The Wise West Wing

The West Wing

As I continue to plot old episodes of The West Wing against current political events, UK and International [well, Trumpworld], I thought on the day the Labour Party here introduces its general election manifesto with a commitment to spending, if elected, in order to ultimately improve the economy, and is immediately pilloried by the national press for its ‘predictable’ profligacy, I watch tonight’s episode from series 3, Enemies Foreign and Domestic, with this gem of an apt observation:

I just wanted to give you a heads up – the journal’s going to run an editorial
with regard to broken promises in fiscal spending.

[Charlie picks up some papers and returns to the Oval Office]

Oh man, the greatest campaign speech ever about money – FDR promises to
tighten our belts. What’s he do when he gets here – spends more than we knew could be spent. And it’s ’cause he discovered it’s better for long-term growth. [sits down to read]

‘Scavenger Loop’ by David Baker: a review as essay

baker3 - Copy

Part One

Opening poem, ‘Swift’, is observational, recounting the appearance of swifts to signal not just arrival above the village but also their phenomenal flight which can be like flailing before the swift, its flying described so, pulls out of its dive with precision and the watchers’ surprise.

Baker, his partner and a small gathering stare and voice their awed approval. It is an animal/human dichotomy – the former observed and praised by the latter, yet also sharing common ground in this moment, merging in the witnessing of recognition and being able to do so, these swifts

blown wild around us, and we are their witness

It is like the observer and writer who merge too in the moment, in the poem itself.

The next poem, ‘On Arrogance’, explores similarly, but with reversing roles, the natural and human worlds, Baker having brought home an outdoor plant to please my girl, though the ferns soon die having been inhabited by a robin’s nest but also because of too little water as well as too much sunlight and being placed in the wrong pot – nature and human interference merging to the same negative effect.

Kate hadn’t been interested either way, even when the baby robins were born, though these soon enough grew and flew away. It is later that his cat returns home yowling to come back in at the screen door with a mouthful/of bird, and we assume it is a robin and nature has asserted itself with a different kind of awe – here matter-of-fact rather than praised by the writer who is in fact confused by the conclusion of events,

…and all I could think
was Jesus, David, now
what have you done?

In the third poem, ‘Simile’, of this wonderful whole collection, more mergings occur to establish recurring themes and patterns of writing. A moth on the fringe tree is fussing over its bloom, gorging itself full, as Baker puts it satiate, as in sex. Then still, as the good sleep after, insect and human life joined in this first metaphor. The moth and others have their fragile wings dissipated to some dust in their activity – the tree’s petals torn too – and Baker compares this to the fragile grasp of his writing,

Weeks now my words on paper have burned.
Burned and flown, like a soul on fire, with
nothing to show but ash, and the ash flies too.

In the second part of the poem, the focus turns to human activity: terrorism. A brisk reference to a suicide bomber and her killings is linked first to a quote from Whitman

Do you think I could walk pleasantly and
well-suited toward annihilation?

and then back to the moth, a tumbler – presumably for drinking alcohol – and a chain of events, this linking, that concludes with the writer’s attempt to capture and define it all,

A tumbler turns and clicks. The world once more
fills with fire, and the body, like ash, is ash.

Such links, comparisons and contrasts will inform many more poems, both thematically, as I have said, and stylistically. In ‘Fall Back’, that style representation is in the oscillating lines,

A golden rainfall
there is no rain

[* NB above, and elsewhere, WordPress does not preserve the formatting of text as in the book and as I would like to present: a technical hitch]

this pattern repeated for the whole poem though not the direct contradiction. The poem does end, however, with a suggestion of not having captured and defined a moment, the ash, perhaps, of the poet’s constant attempt to make sense of contradictions and differences, not always succeeding.

A major poem in this section is ‘Five Odes on Absence’, poems written with reference to John Clare, as Baker informs us in the ‘Notes’ at the book’s end, but also in the hand-out and fuller explanation when I had the great pleasure to see him read at Exeter University in November, 2016, and reviewed elsewhere on this blog. The extracts from Clare that Baker puts in the poem are written in the code JC used in his letters to Mary Collingwood and composed at Northampton General Lunatic Asylum where he was a resident.

