Former reporter hopes poetry sticks with readers
Some books, Bob Moorhead muses, you just open up, read "and that's it."
The long-time Tarentum resident and respected veteran newsman hopes readers will find his latest collection of spiritual poetry, "And This is What He Said," something that lasts longer than that.
"If you read it, I hope you will have a door opened (spiritually)," he says. "I hope it opens the door to something a little deeper, a little more meaningful than just picking up one of today's ordinary novels."
The spiritual journey has been a long one for Moorhead, who turned 90 last week.
"With me, it's (spirituality) kind of an every day thing, aligned almost with the universe, a key part of my life," he says. "You can't separate it from the other parts of your life. You can't separate the outdoors from the indoors."
He is a member of Grace Methodist Church, Natrona Heights, and a former adult Sunday school teacher there.
In "And This is What He Said," he decided to experiment with a style he calls "narrative Biblical poetry."
"What I've tried to do is imagine I was among the men and women who accompanied Jesus as he walked from village to village, urging people to love one another and to share their bounty with others less fortunate," he explains. "The quotes in the book are from the four Gospels. They are not changed at all."
Moorhead has been attracted to the poetic form for many years. He does not believe he could have presented this book as effectively in regular prose. "The Bible itself is some of the most beautiful poetry in the world. Read the psalms. They are beautiful poetry. A lot of stories, especially from the New Testament, are pure poetry."
Tom Costello of Word Association Publishers, Tarentum, suggests the author's imaginative settings "make the reader hear those words as if we're hearing them for the first time." "In doing so, he becomes our mentor, our new eyes and ears," he adds.
In 1999, Word Association published Moorhead's "In the Beginning."
"Right now there is a great interest in religion," says Moorhead. "Books on religion are some of the fastest selling, most popular books on the market today. Even before 'The Da Vinci Code' there was a great interest."
He thinks he knows why.
"Basically, it's a swing back of the pendulum. We went so far to the one side, where we were saying 'There is no God' or 'God is dead.' Now it is coming back to where they are searching for something to believe in," Moorhead says.
The author took the photo of the sky for the book cover from Ridge Road in Fawn. His son, Bob Moorhead Jr., an artist and head of the fine arts department at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, designed the covers for both of his books.
Moorhead Sr. also maintains his enthusiasm for history, and is doing some writing for Tarentum History and Landmarks. "I have a lot of local history I am organizing, and doing some limited travel," he says. He and his wife, the former Louise Szenas of Leechburg, who died in 2004, traveled extensively. The couple had been married 61 years. Their daughter, Nancy Louise Wolfe, lives in Tarentum.
Moorhead graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1938 as an English major. He had a 40-year (1940-1980) career in journalism as a reporter, sports editor, feature writer and editor,
That included writing and reporting for the Associated Press out of Harrisburg and Pittsburgh; the Leader-Times, Kittanning; Butler County News Record; and 23 years at the Valley Daily News/Valley News Dispatch, Tarentum.
"I enjoyed meeting people and writing, expressing myself. It was a wonderful career," he says.
Details'And This is What He Said' ($10) can be ordered through Word Association Publishers, 205 5th Ave., Tarentum; www.wordassociation.com ; phone 1-800-827-7903, or 724-226-4526.