Why can’t bars have poet laureates and writers in residence?

The phrase “scattered, smothered, and covered” has a certain poetic ring, so it’s fitting that Waffle House has its own poet laureate. Georgia Tech poetry professor Karen Head is the first to lay claim to that title. – Atlanta

Followers of this blog know I like Waffle House food, especially their coffee. Yet “the elites” tend to turn up their noses up at Waffle House while supporting White Castle, Krystal, and Burger King. Yeah, those are the best places for health nuts.

At any rate, if Waffle House can have a poet laureate, why can’t Publix, Taco Bell, and Sears? Maybe Sears could save itself by embracing the arts. A poet, perhaps. A writer in residence. Soon, these poets and authors would become famous and people would flock to Sears for book signings, bedding, and a new dishwasher. You heard it here first.

Michael Shaara, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Killer Angels, taught my college creative writing class. He had a theory–one that we could never test in a university environment–that if people who were too introverted to write good stuff got drunk, they might write good stuff. Drink a shot, write a line, slam down another shot, slam down another line.

Let’s say the theory works and we learn that drinking really does lead to bestselling novels.

Look at this. Nothing happening. It’s deadsville. A writer would fill the place.

Authors could sit at the end of the bar with a laptop or legal pad and pencil and write. All they’d need from the bar would be a bottle of Scotch or a pitcher of the region’s best microbrew. Every 30 minutes or so, the author would write one of his/her latest lines on a bar napkin and sail it into the crowd. The bar would get more business and maybe a cut of the action from the next bestseller.

This is win-win for everybody. The bar sells more booze. The authors get drunk for free. And creativity goes off the scale. What could possibly go wrong? Today’s bestseller is brought to you by Alfred Knopf and Joe’s Biker Bar and Brothel.

If you own a bar and think the idea has promise, please contact me by private message on Facebook. To prove you’re sincere, send me a bottle of Talisker single malt Scotch.

Seriously, what better way to support the arts?


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Special Investigative Reporter.”



Scattered, Smothered, Covered, Chunked, Topped & Diced

If I kept a journal, I would categorize my daily sense of self as one of the Waffle House styles of serving hash browns.

The past week has been a Scattered, Smothered, Covered, Chunked, Topped & Diced kind of week. If you eat at Waffle House, you know this means the hash browns come with onions, cheese, ham, chili and diced tomatoes. Since my preference runs to simpler things, I would be overwhelmed by this concoction just as I have been overwhelmed by the emotions running through my head of late.

Midwest Book Review recommended my novel “Garden of Heaven,” calling it thought provoking and gave it five stars. I feel both happy and relieved after working on the novel off and on since 1993.

Like most everyone else, on this day I think of 9/11 and remember where I was when I first became aware of the unfolding tragedies in the Pennsylvania field, at the Pentagon and at the Twin Towers. Seeing those image today on the news brings back the memories in spades.

The stories I have on the drawing board influence my feelings, depending on how well the writing has been going and on what the characters are going through. “Sarabande,” my novel in progress is darker than “The Sun Singer,” and so it is that my moods have been darker of late. When the work on “Sarabande” is going really well, my upbeat feeling of getting something accomplished is offset by my downbeat feelings as I review each day’s work.

My mind has been pulled away from “Sarabande” by reading and reviewing the vampire spoof “Evenings on Dark Island”, Beth Sorensen’s “Crush at Thomas Hall” and River Jordan’s “The Miracle of Mercy Land.”

Late Monday evening, my wife and I got a call from the Rome, Georgia hospital informing us that her eighty-seven-year-old mother had died suddenly, most likely of a heart attack. Since her health has been reasonably good, the news was a shock. We’ve spent the last five days dealing with our feelings, working out arrangements, seeing family and friends, attending the memorial service and then, yesterday, burying the ashes–I describe this in my Sun Singer’s Travels blog post called Beneath Sheltering Oaks We Gave Her Back to the Earth.

Back home now, my wife has work-related deadlines and I have more book reviews to write; the normalcy of being back home counteracts, to some extent, the abnormality of the activities which follow the dead of a parent. For short moments, the grief is put on hold and one can breathe again without feeling Scattered, Smothered, Covered, Chunked, Topped & Diced


SOFcover2014In addition to his contemporary fantasy novels, Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the comedy/satire “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.” This novel features Jock Stewart, a hard-as-nails investigative reporter who dislikes authority–including his boss. Sea of Fire is a missing race horse and Jock is hot on his trail.