Lucy in her Bower, Dreaming

We can only assume that she is dreaming.  Perhaps she imagines that she dozes at the side of an abandoned well, on a warm summer day.  She dreams of being safe in a world of wildflowers and green leaves, with cicadas buzzing, far away and high up in the hackberry tree.

Like all of . . . → Read More: Lucy in her Bower, Dreaming


David Haston, 1915-2011

I regret that I have lacked occasion to post in this blog for the past two months, and I apologize accordingly to the Growler’s subscribers and occasional visitors. During that time my attention was focused elsewhere, following the death of my father-in-law on the 9th of May.

David Haston was the father of my . . . → Read More: David Haston, 1915-2011


Questions and Answers with Jared Carter

North view of Jefferson Davis monument

In late 2001 I traveled to the town of Hopkinsville, in southwestern Kentucky, in order to give a poetry reading at the local community college.

The reading had been arranged by my friend Brett Ralph, the poet and singer, who was teaching at the college, and who is now a professor in the . . . → Read More: Questions and Answers with Jared Carter


An Equal and Opposite Reaction?


It’s called cognitive dissonance – the confusion you experience when you try to hold two contradictory ideas at once.

One of them?  That despite the financial meltdown, everything’s going to be all right. Why? Because many of the same Wall Street financiers responsible for most serious economic depression since the 1930s are now working in the . . . → Read More: An Equal and Opposite Reaction?


In Deep Winter, with Snow Falling


In deep winter, with snow falling, I like to be sitting on a couple of milk crates in someone’s woodworking shop, keeping company while that person re-works the paneling in an old door, or puts together the pieces of a newly stripped kitchen chair.

Woodworking shops are preferred, because they smell the best, but . . . → Read More: In Deep Winter, with Snow Falling


Keep the Channel Open

Letter to the World

Agnes de Mille. Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham.  New York: Random House, 1991.  xviii + 509 pp. $30.  ISBN 0-394-55643-7. 

You can’t read this book without falling half in love with Agnes de Mille, who must have been one of the kindest, most forgiving biographers who ever lived. And without wondering why a . . . → Read More: Keep the Channel Open


Still Another Look at Jim Riley


It was called simply Indiana Writes. It was a literary journal founded on the radical but admirable belief that there were talented writers throughout the Hoosier State, and that it would find their work and publish it.

This was back in the 1970s, and although it appeared for only a few years, the magazine set . . . → Read More: Still Another Look at Jim Riley


Indiana Lawmakers Confirm Earth Is Flat


Indianapolis, Feb. 16 – In a stirring announcement from the state’s capital, a joint session of the Indiana legislature announced today what many Hoosiers have long believed – that the earth is flat, and the sun revolves around the earth.

“We initially hoped this would bring us up to the Middle Ages,” a Senate . . . → Read More: Indiana Lawmakers Confirm Earth Is Flat


Would the Bard Have Survived the Web?

Telephone pole used for posting neighborhood announcements.

That’s the title of a timely op-ed piece by Scott Turow and friends on today’s New York Times web page that every serious writer should read. It’s about existing copyright law – why it is important, how it relates to the web.

The thesis is simple: “Literary talent often remains undeveloped unless . . . → Read More: Would the Bard Have Survived the Web?


The Walt Whitman Award: Looking Back


Different kinds of literary awards and prizes seem to be everywhere these days, but thirty years ago it was a different story. There were only a handful of prestigious awards for poetry back then – namely, the Pulitzer, the Bollingen, the National Book Award, the Yale Younger Poets prize, the Lamont, and the Walt . . . → Read More: The Walt Whitman Award: Looking Back


Winter Recital


Music, that most bewitching of the arts, does not spring full-blown from the forehead of some imponderable god. Its consumption is everywhere, but its creation and production are more rarified.

Whether soloist or ensemble player or composer, at the beginning one learns to play one note at a time, depress one key, touch one . . . → Read More: Winter Recital


AWP Conference in Washington, DC


During the next couple of days I’ll be attending the annual conference of AWP – Associated Writing Programs – in Washington, DC, at the Marriott Wardman Park and Omni Shoreham Hotels. 

There will be a gazillion panel discussions, workshops, and readings – all quite worthy, I’m sure.  I’m scheduled to participate in a discussion . . . → Read More: AWP Conference in Washington, DC


Return to Paradise Valley


Poetry from Paradise Valley. Edited by Edward Byrne. San Antonio: Pecan Grove Press, 2009. 134 pp. $15. ISBN 978-1-931247-86-3. 

No, this Paradise Valley is not an old Gary Cooper movie, nor is it a retirement village in Arizona. Instead, it’s a handsome new print anthology of contemporary poetry – work selected from among poems . . . → Read More: Return to Paradise Valley


A Mississinewa Novel?


“The total effect of Carter’s narratives and lyrics is the sense . . . that underlying these two books is a kind of ‘Mississinewa novel,’ a long and continuous story to which the scraps of narrative contribute and give historical depth.”  

This possibility was introduced in Timothy J. Deines’s thesis, “The Gleaning: Regionalism, Form, . . . → Read More: A Mississinewa Novel?


Roberts School Revisited


Early in 2006 the Indianapolis School Board announced that Roberts School 97, a striking example of 1930s Art Moderne architecture, would be demolished to make way for a parking lot. Neighborhood residents and historic preservationists took strenuous exception. Five years later, after a lot of wangling, the building is still standing but also still . . . → Read More: Roberts School Revisited


It’s a Wrap

Tensor OrthoCanada

We caught up with The Wrapper shortly before midnight, after my wife had fallen on the ice while coming out of a restaurant and broken her left wrist. She knew instantly it was fractured, so there was nothing to do but head for the nearest emergency room.

It was a big hospital. We got . . . → Read More: It’s a Wrap


On the Poets of Pittsburgh

Jack Gilbert

If you’re concerned about the Steelers facing the Ravens in the playoffs this year, here’s a little non sequitur to take your mind off the perils ahead. Who is the greatest poet ever to come out of Pittsburgh?

We already know the Ravens owe a tip of the helmet to Edgar Allan Poe for . . . → Read More: On the Poets of Pittsburgh


A Dinner on New Year’s Eve


There were twenty of us, sitting down to a dinner on the last day of the year, with candles gleaming along the length of the board, the tablecloth bright with patterned ribbons and greenery, and the light reflecting off a forest of wine glasses and gleaming china and silverware.

We were old friends who . . . → Read More: A Dinner on New Year’s Eve


The Strangest Man


Graham Farmelo. The Strangest Man: the Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom. New York: Basic Books, 2009. 539 pp. $29.95.  ISBN 978-465-01827-7.

Quick, who said “If you think you understand quantum theory, you don’t understand quantum theory”? Was it (a) Niels Bohr, (b) John Wheeler, (c) Richard Feynman?

Answer: . . . → Read More: The Strangest Man


Shrimp Zidane


How do you pay tribute to an athlete like Zinadine Zidane, who is already an international celebrity? Maybe one way is to name a new dish after him or her. We already have General Tso’s chicken, Beef Stroganoff, Peach Melba, and Bananas Foster. Make way for Shrimp Zidane!

Zidane, one of professional soccer’s all-time . . . → Read More: Shrimp Zidane

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