Tuesday, February 6, 2018

2018 Writing Challenge

You are invited to write a poem about the ancient solar symbolism and imagery of the Bible. Here is an image to contemplate. It is a bishop's crozier with a sun in the pattern of a coiled serpent.

To understand how this speaks of God and the divine appointment of rulers and priests, read this article The Serpent of Moses's Staff.

Send your best work to me at aproeditor-at-gmail-dot-com. The best submissions will be published here in March 2018. All ages are invited to participate.

Previous contests

2015 Random Word Poetry Contest

Friday, January 12, 2018

INDEX of Topics

INDEX current as of 12 January 2018

ADVICE for Writers
The Writer's Obligation by Wendell Berry
Advise for Writers by Elizabeth Gilbert
Writer's Block. No Problem
John Scalzi Speaks to Young Writers
Meter and English Language Poetry
8 Ways to Stimulate Creative Writing
Floating a Book Proposal
Print-on-Demand Self-Publishing
Commissioned Work Can Be Rejected
Poetry Dances by Ed Pacht
Interview with Orhan Pamuk
Hope Ellen Rapson Reflects on her Classical Education

The Challenges Writing Teachers Face
Depicting Violence in Fiction
Use Poetry to Teach Parts of Speech
Virtual Non-Reality
The Problem of Suffering
Creative Tension Between Plot and Theme
Building Student Portfolios
Focus on Details
Opening Paragraphs That Rock
Priming the Poetry Pump
Poetry Experiment
The Fiction Germs That Spreads
Scholarly Reflection Produces Poem
Evocative Poetry
From News Report to Poem
Want to Write Poetry? Read Literature!
What Makes a Good Short Story?
Poems Are Orange Juice Concentrate
Hope Rapson Offers Writing Instruction
A Poetry Experiment
Ana Maria Matute's Childhood (in Spanish)


James Bernstein
    James Bernstein's New Book

Kate Breslin
    In Defense of Kate Breslin's For Such A Time

Tad Cornell
    The Needle's Eye: Sonnets to Cristos

Cynthia Erlandson
    These Holy Mysteries

Naguib Mahfouz
    The Cairo Trilogy

Ed Pacht
    Sylvanus Anonymus of the Greenfriars

Luci Shaw
    Harvesting Fog

Rayanne Sinclair
    Beso Dulce
    Steal Away
    Page Turner
    Flight Risk

Jackie French
   The Girl From Snowy River

Elizabeth Laird
   Hiding Out

Nick Muzekari  
   A Gift For Matthew

Psychometrics of Mystery Writers
Why Read Old Books? by Victor Davis Hanson
Favorite Orthodox Reading
Old and Relevant

Writing Challenge 2017
Random Word Poetry Contest (2015)
Chandler Hamby Wins the Short Story Extension Contest
Short Story Contest (2013)
Contest Winners (2011)
Random Word List Poetry Context (2009)
From Random to Reason (2008)
Arabic Prince of Poets Contest
Cheese Poem Contest
Spanish Short Shorts Contest Winners

In The Spring by Guy De Maupassant
Who Were the Linkings?
JRR Tolkien: Hope for the Older Writer
Tolkien's Masterpiece (excerpt) by Rossko
C.S. Lewis Explains the Allegory of Narnia
Stories Don't Hold Still, Ed Pacht
Spirituality-Lite is a Hot Commodity by Bronwyn Lea
Chesterton on the Value of Detective Stories
Chesterton on Premature Celebrations of Christmas
Charles Williams as Literary Critic by Stephen Barber
Mark Twain 100 Years Later
Dorothy Sayers: A Mind of Her Own by Alice C. Linsley
Who is Sunday? Who is Thursday? by Alice C. Linsley
Divorce Episcopal Style by Alice C. Linsley
Prince Caspian: Taking the Right Path by Connie Looney Cassels
C.S. Lewis on the Resurrection
Be True to the Truth At Your Core
Pen Pecked Dreamers by Alice C. Linsley
Religious Themes in Writing
Of Wasps and Darwin by William Henry Hudson (1841-1922)
The Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth by Thomas De Quincey
On Unamuno's Prayer of the Atheist
On Childhood: Before the "Dark Hour of Reason"
Herding Pigs by Gwyneth Berry
Kayaking by Hannah O’Malley

Halloween or All Saints?

