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Knock wood we’ll keep the trees

Posted by on Mar 4, 2016

Knock wood we’ll keep the trees

The present peril of our friends the trees has been haunting me since I read Jim Robbins' book The Man Who Planted Trees.

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Shiver me timbers! Without the log there’d be no blog

Posted by on Oct 13, 2015

On Saturday I went sailing for the first time ever and had a literary experience. Before I get to the lit part I should say this was not the leisurely excursion you might imagine. It was a race, on the St. Croix River, with 25 other sailboats, and the wind was fierce—or, as I heard it described, just under white caps. It’s no hyperbole to say I was taken aback when told that the experienced hands had not shown up, and I was needed as crew. The skipper gave me the full and complete 30-second tour of the ropes, and then our 28-foot sloop set sail. “Prepare to Come About.”...

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Old

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015

Old

My Concise Oxford Dictionary gives this definition of old: “Dating from far back, made long ago, long established or known or familiar or dear….” This summer* I am living in a place made long ago. I had thought I knew what old meant. But old, it seems, is a relative term. There’s a road here built at least three hundred years ago in a dried up river bed. It’s still called the New Road. And every day we step on creatures whose fossilized forms embed vast shelves of carboniferous limestone. These shelves, once ancient sea beds, now form a headland of the Atlantic coast. The...

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Who were the real Luddites and why does it matter?

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014

Who were the real Luddites and why does it matter?

Luddite never loses its power to cudgel those who don’t or won’t keep up with the warp speed of technological change. The relentless marketing of new must-have techno gizmos makes many people defensive and anxious and many sentences today begin: “I’m no Luddite, but…” The use of the term in this way, however, is a grievous misappropriation of a name, which was originally adopted, tongue in cheek, by a very serious movement of artisans, craftsman and other workers who were losing their livelihoods and whose community and family lives were being...

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A poem a day

Posted by on May 4, 2014

A poem a day

Some now ask, as did Sameer Rahem in a Telegraph review—how can poetry “cope with the swift promiscuity” of our digital world? A poem is, among other things, a time stopper. Like Georgia O’Keefe’s flowers, a poem is an occasion to hold still and look at some part of the world close up. To experience a poem requires stillness and attention. But with the increased speed and hyper-connectivity of each new OS update, our fidelity to the poem or the flower before us is harder to maintain. And hyperlinks, a boon of convenience, fracture and divert our attention. Which is why it may...

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Is the Writer & Editor a Jekyll & Hyde?

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013

Is the Writer & Editor a Jekyll & Hyde?

It’s a commonplace that writers can’t be good editors. I think that’s because some writers can’t stop writing. In other words, they can’t resist the desire to rewrite the work they are editing. I once had such an editor. I’ll call him Mr. Hyde. I had submitted my essay “The Dirt Road” to a contest called Voices for the Land. It won third place in its region, and that meant it was to be published in a chapbook by Milkweed Editions. I had not been told it would be edited. When I got my essay back from the publisher I didn’t recognize it. To give you a sense of the extent...

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