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Good Letters

The Tudors: Royalty and Raunchiness


Having written most recently about the late actor Paul Scofield, and his rendering of Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, I can’t help but do a little “compare and contrast” with the Showtime series, The Tudors, now in its second season. Of course, it’s not a fair match-up: Michael Hirst,…

Love in the Ruins


I don’t know whether it’s because it’s almost Eastern Orthodox Holy Week or the fact that I will turn forty this year, but I am preoccupied by the idea that things, generally, are falling apart, and vastly in need of renewal. I am feeling the press of mortality. Not long ago I found myself standing…

Finding a Common Language


Last week, I left my solitary writing table in Washington, DC, and took the train to Boston to visit a friend whose creative journey began with classical piano performance and now, a short lifetime later, has found a waystation in video art. Reunited, she was eager to show me the fruits of her current project.…

Remembering Howard Nemerov in National Poetry Month


I pray Congress never declares a “National Creative Nonfiction Month.” National month-hood seems, for the most part, public admission of an honorable, if forlorn, marginality, stuffy afternoon teas held for the aged maiden aunts of a country’s consciousness. It’s possible there is–unknown to me–a federally-recognized “National White Male History Month,” but a quick glance my…

Is Poetry Prayer?


At a recent retreat that I was leading on meditating with poetry, a participant came up to me at break and said “but you’re going to distinguish poetry from prayer, aren’t you?—talk about how poetry is not the same as prayer?” I thought about this during the break, and flipped through the notebook I carry…

The Sturgeon’s Leap


I was stacking wood Saturday when my plumber, Bud, stopped by. He was checking on the work of Loquacious Hank, his new subcontractor, who had replaced my kitchen ceiling. This related to the resolution of what Bud tactfully refers to as my plumbing “dilemmas,” which came with the house and never end. We talked about…

Ars Poetica


At the beginning of the score of his Valses nobles et sentimentales, composer Maurice Ravel placed a dedication based a quote from Henri de Régnier: “le plaisir délicieux et toujours nouveau d’une occupation inutile” (to the delightful and always novel pleasure of a useless occupation). Ravel’s sly and somewhat dandyish acknowledgment of the apparent uselessness…

The Sight of Silence


In a film without words (or more precisely, with only two minutes of them), it’s a tautology to say that the visual experience overwhelms all other cinematic considerations. If the cinematographer doesn’t do his job here, then the experience is no better than thumbing through a very long coffee table book. But after the first…

Upper Room Productions


It was time to incorporate. Given the tax incentives to do so as a screenwriter, it was time to become a company of one. To be sure, the spiritual correlatives were not lost on me either, for which reason I had decided well in advance that when the time came to make it official, I…

Beauty in the Cube


My last Good Letters post lamented the surreal appetites and remedies of the bureaucratic hive, as well as that world’s great need for beauty. I may have left you wondering: if life in the L’Enfant Plaza Canyon is so dire, then why don’t I just ditch it? Aside from my lot as the family breadwinner,…

Good Letters


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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 week gifted writers offer personal essays that make fresh connections between the world of faith and the world of art. We also publish interviews with artists who inspire and challenge us.

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