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Category: Literature

Read My Latest at the Curator Blog

My essay on the relationship between faith and poetry has been published at, an Anabaptist literature site that also hosts Literature Camp every summer, and publishes an annual art and lit magazine called The Leaf, after Tolkien’s Leaf By Niggle. I enjoyed attending Lit Camp the last two years, and presenting a workshop on “Artful Reading Aloud” this summer. The material from that workshop will shortly appear at as a free curriculum. Finally, my Bible Major is coming in handy! Let me know what you think in the… Read more Read My Latest at the Curator Blog

Evidence of Socrates’ Existence; Preference for Plato or Socrates?

I think I was younger than 11 years old the first time I encountered raw academic cynicism. Some encyclopedia opining that Socrates didn’t exist and that Plato had made him up as a mask for his unusual beliefs. I still remember the sourness it engendered in my throat, and the way it dulled the world’s lustre in that moment. I was aware that people questioned the existence of Jesus in the same way*. Deeper acquaintance with Plato’s writings made me more and more comfortable seeing Socrates as a real person,… Read more Evidence of Socrates’ Existence; Preference for Plato or Socrates?

Wodehouse Makes Fun of Fashionable Poets

From The Saturday Evening Post, Volume 188, comes a short story by P. G. Wodehouse, entitled, The Aunt and the Sluggard. This is 1925. The rise of fascism is occurring in real time, a muddled mush of aspiration, intellectual irresponsibility, and dark intent. Related is the “Life is real, life is earnest,” school of thought regarding the purpose of art. (No offense to Longfellow.) All gentle things are eschewed. Everything is meant to be “fine,” and “splendid” and “severe” and “strong.” It seems a sort of code for, “Fascism and… Read more Wodehouse Makes Fun of Fashionable Poets

The Chrystal, by Sydney Lanier – with some biographical and critical notes

Having checked out his collected poems from my public library, I got a chance to read a short biography of this remarkable poet, the value of which biography is that it was written in 1929 by a man who knew Lanier and his wife. Sydney Lanier had one of those short and heartbreaking artistic lives. He was descended from an illustrious line founded by artists and courtiers; his family had been present in America since the early 1700’s. His father was a lawyer who somewhat discouraged Sydney from his first… Read more The Chrystal, by Sydney Lanier – with some biographical and critical notes

Using Archaisms: A Question of Good Taste

When and how should writers use archaic words? In what context, for what use, and to what effect? Some, even  most people in the writing/publishing business, will tell you that you should avoid archaic words altogether. And so you should, if you cannot be sure that you are using them artfully. But this is true of all words; you should never use a word that you cannot use artfully, if art is what you are making. On the other hand, if you can use a word artfully that is not in… Read more Using Archaisms: A Question of Good Taste

Writing Update

Three things. First, why I haven’t been blogging. We moved to the country and now I don’t have internet for my computer – just phone data! That may change soon but will likely remain limited. I’m loving the countryside, though. Second, the delay of the appearance of Her Rattiness. Back in March, I stayed up late doing a final edit and didn’t backup the altered manuscript. In the morning my lovely daughter poured milk on my computer. Only a few weeks ago, I finally figured out how to retrieve the… Read more Writing Update

Announcing the Next Poet’s Challenge

So I have been casting about for another challenge, to pursue in the following two weeks. We may return to the first-line challenge another time, but I want to try something a little different. This time, I am going to propose a set of rhymes, that a famous poet used in one of his poems. On Tuesday, June 17th I’ll post a poem I’ll have written using those rhymes, and I invite you all to do so as well. Mutual enjoyment and critique is proposed. Part of the fun will… Read more Announcing the Next Poet’s Challenge

Chesterton on Dickens

We are trying to get at G. K. Chesterton’s characteristic approach to what we call stereotype and what he called a vulgar joke or an established theme. But before we get into Chesterton, a word from our friendly neigborhood etymological dictionary. stereotype (n.) 1798, “method of printing from a plate,” from French stéréotype (adj.) “printed by means of a solid plate of type,” from Greek  stereos “solid” + French type “type.” Meaning “a stereotype plate” is from 1817. Meaning “image perpetuated without change” is first recorded 1850, from the verb in this sense. Meaning “preconceived and oversimplified… Read more Chesterton on Dickens