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New poem published

I’ve recently had a new poem of mine accepted by Plum Tree Tavern. The piece is a haiku called “Wind Stirs.”

I appreciate Plum Tree Tavern and its editor for accepting my work again. I’ve enjoyed many of the pieces I’ve seen there, and I particularly appreciate the Tavern’s dedication to non-anthropocentric and ecological visions.

Anyway, you can read the poem here.

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New look, new ideas

This site has languished for quite some time as I’ve been busy with coursework, buying a house, etc. Now, I think I’ve finally gotten it where I want it.

When I started this site I wasn’t sure what I wanted it to be, exactly. I played around with some ideas and never quite felt satisfied. But now, and with remarkably little conscious thought, I think I’ve figured it out.

Some time ago, when I was still teaching high school English, I found myself “afflicted” with hypergraphia. I would write, and write, and write, like I had to drain the words out of myself or risk rupturing something. At the time I also experienced periods of hypomania. Just the depressive parts, without any of flights of intense experience characterized by full-blown bipolar disorder. Writing, I found, helped me keep those hypomanic episodes comparatively mild. I keep all my notebooks, so I could probably excavate these old torrents of words and examine them, but that doesn’t seem wise. I still feel the compulsion to write, and still experience hypomania on occasion, but now I’m beginning to understand what to do with my writing and how to channel it. To look back at my earlier discharges now seems like a kind of sacrilege or an exhumation. Better to let the dead horse lie.

I’ve been in graduate school for a long time, with (theoretically, haha) several more years still to go. I enjoy grad school and find it stimulating, but I’ve also come to realize that a big part of why I wanted to pursue it in the first place was to find a way out of a bad situation. With a boring career of teaching English staring at me behind the barrel of a gun, anything more intellectually stimulating seemed appealing, and I jumped in with enthusiasm.

I’m less enthusiastic these days (or maybe the enthusiasm has mellowed with age), and now realize that my writing and other projects no longer need to be a “way out.” Hence the renewal and revitalization of this site. Here, I can pursue thoughts and inclinations in a more relaxed manner than I can in my coursework. While I’m busy specializing in my academic life, I can indulge my generalist habits with this site as a working space, portfolio, and archive. My academic work will no doubt occasionally bleed into these pages, but it won’t be my main concern here.

And now, after the preamble, the new program.

  • I’m in the midst of reading Hubert Dreyfus’s and Sean Dorrance Kelly All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age and will post an essay on it – or maybe several essays – here soon(ish).
  • I will also be holding myself to a regular posting schedule of Reports from the Workshop: what I’m reading, writing, thinking about, etc.
  • I’ve also hashed out the skeleton of a new long-term project on botanical gardens. You can check out the page for that project in the menu above. It’s fairly ambitious, so I’m not holding myself to any deadlines. After all, there’s no professor here to assign me a due date.
  • Finally, I have some other ideas in the works as well, one involving photography, landmarks, and geo-tagging. More on that to come later, since I have to learn how to take better pictures first.

That’s all for now.

Poem in a “best of” collection

I’m honored to have had one of my poems from this year, a haiku called “Hardwoods,” included in the annual “best of” collection at Plum Tree Tavern, an online poetry journal with a focus on nature.

Plum Tree Tavern welcomes poetry focusing on specific images of physical nature, rather than the poet’s judgment or opinion of nature. I find it very stimulating to write in this mode. It is surprisingly challenging to get the self (that is, the bourgeois “true” self that doesn’t actually exist but is constantly assumed) out of the picture long enough to crystallize an experience of the physical reality of the natural world.

Much modern poetry seems to me to consist primarily of self-indulgent emotion at the expense of evocative language or communicating an image. “Baring one’s soul” without giving any thought to how that soul came to be may feel good, but I’m not sure it’s the best place from which to start a poem. For as much as I appreciate the Romantic poets, I think the tendency to see poetry as a means of “expressing oneself” hobbles the ability of the poet to see herself both as a product of and agent in the world, and results in poetry that is, frankly, just not that interesting to read.

But such considerations are for another time, and another essay.

You can find the fifth annual Plum Tree Tavern collection HERE. You can find the homepage of Plum Tree Tavern HERE.