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New Zealand Honey and an Episcopal Childhood

Cliff Van Eaton ’72 has written one honey of a book…about honey!

Manuka: The Biography of an Extraordinary Honey, is the ‘rags-to-riches’ tale of how a piece of scientific serendipity turned an unwanted honey into a ground-breaking medicine. Manuka honey is a product unique to New Zealand and valued for its antibiotic effects. Cliff’s book chronicles the science behind the discovery of those effects.

It was named a finalist in the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Book Prize. The Royal Society of New Zealand is modeled on the original Royal Society in England, the oldest continuing academy of sciences in the world. An important function of the Society is the sharing of science-based ideas in the overall New Zealand community, and the Book Prize is a way of celebrating the efforts of writers and publishers in that regard. The competition is held every two years, and is open to all books by New Zealand authors that “communicate scientific concepts in an interesting and readable way for a general audience.” Love those science writers with a lay audience in mind.

Cliff is a well-known writer on beekeeping subjects and is co-author of two books on bee diseases. For more than 30 years he worked as a beekeeper adviser in New Zealand, and has also assisted beekeepers in countries as diverse as the Solomon Islands, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

 

On his way home for dinner, the narrator of Jim Todd’s (class of 1958) memoir, The Key, stops to watch the demolition of the Episcopal Church building that was his church home growing up. At first the razing of a spiritual “home” troubles him and also prompts a vivid recollection of a single choir season–the fall-to-spring of the narrator’s 12th year. The flashback of those nine months in the life of “Joey”–the narrator’s younger self–and his two close friends, Danny and Kenny (the “three inseparables”), occupy the ensuing 13 chapters of the book. The church-and-choir related hijinks of these three (who move through the narrative like a Tom Sawyer and his gang) include a frog funeral at church that inspires the start of acolyte training, a school-boy crush on a department store holiday season harpist, a water war with Baptist youth choir members that escalates into something more serious, a spitball attack on the choir director, the sabotage of a presentation by the girl (and fellow choir member) Joey likes but doesn’t know he likes, and the changing of Joey’s voice–a sad casualty of maturation that necessitates his “fall from grace” as the choir’s soprano soloist (first row) to the hinterland of alto background (second row).

Jim has written a book about the importance of fun, the inevitability of impermanence and change (Joey’s voice, the nature of friendships, the relocation of a church), and, most importantly, what endures in the face of such impermanence. The book’s final chapter snaps the reverie of the adult narrator into the present. The dump trucks are back filling the church building’s former foundation. And yet the evanescent last images of Joseph’s flashback call to life the profound changes he experienced in church late that choir season of long ago. That memory confirms for him the key of what matters and what never changes. The narrator finds himself less troubled by the scene at which he stopped. Joseph is a church leader at its new home. He starts his car to continue his way home, taking “the key” and the essence of his old church building with him.

Jessica Walsh ’96

Jessica published her first full-length collection of poems, How to Break My Neck. She is is a poet and professor of English at Harper College in suburban Chicago. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic; Ninth Letter online; TRIVIA; The Fem; Whale Road Review; Crab Creek Review; Yellow Chair Review; artisan: a journal of craft; The Listening Eye; Driftwood; Furnace Review; Blood and Fire Review; Mobius; The New Press Literary Quarterly; Red River Review; Third Wednesday; In Posse Review and others. At K Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree in English and studied abroad in Caceres, Spain. She earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in literature from the University of Iowa.

Danny Agustin Flores ’80

Danny continues his publishing endeavors at Skyebluepublications.com of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada.  He plans this year to publish a short review in a peer-reviewed agricultural journal on his research on low-quality feeds and protein utilization in livestock, work he eventually plans to share in book form. He also is preparing two shorter communications: the first on the amino acid histidine fed as a supplement for better growth, lactation and reproduction; the second on models of shell egg cholesterol metabolism for poultry, chicken and turkeys as ways for lowering cholesterol content in the egg. The latter work may suggest new approaches to breeding high-histidine varieties of common animal feedstuffs, including timothy, ryegrass, cocksfoot, fescue, alfalfa, clover, trefoil, sanfoin, soybean, corn and sorghum.

