Bill Pruitt offers “TALKER’S BIRTHDAY:” Five years and counting

Bill Pruitt offers “TALKER’S BIRTHDAY:” Five years and counting

The Kramer Family Birthday Card. For decades, the KFBC has circulated amongst its members. (top right) The paper wheels change the birthday years; (bottom left) The wording reads: “Nothing different — nothing new” Our re-using of the card compliments the sentiment; (bottom right) The well worn, original envelope. Most recently, Audrey Boyce sent the card from San Carlos, CA to David Kramer in Rochester, NY for his birthday. The next sending will be in November back to California for Leslie Kramer’s birthday. (Copyright, Forget Me Not Cards, Cleveland, USA)

On September 28th, 2016 with  “Ode to the Talker, we launched what has become perhaps the magazine’s most enduring tradition: local poet Bill Pruitt‘s birthday poems.  Today, Bill offers the fifth edition.

A few days ago, early in the morning I noticed an unexpected upsurge in views and visits to the home page. Later, when Bill sent “TALKER‘S BIRTHDAY,” I realized the sunrise reader was Bill, doing his homework in preparation for what he considers to be “the most serious poem I’ve written for Talker.”


TALKER‘S BIRTHDAY  [with links to magazine articles]

Well, I’m about to get sick
From watchin’ my TV
Been checkin’ out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see

— Frank Zappa, “Trouble Every Day”

What you hear about in the news,
Talker hears sees smells tastes feels
He talks to others for more than ten seconds
reports on life through a non-binary prism,
through a sphere of infinite color
that brings so much more than
good news-bad news, scary-not scary,
rich-poor, black-white right-left

You will see what is there,
and what a witness feels
about what is there,
his associations not confined
to troubled Rochester and crazy 2020
but spreading out
through memory that artifacts
and current photos help support

You will learn when Babe Ruth came to town
and the history of Juneteenth
you will see primary documents
posters, poems from today
& back in the day
you will learn about the New Life Cupboard
at Temple Beth Sholom and the South Wedge
Food Program on Ashland Street

With Halloween approaching, Talker eying a green pumpkin in the Alison Clarke Garden. From The South Wedge Food Program helps people through the pandemic and beyond

You will also get flawed speculation
You will hear that Joe Biden’s campaign
has tanked and that Sanders is the front runner
and should choose as his running mate Cory Booker

Bernie Sanders rally at Monroe Community College, Sanders at podium, 4/12/16 From Sanders Would Be Wise to Consider Booker for VP

You will hear that the Angels are unbeatable on their way to the Series with Simmons and Ohtani
yes, this is the Angels’ year, you hear. My advice:
take all prognostications in the Talker with a grain of salt.

Speaking of advice, there’s good advice from Miss T:
don’t be so quick to jump into that affair “happily
married man,” and other nuggets of sound sense.
But most valuable to you dear reader,

Dr. Mathilde Weems, southern California. From  Miss T says a long layover lover should stay grounded

Will be Talker’s taking in the events downtown
near City Hall, where you will feel tear gas in your eyes
and hear the sirens and run without knowing where or why
and take photos and talk to others who came to our community
from far away, and you will be reminded through image and word

6/5/20. Geary Bka Kholaa at the Black Lives STILL Matter demonstration on West Main Street across from the Monroe County Office Building. From A Black Lives Matter solidarity rally with commentary from Kholaa and a walk down Joseph Avenue

Of the First Battle of Bull Run, where comfortable spectators
had to scatter from their seats when the battle turned toward them
Of the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915 when men’s lungs and eyes
first tasted chlorine gas in war, of the tanks at Tiananmen Square in 1989
Of the barricades at the Paris Commune, and the Mourning Wars
of the Haudenosaunee,  fought not for material or territorial gain
but for psychological and spiritual resolve. Talker puts you there.

9/4/20.The bus stop on Court Street. From When Washington Square Park felt like Tiananmen Square

So here’s to Talker, with links to other times and places
and words and images of our town here and now


Bill Pruitt

Previous birthday poems by Bill

Our 4th birthday and Bill Pruitt’s “Happy Birthday Talker!”

Bill Pruitt’s Third Birthday gift: “What You Know If You Read Talker”

Happy 2nd Birthday Talker and “Talker Birthday Jeremiad” from Bill Pruitt

Happy First Birthday! Distinguished poet Bill Pruitt offers “Ode to the Talker”

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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