articles + resources

interview: sheldon lee compton

17th November

{ in this interview, sheldon lee compton ruminates on fiction, revision, and writing as a life discipline }

when you picture someone reading your fiction, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others or interacting with what you’ve made?

This is going to sound strange, but I don’t picture anyone at all when I write.  I listen to the words in my head, how they knock against each other, how they dance together.  I hear that and picture the scenes in my head, but no reader.  Even the scenes are just these sort of washed out gray images, the same for my dreams, strangely.  Sometimes after I’ve finished a book or story I might consider … Read More »

interview: karen swallow prior

3rd November

{ in this interview, karen swallow prior discuss her process and the challenges of writing toward truth }

you’re primarily known as—I think—a lover and evangelist for the transformative power of words and literature. that said, i wonder if you can tell us how this project—“fierce convictions: the extraordinary life of hannah more”—fits into your overall interests as a teacher of literature, promoter of the poetic, and woman of “fierce convictions” yourself…

In her life and work, Hannah More embodied these very things. As soon as I discovered More in a dusty old book while doing my doctoral research, I knew I had found a kindred spirit. More started out as a teacher and brought to that position a love of language and words which she’d displayed since she was a toddler. When she left classroom teaching to become a professional writer … Read More »

interview: david wright

28th October

{ in this interview, poet david wright discusses craft, inspiration, and revision }

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

Two things come to mind. First, how the hell do I know? I mean, I hope that a person who reads the poems comes to them with a generous spirit and that the poem rewards that generosity in such a way that she’ll want to return to the poem (or another one) again. But you can’t (and shouldn’t) control that. It’s a reader’s freedom to come to a poem with whatever needs and hopes he carries around all the time. If the poem meets the reader there, … Read More »

“walking with kindness” by mark liebenow

13th October

What is required of us is to do justice, love kindness,

 and walk humbly with our God. Micah 6:8


I imagine Micah walking at a distance behind a crowd that is celebrating some religious holiday, noticing individuals sitting on the side of the parade, and wondering why. So he goes over to find out. Among the people are some who are grieving, who cannot celebrate anything yet, but are hoping that by leaving their dark and too-quiet homes to come here, they will feel a moment of hope and excitement that will lighten the weight of the grief they carry. I see him sitting down and listening to them share their sorrow.

He does not preach to them. He does not scold them because they aren’t thankful for the goodness of life. He does not tell them that they … Read More »

“a made thing” by heather caliri

14th August

For a long time, I simply felt helpless.

My youth pastor in high school was spiritually abusive to many of us, and he sexually abused a friend of mine. When she came forward, the police tried to make a case, but there wasn’t enough evidence to meet the burden of proof. Almost two decades later, he’s still in youth ministry, doubtless with a long string of victims trailing him.

Bad things happen, and sometimes there’s nothing we can do about them. I can’t change the past, or conjure prison bars from my thoughts, or erase the trauma from my friend’s mind.


The thing about memories and helplessness is that they occupy a misty space in the back of our brains. They float there, disembodied, ungraspable. Old memories and hurt and anger can linger as a miasma, without our ever putting our fingers on them.

Last … Read More »

“the devil you know: rough drafts” by elizabeth jarrett andrew

Posted by Sarah Schock in creativity, experiment, rumination, writing. No Comments

7th August

Poor revision, unfairly maligned due to a quirk of human nature! We beasts prefer prowling on familiar territory, rooting up the same soil with the same scratching of our forelegs. We know the terrain of a first draft: the blank page, the tentative start, the discomfort of seeing our brilliant thoughts so diminished in print, the splash of joy when the words come, the adrenaline rush of stumbling onto insights or memories or characters we didn’t know we had, the satisfaction of completion. We know that landscape and we’re quite attached to it, for good reason—it’s borne much fruit. The gifts of a first draft are worth cherishing. And while we may admit the draft is rough, we also know it sparkles in places, and we’re unwilling to diminish that sparkle with the insult of revision.

Lest I discredit the rare genius, there are those … Read More »

interview: aaron belz

Posted by Sarah Schock in creativity, interview, poetry, poets, vocation, writing. 1 Comment

24th July

{an interview with poet and essayist aaron belz, who recently released his third collection of poetry, GLITTER BOMB}

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I don’t picture anyone reading my poetry. I have no basis for what happens in that mental picture other than seeing people reading things and, hopefully, enjoying them. Whom I write for is the discouraged person. I just want them to know I’m here for them if they need me. I also write to make myself laugh. It’s the old “you crack yourself up” thing. If I’m my own worst critic, am I not also my own best audience? Live readings are a … Read More »

a worker’s prayer: van gogh on sight

17th July

When it’s warm outside and the food processing plant doesn’t smell, I sit on the call center steps and drink tea in the sun. Fifteen minutes isn’t much time, but it’s enough to remind me that the world is beautiful and much bigger than my cubicle. I think this is a common struggle with work–to keep perspective day to day–seeing our work, ourselves, our coworkers and clients in light of God’s ultimate beauty and compassion. I often wonder how much place affects our ability to see clearly, if place is part of our faulty vision, or the fault comes wholly from within.

As a visual artist, Van Gogh is very concerned with sight, and he approaches the question of place mainly from two angles. Early in his letters, during an internship in England, Van Gogh writes to his brother Theo, “It is very beautiful … Read More »

interview: shane mccrae

Posted by Sarah Schock in creativity, interview, poetry, poets, vocation, writing. No Comments

11th July

{an interview with poet shane mccrae, whose newest collection, FORGIVENESS FORGIVENESS, will be published by factory hollow press next month. pre-order it here}

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I don’t know that I have an ideal reader—which, I know, isn’t an answer to the question, but is maybe parallel to an answer, maybe a way into answering. I’ve always felt a little disingenuous saying that I write for myself, although I do—the problem, I think, is in the word for. It suggests the giving of a gift. I write because I can’t not write, because I wouldn’t know how to be if I didn’t write, and … Read More »

creative luxury: beyond maslow

Posted by Sarah Schock in christian living, creativity, ministry, vocation. No Comments

3rd July

A few months ago my husband, our two kids, and I returned from seven years in China, where we served with Food for the Hungry. Soon after landing on U.S. soil, we were given the opportunity to attend a one-week “Debriefing and Renewal” retreat for returning missionaries. The retreat was held at a tucked-away inn in Colorado Springs, surrounded by pines and trails and with a stunning view of Pike’s Peak. There were cozy rooms, fireplaces, big picture windows, hot tubs. It took me most of the week to get over the fact that it was all for us: the beauty of the location, the time to rest, and the chance to share our stories, reflect, and process.

Most precious, though, was that the facilitators were there solely to minister to us. They invited conversation around the themes of paradox—God is … Read More »

a collaboration of grace and work

Posted by Sarah Schock in poetry, poets, review, rumination, writing. No Comments

26th June

In his extended essay Living the Sabbath, philosopher Norman Wirzba writes, “Though God’s resurrection power has been unleashed in the person of Jesus Christ, we still await the time when God’s ‘new creation’ is fully realized.” That time of full realization the church fathers Basil and Augustine referred to as the “eighth day,” the day in Wirzba’s words that “stands beyond creation as its final summation or conclusion.” William Carlos Williams is not often thought of as an eschatological poet, and I’ve no doubt it would be wrong to make a claim that he is, yet his little poem “The Red Wheelbarrow,” when approached with an eschatological imagination, is surprisingly supple and giving.

Unlike much poetry, the pattern of Williams’s poem is visual, not rhythmic.

Read out loud, the single sentence is starkly prosaic. But its appearance on the page—four … Read More »

interview: renee emerson

Posted by Sarah Schock in creativity, interview, poetry, poets, writing. No Comments

12th June

{an interview with pushcart prize-nominated poet renee emerson, whose first book, KEEPING ME STILL, is now available for purchase}

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I picture my great-great-great granddaughter coming upon my dusty, well-worn poetry book in a box in the attic. Taking it down and thumbing through it while the babies are napping. Smudging it with greasy fingers because she’s reading while cooking dinner. Reading it as she would a diary or a long letter. I know it is a little romantic for this to be my ideal reader, her hair in a loose ponytail and wearing yesterday’s T-shirt, but she’s there behind every poem … Read More »

breaking through: john donne and the rhino of grief

Posted by Sarah Schock in Breaking Through, christian living, rumination. 1 Comment

5th June

The words by the seventeenth-century poet-pastor John Donne were familiar: “No man is an island.” I first read this poem at the suggestion of my college English professor, who said I should also check out Gerard Manley Hopkins, another religious poet. Since then, I’ve read the book by Thomas Merton with that title and listened to a number of songs based on Donne’s words—a folk version by Joan Baez, a choral piece sung in church, even a reggae version by Dennis Brown.

On September 11, 2001, the words came back.

A few months earlier, I spotted my father-in-law’s copy of Donne’s collected works on the bookshelf and began reading it in an effort to get a handle on my grief. I discovered that Donne’s wife, Anne, died after sixteen years of marriage when he was forty-five. Evelyn died after eighteen years when … Read More »

a worker’s prayer: faithfulness

31st May

The other night at supper with my parents, I learned that Bill Gaither’s father worked at a factory for thirty years. Then Mom started describing her work at Amana Refrigeration and showing us the exact motions she made every day. She only worked there for a year and a half after high school, until she had enough for a Chevelle and a movie camera, but Grandma worked on the line and then as a inspector for twenty years (while raising nine kids and helping run the farm). When I think of Grandma, I think I should be a lot tougher. I also think about faithfulness. Not that my grandmother or her generation was perfect, but they were more likely to stick with one spouse and one job.

I suppose there are lots of reasons why the twenty- and thirty-somethings of our … Read More »

the loosened tongue: the contagion of prophecy

22nd May

“Is catching prophecy like catching measles?” William Taber asks this question in his pamphlet “The Prophetic Stream.” The language may be playful, but it raises legitimate questions: What role, if any, does the religious community play in the realization of prophetic gifts? Are prophetic gifts enhanced by being around people who are similarly blessed? Do prophetic gifts appear out of the blue, or are they more prone to surface in certain contexts over others?

While it is clear in scripture that the Spirit can manifest when and where She wills (see John 4 and the story of Cornelius in Acts 10), it is equally clear that the Spirit can transfer from one person to the next. Move to chapter 19 of Acts, and we discover that those meeting in Ephesus are found to be in belief about all the facts about Christ, … Read More »

a worker’s prayer: van gogh: on work and everyday courage

15th May

In an effort to understand life as a writer, I often read artists’ and poets’ letters. This was suggested by my professors in grad school, who thought that Keats could help me complete my MFA in the allotted three years. They were right; without Keats’ elegant descriptions of his own ambition and despair, and the ways he wrote and loved through them, I may have taken five years to write sixty poems, or despaired of finishing altogether.

