the snakes,
A-building of his churches and a-spreading of the word.
I think that of Saint Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick hadn't heard.

But the silver-tongued announcer is a coy, facetious rogue;
He ushers in Saint Patrick with a fine synthetic brogue,
He spatters his commercials with macushlas and colleens,
Begorras, worra-worras, and spurious spalpeens.
I hope one day Saint Patrick will lean down from Heaven’s arch
And jam the bloody air waves on the Seventeenth of March.

Ogden Nash

Copyright © by Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt.

Thanks to Kirsten Brady of Morristown
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