Inclusion Unknown: Revisiting Great Expectations

I have been rereading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, as it’s one of my favorites — and one of my few digressions from contemporary nonfiction or poetry. I first encountered this book in an AP Literature course and fell in love with its humbler characters. I love and hate Pip, of course, as I expect most readers … More Inclusion Unknown: Revisiting Great Expectations

37 Books in 2017

My reading goal for 2017 was 35 books. Below you’ll find several of my favorite themes – ecology, music, spirituality, and grammar. But there are also several books about Jane Austen as July marked the 200th anniversary of her death. I’m feeling rather hip as many of these books actually came out in 2017, so … More 37 Books in 2017

I Ask My Poetry

The young writer struggles with self-definition. So many incredible reputations hover above us, casting sparks in all directions. Every established literary presence is crisp and luminous, an identity in complete control of its own labels. So I ask my poetry for this control, and it withers. I find I possess nothing worthy of a poem. … More I Ask My Poetry

Divining the Catalyst: A Response to the Writing of Oliver Sacks

I have always been a front-row student. Drawn to the first row of desks or tables by temperament and visual disability, I preferred to be as close to the teacher—and presumably the action—as possible. I never questioned this self-placement: to me, the front row was a reverential space, sanctified by scholarship and enthusiasm. Plus, the … More Divining the Catalyst: A Response to the Writing of Oliver Sacks

Of Dogs and Dragons

In May of this year, I followed a friend’s recommendation and began reading His Majesty’s Dragon, a novel by Naomi Novik. The book is the first in Novik’s Temeraire series, a historical fantasy narrative that chronicles the adventures of Capt. Will Laurence and his combat dragon, Temeraire. Reviews often describe this series as “the Napoleonic … More Of Dogs and Dragons

“Affluentia Poesis”: Meeting Poetry in the Universe of Possibility

“To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity, that alone is living the artist’s life, in understanding as in … More “Affluentia Poesis”: Meeting Poetry in the Universe of Possibility

Lasting Impressions

When I was nine years old, I longed to use the words amiable, countenance, and clergyman – though they never appeared in my spelling or phonics workbooks. I knew what it meant if a manor was entailed away, and I guessed that £2,000 in the 19th century was a sizable fortune. I understood that the … More Lasting Impressions

Sweet Response

May is turning out to be a literary month for me. I’ve created an account on Goodreads to keep numerical track of how many books I’m currently reading. So far, Goodreads says I’m reading 13. As I’ve listed several collections of poetry in this category – collections I read a few poems at a time – my … More Sweet Response

Immortal Welcome

In my freshman composition courses, the students read a variety of scholarly articles, poems, short stories, style guides, and essays. During our discussion of the writer-reader relationship, I like to work in a chapter from Margaret Atwood’s Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing. I choose the chapter “Communion: Nobody to Nobody,” in which … More Immortal Welcome

Fear and Form

As a blind woman, I do not court silence. The absence of sound in the presence of other people often makes me apprehensive. With no audible messages, I’m left to wonder what others are thinking and doing. This anxiety intensifies when I stand before my students. Are my students texting? passing notes? sleeping? While they … More Fear and Form

“Singing Over the Bones”: The Miracle of Art and Intention

If a friendship starts with a conversation about books, the two friends are hardly surprised when literature itself becomes a third, equal presence in the relationship. This is how things began for Katie and me. Katie became my first “college friend” when an orientation team leader asked her to look after me. Both Katie and … More “Singing Over the Bones”: The Miracle of Art and Intention