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offline 114 friends
joined on 09/15/04
last updated 03/17/11
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Who, What, Where

about me
First a road manager and back-up singer for the rock group, Cottonmouth in the mid-70's, Justice Putnam then re-emerged with the Laguna Beach Free Poets briefly, part of the Los Angeles Art/ Performance/ Poetry/ Dance/ Punk movement during the early 80's. He then performed solo shows, also as a member of Meta-4 and later with the likes of Jimmy McAlister of Rabbit Choir and Chris Watkins of Hoi Poloi at such venues as Gorky's in Los Angeles, Beyond Baroque in Santa Monica, Cafe du Nord and Bisquits and Blues in San Francisco, Freight and Salvage and The Bison Brewing Company in Berkeley, The Sweetwater in Mill Valley; and also at music festivals in California, Oregon, France, Belgium and Germany. His poetry and prose has been published in Elektrum Magazine, Vol. No. Magazine, American Poetry Anthology, Literatus World Review, Berkeley Daily Planet and other academic, small press, print and online journals.

A scholar-athlete in his youth, Justice Putnam worked as an emergency room and ICU orderly, a Roustabout and a Production Operator at an oil refinery. He taught History and English in private schools briefly, while coaching football and track. He has been a professional chef and restaurant owner, an actor, a theatre light designer, a surfer, deep-sea fisherman and a Grinder on a racing yacht. He was the co-host with the chanson francaise impresario, Simon Dray, on his "Fm/French Connection Bistro Radio" broadcast from KUSF 90.3 in San Francisco for a number of years. Currently Justice is on hiatus from discussing the events of the day with Nykk Fell of Galaxxy Chamber ( ) and Richard Rants ( ) on Richard's live call-in television show. Some old shows can be seen at Richard's website:

He has also traveled around the world with a keen interest in music, art, photography, literature and culinary culture; living for short times in France, Italy, Japan and Mexico. Black Kos Poetry Editor
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My Friends

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From The Love of Friends

June 12, 2005
we haaaaaave a winner!

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June 8, 2005
Justice is absolutely a wonderful person, who I highly recommend every woman in this site considers for, at a minimum, friendship and affection, and at a maximum..whatever pleasures you fancy. Justice is a wonderful poet and musician, a connoisseur of fine wine, organic coffee, high cuisine, and you should see him in his chef apparel. Quite handsome, very talented, and quite the catch!
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I Recommend and I Pan

"The Compass Grill at the Sheraton on Fisherman's Wharf"
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Visual Metaphors

Farm Road and Running Fence, Olema California / copyright Justice Putnam
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A Little Musical Interlude

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Poetry, Prose & Commentary

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile Contributing Poetry Editor

I had a fairly heated discussion with a couple of Bible Belt tourists to San Francisco recently. I work at a small bed and breakfast on Nob Hill and we get visitors from around the world. I usually avoid political or religious discussions among the guests as they mingle in our lobby during afternoon tea and sherry; but I'll offer my opinion, historical and literary expertise when asked. The Bible Belt tourists complai... read more
Wed, April 14, 2010 - 1:21 AM permalink - 0 comments
by Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile Poetry Contributor

The witness of poetry is a powerful force. It not only can describe events, it also can give voice back to those people and things that have been rendered voiceless. Martin Luther King not only fought for civil rights in the U.S., he also fought against war and oppression around the world. He advocated for human rights to the lowest peasant in the most oppressed regions. He encouraged his followers to extend the fight ... read more
Wed, April 7, 2010 - 1:14 AM permalink - 0 comments
30 March 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Tuesday's Chile Contributing Poetry Editor

A picture may indeed, be worth a thousand words; but if done with precision, a poem wouldn't nearly require that much verbiage for an image to occur. This week's poet, Tracy K. Smith, sets the camera focused on a crowded yet expansive vista. She adjusts the timer on the camera, moves and stands before it. She is determined as she raises her hands high and wide above her head, a moment before the tim... read more
Wed, March 31, 2010 - 1:37 AM permalink - 0 comments

"Overall, there's not a lot of evidence that, at least in the long term, kids get their prejudice from their parents," said Charles Stangor, who runs the Laboratory for the Study of Social Stereotyping and Prejudice at the University of Maryland. "I would call it more of a community effect than a parental effect. The community fosters tolerance or prejudice."

-- SPLC Intelligence Report
Sonia Scherr

"She has that razor sadness
That only gets worse
With the clang and thunder ... read more
Thu, March 25, 2010 - 12:06 PM permalink - 0 comments
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Nothing In Our Lives Is As Important

Bruce Mitchell: Anglo-Saxon scholar who wrote the definitive work on Old English syntax

by Malcolm Godden for
The Independent UK

Wednesday 31 March 2010

The eminent Anglo-Saxonist Bruce Mitchell delighted in appearing to be a slightly old-fashioned scholar resistant to new developments, and defended his position rigorously and without apology, though always with humour. When he completed his monumental Old English Syntax in 1982, towards the end of his long career as a scholar of Anglo-Saxon, he introduced it with the words, "I have to state categorically my opinion that ... the techniques of the various forms of linguistics fashionable today have little to offer students of Old English syntax."

