I received an e-mail from an online friend letting me know that Alan Edwards passed away on January 23. Among many other things, Alan maintained a wonderful blog called This Moment, which offered a magnificent, eclectic collection of photography, poetry and anecdotes. I had This Moment linked to this and prior websites for several years, but de-linked it a few months ago when it went static for reasons unexplained. I hadn’t realized that illness had caused him to stop posting. I would have left it up had I known.
Why does Alan’s passing touch me? Because in 2004, when I was doing my online “Poem A Day” project, I began corresponding with rb at Such Stuff (the aforementioned friend), who was also working on a regular poetry writing project. Through his connections with rb (noted at the link above), Alan began reading my poetry and linked to my blog. One day, I received an e-mail from him. I quote the post I wrote about it in 2004 below:
I got an e-mail this morning from Scotland’s Alan Edwards, proprietor of the This Moment blog, in which he wrote (in part):
“A few months ago I read your poem ‘Happiness’, which I thought was really amusing and sharply written. I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty recently of setting it to music and thought you might like to hear a (rough) version of what I and another musician friend here in Edinburgh [Gordon McLean] did with it, using a couple of guitars and an old TEAC 4-track tape recorder.”
I’m tickled not only that Alan took the time to do so, but that he also perfectly captured the rural flavor of it in the process. Wanna hear it? Here ’tis: Happiness.
I continue to be bemused and awed at the weird ways the internet makes things happen. Here’s a poem written in Upstate New York about a farm in the Carolinas, with the name of a town in Vermont grafted in because it sounded better, recorded by a musician in Scotland for your listening pleasure, wherever you might be.
How wonderful an internet gift was that? How cool is it for a writer to know that your words could move someone enough to take the time and energy to create something special that way? And how moving is it, now, to be able to listen to those words being sung by someone no longer with us?
I never met Alan Edwards, though I’m proud of our moment of trans-Atlantic collaboration. He touched me uniquely, and I’m grateful for that. My condolences and well wishes go out to his friends and loved ones.
Listen: Happiness. And sing along . . .
Well, there’s a lantern in the window
and a wild boar in the wood
as I’m standin’ in the plantin’ field
and feelin’ pretty good
’bout my farmin’ situation
an’ my plans for wintertime,
’bout that woman from Winooski,
‘an how glad I am she’s mine.
Got a bottle in the bureau,
and a smokin’ ham out back,
as I look about my holdin’s,
there ain’t nothin’ that I lack,
‘cept that boar . . . he keeps escapin’
every time we hunt him down:
like a ghost he disappears and
leaves us shootin’ at the ground.
I got ‘coons and I got turkey,
I got squirrels and I got deer,
shoot ’em, skin ’em, cook ’em, eat ’em,
that’s the way we do it here.
But that boar, he keeps eludin’ us,
he’s smart as twenty men.
I b’lieve I’ll know true happiness
when I make a ham of him.
Yes, I b’lieve I’ll know true happiness
when I make a ham of him.
(Lyrics Copyright 2004 J. Eric Smith, Music Copyright 2004 Alan Edwards).