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Colin Shaddick

Alistair, Ron and Ray.

‘Letter From America’.
It had been coming
to us
for a long time.
As long as I had been alive ...
and a little more.

Pouring liquid words
from a radio speaker.
Lubricating my consciousness
for as long
as my memory
will stretch.

I can remember when I was young:
when I was sick;
lying in my bed
slipping in and out
of a fever.
That mysterious letter
from America
would flow over me,
baffle me,
make me think about things
I wasn’t ready to
think about yet.
Confused me
and yet, soothe me ...
Why is this letter from America
so important?


For 58 years
it clawed its way
through the airwaves.
Crossing the Atlantic.
Through conflict.
Through Love-In’s.
Through revolutions ...
All the way
from the USA,
to our little house
in the southwest
of the UK.
Searching for me.
with dignity ...
and on time
by the BBC.


It doesn’t come anymore.
Alistair Cook
is dead.
Alistair Cook is dead.
Gone for ever.
He had the gall to die ...
He tore up our letter.
his post.
Abandoned the worlds longest -
running talk-radio show!
He was only 95!
people like that should go on ...
for ever!


Then there was nothing ...
Surely, nothing could replace
Alistair Cook’s
‘Letter From America?’


In January, 2005
a letter landed on my doormat.
A small package
from Kentucky.
Kentucky, USA.
This letter From America
was special too.
Ron Whitehead,
the Louisville Beat poet
had posted it.
Our letters,
our conversations,
were normally e-mails.
Not real letters.
Our bond is poetry.
Poetry and ...
Roots music.
There was a CD enclosed
with the letter.
light blue cover,
dark blue heading
that read:
‘Kentucky Roots’.


Then, the photograph:
a suited guitarist;
spotted bow tie,
white shirt,
hair parted on the left,
seated in a wicker chair,
slightly leaning forward ...
Upon his knee
and cradled lovingly
by large hands ...
an acoustic guitar.
To the right of the photograph
were names;
a list of musicians and poets ...
Which name
was his?
Surely, it’s gotta be the first name
on the list?
He looked ...


Just as I thought.
the first on the list:
Ray Render...
Ray Render,
a name I’d never heard of before.
Ray Render,
Ron Whitehead’s Grandaddy!
Ray Render sang.
His voice cut through the crackle
of an old 78.
Ray Render ...
playing his guitar
and singing
‘The Mississippi River Blues’.
Recorded in 1946.
About the same time
Alistair Cook
sent his first letter from America.
Ray Render
singing from well-worn shellac
Ray Render ...
He rode in
and took over the house.
Ray Render ...
in my new ‘Letter From America’.
Singing to me,
Warming me,
from Centertown,
Kentucky. USA.

Colin Shaddick.

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In the Spring of 1994 at The Kentucky Center for The Arts in Louisville His Holiness,The Dalai Lama, gave poet, Ron Whitehead, a message for him to share with young people of all ages thoughout the World. That message was the inspiration of the Ron Whitehead poem, "Never Give Up." - Click Here to Learn More about the story behind the inception of the Ron Whitehead poem, "Never Give Up!"

Pix, Clips and Page from kindred Keepers of The Flame! Join us in celebrating the LifeArtSpirit of Allen Ginsberg! Click Here to Enter!

On Sunday, December 11th 'Ode to the Sidewalks of New York Jazz & Poetry Reading' will happen once again hosted by legendary musician, composer, author David Amram & his Trio at the Bowery Poetry Club. - Click Here For More Info! - ALSO View Pix and Clips from May's Ode Celebration!

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On Sunday, Feburary 20th, Writer, The Gonzo Journalist, Kentuckian and Friend, Hunter S. Thompson headed on from this world to the next. Click Here to read the emotes, reflects, rants and raves coming in to Insomniacathon On-Line!

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