Mark Crilley ’88

ark CrilleyMark has published The Realism Challenge: Drawing and Painting Secrets from a Modern Master of Hyperrealism. The book is a step-by-step guide that teaches artists to draw and paint exact duplicates of common objects, rendered in the trompe l’oeil, hyper-realistic style of Mark’s popular YouTube video series, “Realism Challenge.” The eponymous book contains 30 lessons demonstrating how to render mirror-like duplicates in the trompe l’oeil tradition of everything from shells, leaves, and candy bars to your very own still life arrangements. Each lesson builds off the previous one in order to master essential artistic techniques like creating drop shadows, adding highlights, and building from light to dark. Mark is the author of Mastering Manga and Mastering Manga 2, as well as several manga novels, including the Akiko series, Miki Falls, the Billy Clikk novels, and Brody’s Ghost. Since being selected for Entertainment Weekly’s “It List” of the 100 most creative people in entertainment in 1998, Mark has published nearly 20 books and developed a massive Internet following for his drawing demonstration videos, earning him a spot as one of the top 25 Most Subscribed to Gurus on YouTube. At K Mark majored in art and studied abroad in Senegal.

Todd Thompson ’97

Todd is an associate professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and he recently was awarded a Distinguished Faculty Award by IUP’s University Senate. At K Todd majored in English and studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. He earned his M.F.A. in writing (School of the Art Institute) and his Ph.D. in American literature (University of Illinois at Chicago). His recent publications include the book The National Joker: Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of Satire as well as a number of articles, editions, and book chapters. He recently was awarded a Peterson Fellowship, an archival research residency at the American Antiquarian Society.

Caroline (Orosz) Robbins ’07

Caroline (Carly) recently published her first novel, Devil Music. She has also published a series of free Web comics to accompany the novel. Both works are entirely self-published. Carly earned an M.F.A. (poetry) from Sarah Lawrence College. Her poetry has been published in Wavelength Journal and SpoutMagazine. An article on Carly and her work will appear in the Fall issue of LuxEsto.

Gail Griffin, Professor Emerita of English

Gail joined two other Kalamazoo writers in a recent issue of the journal Quarter Past Eight. It was the first time that longtime colleagues and fellow writers Gail and Di Seuss ’78 appeared in print together. Di is Writer-in-Residence and a professor in the English department. The two colleagues were joined in print by Hadley Moore ’99, a short story of whose appeared in that issue of the journal. Di’s piece won the journal’s Short Prose Contest. Gail’s two pieces were both finalists.

In other “English” news, Gail may have retired, but she keeps a close eye on K graduates in the arts. She sent us the following note:

Lisa Kron ’83 is almost sure to win the Tony Award for the book associated with the Broadway hit Fun Home, and possibly share the Tony for lyrics as well. Joe Tracz ’04 was just nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award (off-Broadway) for the musical The Lightning Thief. David France ’81, of course, received an Oscar nomination for his documentary film How to Survive a Plague, and it’s being turned into a series on F/X. It’s interesting to me that Lisa was a theatre arts major, Joe an English major, and David a political science major. And then there’s Jordan Klepper ’01 (a math major!) of The Daily Show fame and Steven Yeun ’05 (psychology) who plays Glen on the The Walking Dead. What a crop of media stars from K! And the breadth of their liberal arts journeys is incredible.”

Peter O’Brien ’82

BrienPeter has published The Muslim Question in Europe. The book challenges the popular notion that the hostilities concerning immigration—which continues to provoke debates about citizenship, headscarves, secularism, and terrorism—are a clash between “Islam and the West.” Rather, Peter explains, the vehement controversies surrounding European Muslims are better understood as persistent, unresolved intra-European tensions. The best way to understand the politics of state accommodation of European Muslims is through the lens of three competing political ideologies: liberalism, nationalism, and postmodernism. These three broadly understood philosophical traditions represent the most influential normative forces in the politics of immigration in Europe today. He concludes that Muslim Europeans do not represent a monolithic anti-Western bloc within Europe. Although they vehemently disagree among themselves, it is along the same basic liberal, nationalist, and postmodern contours as non-Muslim Europeans. Peter is professor of political science at Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas). He earned his B.A degree in political science at K and both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His previous books are Beyond the Swastika (Routledge, 1996) and European Perceptions of Islam and America from Saladin to George W. Bush (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). At K Peter did his foreign study in Hannover, Germany.