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Mt. Redoubt has a Volcano Jones

There is nothing quite like an erupting volcano — or at least nothing we feel appropriate mentioning here, unless we’re speaking of critical response to the cinema masterpiece Joe Versus the Volcano (written by a Pulitzer Prize-winner!) — so today we’re going to keep things simple and let an erupting volcano be an erupting volcano be an erupting volcano. We’re speaking, of course, of Alaska’s Mt. Redoubt, a name that lends itself to many formidable puns and is just neat in general. Our Biography Resource Center search centered on “volcano”; after all, many a poor soul is nicknamed, or plain old named, after geothermal or weather events such as Hurricane (boxer Rubin Carter), Earthquake (comedian Nathanial Stroman), Geyser (German philosopher Joseph Geyser), Cyclone (author Cyclone Covey, son of Cyclone Davis), Typhoon (Taiwanese geophysicist Typhoon Lee), Tempest (elementary school teacher Tempest Anne Kuykendall), or Tempestt (The Cosby Show‘s Tempestt Bledsoe).

But! There is a single, solitary soul, the one, the only, the inimitable, the redoubtable, Adrian Mitchell, aka Volcano Jones (aka Apeman Mudgeon, aka Gerald Stimpson), in our deep and mighty archives. Ah, we do so love the variant names.

British poet and playwright Adrian Mitchell gained notice in the 1960s as a performance poet whose works–including the verse collections Peace Is Milk and Out Loud and the plays Tyger: A Celebration Based on the Life and Work of William Blake, Mind Your Head, and Man Friday –resonate with pacifism and his belief in the empowerment of the common man amid the politicized artistic environment of the 1960s and 1970s.

Mitchell was born in 1932 in London, the son of a research chemist and a teacher. Educated at Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire, he did one year of compulsory national service in the Royal Air Force before entering Christ Church, Oxford in 1952. At Oxford, Mitchell originally planned to train as a teacher. But he became heavily influenced by poet Alistair Elliott and during his third and last year, he served as literary editor of Isis magazine. An early pamphlet of Mitchell’s poems appeared in 1955 and included “The Fox,” a poem considered one of his best works. Mitchell was strongly influenced by nineteenth-century British poet William Blake, and eventually wrote a play about Blake’s life.

Mitchell’s imaginative flights have also taken him to Sherwood Forest for Adventures of Robin Hood and Marian, as well as back in time to the ancient world for The Odyssey, a “smoothly written” version of the ancient story according to School Library Journal contributor Nancy Call. They have also inspired the poetry/short-story compilation on giants titled Gynormous!: The Ultimate Book of Giants, as well as the collection Daft as a Doughnut, which was selected as the best collection of children’s poetry of 2004 by the Poetry Book Society. Another imaginative flight by Mitchell was recognized by the people voting in the 2004 National Poetry Day poll, which ranked the poet’s “Human Beings” as the poem fans would most like to see launched into space as a way of communicating with other forms of life. A poem encouraging cultural tolerance and peace, “Human Beings” appeared in Mitchell’s collection The Shadow Knows: Poems, 2000-2004. It was also displayed at England’s National Space Centre.

Whatever form Mitchell’s work takes, be it poetry, drama, prose, or interstellar transmission, he retains his original faith in the transformational power of words. His writing for children has been characterized as unpretentious and simple, and his empathy with young readers is apparent. For Mitchell, poetry and words are not just means of communication; they can change a reader’s perception of the world.

Mitchell/Jones/Mudgeon/Stimpson died on December 20, 2008.

There does not appear to be anybody in BioRC named Magma; however, a full-text Advanced Search revealed 49 narrative biographies containing the term.

Source: “Adrian Mitchell.” Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009.

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Posted on: March 24, 2009, 2:16 pm Category: Factoids Tagged with: , , , , , ,

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