In many ways, Clare’s coded language of missing vowels is used by Baker as a wile for playing with the elusiveness – but also illusion – of meaning. He does so with contemporary references, for example in the first section, with Vogue magazine and its tweets on fashion, or the meaninglessness of fashion assertions, as well as taking a pot-shot at poetic fashion, as ridiculed here,

Because I could not stop for Death – make that
Be a cold sop. I stood at –, You get the

although the irony of this is how Baker is supremely playful with poetic language and reference as we will see in particular with the book’s main poem ‘Scavenger Loop’.

In the third section of this poem, Baker quotes heavily from Clare’s letters to illustrate the poet’s striving for clarity [the deeper irony from within the coded language] and including this well-known line, now increased in its pathos,

I am the self-consumer of my woes

In the fourth section, the collision between fashion, meaning and intention is further explored,

It’s not enough to tell the truth; you have
to tell it in believable fashion

and this is linked to Twitter, with an intentionally characterless, literal definition of its format,

140 characters or less

which obviously relates to the truncated coding from Clare’s letter.

This is a more detailed and interconnected poem across its five parts then outlined here, but as with the snapshots provided from this book’s opening section, these are sketches of the fuller range and depths there are to read.

Part Two

The front inner fold of the book’s dust jacket has a neatly summative blurb, and a line I like from this is Baker reveals how everything bears the potential to be both invasive and life giving. The first poem in this section, ‘Flood’, doesn’t attribute this duality to a single natural thing, but does connect a wren’s Immensity of song with the flooding of the night not rain but sheets, good and bad, and ends with the negative and positive,

…you want to keep a lot of water
out bright song let
a little in – [*]

A delightful poem where glorious good comes from an archetypal bad situation is ‘Outside’ about Stevie who lives in a silo. This basic accommodation – to say the least – has, however, been transformed by the inventive and eccentric Stevie, fondly documented by Baker. Stevie’s dream is to be free and creative – and he clearly is. In a line that reminds of Frost and his poem ‘Wall’, Baker writes

Say why do walls want windows?

and continues

He’s put glass
around the trees instead, head-high to look
at trees from outside out

The poem ends on this upbeat [excuse the pun] invitation,

….come see Stevie’s crib.
That’s his ten-foot pink polyvinyl penis
teeter-totter beside the birdcage
for tomatoes. Take a ride, he says. All eyes

Part Three

‘Scavenger Loop’ is the whole work in this section. The first instalment is a poem about the scavenger from a county away who is at Baker’s house, one guesses,

to score – his term – whatever he can
the day before
our village “free-for-haul”
is officially underway. [*]

and the account embodies completely the theme of finding good from bad, useful from discarded.

These poem pieces, as I’ll call them, continue throughout to reference a panoply of sources – contemporary, factual, farcical, historical, scientific and imaginative – to illuminate this theme of decay and renewal. This whole poem, but also many others in this book, remind me of the great British poet Peter Reading who also revelled in accessing and utilising the widest referential points in his poetry. Reading explored and employed the most arcane language then linked it to slang/vernacular, manipulating the collide of old and new, conflicting cultural norms, and an often acerbic humour to document our modern world in his writing. Baker is doing similar in ‘Scavenger Loop’ and, like Reading who was concerned with environmental degradation at human hands, he uses references to ecological concerns as well as factual/informed references to co-exist with and flourish in the poetic framing.

The third piece does this by reference to Facebook and a friended friend posting a message Repeal Monsanto/Protection Act and then how its shared status and number of likes give it another kind of status in the new and other world of social media. This is immediately followed by a bifurcated pairing of lines that continue this documentation – presumably culled from factual references – on nature’s cycle of decay and renewal, ending in the lines

The wood returns to                           the soil as humus

And it progresses. Another piece refers to USDA projected 2013 US corn production then returns to Facebook likes and the modern, abbreviated exclamation OMG, and next the stark she’s dying. The world turns. Again. The interweaving is brave and bravura, I think, and always lively and experimental.

A further piece reminds clearly of Reading, referencing and translating these three words: skawage, escauwage, sceawian, and this is immediately followed by a more ‘formal’ poem, lyrical in its setting, but its subject matter the horrible consequences of a home-stove explosion.

‘Scavenger Loop’ is a stunning whole poem which marches on relentlessly in its creative toing and froing, using mentions as diverse as mathematical calculations to Baker’s signature oscillating lines of light and dark [not as yin yang as this, but overall in exploring].