It seems strange, perhaps, to turn to Keats, an impoverished poet who died of tuberculosis at twenty-six, and Van Gogh, an impoverished painter who committed suicide at thirty-seven, for advice on how to live. I look to them mainly because of their courage. They were both considered failures, but they continued to work with the hope of creating something beautiful. Van Gogh, struggling with … Read More »

interview: micha boyett

Posted by Sarah Schock in creativity, interview, memior/cnf, writing. No Comments

8th May

{an interview with author micha boyett, whose spiritual memoir, FOUND: A STORY OF QUESTIONS, GRACE, AND EVERYDAY PRAYER, was released last month}

when you picture someone reading your book, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

When I began writing Found, I was thinking about other mothers in my stage of life. I was asking, Why is no one writing about the spiritual dryness of motherhood? But what I’ve discovered over the process of writing (and learning how to be a mom at the same time–my oldest son was eighteen months old when I started this book; now he’s almost six) is that the themes of identity and weakness in faith belong to everyone. The intensity of motherhood revealed … Read More »

making a joyful noise: the poetry of hymns

2nd May

This May I had the opportunity to teach a class of my own design at church, one that had never been taught there before. All I had to go on were a few observations I made during our Easter Vigil service. I had noticed that one of the hymns sung during the Easter Vigil was written in perfect iambic pentameter. No sonnet, this hymn’s text was written over 1,200 years before William Shakespeare was even born. I was also struck by the sometimes vast differences in the year a hymn’s text was written and the year it was paired with the music to which it was set in our Lutheran hymnal.

Having recently graduated with my MFA in creative writing from Spalding University, I had learned that it takes something poetic in nature for a text to stay relevant for several … Read More »

the only dependable season

24th April

I am forever grateful for rubrics of devotional life. Certainly, they are foundational, dependable, and formational. But there is more. Taking my hand and uncovering pieces of mystery about His presence, God has lovingly healed more and more of the aching places in my heart. Creative spiritual practices–along with the beloved time and space of quiet with my Bible and fervently scribbled prayers in my journal–beckon me deeper into the love of God through Christ.

When I attended college, my soul was tender. A lonesomeness occupied my heart. Longing to be out of my small-town life, yet lost within the wide world outside of it, finding a campus ministry in which to be involved proved a brick-by-brick time in my spiritual journey. In those four years, I gained much ground in knowing what it meant to walk in relationship with Jesus. … Read More »

crow delivers the goods

Posted by Sarah Schock in creativity, poetry, poets, writing. No Comments

10th April

Just as meaning in a conversation rises out of an exchange of ideas originating in shared experience, meaning in a poem rises out of collaboration between a poet and a reader. Each brings a history to the occasion of the poem: the poet to its composition, the reader to its text.

One implication of this is that every reading of a poem is subtly different from every other reading of it. This is true for a reader returning to a favorite poem or for two readers discussing the same poem. Another implication is that no reading of a poem can be definitive. The meaning of a poem evolving through multiple readings by multiple readers escapes the control of the poet. Nevertheless, the poet sets the limits of that meaning.

I suspect Robert Frost had something like this idea in mind when, in … Read More »

interview: matthew lippman

Posted by Sarah Schock in creativity, interview, poetry, poets, writing. No Comments

3rd April

{an interview with poet matthew lippman upon the release of his third collection of poetry, AMERICAN CHEW, which won the burnside review book prize in 2013}

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I want my poems to be generous creatures, and so the audience in my mind is everyone—high school students, teachers, attorneys, other poets, bus drivers, mechanics. If my mechanic, Tony, picks up my book, gets into one of my poems, and is entertained and moved by it, I’m doing my job. It’s not so much a case of nourishment as it is a case of having fun. By fun I mean this, being moved, in any way, … Read More »

mirrors made of ink

Posted by Sarah Schock in christian living, creativity, writing. 1 Comment

29th March

Books are the mirrors of the soul. –Virginia Woolf

In Christian writing, it seems required to inject a “deeper meaning.” Humans were designed to search for purpose in everything. Metaphors form a language that acts as a bridge between mind and heart, delivering fundamental truths about the universe.

Metaphors highlight true nature. Words or phrases that don’t literally describe something give an in-depth description that could’ve been missed with a physical description. They can also be symbolic representations of an object, situation, or abstract notion such as love, fear, anger, etc.

Humans are intended for relation; God created us with an ache to share our feelings with each other. However, there is a gap: there is no language to describe emotions. If you look at the words used to describe abstractions, they actually describe physical sensations. The following sentence shows a sense of … Read More »

breaking through: the sacredness of words

27th March

The preparation is done, the centering of mind and heart by prayer, Bible study, or walking through nature and listening.

I sit down at my brown wooden desk in a dark room. The desk lamp lights only the paper. Everything else is back in the shadows. When I begin to write, my hand moves into the light.

The work of our hands is part of creation, because God’s work continues to be done in the world through human hands. Writers put words together and create sentences and stories, bringing the unspoken into the light and giving it form.

In the shadows I wait, listening until I see an image, hear an echo, or feel a presence. Then I wait for words to come that will root this into my time and place.

As words come, I write them down. When they stop, I set … Read More »

on writing: ego, insecurity, & the life of the beloved

20th March

This past year I wrote a book. I worked hundreds of hours. I wrote at least 14,000 words and cut 7,500 of them. On weekday afternoons I worked while I listened to a babysitter play with my kids on the other side of the house. I spent Saturday mornings curled up on the couch in my pajamas sculpting sentences while my husband and kids were off at playgrounds and the zoo and the beach making memories without me.

I did it because it mattered. Getting those words down on the screen and then moving them and cutting them and blessing them—that holy work of telling a good story—was the work I’ve always longed to do. I gave myself to it, even though it meant sacrificing time with my family.

Sometimes I’m still not sure whether or not those sacrifices were worth … Read More »

writing my way in

13th March

Recently I was asked to visit a senior English class at the school where I teach World Religions.  I was excited to be entering into conversation with students not just as their familiar teacher but as  a ‘real poet.’  But as I was telling students about the writing life, when I was singing the usual song about how hard it is to write, and how I have to drag myself to do it sometimes, a student I knew quite well looked at me half in annoyance and half in genuine curiosity.  He asked, “Then why do you do it?”

My brain sputtered.  No one had asked me that, that directly, in a long time.  I could have gotten dramatic and said because I have no other choice!  It must come from my soul or surely I will perish! Instead I said … Read More »

interview: matt appling

28th February

when you picture someone reading your book, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I think of several different people reading Life After Art.  The book is primarily aimed at people who don’t already consider themselves “creative.”  Businessmen, soccer moms, teachers, trash men, high school or college grads.  I think creative people will also get a lot out of it too.  In fact, I hope they read it, and then give it to their non-artsy friends.  I hope the book helps release them from some chains, shows them that creativity is something they can take part it, and helps them create the life they are created to live.


how do you use your own creative … Read More »

where i find myself: seasons

17th February

My previous post launched my ongoing series about faith, writing, and what I keep calling (perhaps not very poetically, ironically enough) “the language of place”—specifically, my place, my native state, my home. California.

Well, I realized I might not have quite as good of a hold on my own idea as one would hope when, after I finished “explaining” my topic to someone recently, he said, “So it’s about slang?”

Nah, dude. Not exactly.

But OK then, what is it about? The truth is, not completely knowing is part of why I write. The act of writing is an act of exploration, as is (in my experience) the act of having faith. Not to mention the act of living day to day on the shaky ground and in the smog-laced atmosphere of the Golden State.




Commenting on my last post, in which I … Read More »

tracking the walking poets

18th November

So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance—
and changes us, even if we do not reach it…

—Rilke, “A Walk”


 I cannot be the only child who was first exposed to “devotional poetry” through the ever-famous work “Footprints in the Sand”. I saw it mostly on the walls of friends or neighbors—in embroidered prints with sand and water and sky sewn in around the verses to set the scene of a dreamed of beach.

While I was never as enamored of it as everyone else seemed to be, I did accept its sentiment of spiritual comfort, then. The allegory of a walk made sense to a child raised on Bible stories and fairy tales of adventurous wanderings and who had walked barefoot by the water on many summer holidays. And there … Read More »

books & culture review of MAKING MANIFEST

8th November

yesterday, CT’s site ran a fine review of MAKING MANIFEST, which was released digitally this week in a revised edition. check out the review here and tell everyone you know about it!


throwback: a cross in the woods

28th October

Some decades ago, thinking I was going to write a book about Thomas Merton, I spent several days in silence at the Abbey of Gethsemani.  One afternoon in the autumn heat I walked off into the monastery woods.  I thought I might come across Merton’s hermitage, and view it from a discreet distance, but I wasn’t looking for it. The Spirit that encountered me in that silence, I knew, had no toleration for literary idolatry.  Late in the afternoon, as I grew hungry, I realized I was pretty much lost, not so last as to fear getting back.  I knew I hadn’t wandered much more than a mile or two and that the road to the monastery was somewhere to the east.  But I was halfway up a steep knob, enclosed in trees, and unable to see where I’d been … Read More »

UNFOLDED: through the motions

21st October

as part of our on-going partnerships with like-minded thinkers, we’re going to begin showcasing a new story podcast from HOMEBREWED CHRISTIANITY called–delighfully–UNFOLDED. in ep. 9, i (dave harrity), tell a story about marriage and dance aerobics… check it out here: through the motions.


more to come from UNFOLDED…  follow them on twitter in the meantime…

when we were on fire: a review

16th October

{ addie zierman, friend of ANTLER and memoirist, releases her book “when we were on fire” this week! here’s a brief review by micha boyett. if you like what you see here, go ahead and let the world know. then head over to addie’s synchroblog and tell your own story! order the book here… }


Addie Zierman’s memoir begins in front of her high school, in tenth grade. Her mom drops her off at the flagpole for “See You At the Pole,” a phenomenon experienced by many of us who grew up evangelical in the nineties. Once a year, Christian teenagers were challenged to meet at the flagpole before school, pray for their fellow classmates, and risk their high school status for the sake of Christ.

