Summer 2020 ♦ Volume 5, Number 1

This Summer Issue of the Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal includes
24 selections on the theme of Vision in genres ranging from
short story, memoir, poetry and a sci-fi novel excerpt.
Following the introduction by Anne K. Kaler is a
table of contents with links to each selection.

VISION or vision – DREAM or reality?

by Anne K. Kaler

Somewhere in my past life, I saw a picture (or dreamed it) of three young women walking down a narrow sidewalk several generations ago. The picture, when it floats back into my memory, is trapped in the black and white and grey of early photography, suggesting a coal-mining town in the early 1900’s. Perhaps that is because of the fashions they are wearing, long dresses down over ankles and hats heavily brimmed with veils and bird feathers. When I peer more closely, I realize that they are sisters, probably on the way to church or to a social event or perhaps just taking a Sunday afternoon stroll.

The woman in the back ground is the tallest of all, full-bosomed and corseted, erect, proud, and in charge. The second figure is much smaller, more frail in her twisted body, but leaning outward protectively toward the middle figure who is, I note, a girl and not really a woman as yet. Much younger than the other two, the girl exemplifies the impatience of youthful energy by darting out ahead of the others.

This trio of women test our theme in the Journal – “VISION or visions” as a topic for consideration, even while the two words are apparent opposites.

As I said, this picture has been transfigured in my life into a guide to common sense and spiritual guidance. I am not sure that this is a vision or a VISION. I do know that it has helped me find strength when I needed it. Perhaps it is the birds’ wings on their silly hats or the outstretched arms of the forward-leaning young girl that make me think they may represent angels or winged messengers, rendering me comfort and light onto the right path. Let me explain from my own view of how VISION/vision theme works into my life as a writer.

The tallest and oldest woman is my Aunt Nonnie, a woman of business and travel and two marriages, a woman who worked and supported her father and sisters during the depression, a woman of strength who survived the Second World War in London. I think of her as my familiar image of Faith.

The second sister, my Aunt Katherine, was born with twisted spine, a giving spirit, and love for all humanity. She gave up her job to nurse her father until he died, married an older man who gave her two children, and left her a widow. At the age of fifty, she supported those children by working in the post office. She was loved everyone who knew her. To me, she was Charity personified.

The youngest sister, my mother Mary Gertrude, claimed that she was “flapper” during the Twenties. When she realized her sisters had been supporting her during the years after her mother’s early death, my mom quit school and went to work for the telephone company until she married my father. She is my vision of Hope.

Having relating my own guiding vision, what does our theme really suggest? Using the five phrases below, let’s see how they can relate to your own special interpretations of vision quests. Remember that term of vision quest because, isn’t that what we writers do? We capture and imprison our vision/VISION into words for the rest of us to see, enjoy, and learn from because each of us needs other kinds of vision/VISION to be a good writer.

And that’s why writing in all of its forms is so important to the human nature. The ancient art of telling stories around the fire preserved some sense of continuity and purpose to most civilizations. But each person in every generation settled for one of the VISIONS/visions. Those who chose the VISION called it a Vision Quest. The Native American sent the young men out of the tribe on a vision quest as an initiation into manhood. The medieval knights were sent out on similar vision quests to find and help the helpless to justice. The lonely stranger of western lore always rides off into the sunset, having righted wrongs. The detective shows which we watch so often the vigilante trying to right wrongs in society. Called “knights errant” or heroes, they are the basis of many series of novels of “lone rangers” or “rootless wanderers” or “transient heroes.” Selfless, they serve no master except justice. See John McDonald’s Travis Magee or Lee Child’s Jack Reacher as examples.

Each of us has a vision quest yet how often does our society mock it. When we are young, we believe so strongly that, when our parents or teachers say that that our particular goal or vision is outside of our reach, we believe them. Look how language of “seeing” itself ignores the VISION for a simpler reality. Our elders insist that we are “closing our eyes” to the needs of reality in favor of an “impossible dream.” To me, this is where Faith must sustain us on our quest.

