While LiturgicalCredo.com remains in limbo, I thought you might like this:

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies

BrianDoyleABookofUncommonPrayerI have a confession. On my very best days, I consider myself agnostic. Most days I throw my hat in with the atheists. But when my mentor and friend recommended I read Doyle’s A Book of Uncommon Prayer, I was beside myself, already in a quandary. Do I tell her? The title alone would have turned me away. Worse, it then became required reading for her class. How could I look her in the eye ever again if I didn’t read the book? I dreamed for weeks of a different set of circumstances where the book had been given to me as a gift, from someone who didn’t know me well. I would politely thank the giver and recycle it at my local used book store, spine un-cracked, ready to be filed under “Religion.”

The problem is, the spine is now cracked, the pages dog-eared, and there is simply too…

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“Poetry is speech at its most personal, the most intimate of dialogues. A poem does not come to life until a reader makes his response to the words written by the poet.

“Propaganda is a monologue which seeks not a response but an echo. To recognize this is not to condemn all propaganda as such. Propaganda is a necessity of all human social life. But to fail to recognize the difference between poetry and propaganda does untold mischief to both: poetry loses its value and propaganda its effectiveness.

“Whatever real social evil exists, poetry, or any of the arts for that matter, is useless as a weapon. Aside from direct political action, the only weapon is factual reportage—photographs, statistics, eyewitness reports.”

—W.H. Auden, in “A Short Defense of Poetry,” an address given at the International PEN Conference in Budapest, October 1967

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Hey folks — This is brilliant:

Sherlocks Home

BattleoftheHamlets

Yesterday was the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. To mark the occasion, the BBC broadcast a live event from the Royal Shakespeare Company celebrating the Bard’s work. A highlight of the show saw several esteemed actors battle it out over the best way to deliver the famous “to be or not to be” speech from Hamlet. And guess who was amongst them…

Yes, following on from his box-office breaking run as the Prince of Denmark last year, Benedict Cumberbatch took to the stage alongside a whole host of thespians like David Tennant, Ian McKellen, Rory Kinnear, Judi Dench… Tim Minchin and, even stranger, Prince Charles himself! See the sketch below:

Shakespeare Live can be viewed online (for UK residents) over at BBC Iplayer.

Shakespeare and Sherlock fans might also be interested to know that TV movie The Hollow Crown:Richard III, which will feature Cumberbatch as the hunchbacked…

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During our stay in London last month, we made a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon for two plays. Shakespeare is buried in Church of the Holy Trinity. Of course, in November, in England, the sun sets around 4:20 p.m. After the first play and an early dinner, the church was closed, and the sun had long set. But I walked with one of my daughters from the theater to the church, where I remembered, in a very dark churchyard full of tombstones, that Shakespeare’s grave is inside the church. I had been there, and made it inside, about two decades before. This time, locked out and sentimental, I was sure to put a hand on the church’s stone exterior. It was a good walk with my daughter from the theatre to the church and back—a good memory for us.

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From Act I, Scene III:

First Witch: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!

Second Witch: All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

Third Witch: All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!

Yesterday, students were practicing that scene in the outdoor courtyard of the humanities building. I was grading papers and taking in the October air.

The scene’s prophecies tantalize Macbeth with the promise of future power. Of course, most of us know how the rest of the play unfolds. Macbeth accepts the prophecies as true, and then he can hardly avoid the temptation to make them quickly become reality. Macbeth ultimately dooms himself with his belief in the prophecies and with his actions to bring about the witches’ forecasts.

While I graded a paper, the undergrads acted out the scene and read the lines.

And I recalled my own reaction to a prophecy I…

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Check out the “Almost an Inkling” Flash Fiction Contest, Week 1:

The Oddest Inkling

magical_door_by_danielgnomesClick over to the contest home page to watch a video in which I talk about the winners and to download a .pdf of the winning entries!

Week 1 was:

Through Mysterious Doors
This week, we entered the world of microfiction with stories of up to 333 words that involved portals into other realms. Our writers took a character through some kind of gateway or past some threshold into a secondary world unlike our own.

POPULAR RUNNER-UP:
Eugene Sullivan, “The Stairwell”

POPULAR WINNER (tied):
Brenton Dickieson, “One Step Into Dawn”

doorPOPULAR WINNER (tied):
Olivia Jakobitz, “Through the Porthole”

LITERARY WINNER Second Runner-Up:
Cheryl Cardoza, “Fairy Rings”

LITERARY WINNER First Runner-Up:
Anne Whitver, “Never Trust a Clock”

LITERARY PRIZE WINNER:
Laura Crouse, “Lot’s Wife”

Here are links to some other works that didn’t win, but you might enjoy reading them:

http://oliviasletters.blogspot.com/2015/10/microfiction.html

https://www.academia.edu/16457825/Tales_from_Underground_Gambit

http://alasnotme.blogspot.com/2015/10/by-waters-of-avalon.html

https://twilightswarden.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/mud-a-short-story/

http://oliviasletters.blogspot.com/2015/10/magical-portals-and-whatnot.html

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True:

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“Those things about which  we cannot theorize, we must narrate.”   — Umberto Eco

~

5Books to Read Before College

Jack White / The White Stripes on vinyl!

Books Mentioned on this Blog

New Music on vinyl!

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Interesting:

Techno Occulture

Future-Maze

Words lie in our way!Wherever primitive mankind setup a word, they believed they had made a discovery. How different the truth is! – they had touched on a problem, and by supposing they had solved it they had created a hindrance to its solution. – Now with every piece of knowledge one has to stumble over dead, petrified words, and one will sooner break a leg than a word.1


  1. Friedrich Nietzsche. Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) (p. 32). Kindle Edition.

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Creative nonfiction as a philosophy of life?

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Appropriate a “worldview” to have an impostor’s point of view.

Or, develop a point of view that allows for the broadest range of possibilities.

I think I’m onto something with the second option.

Creative Nonfiction and Inconclusiveness

In MFA programs, some writers of creative nonfiction attempt to tell personal stories about traumas and crises.

Even the best memoirs can fail to answer fundamental questions about those personal stories.

But I wholeheartedly support those attempts.

“We read to know we’re not alone,” said playwright William Nicholson (who placed those words in C.S. Lewis’s mouth in Shadowlands, a fictitious account of the Narnia creator’s life).

Someone out there needs to hear he or she is not the only one who has been through a particular situation, or even just a particular feeling.

Written works, if not abandoned, have conclusions — but creative nonfiction is not always conclusive. That might seem…

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Autumn 2015 contributor Tara L. Masih is series editor for The Best Small Fictions 2015. Here’s a review from the Evilcyclist’s blog.

Evilcyclist's Blog

The Best Small Fictions 2015 by Robert Olen ButlerThe Best Small Fictions 2015 is a collection of very short fiction originally published by a variety of publications. I was asked if I would review this book by the series editor Tara L. Masih several weeks ago. I accepted because I like it when I am asked to review something that isn’t a vampire apocalypse romance novel. I was not entirely sure what small fiction was about but was told there was prose poetry included. That was good enough for me.

I will say I was very surprised with this collection. I usually do not care for short stories because I feel dropped into the middle of a story and pulled out before it’s over or before I completely understand what is going on. Small fiction, however, is the matchbox of fiction; no story is more than a few short pages. There is also the feeling of completeness in…

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