Addie approaches the empty flagpole, her violin case dangling in her hand, and stands before it … Read More »

interview: jessie van eerden

Posted by dave in interview, writing. No Comments

28th September

{ author jessie van eerden, author of the new book GLORYBOUND, discusses writing and practice }


when you picture someone reading your prose, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I usually don’t picture readers while I’m writing.  They are likely there, in the corners of my mind, but there is a more immediate community I write for, the host of people I draw near to me as I write—the living and the long gone, people who keep my voice honest.  I’ve written about this “cloud of witnesses” in an essay entitled “So Great a Cloud” which appeared in Issue 21 (Autumn 2011) of the lovely magazine Ruminate.  The actual flesh-and-blood readers who buy my … Read More »

interview: alissa wilkinson

Posted by dave in interview, writing. No Comments

25th September

{ Editor’s update: Since we last spoke with Alissa, she has completed the MFA at Seattle Pacific University, and also has been named Chief Film Critic at Christianity Today Movies, rendering portions of this interview outdated. However—we think you’ll agree—there is still great content here, so we’re happy to run it. }

1. Alissa, thanks for chatting with us. Anyone who knows you knows you are notoriously busy and productive. What’s a typical day look like for you?

Well, my schedule varies wildly based on whether I’m teaching that day, holding office hours, traveling, or working from home, but generally I try to get up early, write for an hour or two, go for a run (I’m training for a half marathon in January), then head in to the office. Once I’m on campus at King’s, I often have a smattering of … Read More »

san francisco workshop!

10th September

in SAN FRANCISCO? know someone who is?

come spend the weekend writing, making friends, and seeing things differently!

tell everyone you know!

sacramento workshop!

5th September

near SACRAMENTO on september 19 & 20? come out and join the party!

the gospel according to #yolo

30th August

If you have been exposed to adolescents at all in the past year and half, then you are sure to be familiar with the popular twitter hashtag: #YOLO. For those who are unfamiliar with the acronym, it means “You Only Live Once” and has become the “Carpe Diem” anthem for the current generation.

#YOLO soared to popularity in late 2011 with the release of the rapper Drake’s song “The Motto” which boasts the lyrics, “You only live once / that’s the motto…YOLO.” Teens started using the hashtag on twitter and other social media sites not to encourage one another to “live life to the fullest” in an old-school Carpe Diem sense, but rather to justify impulsive decisions. For example, you might see this on your twitter feed: “Haha I got soooo wasted last night. Oh well #YOLO.” Or this: “Man I … Read More »

bleeding passions

27th August

[ in this post, dirk devries discusses his feelings about being pulled between two muses—poetry and photography. ]

I live with divided passion. I am in love with both word and image. I am both poet and photographer.

It isn’t always an easy relationship. I question my ability to do justice to either. Would I be an outstanding photographer if I channeled all my creative energy toward image? Would my poetry take off if the time spent in photo-making were reserved for writing? Both require constant practice as well as attentive soul-time.

The truth is, I will likely never advance as far as I might with either as long as I continue to devote time to both. But I am okay with this; it’s a compromise I accept, because I find, in the merging of the two, that I create something uniquely … Read More »

making manifest interviews

12th August

in these interviews, dave harrity fleshes out his vision for his book “making manifest: on faith, creativity, and the kingdom at hand”

making manifest interviews (parts 1 + 2 + 3)

ad pax: the wonder maker

1st August

{ in her next installment, ANTLER blogger amy george invites writers of all skill levels to contemplate and create. feel free to send her the results of your exercise, or post on our page! }

My husband, Calvin, is a star gazer. Literally. He has a huge telescope with an 8-inch mirror. He enjoys looking at the planets and stars and marveling over how amazing they are. He will drag a giant telescope into the middle of nowhere (“to get away from light pollution,” he says) in the middle of the night, while most people are cozy at home. He has always loved the sciences and things with a touch of mystery.

Appreciation for the beauty around us comes and goes. Even though we live in a majestically-created, awe-inspiring world, we can easily lose our sense of wonder at the world, with … Read More »

horror & the holy, part 2

23rd July

In my last article, we began discussing the engagement of Christian art with the horror genre. Horror, I argued, fundamentally functions by a theme of “transgression” which can be employed for faith-minded purposes – not only does horror attack that which is lovely, but it also affirms that there is something lovely to be attacked in the first place.

However, the purpose of Christian living is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” – a horror story may affirm His law, but how can it affirm the Creator Himself?

This moves us towards the relationship between the holy and the obscene. Most horror stories clearly get their momentum from the latter, but horror can also serve to make us mindful of the sacred. In The Problem of Pain (1940), C. S. Lewis sets up a fascinating striation of just how humans experience the … Read More »

making manifest round-up #3

14th July

in case you’ve missed the buzz, here’s just a few things being said about “making manifest: on faith, creativity, and the kingdom at hand” (if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, order it today!)



super positive endorsement from englewood review of books!



posts by bloggers… (and what’s lovely about these posts are that both “writer” and “non-writer” types are using the book!)

kerri baysinger

renee emerson

johnny douglas

kathleen kruger



interviews with harrity…

w/ messiah community and michael lorin (an episcopalian revisiting evangelical roots… ;-) )




horror & the holy, part 1

Posted by dave in lyle enright. 1 Comment

10th July

I love horror. I really do. For my birthday I watched Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes and Michael Bay’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with several friends of mine. I’m currently working my way through the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft, hoping to present research on the topic in Rhode Island this year. As I write, I have re-runs of Kolchak: The Night Stalker playing in the background. I’ve made minor contributions to the nightmare-craft myself. And, with a growing stack of rejection notes, I’m going to keep going. Why, exactly?

In addressing why horror is relevant to me as a Christian, I have to begin by admitting the most foundational of things – I find it entertaining. At the end of the day, there are simply those of us who love ghosts and goblins and things that go bump … Read More »

desiring the kingdom: the musical

26th June

{ in this playful meditation, heather goodman explores liturgy, love, parenting, and purpose—grappling to make sense of the rhythms of a life lived in faith. }


James K.A. Smith wrote his book, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship Worldview, and Cultural Formation, for fellow professors, students, and, upon further reflection, for pastors. I am none of the above in the traditional sense.

I read this book as a member of a church plant considering the shape of our worship and discipleship, but I found myself conversing with this book more as a mother and an artist.

Smith argues, in essence, that we need to move beyond knowledge to wisdom and that we do so primarily through worship. In short, this book considers how liturgy—meaning how we worship—forms “a certain kind of people whose hearts and passions and desires are aimed at the kingdom of God” … Read More »

creativity and peacemaking: poetry drone

25th June

i believe this world is a complicated place, that i’m nearly void of answers, and that—as thomas merton says in his famous prayer— “i have no idea where i am going.” (that prayer embodies most every day of my life…). as such, i tend not to speak publicly about issues of which i’m passionate—i’m never quite sure of my motivation, correctness, or even how i might feel about it later. rather than risk embarrassment, i say nothing. or—almost always—say it discretely in my daily writing. writing which no one sees but me. but here, i’d like to take a little stand for something i think has provocative implications for christian creatives. and—as i love such things—it demonstrates the world’s complexity. this project speaks to my deeply held beliefs about creating: the opposite of making art is doing violence.* or, to say it … Read More »

Story Cartel Courses

Posted by dave in writing. No Comments

15th June

thought the ANTLER readers might be interested in knowing this…

The Story Cartel Course is an 8-week class to teach you how to be a writer in the 21st century. The course will help you weed through the chaos of the changing publishing world, and focus on what matters: how to write, publish, and market your book in a way that connects with your audience. If you’re interested in self-publishing, the course will show you how to save thousands of dollars in costs. You’ll join a community of writers committed to helping you succeed.

Here’s the sign up page:


making manifest round-up #2

14th June

in case you’ve missed the buzz, here’s just a few things being said about “making manifest: on faith, creativity, and the kingdom at hand”…


posts by bloggers…

super positive endorsement from englewood review of books!

jeremy statton at ‘living better stories’

matt appling at ‘the church of no people’





interviews with harrity…

spiritual book club





posts by harrity…

ruminate magazine

A Reflection on Berry

16th May

I hadn’t read Boethius or Petrarch in 1967. If I had, I may not have been so taken, when one late spring afternoon, I read Wendell Berry’s two-sentence poem “To Think of the Life of a Man.” I read it standing alongside the shelf of literary journals in the Johns Hopkins bookstore. I had come to be there by a circuitous route. I had dropped out of college, been rejected by the draft, returned to college, married and with my wife risked all we had to attend the Hopkins Writing Seminars on the chance that I might become a poet and novelist. Each morning my wife went to her job and I went to my desk. Afternoons I went to the library or the bookstore where I read but rarely bought. In nearby Washington, the first protests against the Vietnam … Read More »

making manifest round-up #1

10th May

in case you’ve missed the buzz, here’s just a few things being said about “making manifest: on faith, creativity, and the kingdom at hand”…


posts by bloggers…

teddy ray

glynn young’s ‘faith, fiction, and friends’

addie zierman’s ‘how to talk evangelical’



interviews with harrity…

sojourn arts + culture

rock & sling



posts by harrity…

five rules for believing writers at forma



Harrod & Funck

Posted by nicholas in creativity, memior/cnf, rumination, theology. 1 Comment

9th May

The now disbanded songwriting duo Harrod & Funck played in a now defunct coffee shop called The One Way Café in Morgantown, West Virginia.

These days I would avoid an establishment called the One Way Café, preferring the Everyway Café or Leave My Theology Out of It And Just Make Me Some Damn Coffee Café.

I’d heard of Harrod & Funck from my friend Jessie, who’d heard about them from her sister, Michaelanne. Jessie also turned me on to Radiohead. She got me to read The Brothers K and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

Jessie and I lived with two other girls in an old, carved-up house on Willey Street. Yellow-orange carpet covered the wall by the stairs, as though it had crossed the floor with such gusto that it just couldn’t stop.

It was 1997, the year that Joshua Harris published his crazy popular … Read More »

The Loosened Tongue: Silence in Practice

7th May

In my previous post I talked about the importance of silent waiting. While I hold that adding regular intervals of waiting worship to one’s religious life is optimal, I realize not everyone will go that route. So in terms of practical application I’d like to focus on a method that combines verbal queries with intervals of expectant silence.  One such method is Rex Ambler’s Experiments in the Light, which has proved a powerful method for many people. As it is most commonly practiced, an individual—alone or in a group—reads the following prompts aloud with five to six minutes of silence between each prompt.


1. Relax body and mind. Make yourself comfortable….Be relaxed, but alert. Let yourself become wholly receptive.

2. In this receptive state of mind, let the real concerns of your life emerge. Ask yourself, ‘What is really going on in … Read More »

Parallelism & The Beauty of Hebrew Poetry

2nd May

One of the most mysterious things about Christian poets today is how little we talk about the poetry of the Bible. We have… It’s true we might sprinkle Bible-y stuff here or there in our poems, but we have yet to explore how the very structures and techniques of Hebrew poetry could inspire our work on a more fundamental, craft level.

