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.


  1. APRIL?!? Well, I guess I have kept up on reading blogs about as well as I have posting.

    As long as you don’t take it down, this blog will remain on my blogroll. I’m always eager to read what you post.

    Agreed on #5. I’ve ridden my motorcycle between Dechorah and the IA/WI border a few times. There is some nice riding in that area

    Comment by Aaron — July 31, 2008 @ 2:39 am

  2. Hi, Aaron~
    Thank you for the compliment.

    Experience proves that the surest way to drain blogging of its appeal is to make promises about how often you will do it.

    That said, I admit that just about every single day, I think of something that would make a nice post. Somehow, it always seems to slip away.

    Comment by jstreed1476 — August 12, 2008 @ 9:47 pm

  3. irony alert: since i’m just reading this now, Jaq is now on indefinite hiatus.

    i continue to maintain that Tolkien’s poetry is probably very good for Middle English Anglo-Saxon Modern (the survey sample being one ;-). you are dead right about the beauty of The Silmarillion. so maybe the Professor did kind of know what he was doing…

    some how it seems to have escaped you that Decorah sucks! ;-)

    Comment by Sean Meade — August 31, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

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