The Artist Under the Mills
by Rebecca Harding Davis
Essay by Jarad Johnson
This review is of an older book, but I think the themes are still pertinent. This book is definitely worth a read. It’s a layered book and there’s an interesting perspective on feminine versus masculine traits as well, but for the purposes of provoking thought, I’ve focused on the battle between corporate need for capital and the individual need for fulfillment through art and beauty.
by Jeff Weddle
My first book was two folded sheets, eight pages, counting the front and back covers, cheap paper photocopied with my poems and bound with two staples. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I was lonely and broke and living in a busted up trailer In Oxford, Mississippi, sending my poems out like crazy, occasionally getting an acceptance from some small magazine or another.
The Isolated Gardener
by Julie Carpenter
Since I’ve been in isolation, my world has become much smaller. I am fortunate enough to have a yard where I can plant things and a local nursery with a good no-contact, curbside pickup plan. So, I have planted some vegetables in raised beds and put some flowers in the front of the house. Even though I’m doing my best to distract myself with gardening, my world has quite suddenly become much smaller. As a writer, I work from home, and now I also entertain myself at home. The most I get out is to walk around the neighborhood, which fortunately has wide streets and residents who politely cross the street to make sure they don’t break social distancing.
by Jarad and
I recently read Sir Phillip Sidney’s, “In Defense of Poesy,” for class, and it got me thinking about my own relationship with poetry. “In Defense of Poesy,” is an essay written during the time of Queen Elizabeth, in response to another essay, written by Stephen Gosson called “the School of Abuse,” which argued that poetry was a waste of time, the, “mother of lies,” (a BIT dramatic there if you ask me), the “nurse of abuse”. Gosson even said that Plato had been right to banish poets from his idealized commonwealth. That last bit is a little inaccurate, actually. Plato only banishes the rogue poets from his utopia, not all poets. But that’s really neither here nor there. Overall, Gosson had some harsh criticism for poetry, and while I sometimes find myself unmoved by poems, I wouldn’t say that it’s a waste of time because that seems like a slippery slope towards censorship, not a censorship by the state necessarily. Even a personal form of censorship is the enemy of free thought. A total ban on one type of expression will probably mean you miss something. Of course, it’s important to understand that “poesy” at the time referred to all fictionalized arts, even prose and drama. Poesy in this usage is the artistic sculpting of truth and beauty, expressing yourself in artifice and fiction, metaphor and symbol.
Things to do While Quarantined
by Jarad Johnson
Most if not all of us are self-isolating right now – if not under outright quarantine. That means that we are all stuck at home, with our loved ones, who we may or may not be about to strangle if we have to spend another second with them. Everyone goes stir crazy eventually, and if hasn’t happened to yet…..it will. So here are some things that I have been doing to keep myself from climbing the walls!
Reading- You might be saying to yourself, “duh,” as this seems like a no- brainer given the fact that we are a literary website, BUT I’ve been reading, wait for it, outside. The great outdoors, god’s country, or, as it’s more commonly known, my back porch. I’m exploring the forest and becoming one with nature, from the comfort of our outdoor couch. The days have been nice here, even if the news hasn’t, and a cup of tea and a little escapist literature never hurt anyone. And if you ever find yourself a bit down and in your own head a bit of a sit or walk outside clears the head if you can manage it. If you are truly stuck inside trade bouts of reading with any kind of exercise – even walking in place!
Mona Lisa's Smile Solved?
by Julie Carpenter
Do you ever have some odd, random thought pop into your head…and instead of simply thinking the thought you start thinking about thinking about the thought? Yeah. Me too.
This morning, while I was brushing my teeth it suddenly occurred to me to wonder about Mona Lisa’s smile. Yes…I know a million other people have had this question. My main concern is not with the cliched and random idea that suddenly popped into my head, it’s more about where the thought came from, the snap conclusion I came to, and why the whole train of thought landed in my station in the first place.
Women and the Power of the Earth
by Jarad Johnson
A few years ago, I reviewed The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which you can read here. I ended up reading it for class this semester, and my gardening senses started tingling when I read about all the plants in the book. I decided to write a paper about the herbs that the witches/healers used in the book, and horticulture's relation historically to witchcraft.
Witches and witchcraft permeate our culture. Every Halloween, without fail, congeries of witch hats flood the streets. There seems to be a cultural fascination with them, especially in recent years. However, witchcraft as a scholarly expedition is not new. Countless articles, journals and books have been written about them. The topics of incubi and succubi, demons, turning into animals, the devil and midnight joy rides on various cleaning apparatus are nearly to the point of being overdone. Well, maybe there’s room for more stories about traveling on appliances as technology advances. Who’s up for some stories about witches riding roombas?
Julie Steals Garden Ideas
by Julie Carpenter
I moved into a new house in April. I have done a few things around the yard. I’ve dug up some flowering peaches that were, sadly, in the wrong place and planted a few low-growing radicans gardenias instead, underplanted with June bearing and ever bearing strawberries. I also threw some seeds in the ground, cleaned out some beds, removed some awkward brick circles filled with irises that won’t bloom due to lack of sun and being buried too deep, and pruned dead branches.
I know that a lot of people move in somewhere and immediately have big garden ideas. I’m not those people. I need time to see how I feel about the garden and how it feels about me. I like to take the time to see if it offers me any gifts. I wait for bulbs and perennials to show themselves, for shrubs I don’t recognize to bloom. My new place might have garden ideas of its own. I don’t make garden decisions quickly. I also need time to steal garden ideas from my neighbors, a practice I highly recommend.
Books hold onto the memories and experiences you had while reading them.
I don’t know about you, but when I look at my shelves, I not only see books, I also see memories. I can pick up a book and oftentimes I remember where I was when I was reading it, or I have a particular memory associated with it. Take The Secret Garden. I was on my aunt’s couch, in the middle of summer, hoping for even a small breeze to blow through that house. That was almost 12 years ago, and I still remember the heat of that summer and how the light fell through the curtains. I have no idea why I can clearly recall that moment and not others, because I am almost constantly reading, but some moments stick, and others don’t. Of course, it’s not always the book that sticks with you, but the emotions surrounding the time when you were reading it. I was reading Eragon when one of my cats died in middle school, and I remember loving that book, but I also can clearly recall that I was halfway through it when the cat passed away.