In these days of world pandemic caused by something that can’t be seen by the naked eye, I’m coming around to seeing this song as one of faith in our interconnectedness, our interconnectivity. The songs and drumming drifting down from balconies to fill the streets in Rome can be heard echoing from rooftops and windows in Barcelona to Budapest, Ankara to Panama, New York City to Gurgaon. We all sing the same song, though in different keys.Read More
Simone Weil once said that “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer.” On this sunny morning, getting up close to the wall, I’m beginning to understand what she means.Read More
We say flattening fattening smashing the; and do I look sexy (chin’s up, buttercup) in my balaclava? We say what is ZOOM, then we Zoom. We say zoom is malware (but it’s all malware). Check this box if you are not a robot, now do you wanna zoom?Read More
My crime? The sins of pride, indifference, sloth,
Not ceaseless prayer to rid myself of pain.
For I was taught to regard suffering
As integral to everything that mattered—
Life, love, and faith, all of which were found wanting.
And so I want to start again. Or not.
Churches, synagogues, and other places of worship have had to close at a time when faith and the comfort of community are needed most. But faith finds a way to lift us, even from a distance.Read More
In the midst of a viral pandemic that has shuttered schools and universities, why go on writing essays about the syntactical anomalies of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, or learning when and how to use the French subjunctive tense, when humanity itself is threatened by a massive, though microscopic, enemy?Read More
“Van Gogh did not sell a single painting during his lifetime, became increasingly unhinged, and shot himself at the age of thirty-seven.” So writes poet Jeanne Murray Walker in her engaging essay in the current issue of Image (#98), “Sandals on the Ground: My Pilgrimage with the Sonnet.” Walker’s sentence about Van Gogh reminds me…Read More
This is my 200th post for Good Letters. There’s something about round-number occasions, isn’t there? They move us to reflection, which is what this anniversary has done for me. I’m recalling how Good Letters got started, and how our blog has developed since then. Late in 2008, several of us who’d been connected with Image…Read More
Amidst the constant stream of bad news these days, we would do well to make more time for acknowledging the good things in life. The ode is just that: “a formal, often ceremonious lyric poem that addresses and often celebrates a person, place, thing, or idea,” according to The Poetry Foundation. Unlike other poetic forms…Read More
Here is a poem about making a poem. The first stanza, a single sentence, stretches out through cosmic imagery: “light sift[ing] down,” “erasable darkness seep[ing] up,” “the crack to the radiant world closing in on itself.” The diction here is high, poetic. Then suddenly the next stanza plunks us down to earth with “One way…Read More