Monday, March 02, 2015

Letters From A Scottish Chief - A New Book

Years in the making here is a new book for all members of the Clan MacLeod, and for any Scottish Clan who want to see how important a chief is in growing and preserving our old heritage.  This book tells how an experienced member of a community can inspire  and influence those around them to aspire to great things.  Mentoring is an important part of attaining wisdom and experience.

At the heart of this volume lie eighteen letters from Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod to her young clansman when he was a student at university.  Her encouragement and support greatly affected the way time was used to remain involved in clan MacLeod activities after schooling was complete.  I was that student.  Dame Flora sponsored my schooling and supported me at a critical time when I was taking post graduate training here in the United States.  In California a new Clan Society was formed, the Clan McLeod Dancers was founded and and annual general meeting of the clan was held here on the "Queen Mary" in Long Beach.

Tours of the United States by prominent clan leaders were planned and hosted, most notably by Norman and Sheila of Suardal, Torquil Roderick Mcleod of the Lewes and JohnMacLeod of MacLeod.  Many clans folk from California were encouraged to make the journey over the sea to Skye to attend the Clan Parliaments.  Dame Flora's influence reaped a rich harvest.

The book is available from Amazon  Your favorable reviews will be much appreciated.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"The Thorn With Me" a tenth book of poems

Here, at last, is my tenth book of poems with an introduction by Oxford Professor Theo Maarten van Lint.
Poetry by Neil McLeod
Here are the earliest poems I ever wrote and also some of the newest.  Reservations about their suitability and immaturity of the former have always dogged a willingness to share them.  However, at the end of producing a series of volumes of poetry, “Dawning Oxford” and “Timeless Oxford” needed somewhere to go.  They are from those student days when we spend time sorting out our priorities, working late, and reflecting on what lies ahead. In “The Going” consideration of leaving cheap digs in London provided the canvas for melancholy reminiscence.  Then there are the fanciful love poems like so many poured forth on everyday. Finally, “The View” and “The Open Fire” are the most recent and give some dimension to the collection. They are available on Amazon.

The title, “The Thorn With Me” obviously come from Burns “Ye Banks and Braes” or more correctly “The Banks of Doon”.  These reflections all have a lingering sting.  They can not be remembered without sensing again the twinge of emotion and even embarrassment.  Yet here they are heart aches and all.

Professor van Lint wrote:

The Thorn With Me takes the reader to Oxford and London, through poems written in the poet’s student days in the late sixties and early seventies, next to much more recent places and material, looking back, revisiting, reliving, and revising. The occasions are precise, the feelings retain a poignancy in memory that bridges time and convey a strong sense of place.
The tone of the poems is often parlando, with laconic rhyme, elsewhere events are carried on a song’s rhythm, while the vocabulary mixes accessible parlance with archaisms, fusing into the poet’s specific voice. There is a lightness to life that springs not from superficiality, but from resilience and a sense of humour based in what seems a matter-of-fact acceptation in advance of the bumpiness of the ride. The title goes some way to explain the attitude. Yet, one wonders about the strength of the sting the thorn causes. The hurt is present, but muted by the power that looking back and weaving memory into the tissue of today’s emotions affords. Stung, wounded, a thorn in the flesh, whether for love lost or the social indifference of urban developers pushing for a modern Babylon; Neil McLeod takes stock in epic vignettes, rather than in soul bearing lyric. Yet, tenderness and vulnerability are given voice in the present for a sister and the gift of a child. The aspect of a tale of years gone by, of a book of memory, an album, is reinforced not only by the photos and drawings adduced in embedding the poems in the realia and personalia of their time of creation, but also in the brief introductions and comments that accompany many of the poems.
A lingering impression of the collection is one of vitality and endurance, of life’s experience shot through with a childlike joy, a chronicle of gratitude tinged with melancholy about the stage upon which one performs one’s life.

University of Oxford

Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Today my great nephew Morgan Fator's first book of poems was published and is available on line from Amazon.  Why not take a look?

