A Beautiful Teacher: A Tribute to Maya Angelou

I had the opportunity to listen to Maya Angelou on February 28, 2010, at a one-hour talk she gave at Ohio State University. I was nearing the end of my doctoral studies, finishing my dissertation. I'd grown cynical of intellectual celebrity and was a bit seduced, if not confused, by some of the orthodoxies of university teaching fads and ideas.I was prepared to scoff at this larger than life poet and her adoring fanatics.Her presence alone captured my immediate attention and respect and … [Read more...]

The Tree of Life: An Overview

   Characters: Father: Brad Pitt. Mother: Jessica Chastain. Adult Eldest Son: Sean Penn. Eldest Son (Jack): darker-haired, big eared, occasionally mean boy. Middle Son: dirty blonde, artist (guitar and painting), gentle boy. Youngest Son: sandy brown hair.   Scenes, in sequential order: The Two Ways: A prism flame in the darkness. Voice: “Brother. Mother. It was they who led me to your door.” The way of grace and the way of nature.Grief: Mother finds out that middle son has bee … [Read more...]

Something Remarkable in Steubenville

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I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville from 2001 to 2005; I used to play music most Thursday nights in the back room of the The Spot Bar, to a group of students. The "townies" stayed at the front end of the bar, segregated by class, custom, and self-importance. We shared the gross bathrooms. A stinky solidarity.I played two benefit concerts for The Harmonium Project this past October and, in the process, I got to know the core group of young visionaries working there. I saw their … [Read more...]

Art Perfects Nothing: Review of “The Thorny Grace of It”

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Joseph Bottum puts it plainly, here at Patheos: "Forget the culture-wars crap."He's right, and his urgent, huffy tone is appropriate.  I wrote something similar, almost a year ago, and since then I've had countless conversations with likeminded Catholics who are doing the creative work it takes to move beyond the culture wars.One such Catholic is Brian Doyle.His recent book of essays is a pleasure to read most of all because it is refreshing to read the words of someone who clearly … [Read more...]

LIVE at The Empire UPDATED

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Last night I played the first all-original set I've played since 2006, at Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis, at The Empire theatre in downtown Grand Forks, North Dakota. The show lasted just over an hour and a half and I played songs I've written from 2003 to the present. I was joined by my brother-in-law, Shawn Kolles, on drums. Here is most of the full show (with part II below)  and, below that, I'll add links to the individual songs as they get uploaded. Enjoy!SPANISH CHOIR THERE WAS A … [Read more...]

Polish Easter

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Polish Easter Easter Ether Eastern East Feast Feast Feast, Feast Feast Feast Polish Sausage, Aleluja! … [Read more...]

“One Pop Harem,” a bedtime story by Sam and Sam

Another "former student and present friend" (I've been blessed with several of them) and I wrote a book of poetry together last year, entirely by accident, in a dialogue written on paper plates, serenaded by the music of Spencer Ellliott.We transcribed the poems and interviews, edited them, and self-published the collection as a chapbook: Poems by Sam and Sam. I consider it the best thing of mine in print to date.We're going to co-author another, much longer book this spring: Distance … [Read more...]

Advent

Not Good Friday or Holy Saturday Dark, yes, but no suspense Pregnant, not sad No mourning or crying Just waiting Tapping my foot to Feasts and other holy days Nicholas, Ambrose, Guadalupe The air is ripe and flushed As her cheeks must have been Full of hope and promise Foretold.Meanwhile christmas rages and wars Singing, eating, never fasting Bumper stickers and atheist apologetics Electric lights, neon carols New movies shopping for a token Hanukah Concerts play cards I need … [Read more...]

A Shepherd Must Be

The man who writes longhand, Pope Benedict XVI, has a Twitter account. Eight of them, to be exact. Maybe more? @Pontifex, in every tongue. What will he say? What will he Tweet? Will he type? What? Questions create hashtags: irreverent, obscene, loathing, adoring, pious, honest, curious, silly, cute and clever. Asking, ridiculing, wondering, defending. Why would he come here, to this wild place? Why dwell in virtual reality, this projection, this wastebasket for time and thought? What brings … [Read more...]

Abraham’s Vision

A poem for the weekend...Take hope, oh my soul, Raise your eyes above; Lose yourself, die, In vast sky-seas of love.Tides of mortal worry Torture you no more; Suffering, aged and sweet, Free from shallow shore.Baptism, divinely murdered, In night's eternal light; Heartflesh pierced, shifting gaze--- Blindness conquers sight.How wondrous are your ways; So close and deep within. Take hope, oh my soul: The heavens are your kin. … [Read more...]


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