To me, “seeing beyond the horizon” is possessing the virtue of Hope and Hope is based on our knowledge of the natural world – if we wait long enough the spring will finally come with new growth. Charity is, in a sense, how we pass the time and “earn” the right to what is actually beyond the horizon.

Once again, language can dissuade us from our vision quest. “You are not seeing straight” is a distorted or twisted vision. How easily we are misled by this form of vision or illusion. Celebrities come to mind. How can we idolize the illusion of talent, wealth, knowledge, prestige, and power which are only smoke-and-mirrors to hide common human weakness? Here’s where we fail to see clearly and may abandon all trust in visions.

So strong is the need to “see” that drama itself provides the visible/audible experience to “see” a VISION by using our physical vision to convince us. For example, remember that, in the very nature of drama, tragedy is a personal learning experience for the hero while comedy ends in a celebration of new life as in a marriage and the promise of children. Having the trust that the new generation will solve problems takes us back to both Hope and Faith, both of which are time-related. We must wait for them. That is reality. As writers, our vision/Vision quest itself takes us out of time.

That’s why literature creates a spectrum of types which stretch between Reality and Romance with individual genres lining up between the two ends.

In all arts, both VISION and vision intermingle. Indeed, both may exist at the same time and place in a character. Take Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics for Nellie in South Pacific. When the bemused nurse questions herself, she sings of being a “cock-eyed optimist . . . I’m stuck like a dope with a thing called hope.” Or look how the lyricists of Man of La Mancha when the delusional Don Quixote sings of pursuing “the impossible dream.” Is his vision quest real? Probably not, given his time period, his age, and his mental health. Again, look at the mixture of VISION and vision that character represents. Again, look at HOPE lunging forward, pulling FAITH and Charity with her, into the future.

So enjoy the VISIONS and visions which appear in this issue of our Journal.

ADDENDUM

And then came Covid-19 as a game-changer. Our lives have become more precious as they grew more problematic and perilous – our vision quests set aside in the search for survival.

As writers, however, we should value the stay-home order. Theoretically, this plague forced solitude on us. We had time, precious time, free to write of our vision quest journey. Yes, of course, we had time finally to connect with family, to spend days at our social media sources, to reach out to others who might sympathize with our goals.

Or did we fret because our writing time seem to slip away, distracted by our social obligations, the frightening daily death counts, the news on television and in the newspapers. Did we nap frequently, saying that we were just “catching up” with ourselves? Did we ignore the virtue of HOPE in the pursuit of survival?

If you did, it is time to take another long look at those three guiding virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity for your answer. Your attempts at writing, however fruitful or feeble, served to strengthen your beliefs, to give you assurance for future success, and to enrich the world around you with your gifts of time devoted to charity. You survived to follow your vision/VISION quest, just as your editors survived to produce this Journal. So forgive yourself for your very human failings and start writing again.

Mea culpa and welcome to the human race.

“Human beauty requires of us an intense response.
We want to own the beautiful: we want to possess it.
We wish that it would somehow rub off on us, simply by being in its Presence.”

           from Alexander McCall Smith’s La’s Orchestra Saves the World


(Click title to read selection.
Author’s biography at end of contribution)

Vision

A Memoir by Laura Jane Michie-Bleam

The Fabric of Life

A Memoir by Rebecca L. Manoogian

Orenda

A Memoir by David Werrett

Growing Pains

A Memoir by Kelly O’Hara

My Life Changes

A Memoir by Scott Ocamb

Wish You Were Here

A Memoir by Chandra Misra

Mom’s Bed

A Memoir by Karen Edwards

When Vision Fails

A Poem by Paul Teese

Fulfillment

A Short Story by Archana Kokroo

Shells

A Memoir by Chandra Misra

The Wanderers

A Short Story by Paul Teese

Lydwyna the Spinster
and the Shawl

A Short Story by Anne K. Kaler

Child’s Vision

A Memoir by Fred W. Donaldson

Distant Shores

A Short Story by Michele Malinchak

Through a Cat’s Eye

A Poem by David Werrett

The Overstayer

A Memoir by Daphne Freise

Like a Silent Spectre

A Poem by Meredith Betz

The Life I Didn’t Realize I Lived

A Memoir by Doreen Frick

Vision Obscured

A Poem by Linda Donaldson

The Buddy System

A Short Story by Thomas Small

Letter to My 14-Year-Old Self

A Memoir by Daphne Freise

Baby Tulip Poplar Tree

A Poem by Anne K. Kaler

Sideways

A Poem by Rebecca L. Manoogian

The Casualties

A Novel Excerpt by Joel Mendez

 