The Frustration of Jonah
Meditation on a Broomstick
Eve's Diary (According to Mark Twain)

The Writer's Journal

Seamus Heaney Died Today
Kaleem Omar RIP

POEMS (listed alphabetically by topic or author)

Acrostic poems

Belshazzar's Wall by Ed Pacht
Hannah's Acrostic by Hannah Mulliken
How I Love Ice Cream (Spanish acrostic) by Hannah Mulliken
Acrostic for Hannah Mulliken by Ed Pacht
Color Me Thankful by Haley Grace Hall

Trying Not to Be Too Sunny by Mary Harwell Sayler
The Africa Chesterton Never Knew by Alice C. Linsley

Alice C. Linsley's poems
Athos Tabernacle
Hard to Love
Mystic Exile

Ancient Monuments
Ziggurat (and Helix) by Amy Chai
Two Cities by Peter Mullen

Canis Major by Robert Frost
Reflections of the Chabot Observatory by Edna Linsley Gressitt
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer by Walt Whitman

Autumn Daybreak by Edna St. Vincent Millay
October by William Cullen Bryant
Autumn Pentecost by Cynthia Erlandson

Banana Man by Ansil Williams (Trinidad and Tobago)

Morning Birdsong by Sam Whitaker
A Blackbird Singing by R.S. Thomas
May my heart always be open to little birds by E.E. Cummings
Care of Birds For Their Young by James Thomson
Windbound by Lydia Emeric

Boy Scouts
The Boy Scout's Mother to Her Friends by Edna Linsley Gressitt

Camping by Ashlynn Watkins

The Final Redemption of Cats by Dorothy L. Sayers
In Memory of Max, My Kissing Kitty

Poems About Cheese

Christ the Redeemer of All, poem by St. Ambrose of Milan
Surrender by Peter Ould
Jesus and the Concrete Jungle
The Pursuit by John C. Nichols

Did You Know? by Shelby Stuart
A Song of Gifts to God by G.K. Chesterton
The House of Christmas by G.K. Chesterton
The Three Wisemen by G.K. Chesterton
Chesterton on Premature Celebrations of Christmas
The First Christmas by Chandler Hamby (Grade 6)
Christmas Poems by George Herbert
Hypostasis by Hope Ellen Rapson
A Stable Should Suffice

Raymond Foss: New Hampshire Poet

Trophy by Curtis Surovy

Daily Routine
Tedium by Ransford Laryea
Tuesday Morning by Matthew Morgan

Poem About Dog Sledding by Curtis Surovy
My Party by Ed Pacht
Topaz's Misadventure by Miriam Parrish

Doors Close by Mason O'Connor
Houses, Gates and Doors

Ed Pacht's poems
Go Ye Into the City
Pain Like Broken Bones
A Really Big Party
Mass of the Visitation
Lament for the Hills
The Rose
Spoiled Milk
Why Do I Write?
Acrostic for Hannah Mulliken
Leah's Burden
Love-Soaked Road
Ed Pacht Captures Mickey Blue Eyes
Novum Ordo
From Random to Reason
Ed Pacht: New Hampshire Poet
The Precious Wood
A Hard Lent
Wise Men Follow

Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen by George Herbert
Easter Monday ("Bright Monday") by Cynthia Erlandson
Genesis 3:15: What Easter is About by Dior Hartje and Courtney Rupp
Bunny Joy by Piper Todd
A Blessed Easter

The Prayer of the Atheist by Miguel de Unamuno

Trout by Kaleem Omar

My Perfect Neighbor by Alice C. Linsley

Digging by Seamus Heaney
Faint Remembrance of Paradise by Hannah Mulliken

Robert Frost on a Disused Graveyard

The Hike by Mallory Phillips

My Childhood's Home by Abraham Lincoln
Homeless in LA by Matthew Morgan

On Being Human by C.S. Lewis

Temptation in the Wired Wilderness by Holly Ordway

King Arthur/Arthurian Legend
Taliessen (excerpt) by Charles Williams

Lenten Meditations
Stepping Out From the Shadows by Amy Bridges
Pride Halts Progress by Andrew Calvert
Beyond One's Self by Zach Esenbock
Making a Place For Love by Rick Childress
Looking Past the Haze by Nelson Lane
A Hard Lent by Ed Pacht

