Merciful Travels with Anne Lamott

Written by a writer friend and client

Sarah E. McIntosh

Thought 2: Reading

Anne Lamott’s books never fail to impress and inspire. Years ago I was given a copy of her book Bird by Bird, and being in the midst of my addiction to more costly highs, didn’t pick it up again for many more years. Not until I finished writing my own book did I dust it off and begin to read. Now bird by bird I’m pecking away and have been on a Lamott book binge. In true addict-fashion I want more. I want to devour her words and at the same time I don’t want them to end. I just traveled along on the journey she shares in Traveling Mercies.  Hi, my name is Sarah and I am a book addict.

Book addiction is a lesser of many evils that I have, or could, indulge in though it shares many of the same characteristics. No longer are…

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It Happened Here

Most writers today who publish eventually have to come to terms with plagiarism and the low-down rip-off artists who practice it. It’s everywhere now, to be sure, and no place is it more common and flagrant than online.

The motives for this theft of the products of someone else’s mind and imagination are many. Someone wanting to sound smarter than he/she is by passing off well-wrought prose as one’s own, the urgent need of a harried sub-par journalist writing under deadline, and finally, some jerk who does it just for the heck of it because it’s so easy and the chances of being caught and punished are slim.

Yet to me, none of these  malefactors even approaches the really odious types who steal another’s written work,  presenting it as if it were their own and then sell it to this gullible individual (usually a clueless student) for use as a term paper or some other faux academic exercise as a specimen of his/her own intellectual achievement.

The online “paper mills”  that supply the lame-brained of academia are everywhere and do a lively trade selling “papers” of every kind (term papers, theses, dissertations, white papers), in every style and length.  Some of them are original, some are scribbled out hastily with minimal research, some are dashed off by the minions of the paper mills “customized” to fulfill a particular order to satisfy a particular assignment, while others are ripped wholesale from the internet and marketed on the thieves’ own websites as brilliant “one of a kind” works guaranteed to blow the socks off any instructor or professor.

The fact is plagiarism is illegal, it is stealing, and punishable in all countries that are members of the International Copyright Convention.  The law itself, and its many provisions is a subject too grand for this little burp in the wind post.  Another time, maybe.

But, the (additional!) fact is, recently I too was an unwitting victim of these nitwits. Yeah. Remember all those posts on Flannery O’Connor I wrote a few years ago? Posted here? On her letters as well? Well, low and behold, they are now also stuffed into several “papers” on a certain website and being marketed/sold as original work (they sure were, mine) guaranteed to get an A.

The irony is Google caught this.  But I caught it when Google coughed it up when I did a search on O’Connor. It’s like a cat chasing its tail. On and on. Crazy! And there is not much I can do but MAKE A FRIGGIN INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT OF THIS! Which I WILL DO once I’ve regained my composure.

THEY ARE GONERS! THIS WILL NOT STAND!

Posted in journalism, Literature, Plagiarism, publishing | 11 Comments

“I’m Nobody/Who are You?” Emily Dickinson: Major New Book & Exhibit

Posted in American Literature, Emily Dickinson Poetry, Literature, poetry | 1 Comment

Is It Just Me, or that “The World Is too Much with Us?”

william-wordsworth

I woke up at two a.m. this morning with this well-known masterpiece by the incomparable English bard Wordsworth coiling through my mind.

This sonnet was penned in Britain just as the Industrial Revolution was upending the trusted old courtesies and mores, and wreaking widespread damage in English cities and the countryside. It seems incredibly current and timely today. Amazing, because no one in the eighteenth or nineteenth century could have anticipated the incipient mess could have swollen to the size and seriousness confronting us today.

“The World Is Too Much With Us”
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
Posted in Literary Classics, Literature, poetry, poets | Tagged | 9 Comments

Baby, it’s cold inside …

The "Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is."
Wallace Stevens was a seminal, groundbreaking American modernist poet.  A contemporary of Eliot, he flipped the archetype of the wan, pale, misunderstood verbal virtuoso.  Instead, he pursued a lucrative career as a vice president of Hartford Life Insurance and yet somehow was also able to simultaneously write and publish mind-bending original verse in a distinctively American idiom.  Go figure.  Right brain, left brain, maybe. But that’s one of the hallmarks of genius in my book.
Anyway, here is one of his more popular poems to ponder and parse if you are so inclined. Stay warm, stay well.  Spring will be here before you know it, with its birds, bees and own distinctive conundra and delights.
                                          “The Snow Man”
                                           Wallace Stevens
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
—————————————————————
Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man” from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens and renewed 1982 by Holly Stevens. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Posted in American Literature, Literature, poetry, poets | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

The Father’s Eye. . .

I clipped this beautiful poem from the New York Times years ago.  It still remains one of my all-time Christmas favorites. So subtle, understated and allusive.  Thought I’d share while wishing you the joy of this miraculous season! Pardon the watermarks; it’s survived a lot of handling.

star of the nativity brodsky

fav Russian emigre poet

Save

Posted in Joseph Brodsky, Literature, poetry, poets | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Joy to the World!

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
 Let earth receive her King;
 Let every heart prepare Him room,
 And Heaven and nature sing,
 And Heaven and nature sing,
 And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
 
 Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
 Let men their songs employ;
 While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
 Repeat the sounding joy,
 Repeat the sounding joy,
 Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.
 
 No more let sins and sorrows grow,
 Nor thorns infest the ground;
 He comes to make His blessings flow
 Far as the curse is found,
 Far as the curse is found,
 Far as, far as, the curse is found.
 
 He rules the world with truth and grace,
 And makes the nations prove
 The glories of His righteousness,
 And wonders of His love,
 And wonders of His love,
 And wonders, wonders, of His love.
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