 

Literary Journal Deadline Extended to May 29th

When we do finally return to work, visiting family and some semblance of “everyday life,” we writers will doubtless see our writing time diminish.

Take advantage of the next few weeks to submit a story or poem on the subject of Visions to our Summer 2020 issue of the Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal. We have extended our deadline to May 29th. Click here for a link to our Submission Guidelines.

Keep Writing!

Vision vs. Envision

By Linda Donaldson

To watch, observe or record visually, we all exercise our basic capacity to see. By contrast, to imagine, perceive or conjure the presence of something exhibits our capacity to envision.  Many might say that anyone with eyesight can see the world around themselves every day and even capture it in photographs.

Facebook is flooded with selfies and shared images of life’s most basic celebrations – weddings, birthdays, graduations, retirements, anniversaries, engagements, reunions. Many posts feature the antics of children or pets, and humorous cartoons and clever sayings abound. Continue reading “Vision vs. Envision”

Writers Guild, Literary Journal & Memoir Class

Calling All Writers!

Dump the winter doldrums and join our Writers Guild at Pearl S. Buck’s historic Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA, 18944 this coming Sunday, March 15th at 1pm.

We meet once a month (on the third Sunday from March through October) in the Cultural Center – Red Barn – for two hours of lively discussion as we share and critique our writing work-in-progress. Registration for The Writers Guild is available for our 2020 season now at https://pearlsbuck.org/writing-center/.

Join us and bring a sample [up to 3 pages] of your work to share. In a friendly atmosphere, we encourage, support, and challenge writers to improve whether they are experienced writers or beginners. Continue reading “Writers Guild, Literary Journal & Memoir Class”

Register Now for 2020 Writers Guild & Memoir Classes

In keeping with the literary legacy of Pearl S. Buck, the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center, organized and run by the Pearl S. Buck Volunteer Association, offers Writers Guild monthly meetings and Memoir Writing classes. Both begin in March and are available for registration for our 2020 season now at https://pearlsbuck.org/writing-center/. Here is an outline of each offering. Hope you can join us! Continue reading “Register Now for 2020 Writers Guild & Memoir Classes”

2020 Update on Guild and Writing Center Press

By Anne K. Kaler

So you thought that we were celebrating and/or napping over the holidays . . . but here is an update of our most recent accomplishments at Pearl S. Buck Writing Center.

The Writing Center Press is proud to announce the publication of two important books this November, both memoirs/autobiographies worth reading: Continue reading “2020 Update on Guild and Writing Center Press”

October Writers Guild Wrap-up

by Linda Donaldson

We began our October Writers Guild sharing correspondence from member Joel Mendez with greetings and kudos to the writers represented in our most recent Literary Journal issue. Joel, who has relocated to Singapore, is still writing and planning to submit to the next issue of the Journal, the deadline for which is November 30, 2019. The theme for that issue is Visions.

Nine selections were shared from our group of Writers Guild members at our October meeting. A wide spectrum of genres, welcome new voices and tremendous feedback from our members. Continue reading “October Writers Guild Wrap-up”

Writers Guild Meets Sunday October 20th

By Linda Donaldson

The Writers Guild meets this Sunday, October 20th from 1pm to 3pm at the Cultural Center [Red Barn], at Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

If you wish to share a selection of up to 3 pages for comments by the group, please bring 15 copies and be sure to include your email address on your writings.

The Pearl S. Buck Writing Center is proud to invite readers to our most recent Literary Journal – Summer Issue, Vol. 4 No. 1 – online here. The theme of this issue is Secrets and features short stories, poetry, memoirs, a play and two excerpts from novels. Told from the points of view of children, lovers, parents, journalists and even murderers, these secrets will captivate, enlighten and even make you laugh.


