high weir

April 2, 2008

Five Answers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — jstreed1476 @ 7:33 pm

Some time ago, Jaq asked some questions of me by way of his blog. My answers have been sitting in draft form for months. In case anyone is interested:

1. What will it take to get you blogging regularly? I mean, really regularly?

I wish I knew. If I ever manage, even for a month, to match your output, Jaq, I will be amazed.

2. I haven’t been there in years, so are there good bookstores in Cedar Falls/Waterloo now?

Bought Again Books is a decent used bookstore. Last I knew, it was still being managed by a retired philosophy prof whose class was once described to me as “Mister Toad’s Wild Ride.” There’s a Barnes & Noble in Waterloo, now. I don’t know if you consider it a good book store. My favorite thing about it is that my son calls it “Barns and Nobles,” which conjures up a fun image.

3. How do you respond to people who say that poetry is dead?

Amen. Just kidding! I always wonder whether they mean all poetry, or just contemporary poetry. For my part, I don’t read very much contemporary poetry, so I don’t know if there’s anything being written that will matter in 10 years, or a hundred. I’m sure there are poems that could matter. Poetry will always find readers, I think. The “long tail” model suggests lots of cultural artifacts will survive on the strength of the web’s ability to connect them with their ideal audience. Maybe that’s how poetry will survive.

4. Am I deluded in thinking that at least some of the poetry in Lord of the Rings is good stuff?

In a way, I think the proper measure is how it works in its own world. I accept it on those terms. But I have to admit that even when I was immersed in my first truly fanatical reading, I often dreaded plowing through the verse passages. (Sort of like reading the Quidditch parts in Harry Potter.) I wish I liked them more. Tolkien’s best poetry is his prose in The Silmarillion, I think.

5. Where are the most physically beautiful parts of Iowa?

You and Sean may hate this, but the territory around Decorah (home of Luther College) is probably the most striking. The northeast counties as a whole are what I would call modestly pretty. But I also like the more severe landscapes some of the western counties–huge, made of long, low hills. At dawn in winter, it can look like the end of the world . . . a beautiful end.


The Return of the Kingfisher

Filed under: Uncategorized — jstreed1476 @ 7:11 pm

Once, I kept a blog whose title alluded to one of Hopkins’s birds. I took it down, for reasons I cannot quite remember. I don’t regret those words’ loss, any more than I regret tilling under the little square of poorly-tended garden next to our house. Some fruit had come of it, but it wasn’t really a part of how I lived.

 Neither is high weir, but I haven’t taken it down yet–for reasons I cannot quite articulate.

Here’s another of Hopkins’s birds:

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
    As tumbled over rim and roundy wells
    Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
    Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
    Selves- goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
   Keeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is–
   Chríst. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
   To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

I can’t imagine what my actions speak or spell to the Redactor’s eye.

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