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REVIEW POTPOURRI – Maine poet: Isaac McLellan

by Peter Cates Isaac McLellan Maine poet Isaac McLellan (1806-1899) was born in Portland but grew up in Boston. He went to Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, where he was friends with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and made the acquaintance of Nathaniel Hawthorne. McLellan practiced law during his 20s, but soon grew bored and devoted himself to […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Warren Harding; Bill Haley and the Comets

by Peter Cates Warren Harding During this political season, I was re-reading the rambunctious Baltimore Sun correspondent H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) on one of our great former occupants of the White House ­– the, for me, ever-fascinating Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865-1923) whose administration was beset by challenges of a unique nature, in particular the Teapot Dome […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony

After the failure of his 1st Symphony in 1897, Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) had a nervous breakdown that lasted three years, with a loss of confidence in himself as a composer. Relief finally came when he submitted to three months of hypnosis under the supervision of Dr. Nicolai Dahl. His revived creative juices brought the hugely successful 2nd Piano Concerto…

REVIEW POTPOURRI – Author: Alfred Kazin

by Peter Cates Alfred Kazin A few years ago, I wrote about the biography of Alfred Kazin (1915-1998), one of the finest writers on literature and any other subject he turned his attention to. In 1988, Knopf published his huge coffee table volume, A Writer’s America, which is a celebration of his lifelong fascination, come […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Mozart

by Peter Cates Mozart Divertimento, K. 563- Pasquier Trio; Columbia Masterworks, M-351, recorded 1935, six 12-inch 78s. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) composed his one and only String Trio for violin, viola and cello in 1788 for a friend/benefactor Johann Michael Puchberg but the circumstances are unknown. The total number of his works are over 600; […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Poet Henry Beard

by Peter Cates Henry Beard Poetry for Cats Villard Books, 1994, 87 pages. Poetry for Cats is a clever volume in which Henry Beard (1945-) took 39 well-known poems by as many poets, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Poe, Whitman and Emily Dickinson, and re-wrote them from the point of view of their cats. […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Poet Constance Hunting & Out of print recordings on YouTube

by Peter Cates Poet Constance Hunting Poet Constance Hunting (1925-2006) taught English literature and creative writing at the University of Maine’s Orono campus from 1968 until her death. She originally trained to be a classical pianist but left that to focus on her writing. She also established Puckerbrush Press, edited the Puckerbrush Review, which published […]

REVIEW POTPOURRI: The Best of Tommy Dorsey

by Peter Cates I just began reading a 1980 novel, The Transit of Venus, by the Australian-born Shirley Hazzard (1931-2016) and was struck by the descriptive power of one paragraph evoking the atmosphere of the quiet South England countryside just before a violent lightning storm erupts; anyone like myself with finely tuned nerves to these […]