What God's Love Can Do by Hope Ellen Rapson
Lope de Vega on Love

The Mountains by Edward Muir
Alone Looking at the Mountain by Li Po
Returning to Songshan Mountain by Wang Wei
Lament for the Hills by Ed Pacht

Mystic Exile by Alice C. Linsley
Prophet's Payday by John C. Nichols

Anthropologic Study of True Myths by Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo

Ode to Marian Anderson by Ransford Laryea

Pain and Suffering
Pain Like Broken Bones by Ed Pacht
Affliction by George Herbert
Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda

Do I Really Want to Know? by Martiese Morone
Windbound by Lydia Emeric

We Who Prayed and Wept by Wendell Berry
Poems and Songs for Memorial Day
Fourth of July poem "Screaming Fire" by Chandler Hamby

Possible Answers to Prayer by Scott Cairns
Missa Cantata by Evelyn Underhill
Mass on the Feast of Transfiguration by Ed Pacht

John Bekkos in Jail by Peter Gilbert

Waiting for the Spring Rain by Ed Pacht
Rain by Hannah O'Malley

The Final Redemption of Cats by Dorothy L. Sayers

St. Cecilia's Song by Ursula Vaughan Williams
Espiritu by Rayanne Sinclair
Ave Maria Gratia Plena by Oscar Wilde
Religious Poetry

The Rose by Ed Pacht

View of the Sea by Justin Clements
The Farmer and the Sea by Wendell Berry
Funeral by the Sea by Chandler Hamby
Sailing by Gwyneth Elaine Berry

The Hope of New Snow by Dior Hartje
Winter's Alliteration by Justin Clements

[in Just-] by E.E. Cummings
Unfailing Spring by Savannah Baker, Lydia Emeric, Jordan Romain
Yearning for Spring After a Hard Winter, a poem by Sue Smith
When Spring Dons Her Flowers
A Cold Spring by Elizabeth Bishop
Hold Fast to Good Things

August by Lizette Woodworth Reese

Texas Hill Country by Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo

Acrostic to Celebrate Thanksgiving by Haley Grace Hall

On Time by John Milton
Time by Callula Xu

The Accomplishments of Trees
Wendell Berry's Farm
Out From the Shadows by Amy Bridges

Tropical Islands
The Tropics by Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen
Night By the River by Arjane rona Cruz Torres (The Philippines)
Banana Man by Ansil Williams (Trinidad and Tobago)

On Vain and Shallow Women
Cardenal's Prayer for Marlyn Monroe

Winter's Alliteration by Justin Clements

Zacchaeus and Jesus by Tatiana Kopchuk
Fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 (excerpt) Fr. John Hunwicke’s Christmas homily at St Thomas’ Oxford
Spurgeon's 1885 New Year's Sermon
Peter Marshall on the American Dream

The Flint Knife by Jordan Romain
Solitary by Alice C. Linsley
The Boy and the Jewel that Made Him King by Hannah Mulliken
Soft Thorns by Chandler Hamby
El disastre en el campo por Victoria Bastin
The Hand of God, Kristy Robinson Horine
A causa de mi papa por Anthony Morello
El payaso y la abeja por Benjamin Guzicki
Mi tio en un lio por Kelsey Lamb
La dependiente vigilante por Brittany Cole
El pescado prevido por Katie Tierney
Un cambio de fortuna por Taylor Goodlett
Mi perro afortunado por Sheila Holsclaw
El padre equivocado por Suzannne Casey
La obsesión del conductor por Kelsie Doss
Siempre feliz por Daniel Lyons

A Dancing Disciple
I am Persuaded
Loving God With My Mind

Saul Bellow
Jose Luis Borges
Charlotte Brontë
Rita Mae Brown
G.K. Chesterton on Divine Frivolity
Annie Dillard
Fannie Hurst
Dorothy Parker
Ayn Rand's Claim to Be Unique
Carl Sandburg
John Saul
Dorothy Sayers
Mary Heaton Vorse


