The Society of Southwestern Authors- October 2016 Forum WRITING ABOUT DEATH? Without depressing your readers “Crossing The Final Frontier”

WRITING ABOUT DEATH? Without depressing your readers “Crossing The Final Frontier”

The Society of Southwestern Authors Hosts Jeff Babcock at October 2016Writer’s Forum

All my life I knew I would one day go back and write about the time I nearly died on the icy slopes of Alaska’s Denali (aka Mount McKinley) in 1967.  As is often the case, an obsessive addictive behavior was the cause which triggered the event tht nearly did me in.  But it ws not an addiction to drugs, alcohol, food, workaholism; adventure … more specifically to the danger of pitting myself against Mother Nature, at her worst …and with the reality of coming face to face with the Grim Reaper” himself.  Even today, I am fascinated by the mystery of death … that final frontier we must each cross when our times comes.

For nearly thirty years, I ws an avid muntain climber … caught in an ego driven sport … week in and week out, 12 months a year.  Like most addicts, my goal was to feel better, more important, and more exceptional.  Yet I could never see that this need for recognition was being fueled primarily by a wounded ego and my low sense of self esteem.  In 2010, my wife and left Alaska, and moved to Green Valley to care for her aging father who was approaching his final years in the usual way … by growing old.

Living with my father-in-law’s slow demise, I soon discovered I now had the time … and yes the inclination to take a good look at my lifelong relationship with danger … and it’s inherent attraction to cheat death.

So I wrote a book about it in 2012 entitled SHOULD I NOT RETURN, which is not your typical mountain climbing story.  My book goes back into all the variables that nurtured and enabled my poor self-concept.

My book SHOULD I NOT RETURN reveals facets from my early childhood as well as my parents failings and strengths.  The challenges of adulthood were followed by my first failed marriage.  Then came the raising of our four children in today’s “blended family” and the trails and tribulations of marriage to Peg … my loving wife of thirty years.  I also discovered a passion for looking at some of the backgrounds of the early pioneer climbers on Denali … in an attempt to draw parallels to my own experience.

In 2014, I continued to address my cnfrontation with DEATH ON DENALI, (the title of a DVD I created), which delved further into my story, and into my desire to more fully understand and explore the concept of writing about death.

I graduated in 1969, with a BA in Secondary Education and then taught two years in Croton, Connecticut.  In 1972, I returned to Alaska, where I received an M.A. in Special Education and worked as a Special Ed resource teacher in the Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitina school districts.  During this time my brother and I oversaw the mountineering program at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  Together, we introduced countless students to the joys of climbing with expeditins to Denali and many of Alaska’s surrounding peaks.  I have written articles for the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Magazine.  My wife and I are retired and work part time at the ACE Hardware in Green Valley, Arizona.  I am also working on a second novel which continues to explore the concepts of death and dying. My book will perhaps be entitled … THE FINAL FRONTIER … and it will have nothing to do with STAR TREK.

Jeff Babcock


(Granada & Saint Mary’s) 11 am-2 pm, every third Sunday

Please R.S.V.P by Wednesday before the Forum

Danette Young 520-809-5008 or

$25 w/registration  $30 at the door … includes lunch & speaker

(No credit cards … processing fees are too high)

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University of Arizona Poetry Center- October 2016 Events

Coming Up at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in October 2016

Pō é tree: Readings from “Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide”: October 1, Saturday at 3:00 PM / Pō é tree is a docent-led partnership between the University of Arizona Poetry Center and the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum and is held under the trees on the Campus Arboretum in front of Herring Hall.

Richard Shelton Book Launch & Reading: October 1, Saturday at 4:00 PM/ Celebrate the release of world renowned poet and writer Richard Shelton’s forthcoming family memoir Nobody Rich or Famous.

Climate Change + Poetry: Brenda Hillman & Robert Hass: October 6, Thursday at 7:00 PM / UA Poetry Center features world-class poets as they address what overlaps, contradictions, mutual challenges, and confluences the categories of Climate Change & Poetry share with each other in a series of investigative readings.

Community Event: Monica Ong Artist Talk & Exhibit: October 7, Friday at 4:00 PM / Monica Ong will give a multimedia mini-reading and artist talk as a vehicle for creating dialogue among medical, humanities, and cultural communities on silences of the body.

