If you hold a poet in highest esteem, you may attend an open mic and read or recite the poet’s work. If it is music that moves you, and you have some talent, you can “cover” the pieces you value. If you have no talent speak of, you might still become, for a few minutes, a Karaoke King for some unsuspecting captive audience in a public gathering place. How many versions of “Desperado” does the world need.
But how does one honor a writer in a personal way? On July 21st at Wake Forest’s Neck of the Woods Theater, I am going to try something.
The writer is Ambrose Bierce, Civil War Union Soldier and later journalist, critic, cynic, and author of some of the most hauntingly beautiful prose about some of man’s most horrific experiences, those of war and the life of the soldier.
Some of what is written today about war and the soldier, such as the book Tribe by Sebastian Junger, is rediscovered wisdom. Read Junger’s description of the complexity of the homecoming struggles of today’s warrior, then go find the same kind of information in Bierce’s “What I Saw at Shiloh.”
So what am I going to try at the local theater? Much as some today try to “impersonate” Mark Twain, I will appear on stage as the ghost of Ambrose Bierce. My monologue will come directly from his work, as if he were speaking from the spirit world. I have my Union Soldier uniform. I think it is safe to wear the Yankee blue in Wake Forest.
A disclaimer: I am not a military veteran. I make no claim to personal knowledge of war. I try to honor those who have gone to war for me, and I believe that I am honoring others in a small way with this presentation of the work of a largely forgotten voice who spoke of war. Come to the performance on July 21st at the Renaissance Center at 7PM and see for yourself if what I am trying is worthwhile.
I read. I write. I learn. I’m in a writing group and I have four published books. I’m still pretty sure I’m not Steinbeck, but my heart and soul have found their way back to where they should be.