Wendell Berry
Be Not Ashamed
The Old Elm Tree By the River
The Writer's Obligation
The Farmer and the Sea
The Stones
The Farm (excerpt)

Jose Luis Borges
Remembering Jose Luis Borges
"Merely a Man of Letters" Jose Luis Borges: An interview

William Cullen Bryant
Autumn Daybreak

Scott Cairns
Possible Answers to Prayer
Scott Cairns Explores Reality Through Poetry
On Slow Learning

Ernesto Cardenal
Prayer for Marilyn Monroe

G.K. Chesterton
Chesterton on the Value of Detective Stories
Chesterton on the Kingdom of Heaven
Who is Sunday? Who is Thursday?
Christmas Day
On Premature Celebrations of Christmas
The Wise Men
The Donkey's Greatest Moment
St. G.K. Chesterton
The Three Wisemen
The Africa Chesterton Never Knew
The House of Christmas

Joseph Conrad
The Censorship of Plays in Great Britain
Joseph Conrad's The Censor of Plays

E.E. Cummings
May my heart always be open to little birds

Dante's Creed

Charles Dickens
Dickens on English Churches

Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Fyodor Dostoevsky
Dostoevsky's Orthodox Convictional Faith by Dimitru Sevastian
Dostoevsky's Confession

John Finlay 
On Rembrandt's Portrait of an Old Man Reading the Scriptures

Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Haunted Mind

Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls

George Herbert
The Pearl
Prayer the Churches Banquet
O! Let me rise

W.H. Hudson
Of Wasps and Darwin

Juana de Ibarbarou
About Juana de Ibarbarou (in Spanish)

John Keats
On the Grasshopper and the Cricket

C.S. Lewis
The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment
C.S. Lewis Explains the Allegory of Narnia
Lewis' Impressions of Billy Graham
Hedonism in the Chronicles of Narnia
On Being Human

García LorcaThe Lament of the Guitar

Ana Maria Matute
About Ana Maria Matute (in Spanish)

Edna St.Vincent Millay
Autumn Daybreak

John Milton
Milton's Rational Lost Angel (excerpt from Paradise Lost)
The Rivers of Eden (excerpt from Paradise Lost)
On Time

Pablo Neruda
Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Children's Hour

Octavio Paz
Wind, Water and Stone

Rainer Maria Rilke
In the Beginning

Dorothy Sayers
The Lost Tools of Learning
Response to Dorothy Sayers' Lost Tools by Alice C. Linsley
Last Morning in Oxford
The Final Redemption of Cats

William Shakespeare
Famous Shakespeare Quotes
Shakespeare Lost in Translation, excerpt from Laura Bohannan's "Miching Mallecho, That Means Witchcraft" Magic, Witchcraft, and Curing. University of Texas Press.

Jonathan Swift
Meditation on a Broomstick

R.S. Thomas
A Blackbird Singing

Hunter Stockton Thompson

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tad Cornell's The Needle's Eye

Published by Juggling Teacups Press, United States (2016)

Tad Cornell has produced 109 sonnets threaded together like pearls on a strand. The poems deal with a variety of themes, including Hollywood films, Native American legends, early US history, and disasters and human delinquency. The author offers insights on found objects that speak of yearning for an abiding home. The work is sometimes quirky, but in an elegant way. He has mastered the sonnet.
"Tad Cornell's beautifully crafted and sonorous poems create a high formal music that explores mysteries, sacred and secular. He is a Catholic poet of substance and originality." -Dana Gioia, Laetare Medal the American Book Award winner, and former chair, National Endowment for the Art

"Cornell’s poems remind one of Dylan’s panoply of personae, although the characters here appear with even more suddenness and effect (however impossible it may seem) than 'Einstein disguised as Robin Hood' or 'the Phantom of the Opera in the perfect image of a priest.' We meet the imaginary(?) 'Sorrowful Jones,' throughout the work, but at intervals are treated to cameos by figures as diverse as Martha and George Washington, Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart , Pau-Puk-Keewis and Manabozho, and, of course, G.K. Chesterton, whose influence upon the writer is evident." -Joseph Grabowski, friend of the poet

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Accomplishments of Trees

A Final Affection
by Paul Zimmer

I love the accomplishments of trees,
How they try to restrain great storms
And pacify the very worms that eat them.
Even their deaths seem to be considered.
I fear for trees, loving them so much.
I am nervous about each scar on bark,
Each leaf that browns. I want to
Lie in their crotches and sigh,
Whisper of sun and rains to come.

