I will be giving a number of poetry readings and lectures this coming year, some open to the general public, some not. If you are in the area, I hope you will join us. Check back here frequently, as I will be updating this calendar regularly in the coming month. Click the icons at left for more information about an event.
I just learned this very hour that the poet Helen Pinkerton Trimpi died peacefully yesterday, surrounding by her family. As she approached the age of ninety, she sometimes sent me photographs of herself with several generations of her family, Helen herself cradling a great-grandchild in her arms. Many people were enriched by Helen's company, scholarship, and poetry over the decades, and I look forward to reading their tributes to her remarkable personality and achievement.
For the moment, I wish merely to point toward the last -- of a good number -- of pieces I wrote on Helen's work over the last decade. We spent much of that decade in close correspondence, as I studied her poems and interviewed her about her life and work; as the years passed, as she slowed down, our conversation turned in attention more to my own work, which she scrutinized closely, helping me revise my first book of poems after it appeared, reviewing my second, and then offering insightful suggestions as Fortunes of Poetry and The Vision of the Soul moved toward publication. She read both in manuscript and, in fact, read the latter as I was still writing it. How grateful I was to have such a reader in such a friend.
I will also add how honored I was to be the publisher of Helen's last poem, "Dialogue." I helped her work on it and, unhappily, my criticisms caused her to refrain from publishing it in her Collected Poems. She only reluctantly gave it to me to publish in Modern Age, knowing that her remaining strength would not allow her to return to the poem. It was in fact a fitting crown to her achievement and drew into a few spare, blank pentameter stanzas a summary of her entire life's work in poetry, which was always to encounter God who is Being Itself, the one who causes all things such that to contemplate existence is to enter into the fundamental mystery of reality and to be confronted by Existence Itself in the face of our Redeemer. May the God of Creation and Redemption bless her and accompany her into his eternity.
A note from December 7, 2016:
The Weekly Standard has now published "It's a Battlefield," my review of A Journey of the Mind, the collected poems of Helen Pinkerton. Readers of my work will know that I have written a great deal about Pinkerton, publishing two interpretive essays on her work, a personal interview with her, and also citing her more than once in my various books and articles. She is one of the best American poets of this last century; I hope this little article will serve as a fitting last word on her small but impressive body of work. Click the picture to read the review.
The time has arrived for a mid-Advent update, and I have at least a couple items to share, both of them related to First Things magazine.
In the January issue, my new poem, "St. Thomas and the Forbidden Birds" appears. If you have errantly doubted the poetic virtues of the Summa Theologica before, this poem will set you straight. (Click Aquinas to read.)
First Things has also just released the recording of my lecture, "Between Self and Soul," which ranges from Hopkins and Yeats to Aldous Huxley, Augustine, and Plato to consider the question, "What does difference does it make to have a soul?" (Click the First Things logo to read.)
If you are shopping for a fine Christmas present for a dear friend or family member (or, perhaps, an enemy) may I suggest to consider Some Permanent Things, The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking, or my latest book, The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness and Beauty in the Western Tradition? Click on the Vision book cover to visit a selection of reviews of these and other titles.
I have much to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving morning, and want to share just a few items that may be of interest to readers. I returned from a week in Dallas where, among other things, I receive the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. The lectures I delivered during that week will be available shortly.
Steve Knepper has written a superb essay on my poetry for the University Bookman (click the icon to read). Gerald Russello, editor of the Bookman, has also published a review essay of The Vision of the Soul (click icon to read). I'll be going on the Mike Church Show soon to talk about it. Finally, First Things and The New Criterion have published some of my poems: "The Fourth Sunday of Advent" and "On a Box of Rainbow Sprinkles" (click the icons to read).
Richard Wilbur died last weekend, at the age of 96. This last spring marked the publication of his authorized biography, and my review was just about to go to press when the news of Wilbur's passing reached me. The Weekly Standard now publishes my account of Wilbur and his work and, I hope, explains why we have been fortunate to bear witness to the career of one of America's few categorical achievements in poetry. Click the portrait to read, "Richard Wilbur, Remembered: The Life and Work of a Great American Poet."
I have been keeping busy and have found some time to write amid the crush of the new semester. Have a look below to see new work that's just out or to learn more about my upcoming poetry reading in Philadelphia. As always, click on the appropriate logo above to read more.
Poetry Reading Details. On Monday, October 2nd, at 6:30pm, I shall give a poetry reading with Ryan Wilson, author of the Donald Justice Prize-winning The Stranger World, at the Free Library of Philadelphia (1901 Vines St., Room 108). Please join us for what I hope will be a stirring performance to be followed by a book signing.