Part Four

This section opens with the poem ‘Our Ivy’, another about merging and interdependence with the differing views of neighbours on their shared ivy, one of the two dying in his gene swirl (from melas + oma),

as a living leather, who spreads ravenous
until it’s covered the host tree’s whole trunk
and thickens there, blossoms there, pre-
or symbiotic partner, depending… [*]

and there is another Frostian line in the summation of these two and their partnership,

One holds up that pulls the other down

Poems here explore relationships and other gives and takes, and I will close on the book’s final poem, ‘Metastasis’, simply to revel in the craft of this, Baker, as ever, a truly lyrical writer, and here the rhythm of waves ebbing and flowing and breaking are exemplified with such poetic empathy.

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‘Dear Mary’ by Rupert M Loydell: a review as letter


Dear Mary,

I am writing about Rupert Loydell’s love letter to you and want to share my views on this. I have questions to ask and observations to make. I trust this is OK – doing it like this?

Needless to say, his writing always demands attention. The words are suffused with thoughtfulness, and this is expressed with the most palpable honesty.

Please take these notes for what they are – plotting a journey through the book with immediate reactions and recurring celebrations. Even when my own doubts are unmoved by the moving declarations of his possible faith. I think this is one of the book’s great achievements: to not alienate when so much else in this world on religious revelation is a meaningless diatribe.

I’ll begin with a question:

If the shipping forecast is a presaging of discovering God and/or faith, is that discovery as surreal and/or complex as this? As inherently irreverent and comical? Those of us who read on shall see, if we listen further to the announcements, this radio’s shifting annunciations.

The poet, reader of poetry and painter will try to discover by capturing what is seen and read, but will this be faithful, a realist’s representation or the hot sunshine light of Tuscany blurring out the colours with its glare? When the poet scares a reptile in the swimming pool with the splash of his dive, we hope it isn’t the Lizard King who will seek revenge.

As the poet asserts itself over the painter, there is a clash of expectation, and it is the writer who needs-must put this into words,

Now I’m reduced

to black and white:
shadows on the page,
cold lines of type,
pale marks and
faint grey stains.

Lost in colour,
I don’t have
the words
although words
are all I have.

[‘Lost in Colour’]

Annunciations repeat themselves, varyingly. It haunts as much as it conveys – all the empty rooms waiting to be filled.

If colour has its own meaning, I must read on to experience this. Yes?

If Italy/is a love letter to God these poems about Italy have fallen deeply.

Finding angels in a museum is connecting to the meaning of life, and in this respect I can acknowledge the act of faith, even if I do not personally believe.

When the paintings spoke to him, their clamour said more than he needed to write or paint himself. Then. But now he has, it makes sense how their

….Frozen movement
implies captured noise….

[‘In the Dark, Listening Carefully’]

I like the sound of that, and much else that I read, discovering then and again later.

At times, like ‘Tonight’, the observations are soothing. They are not searching, but simply seeing and that announces its own kind of calm and acceptance of what is, without the need to explain further.

When the churches close for repair and their frescoes are inaccessible, is this the diminution caused by a secular world, or the last vestige of preserving a secret?

Grey is grey is grey is grey is gray.

While it rarely rains in Tuscany, when it does it is the wettest rain ever, a fluid/flowing/seeping single line about this as the perfect way to teach the rhythm of a complex sentence. Then there’s that last declarative. [‘Rain in Tuscany’]

I think, Mary, there is a poem about your pregnancy which makes great claims for its ultimate altruism. It is a glorious idea, and I wish I could believe it.

I understand the wonder and awe and beautiful simplicity of the recognition and transference. For me, the paintings resonate with the belief in their colours. There are all kinds of inspiration.

I like the idea in ‘Taken Up’ where the profound is presented in the metaphor of the ordinary. A ruse, yes, but it works to make all of this writing work at many levels,

Her heaven may be imaginative
rather than something literal,

her annunciation not historical
but cultural, a folded paper note
passed along the back row of class
under the eyes of Joseph and God.

[‘Taken Up’]

I didn’t know angels could be found on Tinder.

‘Shadow Triptych’ is a major piece – at times meditative; at times raging in its painterly imaging,

Step into the shower through smeared
stripes of curtain, and shout at yourself
being crucified.

