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`C.S. Lewis with a guitar' performs at U. Saturday

MICHAEL, ROW YOUR BOAT: As a kid in school, when Michael Kelly Blanchard was assigned a book report, he'd invent entire books in his head and report on them.

As a young man in the '60s, he "played lounges for jingle (loose change)"- a troubled troubadour.Now, at age 48, he's one of the country's most popular messianic minstrels. Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary calls him "C.S. Lewis with a guitar."

C.S. Lewis was one of the great Christian minds of our time.

Paul Stookey is Blanchard's near and dear friend.

"When I first started singing," says Blanchard, "I adopted Paul Stookey as a mentor. I'd go to `PP & M' concerts with field glasses just to watch him perform. I wanted to mix comedy with singing the way he did."

When Blanchard performs at the University of Utah Olpin Union Saturday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m., there may be some kid with field glasses in the crowd carrying on the tradition. Blanchard is good. He does inspirational music that actually sounds inspired.

"What I do now kind of grew up beneath me," he says. "It's been a slow-grow thing, very `grass roots.' I don't like to be called a Christian musician; that makes `Christian' an adjective. I like it as a noun. I'm a musician who happens to be Christian. My songs deal with elements of mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation. They're not overtly `salvation oriented.' "

Tuesday night, Blanchard put those songs on display after dinner at the Utah Institute for Bible Studies Annual Pastor Conference in Park City. Both he and dinner went down well. There's a Burl Ives ease to his singing; Garrison Keillor dead-pan to the tale-telling. His message is large and generous.

"I'm always looking for the one guy in the crowd who made a wrong turn and came in," he says. "The guy who shows up by mistake. I don't want to convert him; I just want to reach him."

On Saturday, the singing C.S. Lewis will be reaching out.

For ticket information call 581-1900.4 AURA: For no particular reason I was reading the 1974 edition of Utah Sings - the poetry anthology of the Utah State Poetry Society - when I ran across a poem by Max Golightly. And I remembered he was gone.

Max passed away earlier this year. He was a professor in the theater department at BYU and a champion of everyday poets - those community writers who bat out rhymes between baby feedings, Little League baseball games and making ends meet.

The lines I found by him were unnerving, but appropriate. They read in part:

Once in awhile, and forever, our season will be gone / the pulse of our sun will be numb / as all things are on the scale of time. / But auras will remain / glowing for any winter, / eternal as it is to have existed / constant as it is to speak of it / the word of our sun: / LOVE.

Max is missed.