In December I promised to share more on Robert Bly, Amercian author, anti-war activist, who launched a men’s movement. Bly passed away November 2021, at 94. Later I realized Bly had not visited UUFKC. I had confused him with writer, Michael Pyle.
The latter and a group of writers held workshops at OIT and UUFKC. (To be shared another time.) Those visits were quite a coup for the Basin. And if one wants to understand Monarch butterflies, read Pyle. In addition to his writing he journeyed an entire migration route with these natural wonders.
Bly’s 1990 book, IRON JOHN: A BOOK ABOUT MEN, followed a career as celebrated poet and literary figure. IRON JOHN made Bly, as they say, “a household name” . * About 1995 or 1996 UUFKC men, cross-generational, met to discuss IRON JOHN.
Michael Carlson of The Guardian wrote of Bly, “Influential American poet with an abiding interest in mysticism and the nature of masculinity”.
He continued, “Bly may be remembered, like the two most enduring of original Transcendentalists, for facets of his work other than poetry. Just as Ralph Waldo Emerson’s legacy is as an essayist, the influence of Bly’s essays on poetic theory and his many translations have resonated with readers and his fellow poets. He’s likely to be seen as a 20th century parallel to Henry David Thoreau, as he made his mark with civil disobedience, and later, with a hugely popular prose work…the denaturing effects of civilisation”. **
Over decades Emerson and Thoreau have often been UUFKC Sunday service topics.
IRON JOHN was on the NY Times best seller list 62 weeks. “Bly remains one of the most hotly debated American artists of the past half-century.” ***
* The Week, 10 Dec. 2021 ** M. Carlson, The Guardian *** Tom Butler-Bowdon
###–Barbara H. Turk, Archivist