A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write (The Art by Bret Anthony Johnston, Melissa Pritchard

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By Bret Anthony Johnston, Melissa Pritchard

Poets & Writers “Best Books for Writers" selection
Publishers Weekly “Top 10: Literary Biographies, Essays & Criticism"
In an essay entitled “Spirit and Vision" Melissa Pritchard poses the query: “Why write?" Her resolution reverberates all through A Solemn excitement, featuring an indisputable case for either the facility of language and the nurturing fidelity of the writing lifestyles. no matter if describing the deeply inside innovative lifestyles required to write down fiction, looking for the misplaced legacy of yank literature as embodied through Walt Whitman, being embedded with a tender lady GI in Afghanistan, touring with Ethiopian tribes, or revealing the heartrending tale of her informally followed son William, a former Sudanese baby slave, this is often nonfiction vividly engaged with the realm. In those fifteen essays, Pritchard stocks her ardour for writing and storytelling that educates, honors, and inspires.
Melissa Pritchard is the writer of, so much lately, the unconventional Palmerino and the fast tale assortment The Odditorium. Her books have bought the Flannery O'Connor, Janet Heidinger Kafka, and Carl Sandburg awards and of her brief fiction collections have been big apple instances awesome ebook and Editors' selection choices. Pritchard has labored as a journalist in Afghanistan, India, and Ethiopia, and her nonfiction has seemed in quite a few courses, together with O, The Oprah journal, Arrive, Chicago Tribune, and Wilson Quarterly. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Additional resources for A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write (The Art of the Essay Series)

Sample text

22 The messages transmitted by Lowell’s procedures are mixed: he wants to record and make public his ‘imperfect’ work in progress while also indicating that he is striving to compose poems that, like the old belongings in 91 Revere Street, ‘because finished, […] are endurable and perfect’. 23 There is something latently megalomaniacal about Lowell’s completist fantasy for the Notebook–History project. The compulsively acquisitive nature of a poetic endeavour in which even the accidental and ‘throwaway’ (NB 263) are accommodated into verse, the conception of Notebook as ‘one poem, […] not a pile or sequence of related material’ (262), and, in particular, Lowell’s aspiration to produce a work of ‘History’ in verse form, with a chronology of events running from Creation to the present, all indicate an ‘unusual lust’ to compel the world’s heterogeneity into unity and order.

After all, over-energetic advocacy can produce its own kind of enervating effects. The enduring fascination of Lowell’s verse requires no special pleading. 1 A litany of notorious despots (both historical and mythological) runs like a dark vein through his poetry. 2 While he does not glamourize their violent exploits, his imaginative engagement with the thoughts and deeds of tyrannical personalities evinces a kind of appalled admiration, complicated at times by a degree of sympathy for their self-destructive tendencies.

Both poems move towards a sententious note of public blessing (‘peace to our children when they fall’, ‘Health to those who held’), yet both are keen to ‘break loose’ from the demands of public accountability. What ‘Waking Early Sunday Morning’ most significantly has in common with ‘The March’ is a presiding spirit of negative self-awareness. This trait can be seen when, for example, Lowell expresses a sense of personal identification with President Lyndon Johnson. Each spends his proverbial day of rest hounded by the same compound of impulses – indolence, bravado, libido, self-absorption and self-disgust: O to break loose.

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