Brenda Hillman & Robert Hass in Phoenix: October 7, Friday at 7:00 PM / This reading takes place at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Words of Wisdom II: Poetry Readings by LGBT Seniors: October 8, Saturday at 2:00 PM / This community event will feature readings from LGBT Seniors, led by Poetry Center docent Curt Stubbs. Featuring special guest TC Tolbert.

Climate Change + Poetry: Aracelis Girmay: October 13, Thursday / Climate Talk with Diana Liverman begins at 6:30 PM, Reading begins at 7:00 PM / UA Poetry Center features world-class poets as they address what overlaps, contradictions, mutual challenges, and confluences the categories of Climate Change & Poetry share with each other in a series of investigative readings.

TUSD Fall Break Reading w/Aracelis Girmay: October 14, Friday at 10:00 AM / This special poetry reading featuring the work of Aracelis Girmay is especially geared towards middle and high school students. The reading will take place at Tucson Museum of Art.

A Closer Look Book Club- “Between the World And Me”: October 19, Wednesday at 5:00 PM / By Ta-Nehisi Coates. Called “required reading” by Toni Morrison, this book is written as a letter to his son about growing up as an African American male in America.

UA Prose Series: Benjamin Rybeck, Natasha Stagg, and Lawrence Lenhart: October 20, Thursday at 7:00 PM / The UA Prose Series presents three recent University of Arizona MFA Program in Creative Writing alumni, each reading from new books.

Annual In Memoriam Reading: October 26, Wednesday at 5:00 PM / Join the Tucson community in the Hillman Odeum for a docent-led celebratory reading featuring the voices of poets who are deceased but whose legacy lives on in this celebration.

Poetry Circle: The Climate Change Poems of Brenda Hillman & Robert Hass: October 27, Thursday at 3:00 PM / Led by UA Poetry Center docents, Poetry Circle is a program to expand participants’ knowledge and appreciation of poetry. No prior knowledge of a poet’s work is necessary. This event takes place at the Oro Valley Public Library.

Rita Dove: October 27, Thursday at 7:00 PM / The Poetry Center is proud to present former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, who will read from her work. After the reading, there will be a short Q&A and a book signing.

Family Day: October 29, Saturday at 10:00 AM / Family Days is a series of creative writing workshops for youth ages 0 to 13. One Saturday a month, youth and their parents are encouraged to attend these hour-long workshops together and then stay for breakfast concerts featuring healthy food and live music.

The Dream Delivery Service: A Poetics of Porous Intimacy: October 31, Monday at 6:00 PM / In 2014, Mathias Svalina started a Dream Delivery Service. Svalina takes about forty subscribers a month, then writes and delivers dream poems to them every day. Svalina will be in Tucson, and this launch event takes place at MOCA Tucson.

Fall Reading Recommendations from Poetry Center staff, now up on our blog.
Our brand new playspace, a mini replica of Paris’s famous Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, was a smash success at last month’s Family Day. Children are welcome to interact with the play area during any of our open hours, and by following a few simple steps can become a Tumbleweed, just like some of our favorite famous authors were!

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- TONES THAT ARE TENDER


By Mattie Lennon

   In the 1960s when my  contemporaries  were listening to Radio Luxemburg and singing (and talking about) “a Whiter Shade of Pale”, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and such numbers I had my ear glued to the steam-radio  in anticipation of a Percy French song sung by Brendan O’ Dowda.

   Much has been written about William Percy French and now Berrie O’ Neill has written the definitive biography of the great man. Percy French’s grand- nephew Courtney Kenny puts it in a nutshell when he says, “For a very long time there has been a distinct need for a proper biography of Percy French. And here it is, at last”.

Percy French who is largely remembered for his songs was a multi-talented person.  In a period when Irish songwriters were penning ballads about widows daughters dying from TB and coffins being carried down bog roads Percy French introduced a lot of humour to the art.  While he wrote some sad songs (the words of Gortnamona written when his first wife died is one example) most of his songs were comedic and consequently have stood the test of time.  He could be inspired by a simple sight of phrase (what modern writers call a “gaddick”.) while entertaining on a cruise-ship he hear a passenger say, “They’ll be cutting the corn in Creeslough today” and  “An Emigrants Letter “ was born.

