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The Pleasures of Language: From Acropox to Word Clay

Description A provisional title for this collection was “Fifty Stabs at the Truth of Language,” which despite its weight, I remain fond of because of its nod to Montaigne’s Essais, which the French master thought of as stabs at the truth of his experience. In some ways, that title is a better description of the book you are holding than “The Pleasures of Language,” for the subject is so huge and complex all anyone can do is to take a stab at it in an attempt to unpeel the slippery onion of our tongue. Whatever I choose to call it, this is a book for the general reader who still consults a hardback dictionary and does an occasional crossword. Having never been a glib speaker, despite forty-two years in the English classroom, I turned to the written word long ago. Schopenhauer thought most of us spend forty years preparing the text and thirty on the commentary; with me it’s been more of a sixty-ten split. But I come to the commentary phase well prepared. Laying out the text for me largely consisted of taking notes on 3×5 cards and filing them away for the final phase if I was fortunate enough to last that long. Hart Crane wrote that he needed to be “drenched in words…” in order “to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment.” With me, before writing short essays like these ranging from pornography to prayer and concision to tautologies, I immerse myself in the ideas summarized on my cards. Then I try to teach myself something I didn’t know before. I trust, gentle verb-adores, I have a few things to teach you as well. About the Author Born December 12, 1941 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, Skip Eisiminger is the son of Dorothy and Sterling Eisiminger. In 1959, he graduated from Mt. Vernon HS (his tenth school in twelve years). In 1963 while serving three and a half years in the Army Security Agency, he married Ingrid Barmwater of Helmstedt, West Germany. With her committed assistance, he graduated from Auburn University in 1967 (BS) and 1968 (MA). The same year, he settled his family in Clemson, SC after taking a job teaching English and interdisciplinary humanities at Clemson University. Read more…

The ABCs of Enlightenment

Description In these rich and incisive essays, Robert Day reveals how his “learning” as a student defined his “teaching” at Washington College, the University of Kansas, the Iowa Writers Workshop and other colleges and universities. He learned because his best teachers included him into their intellectual lives, and it seemed natural for him to do the same for his students. The first part of this collection contains tributes to his  teachers, and the second part tells how he followed their examples in his own teaching. About the Author Robert Day’s novel The Last Cattle Drive was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. His short fiction has won a number of awards and citations, including two Seaton Prizes, a Pen/Faulkner NEA prize, and Best American Short Story and Pushcart citations. His fiction has been published by Tri-Quarterly, Black Warrior Review, Kansas Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, Summerset Review, and New Letters among other belles-lettres magazines. He is the author of two novellas, In My Stead, and The Four Wheel Drive Quartet, as well as three collections of short fiction: Speaking French in Kansas, Where I Am Now, and The Billion Dollar Dream. His nonfiction has been published in the Washington Post Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes FYI, Modern Maturity, World Literature Today, American Scholar, and Numero Cinq. As a member of the Prairie Writers Circle, his essays have been reprinted in numerous newspapers and journals nationwide, and on such internet sites as Counterpunch and Arts and Letters Daily. Recent book publications include We Should Have Come By Water (poems), The Committee to Save the World (literary non-fiction), Chance Encounters of a Literary Kind (memoirs), and Let Us Imagine Lost Love (a novel). Among his awards and fellowships are a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, Yaddo and McDowell fellowships, a Maryland Arts Council Award, and the Edgar Wolfe Award for distinguished fiction. His teaching positions include The Iowa Writers Workshop; The University of Kansas; and the Graduate Faculty at Montaigne College, The University of Bordeaux. He is past Acting President of the Associated Writing Programs; the founder and former Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House; and founder and Publisher of the Literary House Press at Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland. Praise To say Bob was an enthusiastic, engaged teacher would be accurate but insufficient. Read more…

No Rule That Isn’t a Dare

I offer up, in summation, writer/director Ron Shelton’s refutation of a younger generation of filmmakers’ blind allegiance to “Show, don’t tell.” “(The) old canard that action defines character is only partly true,” Shelton argued in an interview. “Hamlet wasn’t doing a whole lot when he said, ‘To be or not to be. Read more…

Surviving the Twenty-First Century

Parenting, Corporate Thievery, Aging, Technology, Ideals – one might easily feel overwhelmed. Read more…

The Narrow Gate: Art, Writing & Values

The Narrow Gate presents 19 short essays that explore ways in which literary writing and visual art affirm and clarify values, in our personal lives and in art, itself, with topics ranging from “resilience” to “madness” to “art + work.” These essays often take a personal perspective, written by the editor of New Letters, a leading journal of writing and art; they originally served as introductions to and expansions on writing and art featured in the magazine. Citing the work of contemporaries, such as Daniel Woodrell and Marilyn Kallet, and past writers, such as Cervantes and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author asserts that writing and art uplift and sustain us in our relationships and spiritual endeavors. Included is a selection of art and poetry referred to in the essays. Read more…