I think there may be a few reasons for our timidity:

1) Some writers already feel conflicted about either their faith or their faith in their writing. It’s both a personal struggle and a cultural one. How do we speak authentically about our own faith experience (and what do we even mean by that?)—and in a way that is comprehensible (acceptable?) to the world at large? So we attempt to keep it light by using the Bible in ironic or literary … Read More »

A Worker’s Prayer: Perfectionism: A Personal History

30th April

I became a perfectionist sometime in middle school.  This was when I started to read the Bible on my own, and discovered the verse “Whatsoever you do, do it wholeheartedly unto The Lord.” Until then, I only tried when I felt like it; when the task seemed fun or interesting.  After reading this verse, however, I felt compelled to vacuum under every piece of furniture, be sure every dish I washed was spotless, and never say anything mean to anyone.  I became a much better worker, but work also became weighty.  For one thing, vacuuming thoroughly took a lot more time and effort, and for another, it mattered.  If I didn’t do well, I was failing God.  I didn’t believe God would reject me if I didn’t do things perfectly, but I believed He’d be disappointed, which would be almost … Read More »

Interview: David Ebenbach

23rd April

{an interview with writer, David Ebenbach}

when you picture someone reading your writing, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

Well, when I’m in the midst of writing, I try not to picture anyone—except my characters, anyway. Otherwise it’s like I’m sitting at my computer while a roomful of people stares awkwardly at me. Once I’m done writing, however, I do think about readers. I somewhat sympathize with Mary Oliver, who wrote, “I write poems for a stranger who will be born in some distant country hundreds of years from now.” In other words, I like to think that my work touches enough of the universal that it can be meaningful to people in … Read More »

Kempis’ Warning

18th April

{Tania Runyan reflects on the problems of gossip}

Diane is a stay-at-home mom. Every afternoon, her toddler naps for two hours, during which time Diane texts the twenty-something server she met at Red Lobster:

How r u

Same old

Get em nice & steamy for me

U know i will


One day, he stops by on break, just to say hello in person. She puts Chloe in her crib, turns on the white noise machine in the nursery, and unfastens the top two buttons on her blouse as she heads downstairs.

Did you feel your pulse quicken? What did you want to happen next? For Diane to come to her senses and kick the punk to the curb?

Sin is fun. We like to enter into its colorful mysteries, especially when someone else is doing it.

Thomas à Kempis writes in Book 1, Chapter 4, in The Imitation of … Read More »

Messy As Hell: Inner Silencing

16th April

Whenever I find myself in any kind of slump — whether it be in writing, exercising, or praying — I try to resist my first natural inclination toward giving up entirely.  One of the best remedies I’ve found to combat my defeatist tendencies has been to gain a new perspective, and I suppose that’s what I was searching for when I found myself signing up for meditation classes at the Passionist Earth and Spirit Center a couple months ago.   I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I know I couldn’t have been the only one in my class who had scenes from Eat, Pray, Love flash to mind.  In search of a renewed perspective and needing to find balance amidst demands from work and school, I thought that this might bring a sense of serenity and calm to my … Read More »

The Hound of Heaven

Posted by nicholas in creativity, poets, rumination, theology, vocation. 2 comments

11th April

{writer and archivist, D.S. Martin, reflects on his calling to poetry by “The Hound of Heaven.”}

Often, we hardly realize how much something is influencing us until much later, and even then we may not understand its impact. When I was in high school, I was not much of a student, and I certainly didn’t have any thought that I could, or should, or would become a poet. Looking back now, I think one of the first steps in the process of my calling was the reading of Francis Thompson’s 1893 poem “The Hound of Heaven”. When I first heard that poem, I read it over and over – despite its considerable length (182 lines!).


I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; … Read More »

Dropping in on Kathleen Norris

5th April

A few years ago I was traveling home from Montana to Illinois when I decided to detour three hundred miles to Kathleen Norris’s town of Lemmon, South Dakota.  I didn’t tell her I was coming.  I just stopped in.  Not that I saw her, and I doubt that she even knew I was there.

Norris is the author of such books as Dakota, Cloister Walk, and Amazing Grace, and moved to South Dakota after living in the bright, shining din of New York City. I wanted to see where she writes of isolation and spirituality in a place she describes as “the high plains desert, full of sage and tumbleweed and hardy shortgrass.”

Half an hour from her town, I drove into a thunderstorm and the world went dramatic — dark and moody with hard driving rain.  
As I came around … Read More »

making manifest video trailer!

5th April

and here it is… the making manifest video trailer.

Rising Action: Writing as Worship

2nd April

I’m a young writer in my first year of college at Asbury University. As with most college level courses, the classes I’m taking are very writing intensive. Between my regular classes, my creative writing fiction class, writing for antler, and occasionally writing for my college newspaper, I’m writing a story, sketch, article, or essay of 500 words or more pretty much every other day.

I love to write—I’m absolutely passionate about it. But because I have so many prescribed and predetermined pieces, I often forget the real reason that I should write: to glorify God.

Usually I write with the following goals in mind: to get the assignment completed as quickly as possible, to earn a good grade, or to intrigue or help others. These are not necessarily ignoble ambitions—they have their time and place. However, this should not be the outcome … Read More »

The Law of Entropy

28th March

{in this post, blogger jeremy statton reflects on how writing has changed his life.}


The last time I was given a writing assignment was my freshman year in college for a history class. And that moment almost became the last time I expressed myself through the written word.

I was headed to medical school, a life dedicated to science. My goal was to solve the world’s problems through surgeries and medicines. To me writing was a nuisance. An undesired chore.

Fourteen years later, however, I finally put pen to paper again, and it changed my life.


The Plan

As a senior in high school I decided to become an orthopedic surgeon. The course of my life was set. College. Medical school. Marriage crammed into the empty space somewhere. Maybe kids. Then Residency.

My plan was like the life of science I pursued. Precise. Without error.

For the … Read More »

ad pax: Be Still and Be Greatful

26th March

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

Multi-tasker. If I had to pick one catch phrase for the average 21st century citizen, that would be it. I read an article online that described how world-renowned concert violinist Joshua Bell went incognito and gave an impromptu concert in a Washington, D.C. metro station. He was dressed as a man down on his luck, and he had his violin case opened and set on the floor in front of him. (Ironically, tickets to his concerts apparently average $100!) The sad part of the social experiment was that people hardly took note of him, due to the environment. The metro station was simply a place they were passing through, so the thought of focusing long enough to hear a single song was not on the commuters’ … Read More »

A Complicated Message

21st March

Having absorbed the music of the Psalms and having grasped something of the personal intensity of David’s lyrics, it was probably inevitable that when I discovered Wordsworth in my late teens I would succumb to his influence. His powerful emotions overwhelmed me, and it would be years before I could temper them with recollections in tranquility.

The Wordsworth who most attracted me was the Wordsworth of the Lucy poems.  I was a young man in love. When in my nineteenth year I gathered the poems I was writing into an awkward, halting manuscript, I chose a quatrain from one of them as an epigraph:


Strange fits of passion I have known:

And I will dare to tell,

But in the lover’s ear alone,

What once to me befell.


Some days, now, I think these lines are a bit precious, but I suspect that thought is a … Read More »

Where I Find Myself: The Voice of My Native State

19th March

Last spring, I wrote a piece for this website on the poetry of Maurice Manning, whose work reflects and draws on the rich language, stories and landscape of his native Kentucky.

One of the things I learned from writing that reflection is that place itself is a kind of language. And like any language, it informs our view of the world and gives shape to our thoughts as we try to make sense of the world around us.

I believe that the place we are from is in our blood, whether we like it or not. I believe that the land gets under our skin. And I know that, for all its faults, for all its shallowness and brokenness and glitter that isn’t gold, California is under mine.
Hopeless dreams, a rootless restlessness, and heartbreaking proximity to a neverending sea are … Read More »

Interview: Teneice Durrant Delgado

14th March

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that I tend to write in short arcs and that I am madly in love with the chapbook. I think of the chapbook as a working-class, accessible means of getting poetry (or even fiction and non-fiction) into the hands of those who may not have the time or money to consume an entire book of poetry. So I feel like I’m writing for those people that crave a satisfying little holiday into poetry, something they can read on their lunch break or while the kids are napping, that feels complete, and that … Read More »

The Loosened Tongue: Naught but Silence Can Express

12th March

In an earlier essay, featured here on Antler, I attempted to establish the legitimacy and shape of a modern poetic-prophetic ministry. One of the claims of that piece was that a prophet does not choose their call to speak, but are themselves chosen by the Other. True as that may be it doesn’t follow that individuals can’t makes themselves more open to just such a call—or to any other form of Spirit-led service for that matter—and prepare themselves to carry it out. One of the most fundamental of these methods is the use of silent waiting.

While periods of silence may have some physiological and emotional benefits in and of themselves that isn’t our concern here. We are interested in silence as a tool—a method by which an individual may wait on the Lord, and through which the Word may come … Read More »

Interview with Karen Swallow Prior, Author of “Booked”

7th March

{ANTLER author tania runyan interview karen swallow prior, author of booked: literature in the soul of me, t.s. poetry press, 2012}

It’s embarrassing for me to recount, but when I was still young in my faith, I questioned whether I could major in English or writing. My thinking went like this: If I’m either for God or against him, and if most texts studied in literature courses are written by nonbelievers, then I’d be spending my days studying words against God. With the help of some spiritual mentors, I was able to free myself from that burden (although I still taped over all my secular albums with Keith Green). But many people go through their entire lives paralyzed by their perceived need to choose between right and wrong in every situation: what to read, what to watch and listen to, even … Read More »

A Worker’s Prayer: On the Meaning of Work

5th March

It’s been five months since I quit teaching.  For three months I worked forty hours at Starbucks and read a lot: Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings,  Psalms, Surprised by Joy, Letters to a Young Poet.  It’s been almost two months since I started work at a call center; forty hours there, twenty hours at Starbucks.  I had hoped to work two jobs through Christmas, but when I got home one day and couldn’t stop crying, I gave my two-weeks at Starbucks.  So now both familiar jobs, teaching and Starbucks, the ones that supported me in grad school, France, and when I returned to Louisville, are gone.

The reasons I’ve left these jobs are money and writing.  I can’t complain about money, really.  I have enough for rent and small luxuries, but not enough to save, travel, or buy my … Read More »

What Time It Is

28th February

{Michael Winters reflects on faith, motivation and art.}

The other day as I pulled into the parking lot at the church office, Matthew was obviously up to some mischief. As I came into his view, he fumbled with something and turned the other way.  He looked caught.

I got out of the car, curious to see where this conversation was going to lead. After all, this was the same guy that got caught vandalizing our sign not too long ago.
I figured he was up to something similar, but he was by the electrical box when I first saw him. I hoped he wasn’t trying to cut power to the building. Thank God he didn’t electrocute himself yet.