  William Percy French born in County Roscommon in 1854 was a singer, poet, painter and parodist.  He was, at times accused by the upmarket media of the day of being, “Demeaning to the Irish people.”   One of his best known songs, “Come Back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff” has been often parodies. After the Equality Marriage Referendum here a native bard came up with” Come Back Paddy Reilly to Marry James Duff.”

   The author, Berrie O’ Neill, told me,”

     “My interest in Percy French was not at all a planned one I was born on a farm near

Eyrecourt, Co. Galway a long time ago. As the farming life did not appeal to me I joined

the Bank of Ireland and by 1982 through a mixture of good fortune and having kept my

nose clean I found myself manager of the city office of the Bank in central Belfast.

      Amongst my customers at the Bank was the late Oscar Rollins, successful business

man and a councillor in the Borough of North Down. On a golfing trip to Southport in Lancashire

he had serendipitously come across the grave of Percy French in Formby. Stricken

by a sense of pathos he had become devoted to bringing about a much greater appreciation

of the songwriter, poet and entertainer, particularly back in French’s homeland.

      With characteristic determination and strategic thoroughness Oscar enlisted to the

cause no less a person than the famous Irish tenor, Brendan O’Dowda who was at that

time seen as the personification of Percy French, He also found ready support from Ettie

and Joan French, nonagenarian daughters of the great songwriter and entertainer.”

  Octogenarian Berrie went on, “          When the Percy French Society decided that it would be appropriate to publish a biography

of Percy French the search for a suitable author eventually and unexpectedly focused

on me and I was entrusted with the task. With a little help from family and friends

‘Tones That Are Tender ­ Percy French 1854­1920’ was published by Lilliput Press on behalf

of the Percy French Society in 2016. This, labour of love, was launched at Belfast’s

historic Linenhall Library on 4th May, my eighty sixth birthday.”

   And they couldn’t have made a better choice. Ronny Maxwell of the Percy French Society told me,   “ Thee author provides us with a most comprehensive study of French’s ancestry and family background and we gain much insight into the social history of his time and an in depth knowledge of a charismatic, unselfish, rather eccentric, family-loving individual. The well-chosen title reflects French’s kind, inoffensive personality and the gentleness of his watercolours with their generally gentle shades.  I have just finished “Tones That are Tender” and it’s many years since I read such an informative work. This biography brings out the many talents of Percy.  The beautifully presented hardback includes thirty of his watercolours as well as snippets of information not in the public domain which the author ferreted out. For instance  Dublin music publishers Piggott’s rejected his song “The Mountains of Mourned  on the grounds that it wasn’t, “. . .   serious enough for a ballad, not funny enough for a comic song.”  What was the “gaddick”  for this work which has stood the test of time?  In the words of the great songwriter himself, “Looking at the range of the Mourne Mountains from Skerries one clear afternoon I found myself repeating, ‘the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’.   This line kept recurring to me till one day it wedded itself to an old Irish air, and the combination seemed so happy that I set to work, or rather shut myself in my top room with pen, ink and paper, and waited.”  Wasn’t it well worth the wait!   When he composed “The Mountains of Mourne” he was living at 21 Clifton Hill, Skerries  and I’m sure that now , from his celestial  “Top room” he is pleased the know that, as I write, his beloved Skerries has been selected as the tidiest town in Ireland.

   Tones That are Tender is a not-to-be-missed publication.

Details at;  or from Ronnie.maxwell@btinternet  at the Percy French Society.

Mattie Lennon

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By Mattie Lennon.

   I have just read an account of one Bernard Gallagher whom the author, Allen Foster, describes as “Ireland’s greatest hoaxer.”  Mr Gallagher was born in Derry in 1856 and died there in the Workhouse in June 1926.

  One of his lesser-known scams was executed shortly after the foundation of the State. He posed as a government engineer, in Donegal, and carried out a survey with a view to building a proposed wall between the two states.

Mattie Lennon

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Playwrights Foundation- ROUGH READINGS 2016-17 SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

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The Writers Studio- Poetry Workshop October 2016

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In this issue:





PF’s open script submission process for our 40th Anniversary Season is open through October 1, 2016! Get your play read and considered!