That stance went along with a kind of genial combativeness, though it has to be admitted that not all spotted its good humour (or "breezy colonial manner" as an early supporter put it). He warned potential reviewers of his work that he was preparing a critical bibliography of work on Old English syntax (and he really meant the "critical") and a review of their reviews.

Both duly emerged, like everything else that Mitchell promised to deliver. He was a phenomenally organised scholar. His Australianness was perhaps part of that self-conscious atavism: despite spending his life from the age of 32 in Oxford, his accent remained as strong as ever, along with the treasured eucalyptus tree in his garden and the Australian flag he displayed outside his house.

Yet Mitchell could not stay out of the mainstream of scholarship. His magisterial book on syntax quickly became the essential reference work (as well as being a remarkably enjoyable read) and baffled his publishers with the need for reprints soon after publication. His chatty and informal Guide to Old English went through frequent new editions until eventually, enriched by collaboration with Fred Robinson at Yale, it conquered the centre ground and became a standard textbook – only to be outflanked in its user-friendliness by Mitchell's own new introduction, An Invitation to Old English.

Bruce Mitchell was the son of a Baptist (later Presbyterian) minister in New South Wales. The family was poor and he struggled to get a good education, having to help support the family from the age of 16. He completed his BA in Arts at Melbourne University in 1940, studying part-time and commuting long distances, then joined the Australian army for the duration of the war as an officer in the armoured division, never quite seeing overseas service.

After a year in a printing business he returned to the university to take an MA, again part-time while he supported himself by teaching. There he discovered Old English, and set off to Oxford in 1952 with a two-year scholarship, starting a doctoral thesis on the syntax of Old English poetry. College lecturerships at Merton and St Edmund Hall led to a permanent University lectureship in 1955, which he held until he retired in 1987.

He soon settled into a steady regime with his wife Mollie in North Oxford: rising at 4.44 in a continuation of a boyhood habit of study, completing preparation for teaching and devoting the rest of his time to producing the first comprehensive account of Old English syntax. Progress was charted for his colleagues by occasional enquiries about texts or issues on which they were supposed to be expert, the answers always receiving a prompt acknowledgement from Mitchell together with the concisely formulated sentence which had resulted from our answers.

The book was a phenomenal work of scholarship and organisation, nearly 2,000 pages of elegantly structured argument, analysis and illustration, drawing on the whole range of Old English prose and verse and refusing to be defeated by rare and obscure constructions. In the course of the nearly 30 years he worked on the book Mitchell resisted any number of changing notions about how to analyse syntax and persisted in the methodology of what seemed a past age, based, as he acknowledged, on the "old-fashioned formal Latin-based grammar". It was, even so, still valid and welcomed. His determination to analyse and articulate the way Anglo-Saxon writers actually wrote, and the implicit rules they followed, made it more useful than any number of theories of underlying syntactical order.

Mitchell grew up in a world where philologists could still pride themselves on a lack of interest in literature, in the fashion celebrated by Robert Graves' account of his undergraduate life in Goodbye to All That: "The Anglo-Saxon lecturer was candid about his subject; it was, he said, a language of purely linguistic interest, and hardly a line of Anglo-Saxon poetry extant possessed the slightest literary merit."

This was not for Mitchell, who was always ready to put his unique knowledge of syntax to the service of Old English poetry, producing a stream of articles about the way to read particular lines of verse. A particular hobby-horse was punctuation: he was convinced that modern punctuation could only distort the way that Anglo-Saxon verse worked, and produced with Susan Irvine an edition of Beowulf using a new form of punctuation devised by himself.

His more conventional edition of Beowulf in collaboration with Fred Robinson was successful, disguising its considerable learning with a light touch and frank acknowledgement that editors had opinions. He was a committed teacher and prided himself on being always fully prepared – something he did not always find in his pupils, as he remarked. He was nevertheless greatly liked by his students at St Edmund Hall, where he taught for several decades, and was due at a 90th birthday celebration at the college just before he died. But he rejected the persistent story that the Monty Python sketch on Australians called Bruce was due to him, despite the fact that Terry Jones was one of his students.

He had few disciples in his chosen field in the English-speaking world and left no real successor, but his work, support and personality were hugely appreciated by foreign scholars, especially in Japan and Finland, where there remains a stronger tradition of exacting work on early English language – and upon whose scholarship he specially remarked in his Critical Bibliography.

Mitchell had a rich personal life. He claimed to have got his first job at St Edmund Hall partly through his devotion to rowing in the college boat, he played a powerful game of tennis until late in life and he kept up his beagling as long as he could. He was devoted to his wife Mollie, who accompanied him from Australia and married him soon after, their having got the necessary permission from Bruce's acting supervisor J.R.R. Tolkien, and they entertained visitors over many decades, keeping a collection of different flags to greet those from far-flung parts. Mollie restrained as far as she could his fondness for mixing acerbic humour with his scholarly work and typed and retyped the drafts of Old English Syntax. The religious commitment of his family background (his mother was the daughter of Salvation Army officers) was shared by Mitchell but lightly worn; it is perhaps significant, though, that the final words of Old English Syntax are "a belief in a sustaining God".

Raymond Bruce Mitchell, Anglo-Saxon scholar: born Lismore, New South Wales, Australia 8 January 1920; married; died Oxford 30 January 2010.

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