At times it is philosophical,

In the corner a man on a red sofa scratches
at the air, revealing the links between
power, metaphysics, theological realism and
visual pleasure. We can see right through
elaborate ideology to the painter’s mark.

At times the horror is painted as a presaging you’ll not hear in the weather forecast,

Tread the bed with bare hands, avoiding
the corpse spread out across your duvet.
The slatted blind is crimson in the centre
of the window. If human blood can be
contaminated, what is to prevent the global
economy from contracting a deadly virus?

[‘Shadow Triptych’]

Mary! He was once abducted [is that what it means to be ‘taken up’?].

Earlier, I did my best Gertrude Stein impression. Did you get that? Well, forget it. I didn’t know there were actually so many different types of grey. Excusing the paradox, it is a colour of many variable depths. Some are comic; some strike to the core of our own grey thoughts.

That ‘Silent Annunciation’. It reminds me of his White Album poem. I think that is what it was called.

Dear Mary, ‘Dear Mary’ is like many songs sung while smiling.

I think it is possible to get carried away with a metaphor. I do it all the time, a spinning top spun on a marble surface forever. But this is taking the piss,

….absence makes

the heart grow fondue…

yet it did make me laugh.

[‘Her Room’]

‘Surveillance System Annunciation’ does go some way to contemporising belief and understanding, and it would be ironic, therefore, to call something so technically visual as ‘blind faith’. Is this what ‘taken up’ means? And no, I’m not implying ‘taken in’. I am too respectful of the honesty to be cynical; too endeared by the beauty of expression. Not believing does not mean not getting it.

‘My Paper Aunt’ sounds flimsy, but this is a substantial relative ruse: the poetry of this superb – sustained quatrains of insight and meditative thinking aloud, language balanced throughout, occasional playful rhyme, and always the ruse ruminating.

I think there is a sermon made of poetry which is probably the best kind, especially his as I don’t think it is moralising, or even trying to persuade others, rather just himself – or not, this is up for negotiation it seems – and wearing the blue dress after dancing all night is the sweet normalcy of it all, but I still cannot accept the resignation of,

her only answer is through obedience

and I can’t ask you directly, Mary, as that would be a cheat too big even for paradox.

[‘Sudden Impact’]

I don’t think one would find this in Collins or the Oxford Concise,

Colours have psychological and moral overtones,
are vessels of a transcendental essence,
a synchronicity between the sonic and visual

[‘Remarks on Colour’]

But we should.

A list poem Mary! I love these. So much packed into repetition, pattern, building blocks, relentless focus.

The final poem, ‘Evidence’, asks the obvious questions about finding/having faith in a secular and technological world. Renaissance art had no such qualms about representing what it believed in, and perhaps one does need to travel to another world – not just the physical otherness of Italy – in order to distance oneself from doubt and look closely at the confident colours of others’ believing. So we have travelled too through these words and honesties. And if the attempt ‘to write about faith today’ is swept up and flown with its angel wings of this writing, I am happy to admire the flight.

You know, Mary, one comes to the end of this collection and there is very little sense of darkness. Grey, yes! But not the black of despair. That in itself is uplifting.

Yours, as ever,


For further details and where to order, visit here.

Nebraska 22 – ‘Holy Smoke’ by Clark Coolidge

Mother, mother, burning bright, in the sink piece to my right.
I talk to no-one, I’ll live longer. Who wants to. How about
instead of wishes favors grant me. The magic hand always out
in the door. Farms on the mind, a song I heard once on an itchy
Nebraska station rationing away as I drove west. The bird laid
three crystals and dissolved in my face. I looked up, only sky,
plain as a nose. The effort proved not even enough to rest the
one tire I needed from the field of junk. The other birds had all
thithered away. They, I suppose, got the call. I couldn’t hurry
enough to receive, I could only wait. A blur of neon on my hand,
green, the palm, the back gold. You wouldn’t believe me if I
told you so I’ll tell you, the first lie that comes along.
The god goes out like the sun might in time.

from Sound as Thought: Poems 1982-1984 (Sun & Moon, Los Angeles, 1990)

Thanks to RL for the poem


Recently removed from this blog and rewritten, I post the revised version of Wall on the day White House press secretary Sean Spicer had these incoherent words to say about Trump’s promised border wall after showing slides of fences to journalists:

“That is called a bollard wall. That is called a levee wall. There are various types of wall that can be built, under the legislation that was just passed.”

