You asked about my favorite writer and favorite poet. I couldn’t really provide an answer during the business mixer, so said I’d send the reply as an email. Here it is:
Julian Barnes is an excellent writer who just produced an outstanding book: “The Sense of an Ending” that I shared last night.
I have read a review of the book, and I am about 1/3 of the way through it. Ironically, the review came AFTER I obtained the book. I came across it in an unexpected source–a magazine I get called “First Things”–a publication focusing on taking moral/religious issues into the public square. Go figure. I’m not completely sure of the connection. I think the reviewer made this point: Which “stories” are reliable? How do we selectively remember our personal stories to serve our conscious, and sometimes subconscious purposes? That might have something to do with how we show up in life: are we able to do a real spiritual self-examination? Better yet, the kind of God focused cross-examination that reveals our deeper motivations? See Psalm 139.
You asked who is my favorite writer? I don’t get asked that often, and I struggled to answer that. I have the complete short stories of Flannery O’Connor. I like her writing because it is an edifice of the spirit constructed from mud bricks. She was an American southern writer who took her material from the “down home” ways of the south–simple uneducated people with complex motivations.
I would have loved to meet her. She died in 1964 at just age 39, but had already written 2 novels and a host of short stories. Read one of her short stories that is in the genre of “Christian realism.” Called: “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” She is the kind of Christian I admire, and who is “hard to find”: no gloss, no pretensions, raw truth. Here is what Wikipedia quotes her as saying: O’Connor described herself as a “pigeon-toed child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-alone-or-I’ll-bite-you complex.”[
So, why do I want to meet a woman like that? You know, characters are so rare.
As for poets, that is so much more difficult. I really admire another woman, equally strange, and even more reclusive than O’Connor. Emily Dickenson. Her poems were experimental for their time–completely outside the box. It’s incredible to think she wrote this way over 150 years ago. I think she suffered from some sort of anxiety based agoraphobia in her later years. Her poems are often short, not especially concerned with rhyme, with vivid, real, everyday images.
But if you want an introduction to poetry that is short, entertaining, daily, and varied, go to Garrison Keillor’s “A Writers’ Almanac” online. http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/
I’ve shared so much because I have had my world opened to a great richness through writing and poetry, and want to share that opportunity with others. Let me know if any of this information helps you open your own doors to something rich and nurturing.