Matthew has had a hot and cold relationship with our church, and I had just seen a recent facebook post from him … Read More »

The Intention to Write

21st February

{David Ebenbach reflects on kavannah and writing.}

In Judaism, a great importance is placed on what’s called, in Hebrew, kavannah, a word that can be translated as “intention,” or, more precisely, “focused, holy intention.” In other words, in Judaism it matters a great deal what’s on your mind as you do any and all of the important things in life: prayer, sure, but also eating, work, waking up in the morning, cleaning yourself, experiencing nature, encountering the body, experiencing loss—and, in my life, writing. These things are meant to be done not in a rote way but with the intention to make our actions meaningful.

I mentioned waking up. One nice piece of Jewish wisdom is that, if we’re going to go through the day with continuous kavannah, we should probably start from the beginning; traditionally, Jews start each day with a series … Read More »

Poetry in Psalms

14th February

{John Leax reflects on the poetic nature of psalms.}

One wall of the living room of my late childhood home was floor to ceiling windows.  The wall opposite it was floor to ceiling books.  Never the less, as a child, I came no closer to literature than the animal stories of Thornton Burgess and Ernest Thompson Seaton. Looking back I recognize one exception to that statement; in Sunday school I was required to memorize Bible verses. The only acknowledged, inspired version in a mainline protestant church at that time, the late 40s and early 50s, was the King James Version.  So my first experience of poetry was Psalm 100.

I didn’t know it was poetry.  I don’t think I thought of it as poetry until I was an adult.  
But when I came to poetry as an adolescent, the Psalm was … Read More »

On Robert Herrick

9th February

{Poet, Paul Willis reflects on To Blossoms by Robert Herrick}

To Blossoms

Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
Why do ye fall so fast?
Your date is not so past
But you may stay yet here a while,
To blush and gently smile,
And go at last.

What, were ye born to be
An hour or half’s delight,
And so to bid good-night?
‘Twas pity nature brought ye forth
Merely to show your worth,
And lose you quite.

But you are lovely leaves, where we
May read how soon things have
Their end, though ne’er so brave;
And after they have shown their pride,
Like you a while, they glide
Into the grave.

—Robert Herrick (1591-1674)


Robert Herrick may not be as spiritually sincere a poet as George Herbert, but he awakens me to the beauty and pathos of nature as few other writers do.  For the wistful spirit of carpe diem, he is unsurpassable.  “To Blossoms” is one of his many … Read More »

the next big thing self-interview ;-)

9th February

matthew lippman asked me to participate in in this self-interview project. if you have a book of poetry coming out in the next year or so and want me to tag you, please contact. i need five poets. it’s like a chain letter poetry explosion. here’s what it looks like… – dave



What is the working title of the book?


my next book is called “making manifest: faith, creativity, and the kingdom at hand”


Where did the idea come from for the book?


i was teaching seminarians creative/contemplative writing to help them cultivate imagination and sustain ministry—i thought, ‘hey, i should turn this material into an instruction manual of sorts’


What genre does your book fall under?


contemplative/meditative non-fiction spiritual writing? it’s kinda a strange hybrid of genres.


What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?


this would make a … Read More »

Some Poems That Have Nourished You

1st February

{Pastor, Ryan Strebeck reflects on some of the poetry that has nourished him in his life of ministry.}

I’m such a novice in the world of poetry (you don’t need me to tell you this, but conversing with a poetry community I feel obliged to announce it anyways). My poetry library could mostly be transported in a five-gallon bucket, and my understanding of forms is very limited. Thankfully, I have savvy friends who keep me supplied with enough good poetry to keep me going. Here are a few poems that have  nourished me, particularly in the life of ministry.

The Tyger by William Blake

Without the help of my then three-year-old son, I never would have learned this poem. He pulled a copy of Blake’s illustrated poems off the shelf one night and brought it to me open to this page. A month or … Read More »

Interview: Amy George

24th January

{an interview with poet, Amy George.}

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

In my mind, they are Christian young adults and older adults, both ministers and regular Joes. They are contemplative and love a good cup of coffee or tea, a walk outdoors, and a little time to themselves.

They love the Psalms as much as I do.

how do you use poetry as a practice for spiritual exploration, discipline, or growth? can you offer any practical advice or sure-fire practices for folks interested in allowing writing to inform their spiritual discipline?

Poetry is reactionary for me. It’s spiritual exploration and growth. It helps me to explore characters in … Read More »

coming to poetry

17th January

{ in this piece, antler founder and director dave harrity reflects on coming to poetry. this piece, run by tweetspeak last year, is being reposted here to honor williams stafford‘s birthday today. the piece will also be included in harrity’s forthcoming book, “making manifest” }

I began reading poetry because I could never finish novels. I’m not sure this is how many people come to poetry, but it was my route. In high school, I only read a handful of the assigned novels (a mistake I deeply regret now as an adult!) but I read every single poem. When I got to the end of a poem I felt like I had accomplished some- thing, been invited into something—I felt like I’d been given a key.

I liked poetry at that point in my life, but I didn’t love it.

I began writing … Read More »

Arthur Rimbaud’s “Democracy”

11th January

{Rod Dixon reflects on Rimbaud’s Democracy, the world we are born into and our tendency to forget what’s important.}


Translated by Louise Varèse


The flag goes with the foul landscape, and our jargon muffles the drum.

In great centers we’ll nurture the most cynical prostitution. We’ll massacre logical revolts.

In spicy and drenched lands! — at the service of the most monstrous exploitations, industrial or military.

Farewell here, no matter where. Conscripts of good will, ours will be a ferocious philosophy; ignorant as to science, rabid for comfort; and let the rest of the world croak. This is the real advance. Marching orders, let’s go!


Never underestimate the power of a great opening line. I remember the first time I came across this poem, reading, “The flag goes with the foul landscape…” I knew this was going to be a great poem.

Beside its power as a wonderful … Read More »

Writing in the Wake

3rd January

{Chris Brown reflects on his time spent writing, his pastoral vocation and what makes them similar.}

Three days a week, from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM, my calendar is marked with “Writing.” The reality is, though, that I don’t spend every minute of those two hours writing.  Before turning on my computer and beginning to write, I sit in silence with a candle lit in front of the icons on my desk. Then I pray through a liturgy for Matins or First Hour prayers.  The first words of the morning belong not to me or to my writing, but to the Lord.

I’m a pastor, ordained to “the ministry of Word and Sacrament.” At my ordination service four years ago, the pastor who gave the charge told me that “Ministry is what happens in the wake of the pursuit of God.” Just … Read More »

Think On These Things

28th December

{Lyle Enright reflects on Paul’s message and how it applies to writing about emotion and truth.}

Recently, during a lengthy car trip, my girlfriend and I decided to pass the time listening through Argue With A Tree, an album by American rock band Blue October. More accurately, I suppose I was conducting an experiment – my better half has a Master’s degree in mental health counseling, and I wanted to see how she would respond to music that is largely an outlet for Blue October’s clinically bipolar frontman, Justin Furstenfeld.

Blue October is an interesting artistic animal. Many of the songs on that album are what Furstenfeld refers to as “scary love songs,” intense confessions and explorations of human brokenness with some of the most jarring juxtapositions of beauty and revulsion I’ve ever heard. The question at the end of the night … Read More »

The Remembering Room

20th December

{Lore Ferguson on the power of remembering and when we should choose to remember.}

It is morning and early. Saturday morning is the only morning we can’t hear the traffic from 170, which can sound like a river, rushing and wild if I let myself think so, and no horns sound or brakes screech. The world is sleeping in.

In Texas they build homes with north facing windows, which is the exact opposite of the North (where we build homes with south facing windows), but which is a very sensible thing to do here. The only window in our home that gets any sunlight at all is the laundry room and so I have found my morning coffee tastes best in here, so long as I can keep lint dust from getting in it.

I sit on top of the dryer, my feet … Read More »

How You Use Poetry to Sustain Your Ministry

14th December

{Ryan Strebeck reflects on how the power of words matter in both poetry and ministry}

I never expected or wanted to be a pastor, and I never cared much for poetry. So, it’s hard for me to escape the irony of this post and the question about poetry’s use in the life of ministry. I was deliberately ignorant of poetry (all literature, really) until I graduated from college, with one exception. Growing up in a ranching context, I spent time with old men and women who carefully used their words. They carefully spoke like they carefully shod their horses and cooked their meals and braided their hobbles.
I remember one man, in particular, who practiced reading and songwriting in a way that made me want to join him. He didn’t own a television, so in the evenings we sat around … Read More »

Sonnet 104

6th December

{professor and poet, Paul Willis reflects on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 104.}

Sonnet 104

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still.  Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived;
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.

—William Shakespeare


I did not read Shakespeare’s sonnets until I was in my mid-20s.  Then I read them all at once, in astonishment, in an old and … Read More »

basic math: on creativity and opening the kingdom

28th November

{in this snippet of his forthcoming book “making manifest”–available april 2013–teacher, author, and poet dave harrity asks some questions that invite believers to think about what they’re adding to the world, and the creative implications of faith. if you’re in or near louisville on thursday november 29, you can catch him speaking on a panel about thomas merton and millennial faith practice at st. matthew’s episcopal church (330 North Hubbards Lane) at 7pm…}


And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord 

    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 

 for he has been mindful

    of the humble state of his servant. 

From now on all generations will call me blessed, 

     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

    holy is his name. 

His mercy extends to those who fear him,

    from generation to generation. 

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; 

    he has scattered those who are proud in their … Read More »

interview: Brett Foster

22nd November

{an interview with professor and poet, Brett Foster, who discusses what is behind his creative process.}

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

Wow, I do care about readers and wish to have them, and find it gratifying when I hear from them, but I really haven’t thought about the question in quite this way. I’ve always enjoyed about poetry that it’s a “low-admission-fee” kind of genre, despite its intimidating reputation. I love that you can pick up a poetry book, read a few poems, think about whether or not you’ve liked what you’ve read, and either read a few more or put it down. Or read … Read More »

Playing Towards God and Discovery

16th November

[L.L. Barkat reflects on the interconnectivity of faith and play in this excerpt from her book “God in the Yard”.]

I’m not sure when this whole business of spiritual practice became so serious. Maybe it traces back to Saint Benedict’s Rule of Life, which ordered the lives of monks around prayer, study and work. Once, I read that Benedict himself was not the type you’d expect to see on the playground.

