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Inside NCR

NCR has applied for poetic license

Perhaps it’s just my imagination, but poetry seems to me to be burgeoning throughout the land. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky has become a near-fixture on that most prosaic institution, the “Jim Lehrer News Hour.” Poetry publications and readings are practically ubiquitous from big pedestrian places like New York to our own more lyrical Kansas City.

Experts no doubt have sophisticated explanations why a Homer or a Shakespeare come along when they do or why we’re enjoying today’s little flowering. It might be our ineffable political situation, or the quiet desperation of so many lives, or the crass materialism on every side, or a substitute for the defunct professional basketball season -- one could find a thesis around every corner.

Instead of quibbling with the theory, NCR is going with the flow. For years we shied away from publishing poetry on the grounds we would soon be inundated with inferior stuff. Now we’re going to risk it. This is an invitation to submit good poetry. How and how often it will appear will depend on -- on what appears.

Since poetry is so tricky, and its norms so flighty, we have set up, for mutual protection, a high-powered committee of three arbiters: NCR proofreader Gill Donovan, copy editor Patty McCarty, two genuinely poetic persons, and myself along for the view.

We’re setting up no norms. But common sense will play a part -- an epic, for example, is a long shot. We welcome the profound and the amusing and indeed these may be the same thing. We’re calling this just fun for now, but we’re open to the possibility something amazing may happen.

Send your creations to: NCRpoetry, PO Box 419281, Kansas City, MO 64141 or E-mail to poetry@natcath.org

Several times this past year our pages have been graced by the wonderful art of Franklin McMahon, and we hope to have more of the same in the future.

For those who can’t wait, however, we are happy to announce The Gallery McMahon, recently opened at 289 East Deerpath, Lake Forest, IL 60045 (phone: (847) 615-1787). The gallery displays the work not only of the senior McMahon -- author, readers may recall, of This Church, These Times, which includes, among other things, 105 art works reporting on Vatican II -- but of his daughter Margaret McMahon, a sculptor, his son Mark, who does drawings and paintings, and Mark’s wife Carolyn, a sculptor.

In addition to enjoying and/or buying their art at the gallery, visitors will be able to see them doing their creations on the spot.

Furthermore, hundreds of Franklin McMahon’s drawings and paintings have been digitized and are in CORBIS archives. They may be viewed on the Internet at http://www.corbis.com

The new president of The Catholic University of America in Washington (NCR, Dec. 11) seems to have a case of galloping inflation on his hands, reports our man inside the Beltway, Arthur Jones. For a decade or more Jones had a courtesy card at CUA library, which was just that, a courtesy. Two years ago, the university asked for $70 for the privilege. Jones paid. Now the charge has vaulted to $200.

“For $200,” chortles Jones, “I can buy 10 books a year.” Meanwhile, we hear he has taken his library business elsewhere.

-- Michael Farrell

National Catholic Reporter, December 18, 1998