I was stunned to read "Effort grows to roll back nation's child labor rules" (April 30).
This is not acceptable. Children and teenagers should be free to focus on school and enjoying their childhoods. If they want or need a job for a few hours after school and/or on weekends, that's one thing. But dangerous occupations like construction should be completely off-limits to anyone under age 18, at minimum. If the advocates of these rollbacks get their way, we'll soon be back to the days of no child labor laws at all, and children will be getting maimed or killed on the job, with no consequences for their employers.
The corporate front groups that sponsor these laws talk about "parental choice." I highly doubt that any parent would want their child working so much that their education is jeopardized, or working a job that puts their health or life at risk.
If we're not careful, corporate America will soon make low-wage slaves of us all, from cradle to grave.
Linnea Sommer, St. Louis Park
I read "Why is Minnesota's suicide rate rising" in the April 30 installment of the Curious Minnesota feature, which I don't think was the appropriate place for the discussion. We all are very saddened when we learn that a loved one, friend or family member has ended their own life.
I noted that the article had no mention of military veterans and those serving currently in the military, who suffer approximately 22 to 24 deaths a day by suicide. I lost a young Marine nephew veteran three years ago; his wife had threatened to leave him, which resulted in his ending his life by weapon. A most difficult time in my life was telling his two brothers after I received the phone call from a family member.
In an effort to understand some of the causes of self-injury or -death, I attended an eight-hour seminar at Eagles Healing Nest in St. Cloud, where veterans and military currently serving are helped with mental and physical results of their service. I became friends with the person holding the seminar and when I had a challenging time with an issue, I called him. He came over on his motorcycle to my business and we talked for three hours.
Many suicides can be prevented, I believe, by reaching out to someone who will listen and not dismiss their issue. It may have started with a comment from a family member who did not understand the severity of an offhand comment or accusation.
The article mentioned suicide rates by race. But the answer to why suicides are increasing can only be to help those who reach out to us — our friends, family, loved one, a buddy in need.
Lee A. Waldon, Buffalo, Minn.
Don't forget Garland Wright
The retrospective on the Guthrie Theater ("Grand ole Guthrie," April 30) was a wonderful reminder of just one of the iconic jewels we Minnesotans are blessed with. Rohan Preston's "Through the Ages" timeline chronicled many highlights and mentioned seven of the eight artistic directors to serve at the helm of the theater. However, there was one glaring omission: Garland Wright.
Wright served from 1986 to 1995, and under his direction the Guthrie underwent a true renaissance. Not only did Wright spearhead the Campaign for Artistic Excellence (mentioned by Preston), but he also reinstated performing shows in repertory (one of Sir Tyrone Guthrie's founding tenants) and establishing a resident acting company (another Guthrie cornerstone). Preston also mentions JoAnne Akalaitis' production of "The Screens," which was produced during Wright's tenure. However, Wright undertook several other major theatrical events during his tenure: Jean Genet's epic "The Screens" and most notably his production of Shakespeare's history cycle — three plays performed in one day! An event that Joseph Haj will be replicating this coming season.
Garland may have taken one too many artistic chances during his run, but it was never boring to attend a production while he was in charge. To leave his name off of the list of artistic directors was egregious.
Michael James, Roseville
The writer, retired, is a former technical director for the Guthrie Theatre.
Star Tribune opinion editor's note: See also "Leading character missing from Guthrie salute" (Opinion Exchange, May 3), a counterpoint by former Star Tribune architecture critic Linda Mack discussing the influence of the Guthrie's original architect, Ralph Rapson.
'LET US NOW PRAISE POETRY'
And let us keep doing so
Peter Leschak's charming essay "Let us now praise poetry" (Opinion Exchange, April 30) opens a window on the elusive life of poetry, right here in our midst, and is one of the best introductions to the phenomenon that I have ever read. It should be shared widely in schools around the state. The essay reminded me of things my mentor at Brown University, the eminent poet and translator Edwin Honig, used to say. In a piece for a National Endowment for the Arts brochure, on teaching poetry in the schools, Honig wrote: "Poetry is a buzzing in the air. It's everywhere. Poets hear that sound, and try to catch it — write it down."
Henry Gould, Minneapolis
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for that brilliant piece by Peter Leschak! I would like to see more poetry taught and memorized in elementary school. Memorizing verse got squeezed out of curriculum by competing course work, and oh, how much our children miss!
The last few years of my 98-year-old mother's life, her memory and vision began to fail her. We lived miles apart and there were times it was a challenge to make conversation, but poetry saved the day. She began reciting verses from poetry she had committed to memory from childhood — long ones, like "The Builders," and "A Psalm of Life" by Longfellow and "Home" by Edgar Guest, the genre that was popular in her day. Mom could no longer read or remember what she had for breakfast that day, but those words, long forgotten, emerged to the forefront and were brought back to life. I had to look them up and offer some prompts for the occasional stumble, and what joy it brought to both of us to hear them said aloud. It retrieved many a happy memory from long ago and gave me yet more insight into a woman's past I hadn't known.
As Leschak so aptly states, poetry is not for the elite and intellectuals; it's for all of us! It's a shared experience about everyday life from our earliest days to our last. Even if it isn't part of school curriculum, I encourage all of us to read it to our children, take turns reciting verse, meet with friends and have poetry readings and enter a world of unspeakable joy through the spoken word.
Martha Wade, Bloomington
BOOKS EDITOR RETIRES
What we learned from Laurie Hertzel
Laurie Hertzel did what book editors do — introduced us to the ever-evolving world of volumes to be read for our pleasure and/or edification ("Goodbye, and keep reading," April 30). She went beyond that, though, to shine a light not only on books, but on readers, too. Books, she taught us, are personal. She taught us how to relate to them, how to think about their role in our lives. She made books seem as integral to our lives as breathing. I wish Laurie the best in retirement. I will miss her.
Miriam Karmel, Minneapolis