We hear that rejection preys upon and depends upon the writer's ego; seemingly informed people tell us that successful writers appropriate rejection and use it as fuel, that they co-opt the editor's or agent's malice, stupidity, or worst of all, indifference, and they cure it until it becomes a kind of treat, something akin to beef jerky. And we hear that those who reject our work are not rejecting us, they're not rejecting our souls because if we could get our souls on the page, we wouldn't get rejected at all; instead we'd get flown first-class to Sweden to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature. They say this because most writers, especially beginning or unpublished writers, freak out over rejection. To the good men and women offering this consolation and advice, I say, okay, yes, sure, but you've obviously never ridden a skateboard.
-Bret Anthony Johnson's "On Rejection; or, Dear Author, After Careful Consideration," an essay that originally appeared in Shenandoah
I see many poems by many poets whose intentions are so rooted in story–in narrative–that they worry themselves away from the necessary conventions (such as they are) of the lyric, and I see many poems by those whose intentions are so rooted in the lyric that the planks and staircases of narrative have vacated the premises, and neither danger nor dramatic tension nor gloom of night curl their dark fingers into the tiny space between the windowsill and the just barely lifted sash.
Whether working through three or four dozen drafts en route to bringing a single poem to that place where it begins to breathe on its own, or whether merely dipping into the current, there is a certain order that nevertheless emerges, willed by the absence of will, but ordered by the writer’s divining rod (which is to say, by a whole lot of trial and error, c.f., luck) that informs every Grecian Urn, every idea of order, even in a place so orderly orderless as Key West (have you been?) From any angle, it is necessary in the process making art to be wholly unmindful of being in the process of making art.
-This essay by Jeffrey Levine got my cogs turning.
This is the story of a leash, a law and a city’s dueling definitions of compassion. It is a story of limits tested and stretched; of strife, threats and, possibly, compromise.
Mostly, though, it is a story about a dog named Blue who, this week, brought this small desert city together after nearly tearing it apart.
-Fascinating interview over at the The Awl with Trappist monks (who have taken a vow of silence)