March 10, 2016

I have recently been tasked with writing short rationales on why I believe two of my favorite mystery characters belong in a compendium of the 100 greatest literary detectives of all time. And, while I could have made a boat-load of suggestions (I am admittedly a mystery genre junkie), for me as a reader, depth of character inevitably comes down to how well the author crafts a character’s fragmented selves. Each mystery novel no matter the bent— whodunits (or traditional mysteries), police procedurals, thrillers or so-called cozy mysteries— all possess the same element of fragmentation. And, mystery-driven self-division is perhaps most gratifying in its two major forms: the intentional fragmentation of a main character and the dichotomy of bodie...

December 9, 2015

 

Through my research on the traditional role of the Poet in relation to written concepts of selfhood, I have found that most schools of thought, perhaps up until the Modernists, believed inspiration—seemingly a poetic word for motivation— to be a gift from God, as they saw subject, voice and direction as distinctly separate from the poet-self and thus ordained by a greater power. Of course, religion played a larger role in the dissemination of such knowledge as a whole when these thoughts were prevalent, but that is not to say that this way of thinking is entirely incorrect. Even today, there are times where I sit down to write, and words and ideas just occur, as if a Universal connection has opened and the words pour forth in a way that I am le...

June 8, 2015

During my research, I recently came across the following poem by Ricardo Reis, one of Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms:

 

Others narrate with lyres or harps;
      I tell with my thought.
For he finds nothing, who through music
      Finds only what he feels.
Words weigh more which, carefully measured,
      Say the world exists.

                                         (Pessoa & Co. 101)

 

I agree with Reis that words are infinitely important. My career… no, my life… revolves around the...

May 1, 2015

I have often thought of the task of editing as an enjoyable one. Whether it is digging into my own work in the impossible pursuit for perfection, or working with someone else on their writing, I have always liked the process of what I have long considered making writing “better,” and I have always thought of the editing process as a collaborative one. As someone who has edited several journals and books over the years I now realize that often ask authors to make aesthetic changes— those things that I think will make their piece fit better within the whole— an artistic endeavor. And, this very well may be because of my background as a poet.

As a doctoral student, I have experienced collaborative editing quite differently, as my dissertation is und...

March 20, 2015

In his essay, “A Defense of Poetry” (1821), Percy Bysshe Shelley clarifies that “Every original language near to its source is in itself the chaos of a cyclic poem: the copiousness of lexicography and the distinctions of grammar [however] are the works of a later age, and merely the catalogue and the form of the creations of poetry” (par. 3). Thus, as with language, the Poet’s esteemed role duly transformed over time… from lingual virtuoso to elitist outsider. But, despite any perceived otherness as a result of contemporary language usage, the Poet still has immense value as a teacher.

 

To the Humanists in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Poet was a teacher of morals and religious edicts, to the Romantics afterward, the Poet revealed th...

March 1, 2015

The best thing I got out of my recent stint on jury duty, was a delightful conversation with a fellow juror who happened to be a local sculptor. As she was discussing her transition from oil painter to stone sculptor, I found that many of the things she said in regards to her process rang true for creative writers as well. But, perhaps the most important thing she mentioned was how pleasing it was to start with something that was already there and chip away at it to create something new.

What she described was a process of complete freedom, without the typical constraints we place on ourselves as creators. We too often start with an idea and labor arduously for perfection. That is most likely why there are infinite accounts of the tormented arti...

February 23, 2015

My two favorite Victorian era murder mystery franchises, Anne Perry’s William Monk series and C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, both have sturdy namesakes: their protagonists are determined, headstrong, rough around the edges, and just daring enough to pull off seemingly impossible maneuvers when push comes to shove. However, while waiting for new books, I often find myself musing more about the aristocratic heroines of these novels than the leading men themselves. Perry's Hester Latterly and Harris's Hero Jarvis are positioned to be equally as strong-willed and brash as their male counterparts, and although each character marries (I won't tell you to whom!), they rarely rely on men-- a characteristic that is well cemented early-on in e...

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