Maybe he never read Proverbs 8. Or perhaps it was due to his serious bible translation. Wisdom is playful, but some texts frame her words, “When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep…then I was beside him, like a master worker…”

But Benedict shouldn’t be judged too harshly. I never noticed the playful attitude of Wisdom, until one day when I … Read More »

On Dryness

9th November

{Ryan Pendell reflects on how frustration and exhaustion led to his becoming a writer and better understanding prayer.}

“When did you know you were a writer?” It’s a common question for the so-called successful author. Most people imagine there’s a moment, a transcendent high, when the clouds part, the dove descends, and one’s vocation is validated by Heaven. “This is my Son! Listen to him!” We all desire that kind of clarity in our calling, and it’s awe-inspiring when we meet those rare individuals who are clearly doing what they ought to be doing. We wish we could attain that same kind of certitude in our own workaday lives, though it rarely ever comes even to the most successful among us.

I think I became a writer in second grade. One afternoon I sat down at the kitchen table and began writing … Read More »

The Mysterious You

1st November

{in this piece, Jennifer Grosser reflects on her journey to write toward God.}

I don’t know about you, but the inside of my head tends to sound like my Twitter feed lots of the time. There’s all kinds of narration going on, but sometimes it feels like it’s in multiple voices and most of the time it’s very disjointed. Happily, as a young person I had a mother who encouraged my writing and a father who encouraged asking questions, and one day I found that the journal I was keeping to record my teenage angst had merged with the charts I was making to record my questions about what I was reading in the Bible or the prayer lists I was trying to pray through. Suddenly the charts and lists stopped, and the mysterious “you” I had been addressing in my … Read More »

The Mountain Finds All Climbers: On John Leax’s “Recluse Freedom”

24th October

{in this piece, writer Daniel Bowman and students Hannah Hanover and Robbie Maakested discuss Recluse Freedom, a new book of poetry by John Leax.}

When Antler asked me if I’d review Jack Leax’s new book of poems, Recluse Freedom, I had mixed feelings. I’d written about Leax’s work before, having recently published a two-part career-spanning interview with him here. I wasn’t sure I’d have much to discover that I hadn’t already explored. And yet I couldn’t pass up the chance to write about the new book, which I’d read in manuscript form and loved for many reasons.

First, Recluse Freedom is the perfect follow-up to 2005’s Tabloid News, a book in which Leax dramatically abandoned the earnest first-person poetic persona that had become barely distinguishable from his own voice. In doing so, he broke a contract with his readers—a move that both … Read More »

The Writing Process: Space

18th October

{for our Spaces Series, we’re asking writers to reflect on writing, revision, and the creative life, and where exactly that plays out. in this post, poet John James discusses the process and creation. his writing space is featured above. take note–it’s lived in. a place for books and papers. nothing glamorous–the real and rugged space of someone who loves to create. look anything like your house?}

The word that comes to mind when people ask about my writing process is “change.” Nothing stays the same for me, not my space, not my form, not my process or my style. In some senses, this has posed problems throughout my writing career. For one, having so many different kinds of poems has made it difficult to compile a cohesive book manuscript. More immediately, I never know when or how a poem is going to come about—and … Read More »

Messy as Hell

Posted by nicholas in catholic, church, creativity, events, writing. 16 comments

11th October

{in this piece, writer and activist Stephanie Kornexl talks about writing, Dorothy Day, and living the Incarnation}

For several months I worked at an urban downtown church allocating state ID vouchers to those in need and overseeing a soup kitchen for working poor and homeless men and women.  Each day I pulled into the back alley of the church to my office, and more often than not, I had a guest awaiting my arrival at the door.  Some were street people who came to ask for loose change or cigarettes, and others were distressed travelers seeking a bus ticket home or simply a pair of shoes. There were also the regulars who came to “boloney alley” who would hang around in hopes of catching a sympathetic ear to whom they could relinquish their stories.

As the sole person responsible for overseeing the … Read More »

interview: Addie Zierman

4th October

when you picture someone reading writing, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I write for the wounded ones and for the wounded places in my own heart.

When I began writing my memoir at Hamline University, I was very angry with Christians, with “the church people,” as I called them then. They had hurt me in deep ways, failed me in my darkest moments, and as I wrote about it, I found that every single person in my classes could relate. Everyone has an old hurt from a person of faith, everyone has a story.

I hope my writing appeals across the board, but the people that are the closest to my heart are … Read More »

Casual Miracles

27th September

A review of Pruning Burning Bushes, by Sarah M. Wells. Wipf & Stock, 2012.

In this volume Sarah Wells joins the ranks of lyric poets committed to documenting the pulse of the spiritual within the ordinary. The challenge for any poet working in this mode is to distinguish her voice from the many others writing in a similar form, to transform the “formula” of event/reflection into something luminous, something that makes the reader pause a moment. At her best, Wells demonstrates that often the best way to do this is to be as specific and particular as possible.

The poet in this mode, as the Romantics taught, is not necessarily the one who has extraordinary experiences but the one who is awake to all experience and turns to language to give that experience form, definition, name. The poet notices what Wells calls … Read More »

interview: Sarah M. Wells

26th September

{vixen of verse sarah m. wells discusses her practices, habits, and ideas about poetry. go ahead and leave us a comment! better yet, take her advice and google image or flickr search on an “emotion” word, write a reflective haiku (3 lines of counted syllables–5 syllables, 7 syallables, 5 syllables), and post it to our facebook page, or below in the comments! take a few minutes out of your day to make something, however small.}


when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

My imaginary reader is reclining in a lawn chair with a glass of sweet tea, enjoying my poems accompanied by a summer breeze.  My hope … Read More »

Revision and Interior Design: Thoughts on Creating, Writing, & Practice

18th September

{for our Spaces Series, we’re asking writers to reflect on writing, revision, and the creative life, and where exactly that plays out. in this post, poet Jae Newman discusses the frustrations and epiphanies of the author-father-creative life. his writing space is featured above. take note–it’s lived in. a place for books, pacifiers, pictures, paper located in his own bedroom. nothing glamorous–the real and rugged space of someone who loves to create. look anything like your house?}



“It must be abstract” – Wallace Stevens


During a summer composition class once, a student asked me why revision was so important.  He hinted at the fact that it was something only English teachers or professors valued.   I wanted to respond with something sharp and pithy, but I refrained.  I knew that kind of response wouldn’t mean anything to him.  Instead, I removed my notebook from my back … Read More »

Use What Yo Daddy Gave You: On Poetry in Church {Awaken Series}

6th September

{one of Antler’s goals is to foster discussion about poetry in religious life–offering content for faith communities to discuss, share, and contemplate. in that vein, we also give careful consideration to ministers who are thinking about using poetry and creative writing as a tool for spiritual formation. to that end, we’re going to be hearing from ministers and members of congregations as part of our “Awaken Series.” in this post, vixen of verse Sarah Wells ruminates on using artistic gifts–especially poetry–in church. this piece is pragmatic, encouraging, and an exciting start for all folks interested in mixing it up with faith and art! feel free to share!}

If you are anything like me, you are proud and excited about what the Holy Spirit has revealed to you through poetry.  You’ve set out with an idea, had that idea turned on … Read More »

one summer

29th August

{the following is a quick sneak-peak at a reflection from the forthcoming book “Making Manifest: On Faith, Writing, and the Kingdom At-Hand” available from Seedbed later this year. let us know what you think! is there something sacred happening here? don’t be shy…}

My daughter once decided to stay with my wife and me during church, opting out of her preschool Sunday morning class. We were reluctant, worried she might get bored or noisy. We were completely wrong.

In our church, we have an open table policy for Communion—our clergy are firm on the idea that “it’s God’s table not ours—all are welcome.” I know this idea is offensive to many, fascinating to some, and supported by a few, but it’s our belief that if someone is hungry for the body of Jesus then maybe no earthly tie or verbal confession should … Read More »

Five Rules for Believing Writers

22nd August

For those innocent and experienced in the ways of writing, here are some rules to write by daily. Of course, when it comes to making art—to making manifest that still, small voice inside you—rules are more like strong suggestions, nothing hard and fast, so there’s no need to be stringent about the thoughts below. Here are some things I try to keep in mind as an author of faith…

1. Trust the process.

Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, learning to rely on your gut in writing will rarely steer you wrong. It’s important to remember that your life is a poem. And poems that we make on paper are just extensions of our living poetry. As Ephesians 2:10 says, you are God’s workmanship—God’s poemia (where the English word “poem” comes from)—and that’s reason enough to engage this process with … Read More »

Perspectives: Two Fishes

22nd August

{for Antler’s “Perspectives” features, we’ve invited authors to comment on their ideas on making poetry and other forms of art–the posts aren’t necessarily designed to be faith-based in their scope, but to give readers a window into the world of writing, where there are many ideas about best-practices, form, and how to develop as an artist. in this post, Debra Kang Dean reflects on her explorations in writing and taiji–a vivid reminder of the connections between the the body and words, and how practices of the body might help us realize new ways toward creativity.}

Between 1997 and 1999, I undertook intensive study in Wudangshan 108, a taiji form, with Almanzo “LaoMa” Lamoureux of the Magic Tortoise Taijiquan School, commuting over a hundred miles each way from Greenville to Chapel Hill for eighteen months—first one, then two, then three times a … Read More »

Into the Wilderness

15th August

{this week’s post comes to us via Jeffrey Overstreet and a Patheos blog post. after reading this post and feeling that it almost perfectly embodied the mission that we have here at Antler, Jeffery graciously gave us permission to use it. i hope that you’ll enjoy, pass it around, meditate on the importance of what it means to be a believer in a world that “God so loved”…}

I recently received an email from a young woman saying that she wanted to read my novels, but that first she needed to know if we believed the same things.

I’m still reeling from that question.

And yet, if I’m honest…

…I remember that way of thinking.

Growing up, I remember choosing which Sunday afternoon football team I’d favor by which one had a known, professing Christian on it. I remember being worried if what I read … Read More »

Faith and Muse

8th August

Sometimes I hate writing. I often find myself sitting in a coffee shop for hours trying, in vain, to come up with one good sentence. I’ll open a notebook and tear out more pages than I’ll end up with words. I’ll know exactly what I need to say and then struggle desperately to word it in a way that sounds interesting. Countless draft edits and dismissal of past stories fill my time, and I’ve come to accept that it’s all a part of the process.

However, other times, I’ll be lying awake at 4:00 in the morning and a paragraph of quality prose will rush through my head. Frustrated, I have to decide whether or not what I’ve thought of is worth losing precious sleep to put on paper. When it is, I have to get up, regardless of how tired … Read More »

Throwback!: George Herbert’s “The Dawning”

30th July

{for Antler’s Throwback! Series, seasoned poets will discuss their favorite poems and poets and how those poems have come to shape their poetry, their faith, and their ideas about living and writing. this week, poet Paul Willis–you can read his bio and brilliant poems here–discusses an old mainstay of English and devotional poetry: George Herbert. please take note that–because of an html issue–the poem’s spacing is off; each alternating line should be indented, like this}


The Dawning

Awake sad heart, whom sorrow ever drowns;

Take up thine eyes, which feed on earth;

Unfold thy forehead gathered into frowns:

Thy Saviour comes, and with him mirth:

Awake, awake;

And with a thankful heart his comforts take.