“What I’m telling anybody is that the president said he was going to build the wall and he’s doing it, and he’s using the best technology.”

wall 2


Lemn Sissay – ‘The Report’ and ‘Gold from the Stone’: an appreciation


Though wanting so much to attend, I was unable to go and see Lemn Sissay’s The Report at the Royal Court theatre in London. This was a ‘live’ show in which a genuine psychologist’s report about the abuse he suffered as a child and teenager over eighteen years in the care system was read aloud to an audience. More importantly, this included Lemn Sissay himself on stage. This would be the first time, quite remarkably, he as well as all those others would hear this information. The report had been ‘lost’ for years but recently discovered [that, presumably, a whole other story]. Sissy organised for its findings to be revealed on the night of the show, the role of the psychologist reading the contents played by actress Julie Hesmonhalgh. To refer to ‘played’ and ‘actress’ in this context is, obviously and poignantly, to engage in the most profound paradox.

I was therefore thankful to read such a fine review of this event by Sissay’s friend Simon Hattenstone in yesterday’s The Guardian, and it is much more a personal, empathetic response to the occasion than the more conventional, critical observation of a theatre review. I would urge anyone interested to read for themselves [I bought the paper precisely for this, but it can be read online here]. There is an opening, touching summary of Lemn’s Sissay’s early life and move into care, as well as an affectionate appreciation of how this has impacted on his friend’s life as an adult to this day.

Hattenstone refers caringly to his friendship with Sissy and states he is one of the funniest and warmest people I know, extraordinarily animated with a life-affirming laugh. I know Lemn a little, and to know Lemn even a little is to know a lot because he is a genuinely huge character. Much of this comes from the sheer human energy of the man, but it is focused most impressively through his creative energy: he doesn’t just talk – he impassions, constantly, and observes so often through the poetic prism of poetry, and I don’t mean in his writing, though clearly it is here, powerfully, and in his performance of this. Ask Lemn about words, or just a single word, and you’ll hear what I mean. Ask him about anything and you’ll hear!

Hattenstone is also most honest in referring to the damaged side of Sissay’s life, and again I would urge reading what he has to say in his article for that empathetic insight. I have only ever been on the positive and uplifting receiving end of Lemn’s energy, enthusiasm and generosity of creativity and attention.

I first met Lemn 27 years ago when he visited and worked in my school, running a writing workshop and performing/reading his poetry. That time is a little vague [the intervening years sandpapered away by a different culture to those heady days of being largely creative]. I am reasonably sure, however, that he attended on one of the first Comic Relief Days, and his evening reading for students and parents ended up as a riotous stand-up routine, loved by all there, much to do with his experiences of being a black guy in Devon, yet also a mix of anecdotes and amazing performances of his poetry, written then in particular to be performed – most recited rather than read. It was stunning, and it was inspiring. How sad but also triumphant it is to read now about how much he would also have been suffering as a person then.

I have had the pleasure of working with Lemn a few times since those earliest encounters: he generously gave two poems for me to include in my GCSE teaching text on examination poetry [I don’t believe he got paid much at all for one, if at all; the other was definitely a freebie]. The poem that appeared in the main text was the powerful The Waitress and the Knights of the Round Table, a poem about racism, included in his collection Morning Breaks in the Elevator [1999]. The issues it raises are as pertinent today as then [and before and beyond, sadly] and if you ever get the chance to hear Lemn read this aloud, you must. The poem carries dramatically on a personal reading – and it is poetically so delicate and vivid as it sets its scene – but a performance from Lemn delivers with such an evocation of their madness the lines that truly stab you through your anti-racist sensibilities, and indeed any caring about abuse to another one you could and should always have. Hearing about Lemn’s own abuse in the care homes and how it has affected him throughout his life has added a further level to my understanding of how that poem resonates, over and above the racism he encountered in his life.

The second poem, also from …Elevator is Sandwich Love and this was printed in my Teacher’s Guide where ideas for creative writing were offered, this delightfully playful poem from Lemn demonstrating the richest possibilities of using simile and similar.


I’m obviously proud to mention these poetry gifts from Lemn, and to quickly add I had the pleasure more recently of working with him where my co-author and I filmed Lemn for a major online digital resource [for Cambridge University Press] to illuminate and expand on ideas presented in our GCSE book about Writing in the new examinations [being assessed for the first time next month]. Another reason is that the two poems mentioned above are also published in Lemn’s recent collection Gold from the Stone.


