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Poetry Friday: “To Begin With”

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Wakefield’s poem presents the metaphor of a peach as the speaker’s body: “I’ll let the sun singe the peach, / my flesh, luxurious, ruined.” The image of the body as a soft fruit blurs the boundaries between human and nature, planting identity within context. In this way, “To Begin With” reminds me of Mark Strand’s…

Poetry at the Goodwill

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When I was a soccer-obsessed fifteen-year-old, I had no use for poetry. I endured my school hours like a crated dog, waiting to get out on the field. One afternoon in the library, I picked up a random book of English verse and flipped through it. Eventually I landed on a song from Charles Kingsley’s…

Villanelles on Planes

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I took several short flights this month, the kind in which going through security takes longer than the flight itself and you wonder if you should have just driven. But what you can’t do behind the wheel, if you want to get to your destination intact, is write poetry. I challenged myself to write a…

How Can I Speak of Haiti?

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There’s nothing to say about Haiti. Even to begin, to start, to try, is to fall into cliches. The cliches of the poverty. The cliches of the beauty. The cliches of the complications. Even the cliche of talking about the cliches. You can’t write about Haiti without overdoing it. You also can’t write about Haiti…

Blade Runner 2049: Master Copy

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For a long time I’ve said that the 1982 film Blade Runner is my favorite motion picture, though I’m really only a small-time devotee of science fiction. I find many examples of the genre fail to achieve its high calling by degenerating into childish self-indulgence. And movies that fit the category often run even further…

Poetry Friday: “Manifest, by Reason of Birth”

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Throughout her poetry, Pattiann Rogers observes and describes the natural world with profound detail, compassion, and awe. In fact, Rogers will be awarded the John Burroughs Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Nature Poetry next month. In “Manifest, by Reason of Birth” she writes, “The universe / thrives / and pulses, rumbles and roars, sings, explodes,…

Saint Death and Easter

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I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. The voice was low, lifeless. He just got out of jail, and the guys in there told him to call me. I function as a volunteer chaplain in Washington State’s Skagit County Jail, and I’m the closest thing to a pastor most gang members in…

Versed by Jesus Christ Superstar

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Holy Week, if I’m being completely honest, was never more than a blip on my radar until I became a staff member of a church and it affected my calendar. It wasn’t that I didn’t care or failed to understand the significance of the narrative in the liturgical season. Instead, I’d become desensitized to the…

Training the Ear of My Heart

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I don’t live a very active life, though observers might deduce that I am always late, leaping over railroad tracks in my early millennium Honda pilot to get to a pickup before my kids notice my absence. It benefits me to preserve the appearance of a harried, overbooked mother of a large family, because it…

Black Mirror and My Superego Nightmare

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I watched Black Mirror’s “Crocodile” episode feeling as if writer/creator Charlie Brooker had gotten into my head and seen my nightmares. (Spoiler Alert: This post reveals key plot points to Black Mirror’s “Crocodile.”) It begins when Mia’s boyfriend Rob accidentally kills a cyclist with his car. They’re terrified, scared. They don’t know what to do;…

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For the humanists of the Renaissance, literature mattered because it was concrete and experiential—it grounded ideas in people’s lives. Their name for this kind of writing was bonae litterae, a phrase we’ve borrowed as the title for our blog. Every weekday, one of the gifted writers on our blogging team will offer a personal essay that makes a fresh connection between the world of faith and the world of daily life, spanning the gap between theology and experience and giving language a human shape.

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