Art/Literature/Poetry

Carl Sandburg's "Chicago"

Chicago has been on my mind and the mind of America with injustice and pain and protests. And so for me Carl Sandburg's poetry has been on my mind and his his famous poem "Chicago." A reminder of the stormy, husky, brawling, city. The city of the big shoulders.

Sandburg said of himself, "I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass." He wrote poetry that everyone could read and understand, he wrote poetry of understanding the common man, and yet scholars read and respected Sandburg. His collection, Chicago Poems, is still widely read today and available cheap. I read again through the first dozen or so poems last night I was moved near tears, both for what he said and the fact that he said such beautiful things so simply. We should aspire to do the same. 

CHICAGO by Carl Sandburg

     HOG Butcher for the World,
     Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
     Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
     Stormy, husky, brawling,
     City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
     have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
     luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
     is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
     kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
     faces of women and children I have seen the marks
     of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
     sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
     and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
     so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
     job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
     little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
     as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
          Bareheaded,
          Shoveling,
          Wrecking,
          Planning,
          Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
     white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
     man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
     never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
     and under his ribs the heart of the people,
               Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
     Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
     Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
     Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Lots-o-Links 11.20.14

Tim Keller's New Lectures on Preaching | Here you will find four new lectures on preaching and a link to Keller's older talks with Clowney on preaching. Also check out my Tim Keller Resources page.

New books to check out, especially as the new year approaches...

National Book Awards for 2014 | I'm going to check out Louise Gluck's winning book of poetry, Faithful and Virtuous Night. Check out winners and finalists for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young people's literature.

Christmas music on my radar...

Global HAIKU Project by Baron Fig | These creators of great notebooks are trying to help you collaborate on great poetry. A neat idea! Nothing complicated. In the span of a few minutes you can contribute to three poems. Can't wait to show my kiddos and get them involved. Also check out Baron Fig notebooks & company. (Also, don't miss my earlier post on the most beautiful, affordable notebooks I've come across for daily use. They aren't Baron Fig, but I love those too!)

Lots-o-Links 9.25.14

The Palomino Blackwing Pearl is probably the greatest pencil I've ever used. If you've never tried them, wowwy you are in for a treat. Pick up a pack.

Austin Kleon has made clipboards look like an interesting as a part of office design.

This is one of my favorite themes: it’s not that I have a need and then I seek out the right tool for it, but most of the time, having a tool lying around (like a row of clipboards) will inspire me to find some use for it.

Where Have All The Poets Gone?

We need our poets now more than ever. In fact, they should be on the front lines — at rallies and marches — questioning and rebuking whatever systems they deem poisonous to civil society. They once fed us, our poets; emptying themselves in the process. Generously, courageously, they brought the darkness to light. They said what we felt, and didn't mind taking the heat for it — whatever that meant. Did they stop speaking, or have we stopped listening?

Christian Wiman on Poetry and Faith

Why We Get Stuck

“Stuckness” is just a part of doing hard things. However, just plowing through is not necessarily the answer. Internal work does not always equate to external progress. Instead, it can sometimes be helpful to step back and consider the particular source of your stagnancy. There are three that I encounter all the time.

Bock on Hollywood, Movies & The Bible

Very much enjoyed Darrell Bock's piece at TGC on Noah and movies on biblical stories, "Hollywood, Movies, & the Bible: Should We Rewind On How We View?" He asks some helpful questions and provides reasonable, thoughtful answers on engaging culture and art. This should be essential reading for pastors and theologians who want to talk about movies. Would help some of the constipated thinking going on. Here's a sample...

Should I expect people who do not believe the Bible to make movies that follow it? Might it be better to consider how people reading the Bible without the eyes of faith see it, listen to what they are saying, and then winsomely and critically engage where they are coming from?

You need to read the rest here.

NPM2014 | Every Riven Thing

Christian Wiman is a poet I've only started to check out the last couple of years. I first heard of him because he was the editor of Poetry (until 2013), the oldest American magazine of poetry. Wiman has been diagnosed with an incurable cancer of the blood and his poetry reflects his suffering, a God who knows suffering, and messy faith. You should check out his bio, read the Christianity Today interview from 2012, and see the PBS Religion & Ethics Weekly discussion (video embedded below) from last October. 

Wiiman has numerous books of poetry as well as a recent book of essays, My Bright Abyss (Kindle). This poem, "Every Riven Thing," is from his book of poetry, Every Riven Thing. You can also listen to Wiman read it.

God goes, belonging to every riven thing he's made
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why

God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he's made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where

God goes belonging. To every riven thing he's made
there is given one shade
shaped exactly to the thing itself:
under the tree a darker tree;
under the man the only man to see

God goes belonging to every riven thing. He's made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
apart from what man knows,

God goes belonging to every riven thing he's made.

