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Editor’s Note

James R. Adair

In 1970, as a ten-year-old boy, I participated in a children’s piano festival that celebrated the bicentennial of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven. Little did I suspect that I would one day be editing a magazine that honored Beethoven on his semiquincentennial (AKA bisesquicentennial or quarter millennial). I was only playing simplified versions of Beethoven’s works at the time, though in later years I’ve managed to hack my way through several of his pieces. I enjoy it, even if those hearing me play don’t always. I was actually introduced to Beethoven not through my piano teacher but through the comic strip Peanuts, which featured the young prodigy Schroeder, who managed to play even the most difficult of Beethoven’s works on a toy piano. How did he accomplish that, when the black keys were just painted on? “Lots of practice,” Schroeder replied.

I’ve been a Beethoven aficionado ever since (although I admit it took me a few years to realize that his name wasn’t pronounced like bee-though-ven in English), listening to his music every December 16 and even baking him (OK, getting my mom to bake him) the occasional birthday cake. Over the years, I’ve discovered that that enthusiasm for all things Beethoven is not limited to me. Two hundred fifty years after his birth, he still ranks among the favorites in the classical music canon, as you’ll read in the interview with Troy Peters, director of the San Antonio Youth Orchestra and the UTSA Orchestra. Beethoven has been the subject of poets from Sidney Lanier to Rita Dove, and his life—particularly the way he overcame his deafness in later years—has inspired filmmakers and disability advocates alike.

If Beethoven isn’t your cup of tea (or stein of beer)—seriously, how is that possible?—we have plenty for you in this issue of Voices de la Luna as well. Our featured poet is Kathleen Hudson, professor of English at Schreiner University in Kerrville and Bob Dylan road warrior (to be fair, she’s also gone on road trips to experience Peter, Paul and Mary and Willie Nelson). Her poetry is suffused with two of her loves: music and travel, not to mention road trips to music venues.

We have poems about the isolation that many are experiencing in the continuing pandemic, but many pieces reflect a hope for a brighter tomorrow. We travel to India with youth poet S. Mitra, who writes about the time of day called godhuli. I had to look that one up. It means “the auspicious time when the dust is raised by cows”—in other words, twilight. Several poems address the tense social situation in which we find ourselves in the US, including DaRell Pittman’s “House Fire” and Antoinette Winstead’s “A Black Mother’s Reality.” We include a Writers on Writers essay by Marisol Cortez and three compelling works of short fiction. The visual arts are also well-represented in this issue, with artwork by Lucia LaVilla-Havelin, youth artist Ayça Yıldırım, and an interview with spotlight artist Brandon Rosen, who earned his MFA in theatrical lighting design in the prestigious program at UC San Diego. Finally, returning to our musical theme, we present Carol Coffee Reposa’s poem “The Piano,” a remembrance—and appreciation—of lost times.

We hope you enjoy this Beethoven-themed issue!

 


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Themes for future issues
February 2021: Travel (our 50th issue!)
May 2021: Architecture and the Built Environment

Current Voices

 

Everything Beautiful Has Edges

Kathleen Hudson

If you have eyes to see edges The jagged cut of purple Next to the rough edge of red The cutting edge of orange Next to the sharp edge of clear crystal. The words to a song by Townes Van Zandt Become a stack of broken shards Exploding with color When the light hits them. “Sorrow and solitude,” These are the precious things. His life was beautiful And the edges cut those around him. An edge is a limit A place to jump The end and the beginning Edges call out to me The beautiful sorrow of life.

 

 

 

Stump

Lucia LaVilla-Havelin

 

 

 

House Fire

DaRell Pittman

Any firefighter will tell you, it is the fire between the walls … unseen and ignored that is most dangerous. Smoldering or fully ablaze … behind walls, a fire unnoticed will eventually consume the house. Any firefighter will tell you that putting out a raging grease fire in the kitchen does not make the house safe. One must look for, listen for, and feel for the signs of … restrained heat … behind walls. Even when compassionate and perceptive neighbors rally to show support, fires deferred and unheard will reignite if left unchecked and ignored behind walls. Unacknowledged and discounted this is the type of rage (excuse me) … fire that will burn a nation (excuse me) … house down. Any firefighter will tell you that.

 

 

 

Waiting for Godot at UCSD

Lighting Design by Brandon Rosen

 

 

 

Reporting from Their Homes during the Pandemic

Yvonne Higgins Leach

Rumors all winter and then it felt so sudden; they had no choice but to let us in. Given the circumstances, we became their guests. We’d bring a bottle of wine if we could. They decide the backdrop: a table vase with pussy willows next to a round mirror. A painting of forsythia, yellow as goldfinches, wait, or are those goldfinches? And all those books! I like to think of his hand pulling down the biography of Lincoln and handing it to me. It felt so sudden and now we’re tongue-thick in new phrases: social distance, safer at home, flatten the curve. Under inelegant lights, a reporter speaks of refrigerator trucks devastating the side streets of New York City, and instead, I fancy starting a conversation about how often she references her copy of Elements of Style. Another night, I buzz from the reporter’s repeat messages about the surge in deaths. All a faint echo as I am distracted by his columns of rose-colored wallpaper and a barometer next to his bookshelf. I’d like to think, my glass of wine in hand, we’d laugh at the irony of the secondary meaning of barometer. It felt so sudden and now I find myself exploring their family photos, framed awards, shapes of anchored lampshades. I spill into their living rooms, chipping away their personal anonymity. Hours between morning and night, our homes are our safeguards as the world flails. I wish it all didn’t feel so sudden, like when the season shifts and you fasten your coat. Books behind your head, titles sideways on their spines, I should be listening to what you are saying.

 

 

 

A Poem Is Like a Crossword

Laurence Musgrove

 

I Love Hatred

Tom Keene

“I love hatred,” read the bumper-sticker on the car in front. In my imagination, the driver, having revealed his thoughts, listened to mine: I can feel how you feel, for I too have tasted the sweet verve of hate, how its arms wrapped around me, carried me, sped me along. Given what we know of hate, we can ask ourselves: Do we also hate love? Hate the air we breathe, the pulse of our blood, the light that lets us see, the mother who carried, birthed, nursed us into life, those who when we die will bury our bodies? Hatred and love. They can own us. To which will we surrender our lives?

Manuscript of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, p. 12

 


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