New Publications. In the October issue of First Things appears my extended meditation on the new America in which we live, "Autumn Road."
Catholic World Report has just published my new essay, "On Teaching the Liberal Arts." This is one of a number of essays I've written reflecting on the purpose and practice of liberal education, and I thought it might be nice to gather some of them together. ISI's Intercollegiate Review published "Three Ways the Liberal Arts will Change your Life," while Crisis (true to form in its choice of titles, if not to the spirit of the essay) published "The Overweening Pride of the Professorial Class."
Fall Lectures Schedule. It looks as though I will be spending the entire first week of November (6th-10th), in Dallas, and speaking in a number of venues, as I receive the Hiett Prize, deliver a First Things lecture, and perhaps visit the University of Dallas to talk about poetry and tradition. Check back here for more information in the weeks ahead.
As Wiseblood Books continues its fourth anniversary fundraising campaign, the publisher asked if I would record a short comment in support of its work. You can view that below. To donate, just click on the Wiseblood icon.
The Catholic Art Guild has released a nicely filmed version of my recent address to its membership, Beauty, the Foundation of the West. I offer there my account of the West as a civilization molded by its Christian-Platonist tradition, which I define in terms of six great insights bequeathed to us by our Jewish, Christian, and Classical Greek and Roman ancestors. You can watch the whole thing below. And you can read more about it all in The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Western Tradition.
For my ringing endorsement of John Ridland's fine verse translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight see this week's issue of The Weekly Standard. Click the picture to read the review.
My own sense that the wheat springeth green has been strengthened of late by the profusion of new works of poetry, literature, and culture that actually perceive being and form -- beauty -- for the realities that they are, and then proceed accordingly. We are in an age of ochlocratic decadence and elite irresponsibility, but from all that violent rubble springs up, inevitably, little platoons of natural aristoi, that is to say, of those who simply know what they are doing.
My review of Jon K. Lauck's new book, From Warm Center to Ragged Edge, on the lost legacy of Midwestern literary and historical writing, has just been printed in the new issue of National Review. From the piece:
Lauck’s aim, like Corkery’s before him, is not so much to change the opinions of those nested in distant coastal cities, but to help revive the consciousness of midwesterners of themselves as rooted citizens of a distinctive region and as participants in a frequently misrepresented but fundamentally sound cultural tradition. What he offers is a beautiful regional imagination, in the hope that the midwestern consciousness should come to flourish now, even as the forces that first eroded it are more potent than ever.
This is an important and timely book. Click the picture to read the full review.
First Things publishes my review of a new study of Allen Tate's work in this month's issue. The online version has just been released today. From the review:
In Tate’s best-known poem, “Ode to the Confederate Dead,” a man stands at the gate of a Confederate cemetery, trying and failing to believe that the past can inform the present with a significance that might guide his life. He wants to believe in the lost cause of the South, or that the divine speaks to us through the book of nature; he requires a credible myth that inspires him to real action in the world. But the refrain, “Dazed by the wind, only the wind / The leaves flying, plunge,” reveals the man’s incapacity to see any meaning in the “Rank upon rank” of Confederate soldiers fighting and dying in battle. The only myth that impresses him is that of materialism, telling him that nothing has any meaning.
Click the picture to have a look at "Tate Unmodern."
Those attending my Teaching English Verse Practice workshop at the ACCS Repairing the Ruins Conference are welcome to download the workshop packet by clicking the picture at right. I will have a limited number of hard copies for distribution.
This link has now been removed. Feel free to write me, if you are interested in receiving a copy of my curriculum in the teaching of versecraft.
I recently completed a long interview with Catholic World Report editor Carl E. Olsen, where we discuss my two most recent books. It is by far the most thorough discussion of The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Western Tradition that I've had since its publication. But it is more than that; Olsen asked some probing questions that helped me to develop some of the arguments touched on in the book. Click the picture to learn more about the intellectual life, conservatism, and the transcendentals.
I recently sat down for an interview with Eric J. Banecker to talk about my new book, The Vision of the Soul, beauty, the art of poetry, and the state of the University and the Church in our moment, among other subjects.
It was quite an honor, as Mr. Banecker has plenty of other things to do, what with him about to be named Deacon Bancker, when he is ordained this very weekend!
Click the picture to read the whole interview; visit the Sightings page on this site for a permanent link.
News and Events
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