National Poetry Month 2014

It's April 2014 and that means another National Poetry Month (NPM) is upon us. Let's travel together on the journey of slowing down to the land of verse and occasional rhyme and find there distilled truths and feelings. Or something like that. 

Click on the graphic below to learn more about NPM at Poets.org and learn 30 ways to celebrate. Read my article "3 Reasons to Read Poetry." But most of all, read a poem today. After enjoying a Cubs loss on Opening Day, I give you "A Ballad of Baseball Burdens" by Franklin Pierce Adams...

The burden of hard hitting. Slug away
    Like Honus Wagner or like Tyrus Cobb.
Else fandom shouteth: "Who said you could play?
    Back to the jasper league, you minor slob!"
    Swat, hit, connect, line out, get on the job.
Else you shall feel the brunt of fandom's ire
    Biff, bang it, clout it, hit it on the knob --
This is the end of every fan's desire.

The burden of good pitching. Curved or straight.
    Or in or out, or haply up or down,
To puzzle him that standeth by the plate,
    To lessen, so to speak, his bat-renoun:
    Like Christy Mathewson or Miner Brown,
So pitch that every man can but admire
    And offer you the freedom of the town --
This is the end of every fan's desire.

The burden of loud cheering. O the sounds!
    The tumult and the shouting from the throats
Of forty thousand at the Polo Grounds
    Sitting, ay, standing sans their hats and coats.
    A mighty cheer that possibly denotes
That Cub or Pirate fat is in the fire;
    Or, as H. James would say, We've got their goats --
This is the end of every fan's desire.

The burden of a pennant. O the hope,
    The tenuous hope, the hope that's half a fear,
The lengthy season and the boundless dope,
    And the bromidic; "Wait until next year."
    O dread disgrace of trailing in the rear,
O Piece of Bunting, flying high and higher
    That next October it shall flutter here:
This is the end of every fan's desire.

ENVOY

Ah, Fans, let not the Quarry but the Chase
    Be that to which most fondly we aspire!
For us not Stake, but Game; not Goal, but Race --
    THIS is the end of every fan's desire.

Lots-o-Links 1.24.14

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Outstanding. It's a score, so it's not a collection of songs. But I think you will love it and love working to it. Beautiful.

Getting Big Projects Done: Best Practices from Successful Writers from Unclutterer

Break things into bite-sized pieces and create daily habits

"How to Discourage Artists in the Church" by Phil Ryken - This is from 2013, but I read it again and it's so helpful. Here's one point (remember, this is the wrong thing to do)...

"Demand artists to give answers in their work, not raise questions. Mark Lewis says, "Makecertain that your piece (or artifact or performance) makes incisive theological or moral points, and doesn't stray into territory about which you are unresolved or in any way unclear. (Clear answers are of course more valuable than questions)." Do not allow for ambiguity, or for varied responses to art. Demand art to communicate in the same way to everyone."

Why I Am A Continuationist by Sam Storms & Why I Am A Cessationist by Tom Schreiner

These two pieces at The Gospel Coalition give helpful, scholarly, theological and experiential reasons for their views. 

How to Handle Discouragement in Ministry

"Watch the full six-minute video to see [Darrin Patrick, Paul Tripp, & Voddie Baucham] discuss isolation, broken trust, pastors as body parts, and more."

N.D. Wilson on Dark Stories

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N.D. Wilson, author of non-fiction like Death By Living ($3.99 for Kindle) and young adult fiction like the 100 Cupboards series (Kindle) and Ashtown Burials series (Kindle), has a great piece up at Christianity Today. In "The Dark-Tinted, Truth-Filled Reading List We Owe Our Kids" Wilson explains why kids need dark stories. This article is geared for parents making fiction decisions for kids, but it's just as helpful for anyone thinking about how to tell the truth through stories. Here are a couple of lines from an article rich with quotes...

"God's artistic choices should govern our own."

"Shelter your children. Yes. Absolutely. But use a picnic shelter, not a lightless bomb bunker, and not virtual reality goggles looping bubblegum clouds."

"Faithful artists should provide sabbaths, not escapes."

"To tell the truth about what it means to be heroic, we must spin a fiction full of danger."

I've left most of the best stuff for you to discover. Please go read the whole piece at CT.

Poetry & the New Year

NPM.jpeg

I've written an article at Gospel Centered Discipleship on the importance of reading poetry. I've added reading and writing poetry as a discipline for the new year, not just something to do occasionally. The truth is, you already consider poetry as an important part of your life (Psalms, hymns,etc). I think reading the poetry of the culture is important too. I talk about three great benefits to the regular reading of poetry...

  1. The Importance and Power of Words
  2. Slowing Down
  3. Seeing and Feeling

Go and read my whole article, "3 Reasons to Read Poetry" over at GCD. Make poetry a part of your year. It offers many blessings.