But thou dost still lament, and pine, and cry;

And feel his death, but not his victory.


Arise sad heart; if thou do not withstand,

Christ’s resurrection thine may be:

Do not by hanging down break from the hand,

Which … Read More »

On Words & Spirit

24th July

Writing, the intensely personal place where we meet our muse, is mysterious.

I have been contemplating where I have met the muse I seek: the Holy Spirit, the author of scripture and the Poet capable of translating even those groanings that cannot be uttered. I have no delusions of adding my poems to the canon, but even so–at times I know that the words, the images, the emotion I feel have been given to me, entrusted to me that I might pour them back out to the glory of Jesus Christ. Humbly Lord I beg that this be true. With that said, what words can I write that are fit to give to Him?

Surely the writer of the Song of Songs paused to find the word, deliberated over the image appearing and repeating from his tongue, going over in detail the interplay … Read More »

interview: Daniel Bowman

17th July

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I have always written for myself, and for a small imaginary group made up of García Lorca, Robert Bly, and William Judson Decker (a professor and mentor of mine at Roberts Wesleyan), along with a few others who stand by to rotate in as I need them. I figure that no matter who does or doesn’t like my poems, who does or doesn’t publish them, if I write in such a way that those guys might like them, then I can be pleased. Imagining them reading my work helps me stay true to my vision. I was always taught … Read More »

Practicing Prophecy: On Louis Simpson’s “The Inner Part”

9th July

{Antler contributor Rod Dixon follows up early posts about the ideas of poetry and prophecy with a bit of pragmatic, experimental practice. in this meditation, Dixon examine’s Louis Simpson’s poem “The Inner Part” as an act of prophetic awakening, and seeks to do some awakening himself.}


The Inner Part


When they had won the war
And for the first time in history
Americans were the most important people—
When the leading citizens no longer lived in their shirtsleeves
and their wives did not scratch in public
Just when they’d stopped saying “Gosh”—
When their daughters seemed as sensitive
as the tip of a fly rod,
and their sons were as smooth as a V-8 engine—
Priests, examining the entrails of birds,
Found the heart misplaced, and seeds
As black as death, emitting a strange odor.

Unfortunately the cancer in our national soul is no longer in its fetal stages, visible only to a specially … Read More »

The Asah Creative {2 of 2}

2nd July

{read part 1 of this post here…}

When my older brother at three years of age suffered a traumatic brain injury, he awoke three months later from a coma, unable to talk or walk. After two years of intense physical therapy he took his first step without a walker. He cried from the pain. That first step, re-doing and re-learning the simple action his body once knew, in a time before.

When I write I’m always faced with that first painful step. The act I’ve done so many times before, which feels like I’m standing at the edge of a cliff, frozen in fear at the depth and width of words and stories. Rubem Alves, the Brazilian philosopher, opens The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet describing a spider who weaves a cobweb in the corner of his office. “I did not see … Read More »

The Asah Creative {1 of 2}

25th June

Each morning before work my father read his Bible in the living room while he pulled up his socks and laced his shoes. I waited in the hallway for him to close the book and I’d go to him and sit on his knee. When my father bought a Bible for me, and with it a purple devotional, I joined him in the living room, reading and bowing my head in silent prayer.

When my friends, burdened, come to me and say they no longer believe in God, I tell them I love them nonetheless and understand their plight; that the faith of their parents no longer resonates with their hearts. The words used to describe my faith, the ones I read in old translations and from bright colored devotionals, are clichés and I no longer know what they mean. I must … Read More »

interview: Joshua Golding

Posted by dave in interview, vocation, writing. No Comments

18th June

when you picture someone reading your work, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

My readers include anyone who is genuinely interested in the spiritual and philosophical journey. Since much of my work focuses on Judaism and Jewish philosophy, many of my readers are Jewish. Some are very committed, Orthodox Jews, but others are less traditional. But I also have many Christian readers. Since the book is very philosophical, it is not light reading and therefore not everybody’s cup of tea. But, since my newest book, “The Conversation,” is a novel, it allows the reader to follow the main character through a spiritual and philosophical journey that is also intensely personal. Some of my … Read More »

My Friend Madeleine

11th June

I don’t know how to live as a writer.  I mean sure, I’ve lived almost thirty years and studied poetry, but I often find myself teaching and not writing, serving coffee and not writing, playing Settlers of Catan, eating ice cream, attending church and not writing.  Some days I think I should just be happy with these things– some days I am– but then the unrest returns, and I can’t sleep because I’m a terrible person, my life is meaningless, and I’ll fail at everything I care about.  Once I’ve stopped exaggerating, I think, “Maybe the unrest is legitimate; maybe I need to write.” I love Madeleine L’Engle because she feels a similar unrest, and as she writes through hope and doubt, she gives me courage to try.

I call her my friend Madeleine and speak of her in present tense, … Read More »

interview: Callid Keefe-Perry [2 of 2]

6th June

[the following is part two of Callid Keefe-Perry’s interview about his new film “Made As Makers.” you can read part one here. if you believe in the vision of the movie, please circulate these materials around your religious community! the film is free, accessible, and a great tool for starting discussion about faith, imagination, and making art.]

in your mind, what aspects of creativity most effectively bring the Kingdom of God into our reality–what do you do to make this Kingdom revealed in your own life?

I don’t actually think about it this way. I mean, the way the question is asked is a very normal way of asking things: Which kinds of X are good at getting us to Y? This seems upside-down when thinking about how God (and how God’s / kairos time) works. Things do not map … Read More »

interview: Callid Keefe-Perry [1 of 2]

4th June

[this week, Callid Keefe-Perry’s documentary “Made as Makers” is released! the documentary is an exploration of how faith, imagination, and art come together in faith communities. Callid’s interview below (and later this week!) discusses the film, his thoughts on creativity, and what he hopes the film might accomplish. the movie is great! and we hope that you’ll check it out and show it to your faith community soon–movie night!’]


your film “Made as Makers” is released on june 1. can you tell us about your hope for the film and what inspired it?

Sure. From its inception the film was supposed to be practical. That is, a discussion of theological topics addressed in such a way that they connected to the experience of people of faith. The film is intended as a tool to encourage dialogue and conversation about topics that … Read More »

Awaken Series: Can Poetry Matter (to Theology)?

28th May

Twenty years ago poet, critic, and one-time National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia published a book which contained one of the most important literary essays of the last century. Can Poetry Matter? takes its title from an article Gioia wrote that was first printed in The Atlantic Monthly of May 1991, garnering hundreds of letters of response, and inciting a firestorm of discussion. At its core was a plain spoken articulation of the decline of readership and relevance for American poetry:

Decades of public and private funding have created a large professional class for the production and reception of new poetry comprising legions of teachers, graduate students, editors, publishers, and administrators. Based mostly in universities, these groups have gradually become the primary audience for contemporary verse. Consequently, the energy of American poetry, which was once directed outward, is now increasingly … Read More »

Awaken Series: Technical Considerations of Prophetic Prophecy [2 of 2]

21st May

(one of Antler’s goals is to foster discussion about poetry in religious life–offering content for faith communities to discuss, share, and contemplate. in that vein, we also give careful consideration to ministers who are thinking about using poetry and creative writing as a tool for spiritual formation. to that end, we’re going to be hearing from ministers and members of congregations as part of our “Awaken Series.” before reading this post, it this post is part two of a serial article about poetry and prophetic imagination in a contemporary context. in this post, Rod Dixon outlines issues that could jeopardize the ministry of the poet-prophet and some suggestions on living as a minister. for part one of this serial, please click here: The Shape of Poetic Prophecy)

Technical Considerations of Poetic Prophecy

The conclusion to Walter Brueggemann’s The Prophetic Imagination (which I have encapsulated … Read More »

Awaken Series: The Shape of Poetic Prophecy [1 of 1]

Posted by dave in awaken series, ministry. 4 comments

14th May

[one of Antler's goals is to foster discussion about poetry in religious life--offering content for faith communities to discuss, share, and contemplate. in that vein, we also give careful consideration to ministers who are thinking about using poetry and creative writing as a tool for spiritual formation. to that end, we're going to be hearing from ministers and members of congregations as part of our "Awaken Series." this post is one of two parts about poetry and prophetic imagination in a contemporary context. it establishes some principles that will be elaborated upon in posts to come. enjoy!]

The Shape of Poetic Prophecy

Many believe prophecy to be something that once happened long ago, but a vibrant prophetic witness is crucial if we are to be a vibrant body of Christ today.  Prophecy is one of the … Read More »

interview: Todd Davis

Posted by dave in interview, poets. No Comments

7th May

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

When I write, I am writing to real flesh and blood people.  I write for my poetry buddies who actually read early drafts of my work and help me to revise and refine it.  I write for my wife and two sons, who listen to endless versions of my poems.  And when my father was alive, I wrote with him in mind as my ideal reader.  He never tired of reading my poems; it was a very vital way we communicated with each other.

I feel infinitely blessed that there are those people I do not know who actually read … Read More »

interview: Paul Quenon

Posted by dave in interview, poets. 2 comments

2nd May

today, we’re posting an interview with Br. Paul Quenon, a monk at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. i recently went to visit Br. Paul with two friends for an incredible day of hiking, tree climbing, discussion, and reflection. Br. Paul took us to Thomas Merton‘s hermitage where we sat together, did some writing, read from Merton’s journals, and prayed together. i’ll be writing about this fantastic experience in a post to come, but wanted to share his advice and challenge you to write a haiku this week. feel free to post it if you’re so bold!  -Dave


when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for?and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

When I write I see … Read More »

interview: Maurice Manning

Posted by dave in f&w 2012, interview, poets. No Comments

16th April

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

All of my poems have something to do with Kentucky, with Kentucky’s particular landscape, history, and culture.  While I hope my poems have something to say to anyone interested in poetry, I acknowledge that my poems begin in Kentucky.  I’ve always felt that I come from a mysterious and haunting and lovely place; I’ve felt lucky for that, and I think my writing is an effort to be thankful for this place, even if, turning the place around, one discovers one dark side after another.


how do you use poetry as a practice for spiritual exploration, discipline, or growth? can … Read More »

reflection: Grace Farag on Maurice Manning

16th April

Let’s think about the landscape now
where all of this is happening.

–Maurice Manning, “The Burthen of the Mystery Indeed”

I want to begin with a memory. This happened more than 10 years ago, when I was living in Northern California. Near my house was a trail that cut behind and through a residential area to a large park. If you drove, you could get to the park in 5 minutes; walking the trail took more like 20. Sometimes I walked it with my roommates, but this time I want to tell you about, I walked it alone. It was late afternoon, I think in the fall, and the long light was filled with gold. The air had that cool, fresh quality that comes after rain.