In my introduction I wrote:  Much verse is written, but not a lot of it is poetry. Just visit or any online forum and you will soon be agreeing with me. When the creative effort is fruitful it should be encouraged, and for this reason I am so happy to endorse Morgan’s courageous efforts here to capture his ideas and give them an image in words.

Years of home schooling under the watchful eye of his teacher, Charlotte Carlson, combined with the generous spirited love of his parents and friends have tempered the creative spirit of this imaginative young man.

Have fun with these early verses. One can only look forward with anticipation for his future efforts

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Editor for LADS Explorer

I have accepted a small task as editor of the Los Angeles Dental Society Newsletter.

Here is the first Editor's Corner:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Alan Johnson 50 years of Hospitality

Alan Johnson
Celebrating 50 years of Hospitality
                        A Toast

We had a wonderful lunch at the Palm on Santa Monica Boulevard to get together with favorite friends, and not a few celebrities, to congratulate Alan Johnson on his many years of excellent hospitality, a fifty year  milestone. Citations were given out from the City of West Hollywood in which Alan owns and runs the Ramada Hotel.  The affair at the Palm may be their last, for they are closing and moving to Beverly Hills.

Fifty years have gone in a flash,
A blazing name that’s well earned,
We can see where the flames have licked and scorched
And remember how brightly they burned.

The glow of his spirit still warms us
Like the breath of a wild bushfire,
And we bask in the glow standing here in a row
Of an Aussie whom we all admire.
So don’t be shy, “lift up your glasses”,
They’re full on some other bloke’s shout,
Give a cheer like thunder, to a mate from Down Under
’Cause that is what this is about.        

                Neil Stewart McLeod - September 22, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Upon Reflection - A poem

At a dance rehearsal when my daughter was very young I caught her during a short break, and the picture is priceless. She was a student at Miss Lisa Sutton's Burbank School of the Ballet.

Upon Reflection

It was the luck of the moment
She sat by the wall ’neath the bar,
Her legs to the side on the varnished floor
And her tired gaze looking afar.

A lacy dress fluffed up around her,
Hands resting down on her shins,
Those light ballet shoes her dancers pride
Supple and tight and thin.

With one click the camera caught her,
That’s how the image was gained,
It hangs on the wall as a memory
Simple but beautifully framed.

I reflect on the reflection,
How rapidly times flies away,
My daughter is grown, with a life of her own
But the photograph brings back the day.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Silver Tracks and Running Roses

It is a great day!  Today "Silver Tracks and Running Roses" went to press and became available on Amazon.

About three months ago in June, a lady confided to me that she had long wanted to publish her own manuscript, but had been unable to find any takers.  After my own experience using Create Space, the publishing arm of Amazon, I immediately said "Well why don't you just publish it yourself. Send me the manuscript and let me show you how I would do it."

Not long after the file for the galley was on my computer, I printed it out and started to read.  I could not put the manuscript down, and neither will you.  The lady is Thelma Edwards, and together we her daughter, Anne Talltree, we conspired to put this book on the shelves for all.  It is an absolutely stunning biography about Thelma's childhood in Goose Creek, Texas, in the 1920's.

The is clearly an American treasure, and I had the privilege of designing and editing it.  This book tells a special tale in a unique voice.  The imagery is bright and riveting as the author captures her priceless memories of another time and place for her family and the whole country.  Generations will long return to this fine example of classic American literature for inspiration and understanding.

So now I share it with you.

On the day the proofs arrived I was invited over to be with Thelma when the box from Amazon was opened.  We watched the dream come true.  Please buy a copy, tell your friends, and when you have write a review on Amazon.
Neil with Thelma Edwards on the Day her book arrived.
"From her unique perspective, Thelma Felton Edwards, tells the story of James Felton and his children as their lives unfold across Louisiana and Texas, ultimately settling in the Oak Addition of Goose Creek, Texas during the late 1920s and 1930s. By turns tragic, harsh, hilarious and beautiful, we get an unsparing view of a rich and distinctively American experience."