This is a career-spanning collection of Lemn’s poetry and is a major work from one of the UK’s leading writers and performers. And let’s just pause a moment on that assertion: among the many formal and informal accolades awarded to Lemn over the years – and he will no doubt value most those from friends and those he has supported who have been and are still in care – he was the official poet of the 2012 Olympics [his poem for this in the collection], was awarded and MBE in 2010, and is the Chancellor of the University of Manchester, this latter a role he takes on with passion and active energy. And this really does just scratch the surface.

I can imagine those who might denigrate such awards like the MBE [and I am generally no great fan], but for me, and in Lemn’s particular case, this one and other recognitions respond to the complete honesty of their earning. From a ‘jobbing’ poet with a first book published in 1988, Lemn has undertaken the hard, intermittent and itinerant journey of the aspiring writer, often unrecognised by a larger public but never ever unappreciated by those lucky enough to experience his readings and workshops. He now travels the world to deliver these same enthusiastic readings and workshops to that wider and very often adoring contemporary public. Lemn’s commitment to this – especially the constant travel that isn’t as romantic, no doubt, as it might seem – fully earn these public recognitions. My main point, and something I have wanted to say since first reading Gold from the Stone, is that Lemn has popularised poetry: made it accessible and enjoyable and inspiring for many. There are poems in the collection that are clearly written for performance, and equally for entertainment. His ‘wordplay’ poems are great examples of this, but they can and do also work for their convictions, like Airmail to a Dictionary from Rebel Without Applause [1992] but which I first read, and how I first came to know of his work, when it appeared in the wonderful Stride collection of poems for young people The Bees Knees [1990]. This is when Lemn, and other poets from this collection, came to work in Devon schools, Lemn to also work at mine solo.



I was lucky to grow up at the time of The Mersey Sound where poets like Mitchell, Patten and McGough were making poetry fun and meaningful and inspiring. There hasn’t been this kind of popular-culture aspect to poetry for some long time since. Rap and rap-poets, poetry slams and other performance elements to more recent poetry [and its spread on YouTube and social media] have raised the profile. Indeed, in last Sunday’s Observer Magazine the lead article was all about Kate Tempest and how she has brought poetry back to the ‘masses’ [well, sort of…]. Whilst I’m sure she has played her part in this, and I am mindful that Tempest has written a promotional blurb for Sissay’s latest collected works, I would have to say it is Lemn who has consistently brought poetry to the widest possible audience and to provide a significant range in doing so. If you want to read one of Lemn’s ‘popular’ poems packed with craft and meaningfulness try his one for the 2012 Olympics, The Spark Catchers.

I could go on, and had in fact some months ago been thinking of saying similar and more in a fuller review of Gold from the Sun, but yesterday’s Guardian article on The Report has expanded away from that intended poetry focus. And I am glad.

It also allows me to close on a final ‘I know Lemn, even if a little’ anecdote, and I will frame and justify it with a quote from yesterday’s newspaper article. There is a quote from the Report in that article which I will edit for my purposes, and it reads He meets some of his needs for acceptance and love through the superficial and impassioned relationships he forms through being famous and I now appropriate this affecting observation for a more playful purpose – one I’d like to think Lemn would smile about – and that is how I once made him a cheese sauce when, invited for a meal to his place then in Manchester, his had failed. It is an anecdote in my craving for some vicarious feed off knowing the now famous Lemn, if only a little, and I have told it many, many times.

I also saw Lemn reading a few years ago at The Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, he quite unaware I was there and our not having seen one another for many years. Early in that reading he stopped, having suddenly spotted me in the audience, and said hello and had the briefest but very public catch-up. It was so warm and friendly and unexpected – and ego-boosting, for me of course! One of the funniest and warmest people I know says Hattenstone, and this demonstrated that warmth and generosity for me in that one small surprising moment.

I know the immediate above is the more meaningful anecdote, but I remind you I do make a great cheese sauce, and did so once for Lemn Sissay.


Watch Channel 4 News’ segment on The Report broadcast last night here. It is moving, and the interviews with Lemn show him also moved, and angry, but typically upbeat and perhaps a little freer after his experience.