Why Should I Apply?
Very simply, our open submission process is the single best way that Playwrights Foundation artistic staff gets acquainted with and can actively champion the work of a wide range of contemporary writers. While our reading series and festivals are outward expressions of the works we read, our development process and the advocacy and access to a national network of theater industry professionals interested in producing new work is priceless to new and emerging playwrights.

Playwrights Foundation exists to nurture, develop, and champion new plays.  As one of the leading and long-established “incubators” for new plays, when playwrights submit a play to us, they are not just entering a competition, but entering a community where their work will be valued and promoted. We are seen as a go-to source for producers looking for the kind of work we seek.

A National Reader Committee, comprised of fifty theater professionals with capacity to refer or produce plays, reads every submission in full.  All plays are read once by two readers; semi-finalists have a third reader added; the finalists will have their play read by twelve readers.

What Our Playwrights Have to Say
“BAPF was a crucial step in its [his play, Sound, BAPF 2014] development! Could not have done it without the amazing SF community of artists.” – Don Nguyen 

“Your willingness to take a chance on an unknown student playwright with an early play means more than I can say.” – Philana Omorotionmwan (Before Evening Comes, BAPF 2016)

“Playwrights Foundation has always held a special place in my heart and in my career/evolution as an artist.” – Lauren Yee (Samsara, BAPF 2012)

What Are You Looking For?
Playwrights Foundation’s programs are open to all playwrights living in the Americas and writing primarily in English.  We look for singular, diverse voices addressing comtemporary issues in ways that push the boundaries of theater.

Check out our submission guidelines and details HERE.

While we do request a modest $20 submission fee to cover processing, if this is an issue, please contact Logan Ellis, our Literary Manager to discuss a waiver



Playwrights Foundation builds a discerning and diverse pool of theater makers to join our National Reading Committee each year for the Playwrights Foundation selection process. In 2016, over 500 playwrights submitted their work to the festival, and over 50 readers joined us to evaluate and select the winning scripts.

Who Can Apply?

If you are a theater artist invested in the world of new plays (for example, producer, artistic director, dramaturg, or literary manager to name a few), we want your voice in our selection process. Practitioners in all phases of career development are encouraged to apply.

What Do I Have to Do?

  • For the 40th Annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the committee will read plays from October 1st, 2016 to February 1st, 2017.  
  • Each reader will evaluate at least 5 plays each month during the 4-month term.
  • All members of this committee are volunteers, but we offer some super benefits:
    • Tickets to the festival
    • Recognition in our programs and website
    • Best of all, access to hundreds of awesome new scripts!

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The National Reading Committee for BAPF 2017 is accepting applications for membership through October 1st, 2016.

Are You a Returning Member?  Please re-apply HERE.

New Applicant?  Please apply HERE.

Questions? Please write our Literary Manager, Logan Ellis at

Meet our Literary Manager Logan Ellis

Logan serves as the Foundation’s Literary Manager, overseeing our open submission process, and managing the National Reading Committee and PF Literary Council. When he’s not in Seattle, Logan is in San Francisco, where he’s also about to become producer-in-residence at the Magic Theatre.Learn more about Logan.

Currently, Logan is directing Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies  (BAPF 2015) by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm at Theatre Battery in Kent WA, near Seattle, where Logan serves as Producing Artistic Director. and was a co-founder.  “Theatre Battery has found its audience by talking about its work with community leaders … and using a ‘radical hospitality’ ticketing system, which encourages people to pay when they can, but lets anyone through the door for free”, said the Seattle Times.


A note from Logan about the Festival:
“Producers and Literary Managers look to the yearly Bay Area Playwrights Festival to discover some of the most compelling and urgent emerging voices in American theater. The collection of actors, directors, and dramaturgs that contribute to the development of these plays features the most intelligent and supportive artists of the San Francisco scene. We hope you’ll join us in 2017.”


Playwrights Foundation offers many ways for you to become part of our small, but mighty team.  Check out our current openings and opportunities


Playwrights Foundation uses Vendini for ticketing, marketing, and box office management.

Playwrights Foundation – 1616 16th st, Ste 350, San Francisco, CA, 94103, (415) 626-2176
Vendini, Inc. – 660 Market Street, San Francisco, CA, 94104, 1 (800) 901-7173


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