Eventually I found myself on top of a small hill just outside the park. I stopped and turned … Read More »

book to watch: Entering the House of Awe

Posted by dave in dave harrity, f&w 2012, poets, review. No Comments

14th April

{At Antler, we’re trying to make a space for people to come and explore poetry—to demystify, but not domesticate. For readers and writers of poetry, that’s natural and not much help (if any!) is needed. But for people just starting out, looking for a place to begin, or thinking “I might be ready to buy a book of poetry by someone I’ve never read before,” we’re doing short “reviews” of books by contemporary authors. “Reviews” is a strong word—we’re not critics or interested, necessarily, in “criticism” as an academic or intellectual exercise—so what these quick blurbs will do is give you a summary of the book’s nuances and themes, some reasons to read the book (what you’ll get from it as a reader!), and some points of interest that stand out in the book as a complete, cohesive work of … Read More »

interview: Susanna Childress

Posted by dave in f&w 2012, interview, poets. 2 comments

12th April

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

The truth is that I don’t often think of people reading my poems. In the composition process, I can’t think of readers at all, except to demand from myself crafts(wo)manship that is worthy of readership. Perhaps it’s too modest, or, too solipsistic an admission to take seriously. But poetry readers are both a motley and singular bunch (and yes, that’s a lovely paradox)—I have little understanding of who actually does read my work, by which I mean I am surprised when readers contact me or come up after an event to express interest in or attachment to my work. … Read More »

Dave Harrity interviewed in Ruminate Magazine

9th April

Recently, I did an interview with Ruminate Magazine. In it, I discuss what I’m hoping Antler might become, some of my thoughts on writing and faith, and a few of the ideas found in my forthcoming book Making Manifest, available from Seedbed later this year. I hope you enjoy it! And feel free to send it to everyone you know!

meditation: Good Friday, Station 4

Posted by dave in dave harrity, rumination. No Comments

6th April

The cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene

Then the soldiers compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Often the opportunity to have compassion suddenly comes upon us, and its surprise isn’t a comfort—we almost always bristle somehow. And if I were Simon, I wonder if I would make his same choices.

I’m trying to picture it, what it might be like to decide to be freighted with the weight of the Cross, completely stunned at the task of carrying heavy slabs of wood—a man on the sideline watching the grotesque parade suddenly stepping out into it. And why is he watching? Probably the same reason I can’t turn my head from similar violence—a strange mixture of awe, and grief, and curiosity. Rubbernecking. Voyeurism. We all … Read More »

book to watch: A Thousand Vessels

Posted by dave in f&w 2012, media, partners, poets, review. No Comments

4th April

{At Antler, we’re trying to make a space for people to come and explore poetry—to demystify, but not domesticate. For readers and writers of poetry, that’s natural and not much help (if any!) is needed. But for people just starting out, looking for a place to begin, or thinking “I might be ready to buy a book of poetry by someone I’ve never read before,” we’re doing short “reviews” of books by contemporary authors. “Reviews” is a strong word—we’re not critics or interested, necessarily, in “criticism” as an academic or intellectual exercise—so what these quick blurbs will do is give you a summary of the book’s nuances and themes, some reasons to read the book (what you’ll get from it as a reader!), and some points of interest that stand out in the book as a complete, cohesive work of … Read More »

interview: Tania Runyan

Posted by dave in f&w 2012, interview, poets. 1 Comment

4th April

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

My readers wear orange because it’s my favorite color and makes me happy. So when I write I picture a sea of orange t-shirts and hats and scarves welcoming me with sunsetty, juicy enthusiasm. And I also write for anyone else who wants to connect to God in daily life, who wants to think about Scripture in a fresh way. I want my readers to walk with these stories and verses in the midst of the contemporary, messy life that sometimes seems so far removed from the Bible. The biggest victory, of course, happens when one who doesn’t find the Bible … Read More »

interview: John Leax

Posted by dave in f&w 2012, interview, poets. No Comments

1st April

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your writing nourishing others?

I grew up in the country east of Pittsburgh in a working class atmosphere.  I spent much of my time with my father and his friends working and fishing at a camp on the Allegheny River.  One audience I imagine as I work is that group of men.  I know this is wildly unreal.  Those men never read anything and would have no idea what to do with a poem, but they are a kind of touchstone that keeps me from yielding completely to a comfortable audience of poets, students and teachers.  Having these men in my imagination has … Read More »

interview: Brianna Van Dyke

Posted by dave in f&w 2012, interview. No Comments

1st April

when you picture someone reading your magazine, how do you see them? what do they think about, wear, and do? or, maybe a better way to say it: who do you write for? and how do you see your work as an editor nourishing others?

I picture our readers curled up in a cozy reading chair, or in the bathtub (my favorite reading place), or on the bus, or at the park, or in bed.

Ruminate is made with love and care—from the selection and editing process to the production. It’s printed on creamy white paper and our creative director, Anne Pageau, hand sketches/writes many of the graphic design details, and we make sure there’s room in the budget for our four-color art reproductions in the center spread.

We take this love and care with the magazine content and also with the magazine … Read More »

Luci Shaw’s “Under the Snowing” by D.S. Martin

23rd March

In anticipation of the Festival of Faith & Writing in Grand Rapids, Antler has asked me to select something from one of this year’s presenters, for reflection. I have chosen Luci Shaw’s poem “Under the snowing” which appeared in her book Water Lines (Eerdmans). It clearly demonstrates the world view that comes through in her poetry.

In order to be a poet, it makes sense that you trust what you see and hear as being real and meaningful; why else would you take trouble to bring it to a reader’s attention?
As you reflect on all you encounter, you begin to see these things as receptacles of truth – and that what you observe sheds light on the fabric of the universe.

If the world is meaningful, it must not have just formed of its own accord. Such a view has … Read More »


Posted by dave in poets, rumination. No Comments

18th March

In the coming weeks, we’ll have some fantastic interviews and posts by some wonderful authors, including Maurice Manning, Susanna Childress, Tania Runyan, D.S. Martin, Brianna Van Dyke, and John Leax, so be sure to get plugged in with our media by clicking the icons for Facebook, Twitter, and RSS at the top and bottom of this page. But before things get away from me, I wanted to share this poem to make sure that people who visit this site in the coming weeks know where our name comes from.

This poem is my absolute favorite, by my most favorite author.

I hope you’ll take a couple moments to read and think about the poem’s charge—what implications does it hold for you? Share below, if you be so bold…

William Stafford’s “A Message from the Wanderer”

interview: Nicholas Samaras

Posted by dave in interview, poets, rumination. 2 comments

17th March

tell us a little bit about yourself, your writing, and your life…

First, I express my gratitude and happiness for talking with you and your audience. For me, this is exactly what my writing and what all writing is about: to engage in a dialogue. It is the entire reason I write: to have a dialogue with the world, to “commune” with the world. This is what I bring to my experience of the page: the interaction between my heart and soul and anyone who reads my text, in return.

I have stated in numerous poems of mine that “I write for the world.” This is because my upbringing took place literally all over the world. My background is from the Island of Patmos, Greece (the Island of the Apocalypse). I was born and raised in the village of Foxton, eight miles … Read More »

the kingdom of heaven

17th March

Poet George Oppen wrote in his journals that “the search for truth is a passion, not a necessity.” He’s right. You can go through your life with your eyes completely open and never really see anything clearly. And one needs only to look around at the hollowness of the cultures around us, both secular and Christian, to know this can be true. Christianity can be made simple, boiled down to practices and platitudes, marketed and packaged for sale, and fall flat with some sentimental longing for some other plane of living rather than the reality in which God has asked us to exist, the reality that he loves so dearly. But the Kingdom of Heaven is nothing simplistic: things like the Incarnation and Resurrection can never be made easy. That’s mystery, and searching mystery is how we grow and bring … Read More »

on Li-Young Lee’s “The Hammock”

17th March

Here at Antler, we’re working with the Festival of Faith and Writing in the coming weeks to blog, promote, and create a space for discussion about this year’s poetry guests. I’m really excited for another opportunity to see Lee read again at the Festival (his last appearance was back in 2004, I believe) and I’m excited to say that Antler will be at the Festival running an event with Ruminate Magazine  and working a booth, so be sure to come by and give us a shout.

Li-Young Lee is an award-winning poet whose honors include a Lannan Literary Award, an American Book Award, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. He has written several poetry collections, including Book of My Nights, The City in Which I Love You, Rose, and, most recently, Behind My Eyes. He is also the author of a memoir, … Read More »

on paying attention…

Posted by dave in making manifest, rumination. No Comments

17th March

Every day since I started paying attention to my life–started intentionally contemplating, writing, thinking–I have been offered a small scrap of silence each day. Often it comes when I’m intentionally seeking it, but sometimes it sneaks up on me. I’ll be going about my business in all the usual noisy places–work, home (especially after my kids have gotten out of bed!), driving, wherever–and a noiselessness emerges out of the barrage or monotonous background: a few seconds of complete stillness.

These polished quiets are a haven for me–a tiny seclusion from all the flickering busyness.

The trick is allowing myself to experience them–I’ve been so focused on my tasks for the day that I’ve worked through the moment or I’ve been so startled by them that I push them away. For me, these flashes of peace are a foil to what’s always happening, a … Read More »

connecting with Ruminate Magazine

Posted by dave in events, f&w 2012, partners. 2 comments

17th March


One of the best darn lit mags around is Ruminate Magazine. They make a great visually stunning product with high-quality, accessible, and engaging literature. And here at Antler, we’re really excited about our collaborations with them, which we hope will be many!

This year at the Festival of Faith and Writing, we’ll be teaming up with Ruminate to present an excellent lunch event called “Cultivating Play and Mystery: A Discussion and Time of Practice with Scott Cairns, Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, and Walter Wangerin, Jr.”

During Saturday’s hour-long session, our panelists will discuss elements craft and vocation, some ideas on best writing practices, and how those practices help writers of all kinds enter the playful holiness and mystery of God.

We’ll also have time together for quiet and writing. So, if you’ll be attending this year’s F&W Festival, please come, reflect, and … Read More »

Festival of Faith and Writing

Posted by antler in events. No Comments

6th March

in april, we’ll be at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, MI

we’ll have a booth, so be sure to stop by and say hello, pick up some free swag, and find out how to get involved.

also, we’re planning a killer event with Ruminate Magazine where folks can come, her from some stellar authors, pick up some practical tools, and practice a little bit of what’s been being preached.

hope to see you saturday’s lunch session!

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