One Man’s Obsession = Fine Writing’s Newest Mag

REMINDER: Bob Yehling will appear LIVE tonight on AIR radio, in a one-hour discussion about writing, art and creative inspiration. To listen

It’s never too early or late to write, to get published, to try your hand at a new genre. Or a new activity. But beware: It can become obsessive in all the right ways.

Anyone who has listened to me threaten to quit running knows. I started jogging again 10 years ago, a mile or two here and there, to get back in shape for indoor soccer. I’d not run more than a few miles since high school. Now, three Boston Marathons (soon to be four) and countless age-group victories later, I can’t muster up the strength to quit … but why would I? Running has become an intrinsic part of my life, right down to coaching fantastic high school cross-country and track athletes. I may stop racing soon, but I won’t stop running. I’m hooked. It’s no coincidence that, since I started running, I’ve also managed to write eight books and ghostwrite five others. Before then, I’d only finished two books I started – a small poetry collection, and the requisite “throwaway” novel that sits where no one will ever see it.

Another case in point: my friend Charlie Redner, author of the soon-to-be-published Down But Never Out, the touching story of former world middleweight boxing champion Joey Giardello and his son, Carmen. During a fantastic writer’s conference in Tucson in 2008, Charlie’s friend, Tom Ong, urged him to attend the evening presentation and reading by great performance poet Taylor Mali (who we featured on this blog on Wednesday). Charlie resisted. He didn’t care for poetry, didn’t read it, and certainly didn’t know of the enjoyment in listening to it.

Charlie attended the performance. It ended with a bang – with Taylor receiving one of two standing ovations I’ve ever seen a poet receive from a crowd exceeding 400 people (the other was American Book Award winner Jimmy Santiago Baca).

The next morning, Charlie was a man transformed. And possessed. For the past year, he has become totally infused with the spirit of the poet. He studied more poetry than he had since matriculating a few decades ago. He found his favorites. He began to compose poetry. The result: a new collection on its way, Long-a-Coming.

Charlie also decided to spread the word. He began associating with author Luis Urrea, and the result is a fine literary magazine that Charlie has published, The Hummingbird Review. Its combination of featured poets, interviews, essays and observations, coupled with a fantastic cover portrait rendered by Charlie’s wife, Judith, make this magazine a must-read for anyone interested in fine writing. They even picked up one of my poems, “Paths on a Face,” which is the most popular piece from my most recent collection, The River-Fed Stone.

The Hummingbird Review is presently available as an online magazine, but the first printed issue will soon be released. When you read it, remember the story of its publisher – a man for whom it was never too early, or late, to try something new.

As writers, artists and musicians, that should always be our motto.


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Filed under Adult Literacy, Books, Featured Websites, Journaling, literature, poetry, Reading, Teen Literacy, writers conferences, Writing, Young Writers

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