Sometimes on summer evenings I step
Out of my house to look at trees
Propping darkness up to the silence.

When I die I want to slant up
Through those trunks so slowly
I will see each rib of bark, each whorl;
Up through the canopy, the subtle veins
And lobes touching me with final affection;
Then to hover above and look down
One last time on the rich upliftings,
The circle that loves the sun and moon,
To see at last what held the darkness up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Cold Spring

A cold spring:
the violet was flawed on the lawn.
For two weeks or more the trees hesitated;
the little leaves waited,
carefully indicating their characteristics.
Finally a grave green dust
settled over your big and aimless hills.
One day, in a chill white blast of sunshine,
on the side of one a calf was born.
The mother stopped lowing
and took a long time eating the after-birth,
a wretched flag,
but the calf got up promptly
and seemed inclined to feel gay.

The next day
was much warmer.
Greenish-white dogwood infiltrated the wood,
each petal burned, apparently, by a cigarette-butt;
and the blurred redbud stood
beside it, motionless, but almost more
like movement than any placeable color.
Four deer practiced leaping over your fences.
The infant oak-leaves swung through the sober oak.
Song-sparrows were wound up for the summer,
and in the maple the complementary cardinal
cracked a whip, and the sleeper awoke,
stretching miles of green limbs from the south.
In his cap the lilacs whitened,
then one day they fell like snow.
Now, in the evening,
a new moon comes.
The hills grow softer. Tufts of long grass show
where each cow-flop lies.
The bull-frogs are sounding,
slack strings plucked by heavy thumbs.

Beneath the light, against your white front door,
the smallest moths, like Chinese fans,
flatten themselves, silver and silver-gilt
over pale yellow, orange, or gray.
Now, from the thick grass, the fireflies
begin to rise:
up, then down, then up again:
lit on the ascending flight,
drifting simultaneously to the same height,
–exactly like the bubbles in champagne.
–Later on they rise much higher.
And your shadowy pastures will be able to offer
these particular glowing tributes
every evening now throughout the summer.

--Elizabeth Bishop

Friday, January 6, 2017

A New Year and Open Doors


In varied shapes, sizes, and hues
A myriad from which to choose
Some stay closed; others open wide.
We all approach and decide
Which ones on which to knock,
But carry no key for any lock
That bars opportunities
Or presents impossibilities.

This New Year, is a door that’s opening,
Filling hearts and minds with hoping…
Oh, Creator God of Mysteries,
Only You hold all those keys.
We, mortals trapped in time,
Struggle your loving ways to mime;
Open doors that reveal your Face,
Fill this year with your Mercy and Grace!

Hope Ellen Rapson - January 2017

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How Far to Bethlehem?

Snowy Bethlehem

How Far Is It To Bethlehem?
by Frances Alice Blogg Chesterton (wife of G.K. Chesterton)

How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find the stable room
Lit by a star?

Can we see the little Child?
Is He within?
If we lift the wooden latch
May we go in?

May we stroke the creatures there
Ox, ass, or sheep?
May we peep like them and see
Jesus asleep?

If we touch His tiny hand
Will He awake?
Will He know we’ve come so far
Just for His sake?

Great kings have precious gifts
And we have naught
Little smiles and little tears
Are all we have brought.

For all weary children
Mary must weep
Here, on His bed of straw
Sleep, children, sleep.

God in His mother’s arms
Babes in the byre
Sleep, as they sleep who find
Their heart’s desire.

Related reading: Frances Chesterton; G.K. Chesterton's A Song of Gifts to God; G.K. Chesterton's The Wise Men; G.K. Chesterton's The House of Christmas