2008 was the Year of the Herniation. I spent the end of January and most of February in a prone position, recovering slowly from a herniated disk in my neck. This was followed by the slow but steady development of an inguinal hernia that culminated in surgery in late July. All of this bed rest meant that I had plenty of time to read. I read 40 books in 2008. My favorites were Naomi Mitchison's Travel Light and Kate O'Brien's The Land of Spices.
The great but neglected Irish novelist Kate O'Brien was my great literary discovery of 2008. In her novels she skillfully and sensitively explores the tension between the demands of a strong traditional religious faith and the ordinary lapses and compromises of a life in the world, the tension between the coldness of renunciation and the heat of passion. Her books are about the struggle to love with the heart as well as the spirit, and to live a life that's rooted as well as flowering.
My great musical discovery of 2008 was Kate Rusby. I'll let her speak for herself. In this clip, after singing "Sir Eglamore," she introduces the next song in her lovely Yorkshire accent.
As usual, Clara and I saw few films in the theater in 2008. Two, to be exact. Martin McDonough's In Bruges and Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. Both were excellent. Also excellent was our DVD discovery of 2008, the brilliant Canadian series Slings and Arrows. And my favorite restaurant experience of 2008? The fabulous eight-course tasting menu and accompanying wine flight at La Belle Vie in Minneapolis. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. with sautéed langoustine with sweet corn flan and shellfish broth and Haton champagne and ending at around 9:00 p.m. with curried carrot cake with cardamon yogurt sherbet and carrot reduction and spätlese riesling. That may have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Now on to 2009. Let the austerity begin.
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
The frontispiece from Countee Cullen's The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929). Illustration by Charles Cullen. Click to enlarge. On...
Here's the poem I wrote and read for the student-organized International Day of Peace gathering in Bridge Square on Wednesday, Septembe...
In early August, the director of the Northfield Public Library, Teresa Jensen, asked me to write a poem to be displayed prominently in the...