Our monthly Writers Guild meetings (the third Sunday afternoons from March to October) are where we share and critique our writing work-in-progress. In a friendly atmosphere, we encourage, support, and challenge writers to improve whether they are experienced writers or beginners.

Writers Guild Meets Sunday 9/15

By Linda Donaldson

The Writers Guild meets this Sunday, Sept. 15th from 1pm to 3pm at the Welcome Center [building that houses the Gift Shop], at Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

If you wish to share a selection of up to 3 pages for comments by the group, please bring 15 copies and be sure to include your email address on your writings.

The Pearl S. Buck Writing Center is proud to invite readers to our most recent Literary Journal – Summer Issue, Vol. 4 No. 1 – online at www.psbwritingcenter.org. The theme of this issue is Secrets.

The journal features short stories, poetry, memoirs, a play and two excerpts from novels. Told from the points of view of children, lovers, parents, journalists and even murderers, these secrets will captivate, enlighten and even make you laugh.

As our editor, Susan E. Wagner, says in her opening essay, “We chose Secrets as a theme for this issue of the journal because there is something deeply human about them, something that brings out emotions of every sort. It is universally interesting and it inspires all kinds of writing. We have a little bit of everything in this issue, a variety well worth exploring.”


Our monthly Writers Guild meetings (the third Sunday afternoons from March to October) are where we share and critique our writing work-in-progress. In a friendly atmosphere, we encourage, support, and challenge writers to improve whether they are experienced writers or beginners.

Writers Guild August Meeting

By Linda Donaldson

Five Writers Guild members who attended our August meeting brought selections to share.

Jane Bleam added to her student nursing stories with a delightful story, The Inquisitive Five Year Old, about listening carefully to understand what a child really means when she speaks. Listeners wanted more details of the patient and the hospital. One suggested reading the story aloud after writing to catch awkward spots.

The next selections, two poems by Betty Esris, were both unique and thought-provoking. In her first poem, Headline, August 2, 2011: Central Park Zoo Peacock Flies the Coop, the beautiful bird attracts observers who stop to click pictures. The narrator pictures the bird flying home to the Middle East, stopping in the Horn of Africa on the way and being wistfully witnessed by a mother on a roadside during the stillbirth of a her child. Many commented on that stark contrast of beauty with suffering.

Betty’s second poem Fastback 1967 follows the story of a young man’s love for his first car and how his memory of it serves as a brief respite during a battle in Vietnam. The car as a symbol of freedom is artfully expressed.

On the transportation theme, John McCabe brought us a portion of a longer story, Biking the West Coast of Oregon, about a man claiming a vintage motorcycle in Portland left for him by a old friend for a drive down the Coast to visit him. This evocative trip down memory lane brings him up against recollections of his past relationship with a girl long ago. Listeners had a lot to say about motorcycles and how they define eras.

Ron Price shared Thirty Fingers, Thirty Toes about the birth of triplet granddaughters. Ron describes first the joy, then the gravity of not weeks, but months of care in the NICU, learning their routine and sharing contact with these tiny treasures. After his daughter was released, the hospital provided cameras in the incubator room so each child could be individually watched on any computer screen 24/7. Ron tells what that miracle was like from a grandfather’s point of view. A well-written story that would fit many markets.

Daphne Freise, whose career as a flight attendant traveling worldwide included several years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, shared her short story The Chai Wallah. Praised for its evocative language with lots of descriptive detail, Daphne’s story about a man with expired papers who is encountered by authorities in a public market, parallels modern-day conflicts between illegal immigrants and regulations that favor employers who exploit foreign workers. We look forward to more stories!

Our monthly Writers Guild meetings (the third Sunday afternoons from March to October) are where we share and critique our writing work-in-progress. In a friendly atmosphere, we encourage, support, and challenge writers to improve whether they are experienced writers or beginners.

Join us on Sunday, September 15th from 1pm to 3pm in the Pearl S. Buck International Cultural Center (Red Barn), 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

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